The Tully Family has been farming in Dunstable, Massachusetts since 1872, when Henry Tully bought his first piece of land in the town. These days the family cares for about 250 Holsteins, half milking cows and half young stock, on 350 acres just 40 miles North of Boston.
Longevity alone makes Tully Farm a pillar of their community, especially when considering that 37% of Massachusetts residents were born outside the state as of the 2010 Census. The Tullys are also an exceptionally dedicated family – both to their community and to their family and farming traditions.The Tullys have been farming in MA since 1872! #FarmerFriday via @cabotcheese Click To Tweet
Charlie Tully, member of the 5th generation of Tullys, manages the farm and does an outstanding job carrying on the family tradition. He speaks frequently and appreciatively about the line of farmers that came before him.
Charlie’s wife, Jennifer, is a local school teacher and their four children are still in school. In addition to Charlie’s immediate family there are numerous cousins, aunts and uncles who all pitch in when needed on the farm. They also gather –100 strong – for an incredible Christmas tradition on the farm, held every December 23rd.
In addition to family traditions and work on the farm, the family stays busy during the winter months logging their non-prime agricultural land. They also enjoy thanking the people who buy their Cabot products and often raise their hands for opportunities to sample cheese in grocery stores or in New York City on the Farmer’s Gratitude Tour. They regularly host farm tours– including Cabot’s Open Farm Sunday – leading to many appreciative families, veterinary students, college students and school children who love meeting the cows and this extraordinary family.
Happy Farmer Friday and Happy Holidays! This week we thank Charlie Tully for taking the time to answer our questions and to share the Tully Family Christmas tradition:
Tully Family Christmas Traditions
Every year on the 23rd of December, the Tully family gathers at our house. There are about 100 relatives that come over to celebrate the holiday season. We have dinner, there is ice skating, games and lots of catching up. Of course, there is a visit from Santa too. The best year was the year Santa brought my grandfather the 1939 Massey Harris tractor that he had bought many years before. A cousin and I found the tractor and restored it to its original condition. Grampa was so happy to see the “Old Smokey” had come home.
My wife and daughters make cookies for Santa on the 24th. They invite the cousins over to bake and decorate hundreds of sugar cookies to pass out around the neighborhood.
Christmas day has always been different at our house, as it probably is for most dairy farmers. The cows cannot take a day off and neither can we! I get up at 5 am to milk and do the morning chores. While I am at work, my children open their stockings and get ready for the day. When I get home, the kids get to see the presents Santa has left them and we eat breakfast as a family. After we finish unwrapping the gifts, we go to my sister’s house to enjoy the holiday with the family. Then it is back to work!
What is your favorite thing about being a dairy farm family?
My favorite thing about being part of a dairy farm is that I grew up surrounded by family, and now my four kids were able to grow up with their grandparents and great-grandparents working on the farm, closer to them than most people are to their own parents.
What is your family’s favorite meal? Care to share a recipe?
My favorite meal is turkey dinner! However, my favorite “cheesy” dinner is the homemade macaroni and cheese from the Cabot website!
How many generations of your family have been on the farm (and who is there now)?
Tully Farm started when my great-great-grandfather (Henry Tully) bought our first piece of land in Dunstable in 1872. In 1919, his son Charles E. Sr. bought the current property. In the years that followed, Charles E. Tully Jr., George E. Tully Sr. and Eugene E. Tully Sr. followed in their father’s footsteps. George is one of the biggest reasons we have the farm we have today. As the years passed, my father, Charles W Tully Sr. and I have continued on with the tradition. My children, along with some of my cousins and other relatives, also support and work on the farm today. That is a total of six generations now who have worked on the farm.
What is your least favorite farm chore?
My least favorite farm chore is fixing fences – I avoid it as much as possible.
What is your favorite time of year on the farm?
My favorite time of year on the farm is fall because it is time for corn chopping and you get to see the results of a whole season worth of work. The whole family comes together to complete the harvest; my sons, many cousins and friends pitch in to get the work done.
Does anyone in your family participate in any volunteer activities in the community?
My grandfather, George E Tully Sr. taught us the importance of the farm, family and the community. He was a founding member of the Dunstable Rural Landtrust, and was involved in many other activities that benefited our community.
The majority of the Tully family are active members of the grange, at the local, state and national levels. I am the president of Dunstable Grange and have served on various committees. We also participate in the Dictionary Project, which gives every third grader in the local school a dictionary of their own.
I am president of the Middlesex County Farm Bureau. Additionally, I am a corporator of North Middlesex Savings Bank and I am on the Ag Commission for the Town of Dunstable.
What do you think is your greatest accomplishment on the farm?
In 1999, we opened our new milking barn. This took the farm from a tie-stall barn where we had to move the machines from cow to cow to a farm with the newest technology that could milk sixteen cows at a time. This brought our farm into the 21st century and has allowed us to grow and be more efficient.
What is your next Sustainability Project?
Our next sustainability project is a solar farm on a corner of our property. We also continue to log during the winter season to stay busy. I recently put wood floors in my house with logs cut right off the farm.
What is the busiest time of year for you?
I like to joke that we slow down on Christmas day, and I don’t start getting busy again until the next day. With only one full time employee, there is always plenty to do.
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