In loving memory of Ed Gulley
by Tony Thayne
With a heavy heart we announce this years TOFT pay it forward recipient as Carol Gulley.
Carol is the wife of Ed Gulley (my in-laws) who passed away after a battle with brain cancer.
I came to know Ed and Carol 18 years ago after meeting Maggie and driving to the farm for the first time. Maggie told me not to be offended because he wouldn’t talk to me but my competitive spirit kicked in and took it as a challenge. To Maggie’s amazement we quickly became friends and shortly after I became part of their family. I always felt I owed them a debt of gratitude for they gave me the best gift anyone could ask for in their daughter.
As time moved on Ed and I became pretty close. We had hard discussions, gave advice to each other and shared countless laughs. Ed was a strong man, a farmer true and true, that on many occasions had to explain to me, “why he did it”. It wasn’t about the money, it wasn’t so much about working for yourself because you worked for the animals they didn’t work for you. It was truly the only lifestyle he could have imagined. To care for animals unconditionally whether in driving rain storms, hard blizzards or the oppressing heat it was what was in his DNA.
The farming industry was never anything I had an understanding for until coming into the family. Hearing stories on how animals are bred for better genetics, all the quality checks they look for in feed and in the milk and something as simple of how a sore foot impacts that cows production. There was so much science behind the “simple” label of Farmer that I found it fascinating. Dairy farming to this day is one of, if not thee most regulated industries in the country. As milk prices go, the general consumer thinks wow milk is up $4 per gallon in places the Farmers are making a killing. Dairy Farmers are paid per 100lbs of milk. The latest study for the Northeast shows it takes $24.50 per 100lbs to just break even and as I’m writing this the current milk price is $13.00 per hundredweight. That’s roughly $1.25-$1.50 per gallon yet $3-$4 sometimes even higher is being paid in the store. Imagine going to your job everyday knowing if everything goes smoothly and I ration everything properly I’m going to lose $11+ per hundred. This is so perplexing for an “outsider” but it goes back to the lifestyle conversation and the mentality that regardless of the market the unrelenting love of a farmer for his animals will prevail.
My heart hurts for Carol, who had to say good bye for now to her Farmer, my heart melts for my wife who lost her “first man” but my heart also rejoices because those other feelings come from how much Ed touched this world in a positive manner. Hurt comes from the love felt for another human being and Ed’s passing has proven how much he was loved.
The TOFT team is honored to pay it forward to Carol and help cover funeral expenses and outstanding medical bills.
Thank you all that support TOFT in making it one of the best events we can share.