02 Apr Meet Block Island’s Youngest Farmer
Story published on sorhodeisland.com by Todd Corayer
It’s quite a lot of work, managing 17 acres of animals and a small business while staying focused on your education. Bailey Payne does all of that while playing two instruments and three sports, collecting and delivering eggs from her hundreds of chickens and, most importantly, being the sweetest fifth grader. At just ten years young, she’s an athlete who plays baseball, basketball and soccer on teams that regularly travel to compete with mainland schools, practices the piano and trumpet and loves anything associated with the ocean, especially surfing.
Bailey has a passion for her farm animals, which she has grown into a family business. She faithfully cares for two horses, Patty and Baby Doll, four hair sheep, three pigs and a boar named Raylinda. And then there is her favorite, her special pet, a miniature donkey named Star. Star’s not really a fan of carrying people on his back, “He doesn’t really move when you try to ride him,” Bailey says, but “he’s gentle with me and he pulls me in a cart. He’s about three feet tall and I named him.” Her words fall from a giant, beaming smile.
Right through the winter she feeds and cleans all those animals along with several hundred chickens who lay about 100 eggs a day. When she’s off-island for sports, her father Tristan, who could not be more proud of her, takes the reins and covers the chores. Come summertime, Bailey increases her fold to 300 chickens so she must sell even more eggs. Orders are placed with her grandmother, Cathy, and together they travel the island to deliver dozens of dozens twice a week.
“Well, we sell them to the grocery store and we deliver them with our car,” Bailey says. They sell to inns including The Seabreeze, The Darius, The Bellevue and occasionally some lucky individual customers. “She’s very polite, she’s very sweet,” says Seabreeze Inn Manager Jenn Frued, adding, “She is definitely helpful, she brings them to the door and leaves a ticket if we’re not here.” Raising chickens and keeping promises, that’s Bailey.
Summertime on Block Island is busy. While grownups and kids play along shorelines or snorkel for quahogs, Bailey works five days a week peddling her Payne Farm Eggs, learning to be responsible and organized, to manage money and time. When the work is done, she listens to an iPod purchased with money she earned and saved, rides her horses with friends or takes to the waves on a hot pink surfboard.
Bailey Payne is a peach. “Our eggs taste better, because they’re farm fresh,” she says with a smile, rightfully proud of her ambition and growing business. Bailey is the best of the island’s old and new worlds: she’s working her family’s land, raising animals for love and money earned partially from tourism while saving what she’s earned, ensuring one more generation of smart, hardworking independent Block Islanders.