Fourth barn is a charm: Maille Dairy Farm celebrates 100 years of farming

Photo by Scooter MacMillan
From left, Benjamin and Jim Maille stand in front of the fourth barn to stand on that spot. Jim’s grandfather had to rebuild the barn three times, but this one has stood since 1939, housing one of the last dairy farms in Shelburne.

Staff Writer

On Saturday, Aug. 10, the Maille Dairy Farm celebrates its 100th birthday.

It is one of the last dairy farms in Shelburne.

In 1919, Philiza and Blanche LaMothe from St. Albans bought the farm on Dorset Street, just south of the intersection where Barstow Road turns into Cheesefactory Road.

Philiza continued work on his father’s farm in St. Albans and on his own farm in Shelburne, said Sylvia Maille.

“They would walk the animals between St. Albans and Shelburne.”

Sylvia and her husband Jim Maille run the farm now. They took over the farm from Jim’s parents Marguerite and Joseph Maille in 2014. Jim’s parents took over the farm from Marguerite’s parents Philiza and Blanche in 1969.

Philiza LaMothe built a barn shortly after purchasing the farm. He replaced the barn three times on the same spot as the first two barns burned down, then … a storm.

Tornado took the barn

In 1939, Philiza and his son Philip LaMothe were working in the barn when a tornado lifted the barn and set it back down but a few feet off the foundation. Both of them ended up below the barn, although Philip was next to a concrete foundation wall, the barn didn’t come down directly on him. It shifted several feet to the east and Philip ran for help.

“My uncle was 6 or 8 when he saw the barn lifting. He thought, ‘It must be the end of the world,’” said Jim Maille.

His uncle became a Catholic priest.

Philiza was under the barn between timbers and trapped but was OK. It was several hours before the storm ended and neighbors could dig him out.

As Philiza LaMothe started building his fourth barn on the same spot, his neighbors told him he should just sell the farm and move.

“Everybody told my grandfather to leave, that Satan must be here,” said Jim Maille.

His grandfather didn’t listen, and the 1939 barn has been standing for 80 years. It’s the barn that houses Maille Dairy Farm.

Jim Maille said that to be a farmer it has to be in your blood.

“You don’t work the long hours unless it’s in your blood. It must be in my blood,” he said. “I like cutting hay.”

Farm birthday party

Sylvia Maille said they were celebrating the farm’s 100th birthday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. this Saturday, Aug. 10.

There will be hayrides, games, cake and ice cream. They will have a milking around 4 p.m., weather permitting. Sylvia asks visitors to bring a dish to share. They will be cooking hamburgers and hot dogs, which she said will be “first come, first served.”

Sylvia Maille said the party is their way of showing their appreciation to the town.

“Shelburne has been very gracious in supporting us,” she said.

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