Farm. Live. Love.
Frank Baylis and his partner Chris Oldt have farmed together for the past 22 years in Tom’s Brook, Virginia. They’ve stayed in business by raising extremely rare heritage livestock breeds like English Longhair Cattle and African Hairsheep. They also raise and show purebred dogs on the side for extra income.
GayRVA.com: What do you do?
Baylis: As little as possible (laughs). I breed and show dogs, ponies and rare breed livestock. I have three farms and two kennels (bayshorekennel.com).
What do you love about what you do?
That I’m always busy and the fact that I stay pretty fit for my age. I’m 55 but can I lie about that? But also that I’m my own boss and I have friends all over the world from Iceland to Thailand to Brazil. Most of all, the fact that I preserve breeds of livestock that are endangered.
How did you get into this work?
I was going to be a vet, so I was taking Animal Husbandry 101 at the community college. I was the only guy in an all-girl class. We were at a farm for a demonstration and I was in the back trying to be funny. The teacher said, “You were talking the whole time, Frank, so you must know what you’re doing. Come show the class how to artificially inseminate this cow.”
So I put on a big glove and lubed up and stuck my hand up there to palpitate its cervix. I had no idea what a cervix should feel like. I felt this wave coming over my arm and I thought the cow was going to shit all over me, so I screamed like a woman and yanked my arm out of there, leaving the glove inside the cow.
Needless to say, I flunked the class.
If you weren’t doing what you do, what would you be doing?
Laying on a beach in a warmer climate!
How has it been challenging to be out in a rural setting?
To be frank, no pun intended, and honest about my sexuality. People always ask if I’m married and have kids. I always say no, I’m a gay man with a partner.
What do you like to do in your off time?
What time off? With three farms and lots of dogs , there is never any extra time, but I guess it’s to dream while I work.
Do you miss anything about city living?
Being able to go to great restaurants on every corner that stay open late. Being able to have a nightlife and friends that are closer to be able to do things with.
What’s your biggest life lesson so far?
Always be yourself. People respect you more. Be honest. If someone’s going to be a prick to you, be a prick back. Don’t start it but give it back. And don’t be a Greedy Girl in life or relationships. It’s one of the worst emotions.
Describe your perfect date.
Mute, breathing, rich and living in another city. Just kidding.
Being able to chat about nothing and relating and being comfortable with the other person. But I’ve been with my partner for 21 years so that’s where the dreaming part comes in.
Or do you mean like going up to our local fire tower on top of the mountain and sitting with a blanket on a calm summer evening watching the lights of four towns in the distance but hearing silence except for forest night sounds?
Any relationship advice?
Let me tell you, a relationship is a job. Especially on the farm, because we’re together 24/7. You’ve got to work at it. There will be days when you get up and say, “I don’t want to do this.” You just have to put up with things, like you do on a job. Other days you argue right back.
And as soon as you have problems, if this is a person you love, seek out couples counseling. There are ups and downs. It’s like a roller coaster and sometimes I feel like a carny.
But there’s someone for everyone in the gay life, whether they’re 600 pounds or skinny or mean. There’s someone for everyone.
Photos courtesy of Frank Baylis.
Karen Newton is a freelance writer and full-time nerd who isn’t happy unless she’s going out every night for food, music or art and blogging it at www.icouldgoonandon.blogspot.com.
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