Super Senior: Frank Bullis

Published: Feb. 18, 2021 at 12:32 PM EST
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GRAND ISLE, Vt. (WCAX) - Frank Bullis has never had a long commute. Except for a stint in the Army, he’s spent much of his life down on the farm in Grand Isle.

“I never did like getting up early, but I did. I did it for years,” Bullis said.

Savage View Farm is celebrating a century in the Bullis family. The dairy operation has changed dramatically since Bullis took over the business from his dad. “When I was real young, there was probably 40 farms,” he said. Now, theirs is the last. Bullis and his son Dwight decided to buy up existing farms in the area -- either go big or go home. Dairy farming is now big business.

Reporter Joe Carroll: Do you feel fortunate that you were farming when you were?

Frank Bullis: Well, my son says I should be.

Dwight has taken over running the operation. “He found me half asleep one morning there, milking, and he said, ‘I guess we better get somebody else to do the milking,’ so he did,” Bullis said.

At 88, Bullis still helps out where he can. The farm produces over a hundred times the amount of milk than when he started. They’re flush with milk -- cash, not so much. The milk market has been brutal, another victim of the pandemic. “Closed the schools -- no school milk. It closed all the restaurants,” Bullis said.

Times have changed but it’s impossible for Bullis to forget his roots. The house where he was born still stands on the property, with the old schoolhouse nearby. He also has a pile of pictures, memories from the past. He met Nancy in town.

Reporter Joe Carroll: What was the attraction?

Frank Bullis: Prettier than hell.

Since Grand Isle didn’t have a high school, the two went off the islands to Milton. “We’d go over there on a bus from here. Of course, we were kind of a bunch of hicks. I mean, I never went to a school that had running water,” Bullis said.

The couple eventually married and raised four children. Last year, Nancy’s health went into a steep decline and he went into an assisted care facility. She did not have COVID but was in quarantine. “She just couldn’t stand it. She wanted me to come in and I couldn’t go see her,” Bulis said. “She called me the night before she died in the morning and I said I’ll be right in, but when I got in, she passed.”

What keeps Bullis going is great memories and a family still on the farm. “There’s the kid running the farm now,” Bullis said.

Reporter Joe Carroll: You’re proud of him?

Frank Bullis: Oh, he’s a good boy.

An ever-changing business, but a work ethic that never goes out of fashion. “I had a good life, a real good life,” Bullis said.

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