Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Proud Mainer!

Recently the town of Sedgwick in my great state of Maine has decided that they (the people) know what's best for them.   The people have spoken and their voices are clear.  Stay out of our Pantry!

I hope this attitude spreads with fervor across the country. It is high time we tell those who supposedly "represent" us that they are in place to protect our freedom--not limit it!  If they will not honor their oath then our rights must be asserted.  WE have a inalienable right to decided what goes in our bodies and such decisions should not be left in the hands of political hack bureaucrats in any house State or Federal.

 No, rather, such decisions will be left for us people to decide in our own homes. Local trade can be regulated locally and should be.   Thank you, good people of Sedgwick for doing the right thing.

This is only the beginning of people telling the gub'mint to back off while they assert their rights to food freedom.  I am glad the food revolution is starting here at home.  Please follow the link below.


Sunday, March 10, 2013

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Broccoli and a Bloated cow

Planted some broccoli with Joel this morning.  Not a bad morning..was a bit overcast but any morning on the farm is a good morning in my opinion.  He is moving his cows tomorrow from their winter pasture to their spring/summer pasture.  I'll show up extra early to help him corral.

I like mornings where I pick up valuable skills or experience something rare that every farmer wannabe should experience and today was one of those days.  We were walking up the road to the garden this morning when I noticed a cow laying on it's side.  To me it looked dead, I say that because it was bloated and laying kind of downhill not moving, but I haven't been around cows enough to really know when one is sleeping and one is dead.  Well, I must have a pretty good instinct because not long after Joel noticed the same cow and said "OH NO"...so apparently he thought it was dead too..and I mean dead.. because he didn't run over he just slowly walked towards the animals shaking his head..."Aw man" he said....I told him I didn't think it was dead because I had just noticed it twitch it's ear...Joel perked up and started making his way over there quickly and I followed likewise..."Help me roll her over" he shouted...I walked over and noticed her ear twitch again and saw her eyes were open but bulging out of her head...she was laying on a slope with her belly and feet facing "uphill"...He grabbed her back legs I grabbed her front legs and we rolled her over down the slope so she was facing the other way now...he and I pushed on her back and finished rolling her onto her belly....she perked her head up and let out a cow sized burp and a cloud of warm breath bellowed out of her meeting the cold morning air...Wow..drama and adrenaline...She slowly came around and it wasn't long till she stood up and started to regain her composure..

So what happened?  I'm not an expert but the jist is this:  Cows have four stomachs and sometimes the gases caused by digestion can become trapped if a cow lies down in an awkward way.  Meaning the gasses can't go from one to another.  What this particular cow did was probably lay down because she had found a nice spot, but because it was on an angle the gasses in her system built up and threw her off balance and she couldn't recover..and of course the longer she laid there the more gas built up and...well you get the picture...she was bloated and unable to move.  Joel checked the cows before bed last night so this must of happened a few hours before we got there...he said if it had been a couple hours longer she probably would have succumbed and died...another important lesson learned by experience.  

So... much like every day on the farm..eventful to say the least..peaceful work interrupted by episodes of near death experiences..haha..I love farming.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Back at it

Back on the farm again for another growing season..today was day one.  Planted onion seedlings with Joel.  It just occurred to me that this will be the THIRD season on the farm...where has the time gone?

Monday, April 23, 2012

Farming and Trapping

Spent the weekend learning about the art of trapping fur bearing critters.  I completed my Maine Trappers Safety course over the weekend.  It's a course designed to educate folks on all aspects of trapping fur bearing animals as well as the science behind the art.  This course is required before anyone in my state can obtain a trapping license.  I'm sure you are asking yourself what trapping cute little furry "innocent" critters has to do with farming...well quite a bit actually.  

As a farmer I will need to be an expert in the area of husbandry...meaning I must be an expert in managing and conserving resources.  I will be responsible for raising crops and livestock...being a land owner as well, I must practice healthy land management and sustainable forestry (hence the forestry workshop I took last year)...If I am raising critters and crops there are going to be other critters who see my critters and crops as a free meal.  Any self respecting farmer will know how to "tend his flock" so to speak.  I see trapping as a great tool for pest control as well as pest management. I'm not going to lie...I can make some $$ at it as well..to any farmer that is extra income and very much welcomed.  

If any of you have ever tried to stop a coyote or fox from grabbing your chickens it's hardly a matter of walking outside and blasting them..or tracking them down...you must be familiar with their habits, know what time they are coming in for "breakfast" and where they sleep...the best pest control is active management  before they slay 20 of your egg layers...Plus you have to sleep too..what are you going to wait up all night every night waiting for a fox or coyote to walk through?  I doubt it..you could, but that's a hard way to live life.  Instead set up a trap line to work while you sleep..it's just good business.  

Keeping the population in check not only benefits me, but the pests as well.  The best way for me to learn the habits of those predators is to trap them...after a couple seasons of trapping you will be an expert in animal behavior as well as the woods....

If you have a population of coyotes growing out of control like we do here in Maine..you have a dangerous scenario brewing.  

One: coyotes are going to eradicate the deer herd and other creatures competing for food..

Two: coyotes are now going to become more desperate for food so they will take greater risks like coming into urban areas and farms more frequently..they will lose any fear of humans..

Three:  When coyotes are starving and lose their fear of humans...well...then it's time to keep your kids inside.  By this time you have a serious problem.

The best way to prevent anything like this happening is proactive management.  I don't mean to pick on the Coyote because they aren't the only animals giving people trouble.  Beavers, fox, fisher you name it.  You could apply the same scenario to any out of control population growth from Bears to field mice. 

A lot of farmers hire out their pest control to outside folks.  My philosophy of a small scale low impact sustainable operation means I must limit the amount of things I import...pest control being one of them.  I need to take these duties on myself in order to save $$$ and be profitable...plus it get's me outdoors and walking around in the woods..my favorite place to be.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

It's all in the name...#organicfarming #maplesyrup #food #agriculture

Well the wife and I have come up with a name for the farm..  "Dirt Rich" Farm...It stems from my wife being worried that if I decided to farm we would be "dirt poor"..haha..I have since (hopefully) convinced her that I would not drive us into poverty with the farming venture.  Instead we will be dirt rich and have rich dirt!  I bought the domain dirtrichfarmstead.com  and yes if you type it in it directs you here...because hopefully when we find the right piece of property and buy it, this blog will turn into our farms website at first until we get something more proper. 

The labels for my maple syrup will have the name on it this year.  Very exciting.  It's like it is all coming together little by little.

now if I could only sell the damn house!

Follow me on twitter!  @mainiacfarmer

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Feels like spring..

Feels like spring today in Bangor, ME.  A big melt and rain has me thinking about getting out my maple syrup taps and equipment....

Wednesday, January 18, 2012


My wife and I Looked at a 50 acre farm in Newport, ME last weekend.  Not quite..poor pasture and the house was falling apart.  If it provided a better wood lot I might have thought twice, but at least it was nice to be looking!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Hard work? Are you crazy?

When did the idea of farming take on such a negative connotation? How do people think their food get's to the grocery store?  Food fairy?  While you are sitting at dinner tonight, please stop for a second and think about how your food came into existence.  

Growing up I wanted to be many things-as children often change their minds with the season.  Not once was I ever met with the kind of disgust for a career choice as when I told people I wanted to farm.  It seems farming has somehow become the career choice to criticize.  It conjures up images of dirt poor, filthy, smelly sub human conditions all orchestrated by some overall wearing, hayseed, podunk hillbilly with two teeth in his head.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  I challenge my readers who have these images to meet a few farmers.

When I tell people I want to give up my job as a desk jockey to become a farmer their reaction would make you believe I told them I wanted to go burn down an orphanage..

I see it in their eyes.  The look.. like I have lost my mind.  I'm met with confusion and they are probably wondering why I have decided to throw my life away.  "Why would you want to give up a good job?" I'm asked a lot.  What makes a good job?  The question is rhetorical.  I know what they mean.  "Why would you want to give up a job where physical labor is non existent?".  

How has hard work become something to be avoided like a widespread disease?  There is no more honest way to make a living than working hard.  If you don't work you don't eat.  Pretty simple.  It seems trendy to denounce hard work as something the uneducated and less fortunate have to deal with.  Something like hard work apparently should be avoided and by doing so has almost become some sort of a status symbol to those who can make a living without having to do much of it.  Seems culture has bred a generation a people who want big paychecks and status coming automatically without lifting a finger.  I know people who actually seem to be proud of their ability to survive knowing as little as possible and doing the same..People's value system has been turned upside down in my opinion.

I read a quote the other day "Hard work is for people short on talent".  Really?  Is the author trying to imply that those who avoid hard work have a real talent at it?  I would like to know this purveyor of widsom's definition of "talent".  Where does talent come from?  From the ability to be lazy?  Do those among us who are most lazy posses the most talent?  I recognize natural talent but I see that only carrying someone so far.  The rest of the way would need to be accomplished through hard work.  Every talented individual I know has acquired talents by way of practice and hard work.  I guess it might take some talent to convince your boss that you are actually working instead of playing solitaire or facebooking day after day.   Not exactly the talents I personally value or appreciate. 

I didn't realize knowing how to grow your own food, harvesting food, building soil, raising and caring for livestock, running a business, running machinery, fixing machinery, processing meat, preserving food, haying, conflict resolution, production planning, timber management, raising bees, making maple syrup ect. ect,.- doesn't take talent? 

"Why would you want to do that" is the most common question.  "Give up being warm in the winter and cool in the summer?!".  I'm not "giving up" anything.  I'm gaining.  Gaining a sense of purpose, a sense of security, of community and providing a good product that will feed and nourish people.

Hard work has become something to be avoided.  It carries with it images of dirty, uneducated destitute folks who just "don't know no better".   People who actually enjoy physical labor are looked upon as if they are denying themselves a good life.  It blows my mind, really. I find no greater satisfaction then coming in after a day of good physical labor. 

To those who work for a living:  Hard work is something to enjoy and be proud of.  A valuable trait to pass onto your children.  Hold your head high at the dinner table and NEVER be ashamed of EARNING your supper. 

Monday, November 28, 2011

Low Impact

I took the 4 day Low Impact Forestry workshop at MOFGA (Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association).  Forestry?  No I'm not planning on being a wood chopper.  I am interested in managing wood lots and harvesting when needed for firewood or timber to build things.  I think every person interested in sustainable living should possess these skills.  I did learn a lot about forestry during the course and will use that knowledge in the future.

  The workshop consisted of two areas of focus.  One area was low impact forestry equipment and the other focused on using draft animals.  I took the draft animals portion. 

I hope to use draft horses for farming.  It is all part of my low overhead/sustainable business model.  The workshop was a great way for me to get familiar with, learn how to keep and work the animals.  It is hands on from the very beginning.  Although the focus was on forestry I was surprised at how in depth the draft animal portion was. For two straight days those of us using animals did nothing but drive teams through obstacle courses and the MOFGA wood lot.  Very hands on.  For someone like me who had only ever petted a horse and took a few riding lessons, I left after four days confident in being able to care for and drive a team. 

I recommend this course to anyone who is curious about forestry or draft animals.

 This is me twitchin' wood with Barney and Bill.
Barney and Bill.  A pair of beautiful Percheron horses.
Taking the reins to drive the wood scoot.

Monday, October 3, 2011


Well here it is.  An updated list of what I've finished and what I plan on accomplishing this fall/winter in order to get the house up to snuff so we can put it on the market.

Center room renovation: 
wall resurfacing
Paint Walls
Paint trim
sand floors
crown molding
fix ceiling/paint ceiling
Living room renovation:
wall resurfacing
Paint Walls
Paint trim
sand floors
crown molding
run wires for media
fix ceiling/paint ceiling
Front Hall renovation:
wall resurfacing
wall paper
Paint trim
sand floors
install new baseboard
fix ceiling/paint ceiling
renovate the staircase/sand/stain/paint/repair

Paint the outside:
 prep the outside scrape/caulk/fix any old clap boards
replace any old trim
prime the outside
paint the trim
paint the clap boards

Fix the roof:
 strip the shingles
ice and water sheild
drip edge

Install new door on the backside:

Stain front door:

Insulate the attic:

Storm Door on Front

Install new stove:
Remove old wall thimble and exterior piping
Frame in new wall thimble.
Patch interior and exterior walls.
Install new piping and hook up stove

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Waldo County!

I consider myself lucky.  Wasn't always the case.  I remember growing up in Belfast, ME as a young feller with his sights set on living "outta state" like many young people I knew.  I couldn't WAIT to make tracks for a big city.  I had it all planned out.  I was going to college, graduating and heading out.  New York?  California?  Yes please!  Anywhere but here!. Why?  I don't know.  I never knew, I was sure the "real world" was out there and I was going to grab it by the horns.  What changed?  LIFE.  I hit a wall and it slowed me down.  I realized I wasn't chasing some dream, but was actually running away.. I didn't know who I was and figured "out there" must have the answer.  I internalized.  I stopped looking to the horizon and started looking around and realized what I have been looking for all this time-it's all around me.  It's been here the whole time.   I discovered who I was and where I belong..  I'm very fortunate.  People spend their entire lives wondering and chasing and never truly find it.  You know.  That one passion that consumes you?

Well I found it, but more than that through all of this self evaluating I rediscovered a place.  Waldo County, ME.  A place where  people think local.  A place which supports local food, local craftsman, artists and farmers markets.  Open minded, hardworking- self reliant folks who by their nature seek good, clean and honest work.  It's inherent in the community.  If you want a community where locally based, self reliant agriculture is not only encourage but supported  it is Waldo County, Maine, U.S.A.  Absolute!

Take my hometown for instance, Belfast.  Cruise through town and look around.  It's local food, art and goods taking up store fronts.  Take a ride up into freedom or head into Unity, Montville.  Take the back roads through Searsmont, Morrill.  Head up to Brooks, Monroe or Winterport and open your eyes.  You see farm after farm.  Old or new.  You see new ones popping up and old ones hanging on.  If it's not a farm it seems almost everyone has a few chickens or a garden growing something.  Waldo County is deeply rooted in it's agricultural heritage.  I love it.  I love the land and attitude.

I grew up and experienced first hand the rural beauty of Waldo County.  The people, the culture.  It formed who I am today and I carry it with me wherever I go.  I wear it with pride like a New Yorker wears his accent. 

I've put a lot of thought into where I would like to buy land and make this farming dream happen.  Many things I've considered and thought about.  The answer is clear:

I'm going to feed people.  I'm going to farm.  Put my hands in the ground and plug in to the most supportive, locally minded- tight nit- community of people I know. When we sell the house and the last box is packed I will return to the green pastures, wood stands and tilled earth of Waldo County.  

I'm going home. 

On common ground

What a weekend!  Visited the Common Ground Fair Friday and Sunday.  The fair, located in Unity, ME, is a celebration of rural life featuring local agriculture, artistry and craftsmen all on display.   Three days of events and seminars on everything to do with sustainable living.  I had a blast and cannot wait until next year.  MOFGA (Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association) puts on the fair every year and does a spectacular job with it's legions of generous volunteers.  For anyone interested in local sustainable agriculture this is a must attend event.

I spent a great deal of the two days just wondering the fairgrounds taking in all the local music, food, wares and many gardens MOFGA has set up on the grounds. I watched livestock demonstrations and toured the many barns and structures filled with all different types of animals.  One of the main reasons I did attend was for the draft animal seminars.  I am very interested in using draft animals someday on my own farm and found the draft animal basics and low impact logging with draft animals portions of the fair very helpful.  I enjoyed them very much.  I want to expand my knowledge of draft animals so I plan on taking MOFGA'S low impact logging course in November! 

Wednesday, September 21, 2011


Fall is just about here.  Apples are coming on and I'm seeing local cider pop up everywhere.   Pumpkin stands are showing up on the side of the road.  My favorite time of the year.  Wood stove weather, the harvest, deer season and hard cider.  The last week has given us a taste of the chilly fall weather I absolutely love.  Standing on the deck breathing in the cool, crisp air at night while wearing my flannel and big socks makes me happy.  I love to watch the trees turn, eat frost kissed squash and witness all of that energy put forth in spring to breath life into everything slowly wind down.  Fall is the beautiful, vibrant, colorful transition to still winter slumber, when all of the animals are scurrying to prepare for the white winter wonderland just around the corner.  

The garden has pretty much run it's course.  Over the next couple weeks we'll take out what we can before the frost kills it, move the herbs inside and dry what we can.  I have the hoop house which will provide greens for us well into winter, but for the most part and the garden has done it's job.  I will keep my carrots and potatoes in the ground for awhile and harvest them as I need them over the next couple of months.  They will be accessible as long as I cover them with hay to keep the ground from freezing.  I harvested my last bit of potatoes last year on Thanksgiving day!  It was nice to have fresh potatoes to go with everything.  We had a good year for taters and should be well stocked, if put away, well into next year. 

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Growing A Farmer

I try to read whenever possible. I actually love to read. Weird, because I hated reading as a kid. I was never really encouraged to do it, I hated school and watched a lot of t.v.. Now that I'm older, I ,like many, wish I would have read more as a kid and watched t.v. less. So now I try and make up for lost time by reading as much as I can before my mind shorts out with old age. 

90% of what I read is farming related...SURPRISE!...I know...during the winter months I do enjoy a break from the norm and usually pick up some fiction novel about turn of the 20th century life at Hudson Bay or maybe the Allagash logging camps in Maine. Last winter it was
Nine Mile Bridge, Three Years in the Maine Woods by Helen Hamlin. I really enjoyed it. Such great escapism stuff.

Anyway, I read a lot and most of what I have learned from farming has come from books.Yes I do learn from the farmer I work for, but there is so much to farming and Joel can't teach me all of it. I only spend a few hours a day with him. The only way to get a full, well rounded education is to seek out information from other farmers. I need to learn how other farmers do things and how they approach a problem differently than Joel. I mean Joel didn't learn how to farm from one guy. Yes, he grew up on a farm, but the majority of his knowledge was gained through books and talking to different people.

Most of what I read is "how to" basics about organic farming. How to build your soil...how to grow veggies...how to raise meat birds...how to....how to...how to...you get the idea.  It all kind of follows the same pattern and can-at times-get a little boring. This is why I was so happy to find a book like the one I am almost finished with called:
Growing a Farmer: How I Learned to Live Off the Land written by Kurt Timmermeister.

Although yes, there is a lot of "how to" in these pages it doesn't feel or read like a how to book. Quite refreshing actually.  It's a story about a man and his life going from restauranteur to farmer. Kurt (the author) didn't have any experience farming or know anything about farming when he decided to take the plunge. In fact a lot of what he learned he said was from reading how to do it and just having the courage to try it.  I could relate.  I have learned much from this book, not only in the area of what not to do, but how to approach farming on a small scale. How to roll with the ups and downs of starting your own farm and what to expect as a young farming green horn.  Also, I have gained a little confidence in my ability to actually do it, to make it happen, reading about a man who basically did what I want to do and succeeded at it. 

A great read.  I highly recommend it.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Getting there.

I have been working on the house, whenever possible and unless pictures of scraped paint and caulking fascinate you, thank me for sparing you the boring blog posts about the fix up.  I think we should be ready for paint very soon (within days) and then it's the roof hopefully by the beginning of September. All this progress just get's me thinking about finally moving out of our home to a new home and new venture.  

Because of my work schedule (my real job) I have not been to the farm in a couple of weeks.  I feel hollow.  I do however have plenty of books to keep my mind active.  I have three going at the moment two on organic farming and one chronicling another mans journey into farming.  

Side note:  I had a wonderful thing happen.  After a year and a half of searching I finally found the farm I would like to buy-of course-when the time is right.  It is a spectacular place with correct portions of pasture and woodland.  It reflects perfectly the vision in my head of what a farm should be.  It also takes me full circle in life because I once lived there when I was very young.  More on that later.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Fox on the run!

For the past couple months I have noticed quite a few feather piles around the farm.  It kinda looks like a chicken might of crashed landed. Feathers are strewn about for 5-6 feet...yet no chicken is found.  Joel has been awakened to the sound of something grabbing chickens in the night, and has gotten out of bed many times to try and stop whatever has been grabbing the birds...

In the spirit of good husbandry I feel it is important to not only learn how to raise healthy food animals, but also how to properly protect them.  It is your job to protect your property, your investment as well as control pests not only in the garden, but in the barn as well.  I understand we all have to eat, but we all don't have to eat MY EGG LAYERS!

So it's early...we just unhooked the hay bailer from the big filthy orange machine and I'm holding coffee in one hand and a tool bag in the other walking towards Joel who's sipping coffee in the cockpit of big filthy.  As I round the front of her ready to hop aboard for the ride up to the back garden I look across the farm and spot a fox standing on the roof of Joel's shed feasting his eye's on the flock of egg layers below; kinda like me staring into a meat cooler at the butcher's shop.  He was picking out the "best cut" if you know what I'm saying....Without wondering how a fox got on top of the shed to begin with I quickly dropped the tools and coffee and ran for the rifle...Now, a lot of farmers will tell you to have a heart...I have a rifle...It's much easier to hit a fox at 100 yards with a rifle than a heart...but before the tears start...He vanished like a paycheck on Friday...the game begins.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

The New Organic Grower

Pretty psyched!   I received a copy of The New Organic Grower in the mail last night...Another book by Eliot Coleman; who I really enjoy.  He's got a great style and teaches you through text and illustration.  If you remember I read Four Season Harvest by him last winter  I really benefited from that book, but Joel told me I would have benefited even more by reading this book first before I read Four Season Harvest.  It dives deeper into the fundamentals and the other books build upon this one.  I have already started reading it and can tell that Joel is right....again.