Here it was like a beehive with too many fuzzy cheeked teen-agers who couldn’t possibly be experienced enough to be of much help. But work was being accomplished; bents, end walls and partitions were being assembled like magic and raised into place with well-coordinated, effortless ease and precision. No tempers were flaring, no egomaniacs were trying to steal the show, and there was not the usual ten percent doing ninety percent of the work.
Under scattered clouds and surrounded by dazzling fall foliage, small and part-time farmers and gardeners from at least four of the New England states gathered at Highmore Farm in Monmoth, Maine, for the second Small Farm Field Day on Oct. 12, 1985. Sponsored by the Maine Cooperative Extension Service, Maine Organic Farmer and Gardeners Association (MOFGA), Maine Small Farm Association (MSFA) and hosted by John Harker, manager of the Fruit Research Experiment Station at Highmore Farm, this one-day event is an intensive learning experience in practical small farming.
If it weren’t for the maple syrup season, March could be a very long month. Too early to plow and too muddy to do much else, it’s still a great time to be outdoors. And at Malabar Farm State Park, the legacy of the late Louis Bromfield, March is Maple Syrup Festival time, a time for everybody to get together after a long winter, to renew old acquaintances and to show the new generation what tapping maple trees and boiling sap to make maple syrup is all about.
The drive culminated on the “Bridge of Dreams,” the 370 foot long trestle on the old Pennsylvania Rail Road right of way that is now part of the Mohican Nature Trail from Danville to Fredericksburg. This trail from Danville is gravel and horse and wagon accessible. Although not opened all the way to Fredericksburg yet, the trail is open past Brinkhaven and over the second longest covered bridge in the country, the “Bridge of Dreams” that was dedicated in April of 1999.
A trip to their grandparent’s or some relative’s farm was once something every child looked forward to. There were baby chicks, ducks, and geese to feed; there were newborn calves, lambs, and perhaps a litter of pigs to care for; cows to milk and a vegetable garden to weed and gather food that went directly to the kitchen. Children learned to appreciate wholesome, fresh food, where it came from, how it was grown, and a respect for farming.
Becky Zeune keeps about twenty miniature horses, a couple of donkeys, two llamas and an assortment of barnyard poultry on her family’s farm near Danville, Ohio. Becky is not into breeding commercially or showing, she is one of those individuals who find that “there is something about the outside of a horse that is good for the inside of a person.”
The animal standing at my feet was a sheep, but there was something very different about it. Instead of the usual thick coat of wool, this sheep had a sleek deer-like coat of hair. The temperature was climbing from a low of twenty below the night before to around zero the December morning we visited Piel Farm in Abbott, Maine. Two hundred and fifty or so head of sheep housed in south facing open sheds were contentedly lying on the dry manure pack or walking about chewing their cuds. The only indication they showed of the cold was their white breath in the crisp, dry air.