Sunday, October 5, 2008

Mainly Maine

Wow! What a trip. Russ and I had a great time in Maine! We spent a few days hiking around Acadia National Park. Definitely one of the most beautiful places I've ever been. I took so many photos, it was hard to keep my camera out of my hands. Everywhere I looked there was a gorgeous view of the ocean or the rocks or a mountain. We actually went into Bar Harbor one afternoon just to give our eyes a rest. On our last day in Acadia the fog was rolling in up Cadillac Mountain from the ocean. We spent the afternoon hiking to Dorr Mountain and back up Cadillac, taking lots more photos along the way. I can't wait to go back and explore more of this park! (You can see my photos at my Picasa web album.)

Bring on the Goat Farms!!

I spent the last few days of my trip to Maine on two different farms. Sunday with Caitlin at her farm, Appleton Creamery and Monday/Tuesday with Scott, Jen and Nate at Olde Oak Farm.

Caitlin put me right to work in the dairy using a sausage maker to form logs of chevre. She was working on Halloumi cheese, a mix of sheep and goat milk cheese that is good for grilling. We talked for hours and she explained everything she did. Between rain showers she gave me a tour of the place. I didn't have my camera on me, so no photos to show. But I was impressed with all that she does in a limited amount of space.

Caitlin milks about 30 ornery Alpine goats twice a day, and she makes cheese with the milk from her goats and some sheep milk from a neighbor when she can get it. She sells her cheese at 6 farm markets in the area, needless to say she's a busy woman! I stayed for the evening milking and watched as she used a machine pump to milk 2 goats at a time. I tried, not very successfully, to help her coral the goats and get each one through milking...It took a while as some goats busted into the room every time Caitlin opened the gate. It was quite an experience.

The following day Russ and I arrived at the Olde Oak Farm in Orono. Jen and Nate showed us around and introduced us to the goats. They have Nubians at Olde Oak, which were in heat so they were very sweet and wagged their tails a lot. (I get a kick out of that.)

As we looked around, Jen explained that a couple years ago, a housing development moved in next door. Since then they have looked for a new farm, and are currently in the process of expanding and building a new house on a 100 acre farm in a place called Maxfield. The cheese plant,and the buck barn are actually mobile, so they will be moved to the new farm with goats and all later this year.

Jen said that everything they do now will basically be doubled next year. They plan to be milking 21 does next year and are adding a couple more farm markets to their schedule.

We drove up to see the new farm, and as Nate went off to pick apples looking very Jonny Appleseed-esque, Scott showed us around the structure that will become their home. I was really impressed with the level of detail and planning that has gone into the design of the house. They are building with apprentices and guests in mind, and I can't wait to see it completed.

When we got back to the current farm, I helped Jen and Scott with milking. They also used the machine pumps, but only do one goat at a time. The machine doesn't get all the milk from the teats, so I got to help hand milk the goats! It was slow going and I accidently sprayed myslef with milk more than once, but I think I did pretty well overall. Only one or two goats tried to sit on me while I was milking. Apparently, they can tell when someone is new to milking and just like school kids, try to take full advantage of the newby. I didn't spill the bucket, which both Scott and Jen said is the most important goal. When you spill the stop and clean everything.

Both Caitlin and Scott, Jen and Nate tried to impress on me the amount of work that goes into working and living on the farm, especially during peak season--May and June. Scott said that we'll laugh and cry and be exhausted, phsically and mentally, but that most importantly, it's worth it. He says he wouldn't change a thing. And in March I'll get to experience all of this, for better or worse I guess. But I have a great feeling about it all. I can't wait to get to work and make it work.

1 comment:

  1. Hey Arlene its Nate from Maine. Glad to hear you are going to be comming to the farm this March!! Thats so exciting! My email is and feel free to contact me about the farm or anything exciting. Hope all is well in Ohio