Monday, July 30, 2012

goodbye maine

We've come home now - home from our week in Maine - and I am again a sojourner in land-locked life.

I will miss these places (and I didn't even have a chance to visit them all this year): Rock, Paper, Scissors (the town of Wiscasset in general), Sherman's, the Boothbay Library bookshop, the Farnsworth, the A1 Diner, Reny's, Sarah's Cafe, Treats, Cabot Mill Antiques, the Dolphin Marina, the Black Crow Bakery.

I will miss the clapboard houses. Simple lines, telescope houses, shutters, white siding, colorful doors - Maine architecture pleases me like no other. And yet I take so few photographs of it, because we are always driving along when I spy some lovely little abode. The best, I've found, are not the fancy houses right on the coast but the more understated ones along the back roads.

And, above all, I will miss the sea. (Yes, I think I do believe in the power of saltwater.) The Maine coast is more than water and sand - it is ginormous boulders, fine pebbles, balsams and birches and pointed furs that let their roots run right up to the edge of the rocks. Some white birches near where we stayed seemed to be reaching out to the water.

I will miss the people, the culture of Maine. I want to go deeper into, explore it and be part of it.
Because that was my consolation as we pulled away early Saturday morning: I will be back.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

postcards from maine

Right now, I don't have the words to say what I'd like to say. Hopefully my pictures convey some part of it.

I love this place.

Sunday, July 22, 2012


I apologize for the lack of posts recently, but there's good reason for it: my family and I are in Maine for a week.

We've been coming here since I was six or seven and now "Maine" is nearly like a magic word for me. Say it and I perk up, every memory I have flooding back. I really am in love with this place; the land, the people, the culture.

On the way up, we stayed in Portland for a day (all these years and I'd never been!). We shopped at Corey & Co. (where my mom has jewelry for sale), ate at the Porthole Restaurant, had ice cream at Mount Desert Island, and my brothers + dad went to see the Portland Pudgy boat builders.

Portland is a city but not an overwhelming one. The architecture is old brick and stone, some of the streets are cobbled. There are quirky eateries and shops. I saw heirloom tomatoes planted in buckets and set out on street corner fors passer-byers to tend and pick from, prayer flags randomly draped between lampposts and buildings, buskers playing folk music.

And now I want to go back.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

more about birds, and what we did today

Over the weekend there were six new additions to the farm; six khaki campbell ducks. For now they are being kept in their house, so that they acclimatize and realize that it is their safe place. Eventually though they'll be free range.

And there's a reason for all these types of feathered creatures; Devin explained it to me today. Each kind of bird can assist the farmer in a different way: chickens scratch the ground, ducks eat slugs but do not bother the plants, and I believe guineas eat pests too. (The turkeys, however, are for eating.) Devin says keeping fowl and vegetable cultivation are an excellent pair.

Today we picked carrots for the shares, watered the fall beets, mulched the peppers, and took down the greenhouse tomato vines. Then, we went for a farm tour...

We went to Spoutwood Farm, about twenty minutes away. Devin is friends with the head farmer there, Brett, and he showed us around his spot of good ground. He and Devin discussed their respective farms; what has worked, what hasn't, what plans they have, what they'd like to tweak. It's great to hear their enthusiasm; it is their livelihood and their passion.

Monday, July 16, 2012

something new, something for the shop

There's something new in my shop today, and I'm pretty excited about it.

I'll now be selling sets of greeting cards with my photographs printed on them. Each one has a theme. I'll be listing them throughout the week, so check in often (or follow my tweets). Today, the farm life set is available.

Friday, July 13, 2012

planting fall crops

What we did yesterday was real farming.
That's what Devin said. By which I think he means the work we did was pretty intense.
I hope that's what he means, at least. Because it was.

We planted a couple fall crops - broccoli, cauliflower and lettuce - in a field Devin let lie fallow for a year or two. The very first time I came to the farm, back in March (when I was considering doing my internship there), the chickens were situated on this very spot. Tuesday the grasses and weeds were mowed down and soil was prepared with Jean's David Bradley

Devin ran the roto tiller down the field, creating a furrow. Into that furrow we sprinkled alfalfa meal and crushed mollusk shells, which are high in calcium. It gives the plants an extra boost, since they take so much calcium from the soil (hence why brassicas, the family broccoli and cauliflower are in, are so rich in calcium). Then the plants were dropped in, pre-watered, covered up, and water again. And we watered downhill, starting at the steepest point so that it naturally ran down the trench.

As the sun rose over the trees, the temperature climbed. It wasn't nearly so hot as last week - that would have been brutal. It was just in the upper eighties, I believe.

I got to run the roto tiller for the first time. It's a beast of a machine that lurches when you run over a large rock and is tricky to turn around. But I got a feel for all the levers and switches. I prepped a section of the field; I couldn't yet manage to dig a furrow (not a straight one, anyway).

We planted six very long rows.

Around nine or nine thirty, a mass of dragonflies came out. Looking up now and then, I watched them crazily buzzing about. And the blue bird came by too. Ruby was our companion in the morning; she rode in the truck with us up to the field and took to standing in the furrows Devin made.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

the birds

There are quite a few winged things running (and flying) about at Side by Side Farm. 

Chickens, mainly. I believe Devin gave me an estimate of 50 or 60 total.

There are two communities of hens and roosters. One is nomadic; they get move about to different locations in the fields so that they can pick and prepare the ground. Back in the beginning of June, Devin and I did just that.

Then there is group that lives in what is affectionally called Guantanamo (above). They are let out to roam free during the day. The clan consists of full size chickens and bantams.

Right now there are lots of new little peeps. My favorites are the grey ones.

Then there are the rather elusive guinea hens. I'm not sure of their numbers; maybe a dozen or so.

The turkeys are a new addition. When I started my internship they lived in a little hutch inside the house. They were tiny, white, fluffy, somewhat adorable and chicken-like looking. Now they have come into their true turkey form: they are ugly.

And there are many kinds of wild birds too: blue birds, orioles, indigo buntings (which use the stars to migrate at night). I've seen a hawk or two and Devin tells me that crows sit in the dead mulberry tree and keep an eye on the chickens, guarding them from hawks.

In other bird-like news, I've started to tweet.