My full time job for the last thirty years has been listing, marketing, selling Maine real estate.
Before that, I was a broadcaster. Working in high school at the small local AM station called WHOU that at the time was owned by Howdy Doody, who was pretty big in black and white early television with his kids’ show. In college for a broadcasting/film degree from the University of Maine at Orono, I worked my way up the commercial radio station to one owned by horror writer Stephen King. But to leave Maine, and continue the climb in my broadcasting career and consider raising kids outside of “Vacationland” put me at a life Saratoga point. Real estate became the logical next step and producing videos for my job and local community fit right in with my “former life”. Here’s the video highlights of how I ended up where I am now. This is the guy who hunts and pecks the MeInMaine blog.
But before the career path of broadcasting to real estate and then a blend of the two, I grew up on a Maine potato
The days of the local Maine family farms are waning and fewer of the land smaller spreads exist.
The trend of less farmers, bigger farms. How do I “feed” that childhood involvement of the farm experience that is in my system, part of my inner GPS and value system? The hunger to work under the son on the same equipment my dad, his uncle did?
I am lucky to own the tractor I spent a lot of time on as a kid on that farm. The 1953 Farmall Super M tractor, older than I am, is a piece of equipment I have the utmost respect for.
One, because I depend on it starting next week for the yearly bush hogging of the farm I bought that myself and three older brothers grew up on. Most of the farm is rented to an area potato farmer with rotations to grains every other year. Other sections are in the soil bank Conservation Resource Protection (CRP) program whereby that farm section is seeded down with special seed to promote a healthy “rest” from the farming cycle, over a ten year span. $50 an acre is receive as payment to put that soil in the soil bank, to keep it a farm field and help pay the property taxes. The rest of the farm not rented out, not in the CRP program is hayed and this year, with all the rain, haying has not been an easy operation.
The second reason I respect the heck out of the antique Super M tractor is because my dad, his uncle were farmers and roamed the same fields on the family farm.
When I am bush hogging, I can see what I have done that Saturday afternoon, or for a few hours before sunset. I know my family has maintained, worked hard on this same farm and are now gone, leaving the job to me. Something to pass on to my two sons who are home from college this summer. The two daughters did not get as exposed to the farming experience for which I am sorry. This farming heritage is in my blood but not the way I make a living. I am a pretend farmer because real estate is a jealous master…requiring most of my wits to keep up with changing technology and new ways to deliver information on property, on the local area events.
This Super M will run all day on five gallons of gas. In its earlier days, the gas it gulped was leaded, to help the
valves in lubrication. Now it does not pull plows, discs, harrows or a hay bailer. It does not pull a drain drill, a potato digger, or cultivate and hoe a crop. But I have all that equipment, could shift to the inbred farming skills and planting thru harvesting a crop. Or to raise cattle, beef if need be.
That is a secure feeling, a sense of being able to feed my family, and for members of my family to continue to feed their kids, my grandchildren and so on. It may come to that with world affairs and this 300 acre family farm intact, is now a hobby but could be a livelihood. But farming is no picnic, being dependent on the weather which is unpredictable, and sometimes cruel. Farming in Maine is hard work, but the haying, planting, harvesting of potatoes is a labor of love, something I have always known, that my parents, my brothers did growing up.
So I am excited. My hobby, the Maine farm, needs to be bush hogged. The operation starts this weekend and I am anxious to climb on the tractor, head out to the fields. I hook up the tractor battery, change the oil, grease the joints and head out to the back forty. Over the next week in my spare time and with the help of my two sons the farm fields will be mowed, trimmed and groomed. There will be immense satisfaction. A sense of stewardship, of history.
My parents are gone, dying in their 80’s but I feel they are sharing my joy, approving of the Maine farm care I continue that they passed on to me.
As I bounce along on that Super M approaching a Maine sunset, the sight of a white tail deer watching me, eating wild apples from a distance is serene. The hawk flying in a circle overhead. Looking, scouting for a mouse to sample. That scurries from the freshly mowed grass behind me. Makes a fatal run for it.
And the sunset, view of the hills hits me deeply. I think of my dad, my brothers, my great Uncle Finley who owned the Maine farm prior to 1959 and back into the teens, watching, smiling, approving. They enjoyed the same sunset..just a few decades earlier and the experience is spiritual for me. I know I am on the earth for a short time, and to enjoy, savor it. Being a steward of this family farm is an honor. And my kids may need some of that land to survive, to feed their kids and I hope it stays intact. Watch a Maine potato picking operation video…hear it, see it, experience it.