WE HAVE BEEN FORCED TO CHANGE OUR NAME DUE TO COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT BY MIDDLE-EARTH ENTERPRISES. WE ARE NOW “WHEATON MOUNTAIN” FORMALLY KNOWN AS “HOBBIT HILL”.
Homestead Update written on 3/13/19
We have also changed the names of our separately managed Facebook pages as follows:
Wheaton Mountain Dairy Goats
Wheaton Mountain Hatchery
Wheaton Mountain Rabbitry
Wheaton Mountain Homestead
These Facebook pages are kept separate to make it easier for people to find our goats, rabbits, poultry, and homestead education. We may be forced to delete some of or merge these pages in the coming weeks. Thank you for your ongoing support while we wade through this ridiculous mess. The name change was the last straw for me—I hope anyway. This past month has been one long thread of bad luck in the fabric of homestead life including more personal struggles.
We were renting out a house until some buyers could finance it. It’s a ridiculously big house for this area of Maine complete with an indoor pool and Great Room large enough to tie a 15-foot rope on to set up a swing for our kids. We bought after it had been vacant for years and fixed it up while we lived there. As time passed we decided to move to a smaller house on the abutting property which had more potential for starting a farm.
The buyers put off the down payment for months for what seemed like reasonable and valid excuses at first, eventually we kept asking and got less than believable responses. Last week they suddenly left leaving the house trashed, unheated and vacant again mid-winter.
We immediately had to fill the pipes of the house with antifreeze and clean it for showings. The only notice we received was to go weatherize the place so the pipes wouldn’t freeze and that they would be out within a week. It was good of them to let us know that much. Upon arriving they’d already left. Piles of trash bags, unwanted junk, dirty floors and counters were all that was left of them. They’d obviously planned to move and even left paperwork behind on other houses they were looking at.
It took days us to clean it so we could start showing it and it’s still not as clean as I’d like it to be. The 3500+ square foot home is a daunting task with the hight of hatching and kidding season ready to peak in a month. We have had a few serious buyers look at it and have high hopes for it to sell so we can build a garage and a barn (his and hers!).
A couple days later two young chickens died. With the advice of a few other breeders, I did what I though was the right thing and brought the poor little two-month-old pullets to a lab at the University of Maine for testing. They freaked out and called me on a Saturday to tell me it was a possible case of some rare flock killer and put our farm under a temporary verbal quarantine. I was told to immediately kill all the chickens who’d shared a space with them, so I did. Again, I thought this was the right thing to do. The cull included about 25 week-old or younger chicks, five mature hens, and six more two-month-old chicks.
The state poultry lab called me just two days later to tell me it was no big deal—just an upper respiratory infection and not contagious. Nothing to worry about my flock catching. I was furious! I felt sick and horrified that I had killed perfectly healthy chickens and little fluffy, innocent chicks. I had lost several hatching egg orders, chick sales and had to cancel an Open Farm Day. When the state poultry inspector said he had to come and inspect my flock in order to raise the quarantine. I told him he’d need to give me a day to cool off before he came on our property.
In the meantime, we’d brought in two young rabbits from their outdoor housing due to the bone-chilling nighttime temps right around zero and high winds with 60+mph gusts lasting over five days. The fuzzy sweethearts were hopping around the house and apparently ate some dog food. They both died. To add to the rabbit let-downs, three rabbit pregnancies didn’t take all by different breeding pairs—a weird occurrence to say the least. We lost three rabbitry customers. All three does were rebred this week with a secondary breeding the following day just to be sure. They are all at peak breeding age, great health and two have had successful litters.
A Flemish Giant named Garfield escaped his house after some farm visitors left the doors open. He snuck around just out of my reach for two days under and near the rabbit house. We have a lone coyote, fox, bobcat and weasels here.
I’d given him up for dead. Low and behold two days in to the raging windstorms I saw him under an old door leaned up against the rabbit house. I filled my hands with food and slowly approached. He was in a corner. I laid over the board slowly so I didn’t spook him. There was a board missing on the old door and I sprinkled some sweet feed. I watched him timidly nibble on it and come closer. The gap was not wide enough to pull him out of; only to grasp and hold him while I stuck my other arm under the end of the door.
My ear-flap hat flew off and pinned agains some fencing in the wind. My hair blocked my view and I’d left my gloves in the snow knowing I’d have better grip without them. More time passed and I became seriously concerned about frostbite. Finally he let moved close enough. I grabbed him and pulled him out as planned. Garfield fought, scratched and bit me while I held on tight. I brought him to his cage, filled his dish with sweet feed as a treat, poured in some warm water and a thick layer of hay. Now he’s back to his fun-loving laid back self. I’m not sure he was cut out for the wild, but it’s cool he got to have fun and not be eaten.
I called the chicken guy a day later. He said he wouldn’t be able to come out until about a week later. I seriously speculated if it was just to ruffle my feathers. In the meantime I continued to lose or put-off customers who’d ordered hatching eggs from our specialty breeds which I ship all over the US. He also informed me that I’d need to fill out yet another form in order to ship eggs out of state which I had never heard of–nor had any of my farmer friends. So now I have to take ten minutes to fill out a form each time I ship eggs. This was not part of my pricing and I don’t want to raise prices this far into the season.
Once I was cleared to ship eggs and to start up our hatchery again for local chick sales my recently purchased 264-egg incubator died in the night. All the eggs went cold. I loaded our old incubators and ran to a friend’s to grab hers at 7:30AM on a Sunday. My neighbor had her eggs in my incubator. I had to wake her up to come get them. Each 48-egg temporary incubator was stuffed with 100+ eggs stacked as carefully as possible.
Some of the chicks were so near hatching they were peeping in the eggs as I moved them. My husband drove to another friend’s house and miraculously brought back parts to fix it. We are fortunate to have friends to help us out. Most of them ended up hatching just fine but there was a much lower hatch rate. I can only hope the rest of the eggs will hatch accordingly or I’ll be set back a month on pre-sold orders.
The very next day I received an email demanding I change our farm’s name, Hobbit Hill Homestead, from Fredrica Drotos at Middle-earth Enterprises per copyright infringement. I shared my thoughts on Facebook including a copy of the email she wrote me which was promptly removed from all four of our pages. We keep a different page for our rabbity, hatchery and dairy goats. All of which we will lose followers from and lose the connections we have spent a year building. We were able to change the goat, rabbit and hatchery pages—but I’ve had to file an appeal to change the main homestead page with 1550+ followers and have been banned from posting anything until the appeal has been reviewed.
I will have to change our logo, business cards, website and Facebook pages to reflect our new farm name. Bangor Daily News reached out to do a story on this forced name change which will hopefully give us some publicity after losing notoriety and brand image.