Hi there, I’m Mandy. My husband, Kevin, and I both grew up in Maine. I’m from Old town, and he’s from Presque Isle, in the far north near the Canadian border. Kevin has a day job, you know, one that makes actual reliable money—unlike volatile farm income. He helps as much as he can between working full time and on his own projects.
Even though he’s in consultation meetings with doctor’s offices all day, he still gets to sit and enjoy lunch with me and chat here and there throughout the day.
Just before Christmas a few years back, I brought in a baby goat between meetings from a doe we had recently purchased, and had no idea she’d been pregnant. He took photos for his coworkers. This summer, our cat cut loose a live rabbit he’d caught in Kevin’s office. There’s rarely a dull moment.
I’m an avid hunter, love to snowshoe, and am obsessed with listening to podcasts while working around the farm. I’ve studied horticulture, ecology, journalism, marketing, digital design and environmental sciences among other things, and worked in a wide range of jobs over the years.
My college advisors hated me. They were obsessed with pushing me to get my bachelor’s as soon as possible. I just wanted to explore and learn about everything. In the end it was my choice. I relished nerdy internships about native pollinators, frog mating songs, and migratory bird behavior. Farming is something that never bores me. Each season brings a whole new set of challenges and rewards.
We moved to Bucksport, Maine in 2017, and married shortly after in 2018. We have three children. Our youngest is obsessed with farm life and keep his own flock of bantams, and enjoys sitting in my lap to steer the lawnmower. Our middle child hates everything about farming and can’t wait to move into the dorms soon. Our eldest son graduated enrolled in the University of Southern Maine this past fall and enjoys the farm life when he can visit. So, it’s a mix.
We have two dogs, and a cat that’s bigger than both of them. Kevin has a large family, and his parents have a house on a lake that we visit whenever we can get away.
When we moved into our home on our little mountain it wasn’t much. There wasn’t a chimney or appliances. There weren’t even stairs to the second floor. The yard had become overgrown with small trees, and a tangle of goldenrod and sweet fern bushes. It had been half-finished, and abandoned since 2003.
But we are both handy and work wonderfully together. The house is still a work in progress, but it’s closer all the time. We collect odds and ends to work on it over time as deals arise. It’s kind of our thing. At one point we nearly threw in the towel and sold everything—I’m glad we didn’t.
Soon we had bush hogged what is now acres of open area, put in a huge 70 x 80′ garden, a 10 x 30′ strawberry patch and built a few coops, a little barn is half finished now—and lest not forget my glorious she-shed. This summer Kevin is finally getting his much deserved garage. Or as our youngest son says, his own he-shed.
We have a Thomas sawmill to supply lumber for our endless projects. Kevin recently applied for his arborists license. He picks up logs here and there from folks looking to get rid of them, and convenient blow-downs on rural roadsides.
Over the past few years we have tried many types of livestock. We have had meat rabbits, dairy goats, waterfowl and pigs. But all we have right now are chickens, quail and our mealworm farm.
As with any family, we have had our fair share of ups and downs. Our middle son had three major surgeries on his spine two years ago, so we sold off our goats, most of our chickens, and butchered our pigs early. We spent months in Boston to be at his bedside at the Children’s hospital. When we finally did get back into breeding poultry last year, our flocks came down with an incurable illness and we had to euthanize all 68 birds.
This past winter I had surgeries on both of my arms, and struggled with depression. It gave me time for reflection, to recenter, and to get back in touch with my artistic side. I began a second business, Maine Forest Artistry, tapping into creative talents I hadn’t explored in years—but my heart is still set on our farm life, and my ability to work on my art is limited by my excruciatingly slow recovery. So for now, my life is centered on caring for over a hundred teenage chicks hatched in early June.
Things are looking up now. Kevin and I went on a wonderful vacation in the Caribbean in May that ported in Miami. Upon our return, we bought a truck and drove 2,968 miles along a meandering path back to Maine picking up hundreds of hatching eggs at various farms along the way. It was certainly a trip to remember.
Some of the breeds are new to us, and others we have had in the past. We liked some of last year’s chickens so much that we bought more from the same farms on the trip, including Marans and Ameraucana. For chicken new breeds, we brought home Belgian Booted Bantams, autosexing Olive Eggers, Bielefelder, 55 Flowery Hen, Legbar, and Seabright. And this is our first time with quail.