August 19, 2011Vol. 13, No. 11

Farm Days: the Best Last Family Outing of the Season

Two horses pull an unseen wagon.

by Esther J. Perne

Maine Farm Days on Wednesday and Thursday, August 24 and 25, at the Misty Meadows Farm in Clinton is a free invitation to farming at its finest: corn-planted fields (including a maze) in every direction; 550 cows and 400 young stock, contented and well fed; sheep, goats and calves waiting to charm and be petted by young children; work horses pulling wagons around the grounds; a host family, Belinda and John Stoughton and children, warm and welcoming.

Maine Farm Days is a gathering of dedicated farmers, here for the Maine Farm Days Agricultural Exposition, studying the newest in equipment, greeting fellow professionals from around the state, comparing figures (and fortunes), discussing with vendors the latest and greatest in spraying, fertilizing, spreading and other high-tech, insider talk, and nodding with approval at the nonfarmers here to share and appreciate.

A pigtailed little girl sits in a kids' plastic wading pool filled not with water, but with dried corn.

Maine Farm Days is non-farmers, the general public, anxious to indulge in nostalgia or to show their children a farm, a little bit tentative on arrival but quick to get into the swing of things, pausing by booths where agriculture is explained, browsing in the craft tent, letting the kids loose in the children's tent, admiring display equipment, resting in the shade with a tasty snack, tackling the milking contest or smiling at the contestants, and relaxing on the wagon tour where grand-scale, environmentally sound practices are pointed out in an easy-to-see way.

The Misty Meadow operation is huge, a large dairy farm that grows 950 acres of their own feed and other crops — all the forage they need to feed over 900 cows. The farm raises many of its own replacement animals, and milks over 500 cows that produce about 4,400 gallons of milk a day. Maine Farm Days is a great way to say good-bye to the summer season, to linger in a country setting, to discover once again that there's a lot of learning outside of school (which, by the way, starts next week!), and to appreciate a farmer's lifestyle and the production of food.

Maine Farms Days is ready and waiting for the farmers, of course, but also for everyone. It's the best finale outing of the vacation season, and it's free.

Misty Meadows Farm is located at 308 Hill Road in Clinton. For schedule details and directions, visit the Maine Farm Days website.