We both moved to Maine at about the same time in 2006, and after meeting through a mutual friend, fell in love and went off on adventures together, farming and traveling in eastern Europe, and on the west coast. Living in rural Oregon, we met an eccentric old hippie-goatherd whose infectious love of biodynamics and Nubian goats quickly spread to us.
Throughout our travels, we dreamt of our future homestead, and that dream always involved Maine and dairy goats. We returned to Maine in 2010 to work as apprentices at Broadturn Farm in Scarborough, while embarking on our “5-year plan” to find land and begin a homestead. We joined FarmLink, the brilliant program run by Maine Farmland Trust, and after reading the listing of over 200 farms separately, we each felt strongly we should follow one particular listing in Litchfield:
This led us to Janet Pence and Brian Kent, and after meeting with them, all four of us knew it was a serendipitous match. We fell in love with the land, the beautiful forest with a cascading stream through the middle, the stone walls, the aesthetic of the fields, barn, and homestead lovingly created by Brian and Janet over their nearly 40 years there. We decided to do a “year trial,”planted garlic that fall, and returned to inhabit a three-season cabin the following spring. Within the first week we fenced in some fields, took over their unused barn, and started our goat herd with a milking doe, two doelings and a buckling; set up three beehives (“the land of milk and honey,” we said); and tilled and planted 1/4-acre subsistence garden.
We also began clearing a lot on “our” land (a 13-acre corner of the property), and by the end of the “year trial,” we had excavated a foundation hole for a house; installed a 600-foot driveway; drilled a 300-foot well; and cut and milled timbers for a house frame. With our genius builder friend Robbie Alden of Crooked Timbers Joinery, we completed the timber joinery by the end of our first winter on Oak Hill. Much to the consternation of many in our families, all of this was done with no formal or legal agreement. We all trusted each other in the process. Brian and Janet could tell we were dedicated to this land, and our ethics and worldview were in alignment enough for them to pass the baton on to us as stewards. Ultimately, in September of 2012, they legally deeded us the 13 acres as a wedding gift, with no exchange of money.
We share tools and equipment, eat meals together periodically, cooperate on projects when extra hands are needed, and pick up chores here and there for each other. They eat well from our garden, and love the cheese, yogurt, and honey when it’s available. It is understood that as they age, we will increasingly help with tasks such as procuring firewood, building maintenance, and other physically demanding tasks. Being deeply concerned about the future of the earth in general, and land in Maine in particular, they hope that our arrangement could become a viable model with which to bring a new generation of stewards to their places on the land. We are forever grateful to them for providing the opportunity for us to manifest our dreams, in this very special corner of the world.
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