Some of the most successful farms around here are out on the water

As many fish stocks dwindle precariously, salmon farming and related aquaculture are hailed as a viable alternative.

Salmon pens at Broad Cove.

Young salmon are placed in the circular enclosures when they’re about six inches long, where they leap and splash under netting that protects them from eagles, osprey, cormorants, and gulls. In about two years, they grow to a harvestable size of about two feet and ten pounds. A specially designed vessel sucks the mature fish from their pens and its conveyor stream immediately cleans and guts them.

Lubec rises in the distance.

Cooke Aquaculture, based in Blacks Harbour, New Brunswick, manages 15 pens in Deep Cove and Broad Cove, operating from a former fertilizer plant on Estes Head. A feeding barge sits amid the pens, which house about 450,000 salmon. About one-third of the pens are left fallow at any time.

A pen like this can hold 25,000 fish. The netting protects the salmon from osprey, eagles, and other predators.

From our upstairs windows, we can see other salmon farms at Campobello Island across the channel.

As for recipes? I’ll often make mine as sashimi.

 

Off to Aroostook County

I was feeling a little down as Eastport turned into its annual ghost town. Cooped up, too, especially under the tedious revisions to the Dover history, even before seeing how much I still don’t know and will likely never know, even if I spent a month at the University of Massachusetts going back through the Quaker archives.

Then I realized I hadn’t been anywhere other than eastern Washington County since mid-April. Six months confined to this sliver of rocky coastline and piney interior. The largest city has only ten thousand population and has commercially suffered under the Covid border restrictions. So I decided to see something new and finally settled on Aroostook County, widely known simply as The County, and thus hit the road at 7:15 Monday morning and headed up U.S. 1 without a plan other than turning back around noon.

I can now tell you it’s four hours to Caribou and a lovely drive, some of it through long stretches of forest, others through the tidy farmlands of The County itself. Yes, tidy, unlike many of the rural residences in this state.

Remote Aroostook County is famed as potato farming country.

Turned out to be the perfect day. Sunny, foliage in its prime, little traffic, small roadside sheds selling new potatoes on the honor system. I really felt at home amid all the farmland wonder.

Feeling sated with the visual glory, I felt ready to head home. At Caribou, turned over to Fort Fairfield to follow U.S. 1A back to Mars Hill, and was surprised to find a yellow “share the road” sign with a horse carriage emblem. And sure enough, I found a large colony of Amish. I’ve missed them and Mennonites and Brethren since moving to New England, and this was exciting.

Amish families are finding a place here.

After passing one Amish farm and its bright red barn – yes, that seems to be the custom here, red next to the plain white farmhouse and laundry on the line – I noticed a small church and whipped around to take a closer look.

Never would have if a Friend hadn’t tweaked my interest by sharing something he found online.

The meetinghouse is one that escaped Silas Weeks’ research for his definitive book, too.

Afterward, I learned that one of our good friends was from Caribou, not further north as I’d thought. And then another was from Presque Isle.

So now I have a much better grasp of what folks are talking about when the say “The County.”

I should also mention I came home with 60 pounds of new potatoes from three different stands. Ten pounds for five dollars, three different varieties. Turns out they’re ones that didn’t pass the baggers’ standards, usually because of irregular shape or size, but that’s no problem for us. The skins of new potatoes are so soft and tasty – no need to peel them, even for mashed potatoes. You do need to unbag them, wash and inspect them, before storing. Otherwise, a few damaged ones can spread rot.

~*~

Next time I venture that far north, I plan to visit the entire solar system. Seriously. I caught a clue of it with a model of Saturn atop a pole beside U.S. 1 followed miles later by Neptune. Turns out all of the planets sit beside the road to Presque Isle, scaled in size and distance from the sun at the University of Maine branch campus. There really is a lot of emptiness in space.

One more thing to impress me.

Is there a dry cleaner in the county?

Geographically, Sunrise County is one of the largest in New England – the county line is an hour-and-a-half drive away from where I live, unless you’re going to Canada – but there are a lot of things we don’t have.

There are only three traffic lights, for instance – all in Calais en route to the busy international border crossing.

So I was wondering, just in case, where the closest dry cleaner is. We have two laundromats, but say, what if I wanted to send my dress shirts out to be washed and pressed, as I did back when working in an office?

The answer, it turns out, is forget it.

This really is a do-it-yourself kind of place.

If you’re planning on visiting, be prepared.

 

Maine’s Common Ground Fair has a cult following – and we’re going

It’s like a state fair in the hippie, organic, granola-mind reality. There’s no midway with carnival rides, for sure, but for truly inquiring-minds folk, it’s an autumn equinox slash harvest-time celebration.

Yes, let’s declare a true Thanksgiving, minus turkeys.

Shortened in its post-Covid resurrection, this year’s gathering in Unity, Maine, is the premiere event of the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association (MOFGA), and runs Sept. 23 through 25.

Now that we’re living in Maine, we can identify as members and look forward to attending, even though in New Hampshire we were surrounded by devotees. Yes, it’s that boffo.

As an aside, I can attest to enjoying my best-ever souvlaki ever, from a wood stove, no less, at an earlier fair. Gee, and I hate standing in line. It was worth it.

This is definitely a hippie-vision positive manifestation of the radical mindset of nirvana. And there’s no honky-tonk.

This year’s poster will no doubt be displayed on a wall of our new abode.

See you there?

Our fisherman gets an upgrade

I thought the guy was kidding when he pulled up in town and confided that he was going to repaint Eastport’s iconic waterfront fisherman statue, changing the blue coat to a yellow slicker. I was sworn to secrecy at the time, but the next day, there he was, in full light, doing the deed.

The somewhat surreal, but shall we say fiberglass de facto emblem of the city, really got a fashion update. Or upgrade, in my opinion. Seems I’m not alone. Yes, that yellow slicker fits much better.

Just look.

My kudos to Patrick Keough of Seward, Nebraska, for something that even included an imaginative eyepatch.

Some folks, however, are seeing a similarity with the Gorton’s guy down in Gloucester on Cape Ann, Massachusetts.

I think they have that backwards.

Well, here’s how he looked before. The figure was a leftover from a television series set in the town.