Abigail Curtis

Homestead Reporter

Megan Anderson the barn manager at Unity College bottle feeds McKinley a Katahdin lamb at the college. McKinley was rejected by her mother and had to be bottle fed.

How a sheep breed developed in Maine became popular around the world

By Abigail Curtis on March 11, 2017, at 7:31 a.m.
“It does well in the heat and also the cold. Not many breeds of livestock can do well in the southern tip of Florida and also be raised in the Arctic circle.”

Maine’s native bees a ‘very optimistic story’

By Abigail Curtis on March 10, 2017, at 7:15 a.m.
The orange belted bumblebee is one of Maine's native bee species. Frank Drummond, professor of insect ecology at the University of Maine, said that Maine's native bees on the whole are doing pretty well, which isn't the case with the national outlook on honeybees. "In general, it seems that most of our native bees are pretty stable," he said.

Maine’s native bees a ‘very optimistic story’

By Abigail Curtis on March 09, 2017, at 12:51 p.m.
“Bees mostly operate pretty locally, with the distance they fly just a couple hundred meters, so individual people can have an impact. Everybody doing their little bit helps.”
A bee buzzes a flower in Maine.

How you can help save Maine’s bees

By Abigail Curtis on March 09, 2017, at 12:51 p.m.
Maine’s native bees are holding their own but could use a little help from humans to keep them healthy.
Mud and ruts are seen on East Waldo Road in Waldo Thursday. Waldo residents that live along the East Waldo Road admit it can be hard to travel in mud season. Living along the road, they said, is something that can bring neighbors together. "We all talk about the road," Deb Burwell said.

How mud defines Maine

By Abigail Curtis on March 04, 2017, at 9:59 a.m.
Florida has its palm trees and hurricanes, California boasts Hollywood and earthquakes — and Maine has mud season.
Johanna Davis and Adam Nordell, the musicians behind the popular folk music act “Sassafras Stomp,” spent the last few months playing at concerts and contra dances around the country. But as spring approaches, they will turn their focus to Songbird Farm, where they grow organic vegetables, grains and beans on their farm in Unity.

These singing farmers want to change how Mainers buy flour

By Abigail Curtis on March 01, 2017, at 7:40 a.m.
In the yellow-painted music room of their sunlit farmhouse, Johanna Davis and Adam Nordell changed their shoes, pulled out their fiddle and guitar and began to play and sing a toe-tapping song about working hard on the farm with the help of the one you love.
Many people in the vicinity of the Happytown Road believe the road connects families that are interested in a homesteading lifestyle. They have formed friendships and a new kind of community that is loosely connected by the rural road. The Happytown Road, only partially paved, starts near Dedham and goes through Orland and Ellsworth.

Happytown Road community brings rural Mainers together

By Abigail Curtis on Feb. 27, 2017, at 6:50 a.m.
Happytown Road is home to farmers, homesteaders, teachers, homeschoolers, musicians, carpenters and even a librarian. For these folks, living in rural Maine is not synonymous with living in seclusion or isolation.
Lee Kinney, owner of Kinney’s Sugarhouse in Knox, pours syrup into the evaporator to warm it up and then filter it on Thursday. Kinney produces about 4,000 gallons of syrup from his 10,400 taps.

Maine’s maple sap season off to an early start

By Abigail Curtis on Feb. 25, 2017, at 1 a.m.
February can be a season of “hurry up and wait” for a maple syrup producer. “It’s exciting, when the sap starts to run.”
A dairy cow chews on grain in a barn at Keene Dairy Farm Belfast on Tuesday. Karagen Stone recently received a fairly unusual certification. Stone has her certification to artificially inseminate cows.

Why this Belfast teen learned the fine art of inseminating dairy cows

By Abigail Curtis on Feb. 20, 2017, at 7:29 a.m.
Karagen Stone, a three-sport athlete who doesn’t lack for confidence, said she’d like to tell other teenage girls that they shouldn’t limit their dreams based on what’s expected of them. “Girls can get dirty,” she said. “If there’s something you want to do, do it.”
Annie Stillwater Gray is the host of the General Store Variety Show in the studio of the Skowhegan-based radio station WXNZ.

Northern Exposure, Maine-style: Solon woman creates world for weekly radio show

By Abigail Curtis on Feb. 15, 2017, at 11:44 a.m.
“I like people to feel like they’re escaping, when they come to the general store.”
Stephen DeGoosh and Brooke Isham talk in the living and dining area of their home. Forty years ago, a retired Air Force captain and his family built the bunker-like home on a stake of land in rural Sangerville and prepared for the worst. Now DeGoosh and Isham are staying true to the original plans of the home -- a large garden, a greenhouse -- but with transition and food sovereignty in mind instead of survivalism.

Bunker-style home built by survivalists the perfect fit for sustainable duo

By Abigail Curtis on Feb. 13, 2017, at 6:19 a.m.
Instead of going it alone in an uncertain and possibly frightening future, they are working on building a community that can survive it together.

‘It’s like drawing with a hammer’: Maine blacksmith forges art on her anvil

By Abigail Curtis on Feb. 11, 2017, at 7:21 a.m.
Over the years that she has been honing her craft, Max has continued to have fun. One of her most popular items stemmed from an experiment.
Community members gather at the Orono Community Garden.

Four tips to help you start a successful community garden

By Abigail Curtis on Feb. 08, 2017, at 1:47 p.m.
Starting a community garden can be a terrific way to grow vegetables and help people in your neighborhood. But before you pick up a spade or seed catalog, it’s a good idea to keep a few pointers in mind.
Khris Flack is the program manager for Veggies For All, a Unity-based food bank farm that serves 25 towns.

Veggies For All marks decade of working to feed hungry people

By Abigail Curtis on Feb. 08, 2017, at 8:21 a.m.
“For many of the people we serve, especially seniors, fresh vegetables are something that you don’t often get. I would say that it’s a win-win situation — the fresh vegetables are key.”
Unschooling has some things in common with homeschooling, but it’s certainly not identical, according to three local moms who are choosing to unschool their children. Homeschooled children often have a parent or other adult teach them subjects with the help of curriculum or lesson plans. “The idea is that we all inherently have interests and passions,” Sara Yasner of Clifton, the 44-year-old mother of three unschooled children, said. “It seems that in school there’s so much about the social aspect and fitting in. With unschooling, it really is about what their interests are.”

Why some Maine families are choosing an unschooled approach to education

By Abigail Curtis on Feb. 06, 2017, at 12:49 p.m.
“We tried several curriculums, and she just wasn’t that interested in it. She wanted to play. She wanted to create.”
Young farmer Everett Ottinger, who is diabetic, talks about being able to afford medicine and doctor visits thanks to the Affordable Care Act Thursday at his farm, Nettie Fox Farm, in Newburgh.

Why some Maine farmers do not want Obamacare repealed

By Abigail Curtis on Jan. 31, 2017, at 6:17 a.m.
“The reason we didn’t have insurance before the [Affordable Care Act] was that we couldn’t afford it. I know it’s a controversial law, and there’s lots of people it doesn’t work for. But it saved my life, and it has kept our business afloat.”
Ken Lamson of New Beat Farm in Knox keeps busy in the winter with work that includes using his draft horses to do logging jobs.

How Maine farmers stay busy and make money in the winter

By Abigail Curtis on Jan. 24, 2017, at 11:42 a.m.
Growing numbers of farmers are extending their farming season through winter farmers markets and tools such as high tunnel greenhouses, which can allow a four-season harvest — but even those who don’t stretch their season this way find other work to do.
Rose Zoller washes kale harvested in the main high-tunnel hoop house at Four Season Farm in Brooksville.

Winter farmers markets: It’s cold out, but farmers have this covered

By Abigail Curtis on Jan. 24, 2017, at 11:42 a.m.
When it’s cold, grey and snowy outside, what could be better than farm-fresh produce? Maine is fortunate to have farms and farmers markets that provide vegetables to customers, even in the dead of winter.
John Gawler plays the washboard with his family, the Gawler Family Band, during the Belfast contra dance at American Legion Post No. 43 on Friday. The Gawler family are a "fun-loving, folk-singing, fiddle-playing family" that are truly an only-in-Maine music group. They are committed to farming and old-time activities such as contra dancing and music.

Gawler family helps Maine music traditions to thrive

By Abigail Curtis on Jan. 19, 2017, at 7:42 a.m.
“Our energy comes from people in the audience. If they’re smiling by the end, it feeds me in a really incredible way. That’s what traditional music is all about. It’s the music of the people.”
Farmer Michael Hayden of Folklore Farm in Cherryfield helps students pick vegetables to take home on Thursday at his pop-up farm stand at Milbridge Elementary School in Milbridge.

How a Washington County farmer is working to fight hunger in Maine

By Abigail Curtis on Jan. 18, 2017, at 6:29 a.m.
“Food insecurity is such a big issue in Washington County,” Wendy Harrington, the director of service programs at the mission’s Down East campus in Cherryfield, said.