Young farmers working together on the midcoast

Posted June 11, 2012, at 7:19 p.m.
Tyler Yentes carries a calf that was born overnight and was out in the field with the other animals. He said it was relatively easy way to get both the calf and its mother back to the barn. Tyler is in the process of building a milk room so they can become a licensed dairy and he hopes to later transition it to organic milk production.
Tyler Yentes carries a calf that was born overnight and was out in the field with the other animals. He said it was relatively easy way to get both the calf and its mother back to the barn. Tyler is in the process of building a milk room so they can become a licensed dairy and he hopes to later transition it to organic milk production. Buy Photo
Anna Shapley-Quinn gathers up electric fence with her 20-month-old daughter Ada riding in the baby carrier. Anna and her husband, Seth (right), were resetting the fence so the calves and the sheep can have a fresh section of pasture at North Branch Farm in Monroe.
Anna Shapley-Quinn gathers up electric fence with her 20-month-old daughter Ada riding in the baby carrier. Anna and her husband, Seth (right), were resetting the fence so the calves and the sheep can have a fresh section of pasture at North Branch Farm in Monroe. Buy Photo
Seth Yentes listens as his student Leslie Miller plays during a lesson at Yentes' home in Monroe. Seth plays the cello and Tyler the violin and they both teach music to supplement the farm's income.
Seth Yentes listens as his student Leslie Miller plays during a lesson at Yentes' home in Monroe. Seth plays the cello and Tyler the violin and they both teach music to supplement the farm's income. Buy Photo
Seth Yentes spreads manure on one of the fields at North Branch Farm in Monroe.
Seth Yentes spreads manure on one of the fields at North Branch Farm in Monroe. Buy Photo
Tyler Yentes holds a bucket of fresh milk after milking one of the cows at North Branch Farm in Monroe.
Tyler Yentes holds a bucket of fresh milk after milking one of the cows at North Branch Farm in Monroe. Buy Photo
Seth Yentes welds a part for the spring-tooth harrow after the original part broke while harrowing the apple ocrhard. &quotBecause we use so many older farm implements, there are lots of things that have to be fixed." Seth said.
Seth Yentes welds a part for the spring-tooth harrow after the original part broke while harrowing the apple ocrhard. "Because we use so many older farm implements, there are lots of things that have to be fixed." Seth said. Buy Photo
Seth Yentes loads manure into a manure spreader at North Branch Farm in Monroe. They use a tractor and horses to cultivate or prepare their fields and keep up with demands of the day-to-day running of the farm.
Seth Yentes loads manure into a manure spreader at North Branch Farm in Monroe. They use a tractor and horses to cultivate or prepare their fields and keep up with demands of the day-to-day running of the farm. Buy Photo

MONROE, Maine — When I arrived at North Branch Farm at 6:40 a.m., Tyler Yentes was in the kitchen cleaning up and getting ready for the morning milking. We ventured out, curious as to why the cows were not returning to the barn as they normally do each morning.

We found a new calf standing in the dewy grass with his mother and the rest of the herd. Tyler picked up the little animal, grappling it as he walked back to the barn.

“It’s the easiest way to get the calf there and the mother will follow it,” he said.

The small herd of American Milking Devons mooed as the mother and her new calf left the field.

It has been a mere six years since Seth Yentes, 26, started his fruit tree nursery with 50 trees on his parents’ land. This year he has about 5,000 small trees — representing a fraction of the work and projects at North Branch Farm in Monroe.

About three years ago, Seth and his brother Tyler, 23, bought their own old farm in Monroe, restarting it as a highly diverse operation. The farm is diverse in regard to its products and the sharing of responsibilities. Seth spearheads the apple orchard and the fruit tree nursery. Tyler handles the dairy cows, the start of their licensed dairy and possible beef production. Seth’s wife, Anna Shapley-Quinn, handles the vegetable gardens and their winter community-supported agriculture. Tyler’s partner, Elsie Gawler, 22, oversees the sheep and fleece.

“We all have our responsibilities but when there is a busy time, like planting vegetables or the orchard, we all work together,” said Gawler.

To create extra income, Seth gives cello lessons and Tyler teaches violin. Elsie also works off the farm during the winter.

“We don’t play much music for ourselves during the growing season, because we are too busy,” Tyler said.

They have been producing vegetables for a winter agriculture program, using organic methods, and have applied for organic certification from the Maine Organic Farmers and Growers Association. They hope to receive the certificate this year.

For larger projects, such as the orchard planting, they enlist the help of friends. This spring, a crew of about 15 people planted about 440 trees in two days.

Seth said the farm had been lying dormant for years when they bought it.

“The previous owners were too old to run it and later moved. But some family members live nearby, and I think they are pleased to see that it is a working farm again.”

More slideshows

SEE COMMENTS →

ADVERTISEMENT | Grow your business
ADVERTISEMENT | Grow your business