Rockport farm animals inspire awe in children

Posted May 10, 2009, at 10:22 p.m.

ROCKPORT, Maine — Kid, meet kid.

Brothers River and West Williams of Camden had the chance to hang out Saturday morning at Aldermere Farm with some new friends — several silky-soft cashmere goat kids that were born just three weeks ago.

“This one is my favorite so far,” West, 4, said while stroking a tiny white kid.

River, 8, agreed — and seemed to be angling for a career down the road that would have more animals in it.

“I want to be, like, a combination of scientist and zoologist,” he said.

That kind of enthusiasm was just what the educators and farmers who gathered at Aldermere Farm for the eighth annual “unveiling” of this year’s crop of the famous Belted Galloway calves hoped to inspire.

“The boys absolutely love animals,” said Laura Grimes, River and West’s mother, who said the family recently had relocated from Arizona. “They’re getting into learning about Maine. It’s really nice they’re putting this on.”

Sarah Post, the farm’s program manager, said she anticipated that 800 to 1,000 people would stop by to admire the 13 black-and-white calves, and to learn something about the program. The 136 rolling green acres of Aldermere Farm are a landmark on the midcoast, where former owner Albert Chatfield Jr. established the country’s oldest continuously operated herd of Belted Galloway beef cattle in 1953. The Chatfields bequeathed the property to Maine Coast Heritage Trust 10 years ago.

“We want the community to see all the baby calves,” Post said.

The gangly-legged calves will be given names beginning with W and having the same number of letters and something in common with their mother’s names. It’s the same naming method used by the Chatfields.

“We try to be creative,” Post said.

Some will be named by members of the Aldermere Achievers 4-H Club.

One club member, Erin Rollins, 15, of Lincolnville, was washing and brushing her own 900-pound yearling heifer as children looked on in wonder.

“I love it,” she said of her work with the club. “I want to go into zoology. Something with animals.”

Erin shoved her recalcitrant heifer away from the fence so she could trim some matted fur.

Gabriella DeStefano, 16 months, looked solemnly at the cow-washing.

“It’s a nice family day with the little one,” said her dad, Joe DeStefano of South Thomaston. “She’s the perfect age to see the animals.”

Her mom, Rebecca Jacobs, said Gabriella likes cows.

“She sings ‘Old MacDonald’ all the time,” Jacobs said.

The family belongs to a local Community Supported Agriculture group and has some meat from the Aldermere herd in their freezer. It’s delicious, the parents said, and that’s not the only consideration. They know exactly where their beef comes from and feel they are helping to support conservation efforts.

“It’s really important,” Jacobs said.

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