The Farmers Rites of Fall (part one of three)


No, I’m not wishing away time, and no one is enjoying this extended summer weather any more than I am, but, ‘tis the season to consider the coming fall.

So, I decided this past week that I would do what was traditional in my family when I was growing up, before we set our collective sites on the rites of Fall and what that meant to us on the Littlefield farms of my youth.

First, I went to a fair last weekend, which I described in my past post. I won’t bloviate on that any further, except to say, it is part of the tradition of Fall preparation.

The following day, I took a ride to Belfast to spend time with my grand-kids and had a splendid time at the beautiful little city park on the ocean that Belfast offers, then a trip in town to have ice cream with the entire group of kids, significant others, and grandchildren, on a picture perfect Sunday, with a gentle breeze off the ocean cooling the 80 + temperatures, and the remarkable view of Belfast’s gorgeous harbor, under a neon-lemon Sun and baby-blue cloudless skies. We all stood on the sidewalk absorbing this and we realized how fortunate we are to live in such beauty. Once again, a sort of traditional tribute to summer with the family, to celebrate ourselves, and the beauty of summer itself.

Then, hugs and kisses and I was off—back home to Bangor. But wait, I took a little side trip along the way.

First, I drove out Rt 137, hanging a right onto Rt 7 just beyond my favorite pub—Bowen’s Tavern—and put-puttered up the road until I came upon Kirby’s Lobster Shack. Bill and Laurie are old friends and when in that neck of the woods I stop by to chat and to snag a lobster or two. Laurie and I chatted for 15 minutes or so and I bought just one lobster, knowing that I would not need any more than that. I hopped in the car and meandered my way up to the Rt7/Rt131 intersection in Waldo, and swung in to Moosehead Trail Farm. My buddy Paul Gallione is the local Mr Green-jeans , and his roadside stand is filled with fantastic garden fresh veggies. I was trying not to drool over the produce as I bagged up some plum tomatoes and a couple ears of native fresh sweet corn. With this stowed away in the back seat of the car, I adventured on through the country side, taking a couple of old dirt roads, as I made my way at a leisurely clip back to the big city, enjoying the scenery of the countryside and feeling nostalgic when I passed a farm. I found my way to Hermon, where I maneuvered my buggy to Siberia Farms—they of the native grown—grass fed—beef. I chatted with the Mrs. of the farm about the wonders of farm life for a bit and purchased a package of rib-eye.

Now that I had everything I needed, I headed to Casa Wobbly, almost giggling in anticipation. Once home, I began the preparations. The first step, being the most important, was to pop open a beer. I poured about a third of it in a stock pot, added some sea salt and a couple of cups of water, set it on the burner to come to a boil. Drinking the rest of the ice cold PBR, I pulled the rubber bands off the lobster claws, being careful not to become its attempted meal, dropped the crusty ol boy into the now boiling water, and stepped out on the deck and lit the grill. Next came the shucking of the corn, followed by the slicing of a couple of the tomatoes. When my crustacean friend had 10 minutes in the pot, I dumped him and the water out into the sink to cool, put a smaller pot of water on the stove for the corn, bringing it to a boil, and an even smaller pot for a stick of Kate’s real butter, to melt. (closest thing I’ve found to our homemade butter from the hand-cranked butter churn my grandparents had) While all this was “getting happy”, I decided to follow suit and popped another beer. I pelted the sliced tomatoes with sea salt and cracked pepper, and then I shucked the lobster (including the body—sweetest meat in the lobster) and put the meat in a small bowl—still warm. The corn was just starting to steam—coming back to temperature after putting in the two ears—so I took a healthy pull off the PBR and walked out to the grill with this wonderful home-grown-grass-fed-rib-eye steak. My belly was growling as I seared the steak for about 3 minutes on each side, turning off the pot containing the corn in between, noticing the butter was now warm and frothy and melted. I poured just a little of the hot butter in the bowl containing the lobster, and using a brush I slathered the two ears of corn with it too. Pulling the steaks off the grill, I laid everything out on my table in front of me…and stepped back to admire this truly all-Maine meal for a moment while I finished the beer.

Suffice to say, I enjoyed a traditional Maine meal that is fit for a king, or a farm boy. The flavors of the surf and turf mingled perfectly with the garden fresh veggies, and as I moaned my appreciation with every mouthwatering and magnificent bite, I considered the next step to the rites of a Fall—Labor day weekend at camp.

Part two of this little essay will focus on that—as I’ve just returned from an incredible weekend in one of the most beautiful settings known to man. So, stay tuned, coming later this week.

Then, part three will be a story I wrote some 15 years ago about the Littlefield farm’s way of growing/raising/foraging for foods and preserving it for the long winter months—back in the day. A little sumpin sumpin for everyone in that story.

Happy Labor Day weekend folks. Enjoy this rite of summer and your loved ones. This is what it is all about.

Mitch Littlefield

About Mitch Littlefield

I was born into a large family in the mid 1950s, in Belfast, Maine. My family owned and operated three working farms during my childhood, and the entire family worked these farms. It is these formative years, this family, those farms, and that way of life that is the background for these stories.