The Chicken Capital of the World

This is one of the stories featured in my book “Memories of Shucking Peas”, and perhaps a little lengthy for a blog. (10 1/2 pages) But, it is a story that I have received a great deal of feedback from. It is intended to be the voice of a generation of people who are now part of our local history.

The Chicken Capital of the World

The sleepy little town I grew up in held this distinctive title for many years:

The Chicken Capital of the World.

I was born during the height of the “boomer” generation, 1956. By that time Belfast had already enjoyed a long history of raising and processing poultry for not only the entire U S of A, but Canada as well. However, after World War II, as our nation got busy making babies at a prodigious rate, the chicken industry boomed to an all-time high that, naturally, coincided with the arrival of all us babies.

Belfast, and the surrounding towns of Waldo County, offered the ideal area to grow such a business. While Belfast itself had a blue collar populace; the town boasted several factories- shoe, pants, sash and blind, and a sardine processing plant, the chicken industry offered employment for not only the factory workers, but the entire county and beyond.

Yes, the chicken processing plants employed lots of people and the wages were usually better than what some of the other factories paid. They were unionized so the employees felt they had a sense of ownership in the plants and many of those employees worked at these processing plants their entire life.

But, the raising of the birds employed many of the surrounding farmers in Waldo county and beyond. Most every farmer within 50 miles of the Belfast processing plants got in on the action. Raising chickens for the poultry plants offered the farmer an additional income stream which quickly became a main component of farming in Maine during the 20th century. So, during those (chicken) salad days, Belfast became the chicken capital of the world and processed, on average, 250,000 chickens a day.

That’s a lot of soup.

But then it changed. By the early 1980’s, Belfast’s factories started dwindling. Over the next several years they all closed or relocated, with only Matthews Brothers remaining operational in its new location off the waterfront. Gone were the shoe factories, the sardine processing plant, the pants factories, and the largest employers in Waldo County, Maplewood and Penobscot Poutry Company’s.

By the mid 1980’s, the chicken industry was all but dead in Maine, with Penobscot Poultry closing its doors on February 24, 1988, it was the end of a way of life. The combination of increased cost of doing business, stiffer Government regulations, along with a growing desire by some of the “newer” residents of Belfast to perform what they called “the beautification of Belfast” by waterfront genocide to remove the ugly factories on “their” ocean-front, succeeded in driving the industry out of Maine and into the southern States.

The unemployment rate in Belfast in those days of the latter 1980’s supernova’d to almost 20%.

They say it was all due to protecting the populace, unsafe working conditions in the factories, lack of benefits for the workers, and the spiraling cost of doing business.. but that always made me scratch my head and wonder. I believed those factories and those people just didn’t fit into the “new plan” for Belfast.

It is important to note that while the factories were ugly, and smelly, and were taking up residence on prime ocean front acreage…..they provided decent paying jobs to many people. Those people, those factory workers, while less educated and less “intellectual” than the “new” Belfastians, were tough, gritty, savvy, honest, hardworking, and reliable. They worked hard, and they played hard. They were loud and somewhat bawdy, but they also stood behind one another. They lived, worked, and raised families…they were a community. They have left an undeniable legacy.

Why, back in “the day” when Belfast had its waterfront littered with two large chicken processing plants, two shoe factories, a pants factory, a potato processing plant, two sash and blind factories, a sardine/shrimp processing plant, several marine/boat yards, and the bay was filled with lobster (and other) fishing boats. The fishing was fantastic! The bay was wealthy with lobster, mackerel, striped bass, blue fish, dog fish, crabs, and clams.

There was NO unemployment.

This little town of 6000 boasted four hardware stores, at least four banks, an upper and lower five and dime, a variety of pubs, diners, and restaurants, several menswear shops, many ladies apparel shops, beauty salons, magazine shops, five bakeries…..

You get the picture….

A blue collar town…blue collar mentality…

Oh there were a few “elite”…your bankers, your lawyers, your doctors and your dentists etc., but even the factory owners, who likely were the wealthiest in town, were considered blue collar. There were no empty storefronts in Belfast, there was no need to “go to Bangor shopping” because everything we needed could be found right here in this sleepy little chicken-feather laced community.

So anyway, each summer the city would honor its title of “chicken capital of the world” by hosting a festival. “The Broiler Festival” soon became known as the highlight of the summer for Belfast and surrounding cities and towns. The city would certainly get a boost in the economy as thousands would come to town to partake in the carnival-like festivities. The festival itself was held at the Belfast City Park….a beautiful 20 acre park on the ocean just south of the middle of town.

It, to this day, is still one of the few city parks located on the ocean on the east coast of America. The festival was a week long, took place in the middle of July, and boasted a parade (there HAS to be a parade), a huge chicken barbecue held on the tree dotted grassy lawns of the city park, and a Broiler Queen contest.

Keep in mind…many of the events and the BBQ itself were staffed by citizen volunteers….my own dad q’d many a chicken over those hot coals for a few years running.

There WAS a carnival too…the city park would fill with breath-taking carnival rides, games of challenge, booths filled with trinkets and stuffed animals, incredible shows of magic and mystery, food stands that made ones belly growl, and other exotic neon laced enticements.

There were tents set up to host speakers who addressed political and social concerns, and these tents also offered local musical artists a chance to perform. There were boxing matches, and arm wrestling, and hot-rod shows. The smell of hot dogs, pizza, sausage and onions, dough boys, cotton candy, and greasy French fries wafted through the warm July nights, while our eyes were gleefully assaulted by the flashing neon lights and our eardrums joyfully brutalized by the blaring music of the seemingly hundreds of over-sized speakers scattered throughout the midway. This carnival would start on Monday, and run through Saturday when the festival ended with the BBQ. The rides and booths would usually open around noon and run till the wee hours. All the while this was going on, there were other events too. There was your 4H events, there were speakers reporting on how legislation was working for the farmer and for the factory worker, there was bingo under a big top, there were educational and artistic groups, there were shiny new John Deere tractors featuring all the new and latest bells and whistles attached….all these events competed with the carnival for an audience…

The one event that would draw everyone’s attention from the barkers, the balloons, and the neon…was the beauty pageant.

The Broiler Queen pageant was always highly anticipated, hugely advertised, wonderfully coordinated, and genuinely the “crowning” event of the entire festival. Young women from all over the county would participate, and the city’s business owners would be quick to help sponsor these ladies in hopes of riding the eventual Queen’s tiara to business marketing heaven. Now, when the Queen was chosen, the family members of the new Queen, of course, enjoyed bragging rights for an entire year.

I imagine the pride my father felt the summer of 1967, as he was grilling chicken over hot coals, side by side with other men from the community, that Saturday, after the parade, for the huge BBQ that marked the end of another week-long festival, knowing it was his own daughter that was riding on the back seat ledge of a brand-spanking new Chevy convertible, in the parade that preceded the BBQ, looking so beautiful in her gown and the Queen’s tiara.

When my sister Debbie, was crowned “Queen Chicken”, my entire family glowed with pride and excitement. Mom and Dad were so happy they were actually nice to each other…all the uncles and aunts were waiting in line to hug and congratulate Sis, and as she was the first of her generation, I know our grandparents, Mamie and Pup were especially proud of their brood. It was quite a celebration for our family.

Heh…..I knew that I intended to use my new found fame for as long and for as much as I could get out of it.

Hey…being the little brother to the ranking Broiler Queen has some benefits.
Well now, to get to this point…to be able to have a Broiler Festival, there had to be the chickens. Raising the chickens for the processing plants was something my family was very involved in. From the beginnings of the fledgling industry in the mid 1940’s, to its demise the latter 70’s, us Littlefield’s were involved. Some of us even worked in the processing plants, which I will describe later in this story, but let’s go back to the beginning, where it all started here in Waldo County.

To start with I will point out some background information. As I mentioned earlier, the chicken industry in Waldo County went beyond the two largest and most recognized processing plants; Maplewood and Penobscott. In fact, before it became known as a potato processing plant, Penobscott Frozen Foods also bagged and froze processed chickens from the chicken processing plants, and offered meat lockers for people to store the family’s supply of meat. My dad worked for Ted Starrett at Penobscott Frozen Foods for some time, and in fact, helped develop what we know know as packaged pre-cut chicken. By identifying the precise places to cut the chicken’s legs and wings in the joints that make the legs and wings on a chicken work, they discovered the chickens could be packaged as a whole cut up chicken, yet be uniform and presentable to the buying public. These chickens were called “fryers”, or “broilers”, which were smaller and the growing cycle for the chicken farmer was shorter. Chickens that were raised to be fryers/broilers were typically raised in a 8-10 week cycle. Larger birds, roasters, or capons were raised in longer cycles..12-15 weeks. Not all fryers/broilers were cut up, at least initially. Most were marketed and sold whole, but the chickens that were slightly flawed in some way, were cut up and sold as whole chickens-pre-cut, or, as packages of wings, legs, breast etc.

Now-a-days, consumers demand more cut up chicken than whole birds, so the equation has changed from what it was in those days. As we became a society that wanted more convenience in our daily lives, we didn’t want the pedestrian duty of cutting up our own chickens to feed our family, therefore the amount of whole birds marketed in relation to chicken parts that are packaged and sold has flip-flopped. To say that process of cutting up chickens that Dad and the folks at Penobscott Frozen Foods help develop for the processing plants was revolutionary might be a bit of an overstatement, but in fact, it did change how chickens were marketed.

Also, it is important to note that other farmers raised egg laying hens. These birds produced millions of eggs for market. The birds were in the same barn as long as they produced eggs…sometimes two to three years. Imagine what it was like to clean those barns! The chickens in those barns were typically kept in wire cages and the daily dung fell onto the floor of the barns, which was then shoveled through scuttle holes to the basement below. Then a tractor with a bucket would scoop the poop, so to speak, and load it onto a truck to be hauled off to the ever-growing pile of chickenshit at the far edge of one of the farm’s fields. One could always identify a farm that had egg-layers, because the barns were one story affairs. I would also point out, where were chickens on any kind being raised or housed, there was grain to feed them.

Where there is grain, there are rats.

Very big rats.

Rats, evidently, thrive on grain.

The typical farmer usually had two defenses against the rats…a dog, and his sons. The dogs took pride in their defense of the chickens, and the sons loved the chance to target practice with the .22’s that most every farm boy got for Christmas around his 10th birthday. This function was especially important when the chickens were little peepers, because they had no chance against the rats.

Rats like chickens too…

So anyway, Penobscott Frozen Foods, Penobscott Poultry, and Maplewood Poultry were not the only pioneers of the chicken industry in Waldo County. So were Berry Brothers, or as they became known, Berry Bro’s. Not only did Owen and Irvin Berry own and operate a chicken processing plant in Morrill, Maine, that employed over a 100 people, but they owned several farms that raised the birds they processed. This was unique because the other processing plants, Maplewood and Penobscott, by and large, contracted with farmers to raise the birds they processed, whereas Berry Bro’s, who did contract with local farmers to a small degree, owned and operated their own farms where most of the birds they processed came from. One such farm was referred to as “The Plantation”.

The Plantation was located in Searsmont, Maine, and raised several hundred thousand chickens at a time. The revolutionary design of the “Quonset” style chicken house was developed there and became the new trend in chicken houses everywhere that chickens were raised. My grandfather, my father, and two of my uncles, harvested timber from our family’s woodlots, sawed and milled the trees into the lumber used to build these new fangled chicken houses. They also worked for Berry Bro’s building and maintaining those chicken houses on the Plantation. My great uncle Lyle was the night watchman on the Plantation and spent most of his time every night shooting predators trying to get a warm meal.

No, not people….animals, chicken hawks, rats….Unc didnt shoot any people. Folks back then didn’t steal chickens.

Didn’t have to.

If they were hungry and needed a chicken or two to feed their family, no farmer would turn them down.

Ok, how are we doing so far? Lot to this chicken business eh?

Moving right along, feeding and watering the chickens, of course, was the biggest daily chore the farmer had. As my sister pointed out in her story, chickens were fed grain. In the early days most chicken houses had a large shed attached to the barn that held the grain…commonly referred to as the “grain room”. The grain room also was used to store extra feeders and waterers, as well as extra stoves used to heat the houses, and the fuel supplies that the stoves needed to function. Back in those days most chicken houses were heated with coal fired stoves, but some used propane, while others used oil. My family, at one time or another, used all three of these types of stoves.

The grain came by truck in 100lb bags, off-loaded into both floors of the grain room, then from there lugged to each of the three floors that housed the chickens each time they were fed…which was early morning, and late afternoon. When the new born chicks were delivered to the houses in cardboard crates, we dumped them lovingly inside a 18” high cardboard barrier set up around each stove in an appropriate 12 foot diameter. Each stove sported a large sheet metal bonnet sitting on it that looked like an umbrella, all of which created a safe and warm environment for the newborn chicks. The floor had been covered with fresh sawdust, and we used cardboard trays placed inside the barriers to put the grain “mash” in for the little chicks to eat. The water they drank was in gallon glass or plastic jugs that were threaded at the mouth and had plastic covers with a ring or troth that allowed the water to self feed when the jug was turned upside down and setting on the cover. As the chickens grew from little fuzzy yellow peepers into gangly clumsy adolescent birds that became large enough to roam the entire floor, the containing cardboard rings, the cardboard feeder trays, and the water jugs were removed, and replaced with heavy gauge aluminum feeders that sat on the floor, and three foot long self feeding water troughs that hung inches off the floor on chains.

In case you’re wondering, on average there were 1 ½ birds per square foot.

That’s a lot of dust…and dung.

Later in the evolution of the chicken industry “bulk grain” came to be. This offered the farmer a huge break in the labor of feeding these creatures. Instead of 100 lb bags of grain to be toted to each floor from the grain room, bulk grain was blown in from trucks to large storage bins in the top floor or attic of each barn. These bins would gravity feed the grain into chutes that ran from the bottom of the storage bins down through each floor. Now, the farmer just walked up to the chute, stuck his five gallon cohog pail under the dispenser, pulled the little trap door, and Voila!..grain would fill the pail. Almost like a garden hose, one could turn on/off the flow of grain easily.

Yes, this made the workload a little easier for the farmer, but make no mistake about it..raising chickens was tedious, dusty, ammonia-filled, grueling, work.

When you consider the fact that my family raised over 60,000 chickens at a time on two of the three operating farms we maintained, plus the responsibilities of raising over 400 head of sheep that needed shearing every year, 40 head of cattle, at times a dozen or so milk cows (milked by hand), assorted pigs, goats, ducks, horses and a donkey, AND approximately 8-10 acres of produce bearing gardens to maintain, over 100 cord firewood yearly that had to be harvested, haying, spreading manure, maintaining miles of fences…etc…you can see that farming was not for the faint of heart, or, for the lazy.

So, making the feeding of the chickens a little less labor intensive by the advent of bulk grain was appreciated, but taken with a “grain” of salt to most farmers.

It’s all relative….there was always plenty of other stuff to do.

The daily grind of maintaining 60,000 birds in three barns on two farms along with all the other responsibilities of our farms was daunting, but became so ingrained that we thought of this as part of the ritual of farming.

Though the road I lived on was named Pitcher Road, it was locally known as “the Littlefield Road”, because everyone living on that road were related. Growing up in this large extended family of aunts, uncles, cousins, parents and grandparents all of us relatives had a support system of people who played together and worked together.

As a boy I found plenty of time for play, adventure, and many cases, mischief, either alone or with groups of the neighbor kids/relatives, but I, along with all the members of the farm family, had responsibilities to the farms. Everyone pitched together for work, even us kids. One of those occasions was when we prepared for the new chickens’ arrival to one or more of the three chicken houses.

As I’ve mentioned, raising chickens was generally dusty, dirty, and very odoriferous hard work. Over seven thousand chickens lived together on each floor of the chicken house. At my grandfathers farm, the grain room was attached to the Quonset style barn and held those 100 pound burlap bags piled on top of each other filled with, at first, baby chick mash for the baby chicks, and then a few weeks later, poultry feed for the now adult chickens. Bags of cracked corn and crushed stone lined the wall for the older chickens. Cracked corn was spread by hand in the final two weeks of the growing cycle to fatten up the broilers before being taken back to the factory. Crushed stone was also spread by the handfuls to help the chicken’s digestion process. The stone in the bird’s crop helped to grind up the food before digesting it to the stomach below. Below the grain room was the coal room that stored the fuel for the numerous stoves spread throughout each floor of the barn.

“The men”, which included my grandfather, my uncles, sometimes my Dad, and us boys fed, watered, and cared for this huge flock daily. We didn’t have automated feeders and waterer’s in those days. All the work was done by hand, once in the morning, and again in the late afternoon. The work consisted in part of carrying buckets of grain from the grain room to each feeder, up and down the stairs, in and out numerous times. Glass waterer’s were re-filled each day, and stoves were filled with coal twice a day to keep the young chicks warm and cozy. This work continued for seven to nine weeks for the pullets or broilers, and up to 14 weeks for the roasters. After a few weeks old, a crew of men from the chicken factory would come, herd the flock into a smaller fenced off section of each floor, and de-beak them by burning the tip of the top beak back. As a child I thought the purpose of that process was to keep them from pecking us, more especially, me, but in fact it was actually done to keep them from pecking each other. Chickens feel no loyalty toward each other and will very quickly turn on a weaker brother or sister and peck them to death. At nine weeks, the factory crew would return and again fence off the chickens to gather up the pullets to take to the factory. A long flatbed truck stacked several layers high with wooden crates would pull into the yard and up to the end of the chicken house. After loading all the pullets, the truck with each crate stuffed to the gills with chickens would slowly pull out of the yard. We’d stand in the driveway watching the feathers fly and listening to the squawking until it was out of sight down the road. A few weeks later the whole process would be repeated with the roasters.

Then it was time for the barns to be cleaned so the cycle could repeat itself. The raising chickens was mostly done by “the men” and us boys, but the task of cleaning all that chicken dug often required the assistance of neighborhood boys and in many cases, neighboring farmers, who would expect the same in return when they cleaned their barns. A sort of very stinky-ammonia, dusty, laborious, mutual back scratching.

After the chicken house was cleared out of its inhabitants, This crew of men and boys descended on the barn intent on getting the task at hand done as quickly as possible. Not only was this perhaps the worst job to be done on the farm, but much like many things in the business world, time is money. The quicker the barn was ready for a new batch of peepers, the sooner that stipend starting trickling in.

Starting with the top floor we would shovel the packed chicken dung, mixed with old nasty sawdust, often time more than a foot thick, into wheelbarrows and dump this cocktail down three foot square holes that were aligned with the same size holes on the second floor into dump trucks parked on the bottom floor. When the third floor was cleaned down to the cement, the crew would move to the second floor and clean it. The bottom floor was easier to clean, because tractors with buckets could drive in to gather up the waste, on the other hand, the bottom floor usually had much more to deal with. I can tell you, on a hot July day, this work could be described in many ways…”fun”, was not one of the words used. However, we did have fun, at times. The work was grueling, so we would take a 10-15 minute break every couple of hours. The men would usually drink a Narragansett, while us boys would relish a cold root beer. Sometimes, we’d allow ourselves two! Hey, the first bottle was to knock down the clotted dust in our throats, the second one you could actually taste and enjoy. During these breaks, there would be stories. Stories of chicken-house cleanings of the past, hunting adventures, fishing yarns, general men-gossip, and such. It was always fascinating to me to let my mind run wild while hearing these stories told by my elders. Even as miserable as the work of cleaning the barns was, my grandfather and uncles would keep us smiling as we worked by singing dirty little dittys, and reciting ribald stories that would also kick my fertile imagination into high gear.

So, you, the reader, may be asking, “What did you do with all this chicken-shit?”

Good question.

Well, Emma, our truck with a dump body, was responsible for hauling away most of the stuff. Sometimes a neighboring farmer would bring his truck along to help with that process. This dung had some value. It was used to fertilize hay fields and gardens. Chicken dung has a very high degree of nitrogen in it, meaning it is “hot”. It was great for a quick start of the growing cycle for timothy and clover in the fields, and for many of the vegetables we grew in our gardens. So, the full trucks would haul the dung the three miles to one of our other farms, which we coincidentally called, “the other farm”. There, a section of one of the fields was used to store this dung in huge piles…for future use. It also kept the smell away from our houses. The chicken house was smelly enough on ordinary days, but stirring up that mess spread that ammonia chicken smell far distances.

Washing the dishes was considered woman’s work in my family, and that rule spread to the chicken barn as well. While us men were cleaning the barn, the ladies had the task of cleaning the waterer’s The two piece glass waterer’s had caked on crud from living with the chickens for weeks, and getting them clean for the next round of baby chicks was not an easy task. They could set up two large metal tubs in the grain room, one for soapy water and one for rinsing, changing the nasty water every half hour. Taking turns washing, rinsing, and stacking the clean waterer’s on long boards stacked four deep and four wide, the washing would take about three days to complete, but the camaraderie of story-telling, gossiping, and jokes would make the time fly by. When my sister and I were young, Mamie, Aunt Wilda, and Aunt Bev were the chief bottle washers, but as the next generation of girls grew old enough, Sis and her same-aged cousins took over the responsibility. Cousins Brenda, Rhonda, and Linda and Sis all share great memories of working on the waterer’s for several years. Rhonda remembers of the time Mamie picked up a dirty waterer and found a nest of baby mice in the waterer. Not fazed, she quickly disposed of the vermin and continued with the task at hand. When finished with the washing and cleaning up the grain room, Pup would give each of the girls a silver dollar for their efforts.

Huh, us boys got a few rootbeers.

Next came the sawdust truck. This truck had a long shute attached to the back of the truck that would be shoved into the barn windows, and sawdust was blown into huge piles on both ends of each floor. I loved the day that the sawdust truck came, because we kids would get to play in the huge sawdust mounds, sliding down the sides and playing king of the mountain. Pup and the Unc’s figured while we “yowins” (a term loosely translated that means “young’uns”) were having our fun, the sawdust piles were being spread to some degree…so, it was a “win-win.”

After we yowins had worn ourselves out, it was time to get to work spreading the sawdust about six inches deep over the floors. Using wheel barrows and shovels we kids (boys and girls) worked together with the men to finish this chore. In the wintertime we would keep the coal stoves burning, and the warm and sweet smelling barn was a cozy place to be. The next step to ready the barn for the new chicks was to place rolled corrugated cardboard rings around each coal stove. We’d tuck the bottom of the rings into the sawdust and edge it with our feet so it would be stable. Then we’d lay newspapers inside of these rings, so that the baby chicks wouldn’t eat the sawdust. We kids had contests to see how fast we could lay papers, but Pup’s inspection always made us be careful to lay them correctly with no sawdust showing. Next we filled the waterer’s and feeders and placed five of them in each circle. Now the chicken house was ready, and excitement mounted for us kids.

One of my favorite memories is when the day old babies arrived. My cousins, Sis, and I would wait on the big rock on the front lawn guessing which upcoming vehicle sound would be the chicken truck, anxiety growing with each passing vehicle. When it did arrive, we kids would run to meet the small crew bringing this precious cargo. The covered trailer held stacks on stacks of cardboard boxes with circular breathing holes showing little beaks and fluffy heads peering out. Instead of the squawking of the grown chickens going to the factory, the greeting of soft peepers coming to us from the factory was music to our ears.

A little yellow puff of sweetness.

For many of us, this represented the better part of the life cycle.

Each of us would wait in line to carry a box of baby chicks into the barn and stack them in the grain room for the two upper floors and the coal room for the bottom floor. After the truck was emptied and on its way, we would take each box to a warm coal fired stove circled with cardboard rings and papered so neatly. Then we would reach our hands into one of the four compartments in the box and lift out the soft little balls of fur, so warm and sweet. The memory of that act is still so vivid in my mind. Over and over we would reach in and gently empty out box after box of the babies into their new home. Then when we were finished, we would usually sit on the backside of shovels leaned against the wall of the barn, and take it all in while we enjoyed another rootbeer. For the ladies, their work in the barns was done until next time. For us boys it meant we had the highly anticipated period of “protecting these little chicks”.

Yes, remember the rats?

Those rats loved baby chicks.

So, us boys who were old enough, would camp out at strategic spots within the barns with bee bee guns and .22’s.

Heh, it made all the shit-shoveling worth it.

Of course we then would spin our own yarns of how many rats we managed to exterminate, but the truth was, Pup’s dog, Lassie, was the king rat-killer.

Each year the poultry company would give bonus checks to farm raisers who raised the healthiest chickens with the fewest death rates. Pup and Unc Gene always received a bonus check, and a few times they enjoyed the coveted title of “Grower of the Year” by the poultry company. During those years they would be invited to a celebration and banquet hosted by Penobscot or Maplewood Company.

As you can see, raising chickens on our farms was perpetual work for the entire family. It was this family participation in the three farms my family owned and operated that became the foundation of this family. It has defined us, and these memories continue to do so to this very day.

Looking back, those days seemed simple, easy, and always fun-filled…but it was also the hard grueling work for the entire family that I have described. The ability of our grandparents to be the “glue”, to keep this boisterous family tight-knit, working and playing together, is something this family continues to celebrate. It is important to note that these stories contained within, have involved most of the family members. They have contributed with their memories and perspective, and without them, these stories would not be as rich and as colorful. To memorialize our grandparents, this family, and this way of life, is truly an honor for me.

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.