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Claybrook Mountain Lodge
June, 2015

I thought I was caught up with newsletters in May, but it gets really busy. I got the garden in and sawed and split about 20 cords of wood. The lawn became lush and green with plenty of rain. Fishing got good, and I did a little bit of local fishing. Lodge business was slow as it usually is when the birding is over and the black flies arrive.

Bob and Thirza Gibbs visited in early June on their spring trip to Pierce Pond. They brought their son and daughter-in-law, and we all went to Tufulio’s for a great dinner. It is so nice to be able to use the Carriage Road to Carrabassett during the summer. All six of us climbed into the old van and had a leisurely twelve mile drive through the woods. The Gibb’s are great company, and we always enjoy our time with them.

I got a little over ambitious with the garden and didn’t have room for everything. I had potatoes and squash left over, so I decided to plant them down at “The Farm”. With the new bridge in place I was able to get a tractor over there. I plowed three sections where I had cleared with the skidder last year. I put my squash and potatoes in but planted clover and green manure crops to add nitrogen to the whole plot. Leo Beane has a Ford tractor with plow and harrow that he rented to me. The last time I plowed anything was before 1980 when I pulled an old horse drawn plow with the “Green Monster” tractor I had for logging. It took a little practice to get the hang of it again, and the end result was not what I had imagined. Rough as it is we have begun to revitalize the farm. Sometime this summer we will be looking at the frame work of the house to see if it is worth saving. I planted two Chestnut trees there when Marge was still alive, and they are thriving. The one is next to the house will be above the roof. The other really struggled until I cleared some brush and gave it more sunlight. It has doubled in size this year.

The raspberry patch doesn’t look as good this year as last, and the grapes have succumbed to whatever the blight is that infected them last year. Fortunately we still have raspberries in the freezer. Whenever we run out of jam, Pat makes another batch. Raspberry jam is everyone’s favorite here. It looks like there will be a big crop of blueberries down at the farm. In spite of the regeneration of trees crowding out and shading the wild blueberries, there are still plenty of bushes for a good harvest. I have seen signs that the wild blackberry crop will be good also, but finding time to harvest all three will be difficult.

Last summer when Levi was two, we took him for part of a day to the Skowhegan Fair. He was so impressed with a tent full of antique tractors that we spent most of the time there letting him sit on each one. During that time I bought a raffle ticket to win a 1949 Ford tractor. The drawing took place in June and I had forgotten about it completely. One day Pat answered the phone and a man informed her that I had the winning ticket. Now we have a farm and a tractor of our own. I borrowed a trailer and brought it home from Norridgewock. Of course now we need a trailer, plow, harrow, brush hog, etc. It will be interesting to see what develops.

I got lucky in the moose lottery also with a permit in Zone 8 for a bull. After all the years waiting to get the first one I was totally surprised to get another. If we are lucky enough to get one, there will be a freezer full of wild game to go with all the produce from the garden. During our “Moose Rut” weekend last fall moose signs indicated a steep decline in the population, but right now there seems to be signs enough to indicate a healthy number around. I hope to get some time to investigate more before the hunt.

Jay and I took Levi fishing on Sandy Stream one morning in mid- June. It was a beautiful sunny day and he was excited to go. “Papa” led the way through the woods to a beautiful sand bar above a productive pool. I startled a spotted fawn that was lying in its safe place near the stream. He was up and gone so quickly that Levi didn’t see it. He did see the tracks in the sand though. Once on the sandbar Levi was much more interested in playing with sticks than he was fishing. The first trout got him a little excited and he used the word “cool” to describe it. I had not heard him use it before. After he reeled that one in, playing in the sand became the major interest. We caught some nice trout for breakfast but for Levi, the playing along the stream was the best.

Highland Plantation is soon to be in a battle for control of its own zoning. Small towns in the Unorganized Territories have always been manipulated by larger outside interests, and we came to the realization that we were tired of having those interests making decisions for our town. The result is that we formed a committee to look into removing ourselves from Land Use Planning Commission zoning and recently submitted a Comprehensive Plan to LUPC for approval. As Angus King told us, “we can do this with you or without you so you might as well support us”. We were fortunate that Mr. King withdrew that application when Maine IFW recommended denial. The environmental impact study found two endangered species and a concentrated bird and bat migration route. In their words, turbines on Witham Mountain would cause catastrophic annihilation of birds and bats, and there would be no way to mitigate that. We thought that would be the end of it, but Next Era has bought the rights to that project and they are planning to put turbines in the same places. Originally they planned to submit an application in early 2016 but now they have bumped up that schedule to the fall of 2015 in order to circumvent LD 828 that would give citizens a right to call for a public hearing. LD 828 won’t go into effect until 2016. We expect to be up for approval at about the same time they submit their application and that will create a bit of a problem. We probably should consult with a lawyer now rather than wait until they sue the town. If we are successful in our bid, we get to make the decisions for our own town. It doesn’t mean no wind; what it does mean is that we have some power to decide our own future rather than have it dictated to us. There will be a lot more to this story.

Be sure to look at our list of fall activities on the website and now would be a good time for deer hunters to contact us for reservations.

                                        “Gang Warily”,
                                             Greg and Pat

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