Even wet, Open Farm Day a hit

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Ahmed Abuker, of Lewiston, weeds the garden at Fresh Start Farm in Lisbon Sunday morning where he has worked for the past 3 years. The farm was one of the farms taking part in Open Farm Day. (Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal)

LIVERMORE FALLS — If you have ever wanted to get your shirtsleeve nibbled on by a rain-dampened range sheep, Open Farm Day is the time to do it.

More than 100 farms across Maine opened their gates Sunday to offer the public an opportunity to learn about the business of agriculture.

The annual event may have been wet with rain in some places, but most farms kept their doors open for tours and questions.

Rocking Sheep Farm in Livermore Falls participated in the event for the first time this year, and owner Robin Beck said they saw a lot of new faces.

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“It’s been mostly people who haven’t been to the farm before and a couple family friends,” she said.

Even with heavy rain at times, Beck said the farm had more than 20 visitors come to learn about keeping sheep, looming wool and blacksmithing.

She has been at the farm since 2011, and they currently have seven sheep and a handful of other animals, including a milk cow and some chickens.

“They’re all named and they’re all loved,” Beck said.

Thanks to a conservation grant from the USDA, they will be able to build that number up to about 25 sheep.

Beck, who sits on the USDA board, said Rocking Sheep Farm is one of two in Maine to raise Columbia range sheep, which put off about 12 pounds of wool per year.

“We try to have everything that we can as natural as we can to eventually add to the compost pile,” Beck said.

Boothby’s Orchard and Farm Winery in Livermore, primarily known for their apples, ciders and wine, offered an inside look at their

Owner Rob Boothby said the turnout was pretty good, considering the rain.

He said they gave a couple talks on summer pruning techniques and gave tours of the vineyard and winery.

“We’ve had a lot of home or hobby winemakers today interested in what we have going on here,” Boothby said.

The farm also gave wagon rides around the property and down to the lower orchard.

This was Boothby’s third consecutive year participating in Open Farm Day, Boothby said, but it has done it on and off for more than 20 years.

“It helps us polish the place up,” he said. “That’s one of the good things.”

The farm also hosted a Dave Mallet concert to wrap up the day, inviting people to enjoy the Maine-based singer and songwriter in the newly renovated barn.

Boothby’s opens for their regular season in mid-August.

In other pockets of Maine, farms were offering similar attractions as well as produce tastings, sap house and honey tastings and special seasonal sales.

Ahmed Abuker, of Lewiston, weeds the garden at Fresh Start Farm in Lisbon Sunday morning where he has worked for the past 3 years. The farm was one of the farms taking part in Open Farm Day. (Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal)

Ahmed Abuker, of Lewiston, weeds the garden at Fresh Start Farm in Lisbon Sunday morning where he has worked for the past 3 years. The farm was one of the farms taking part in Open Farm Day. (Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal)

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