LIVERMORE FALLS — If you think it’s tough filling jobs at a restaurant, a manufacturing plant or a construction site, imagine how tough it is finding a farmhand these days.

Farmers in Maine have been complaining for years that they can’t find enough people to help harvest crops, while others have resorted to changing the way they farm. It’s the old business adage — do more with less.

Enter Justin Triquet and his business partner and wife, Nikki Leroux, who started JustNiks Rent-A-Farmers earlier this year.

“So, there’s a lot of people that are struggling just to look for the help,” Leroux said. “We get all the calls from struggling farmers . . . having a hard time getting their employees to get a day off because they’re working seven days a week instead of five days a week. And we actually come in and help rescue some of those hours.”

A deer yard is in the early stages of construction this month in Jay. JustNiks Rent-A-Farmers was hired by the landowner to cut trees for the beds, which will be filled with soil in the spring. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal

The concept grew out of a midlife crisis of sorts. Triquet and Leroux had good-paying jobs — she in retail and he as a roofer — but felt they wanted more from life and a way to give back.

Leroux grew up on a farm and talked about an opportunity to get back to her roots. She grew up breaking  and showing horses professionally, a life of dressage, cutting and barrel racing.


“She’s like ‘and I want to be the couple or the people that go and just help everybody out and just enjoy farm life,'” Triquet said. “And I looked at her and said, then why don’t we just go get that?”

So how does one get the credentials to become a farmhand?

They acquire their skills through on-the-job training, but it also helps to be physically fit, have some knowledge of machinery and love to work outdoors.

For Triquet and Leroux, the answer was hit the road and work on farms across the country, starting in upstate New York. Among their responsibilities was to keep 10.5 acres of grass manicured. Even with a 61-inch zero turn mower, it took 11 hours to complete and had to be done twice a week!

Nikki Leroux, left, and Justin Triquet of JustNiks Rent-A-Farmers move a downed tree Dec. 8 to create a deer yard for a landowner in Jay. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal

In Kansas, it was working beef cattle for a massive farm and stringing 30 miles of barbed wire fencing,  plus some firsthand experience with controlled field burns. Then to a dairy farm and then a hobby farm.

Back in Maine, they worked on The Wright Place farm in Clinton  making silage piles and driving tractors. A job in Jay involved felling trees to create a deer yard for a local landowner. Another job involved erecting seven, 3,000-square-foot greenhouses from scratch. Their combined experience is impressive and the few online reviews available are positive.


“What we do is rent ourselves out to homesteads, all they way up to large production farms,” Triquet said. “And we rent ourselves out for short- and mid-term projects on a contractual basis.”

Just about anything goes — from weeding to giving medication to cows and everything in between, even if that means some pro bono work or jacking up and leveling an addition to a mobile home.

Asked about the demand for their services, the answer was immediate. “Oh, Lord, yes,” Leroux said. “It’s so short-handed just for the help out there, just for contractors, for simple little things.”

She said in addition to a long-standing labor shortage, post-pandemic there were a lot of new homesteaders in Maine. “Everybody wanted to become self-sufficient,” she said, “and we had a lot of new farmers coming in who don’t know what they’re doing or don’t realize the big job they actually have on hand and that they needed extra hands.”

Nikki Leroux, left, and Justin Triquet of JustNiks RENT-A-FARMERS look at trees Dec. 8 that a landowner asked them to cut to create a deer yard in Jay. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal

Not all their jobs are typical farm chores. Leroux recounted their first job of the new year with a big smile. A local sheriff needed a pig transported to the butcher. New to farming, he never handled the pigs and never even went in the pen. He fed them from over the gate and called Rent-A-Farmers for help.

The gate took two hours to dig out just so they could free it from the slurry. The pig they were told weighed 200-300 pounds, but in fact was actually closer to 700 pounds and when it was finally loaded on a trailer, it blew a tire.


“Now we got a pig in a garbage trailer that’s not rated for a pig, for a policeman!” Leroux blurted out.

And then there was the lady who was moving out of her farmhouse to a trailer and hired the two to elevate a porch for a donkey.

“She had two pigs that lived inside her house with her and a donkey who lives inside the house too,” Leroux said. “She wanted her porch raised up so the donkey can safely live in the porch attached to her garage.” A strange but successful job. It seems there’s never a dull moment on a farm.

Triquet and Leroux say there’s nothing they’d rather be doing than working on farms and helping out farmers, especially considering the number of farms in Maine is shrinking every year.

“There isn’t a temp agency out there for farming, there isn’t an employment agency,” Triquet said. “So when they see rent-a-farmer, a lot of people will laugh at us and say, ‘well what do you do rent yourselves out?’ laughing at us and we’re like yes.” That’s exactly what they do.

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