Everywhere you looked at Black Acres Farm in Wilton, there were farm animals.

Wild chickens and their little chicks scampered across the path of the tractor hay rides that carried nearby residents and curious tourists during Open Farm Day. A 45-year-old horse named Murdok patiently let guests pet him before the visitors met Does It, an 800-pound hog.

Each animal at Black Acres Farm has a purpose, according to James Black, who operates the farm with his father, Russell. Some are prized possessions, such as Murdok or Does It, while most others are there for specific reasons such as the cows for beef and the pigs for pork. Even the wild chickens on the property play a role in pest control, since the farm is 100 percent natural and doesn’t use pesticide.

Every animal has a role, it seems, except for the geese, according to Russell Black, who has lived at the Wilton property for more than 50 years.

“We’ve had geese since I’ve been a kid,” Russell Black said. “They don’t really serve any function. They might cost us money.”

Regardless, people from outside the farm world visited the geese and the rest of the livestock at Black Acres Farm and herds of alpacas at Misty Acres in Sidney throughout the day Sunday during the 25th annual Open Farm Day when farms throughout the state open their barn doors to the public, showcasing how vegetables and other crops and livestock are raised and how farm products are made.

“This provides our kids the exposure to a farm lifestyle,” said Dan Kissinger, a salesman from Fairfield who was at the Sidney alpaca farm with his wife, Donna, and their kids Maddie and Corbin. “It gives them that opportunity to understand how other careers may work.”

The alpaca farm was just one of several the Kissingers were planning to visit Sunday.

With about 60 alpacas, Red Laliberte, the owner of Misty Acres, picked up alpaca farming as a hobby about nine years back as something to do in retirement. Days like Sunday provide him the opportunity to open his farm to interested people who may otherwise not stop by.

“There are people two miles up the road that have never seen an alpaca,” Laliberte said. “The open farm day introduces people to the animals and gives a chance for kids who never experienced a farm to get out there a bit.”

By 11 a.m., Laliberte said about 100 visitors had been through the farm, which included an area where Laliberte’s friends Pat Fischer, of Cumberland, and Cheryl Coyne, of North Yarmouth, demonstrated how to spool sheep’s wool into yarn. Fischer raises Shetland and Romney sheep and Coyne Icelandic sheep.

In Wilton, at Black Acres Farm, which Russell Black has operated for more than 40 years, guests could go on a 15-minute hay ride to see the livestock, including pigs and cows. The farm also sells several different meat products, maple syrup and honey, all of which are raised on the farm.

“It’s awesome. It’s a beautiful place and a tremendous operation,” said Marilyn Lavin, who has lived in Wilton for 13 years and previously lived in Wisconsin. “You can’t live in Wisconsin for 25 years and not be interested in agribusiness.”

While not her first foray on an Open Farm Day, it was her first visit to Black Acres Farm.

“It’s great to see that it’s thriving and these people obviously love what they do,” said Lavin, who was touring the farm with her son Jeff, who was visiting from California.

About 93 farms participated Sunday, according to getrealmaine.com, a site sponsored by the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry designed to bring local farms and local food producers together.

Jesse Scardina — 861-9239

[email protected]

Twitter: @jessescardina


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