GARDINER — Mother and daughter Nubian goats Olive and Lilly crowded the fence for a chance to grab special cookies from visitors.

Lyra Annabelle Sanborn, 2, of Milo, was enchanted with the goats and almost equally fascinated with the chickens ranging ’round outside their coop.

Her grandmother, Rebecca St. Pierre of Chelsea, followed her from pen to pen at Butting Heads Farm on Costello Road in Gardiner.

The homestead farm of Jackie and Rod Frost was one of dozens of farms across central Maine that welcomed folks on Sunday for the 28th annual Open Farm Day organized by the Maine Department of Agriculture Conservation and Forestry.

Lyra’s dad, Aaron Sanborn, grew up on a dairy farm in Alton, Maine, where his family raised Holsteins, Herefords as well as a cross-breed of the two.

While he loved the life, he said there was really no money in small dairy farms today, so his uncle is now haying that land.

“Every time I go by the farm, it breaks my heart,” he said.

In the meantime, he and Renee Ireland, wanted their daughter to see a farm.

The Carlson family of Gardiner brought their three children, with curly blonde-haired Hanna, 2, describing the goats to her mother as “Amazing.”

“I milk the goats,” Jackie Frost told Ted Rohman of Waterville, as Marsha Rohman sampled a bottle of goat milk lotion which she later purchased to use on her arms and hands.

Ted Rohman said Butting Heads Farm was the first stop on a short list of three farms they wanted to tour on Sunday. The others were in Monmouth and Chelsea.

“Last year we went to Northern Solstice Alpaca Farm in Waldo,” he said. He said that visit inspired their desire to see more farms.

On a relatively small portion of their 50-acre farm, Frost and her husband have a dozen or so chickens, the pair of goats — they just sold 7 — as well as five pigs reclining in shallow trenches in shade.

The two goats provide a little over a gallon of milk a day, and Jackie Frost said the family drinks it, but she does not sell it.

Jackie Frost’s great-grandparents started with large gardens and a few livestock on the land in 1933, and Jackie and her husband took over 20 years ago. They founded Butting Heads Farm six or seven years ago to begin commercial operations.

“We shifted focus,” Frost said. “We were going to do a creamery and dairy, but the market is saturated right now.”

A large bed of beans and beets, a grape arbor obscuring a rusted metal sculpure of a tree and various fruit trees offer a glimpse of the new production area: pickled vegetables and jams and jellies.

Some 2.5 years ago, Frost attended a presentation during the Maine Agricultural Trades Show in Augusta that offered tips on getting a home food processing license.

With that in hand, she now preserves and sells pickled beets, dilley beans, cauliflower, red peppers and jalapenas.

Her home garden bed nearby holds a healthy crop of asparagus with a few white poppy flowers, which remind Frost of her grandfather.

While the crops were dry, Frost said she didn’t intend to water them.

“I don’t water,” she said. Then she amended her statement to say she might have to water the beans if the dry spell continued.

As the visitors continued to arrive in a steady stream, her son, Chason Frost, brought over more jars of pickled vegetables from the home across the road from the barn and sheds.

A horticulture major at the University of Maine at Orono, Chason Frost said he was home for the summer to help out.

“I usually work with the ornamentals and banzai stuff,” he said, pointing to a flower garden blooming near the house.

The farm is a part-time operation.

Jackie Frost works as an educational technician at Marcia Buker School in Richmond and Rod Frost work for ETTI — Enterprise Trenchless Technologies, Inc., in Lewiston.

Betty Adams — 621-5631

[email protected]

Twitter: @betadams

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