Fin Jimenez of Scarborough, left, walks back to the barn Sunday after hopping off the tractor his brother, Fisher, pretends to drive at Roebucks Angus farm in Turner during the 30th annual Open Farm Day. They came to visit with their friend, Abby Ham, jumping off the tractor, who lives just down the street in Turner. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal

LIVERMORE FALLS — With help from chirping birds swooping in and out of the opened gable, parishioners at First Baptist Church of Livermore Falls worshiped Sunday morning at Harold Souther’s farm.

Souther, a longtime farmer, expert weather analyst and parishioner, joined with Forrest Genthner, pastor at First Baptist, to move an organ, speakers and an altar to the front of Souther’s barn.

Friends and family of Harold Souther, looking up at the entrance of his barn, walk from a church service to preparing for a cookout at his Livermore Falls farm Sunday morning. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal

First Baptist has held outdoor services for many years. Previously hosted by George Morrill, a longtime Livermore Falls resident who died in March at his camp on Long Pond, Genthner said Souther volunteered to host the service.

Souther had just hosted a family reunion so much of what was needed for the church gathering was already in place. It also happened to be the 30th annual Open Farm Day across Maine, during which more than 100 farms open to the public.

“Open Farm Day was a coincidence,” Genthner said, “and we said we should take advantage of it.”

Souther, 95, has a strong work ethic to go with the 55 years he has been a member of the congregation.

This year, he has already harvested 1,500 bales of hay, and he expects to cut another 1,600 bales. He does all the cutting and baling himself.

“He doesn’t trust anybody to do it,” said Sarah Kennedy, a longtime member of the congregation.

Though she thanked Souther for his generosity, she said the former location was better equipped for baptisms.

“We had baptisms at George’s camp on the pond,” Kennedy said. “We have a pond (at the farm), but it’s out back and it’s muck. I don’t think anybody would want to go in.”

Souther’s farm has been in the family since 1914. His mother and father moved there in 1919. Speaking to the congregation, Souther said over the past 100 years, there were four births and two deaths at the house.

“It’s had growing pains,” Souther said. “It’s been a home for poultry and a home for cattle, and, of course, horses. Now it’s open for storage and for hay.”

At one point, she added, the farm housed about 4,200 laying hens.

These days, haying takes priority, but Souther also has 10 gardens, several pigs and many old tractors.

“You might wonder why so many tractors,” he said. “Well, like myself, they’re old. The newest one was built in 1964. And you may not believe it, but five generations of Souther’s had driven that tractor.”

About 20 miles from Souther Farms, Jay Roebuck of Roebucks Angus in Turner also opened up to visitors. Roebuck and his wife, Sue, raise cattle and sell beef. Sue also runs an upholstery business from the farm. Roebuck says he mostly advertises on Facebook, but also hosts monthly burger nights, where the public can come and try his beef.

Roebuck has been in business for 30 years, and has been a longtime participant in Open Farm Day. He says he does not have any expectations regarding how much meat he will sell, but still appreciates the public coming for a visit.

 

“Whatever happens, happens,” he said. “We just hope that the people that attend these functions come away from all different farms with a positive attitude.

“It’s not like we’re trying to get people into farming. We’re just trying to show them a part of our life.”

Friends and family of Harold Souther gather after a church service Sunday morning as they prepare for a cookout at his Livermore farm. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal


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