Welcome to Rusty Metal Farm

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If I had to sum up Rusty Metal Farm in one succinct sentence, it would be this: It’s never dull.

I kind of wish it was dull some days.

Rusty Metal Farm has been my home along the northern Maine-Canadian border for close to four decades. It’s 170 acres of woodland, wetland, pastures, trails and ponds.

In the early and middle years of the last century it was an active potato and sheep farm.

A brow chicken standing on the floorboards of an old tractor, looking at a freshly laid egg.
Among the joys of life on Rusty Metal Farm is never knowing what I’m going to find when I walk outside in the morning. Like a freshly laid egg on my tractor.| Photo by Julia Bayly

Today it’s what is laughinly known as a “non-working farm.” As opposed to an actual farm as defined by the government. It’s amazing how much work goes into a non-working farm. That’s because in the case of Rusty Metal Farm, there is a land management plan drawn up by a certified land management expert.

In accordance with that plan certain trees need to be thinned out at specified times to promote the growth of other species and create a diverse forest habitat. The 20 or so acres of fields will not mow themselves. Sadly, the four miles of trails around the farm do not remain clear of growing brush or fallen trees on their own, so they must be periodically cleared out.

Likewise the pond needs constant attention lest the resident beavers go too far with their own management style, damming the outflows and thereby causing it to spill over and perhaps overflow and wash out the road.

Summers are spent with an eye and effort toward gathering and storing firewood for the upcoming winter. In winter, snow needs to be removed from the driveway, decks and roofs of the house and outbuildings.

A large pile of split firewood with a young man tossing it into the storage cellar.
Even on a “non-working” farm there is something to do ever season, like making sure enough firewood is on hand for a coming winter. | Photo by Julia Bayly

Tending livestock and poultry is something you do 24/7 and in the years I have bees they need my attention on a regular basis.

Most of the time I love it, though I have questioned the life choices that led me to share my days in what can legitimately be termed the middle of nowhere with a variety of dogs, cats, chickens and whatever wild creatures happen to wander or fly through.

I’m a city kid by birth, originally from Portland, Oregon. It’s where I grew up and lived until moving east to attend college after high school. Never in a million years would have predicted that journey would take me to a life and career in one of the most rural areas in one of the most rural states in the United States.


But here I am. 

A red Mahindra farm tractor parked with the bucket down, and a small black and brown dog standing in the bucket.
Working farm or not, a tractor and a farm dog — albeit a tiny one — are must-have items. | Photo by Julia Bayly

These days it’s just me, my tiny farm dog Chiclet, a flock of very sincere egg-laying chickens and two cats who find lounging on a window ledge preferable to active rodent control.

It wasn’t always like that. Before I entered the picture, the farm was the much-loved and much-tended land of my late husband Patrick. 

Patrick loved all things motorized and rusty. He also loved the woods, the fields and the critters. And he loved me.

Sadly, he was taken much too soon in 2008 following a short battle with cancer.

But he left his mark and legacy on the farm. The land management style found in that farm plan was influenced heavily by his focus on wildlife preservation. His was also a legacy written on rusty tractors, trucks and farm implements. 

Over the years I’ve done my level best to keep true to those rusty and wildland legacies, and along the way have had my fair share of mishaps and triumphs.

Ever get a tractor stuck axel-deep in the mud? How about chasing down a fox that has grabbed a chicken? Or set up a chicken infirmary in your basement to nurse a sick bird? I’ve had bear, moose, skunk and porcupine encounters too numerous to count. 

And sure, it’s a solo operation, but no working or non-working farm is an island. I’ve had plenty of help from some pretty amazing people along the way.

I can’t wait to share these adventures, past, present and future with you.

So, come on in, grab a cup of coffee and let’s get to know each other.

Welcome to Rusty Metal Farm.


2 comments
  1. Shirley says

    I’m 83,was born and raised in Maine.Have lived in South Florida for more than 40years.This is where our kids,grandkids and great grandkids are.That’s why we are still here but our roots will always be in Maine.Looking forward to reading your articles.

    1. Julia Bayly says

      Thank you so much! I look forward to sharing my little piece of Maine with you!

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