Obituaries, Week of January 31, 2019


CLINTON – Robert P. Grenier, 77, of Clinton, passed away Monday, December 31, 2018, at Northern Lights Inland Hospital, in Waterville, after losing his four-year battle with lung cancer. He was born July 25, 1941, in Waterville, the son of Prosper and Delores (Burgess) Grenier.

He attended Waterville area schools. He married the former Linda Gagnon on July 13, 1963, and they had two sons, Kelly and Kerry. Robert would talk highly of his work at the poultry plant in Winslow where he worked for 16 years and of the poultry plant in Burnham. He then worked for C.F. Hathaway, in Waterville, alongside some of his brothers and sisters where he made many friends. Robert also worked with his nephew, Tim Poirier, doing electrical work which he extremely enjoyed.

In his younger years, he enjoyed bowling and was forever a hockey fan, especially the Boston Bruins. The latter of which, he passed on to his sons, grandsons, and great-grandson. Robert had a special relationship with his oldest grandson, Scott Grenier, and he enjoyed watching his grandsons play hockey.

Robert was predeceased by his parents Prosper and Delores, his brother Bernard, his sister Carmen Burns, his sister Debbie Sharp, and his first grandson, Scott Grenier.

Robert is survived by his wife of 55 years, Linda (Gagnon) Grenier, of Clinton; two sons, Kelly Grenier and wife Gloria, of Winslow, Kerry Grenier and wife Patricia, of Waterville; six grandsons, Devon Grenier and wife Jordan, of Belgrade, Jacob Grenier, of Augusta, Cameron, Benjamin, and Wyatt Grenier, all of Winslow, and Christian Grenier, of Waterville; six granddaughters, Emma, Lexi, Aimee, and Madison Grenier, all of Winslow, Brandi and Amanda Grenier, both of Waterville; three great-grandchildren, Alyson Grenier, of Searsmont, Jackson, and Prestley Grenier, both of Belgrade; 10 brothers, Reginald and wife Pauline, of Benton, Daniel and wife Barbara, of Winslow, Gerald “Jerry,” of Arizona, Donald, of Jakcman, Dale and wife Diane, of Waterville, Kenneth, of Fairfield, Michael and wife Willie, of Albion, Roland and wife Angie, of Waterville, Ronald and wife Cindy, of Minnesotta, Ricky of Bath; four sisters, Joan Warren and husband Paul, of Smithfield, Sandra Reynolds and husband Paul, of Winslow, Shirley Poirier, of Winslow, Brenda Beals and husband Jeff, of Utah; brother-in-law, James Gagnon and wife Diane, of Augusta; numerous aunts, uncles, nieces, and nephews.

A Celebration of Life will be held Saturday, January 26, 2019 at 2 p.m., at Temple Academy, 60 West River Road, Waterville.

Arrangements were under the direction and care of Dan & Scott’s Cremation & Funeral Service, 445 Waterville Road, Skowhegan, ME 04976.


VASSALBORO – Richard W. Finley, 86, passed away on Sunday, January 13, 2019. Dick was born on August 8, 1932, the son of Fred and Dorothy (Davis) Finley.

He was educated in the school systems of Monson, graduating in 1950.

He served honorably in the U.S. Navy during the Korean War, and graduated from the University of Maine at Orono with a bachelor of science degree in forestry in 1958. While in college Dick married the former Nancy Ruth Osborne, from Guilford.

Following graduation, he worked for the U.S. Forest Service, in Virginia and West Virginia, attaining the rank of district ranger on the Gauley District of the MonongahelaNational Forest, in West Virginia. Mr. Finley returned to Maine in 1967 as a district forester for Scott Paper Company in their Greenville District. He stayed with Scott for the next 20 years, retiring as wood procurement and sales manager in 1986.

He was very active in Toastmasters International, serving as president of the Elm City Toastmasters, of Waterville, and Area Governor of the area that included Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont as well as New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and P.E.I., Canada. He ran for district office in 1979.

Dick and Nancy were avid snowmobilers in their later years, riding some 5,000 to 6,000 miles each year on trails in northern Maine and Canada.

Dick will be remembered as a person who always had time to assist family and friends. He was active in his community serving as Vassalboro Youth Baseball coach, Kennebec Valley Trail Riders as president, Winslow Wrestling Booster. Vassalboro Sanitary District Trustee, and many other community positions.

He was a talented gardener and sold hundreds of apples each year from his orchard in East Vassalboro.

Dick is survived by his wife of 61 years, and his son Michael, both of Vassalboro.

Memories and condolences may be shared with the family online at

A celebration of Dick’s life will be held by the family at a future date.

Donations may be made in Dick’s memory to the Waterville Humane Society, 100 Webb Road, Waterville ME 04901.


SOUTH CHINA – Laura D. Hardesty, 57, resident of South China, passed away Tuesday, January 15, 2019, at MaineGeneral, in Augusta. She was born August 14, 1961, in Augusta, to Lawrence Sr. and Mary Haskell.

She graduated from Erskine Academy and married her soulmate, Eric Hardesty.

Laura was a loving and devoted wife, mother, and grandmother. She loved any and all things family.

She was predeceased by her father, Lawrence Haskell Sr.; and her husband, Eric Hardesty.

She is survived by her daughter, Mandy Hardesty; her sons, Justin and Darrin Hardesty; four grandchildren, Colby Blay, Kyleigh, Connor and Kathryn Hardesty; her mother, Mary Haskell; four brothers, Lawrence Haskell Jr., Carl Haskell, Daniel and Lisa Haskell, Ronald and Terry Haskell, both from Palermo.


WINSLOW – Doris “Dot” L. Morneau, 64, passed away Sunday, January 20, 2019, at her home in Winslow. She was born May 28, 1954, in Portland, the daughter of Charles and Florence (Thurston) Hodgdon.

She was a substitute teacher and worked with many children, including those with special needs. She loved to read to them and share her knowledge. It gave her joy to be with them. To Dot, there were no strangers, just friends she had not yet met. She was a beautiful writer and poet and had many articles published. She always made Jesus a birthday cake on Christmas.

Dot was an animal lover and rescued any and all strays, especially chickens and cats that were in need; she truly was the patron St Francis of Assissi. Dot and Paul enjoyed many vacations to Las Vegas and the Grand Canyon.

She was predeceased by her parents, Charles and Florence Hodgdon; and brother, Chuck Hodgdon.

She is survived by her husband of 46 years, Paul Morneau Sr.; son, Paul “PJ” Morneau, Jr. and wife Pam and children; Jazymne and JP (Paul Jr. told his mom every night before she went to bed that he loved her); daughter, Jennifer Greene and husband Tim and son, Garrett; son, Christopher Morneau who was Dot’s best friend (they had a special bond that gave them each such peace and comfort, they were each other’s rock), three great-grandchildren, Aubrey, Olivia and Cameron; special sister, Susan Pomeroy; and Anne Hodgdon.

At Dot’s request, there will be no visitation hours or funeral service. A private graveside service will be held in the spring at the convenience of the family.

Arrangements under the direction and care of Dan & Scott’s Cremation & Funeral Service, 445 Waterville Road, Skowhegan ME 04976.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in Dot’s memory to the Humane Society Waterville Area, 100 Webb Road, Waterville ME 04901. Donations do not have to be in monetary value as she wouldn’t want anyone to be in hardship. Instead, smile, think of her and donate food, a toy or bed. Anything that would bring joy to an animal would also bring joy to Dot.


BELGRADE LAKES – Frank D. Megill, 90, passed away Tuesday, January 22, 2019, at MaineGeneral Rehabilitation and Long Term Care at Glenridge. He was born February 12, 1928, in Belgrade Lakes, the son of Warren and Gladys Megill. He was a lifelong resident.

He graduated from Belgrade High School in 1946. He was a veteran who proudly served his country in the United States Army.

He was employed as the manager of Rome Farms in 1953, worked as a self-employed carpenter/builder for many years, and worked for the Department of Defense, Veteran and Emergency Management at Camp Keyes, in Augusta, where he retired in 1996.

In his early years he volunteered for the Belgrade Lakes Association and the Fire Department. Frank was a member of the Grand Masons of Maine Lodge #99 for 65 years. He enjoyed hunting, fishing trips to the mountains, various outdoor activities, nature, gardening and family gatherings.

He is survived by his wife of 62 years, Beverly; three daughters, Debbie and husband Bill, Judith and husband James, Terri and husband Bill; brother Ernest Johnson; grandchildren, Justin, Mackenzie and Aisling.

He was predeceased by his father, Warren Megill, mother, Gladys Johnson; brother, Edwin Megill; granddaughter, Molly.

A memorial service will be held at a later date at the convenience of the family.

In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to the Belgrade Historical Society. Belgrade Historical Society, PO Box 36A, Belgrade, ME 04917.

Arrangements were under the direction and care of Dan & Scott’s Cremation & Funeral Service, 445 Waterville Road, Skowhegan, ME 04976.


OAKLAND – Linda Jean (Willette) Fortin, 69, of Oakland passed away on Friday, January 25, 2019, following a long two-year battle with cancer. Linda was born in Waterville, on October 20, 1949, the daughter of Eugene and Odile (Levesque) Willette.

Linda’s impeccable work ethic and constantly caring for others began at The Hathaway Company, in Waterville, where she worked with many of her sisters and sisters-in-law. She once said that going to the Hathaway was more like a get-together rather than work. While at Hathaway she also worked at The Great American Deli, in Waterville, where she helped to cook and clean. Her family would often be at Mount St. Joseph in Waterville where she cared and cooked for many retired Priests in what is call the Priests Annex of Mount St. Joseph. She prepared elaborate home cooked meals for them and cared for them all as if she were their own mother. They would often become very upset when Linda took a day off as no one else could prepare their meals as she did. She retired from The Mount in November 2015. She was diagnosed with cancer in January of 2016.

Linda’s favorites in life, besides her family and friends, were her miniature poodle Ben, lobster, Chinese food and Christmas sugar cookies. She enjoyed painting various ceramic statues and Christmas creations for all her children and grandchildren. She loved her road trips to various parts of New England with her friends and family and her special mall and county trips with her girlfriends. She watched her grandchildren in their various sporting and dance activities. She always spoke her mind and would do anything for anyone in need and even in her last moments she was making sure that her husband would be cared for.

She was predeceased by her son, James Allen McDonald; her parents, Eugene and Odile Willette; her brothers, Eugene, Stanley, Herman and James Willette; and her sisters, Joyce Beaudoin, Gloria Vigue, and Phyllis Munster.

She is survived by her husband, Richard Fortin, of Oakland; her daughter, Melissa Fenwick and her husband, Todd, of Sidney; her son, Dennis McDonald and his wife, Traci, of Fairfield, her son, Michael McDonald, of Fairfield; her sister, Cynthia Willette Gandee and her husband, Wesley, of Texas; her brother, Roger Willette and his wife, Jennifer, of Connecticut; her brother-in-law, Alfred Vigue, of Waterville; and many nieces and nephews.

Her precious gifts were her five grandchildren, Devin McDonald, Mitchell McDonald, Renee McDonald, Wyatt Fenwick and Mason McDonald.

A celebration of life will be held on March 2, at 2 p.m. at the Trafton Rd Event Center in Waterville. Graveside burial will be held in the spring.

An online guestbook may be signed and memories shared at

Arrangements are under the direction of Lawry Brothers-Wheeler Funeral & Cremation Care, 26 Church Street, Oakland.


PATRICIA A. BLETHEN, 84, of Augusta, passed away on Thursday, January 3, 2019, at MaineGeneral Medical Center, in Augusta. Locally, she is survived by a daughter, Deborah Champagne, of Vassalboro, and a son, Bradley Nixon and wife Wanda, of Windsor.

SHANNON P. CONDON, 47, of Washington, passed away unexpectedly on Wednesday, January 9, 2019, at his home. Locally, he is survived by sisters Arlene A. Condon, of Washington, and Jamie Condon and companion Ed Light, of Windsor.

JUDITH W. NICHOLS, 81, of Pittston, passed away on Friday, January 11, 2019, at The Lamp Alzheimer’s Residential Care, in Lisbon. Locally, she is survived by a son, Jeffrey, of Windsor.

VICTOR J. BOLDUC JR., 82, of Gardiner, passed away on Wednesday, January 16, 2019, at Marshwood Center, in Lewiston, following a long illness. Locally, he is survived by a son, David Bolduc and significant other LouAnn Davis, of Palermo, and grandchildren Michael Bolduc, of China, and Michelle Bolduc and fiancé Nicholas Bissell, of Palermo.

MARY A. POULIN, 92, of Waterville, passed away on Saturday, January 19, 2019, from complications of pneumonia, at MaineGeneral Medical Center, in Augusta. Locally, she is survived by her children, James Poulin and wife Diane, of Winslow, Patricia Gorman and husband Gary, of Oakland, and John Poulin, of Waterville.

TIF members approve proposed spending

by Mary Grow

Members of China’s Tax Increment Financing (TIF) Committee approved their proposed 2019-2020 expenditures unanimously at a Jan. 28 meeting.

The total to be taken from TIF revenues is a little more than $457,000. The largest amount, more than $200,000, is designated for Phase Two of the causeway road project at the head of China Lake’s east basin.

The committee had no update on plans for Phase Two, which is intended to make the area between the new bridge (Phase One) and the boat landing more usable for fishing and other recreation.

Town Manager Dennis Heath said Phase One will be finished in the spring, when the final coat of paving is applied to the road. At the same time, he said, the town plans to grant the China Baptist Church trustees’ request to fill potholes in their parking lot caused by construction equipment parked there.

The next-largest expense category in the TIF budget benefits China Lake: $50,000 to the China Lake Association’s LakeSmart program, half designated for improvements to three camp roads identified in 2016 as sources of run-off, and $20,000 to the China Region Lakes Alliance.

If voters approve the budget as presented, Thurston Park is slated to get $52,000 for maintenance and the China Four Seasons Club $50,000 for trail work.

Frank Soares, temporarily abandoning the TIF Committee chairman’s gavel to speak for the club, said the trail work will be spread over two years, repairing two sections of the power line trail north of Cross Road, parallel to Lakeview Drive.

TIF money comes from taxes paid by Central Maine Power Company on the power line and the substation in South China. Committee member Stephen Nichols commented it seemed fair to use CMP’s money on CMP’s right-of-way.

In other business, committee members talked about the revolving loan fund being developed with the assistance of the Kennebec Valley Council of Governments and decided they should meet with the KVCOG staff member involved in the program.

They scheduled their next meeting for Monday evening, Feb. 25.

Town manager presents detailed budget proposal; Final resident input tentatively set for Feb. 5

by Mary Grow

China Budget Committee members and an audience that included town employees and volunteer firefighters heard Town Manager Dennis Heath’s detailed presentation of his proposed 2019-2020 budget at a Jan. 23 meeting.

Heath gave selectmen the same information at their Jan. 17 budget workshop. Currently, selectmen are scheduled to meet at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 5, to put the April 6 town business meeting warrant in final form. If all goes as scheduled, that meeting will be the final chance for residents to try to influence selectmen’s budget recommendations.

Budget committee members will meet again on Feb. 11 to make their recommendations on each proposed expenditure, supporting the selectmen or suggesting voters approve a different amount.

Among points Heath and others made at the Jan. 23 meeting:

  • The proposed budget does not fund a cost of living or other across the board raise for town employees. Instead, there is money for merit raises and for bonuses (for example, holiday gifts).
  • Funds are included for the new part-time codes officer’s position, planned to become full-time when current Codes Officer Paul Mitnik retires at the end of 2019. No one has been hired yet; Heath said as of Jan. 23 no candidates had been interviewed.
  • The police and animal control budget is increased to cover expected higher costs for police dispatching if China has to change from the state’s Regional Communications Center to the Augusta Police Department and buy updated radios.
  • Heath recommends $6,000 for China’s Economic Development Committee. Asked by Budget Committee Secretary Jean Conway if the committee is active, the manager replied, “No, but it will be.”
  • Scott Pierz, who is involved in both the China Lake Association and the China Region Lakes Alliance, asked for $25,000 to make improvements to three fire roads identified in a 2016 survey as contributing run-off to China Lake. Budget committee member Wayne Chadwick asked Pierz to try to set up cost-sharing arrangements with the shorefront owners responsible for the roads.

Selectmen give OK for appraisal on Bailey property

by Mary Grow

At their Jan. 22 meeting, China selectmen unanimously authorized Town Manager Dennis Heath to have an appraisal done on part of Susan Bailey’s much-discussed property at the head of China Lake’s east basin. The manager expects the appraisal to give selectmen a basis for further negotiations with Bailey.

Bailey owns two pieces of land: about 6.2 acres across Causeway Street from the boat landing, used for unofficial parking, and a larger piece on the far side of Lakeview Drive. Selectmen and Tax Increment Finance (TIF) Committee members would like to acquire the smaller piece and make the parking official.

In the past, they were told that the two parcels could not be separated. Heath said at the Jan. 28 TIF Committee meeting they now can be, because after the house on the larger property burned, the insurance paid off the mortgage on the whole property.

Heath also told the TIF Committee getting the appraisal is “a little more complicated than I would have liked.” He is seeking a commercial appraisal; the first appraiser he heard from would have charged $2,800, compared to Heath’s initial estimate of $500 or so. Heath is seeking other quotes.

In November 2016 voters approved using up to $10,000 in TIF funds to buy the smaller piece. At the Jan. 22 selectmen’s meeting, Heath said the town’s valuation is about $1,700, because only about half an acre is dry enough to be usable.

Selectmen also approved unanimously Heath’s proposal to get a design and cost estimate for adding a climate-controlled records storage space, probably a new 12-by-12-foot room on the south side of the town office meeting room.

The current area is about four-by-eight feet, Heath estimated, and is full. State law requires municipalities to keep a variety of documents, some forever. The proposed new room would accommodate the present collection and future additions.

In other business Jan. 19:

  • Heath announced the schedule of March pre-town meeting informational sessions on the 2019-2020 budget, as follows: Wednesday, March 20, at 6 p.m. at Erskine Academy, on Windsor Road; Sunday, March 24, at 2 p.m. at the Albert Church Brown Memorial Library, on Main Street in China Village; and Wednesday, March 27, at 6 p.m. in the town office meeting room. The annual town business meeting is scheduled for 9 a.m. Saturday, April 6.
  • Board members reappointed Selectman Irene Belanger a member of the town Forestry Committee, with Belanger abstaining on the vote.
  • In response to an earlier selectmen’s discussion of comparative costs of crushing glass versus adding it to the mixed waste in the hopper, Transfer Station Manager Tim Grotton reported crushing costs a maximum of $30 per ton, versus $92 per ton to treat glass as mixed waste.

Selectmen postponed action on three items: Heath’s draft policy for awarding China’s Boston Post cane, to allow time to make sure it conforms to the publisher’s original intent in 1909; Heath’s proposal to create a new parks committee, expanding the Thurston Park Committee’s jurisdiction to the town forest behind China Primary School; and the revised personnel policy they have deliberated at past meetings and a special workshop.

The next scheduled selectmen’s meetings are a regular meeting at 6:30 p.m. Monday, Feb. 4, and a budget workshop at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 5.

Oak Grove School Foundation offers grants

The Oak Grove School Foundation is accepting applications for grants to support the education and cultural needs of students and non profit organizations in the greater Central Maine area.

Recipients must be educational, charitable or religious organizations that are tax exempt under section 501(c)(30 Of the internal revenue service code.

Grant requests should be received by April 5, 2019. Funding decisions will be made in May and shortly after the funds will be distributed in July. Recent grants have ranged $500 – $5,000. The OGSF has also provided seed money for initiatives that last up to three years.

Groups interested in obtaining application forms and guidelines should contact Joann Clark Austin, Oak Grove School Foundation, P.O. Box 150 South China, ME 04358-0150 or Susan Briggs at (

Give Us Your Best Shot! Week of January 31, 2019

To submit a photo for The Town Line’s “Give Us Your Best Shot!” section, please visit our contact page or email us at!

AHHHHH!: Rainie Bunn, of Windsor, photographed her brother’s cat, Rusty, enjoying a good rub outdoors.


HARD FORAGING: This female cardinal found some seed in the snow, as captured by Pat Clark, of Palermo.


FROZEN FUNGI: Emily Poulin, of South China, snapped these fungi frozen in ice on the underside of a log, recently.

The goat farmer who grabs life by the horns

Brandon Holmes, with one of his goats, at 3 Level Farm, in South China. (contributed photo)

by Emily Cates

Can farming save a life? Is there redemption in working with one’s hands and caring for Earth’s creatures? The answer to these questions may be found in the life and experiences of an apprentice at a local farm right here in China, Maine.

This past December, I had the privilege of meeting Brandon Holmes – an intelligent, fun-loving, motivated person with a passion for the natural world. Right away, he made an impression as an authentic human being who has overcome unimaginable obstacles to get to where he is in life.

As I interviewed him in the apprentice cabin at 3 Level Farm, I was struck by how his story is about more than a simple goat farmer. It’s one about redemption and seizing life by the horns. It’s a story about the power of the individual to change his own life, and the power of the community to support him. Brandon is living proof that connecting with the earth can be one of the most compelling positive forces a person can experience.

Reflecting on his journeys in life that took him from a job at Harvard, to homelessness, to finally finding meaning in a simple life on a farm in rural Maine, Brandon fearlessly recounted his life with the perspective of someone who has experienced much more than a typical thirty-something.

In the early 2000s, at age 13, he started his own computer business and became financially successful, picking up his first major client at only 15 years old. Eventually, his skills and expertise landed him a job at Harvard University, despite the new and destructive habits which he was already developing.

He says, “There was lots of money flowing around, and with it comes a certain lifestyle – including lots of alcohol and other party drugs…at first it seemed to give me the world.”

Ultimately, Brandon became a victim of his own success and developed a severe addiction to alcohol. After several warnings from his employer, Brandon chose alcohol over job security and moved to Maine. Though now closer in proximity to his family, he found himself homeless.

“Stitching together several different jobs, couch surfing with lots of different friends,” he relates, “I was just a mess, basically drunk for 12 years, from the time I got up to the time I passed out at night.”

Even moving to Michigan, becoming a father, and an interlude of sobriety did not provide him with relief from his downward spiral.

He confesses, “My rock bottoms all had trap doors.”

Unfortunately, he resumed heavy drinking and ended up serving 17 months in maximum security prison for assaulting an officer while intoxicated.

After he was released from prison, Brandon found it difficult to obtain employment due to his felony status. Eventually, he moved back to Maine, and in 2017 he started helping his mother run a restaurant.

However, as he recalled, “Things didn’t go as planned…so I started drinking again and fell into a very serious depression. I ended up overdosing on all my medication and spending nine days in the intensive care unit.”

Following that harrowing experience, Brandon was finally willing to commit himself to a six-month recovery and work program in Portland, sponsored by the Salvation Army. By going through this and several other programs, focused on addiction and recovery, he realized he had to make radical changes in his life.

As he contemplated the benefits of a simple, healthful life, he thought of the idea to apprentice on a farm. Research through the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Asso­cia­tion’s apprenticeship program yielded a farm in Freeport that was a match for him, and he applied for the position. To his relief, he was accepted even though he had a criminal background. A new chapter of his life was about to unfold, beginning a journey that would acquaint him with the natural world and begin his healing process.

After finishing the first year of his apprenticeship in Freeport, he continued his second year at 3 Level Farm, in South China.

When he arrived at 3 Level Farm last January, one of Brandon’s first assignments was to observe the moon. “It was really a fun approach to connecting with nature,” he says. Mindfulness of the four directions (north, south, east, and west) was also very grounding and orientating for him. Most importantly, it was essential for him to be a part of a thoughtful community that provided the opportunity to be his best, and who encouraged him when he wasn’t.

Since Brandon has demonstrated the dedication and determination necessary to live a sober life, others in his community have taken notice and supported his decision. On one occasion, when he had a relapse with alcohol, the farmer he had apprenticed for handled it effectively and with compassion. Brandon has since been successful in his recovery as a result of this understanding, realizing that the people around him really care and want him to succeed. Most importantly, his personal resolve to deal with life without succumbing to addiction keeps him moving forward.

Since I also write The Town Line’s garden column, Garden Works, I had to ask Brandon, what is his approach to farming? In Brandon’s mind, good health through a holistic approach to tending the land and to one’s body are inseparable. Just as the health of the soil and its fruitage depends on being properly nourished and taken care of, he believes the same is true with our bodies. By keeping this in mind, he has been able to improve his own physical and mental health dramatically. He even lost 90 pounds!

He takes a similar approach with the creatures in his care. He always ensures his animals aren’t stressed, whether it involves their diet or their mental health and well-being. “I muck the barn once a week so that they’re not in their own squalor, and to keep virus and parasite loads down,” he says. Rotational pasturing also contributes to the health of his herd.

Most importantly, Brandon spends more time with the goats than his work assignment requires, so that he knows them well enough to spot problems early on. “I have a blast with them!” he says.

Regarding growing vegetables using moon cycles, he says, “During the full moon the gravity is going to be pulling outwards, so that’s the time to plant your leafy greens. When it’s a new moon, you’ll want to be planting your root crops, because they’ll be able to get down there [in the soil] faster.”

Brandon cautions that farm life is not for everyone, but can be very stimulating and rewarding for those who take to it. “The key thing for me is that no two days are alike,” he says. “There are some processes that you do every day, but even if you get up with a plan of what’s going to happen that day, it’s not necessarily going to happen. Everything can go to hell in a hand basket just like that! You thought you were going to be up setting up irrigation today? Well, guess what? You’re going to be mending goat fences because the goats found a hole they can get out of. You never know where you’re going to end up in a day. For me, I like that as opposed to the monotony of a lot of jobs that are available to [those in my life position].” Best of all, he says, “I feel like I’m getting paid to work out!”

“One great thing about the farming world,” he tells me, “is how helpful they all are. Since I’ve started [a lifestyle vlog and a trending GoFundMe page to help fund it], I’ve had farmers reach out to me from all different areas of the farming world – cheesemakers, a licensed vet tech – who offered to help finish raising money for the GoFundMe project.” It’s that sense of community and support that keeps him going.

Also, of equal importance, are the goats that bring meaning, purpose, and unconditional friendship to his life. To Brandon, this is essential. “I feel that society could learn a lot from them,” he says. “I never feel judged when I’m out there with the goats.” To him, caring for goats is a healthy outlet that can help with the rougher realities of the worlds around us and within us.

If you, like Brandon, have the same determination to live a sober life and would like to be part of a supportive community that finds meaning in connecting with the natural world, feel free to reach out to him. If you’d like to check him out on social media and be utterly entertained, look up his website “Life Beyond the Burbs” and his YouTube channel. Enjoy, reflect, and see for yourself the joys and benefits of working closely with nature.

SCORES & OUTDOORS — Rats!: wrongfully carry a legacy as filthy little creatures

Left, Black Rat; right, Brown Rat

Roland D. Halleeby Roland D. Hallee

RATS! No, it’s not something you say when things don’t go your way. Instead, it describes, profoundly, what people think of this rodent that is perceived as a member of the underworld of the animal kingdom. They are scorned, feared and totally misunderstood. They are portrayed as evil and filthy little creatures that spread disease as they scamper through the sewers of major cities. Among unions, “rat” is a term for nonunion employers or breakers of union contracts.

Few animals elicit such strong and contradictory reactions as rats.

The Black Death is traditionally believed to have been caused by the micro-organism Yersinia pestis, carried by the tropical rat flea which preyed on black rats living in European cities during the epidemic outbreaks of the Middle Ages. These rats were used as transport hosts. Another disease linked to rats is the foot-and-mouth disease.

The reason I bring this up is because of something I saw last week. My wife showed a video to me on Facebook – I don’t do Facebook – showing this woman who had two pet rats she had trained to do some amazing things. That piqued my curiosity because I had heard rats are fairly intelligent.

The best known rat species are the black rat, which is considered to be one of the world’s worst invasive species, and the brown rat. Male rats are known as bucks, females are does, and infant rats are called kittens or pups. A group of rats is referred to as a “mischief.”

The woman on the video had her rats trained to bring her a tissue when she sneezed, respond to flashcard commands, and even come when called, just to name a few that I remember.

Those who keep rats as pets know them as highly intelligent and social animals who clean themselves regularly and thrive on regular interaction.

Specifically-bred rats have been kept as pets at least since the late 19th century. Pet rats are typically variants of the species brown rat, but black rats and giant pouched rats are also known to be kept. Pet rats behave differently from their wild counterparts depending on how many generations they have been kept as pets. The more generations, the more domesticated it will be. Pet rats do not pose any more of a health risk than pets such as dogs and cats. Tamed rats are generally friendly and can be taught to perform selected behaviors.

Because of evident displays of their ability to learn, rats were investigated early to see whether they exhibit general intelligence, as expressed by the definition of a g factor as observed in larger, more complex animals. Early studies around 1930 found evidence both for and against such a g factor in rats.

A 2011 controlled study found that rats are actively pro-social. They demonstrate apparent behavior to other rats in experiments, including freeing them from cages. When presented with readily available chocolate chips, test rats would first free the caged rat, and then share the food. All female rats displayed this behavior, while only 30 percent of males did not.

Rat meat has become a dietary staple in some cultures. Among others, I personally observed rats being consumed in Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand.

Back to the pet rat. While most people cringe at the thought of having a rat for a pet, believe it or not, domestic rats make great pets. They are not aggressive, diseased and dirty animals, but in fact are very clean, fun-loving, sensitive, very social and affectionate. They genuinely enjoy interacting with people and should be handled daily. Rats are very intelligent and can be taught simple tricks, and will often learn their names. They can be litter box trained.

Whatever you do, don’t go down to the river to select a pet rat, but rather visit your local pet shop. When choosing your rat, choose one that does not appear skittish or does not squeal when picked up. Males tend to be calmer than females. Males usually enjoy being held for longer periods of time, especially when they get older.

If you get a pet rat, it is best if they are kept indoors rather than in a shed or garage, where they would get less attention. As mentioned before, rats are extremely clean animals and will constantly groom themselves – similar to cats. If you have more than one rat, they will groom each other.

So, now that we have seen a lighter side of rats, doesn’t it make you want to run right out to get one?

Roland’s trivia question of the week:

Who won the Super Bowl the last time it was held in Atlanta, Georgia?

Answer can be found here.

FOR YOUR HEALTH: Long-Distance Care-giving

(NAPSI)—Chances are, at some point you will be a caregiver to a friend or family member. Providing care and support can be challenging in any circumstance, but caring for a loved one who lives far away presents a unique set of challenges.

When providing care for loved ones who do not live nearby, keep the following three tips in mind.

Plan ahead. Learn your loved one’s medical wishes, contact information for doctors as well as important financial and insurance information.

Research community options. Many older adults need a little help to stay healthy and independent. Area Agencies on Aging and other community-based organizations can connect caregivers to programs that help with transportation, personal care services, nutrition, home modification and repairs, legal services, falls prevention programs and more.

Care for yourself. The Eldercare Locator can connect caregivers to local resources that can help, including caregiver support programs that can provide training, and support groups and other resources that help caregivers better support their loved ones—and themselves.

The Eldercare Locator can help both care recipients and their long-distance caregivers. Through its website,, and national Call Center at (800) 677-1116, the Eldercare Locator connects long-distance caregivers to resources that can provide assistance where it is needed most—in the care recipient’s own community. The Eldercare Locator is funded by the U.S. Administration for Community Living and is administered by the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging.

Roland’s Trivia Question for Thursday, January 24, 2019

Who won the Super Bowl the last time it was held in Atlanta, Georgia?


The St. Louis Rams defeated the Tennessee Titans, 23-16.