MECHANIC FALLS, Maine — What do you want to be when you grow up? There’s a question you probably remember getting asked when you were a kid, more times than you can count. And – the answer likely changed each time you were asked. If you ask Luke Coolidge that question, he’d have the answer, without missing a beat. And it’s an answer he’s known for some time now.
He is a blur of motion. At just seven years old, Luke Coolidge, or Farmer Luke as he’s known around Mechanic Falls – has more chickens, and ducks, and geese than he can count….and a passion for farming that he simply cannot ignore.
"It was about - I think -- three or two years ago – I saw that my step dad and my Mimi had chickens so I wanted to try it for myself. My step dad raised like five chickens for me, and from there, my Mimi just kept getting me more every summer," says Luke.
Luke’s mom remembers the story just a little bit differently. "It’s like “Mom, guess what I got you…” or “You love these ducks so much, Mom, I just had to get you more.” I love the ducks, but we have a lot!" laughs Katie Daigle, Luke's mom.
Either way – the farm grew. And so has Luke’s role as a farmer. Luke and his family have created a maze of sheds and wading pools and plenty of space for the variety of fowl, Caramel the goat, and they little pig they just acquired.
"If we feed ‘em in the morning? They’ll be hungry again so we normally feed ‘em in the afternoon just so they’re not hungry," Luke explains. Most of the work Luke does happens after school; his parents handle the morning chores. "I’m kinda lazy so my mom and dad come out here and feed ‘em."
So, that question about what he wants to be when he grows up? Luke lays it out this way. "I already got it planned out with my cousins. We’re gonna start a store together and its gonna be a meat store and they’re gonna have me raise all the meat birds and stuff. By the way, in that little bin? I have a couple of chicks. Four chicks and one little duck."
"He’s very hands on, he has butchered a chicken before and he’s gone with my parents to see the other animals butchered, the other chickens, and he watches the process because he’s learning," says Luke's mom.
Farmer Luke gets an early start on the farming life
Katie continues, "If it’s something that he’s interested in and he can physically do it like he can sit there and watch and learn something and be hands on doing it – he watches You Tube videos all the time about different animals and different things about the animals that we have that I wouldn’t have a clue about – he knows way more about the animals than I probably ever would."
Luke’s mom tells me he’s as comfortable in the kitchen as he is on the farm – and with supervision, he’ll whip up something like – you guessed it – bacon and eggs. "He’s a good cook actually ... he doesn’t get that from me!" she says.
Luke's already got an eye on the business side of farming – and the good fortune to have his grandparent’s store right next door. "I keep ‘em and when there’s a dozen? I bring ‘em to the Suga Shak to sell for $3 and then.. my Mimi gives me a paycheck every Saturday."
Mud and all -- It would seem that every aspect of working this small farm suits this small farmer just fine. Luke’s mom says – he could live off the land -- and he seems to be well on his way to doing just that.