Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

Hello again,

We are just sending out a quick note this week to wish you a Happy Thanksgiving. We here at Skillin’s truly hope you have a happy and restful day on Thursday.

Take a brief moment to say thanks for all the blessings we do have—even in these tough economic times.

Skillin’s will not be open on Thursday but we will indeed be back in full force on Friday at 8 AM and will of course be open all weekend. We will have lots of great Skillin’s smiles and plants, flowers and smiles, smiles and gifts for you to take a look at this season—all priced at very reasonable prices for very awesome and thoughtful gifts.

There are sales galore out there in the retail world and we have many great items on sale as well. So come in and check out our bright warm stores, grab some coffee and a cookie or two and don’t forget to ask about our No Questions Asked Skillin’s coupons that you can earn.

But before all that, have a great day on Thursday. Happy Thanksgiving and thanks for being a friend to us at Skillin’s.

For the Skillin’s Family and Staff,

Mike Skillin

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

A Beautiful Forest

Kind friend Dale Lincoln stops by the Skillin's Garden Log with yet another wonderful story that also makes us think...

Several years before my Dad took me trout fishing or deer hunting he took me to the woodlots. The forest was beautiful and I loved being there with him. His wood cutting tools were: A buck saw with a wooden frame; a double-bitted axe, and a 4-foot measuring stick. Each day his goal was to cut one cord of pulpwood for which he would receive $3.00. A fringe benefit allowed him to own one-half of the wood from the hardwood trees plus the tops and large branches of the softwood trees. That kept the wood stove heating at home.
When we arrived at the woodlot Dad would find his tools under a brush pile and go to work. Before cutting down each tree he would tell me where to stand and mention that a person needed to be very careful while working in the woods ---especially when felling a tree. “Strange things can happen when a tree is going down!”
After each tree was in a horizontal position, the limbs were removed with the axe. Then Dad would use the stick, measure four feet, and saw four-foot logs from the tree. (The measuring stick was also a “pry bar” that was used under a log to keep the log from binding his saw.) The firewood and pulpwood were stacked in separate piles. The woodpiles were arranged and a tote road was started to make it easy for a team of horses with a sled to travel near each woodpile.
The man-handling operations that occurred between the tree stump and the paper mill began very soon after the tree was cut into four-foot lengths: (1) Each stick was limbed and tossed near the woodpile. (2) The stick was picked up and put on the woodpile. (3) When the ground was frozen and the horses arrived, each stick was picked up and placed on the sled. (4) The horses moved the wood near a highway. Each stick was lifted from the sled and placed in a neat pile that sometimes became very large by the end of the winter. (5) At a future date the wood was neatly stacked on a truck. (6) The truck transported the wood to a siding at the railroad station where each stick was neatly piled on a railroad car and delivered to the paper mill. (7) I did not become familiar with the old wood handling operations at the paper mill but many people still remember and can add the remaining steps.
My first jobs in the forest products industry were placing small sticks of wood on the woodpiles, and placing brush in neat brush piles. My Dad was involved in a small “clear cutting operation.” He didn’t make much money but his woodpiles were neat, the very small trees survived, and the natural carpet of the forest floor was not damaged. In January, February and March, there was a special treat. If there was lots of snow on the ground the brush piles were torched. About two years later, in the summertime, Dad took me back to these woodlots. The woodpiles were gone. Jack firs and small hardwood trees were full of life, and we found an unlimited supply of wild raspberries. A few years later Dad took me deer hunting and we returned to these same “choppings.” The hiking on the tote road was soft and easy. The aroma of that healthy forest is unforgettable. Wildlife loved the place. Deer signs were everywhere. The forest was beautiful.
As a teenager I helped my Dad cut wood. I became skilled with using the double-bitted axe, bucksaw, and measuring stick. Removing the limbs from a tree that was in the horizontal position was my specialty. It was something like hitting a baseball. “The axe was my bat and the large limbs of the trees were baseballs. Removing the limb with one whack was a home run. Two whacks was a triple, Etc. Some large spruce limbs would strike me out!” When playing baseball a few years later I recognized the rewards of the arm strength and coordination that was gained from that training.
Family and other friends were generous upon my graduation from high school. In exchange for my photo and an invitation to the commencement exercises they gave me MONEY. The Graduation Ball was the last school activity for members of the Senior Class. Prior to attending my Graduation Ball I purchased a double-bitted axe and a metal –framed saw at the Perry Farmer’s Union Store. When the Graduation Ball ended at midnight I was healthy, alcohol (and drug) free, and alone. (At age17 that isn’t a bad way to end high school and start the rest of your life.) I drove my parents 38 Chrysler to my home, placed my graduation suit neatly on a hanger, and went to bed. Less than five hours later my new axe and saw were with me and I was cutting wood in a beautiful forest in Perry, Maine.
Since my first trips to the woodlots in the 1940’s many changes have occurred in the forest. A few years ago WLBZ Channel 2 of Bangor presented a documentary about the forest fires of 1947. I remember standing on a hill near my home and watching the billowing smoke on the southwest horizon at sunset. It was frightening to know that the fires were getting closer to eastern Washington County. A forest fire raged between Machias and Jonesboro. Until about twenty years ago dead trees from that fire could be seen from the main highway. It must be mentioned that the fire burned the forest but it did not kill the seeds. They were protected in the forest floor. When the rains finally arrived in October they became moist. An abundance of sunshine would also reach them. Little seedlings pushed the ashes aside as they started growing toward the sky. It is remarkable that about thirty years later, after the serious “Spruce Budworm epidemic,” of the 1970’s, one of the most healthy and beautiful forests in Washington County was between Machias and Jonesboro, Maine.
People that have spent time in a beautiful forest may encounter disappointments. Changes have occurred in the woods operations during the past sixty years. My first disappointment arrived in the 1950’s. The trees were cut on each side of my favorite trout stream. The evergreen brush was not removed from the brook. The brook became overheated in summer, trout became scarce, and the brook often dried up.
Modern wood harvesting operations usually make a mess of the forest. The mechanical wood harvesters and skidders do not have any respect for the forest floor. Every place that I visit after mechanical wood harvesting operations have taken place the area is a disaster area. More than two decades later it is not a happy place for man or beast. I join with those people who call it “shameful!” (NOTE: A visit to the Pottle Tree Farm in Perry, Maine (Year 1998) allowed me to find a bright spot in the dark clouds. In 1974 Jim and Sandra Pottle received Maine’s Outstanding Tree Farm Award. In 1997 Jim and Sandra Pottle were named Outstanding Forest Stewards. (Note: James Pottle passed away a few years ago but people are still welcome to visit Pottle's Tree Farm in Perry, Maine.

My skills with using an axe and buck saw slowly diminished. In the 1970's I purchased a chain saw. The last time I cut down a large tree was Monday morning, May 20, 2002. I was trying to beautify the forest near my home. The top of the poplar tree was dead but when the tree hit the horizontal position the butt of the tree came alive! It jumped! It kicked! It knocked me to the ground! About a week later I was still lame, and sore, but alive enough to remember my Dad saying; ”You have to be very careful when you are working in the woods!”
People should be very careful while working in the woods. (And everywhere.) Being careful may help us to live another day; have time to smell the roses, visit a beautiful forest, and thank God for it all.

Dale C. Lincoln
Perry, Maine
In Zephyrhills FL
November 26, 2008

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Skillin's Makes Decorative Holiday "Kissing Balls"

Hello again!

Looking for some COOL Christmas decorating. You definitely want to consider our custom made Holliday "Kissing Balls" done right at Skillin's Greenhouses! The picture above shows Karen at Skillin's Falmouth showing off one of her best jobs yet. Karen is giving all of us the "peace" sign of approval.

This picture above shows one of our very favorite people, the Cool Plant Lady, showing off 2 of Skillin's Holiday Kissing Balls in front of one of her clients. The Kissing Balls make for a great holiday look.

Let us know if we can help you out with some Holiday Kissing Balls @1-800-244-3860 or drop us a line at If you would like the very Cool Plant Lady to decorate your home or business for the holidays just let us know and we will get her in touch with you!

Mike Skillin
Skillin's Greenhouses
Brunswick, Cumberland, Falmouth Maine
November 23, 2008

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Where Have all the Herring Gone?

Kind friend Dale Lincoln stops by the Skillin's Garden Log with a story that will make you think...

A few weeks ago did you learn from the news that lobster fishermen were having a difficult time procuring herring to bait their traps? After hearing that news some people may ask: “Where have all the herring gone?”

More than four hundred years ago (1604) when Samuel D. Champlain explored the area known today as the Coast of Maine ( and started a settlement on an island in the St. Croix River near Calais, Maine) he made mention of the abundance of fish in the area. It is very likely that herring were some of the fish that he noticed. Three hundred years later, my Dad, in his youth, lived in a house very close to Cobscook Bay at Perry, Maine. He often told about the roaring sounds, during summer nights, as millions of herring churned the water in the bay near his home. It isn’t unusual that from the early 1900’s until after the 1950’s, there were many sardine factories and other herring processing plants along the coast of Maine. Today, due to the scarcity of herring, very few sardine factories are in operation.

During the summer of 1952 I learned one of the answers to the question: Where have all the herring gone? At age fifteen, I had the exciting and profitable job of digging clams four hours each day. The row boat I used with the job took me to many parts of Cobscook Bay. I made friends with the fishermen and traded clams for fresh, unsalted herring and mackerel. That job of digging clams allowed time each day to have fun. There were days when I would eat breakfast with my Dad (about 6am) before he went to his job as foreman at a sardine factory at Eastport, Maine. That same day he would return home after 9 pm and find me listening to the Red Sox on the radio. Many days after clamming I went trout fishing, practiced playing baseball, and went swimming in the Pennamaquan River. My wages from clamming for four hours were often more than my Dad's wages for working twelve hours at the factory.
Fish were plentiful around the waters off Eastport. Maine. Along with herring and mackerel there were haddock, cod, halibut, flounder, and pollock. Upon hearing that large pollock were being caught from the fish factory piers at Eastport was the reason why Norman, Nelson, and I finished clamming one day, then went fishing off the pier at the Riviera Packing Company in Eastport. My heavily weighted hand line, baited with a herring, was tossed into the ocean. Within a few moments my hands were sore from pulling the fishing line, but I landed a pollock that weighed more than 20 pounds. For the next few days instead of having fried clams, fried herring, or mackerel for supper, my mother prepared and served pollock. (Must mention that large fresh herring fried in a skillet is still one of my favorite foods—but large, fresh, unsalted, herring are hard to find today.)
It was a few days after that successful fishing adventure when my friends and I returned to the pier at the Riviera Factory. We did not catch any fish at that place but we heard that large pollock were being caught from the wharf, about a mile away, at the fertilizer plant near Deep Cove. We didn’t catch any fish at that location but I haven’t forgotten what I saw near the fertilizer plant: Several large pollock, caught a few hours earlier, were being wasted in the sunshine. Near-by were several, ten-foot high, pyramids of very small herring. (The herring were less than three inches long.) Within a few hours they would be ground into meal and become fertilizer. Herring were plentiful!
A very important life-cycle was eliminated during those times of plenty. Today we know that the question: How many seeds are in the apple? is not as important as: How many apples are in the seed? There are no descendants from the millions of “brit” herring that went to the fertilizer plant or were wasted in the process of trying to put them in sardine cans. Some people have forgotten or have never learned that millions of very small herring went directly to the fertilizer plants each year along the coast of Maine. Those fish never had a chance to reproduce. It isn't hard to imagine that a link in the ocean's food chain was severely weakened.

I can remember my mother reciting this poem to me several times:
(Author unknown)

I shall not throw upon the floor the crust I cannot eat,
For many a hungry little ones would think it quite a treat.
Willful waste makes willful want and I may live to say.
“O how I wish I had that crust that once I threw away.”

By: Dale C. Lincoln
Perry, MaineI
In Zephyrhills, Florida
Nov 19, 2008

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Keep the Home Fires Burning

Kind friend Dale C. Lincoln has returned to the Skillin's Garden Log with a very excellent and suitable post for Veteran's Day. Our salute goes out to all the veterans who have given so much to ensure our freedom!

On April 6, 1917 the USA entered World War I by declaring war on Germany. “The war to end all wars” had been raging in Europe since 1914. The words written by George M. Cohen: “We’re going over, --and we won’t be back, ‘til it’s over,--over there,” were in his famous song: OVER THERE. Mr. Cohen was awarded the Congressional Medal Of Honor (in 1941) for inspiring the people of the USA with his patriotic songs.

Very soon after the USA entered World War I, young men volunteered or were drafted into military service. Many women also served their country during that war. Can you remember anyone singing: She’s The Rose of No Man’s Land, and “ Long-Long Trail?” Those songs, along with; It’s A Long Way To Tipperary, K-K-K- Katy, and Oh How I Hate To Get Up In The Morning; were the songs I learned in the 1940’s. My parents were always singing the songs that were popular more than twenty years earlier when they were teenagers. A very meaningful song to them was: Keep the Home Fires Burning. They were at the age when their brothers, uncles, and friends, went to war. The music by Ivor Novello and words by Lena Ford became very sentimental to the families of soldiers serving their country in Europe. The “war to end all wars” fell short of its goal. Because many people in America have recently sent family members off to war in Iraq and Afghanistan, and are keeping the home fires burning; many words to that old song are especially meaningful to them. (Note: In my travels I am surprised that many people my age are nor familiar with this song. My mother sang it to me almost every day.)


They were summoned from the hillside
They were called in from the glen
And their country found them ready
At the stirring call for men.
Let no tears add to their hardships
As the soldiers pass along,
And although your heart is breaking
Make it sing this cheery song:
Keep the home fires burning,
While your hearts are yearning,
Though your lads are far away
They dream of home.
There’s a silver lining
Through the dark clouds shining
Turn the dark cloud inside out
‘Til the boys come home.

Many people that went “Over There” stayed over there. Others returned wounded, ill, and with a lifetime of bad memories. Today there are numerous ways of learning about the events that happened in or near the trenches in Europe during World War I. The rest of this article will mention events that happened over here that were incidental to “The Great War”.
On a visit to Santa Ana, California, in the late 1950’s I learned why there were small statues of an old man with long hair and a beard in all of the gift stores: Soon after the USA entered World War I, a young man in Santa Ana told his dad that he was joining the Army. His dad did not want his son to volunteer to go to war but the young man enlisted. He left home with the words: “ Everything will be o-k Dad. It won’t be long before you’ll see me walking down the road, and I’ll be home again.” A few days after the war ended the young man’s Dad started standing at the end of his driveway watching for his son to return. Days, weeks, months, and years passed. Each morning the man arrived at his spot and spent the day watching and waiting. He became a landmark in that city. Soon after the man passed away the city placed a life-size statue in the spot where the Old Man stood for so many years waiting for his son to return from World War I.

While growing up in Perry most of the men in town over age 50 had called the trenches in France; “home,” during World War I. One of these men was Mr. Emery Foss. His wife was a good Christian mother and his children, my friends, added singing, music, and enthusiasm at school and in the neighborhood. Mr. Foss never seemed happy. He yelled at his horse, talked to his kids in a loud gruff voice, and often had severe coughing spells. Before my teenage years I often made fun of him and called him “Old Man Foss!” While we were playing baseball one day, his son, Merton Foss, told me the following story: “Daddy was gassed with chlorine in World War I. He was a teamster and was trained to put the gas mask on his mule before putting on his own mask! That happened more than thirty years ago and his coughing spells are getting worse!” Since that day I have continued to gain respect for veterans.
Halifax Nova Scotia was a very busy seaport during World War I. That is why the French Ship, MOUNT BLANK loaded with ammunition, and the Norwegian cargo ship, IMO, were maneuvering in the harbor on the morning of December 6, 1917. The two ships collided, resulting in the world’s largest explosion until the first atomic bomb was tested in 1945. The city of Halifax was destroyed and before the day ended a blizzard hit the area. (An interesting book: Shattered City, by Janet F. Kitz, (1989) contains details along with several pictures and first person accounts of that disaster.

As Elsie and I were attending a ceremony as our daughter was graduating from the University Of Maine School of Nursing, (at Orono, Maine 1993) a World War I story caused the audience to react with sadness and silence. One of the graduating nurses responded to “The Challenge Speech To The Nurses,” by one of the Professors. In her speech the young lady included a personal memory with the words: “You cannot easily forget being in a hospital room at two o’clock in the morning when the elderly lady in bed knows she is dying, and is happy about it -- because she believes that she will soon be with her husband who died in France in 1917.”
That lady kept the home fires burning for more than 76 years. Today there are people in many families that are keeping the home fires burning. May God bless them, the Troops, and the USA.

By: Dale C. Lincoln
Perry, Maine
InZephyrhills, Florida
Nov 11, 2008