WILTON — Saturday demonstrations, educational displays and tours were enjoyed by scores of people attending the annual Forestry/Wood Farm Field Day held at Black Acres in Wilton.
The 64th such field day, it was a combined effort of the Maine Woodland Owners and Maine Tree Farm.
Russell and Susan Black and their family were recognized as the Maine and Northeast Region 2018 Outstanding Tree Farmer of the year. Tours highlighted conservation practices used on their farm.
In the sap house Russell spoke of the new evaporator used for the first time this year. It was fired up 18 times last spring and the wood box has yet to be cleaned. Only a small layer of ash was seen when he opened it.
Russell then explained the history of the many pairs of snowshoes displayed on the wall facing the evaporator. Three long pairs were World War I issues. One pair was made at Paris Manufacturing, a Maine company.
“There were only three places in the country where they were made,” he said.
“It looks amazing,” Betty Jespersen said of the display.
Elsewhere, Peter Wade gave a demonstration on training hunting dogs. A breeder of shorthair pointers, he is a member of the Sebasticook chapter of the North American Versatile Hunting Dogs Association. Wade trains dogs at his Northern Exposure Kennel in Farmington, is a registered guide and judges NAVHDA competitions.
Wade uses a table when training dogs to reduce bending over. He said puppies have a very short attention span and should be corrected immediately or they won’t know what they are being corrected for.
“You have to be insistent and consistent. I raise my dogs and train my kids the same way. Both need to know what the parameters are. Don’t let puppies get away with stuff,” Wade said.
He said there are four levels of testing: natural ability, intermediate test, utility test and invitational. A dog must obtain Prize 1 at the utility level to advance to invitational.
One of the first commands taught is ‘whoa,’ when the dog is expected to stop and wait for further commands. Heel, come, down, sit, fetching and pointing are other commands.
“Wolves correct their young brutally. Be firm with dogs, then let them know it’s okay afterwards,” Wade said.
He said the use of hunting dogs conserves game. Crippled birds can die if not collected.
Wade’s wife Marie Wade then demonstrated how a dog can assist when more than one duck is shot. She threw decoys in two different directions then had her dog VCToko first fetch the bird on her right.
Using a different scenario, she sent the dog after the bird on her right but stopped VCToko partway through the fetch after the second bird showed signs of movement. The dog easily shifted gears and raced to bring back the other duck first.
“They just do it because they love it,” one visitor said.
Sunday Marie explained by phone that the VC in front of her dog’s name indicates it is a Versatile Champion.