In the late 1980s I was an undergrad at the University of Maine in Orono and naively believed that because I grew up in Manhattan that I had seen and heard everything. So when I took a break from listening to my Joy Division, Agnostic Front and old school rap cassettes on my boom box in the dorm I turned on the radio–Maine Public Radio. Some farmer with a wicked heavy Maine accent had a show where he talked about Maine things with a very deadpan delivery. I wasn’t sure if he was a kook or a quirky genius. All I knew then is that his voice and program in which his commentary was interspersed with jazz was very relaxing. For me that was valuable because it has taken me many years to unwind and I’m not sure I every will completely. I also appreciated that he was the polar opposite of all I had heard growing up which made him kind of subversive.
Over the years when I tuned in and started really paying attention I discovered that although Robert Karl Skoglund aka The Humble Farmer simply talks about simple living, he is exceptionally funny and delightfully dry which is my favorite kind of humor.
One year shy of being on Maine Public Radio for thirty years he was let go because he made a political comment on one of his shows! So lame! Around that time I had become disenchanted with MPR and my feelings haven’t changed.
Since then I would catch him by luck on public access on TV but relatively recently he started writing columns for the Portland Press Herald like this one about being thrifty. Although I’m in a very different place than I was in the 1980s he still can make me giggle and relaxed when I read his commentary. I promptly let Wayne know that I have a crush on him and that I wanted to find out if we could visit him and the “Almost Perfect Woman” (as he fondly calls his lovely wife Marsha) at their home and B&B in St. George. When Humble quickly replied and said that we were welcome we planned our trip which was this morning. He did not disappoint!
“Caffeine is my drug of choice.”
I think my schoolgirl crush made him nervous? His beautiful wife had just left the premises.
Well! It turned out that another fan from back in the day was at his home helping him out with some farmer things. It was just like out of his column Don’t Stop Your Chores for Visitors; Let Them Lend a Hand. Humble led us to believe that we, too would also be chipping in but not until he gave us a tour of his home and studio.
Humble showing us a YouTube video of the time he played matador with his cows using a white hanky.
“Two assholes,” he said as he posed for this photo with the mailbox painted by artist Bernard Langlais.
Humble the jazz musician.
One of Humble’s annual epic lobster soirees.
Humble entertained us for over an hour and I want to state publicly that he is true to his name. Sure he’s an actual farmer but he truly is very humble and kind. I attempted to tell him how much I appreciate his humor and his writing no less than five times, but he would quickly turn the conversation away from himself or downplayed it.
Wayne and I were all set to lend him a hand with the laundry and bed-making but instead he said nevermind and handed us some gifts. He gave me a copy of Chicken Poop for the Soil which he also signed for me! He wouldn’t let me pay for it but I later PayPal-ed him the money anyway!
He gave us a carton of books he had created while thinning out his impressive library from which I scored some goodies as did Wayne. Here are my picks:
And, when he learned that I love Sinatra and other jazz, he gave me some of his CDs he had once used for his radio shows!
Humble asked me why I hadn’t reached out to him sooner since I’ve been a fan all these years.
“I’m shy,” I replied. “I’m an introvert.”
“We’ll have to get you out into society more,” he replied.
In retrospect I do wish I had. He said I would have been welcomed at his now discontinued lobster picnics.
Even though we just met we miss him already! Thank you Humble Farmah!
On the way home we stopped at that German Gem Morse’s Sauerkraut where we visited last year for Reuben sandwiches during our honeymoon. Delicious!