2006-05-11 / The Walrus Says

The Walrus Says

By Jim Munro

When Jessie Dutra isn't being a wife, mother, and farmhand, she's a writer.

Her latest effort is a story in "Farm & Ranch Living" about life on Conanicut Island's last working dairy farm, where she lives and works with her husband, Joe, and their 3-year-old son, Joey.

In fact, everyone who lives on the island should read Jessie's article and learn about life on that farm up the road. Her words flow so well it's like having a conversation with her.

She writes that the farm dates back to Colonial times, when the property was owned by Rhode Island Governor Joseph Wanton. In 1917, it was purchased by Joe's grandfather, Joseph Furtado Dutra, who during the depression added enough acres to the original 40 to bring the total to today's 140.

Jessie explains that they have 110 Holsteins, 55 of which are milkers. The remainder are replacement heifers. She said that she and Joe are very concerned about the future. The number of dairy farms in the state is dropping dramatically.

In July 2004, the Rhode Island Dairy Farms Cooperative, to which the Dutras belong, introduced Rhody Fresh milk to the state, and it was an immediate success.

In the article, Jesssie writes of the Conanicut Island Land Trust, and its efforts to preserve the ever-dwindling farmland by buying development rights on three farms including theirs.

Perhaps the most interesting portion of the article is a monthlong daily diary from this past January and February in which Jessie shares with her readers the joys and not so joyous events of everyday farm life, from enticing a male cardinal to a new feeder to the death of Sudette, a beloved cow suffering from a twisted stomach.

Photos by Joe Giblin accompanying the article show the three Dutras, scenes from the farm overlooking the bay, Joey on his tricycle, and farm activities.

Most of Jessie's writing in the past has been poetry. Her entry into prose is taking her in a different direction. "I love words and I think this is a better way to use them," she explained. Originally from Warwick, Jessie was a member of the Writers' Circle. "I'm testing the waters. I started a novel, and then met Joe six years ago and got misdirected, wonderfully." She said her two immediate jobs are "working the farm today and saving the farm for the next generation."

We hope there's room in there for more of Jessie's writing.

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The Gansett will re-open on Memorial Day weekend.

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This is Jamestown's first year fielding a team for baseball's Babe Ruth League. Because of the poor condition of the baseball field on Lawn Avenue, the team plays its home games at Cardine's Field in Newport.

The Town Council should be ashamed.

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A photo in the May 1 Newport Daily News showed Pet Tip of the Week editor Dr. Joshua A. Hatch holding forth at Career Day activities at Middletown High School.

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Kudos to Bruce and Ann McIntyre of Clarke Street, Barbara Wilcox of Howland Avenue, who said, "Blow it up," and the Washington Trust Company for their donations to the Rocket Dawgz for the July 4 fireworks display at Mackerel Cove. To celebrate the 230th anniversary of our nation's independence, send your contribution to Box 1776, Jamestown 02835 and we will blow it up.

So far, we have enough for a five-minute bang. Let's go for the big K-BOOM!

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The Boy Scouts of Troop 1 send their thanks to all the islanders who turned out for their annual Pasta Supper Saturday at St. Matthew's church.

Some 300 dinners were served using 70 pounds of pasta and 500 meatballs. That's a lot of mangia.

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Jamestown School sixthgraders have been sending hardearned money and corresponding with the children of Ugunja, Kenya, and islander Amara Murray and her husband have been on hand there reporting back the results of the students' efforts.

Former islander Carolyn Jaques, now residing in North Kingstown, writes to say she's been following the exploits of our sixth-graders and wondering if they might be able to help her. Carolyn sends pens to the children of Africa and so far has shipped out 7,660 of them.

"Since January, I've read about the couple who are in western Kenya. I'm going to send them a thousand pens to distribute to the children. I also read that some Jamestown children are pen-pals with some of Amara's children there. I was lucky enough to go to Kenya eight years ago. I now realize the value of a pen. There are no CVS stores or Wal-Marts. We only found paved roads in the capital and two other towns. Most towns don't even have electricity. The kids have probably never had a cold drink with ice cubes. Where are they going to get a pen? The adults don't even have them."

Carolyn is asking islanders to donate a box of new pens. "The cheap stick kind, so they're all alike please. I'll get them there."

If you wish to donate pens to the African children, you can drop off your boxes at the Press office, 42 Narragansett Ave. and Carolyn will pick them up. Great job!!

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The Jamestown Community Theatre is inviting all islanders to its annual meeting June 8 at the Jamestown library.

Mark the date on your calendar and stay tuned.

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After observing the little clumps of white fur marking trails across our carpets, we took our 9year-old vallhund, Joshua, outside and combed him down. Wow, we got enough hair to fill a pillow.

Dr. Joshua Hatch of the Jamestown Animal Clinic is right on top of it in his Pet Tip of Week.

"Spring in the animal kingdom means lots of shedding for our pets. Regular grooming will help keep your house cleaner and your pet looking good. Experiment to find the best brushes and combs for your pet, but slicker brushes are often best for winter coats. If Fluffy's shedding drives you crazy, then schedule regular appointments every two to six weeks with a pet groomer, and you will notice a big difference.

"Pay special attention to the areas under the ears, armpits, and back of the legs, where most pets first develop matted fur. Pets that are well overdue for a grooming can get mats that are too big or too tight to easily comb out and may need to be shaved by a professional. Never try to cut out mats with scissors if they are close to the skin. Seek help or get hair clippers that will not injure the skin and avoid an emergency trip to the veterinarian's office." WOOF!

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And, we welcome the wolf to the island.

According to the Jamestown Warrior student newspaper, the wolf has been chosen to be the Jamestown School's mascot. The wolf was chosen by the students after a visit to the Student Council by John Brown, the Narragansett tribe's medicine man, who explained the wolf symbolizes leadership and would make an excellent mascot representative of the school's student body.

The medicine man explained that many tribal leaders were among those who inhabited the area of the Jamestown School.

WOOF!

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It's called the North Road ballet and is danced by many of us on our way to and from the dump each week. After passing the West Reach entrance going north, we swerve gently to the left then back to the right. Watch the road carefully. When the sites of the big potholes come up, switch back to the left and drive 10 yards or so before coming back to the right. Throughout all this, you slow down and speed up depending on the volume of bumps and holes in one area. After the biggest bump and a series of little ones, the entrance to the dump is just up on the right.

Of course, the dance will have its own individual moves depending on how many runners, cyclists, or cars you dodge in the opposite lane. Use your descretion on what is most important, the ends of your tie rods or a jogger.

Reverse the steps on the drive back from the dump, and ignore the roadside deer that observe and seem amused by the whole thing. They have some pretty cool steps of their own.

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Got a call from Jim West on Sunday. Jim, who is now 91, wanted to know when the fireworks are going to be this year. He has a big family reunion scheduled around the pyrotechnics each summer.

This Memorial Day parade will be the 60th in which he has participated. First, though, he has to fly to Texas to attend his greatgrandson's high school graduation.

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Congratulations to Lucy Jones and Kahn Kurt, essay contest winners for this year's Learn to Sail Scholarship sponsored by the Conanicut Island Sailing Foundation.

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For those of you who have been around the island awhile, Len Panaggio's Grist Mill in last Saturday's Newport Daily News had a fun recollection of Jamestown's early family markets. Much of the information in the column came from Thomas W. Lyons Jr. of Portsmouth, whose grandfather founded Lyons Market on Narragansett Avenue after World War I.

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Who on TV used to say, "I love the wide, open country, out where the cacti grows"?

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Sunday is Mother's Day. Don't forget Mom.

Monday is Peace Officers Memorial Day.

*** Be true!

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We welcome your contributions to this column. Any kind of stuff will do. Call us at 423-0383 or our cell, 829-2760. E-mail us at jtnwalrus@hotmail.com or drop the stuff off at the Jamestown Press.

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