State Now Allows Hunting on Farmers’ Fields to Control Deer


When Max Dubansky first moved to his farm about 15 years ago, he often saw about 100 deer in his fields.

“We were losing up to $1,000 in lettuce in one night,” Dubansky, 40, said. “Something had to give.”

Dubansky owns and operates Backbone Food Farm in Oakland. His farm is right up against woods, which makes it more vulnerable to hungry deer.

“Deer are responsible for $7 million to $8 million in crop damage each year,” Maryland Department of Natural Resources Deer Project Leader Brian Eyler said.

But the Maryland Department of Natural Resources offers a program to help farmers protect their crops against hungry ruminants.

Deer Management Permits are available at no cost to farmers who suffer economic loss from deer eating or damaging crops.

Those farmers with crop loss or damage can contact their county Department of Natural Resources representative who sends a technologist or a biologist to evaluate the property.

Based on the acreage, crops, damage, and the status of surrounding farms, the department issues a certain number of permits to the farmer. Each permit allows for a certain number of deer to be killed based on the department’s assessment.

If a farmer continues to suffer crop damage after the permitted kills are reached, they can apply to renew the permit.

“Permits are for antlerless deer only,” said Western Maryland Regional Wildlife Manager Jim Mullan.

Does are the primary targets for deer management because removing one doe essentially eliminates three deer for the next year, Mullan said.

“When you harvest a doe, you’re stopping that doe from any future reproduction,” Mullan said. “A healthy adult doe will produce about two fawns.”

However, Mullan said, farmers are allowed exceptions for antlered deer if orchards suffer from “rubbing;” when bucks rub antlers on trees to strip the velvety coating off new antler growth or during mating season, which is called the rut.

Mullan said the department tends to limit those exceptions so hunters in the regular season can shoot antlered deer, as many hunters strive to bag bucks with large antler racks.

Farmers who obtain permits can choose who hunts on their land — or can do the hunting themselves.

Eyler said a lot of these special permits are issued during the regular hunting season because it’s easier to get a deer that time of year.

The state issued 1,636 permits in 2012, and 1,655 in 2013. Though that’s just a 1 percent increase, hunters harvested 10 percent more deer via permits in 2013 — 8,505 vs. 7,650 in 2012.

Licensed hunters bagged 87,541 deer in the 2012-2013 season, and killed 95,865 in the 2013-2014 season — about a 9.5 percent increase.

Eyler said hunters who kill deer on a permit go through the same process as a regular-license kill — submitting a hunter ID number and registering the kill with the department — but must also submit the deer management permit number under which they killed the deer.

Once that process is taken care of, hunters can treat their harvest as if it were a regular-season kill.

Dubansky said an effective deer fence helped keep them out, but some still found their way to his crops.

“Once we got the fence up, there were problem deer (that found their way around the fence),” he said.

Deer that still got into his fields were taken care of with his permits.

While not a hunter, Dubansky says he thinks the program is great and has used about five permits a year to keep pesky deer out as well as allowing people to hunt on his property during the regular season.

“It’s an important tool for farmers,” Eyler said. “It gives them a tool for outside of the regular season.”

It also helps control the overall deer population in the state.

About 10 years ago, the population peaked at about 300,000, but last year’s fall estimate was about 227,000, Eyler said.

By Max Bennett

St. Martin’s Ministries Distributes “Good and Cheap” Cookbooks


House Resident, Zymira Lofland (with help from her daughter) preparing a recipe from Good and Cheap: Eat Well on $4/day

A resident of Saint Martin’s House, staff and volunteer Charlotte Hawes are making a special effort to provide food pantry clients with new ways to prepare some familiar foods this week.

For Christmas some of the families who come to Saint Martin’s Ministries for emergency food received the Kickstarter project cookbook, Good and Cheap: Eat Well on $4/day by Leanne Brown. Good and Cheap started as a free PDF cookbook for people with tight budgets, especially people receiving SNAP/Food Stamp benefits. The Kickstarter project funded a print run using a “get one, give one system” and has resulted in almost 9,000 printed copies donated to people in need.

Saint Martin’s purchased copies of Good and Cheap at the non-profit discounted rate and is sharing them with clients this holiday season. Jean Austin, CEO of Saint Martin’s Ministries, said, “It is a lovely cookbook with beautiful pictures and simple, tasty recipes. Often the food we are able to provide through government sources and the food bank is very plain. Leanne’s book demonstrates how to make basic foods taste better with spices and a variety of cooking techniques. There is an emphasis on healthier approaches such as turning a can of vegetables into a spread and serving it on whole wheat toast.”

Volunteer Charlotte Hawes gives out samples and a copy of the cookbook that provides families easy nutritious recipes to make on a food stamp budget.

Volunteer Charlotte Hawes gives out samples and a copy of the cookbook that provides families easy nutritious recipes to make on a food stamp budget.

Saint Martin’s House resident Zymira Lofland who has a background in culinary arts prepared several of the recipes from the book for clients of the emergency food pantry to try. Residents of

Saint Martin’s House establish personal goals to help themselves become self-sufficient. Zymira’s goal is to establish a catering business.

Located in Ridgely, Saint Martin’s Ministries has been helping people in poverty for more than 30 years by providing access to emergency food, inexpensive clothing and household goods, and supporting families who need assistance with housing. Visit for more information.

Critical Reading: Washington College Letter to Town on Future Strategic Partnership


Editor Note: On Friday, Washington College Interim President Jack (Jay) Griswold released the following letter to Mayor Chris Cerino and other town officials outlining Washington College’s strategic vision and anticipated capital projects over the next ten years. This highly anticipated document, including recommended changes to the Town of Chestertown’s Comprehensive Plan are reprinted here in its entirety. 

WC Response to Draft Comp Plan 81-1 WC Response to Draft Comp Plan 82-2 WC Response to Draft Comp Plan 83-3 WC Response to Draft Comp Plan 84-4 WC Response to Draft Comp Plan 85-5 WC Response to Draft Comp Plan 86-6 WC Response to Draft Comp Plan 87-7 WC Response to Draft Comp Plan 88-8 WC Response to Draft Comp Plan 89-9 WC Response to Draft Comp Plan 90-10 WC Response to Draft Comp Plan 91-11 WC Response to Draft Comp Plan 92-12 WC Response to Draft Comp Plan 93-13 WC Response to Draft Comp Plan 94-14 WC Response to Draft Comp Plan 95-15 WC Response to Draft Comp Plan 96-16


Food Friday: Home for the Holidays Baking


I don’t know if it is the great New England guilt instilled in me during my childhood, but it seems as if it is cheating and self-indulgent to buy Christmas cookies. It is fine fifty weeks out of the year to pick up a crackly package of Oreos, or Pepperidge Farm Milanos to have around as the little bit of a sweet after dinner. And it is good for your soul and the spirit of Juliette Gordon Low to buy from those cute, yet oh, so extortionist Girl Scouts peddling Thin Mints from wobbly card tables in front of the grocery store. (Although soon you are going to be able to stock up on Girl Scout cookies online. Waistbands will be let out and Fitbits will find themselves stashed in drawers!)

At the holidays we can exude all the confidence and patience of leisurely home bakers, who know their way around pastry bags and macarons, who can bake with cool expertise, with a keen eye for decorations and original flavor combinations. Cardamon anyone? But we don’t have to have Martha’s skills, or her penchant for perfection. We are welcoming the children home, with open arms. Home-baked cookies smell like home. At the end of a long day of work, after dinner and between loads of laundry and Scandal, we can start to lay in a temporary supply of the childhoods that shot out the door, faster than any of us expected. All these memories distilled into a few batches of slightly irregularly-shaped and sketchily decorated cookies, to show everyone how much we love them.

And then you must consider your gluten-free guests and newly significant others, and those who are swearing off chocolate, and those allergic to nuts, the sugar-free vegans and the merely sensible. I bought two pounds of butter yesterday in anticipation of baking, when there are just two human beings living in this house right now. Somehow the ratio just doesn’t seem right. We must bake for the approaching locust swarm.

We will be entertaining a houseful of young folk, thank goodness, who have been surviving on their own marginal cooking skills, with a generous side of cheap take out. I am hoping most of the fattening baking will be Hoovered up, if not appreciated and savored, with glancing thoughts of the second grade, and rolling cookie dough on the kitchen counter, learning to sift, learning to use cookie cutters. And the fine art of sprinkles!

Perhaps we will even be asked for recipes! I am definitely going to try those Bacon Fat Ginger Cookies I mentioned last week, as well as some old favorites. There is something very satisfying about a sheet of warm, crumbly shortbread. We might dandy it up this year by dipping some in melted chocolate, and indulging in a smackeral of dragées and aforementioned sprinkles.

I am also going to try some of Nigella’s Intense Chocolate cookies. They sound divine, and look divinely simple to prepare, too. Simple is key, especially when you suddenly veer from comfortably cooking for two, to preparing fuel for the endless maw that defines several recent college graduates and a couple of sleep-deprived new parents.

I have been watching some episodes of The Great British Bakeoff which I cannot recommend too highly – it will start here on PBS under an Americanized name on Sunday, December 28, so do look for it. I have never been a reality show fan, but this has seized my attention and grabbed me by the lapels. It has gotten me thinking about balance. So instead of just sweet, over-the-top cookies, I will also be baking some savoury biscuits, to use the proper toffee-nosed parlance. Cocktails will be served, and crisp cheese biscuits are never amiss in my drawing room.

Simon Hopkinson’s Easy Cheesy Biscuits

Shortbread cookies

Here are all sorts of Christmas cookie possibilities for your own Christmas bakeoff:

Bacon Fat Ginger Cookies

“They were almond cookies, although they could have been made of spinach and shoes for all I cared. I ate eleven of them, right in a row. It is rude to take the last cookie.”
― Lemony Snicket, Who Could That Be at This Hour?

Pet of the Month: Kai

Kai-2His soulful, golden eyes look into you the second you meet. You can tell Kai is more interested in establishing a connection with you than anything else. Our staff feel terrible whenever they have to place Kai back in his shelter kennel; he gets so lonely inside of it.
More than anything, Kai wants to be in the company of humans, and he’ll make quite a fuss to let everyone know he’s unhappy. That’s why Kai is usually the dog you’ll first meet when you come to the shelter these days. Our staff place him in the lobby, where Kai becomes an entirely different dog as long as a human is in his line of sight. As calm as can be, he’ll curl up in a nearby bed (or chair!) and take a nap.
Kai is happiest on a high perch—he enjoys watching the coming and goings from the highest spot in the room, be it a file cabinet, box or desk. When HSKC staff members take Kai out to the play yard to throw a ball around, he doesn’t chase it, preferring instead to sit next against someone and kiss their hands. Companionship and affection mean much more to Kai than play time.
This good-natured Staffordshire Terrier mix was surrendered by his former owners who could no longer care for him. Having come into the shelter housebroken, the HSKC staff members know how smart he is. Kai would thrive in a home surrounded by people who are around most of the time.
Day after day, Kai sits and waits and hopes his forever family appears at the shelter soon, so he doesn’t have to go through another night in the kennel by himself. Stop in and share a few moments with Kai at the shelter soon—it will surely brighten your day!
Learn more about Kai and all of the adoptable animals at HSKC by visiting The Humane Society of Kent County website at, following the organization’s Facebook Page at, or by calling 410-778-3648.


Spy Reconnaissance: Eastern Shore Food Hub with President Cleo Braver


The idea of a food hub has been an active one for over seven years for Eastern Shore Food Hub’s president Cleo Braver. A center for aggregating locally grown crops from local farms at competitive costs with larger producers in the Mid-Atlantic, it has always been kind of a no-brainer for her with the Delmarva with its abundance of agriculture.

And it has been that kind of long term commitment that continues to motivate Braver in the face of losing a few allies in the November election in her efforts to create a food hub center in Easton and training farm in Kent County. With now over 300 food hubs successfully operating throughout the country, Braver remains optimistic that as more residents of the Mid-Shore hear about the program, it will be embraced as an essential part of the farming community.

In her Spy interview, Cleo talks about the importance of re-creating a regionalization of produce, the general business model of a food hub, the primary elements of the Food Hub’s programs, and her hopes for moving forward with the town of Easton in 2015 to build the Hub’s center.

This video is ten minutes in length

The Disease of Bulbitus by Bobbie Brittingham


Now I lay them down so deep.
Waiting to wake from winter’s sleep.
Bringing forth a dazzling bright sight.
When spring breaks thru the long dark night.

Now you have to laugh at that. Really now. Come on, that is a ridiculous poem.

Yes, I agree. It is bad! But the reality is that planting bulbs in the fall is one of the most rewarding things anyone can do in the garden. The daffodil, tulip, lily, iris, crocus, hyacinth, scilla, allium, cassia, Muscari, are relatively easy to grow. The effort put into the correct planting is tripled when they start to poke thru the ground and the anticipation grows with each day as you watch them stretch their leaves toward the warming sun, enjoying the freedom from the cold. It is almost too late to plant now but as long as the ground is not frozen and you can get a spade in it you can put those little buggers in the ground.

I have been working diligently on the multitude of boxes of bulbs that started arriving in September. Why did I not heed the admonishment of my friends and NOT order so many bulbs? I CAN”T. I have this disease called Bulbitus. It is not my fault. I inherited this awful affliction. There is no cure. I guess I wouldn’t take a cure even if there were one. To me bulbs are really wonderful. Looking the catalogues and dreaming how beautiful they would look growing in my garden. When I come across a new one, it casts this mesmerizing spell over me, and I have to give in this addiction. Maybe I will order just a few. OK! That will hold me. Maybe a few more of the same variety or even a different one, because you should have more than a few to make a statement, and really, that is what I want anyway. So I add a few more to the order. Then I turn the page, and the same thing happens. I can’t get away from it. So I give into this stronghold the colorful bulb catalogue pages have on me. OK next…

Remember this started in September or really in March and April. The devious bulb company knows that as the spring garden starts to bloom, it is the best time to start grooming a gardener with this Bulbitus condition. They know we see where there is an empty space that should have a different color or size bloom to make the garden look like their pictures. NOT !!!! …. Never has any garden of mine looked like the pictures, and most likely never will. But these bulb companies keep sending the catalogue just to feed the addiction.

Now nearly December or rather it is December, and I have just planted the last of my bulbs. You must understand too that I have had this disease for a long time, and since I have not the slightest idea how to cure myself ( unless the bank forecloses ) the UPS , Airborne, and USPS, keep bring me these heavy boxes that I know can’t be for me because I already have several hundred or very possibly thousands . Must be a mistake. But a lovely mistake anyway … I will accept it.

Besides planting bulbs in the garden, I have planted most of the large pots that had annuals in them. You cab layer different bulbs in one pot. Start with the largest and latest blooming on the first layer about 6/8 inches deep and cover with soil and then build up another layer of different bulbs. Cover up each layer with soil. The earliest and smallest should be the last layer. Covering all the layers with soil, a good drink, and a little mulch or leaves will keep this pot in good condition. Leave it outside for the winter with a little protection. And then as the bulbs start to emerge in the early spring, bring the pot into a prominent place where you can watch them bloom their heads off. It is a little gem of a garden just for your enjoyment.

You can also force some bulbs to bloom earlier than normal by doing the same method and bring them into the garage or another like place as soon as they start to show a little green thru the soil. Keep cool and moist, but not freezing for several days to an about a week, then move the pot inside to a sunny location and have the fun of beating mother nature to the punch.
The gorgeous amaryllis is another great bulb to grow and takes near to nothing as far as work. The only thing is not to plant it too deep and not to over water it. They can rot easily with too much water. After it blooms cut the stalk off and treat it like any other house plant. In the late spring, you can put it outside, water and fertilize as a good gardener should. Then in the fall cut the leaves off, let it dry out in a cool dark location for a resting period of six to eight weeks or more if you forget where it is, as I always do. Then start to water a little leaving in a cool place with a little more light. When green shows again take inside, and it will bloom all over again.

The amaryllis will be ok in the same pot for about two years but will outgrow it by a third. It could even have a few off spring attached ( as they usually do ) to the mother plant. These can be removed and planted the same as the parent plant. It will take a year or two for these young ones to bloom, but they will. THEN if you keep this up you too will have more than you know what to do with. I have found a good solution to this dilemma. They will do very well in a pot or in the ground for a striking summer bloom. Plant as you would any other summer bulb. Grow in a large pot with other big leave or blooming plants, and you will have an exotic look for the summer pots.

If there is a remedy, therapy or treatment for Bulblitus that is available please don’t tell me. I completely enjoy this affliction, and it has such beautiful consequence.

Food Friday: Chicken Schnitzel


I’m not quite ready to get into all the fussy details of holiday baking just yet. Though I am reading the many, many stories that abound about cookies and other holiday bakes. I will probably fall back on the usual suspects: my grandmother’s gingersnaps, some butter cookies (I bought a new cookie press – and we know it is all about the toys!) and oatmeal chocolate chip cookies, because years ago our children eschewed the somewhat healthier oatmeal raisin cookies. We have very strong opinions about food in our house. Here is a recipe I intend to try out – it sounds too outrageous to ignore: Bacon Fat Gingersnaps!

But back in the kitchen, I was searching for the solution to a non-holiday cooking dilemma. We gave up veal years ago. I suppose it is possible to overthink everything, but our views about how animals are raised have been validated by the newer proponents of humane treatment of animals. That being said, sometimes we missed the crispy goodness of weiner-snitzel and the richness of veal marsala, and made up our own recipes substituting chicken cutlets for the veal.

Last weekend I had half of a pound of thin chicken cutlets that I bought from the butcher’s shop, which was a pricey food investment. Otherwise you can buy thin boneless chicken breasts at the grocery store, and pound them thin, using up your pent-up holiday aggressions and a sturdy rolling pin. Sometimes we managed to meet our schnitzel-ly ideals, and sometimes we miss. We had dubbed our feeble and ever-evolving concoctions “Chicken Schnitzel”, thinking we were oh, so clever. And with the expensive butcher cutlets I did not want to chalk up another miss, so I rooted around the Internet looking for a recipe that would save the day. I typed “chicken schnitzel” into my browser, and imagine my surprise when Thomas Keller’s recipe for “Panko-Coated Chicken Schnitzel” was the first that bounded into sight! More validation!

Sometimes I am a lackadaisical cook. I can go overboard and over-bread the chicken, so reflexively, among the misses there has been a long-running series of chicken misadventures. I have tried preparing schnitzel-ly chicken that I soaked in milk and then dredged in salt and pepper seasoned flour before frying. It was light, but it wasn’t a crispy schnitzel. Sometimes I have used plain breadcrumbs, or seasoned breadcrumbs. Sometimes I dipped the chicken in mayonnaise and then coated it with smashed up canned fried onion rings. Sometimes I read the backs of too many packages.

Thomas Keller’s recipe for Chicken Schnitzel was everything I hoped for. The brown butter and lemon caper sauce was perfect for adding a sweet nuttiness, without wilting the snappy panko crunch. We also had a side of creamy risotto and a small green salad along with candlelight and cheap white wine. And it was fast and easy to prepare – the cooking time for the chicken was only about 15 minutes. The risotto, which I can never gauge correctly, took about half an hour. Luckily, for once I had factored that in, and actually prepared it ahead of the chicken. It sat warming on the stove while I flipped the cutlets with skill, aplomb and many splatters. Add this to your easy peasy file:

Next week we will get to holiday baking, really.

“Sharing food with another human being is an intimate act that should not be indulged in lightly.”
― M.F.K. Fisher

The Kitchen at The Imperial Starts New Era

Steve and Monica Quigg

Steve and Monica Quigg

The Kitchen at the Imperial restaurant opened for business Friday night to an enthusiastic and approving crowd of over one hundred diners.

“It went really well,” says Chef-Manager Steve Quigg. “The place was in great shape when we opened. Steve Meehan did a beautiful renovation job, all the contractors were fantastic meeting our deadline, and the staff was willing and able.”

Quigg credits the successful opening with a sense of camaraderie he has discovered in Chestertown and the help he and Monica have personally received.

“Monica and I are really of the opinion that “a rising tide lifts all boats” and would like to see Chestertown become a culinary destination point. J.R. at the Lemon Leaf is a good friend. He spent hours helping us with our layout and we want to compliment each other rather than compete with each other. People will return to town and try out different venues.”

One addition was to knock out a wall in the bar section to open up the room and to give it into a tapas-tavern ambiance by offering 25 shared plates including House Made Tortellini, Classic Arancina, Jumbi Lumped Crab Balls, and Braised Octopus. “We’re also vegetarian friendly and can put together some great vegetarian specials,” Quigg adds.

Dinner entrees run the gamut from Jumbo Lump Crab Cakes to Braised Lamb Shanks or Seared Beef Tenderloin. Of course, you can start them with Thyme Infused Mushrooms or their famous Kitchen Crab Dip. Their solid wine list should also please everyone.

Examples of last weeks Dinner Specials are Crispy Skinned Rockfish and Jumbo Dry Sea Scallops. Quiqq notes that the special will change weekly.

Lunches offer lighter fare with soups and salads, Tenderloin Quesadilla, Fish and Chips, Truffled Mushroom Quiche and seven sandwich choices.

A Sunday Brunch is also served from 10AM-3PM.

Formerly, the Quiggs ran the Kitchen at Rock Hall and received some serious awards including Best Crabcakes from “What’s Up Eastern Shore” three years in a row.

Many of their Rock Hall clientele have already followed the couple to Chestertown and the Quiggs look forward to meeting new diners weekly.

Pointing out the newly added service window along the main corridor of the restaurant, Quigg says that he likes to spend time personally greeting the customers and that the service window gives him a vantage point to observe dinners as they come in.

“My customers become my friends,” Quigg says. “Personal interaction is important. If I can help make their dining experience better, that’s what it’s all about.”

Except for bread, the Quiggs make everything from scratch using local providers for fish and farm fresh vegetables. But even bread will become a signature piece.

“We’re talking with Doug Rae and Evergrain Bakery about fresh bread for The Kitchen.

The Spy welcomes Moncia and Steve Quigg to the community and looks forward to their grand success in helping make Chestertown a culinary star on the Eastern Shore map.

Open Wednesday through Monday—only closed Tuesday, The Kitchen at the Imperial. Reservations are recommended for Friday and Saturday nights. For reservations call 410-778-5000.