Living an independent Maine life is not easy

May and Jim Davidson were real Maine-ahs. They lived their dream, independent, and working a wide variety of jobs to maintain that independence. They did everything from growing tens of thousands of chickens to driving long-haul trucks across country.

May has given us a book that is a real treasure. Published by Islandport Press, and titled Whatever It Takes, that title describes their life over seven decades. They did whatever it took. And as she notes, it was all about true love, hard work, and no regrets.

They built their first house a mile into the woods from the road where they left their car. They had no electricity, running water, or bathroom. For a long time they didn’t even have an outhouse. They just went in the woods. When they finally built an outhouse, they did not have a door on it, so they could enjoy the view.

That reminded me of my dad. At our North Woods camp, we had an indoor bathroom but dad preferred the outhouse out back at the edge of the woods where he would always leave the door open to enjoy the view out over the lake.

Eventually May and Jim moved to the coast where they lived on a farm, with lots of sheep and chickens. For most of their lives they were in debt, barely making ends meet, but never giving up their independent lifestyle.

And they did almost everything together including driving a truck and making 35 trips from Maine to California. Jim did some lobstering, while May sometimes worked in nearby stores. They built lobster traps, cut and sold lumber, and sold their farm products themselves, traveling all over the northeast United States. They created a very successful business selling wind chimes.  They even made money showing their livestock at Maine fairs. They did whatever they had to do and they were incredibly hard workers. And they raised two children who joined their parents in many of those projects.

Their lives, and this book, are certainly inspiring and I also enjoyed the photos where they always seemed to be smiling. It’s a rather long book, 435 pages, but their lives were so fascinating that you will probably be disappointed when you get to the last page and the stories end.

George Smith

About George Smith

George stepped down at the end of 2010 after 18 years as the executive director of the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine to write full time. He writes a weekly editorial page column in the Kennebec Journal and Waterville Morning Sentinel, a weekly travel column in those same newspapers (with his wife Linda), monthly columns in The Maine Sportsman magazine, two outdoor news blogs (one on his website,, and one on the website of the Bangor Daily News), and special columns for many publications and newsletters. Islandport Press published a book of George's favorite columns, "A Life Lived Outdoors" in 2014. In 2014, George also won a Maine Press Association award for writing the state's bet sports blog. In 2016, Down East Books published George's book, Maine Sporting Camps, and Islandport Press published George and his wife Linda's travel book, Take It From ME, about their favorite Maine inns and restaurants.