Dot and I spent many days sitting in my office in Merrimack County, taking about work, family, and life. We would laugh until our faces hurt or cry uncontrollably, and often we would do both. Her love, guidance, insight, and perspectives will continue to have profound effects on the decisions I make.
Dot took great pride in the fact that she couldn’t go out in public without being recognized as “The Chicken Lady.” I witnessed this many times, but one time in particular stands out to me as an illustration of Dot’s infectious excitement and passion for her work. Dot came into the office one day and found that I was sick and in a lot of pain. She immediately dropped what she was doing to take me to the ER. As we sat in the waiting room, a hospital security guard walked by, stopped, did a double take, and said to Dot, “You’re the chicken lady!” This guy had an energy similar to Dot’s. They bonded instantly, and the two of them recounted, in Dot’s loud and animated style, the lessons Dot had taught him at a chicken workshop. The entire hospital waiting room was in laughter together as Dot and the security guard acted out how he had put her lessons to action introducing new chickens to his coop… opening the door, tossing the new chickens in, slamming the door shut, holding the door shut and listening in horror while all kinds of commotion took place in the coop, and finally peeking in to see that the feathers had settled and the chicken merging was a success. This is just one memory of many of Dot’s passion for her work and the people she impacted.
- Amy Papineau
Dot Perkins was an extremely special person, full of knowledge, energy, humor--and perhaps most of all--heart. Working with her over the years on a number of Master Gardner projects and sitting on panels with her at library and garden club educational presentations was both an honor and a privilege--and always a learning experience for everyone present. I was so proud to be able to introduce her as my mentor and more importantly, my friend. I will so miss her big hugs and her even bigger laugh.
- Joyce Kimball, MG Spring '04
Dot called me her "minion". It was at that moment I knew I was in, the infamous chicken lady had taken me under her wing to bestow upon me her extensive knowledge of all things chickens, rabbits, parasites, sheep, cows, agriculture regulations, herbs, farm hacks…you name it. What I admired most was her passion for her work and the people around her. She would say "I may be unconventional, but I'm effective", and she was just that.
Working with Dot was always an adventure, so when I got a text one evening saying "What are you doing Friday? Missing sheep. Drones. Canterbury." You better believe I cleared my schedule, even if I wasn't sure exactly what I'd be getting myself into. She was innovative, practical, and knew how to roll with the punches. Seeing her in action was truly inspiring and even mind boggling. I still don’t know how she kept all that knowledge in her noggin. Dot continuously pushed me to go beyond my comfort zone and exposed me to so many new areas of animal agriculture. Thinking back I'm not sure how I would have managed without her in my first year. She was the best work and life mentor I could have ever hoped for with a fire, humor, and heart like no other. I’ll always hold her lessons and love close.
- Elaina Enzien
Dot was a hands-on educator with real practical experience, who loved to share that knowledge. She will be greatly missed. I will miss her questioning assumptions and the status quo.
- Heidi Konesko
I would call in to Dot for a quick check-in about some project or another; but you quickly learned there was no such thing as a quick phone call with Dot. What I planned to take five minutes would often take an hour or more, as the conversation would cover a wide range of topics - everything from program ideas to family to home remedies for goats.
I was on the team that interviewed and hired Dot to work for UNH Extension in Merrimack County. Her booming bluster, infectious laugh, blunt speech, hands-on farming experience, and her self-confidence combined to make her the stand-out candidate among several more polished applicants.
She was a genuine rural character of immense complexity. I loved her from the start. She had the office two doors down from mine. We shared a thousand laughs, many personal stories of grief and joy, a few tears. We enjoyed more than a few boisterous arguments.
She taught me the right way to tie up indeterminate tomatoes. I offered her the occasional writing tip as she groaned through graduate school.
Dot loved with a rare ferocity. She loved her family and home grounds. She loved plants—weeds, herbs, food and forage crops. She loved animals: wild animals, companion animals, and farm animals. She loved sharing what she knew, and didn't mind admitting ignorance when she didn't know something. We all admired her ingenuity.
Dot had a hard life and a pure heart. She lived frugally. She was generous. She didn't have any pretenses. Godspeed.
- Peg Boyles
Dot Perkins, was a great person, co-worker, and friend. She will be missed by so many. She would do anything for you if she could, all you needed to do was ask. I even got her to judge a 4-H goat show for me when a judge had to cancel at the last minute. A joy to work with at Farm & Forest, Sheep & Wool Festival, Sheep & Goat Clinic and a number of 4-H events. Some of our best times together were watching our grandchildren showing goats together. I miss you my friend.
- Jolee Chase
"Pull up a lawn chair," Dot said during my master gardener class, "pour yourself a limoncello, talk chicken and enjoy the antics." Thank you for sharing your expertise, and your great world (and farmyard) view.
- Gayle Kimball
I'll miss dropping into Dot's office for a chat. Our conversations would wander through the ordinary and the profound. I liked to make Dot laugh, and to laugh with her. Dot was passionate about sharing what she knew, and shared freely with me things she'd learned about gardening, animals and life. She also liked the challenge of fixing things, especially if she'd been told something couldn't be done.
- Andrea Talbot
I am so sorry to hear of Dot's passing. I loved when she was teaching about her Chicken's - it was always education and entertaining at the same time. She will be missed. My condolences to her family.
- Liz Stevens
After settling in NH in 2013, I quickly learned to take any workshop offered by Dot. I took her goat workshop. Many of the students were 4-H'ers, mostly girls & young women. In the session about pregnancy, Dot talked about the dangers of breeding too young, the need for increased nutrition during pregnancy and lactation, the importance of colostrum, and more... all important animal husbandry practices. After class I approached Dot and asked: you weren't just teaching us about healthy goat mothers were you? She smiled and nodded. Thank you Dot for educating us all.
- Dawn Forde
Dot was an “all in” person!
She never went part way, if she was “in” she was all in!
Dot was loud, fun, boisterous, Enthusiastic with a capitol E.
Quick to laugh, fiercely loyal, dedicated to her family and her community.
I am saddened to hear of her passing because of the people she has left behind.
I am sure that where she is, she’s leading the charge, on the bandwagon and having a great time.
- Tina Savage
Several years back I invited Dot to come up to my office because I had clients interested in a workshop on raising backyard pigs, and a commercial client who'd had a tough year with piglet mortality that I wanted her to visit. The farmer listened intently and walked away with a plan, and the workshop participants learned a lot and had some good laughs.
It was a night workshop so rather than have her drive two hours home in the dark I invited her to spend the night at my house. As we were going up the stairs I warned her to be careful -- my porch stairs looked straight but listed off to the side slightly. It was disorienting if you weren't expecting it.
We had a nice dinner and a long chat. When I got up the next morning I went to the kitchen to make some coffee and find out what Dot wanted for breakfast. She was no where to be found. I looked outside and there's Dot circling the porch peering underneath. She comes back in and says "your stairs are sound, it's just the ground underneath settling". She then walked me through what I needed to do to fix it -- diagram included!
It was a simple act of kindness from a long time homeowner to a newbie, but it typifies my image of Dot. Co-workers are friends, and knowledge is to be shared.
- Heather Bryant
My husband and I would seek Dot out at any UNH or agriculture event where we saw her name listed. Always something to be learned in the most down to earth way, she had a way of communicating a method so simply, that you had confidence when you left. We admiringly called her the chicken lady, and she will be missed!
- Kristie Briscoe
I only met Dot once at a hoof trimming workshop and enjoyed her humor and energy. I am so shocked and sad to hear this news! I found her a funny, warm, knowledgeable, sassy, and down-to-earth woman who was obviously passionate about her work and I was looking forward to attending more workshops with this wonderful woman. My condolences to her family and friends - there will be big muck boots to fill with her passing.
- Pam Williams
I was part of the Fall 2017 Master Gardener Class. Dot taught the "Chicken" class with a huge dose of humor, wisdom and a "real world" perspective. As she spoke, she would interject "Just sayin'..."! As a group we fondly picked up that phrase and always smiled when we used it, remembering this remarkable woman.
- Nancy Wilson
I am so sorry to learn of Dot's passing. We have lost not only a truly remarkable woman, but an incredible educator. She had such an infectious enthusiasm and passion for living creatures.
- Carolyn Sheehan
Dot taught our in our Fall 2017 class with a completely memorable and joyous attitude. Her story about her favorite rooster and how she kept him alive has stayed with me as such a great tale of how to choose wisely without ruffling feathers, so to speak. I have shared her story several times and will continue to think of her very fondly. I'm sorry that future classes won't know her dedication to farming and her honest ways of telling us about her experiences in order to frame how wonderful the world of farming and animals, on a small scale, can be.
She was Dorothy to me. A beautiful name for an even more beautiful person.
We worked side by side for 3 years in the Merrimack County Extension Office. Our complimentary skills made one excellent Ag Agent in two bodies. Many days I cleared my afternoon "to do" list to make room for conversation. Some Fridays we'd end our day with glasses of chianti at C.C. Tomatoes. Italian food and drink made Dorothy smile.
I have a million stories but they are sacred and it hurts too much to share right now. Dorothy takes up a place in my heart.
- Amy Oullette
Dot's honest, no nonsense, take no prisoners yet accurate input will be missed very much at the events involving NH Farm Bureau that she typically attended. Thank you Dot. RIP
- Denis Ward, New Hampshire Farm Bureau President
Soon after my Nick passed away, in early November, Dot reached out to me. As most of you know, she lost her husband 8 years ago and had just this year finally found happiness again. She wanted to share with me how to keep going. These are her words:
"I understand completely honey. Feels like a dream right now I expect. Starts when you wake up and ends when you go to sleep. I think its shock. A very wonderful friend of mine who is now 92 lost her husband when she was our age. I went to see her to ask how to do this. She said don’t sit still. Occupy your thoughts with work and friends. Don’t build a shrine to remind you. Keep busy and in no time at all you are 90, and in the blink of an eye you will be finished with your work and will join him. This is the first year since 2010 that I have felt whole again. I just followed her advice, got the hell out of here and now I can be here and all is good. Cry. It helps. Don’t rush, we all work at our own pace. Remember you are NOT alone, we are all here and love you. My phone is never off and there is no bad time to call or txt.
With all my love honey"
Her words were balm to my badly wounded soul. I’m so glad she was in my life. She was one of the finest people I’ve ever met. God speed Dot. You will not be forgotten
- Faye Cragin
I am so very sorry to hear of Dot's passing. She was one of the most memorable instructors for my Master Gardener training in the fall of 2016! My classmates would ask multiple chicken related questions, many of these chickens were "family pets." To each question Dot would answer kindly but clearly: "Soup" "Soup" "Soup" She was an amazing blend of knowledge and common sense. I am so very glad I had the opportunity to be one of her students.
- Meg Miller
Dot taught me what I know about IPM for small ruminants. She was a great teacher and farmer. I remember going to her office in Boscawen where she showed me how to do fecal floats over stacks of extension education materials, while fielding multiple calls from people asking for consults on a plethora of farmy things. She never missed a beat and I had a lovely afternoon in her joyful presence. I also attended a few workshops she organized for famacha certification. She was down to earth, serious about the work, had a special love for goats, and clearly relished her job teaching others how best to care for livestock. We all will miss her.
- Eve Klotz, The Farm by the River, Effingham, NH
It was always exciting to have her at Osbornes Agway to teach the community about raising chickens she was a hoot and was so willing to go beyond to help others will be missed.
First of all I would like to thank everyone for sharing all the memories and stories .
I can tell you honestly that I had no idea, no idea she had had such an impact on so many people's lives. I absolutely knew what an impact she had on my life, I knew her for 58 years, She is my sister you see. We shared a room together as kids. I know you wont believe this but as a kid she wouldn't say shit if she had a mouthful. I was often her voice, wiping the tears from those big brown eyes and seeking out who ever had caused her distress and dealing with it. I often felt like her big sister. She told me just in November that I was often her hero. When Ralph died she came out to New Mexico for a visit. We went to the top of Sandia Mountain and spread some of his ashes then off to Chimyo to a very old church where she spent over an hour in a little chapel, crying and trying to heal or make some sort of sense of what had happened. When she left to go home she told me that it was the first time since Ralph's death that she felt halfway normal again because she wasnt Dot the widow anymore, she was just Dot the sister and it felt really good. i was so glad I could help her because she had always been there for me. When we were together we were 8 and 10 years old again sisters confidants friends secret keepers and unconditionally loved each other. We talked almost every week and she would tell me a little bit about work but mostly we talked about family and me and her and when we had decided we had fixed each other's worlds we would tell each other we loved one another and give it hell until the next time.
I Loved her with all my heart and she loved me just as much. I will miss her until I see her once again and it warms my heart to know that she had such an impact on the world around her. She used to tell me we were twins lol I just took longer to come out than her lol. I think what I will miss most is her hugs, No one could hug like her, She would wrap you up in those arms and you just knew everything would be alright. So big Hugs Dot. and I Love you.
- Lisa Treem
Dorothy was my sister.... although I didn't see her very often, she was always there...and I still can't believe that she is not here anymore . I had no idea how many wonderful, caring friends she had at UNH. It makes me so very happy to know how much you all cared about her..... thank you
- Marie Byrne
I feel fortunate and lucky to have enjoyed a rich friendship with Dot for many years. Our friendship had so many different aspects to it.
She was one of the few people I would turn to when life or circumstances were kicking me in the balls. I could call her and vent and she would always so understand. Often she would join the rant, spitting “f” bombs, vitriol, and complaints in such a poetic and energetic manner! After we got this out of our systems, she would help me look at things differently or forge a plan. Dot was an amazing strategic thinker, at least in my experience.
Dot also was a medicine woman to me, a healer. This was spiritual and physical. I ate and drank numerous concoctions she would make, as have many who are reading this. Soups, tinctures, syrups, all homemade…all given with love and wisdom.
When my brother Kev died, she helped me connect with him and she was paramount in teaching/showing me that he was gone physically, which sucks, but he is still here in many other direct ways.
We spoke about connecting with people who died on many occasions. When Ralph passed she was active in connecting with him. Her many stories - specific and descriptive - convinced me. My experiences with Kev further solidified it.
I have already felt Dot and although I miss her, all my experiences are smiles. Just recently, she joined our family tree-trimming, telling me that my smiling cow ornament should be named Dorothy and we could connect via it. Sounds hokey for some, but if you don’t believe, you won’t. Those who do know what I am talking about.
So funny to meet an Italian medicine woman in rural NH, but she was one such person for me!
Dot also read people. Whenever we met someone new, we would always discuss our feelings. Not in a gossip way, but about the vibes we got from the person, the genuineness (or lack thereof). Dot connected with so many people because she could read them. She could read rooms of people and these skills made her a great teacher and instructor.
Then of course, there was Dot telling it the way it was. I watched many a meeting take a whole different turn after she spoke! Often it was highly entertaining!
And Dot was imperfect too. That is what made both her and our friendship real. We didn’t always agree, nor was it all roses. We annoyed and pissed each other off, but these times were short-lived. We are fiery people with strong opinions. We also work at very different paces. Both traits caused friction. The fact that it was part of our relationship made things so much deeper for me. If it’s all roses, it ain’t real in my experience.
I loved and learned many things from her approach to her work. It’s all for the farmers. She was huge with that approach. I know many folks work and feel that way, but for me, Dot was one whom I celebrated this approach with. Another attribute was that she just wouldn’t accept no if that wasn’t the outcome she wanted. The Dairy Drought Relief, helping livestock growers through tough times, the ups and downs with the veteran farmer program. Don’t tell her no.
I could go on. But I won’t. Now my experiences and relationship with Dot will change, which both bums and intrigues me. Dot will remain part of my life, just not in the same wonderful manner she was. That is sad. But Amy O helped me also move to a place of celebration and thankfulness. And I know that is how Dot would want it: thankfulness for the many lessons and fun times with celebration about life and tomorrow.