September 7th, 2019
28 Issue 10
Issue of The Wood
Yosemite Valley, Painting by
Albert Bierstadt. Circa 1885.
The three days after Labor Day is when every year the
Heirloom Exposition is held in Santa Rosa. So, four years ago, this
week, Jim went out to speak at NHE. He brought along with him Caleb’s
two sisters, Sarah and Amy, then 17 and 12, for their first visit to
While the trip was new and exciting, it wasn’t to
fun and games for the girls. We had shipped out many cartons of early
dug organic Maine Certified Seed Potatoes. The girls - with help from
their Dad - set up and manned our Wood Prairie booth at NHE and made
brisk sales to the steady flow of visitors who passed by our booth,
interested in Fall planting. Every day hit a hot 100ºF. From watching
the other vendors, it was learned to keep cool by going barefoot on the
concrete floor of the main pavillion we were set up in. The cooling
effect was remarkable.
Not wanting the girls
to only experience the developed side of California from SFO to Santa
Rosa, they flew out early and headed to the mountains. That means,
after crossing the Central Valley, they got to the Sierra Nevada
mountains and into Yosemite National Park. Jim has not been there for
over 40 years, but Yosemite was still very much as he remembered it.
They traveled all the way past Tanaya Lake up to the high country of
That was a year of forest
fires, both inside and west of the Park. While there was no imminent
danger, the fire smoke clouded the view, particularly in Yosemite
Valley. As well, California was still experiencing their major drought.
Yosemite’s famous waterfalls were but a thirsty trickle. However, none
of these factors diminished their enthusiasm for the spectacular
treasure's of the Park. The spirit of Yosemite, beautifully captured by
Albert Bierstadt, remains for all time.
Megan Gerritsen & Family
Wood Prairie Family Farm
Organic Turkey Red Winter Wheat. A good but dirty job.
|New YouTube Video: Cleaning Wood
Prairie Turkey Red Wheat.
The first grain crop we
harvested this Summer was heirloom Turkey
Red Hard Red Winter Wheat (HRWW).
It is a much-sought-after landrace wheat which is highly prized for
bread making. One farmer we spoke to yesterday who has grown Turkey Red
in Indiana said chickens really love to eat it.
Turkey Red was brought over by Mennonite immigrants from Russian
to Kansas in 1874. A century ago, millions of acres of Turkey
were being grown annually in America’s breadbasket. Then in time, over
the following decades it fell out of favor, being largely replaced by
the promise of modern hybrids.
Thankfully, our visionary friend, organic farmer Bryce Stephens, and
his 5th generation Kansas wheat farm saved Turkey Red from extinction
about twenty years ago. The Stephens family’s hard work has stabilized
Turkey Red and brought it back from the brink.
We just made this video showing the process of cleaning grain fresh out
of the field. As famous Washington State wheat breeder Dr. Steven Jones
has observed, “Planting and growing grain is easy. Harvesting and
cleaning grain is not.” What he means is that beginning at any moderate
scale, it is advisable to secure some grain handling equipment.
In the grain cleaning system we have put together on Wood Prairie
Family Farm, we use two grain cleaners in series along with three
augers. Electric-powered grain augers move the grain from machine to
machine. First up is a Snowco Rotary Grain Cleaner which quickly
separates out immature grain heads and small weed seed. Next, the grain
is augered to a Clipper double-screen Seed Cleaner. After going through
these two machines, the wheat is clean, free of weed seed and
virtually free of foreign matter. In cleaning this Turkey Red, Caleb
Jim worked together.
If seed is the
final intended use, we’ll run the wheat over a third cleaner called an
air-blast Gravity Table. That cleaning method we deploy as a separate
operation, as needed.
Caleb & Jim
FREE Organic Red Russian Garlic!
For a great many years, customers have
raved about our Organic Red
We agree: it is tops for eating quality. Organic Red Russian is a good
keeper Rocambole-type hardneck garlic. Fall is the best time for
gardeners to plant garlic. You’ll want to order your garlic soon before this
popular item sells out!
On average, about eight bulbs of Organic Red Russian Garlic
will fill a one-pound sack. With 7-8 cloves per bulb you can plan on
getting sixty planting pieces per pound.
For those of you
with a hearty appetite for garlic - or a large garden patch you want to
plant - we offer extra EVERYDAY
savings when you buy Organic
Red Russian Garlic in 3 lbs. Units.
Want to taste for yourself the
exceptional quality of our Organic
Red Russian Garlic?
You can do it for FREE
and earn some for
yourself with our Special Offer. We will send you a FREE
1 lb. Sack of Organic Red
Russian Garlic (Value $29.95) when your next Wood Prairie order totals
$79 or more. FREE Organic Red Russian
ends 11:59 PM on Monday, September 9. Please
use Promo Code WPFF452. Your order and FREE
Organic Red Russian Garlic
ship no later than November 30, 2019. Offer may not be combined with
other offers. Please click TODAY!
Organic Russian Red Garlic. Great for Fall planting and
|Wood Prairie Family Farm Photos.
Prairie Long Tunnel.
most everyone reading this newsletter understands, potatoes are
vegetatively propagated from seed tubers. Modern Certified Seed
Potatoes are multiplied up from cuttings originating in the
tissue-culture process. Tissue-cultured Cuttings produce disease-free
Plantlets. Plantlets growing in soil-less media in greenhouses produce
disease-free Minitubers. Minitubers are the seed for the first
generation of potatoes grown in soil, the step following the
tissue-culture process. We plant our minitubers in this double-bed 500’
long portable ‘caterpillar’ Long Tunnel shown above. Our Long Tunnel is covered
with special fine-weave aphid-excluding netting we imported from
Europe. Aphids are notorious vectors of potato disease. By excluding
aphids, our organic seed gets a valuable extra year of growth where
aphid-vectoring is prevented by an entirely non-chemical means. The seed
tubers we harvest this Fall from the Long Tunnel used to be called
“Nuclear 1.” However, in a recent initiative by the potato industry,
there has been widespread adoption of common nomenclature and this
generation is now called “FY 1” (Field Year).
Wood Prairie Propane Flamer. This
time of year, in getting ready for harvest, we are midstream in the
process of killing down our potato tops. For this job we use our
eight-burner Propane Flamer mounted on an Oliver 1650 Diesel tractor.
This flamer-unit gets double-duty on our farm. In the Spring, as
pictured here, at 1-3% plant emergence we flash-flame two potato rows
at a time vaporizing tender young weeds that once had ambitions to grow
and multiply. For the Spring work, the tractor moves along at 4 mph
(note the safety glasses Jim is wearing to keep dislodged soil out of
his eyes). For Fall top-killing there’s a lot more green matter to
handle so it normally takes a couple of passes at 1-2 mph to complete
the job. The 120-gallon propane tank is mounted at the rear behind the
Red Cloud Potatoes in Blossom.
One of the prettiest flowers of any potato variety we have ever grown
belongs to the Nebraska-bed Red Cloud (named after the Sioux Indian
Chief). Potato blossoms vary in color from white to off-white to pink
to lavender to blue to red. A field of Red Cloud is a beautiful sight
to behold during potato blossom time, which here in Northern Maine
peaks during the second-half of July.
Guinea Hogs on Wood Prairie Pasture.
Pigs are smart and they belong outdoors. The heritage breed "American
Guinea Hogs" are great foragers, are gregarious by nature and as you can
see operate with a close, extended family structure. When out on
pasture Guinea Hogs produce high-quality meat with minimal
out-of-pocket costs. They will eat grass and then root for insects and
tender roots. In our case, the Guinea Hogs also enjoy benefitting
from the drops under the apple trees.
Amy with Her Big Bass on Pleasant Pond.
Though farmers everywhere work hard, never say we don’t know how to
have fun. In this shot, Amy displays her late Summer catch-of-the-day,
a good-sized Smallmouth Bass. Our boat is at the far (east) end of the
two-mile long, 1800-acre Pleasant Pond in Island Falls, in the part of
Aroostook County fairly close to Katahdin. At this location the water
depth was about 40 feet. Over Amy’s shoulder (north) is the electrical-generating Oakfield
windmill farm. A few miles beyond the windmills is Interstate-95
heading toward Canada. These windmills are highly visible from I-95. If
you’re ever up this way and notice the windmills while driving, you’ll
know now that there’s good fishing in the cold, clear waters of the big
“pond” (Maine vernacular for lake) beyond those windmills.
Mist Rising From Our ‘Big Pond.’
time of year the nights are cooling
off quickly. We’ve yet to receive a frost but nights have been dropping
into the 30s. The pond cools down more slowly that the air and
sometimes as a result mist will rise off the pond in the early morning.
We dug this pond for our irrigation needs. It’s about 1 ½ acres in size
and twelve foot deep at the deepest (west) end. This Summer in addition
to several pairs of ducks hatching out their young, we had some
Canadian Geese raise up a family as well.
Caleb Combining Wheat Next to Sunflowers.
Yesterday, in light of the forecast for some rain Saturday from former Hurricane
Dorian, was the best day to harvest our biggest field of FBC (Farmer
Breeding Club) Dylan Hard Red Spring Wheat (HRSW). Here, Caleb is using
our old reliable 1970’s Massey Ferguson 300 Grain Combine. This combine
has a 13-foot cut and was the last model outfitted with a
weed-seed-collection system (newer models simply toss weed seed back
onto the field, thus insuring brisk future demand for chemical
herbicides). Combining grain after a dry stretch helps get the moisture
content down close to the 13% we’re shooting for. We use special grain
fans to pull out moisture should grain be higher moisture than we
like. Seeking aesthetics, Amy did the small planting of nearby
sunflowers which Caleb was very careful to avoid.
Road to the Back Seed Field.
This road -
built up over four feet with
excavated-pond-fill and topped off with rocks picked from potato fields
- heads back across our Cedar swamp and brook (a tributary to the South
Branch of Whitney Brook) to the “Seed Field” (old-timer’s term for an
isolated field where farmers would raise their own seed). We ended up
not needing the Seed Field this year for potatoes so we seeded it down
to Dylan Wheat, undersown with clover and grass. Because this field was
planted late (like the old-timers, we plant our grain first and then
potatoes after grain), and is shaded being surrounded by woods, it will
be a few more weeks before it’s ready to harvest. It’s most likely
we’ll harvest this field after we get done potato harvest. That will
start in a couple of weeks when local schools close down for the annual
Potato Harvest Break.
Pepper Spanish Tortilla.
1 T olive oil, plus more for serving
1 lb Yukon Gold
sliced 1/4" thick
1 pepper, ribs and seeds removed, thinly sliced
medium onion, halved and thinly
8 large eggs
1/4 c chopped fresh parsley
1/2 tsp hot sauce
oven to 375ºF. In a medium skillet, heat oil over medium heat.
Add potatoes, pepper, and onion; season with salt and pepper. Cover,
and cook, stirring occasionally, until potatoes are crisp-tender, 14-16
minutes. Uncover, and cook off excess liquid, about one minute.
a bowl, whisk together eggs, parsley, hot sauce, 1/2 tsp salt, and 1/2
tsp pepper. Pour mixture over vegetables in skillet, and gently stir to
distribute evenly. With the back of a spatula, press down on vegetables
so they lay flat and are submerged.
Bake in oven
until set, about 15 minutes. To unmold, run a rubber spatula around
edge of skillet to release tortilla; invert onto a serving plate.
Drizzle with oil. Serve hot or room temperature.
Here for Wood Prairie Farm Organic Vegetable Seed.
and Healthy Meal.
|Wood Prairie Farm Quick
Caleb & Jim
& Megan Gerritsen
Prairie Family Farm
429 - 9765
Certified Organic, From Farm to Mailbox