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Friday, October 15th, 2021
Volume 30 Issue 10

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In This Issue of The Wood Prairie Seed Piece:

   Harvest Now History.

Extended Wood Prairie Family Farm Harvest Winds Down to a Successful End.

In the fullness of time, this growing season turned out to be a very good one for potatoes in Northern Maine. After flirting with drought during the months of June and August, the pendulum swung quickly in early September with the rainy-after-effects of a succession of several downgraded Tropical Storms. In the end we received 9.97” of rain in September, making it one of the top ten wettest months ever recorded. When it wasn’t raining we actually experienced good weather and - after the ground would dry out – good digging.

The photo above was taken first thing one early October morning when the sun was out and before it clouded over and more showers moved in mid-afternoon. We were digging organic Carola Seed Potatoes in heavy soil conditions with our 'Juko Potato Harvester.’ Working on the Juko (L to R) are Megan, Caleb and longtime employee Kenyon. By late afternoon we'd finished digging the Carola and had shifted unto Huckleberry Gold when the rain picked up once again. October then shifted back to dry and has allowed us and our potato farming Aroostook County neighbors to finish up in the last few days.

Now that we’re done with harvest we are out of the field and catching up on shipping out your orders. Thanks for your patience! Our website has been updated and now, when selection is best, is the perfect time to order both Organic Seed Potatoes and Organic Kitchen Potatoes for delivery this Fall, or later on in the Winter or Spring.

We hope wherever you are that your harvests have been full and your Fall is beautiful!

Caleb, Jim & Megan Gerritsen & Family
Wood Prairie Family Farm
Bridgewater, Maine

Wood Prairie Family Farm Photos.

A Roll of the Dice in Buzzing Wood Prairie Buckwheat Field. This field - ablaze with flowering Buckwheat - will produce next year's crop of our organic Maine Certified Seed Potatoes.  In early August after having spread and disked in barnyard manure we planted a dual soil-building crop of Buckwheat and the biofumigant brassica Rapeseed.  As is its custom, the Buckwheat grew fast and tall, and in this shot overstories the slower-growing then foot-high Rapeseed. A million Buckwheat blossoms were literally abuzz with thousands of wild honey bees.  Look close and see if you can spot the brown honey bee working away in the center of the Buckwheat.  By the calendar we expected the very-frost-sensitive-Buckwheat to have been blistered with cold by mid-September.  However, we’ve had a remarkably mild Fall and the first frost only arrived on October 5, killing down the Buckwheat.  The Rapeseed will continue to grow from a few weeks more then we’ll chop and plow it under in November.

Working Olivers Working the Wood Prairie Potato Harvest.
In this photo, four of our favorite working 1960s Oliver tractors are being used in our Wood Prairie harvest. The shot was taken from the Oliver 1750 Diesel which is pulling our Finnish 'Juko' (pronounced "Yuko") potato harvester.  Farthest left, a 1650 Diesel has been outfitted with forklift forks on the three-point-hitch - plus front counter-balance-weights - to move around one-ton hardwood pallet boxes full of potatoes. To the right of the fork-tractor, Caleb is driving a second 1650 Diesel and using the Power-Take-Off (PTO)-driven 'Lockwood Rockpicker’ to remove piles of rocks deposited by the Juko. Way in the back at the far end of the thousand-foot rows is an 1850 Diesel temporarily hooked up to a two-row 'John Deere #30 Potato Digger' which we deployed to dig up for hand-picking short sections of potatoes on either side of a somewhat treacherous hillside outcropping of ledge (bedrock) that the Juko begged relief from.

Problem Solving on a Maine Potato Farm.
   Elsewhere, hammers have received a lot of credit for distilling difficulties down to bite-sized nail-like solutions. In Maine, chainsaws are king. In our case, that would be 'Jonsered.'  Among the many Covid-inspired supply line shortages this years has been hardwood lumber.  Unable to buy new replacement hardwood pallet boxes we spent a lot of time repairing some of our old-timers.  When one repaired pallet box was too tall to fit onto our Juko Harvester, Caleb’s no-brainer field-solution was to grab the Jonsered from his mobile-repair-jeep and cut the box down to size.  Maine’s big contribution to world civilization seems to have been the chainsaw.

Getting Rid of Rocks During the Wood Prairie Potato Harvest.  Old timers have told us we have the rockiest farm in town.  We believe them.  Our 'Juko' Potato Harvester mechanically sorts potatoes from rocks. Rocks then get gathered into the Juko's 'rock dump.' When full, the rock dump door is tripped and a deposit of congregated rocks is left in numerous piles across the field.  In this closeup shot, Caleb driving a 66 HP Oliver 1650 Diesel and pulling our two-row Lockwood Rock Picker is picking up those rock piles.
Originally, this rockpicker had a side boom which conveyed rocks directly into a dump truck which drove along side, working in tandem.  On one grown-over once-cleared 4-acre field that we had cleared of its trees, we hauled out over 400 yards of rocks left behind by many glaciers. After that rockpicking job was completed, we removed the side boom assembly and then fabricated the traditional hopper-style collection box.
A hydraulic powered door on-command opens to empty the rockpicker of its load. The inclined elevator bed is composed of rugged metal 'digger lags' (hook chain) which allow dirt to drop through back to the field and simultaneously convey upwards the captured rocks into temporary detainment in the rockpicker hopper until they can be removed from the field.

Beautiful Maine Fall Day for Pouring First Half of Wood Prairie ICF Shed Wall.
Next week we’ll make our second and final pour of our new ICF (Insulated Concrete Forms) storage building.  In this photo looking east, we successfully poured the concrete for the bottom half of the wall.  The day started out a chilly 31ºF, but by afternoon under clear and windless skies the temperature had soared to 70ºF.  In the foreground is our former (and future) office area. To the right beyond the wall is our packing shed.  Looking past the office is our expanding storage shed.  The red 'Giles' Concrete Pumper truck drove up from Bangor. The driver operates the maneuverable boom from a remote chest-mounted controller box outfitted with joy sticks.  The hopper on the Pumper truck was supplied by four local concrete mixer trucks which brought a total of 42 yards of redi-mix concrete which was pumped into the cavity between the permanent foam walls.
Braces which keep the forms straight and true double in supporting the planks for the work platform.  In a little over three hours the job was completed and the trucks were headed back home.



Caleb & Jim & Megan Gerritsen
Wood Prairie Family Farm
49 Kinney Road
Bridgewater, Maine 04735
(207) 429 - 9765 Certified Organic, From Farm to Mailbox