October 19th, 2019
28 Issue 12
Issue of The Wood
Night Sky, Sand Beach. Acadia
With increasing worldwide night-time light pollution, Maine’s extensive
remote areas are receiving accolades for extraordinary night sky
This beautiful Summertime photo was published
Maine’s Bangor Daily News. Maine is being increasingly recognized as
possessing the largest
in the Eastern USA. The newest
member of our country’s National Park Service, undeveloped Katahdin
Woods and Waters National Monument
(just east of Katahdin
and 60 miles SW of Wood Prairie Family Farm) is
a rising star amidst Northern Maine’s true dark night sky country.
Maine’s potato harvest is now winding down.
West have been experiencing extremes of wet, snow and cold. Northern
Maine’s frequent rain interruptions this Fall were far less severe
than the calamities further West but nonetheless dragged out harvest
for Maine’s potato farmers. With a sunny stretch forecast for several
days ahead, many operations should be finishing up harvest next week.
We finished our digging a week ago and
have since planted our potato ground to a crop of Organic
Our yields were moderate, held down by the dry Summer. The word is late
varieties have sized up considerably thanks to substantial rains
received in early September. Farmers had been fretting due to
rain-delayed planting in the Spring, then dry conditions and a reversal
to wet weather as harvest approached.
Megan Gerritsen & Family
Wood Prairie Family Farm
Farmer Wendell Berry. Wise words from a wise man.
|Going Home with Wendell Berry.
We’ve learned the best
interviews emerge when
a thoughtful and capable interviewer is able to intelligently carry her
side of the conversation.
Such is the case in this excellent
piece in The New Yorker
where deep thinker and Kentucky farmer Wendell Berry is interviewed by
This is an interview which masterfully delves into
Wendell’s well-articulated themes of place, home and economy. Please
consider it must
Caleb, Megan & Jim
and a half years ago, feeling existentially adrift about the future of
the planet, I sent a letter to Wendell Berry, hoping he might have
answers. Berry has published more than eighty books of poetry, fiction,
essays, and criticism, but he’s perhaps best known for “The Unsettling of
a book-length polemic, from 1977, which argues that responsible,
small-scale agriculture is essential to the preservation of the land
and the culture. The book felt radical in its day; to a contemporary
reader, it is almost absurdly prescient. Berry, who is now eighty-four,
does not own a computer or a cell phone, and his landline is not
connected to an answering machine. We corresponded by mail for a year,
and in November, 2018, he invited me to visit him at his farmhouse, in
Port Royal, a small community in Henry County, Kentucky, with a
population of less than a hundred...
are the payoffs of observing limits and accepting them? I’ve begun to
think a lot about the economic importance of intangibles. For instance,
if you’re a cattle farmer and you keep the same cow families on your
place, generation after generation, one of the results will be a
locally adapted cow herd. Over time, the animals will have learned how
to live on your place, in your conditions, better than if they were
strangers. Veterinary and other costs would likely go down. Just as
when you keep yourself to your place, you adapt to it. And there comes
a finally inscrutable history of influences back and forth.
time, when we were both up at the horse sale in Columbus, my friend
Maury Tilleen said, 'Come here, I want you to hear this.' He wanted me
to hear the story of Lancie Clippinger’s corn crop of the year before.
Lancie had forty acres of corn at a time when corn was selling at
hardly more than it cost to raise it. And he had bought forty sows. He
bred the sows so that their pigs would come on when the corn was ready
to harvest, and then he put the pigs into the cornfield. At the same
time, he picked the
that he needed for his other stock. He made about a thousand dollars
per acre off the corn that year partly by feeding it to the hogs. While
we were standing there talking, Maury said, 'Do you farrow the sows in
a farrowing house?' 'No,' Lancie said. 'I have a field I turn them out
in. It has plenty of water and shade and I see ‘em every day.' This is
culture at work—'I see ‘em every day.' What the man knew increased the
worth of his corn crop. So, if you have an economy that deliberately
destroys this culture of husbandry, you’re destroying both the land and
the people, the basis of the economy."
FREE Organic Winter Rye Cover Crop Seed!
Prairie Organic Winter Rye
is the hardiest winter cover crop out there! It may be planted after
crops are harvested in the Fall. It will make minor to modest growth in
the Fall, living through
– when other less rugged Winter grain may Winter-kill – and protecting
the soil. Remarkably early the the Spring, it will begin its growth. It
may be mowed and incorporated for mid- and late-Spring crops. Left to
grow, Winter Rye will produce heads full of kernels of grain Rye (for
delicious Rye Bread!) and abundant Rye straw excellent for bedding or
Prairie Organic Winter Rye
may be planted any
time of year
including Spring (though it won’t form grain unless planted in the
Fall), as a fast growing cover crop. We spin on Winter Rye during our
last cultivation of Organic
to form a protective ground cover. As an overachiever, Winter Rye is
also allelopathic, which means it naturally produces biochemicals which
inhibit competing weed seed germination.
We recommend always
having a sack of Wood
Prairie Organic Winter Rye
on hand. We’ll help by sending
you a FREE
2.5 lbs Sack of Organic
Winter Rye Cover Crop Seed
(Value $9.95) when your next
Wood Prairie order totals $59 or more. FREE Sack of Organic Winter Rye Cover
Crop Seed Offer
ends 11:59 PM on Monday, October 21.
Please use Promo Code WPFF454. Your order and FREE Sack of Organic Winter Rye Cover
- must ship no later than May 5, 2020. Offer may
not be combined with other offers. Please secure your FREE
Click Here for All of Our Wood Prairie Organic Cover Crop Seed
Wood Prairie Organic Winter Rye. King of Winter-hardy
|Wood Prairie Family Farm Photos.
Wood Prairie Potato Ground.
Looking south, these empty rows by the Maple
trees were where we had just finished digging our crop of the new
mid-season variety, Caribou Russet. This year the
thundershowers seemed to miss us and we had a dry Summer.
Potato plants tended to buckle under the stress. However,
about the first eight rows of Caribous – closest to these Maples -
benefitted from their shade (and moisture?). Their tops
stayed green longer and the harvested tubers were noticeably larger.
Megan and Amy During Potato Harvest (Andrew Lictenstein). Megan
(left) and daughter, Amy, pal around while Jim (on tractor) logs in
full pallet boxes keeping account of their associated seed lot
numbers. Aroostook County is one of the last places in the
United States where school is still closed down for “Potato Harvest
Break” so students like Amy can help local farmers get the crop
in. The tradition goes back to just after WWII when planners
in Augusta decided a standard 175-day school year was a good
idea. Aroostook legislators lobbied and got passed an
accommodation which allowed Aroostook schools to start up early in
August to allow for the three-week Harvest Break in September and
Wooden Pallet Box of Adirondack Red (Andrew Lictenstein).
Our Finnish Juko Potato Harvester sends dug up and field-run-sorted
tubers directly into 4’ x 4’ x 4’ hardwood pallet
boxes. When full, the pallet boxes hold a ton of
potatoes. These Adirondack Red potatoes will be
cured in our underground potato storage for a few weeks at 55ºF and
high humidity. Following that stage, using fans to blow in
cold nighttime air we’ll quickly drop the cellar temperature to it’s
winter setting at 38ºF. Cooling arrests “physiological aging”
of tubers. This practice gifts our seed tubers with extra
high vigor which translates to higher yields when you use our Certified
Seed wherever you grow.
& Sarah Gleaning Potato Rows.
Megan used her phone to capture this shot of Caleb’s sisters, Amy
(left) and Sarah walking the rows gleaning potatoes. Our Juko
Harvester starts at one edge of a field, digging one-way
one-row-at-a-time. After a row has been dug, the Juko loops
its way back to the starting point to tackle the next row.
Meanwhile, most of the crew saunters their way back on foot, picking up
any tubers left behind. Once we’re done digging a field there’s very
little waste to be seen.
Dismantling Wood Prairie’s Long Tunnel.
Before we could harvest the FY 1 (Field Year) Seed Potato tubers we
grew in our Long Tunnel from tissued-cultured “Minitubers,” we had to
dismantle and remove the portable 500’ structure. Here, Caleb
climbs into the Clark forklift - fine-tuning the positioning of our 24’
goose-neck trailer – which is performing double-duty as the staging
unit for rolling up the 21’ wide aphid-excluding netting. The
netting excludes aphids which could vector potato virus to this early
generation seed stock.
Wood Prairie Crew Rolling Up Landscape Fabric.
Once the netted
covering is removed, 20’ Long Tunnel framed sections are un-coupled and
displaced, allowing landscape fabric to be rolled up. The visible crew
(left to right) is year-round co-worker Megan #2, Jim (Caleb’s father),
Caleb and Amy (Caleb’s sister). On the ground - out of sight
and knocking dirt off the fabric - are Megan (Caleb’s mother) and
neighbor-brothers Nate & Seth who have worked for us for years,
whenever school is out.
Last Morning of the Last Day of Wood Prairie Potato Harvest.
One chilly morning a week ago we finished digging
potatoes. The last dozen rows of late variety,
All-Blue are what’s left. Caleb is twisted around
backwards watching the Juko harvester while driving our 1967 Oliver
1850 Diesel tractor with creeper gearing. Megan is seated in
the nearly full pallet box, tossing the stray rock here and there back onto the
field. Amy (purple hood) is at the Hedgehog position working
the “Secondary Table” finishing the mostly complete job by the Juko
which mechanically separates potatoes from rocks and tops. Nate (orange
cap) is on the cart gleaning potatoes which dropped through the
harvester (helped by Megan #2 out of view). Missing from the
photo and taking the shot is Jim who works beside Amy.
Planting Winter Rye on Wood Prairie Family Farm.
As soon as digging was finished, Caleb took one tractor and picked
rocks off the harvested fields with our mechanical Lockwood
Rockpicker. Jim followed on another tractor pulling a 7-Tooth
International Harvester Chisel Plow ripping a foot or more into the
soil aerating and busting up any soil compaction which accompanied this
year’s wet harvest. Following that step, the fields where
harrowed to make them ready for planting. Here Jim in using
our ‘new’ Oliver 1750 Diesel to pull a 10’ wide IH 510 grain drill to
plant all the fields to a crop of Winter Rye. We fabricated
that green rubber-tired land roller. It’s purpose is to firm
the top couple of inches of soil which improves germination of the Rye
East Branch of the Penobscot River, near Katahdin Woods and Waters
KWWNM just celebrated its 3rd birthday. In August 2016,
Bert’s Bees Founder Roxanne Quimby gifted to the people of the United
States 87,563 acres of woodland just east of Maine’s 200,000 acre
wilderness Baxter State Park. The next day, President Obama
signed an Executive Order creating Kathdin Woods and Waters National
Monument, the newest member of our National Park System. When
traveling on the Swift Brook Road to access KWWNM’s Katahdin Loop Road
you will pass this unspoiled vista of the East Branch of the Penobscot
Crispy Rosemary-Parmesan Potato Wedges.
Boil in salted water until just barely tender:
potatoes, sliced lengthwise into 8 wedges each
Drain and cool slightly.
On a plate, combine:
1/3 c Panko breadcrumbs
2 T minced fresh rosemary
2 T grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
potato wedges with olive oil and press them into the panko mixture
until coated on the cut sides. Bake in a 400F oven 10-15 minutes. Flip
the wedges and bake for another 10 minutes, until crisp and golden.
Photo by Angela Wotton.
|Wood Prairie Farm Quick
Caleb & Jim
& Megan Gerritsen
Prairie Family Farm
429 - 9765
Certified Organic, From Farm to Mailbox