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In This Issue of The Wood Prairie Seed Piece:

This edition of the Seed Piece may be found in our Wood Prairie Seed Piece Archives.

 Christmas in Maine.

Christmas on Monhegan Island, Maine. Circa 1945.

     John Faulkingham was the lighthouse keeper at Monhegan Island Lighthouse from 1945-1951. In this painting, the children of Mr. Faulkingham, and his wife, Eve, are bringing home a Christmas Tree.

     Last Summer we spent a picture-perfect day hiking on Monhegan Island after having taken the ferry out from the Midcoast Maine town of New Harbor. It’s a 45-minute ferry ride out to Monhegan. The island has a land area of 4.5 square miles and is home to 64 year-round-residents. There are some inns and restaurants on the island so an overnight stay is something you might want to consider if you are planning a trip to Maine.

     Away from the Coast, the rest of Maine has once again become snow country. And another storm is slated to hit Maine again right before Christmas.

     Wherever you are, we hope you will be able to spend a nice, quiet Holiday with family and friends.

     Stay safe and stay warm!


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





Maine Tales. Great Expectations. Bridgewater, Maine. Circa 1983.

Plowing Snow at Night.  In Maine Towns, snow plow drivers rise and get to work in the wee hours so that their first pass at plowing snow will be completed by the time most of their early working neighbors need to head out on the roads. Plow trucks are outfitted with tire chains and two-way radios. The truck above has a Straight Blade Plow on the front, and a Wing Plow attached on the right side. The dump bodies are filled with a mixture of sand & some salt added so the sand won’t freeze into a solid clump. The heavy weight from the sand adds substantially to road traction. By having two plow trucks in a Town, when one gets stuck on the ice, the other one can first load up at the Town Sand Shed and then come to the rescue deploying a stout tow chain.

     Try as we might there is just no pleasing some people.

     Now, it’s a fact, Northern Maine gets a big pile of snow every Winter. It used to be eerily predictable that we’d get our first serious snowfall during the week of Thanksgiving. That first real snow which would come and stay awhile through April.

     And because Mainers have to keep on working right through the Winter, there’s a stubborn need to move that snow out of the way. Since necessity is the mother of invention, some smart feller came along and invented the snowplow. Now he could attach the plow to the front of his truck, drink coffee and move a whole lot of snow.

     In the years ever since, Maine has assembled for itself a formidable fleet of many, many, many thousands of operating snow plows. Farmers and loggers connect plows to their pickups. The State of Maine has huge dump trucks with sanding dispensers outfitted with big plows to keep Maine highways open. Even every small Maine Town has a couple of hefty snowplows each, mounted onto big dump trucks in order to keep local roads open, so that life can carry on pretty much the same as Summer.

     Come midwinter during a heavy snow year the hardened snowbanks, created by snowplows clearing the deposits from many storms, will grow so large and so tall that there’s eventually no room left for any additional snow. So, in a well-outfitted Town like our Town of Bridgewater, this becomes the time of year to “wing back” the snow. ‘Winging-back’ snowbanks is accomplished by the use of a rugged ‘Wing Plow’ attached to the right side of a heavy plow truck. Winging-back is a two-man job wherever there are houses and mailboxes to avoid hitting. The plow truck driver needs a partner who can tend the hydraulic Wing controls and deftly pull back to safety the wing whenever a tree or mailbox comes into range.

     Back in the eighties, Tom was Road Commissioner and he drove the newest plow truck. Hoot was Tom’s hired hand and he drove the second Town plow. This day, working as a team, Hoot sat perched in the passenger seat of Tom’s truck, operating the valves and winging back the snow and when necessary pulling back the Wing to the truck side to avoid mayhem.

     The day was going well. They hadn’t obliterated any hidden mail boxes and they hadn’t stove up the Wing against a tree or power pole. They were making good progress opening up first one side, then working back the other side, of our modest Town roads.

     All of a sudden, up ahead they spied something odd sitting atop the snowbank. At first they couldn’t make out what it was. Then, as they got up close they had their aha moment and Tom promptly hit the brakes. Somehow, someway, there was a brand new six-pack of Beer sitting on top of that undisturbed, pristine snowbank. Tom set the parking brake on the idling truck, climbed down out of the cab, strided over to the snowbank and retrieved the fortuitous treasure trove. Clambering back into the truck, Tom handed the six-pack over to Hoot for his inspection.

     Hoot surveyed the six-pack and then set it down on the floor between the seats. Then they got back to work winging back the snow. And for the rest of that afternoon crotchety Hoot groused to a captive Tom conveying very candidly his abiding dissatisfaction that the six-pack had only contained 12-ounce cans. And not the 16-ounce Tall Boys that by rights he most definitely would have preferred.

Caleb, Jim & Megan


Megan's Kitchen Recipes: Christmas Cranberry Sauce.

  1 T vegetable or sunflower oil
  1 large Organic Amber onion, cut into medium dice
  1/8 tsp ground cloves
  Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  One 12 oz bag fresh or thawed frozen cranberries, rinsed and             picked over
  1 c granulated sugar
     In a 10 inch straight-sided saute pan or skillet, heat the oil over   medium heat. Add the onions, cloves, a pinch of salt and a grind or two of pepper. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are golden-brown and very soft, 20 to 25 minutes. Remove the lid, increase the heat to medium high, and cook the onions, stirring often, until deep caramel-brown, an additional 2 to 3 minutes.

     Add the cranberries, sugar, a pinch of salt and 1/2 c water and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Simmer for 1 minute, then cover, turn off heat and let cool to room temperature.
     This wonderful sauce may be prepared up to 3 days ahead and refrigerated.



Wood Prairie Family Farm Photos.

Caleb Driving Road Grader One Last Time. Weeks ago the ground froze over and the snow fell. We thought Winter had come. Then after awhile, warm rains returned which melted our snow and thawed out the ground. This turn of events gave Caleb and Justin one last window to extend a bit further our underground irrigation mainline project. Then they put that project to bed for the year. The very final step was smoothing over Caleb & Lizzi’s dug up front yard. The irrigation line trench had been filled back in and a deep layer of gravel spread on top. As seen in this photo, Caleb then took our old-timer 1950s Caterpillar Road Grader to put a crown onto the driveway. He finished the job by dark. Then the ground froze over hard that night and has remained frozen ever since. The storm bringing us snow from the Great Lakes will get Northern Maine looking again like Winter in no time.

Last Fall Hike Up Aroostook County’s Haystack Mountain. It’s not common for Northern Maine to be snow free in mid-December. With the ground frozen hard we took advantage of the opportunity to make the short, steep climb up to the top of the former ancient volcano known as Haystack Mountain. On a cold, windy day we had the mountain to ourselves and as always, it offered a beautiful panoramic 360-degree view up on the top. The North Maine Woods lay to the north and west. Katahdin was visible to the southwest. Number Nine Mountain could be seen to the south. Potato fields and farmer woodlots off to the east going far into Canada. In this photo, Megan is making her way up the rocky stair steps which trail builders have laid utilizing the plentiful nearby rocks.

Maine’s Warm Fall Allowed Flowers to Bloom Far into October. In Maine it pays to keep one eye on the calendar. The longer a mild Indian Summer lasts, the more likely that fine weather will come to a screeching halt. In this shot taken well into October, both the Organic Hairy Vetch and the Organic Cosmos were displaying their rugged hardiness and were still thriving. What snow we came to receive around Thanksgiving was not to last. However, this is Maine and it is December. The snow is now back once again. Year in, year out, Northern Maine is one of the spots in the Lower 48 States most likely to have snow cover every Christmas.


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Caleb & Jim & Megan Gerritsen
Wood Prairie Family Farm
49 Kinney Road
Bridgewater, Maine 04735
(207) 429 - 9765 / 207 (429) - 9682
Certified Organic From Farm to Mailbox