Issue of The Seed Piece:
Maine Tales: Maine Hurricanes.
Recipe: Creamed Potatoes With Peas.
Bridgewater, Maine. Circa 1927.
Rye on Wood Prairie Farm August 2011.
is in the cab of our Massey Ferguson 300 grain combine. Megan is on
back conducting real-time moisture content readings. One farmer
told us the Massey 300 was the best combine ever built. He has
seven, five are for parts inventory.
Well Hurricane Irene may be well on its way to call on northern Maine
come Sunday but there is still much work to be done before Harvest.
Next week we’ll start killing seed potatoes to get them ready for
‘digging’. Rye is harvested and under cover. Cover crops
need planting. Soil samples need collecting. Equipment needs repairing
and so do some pallet boxes.
Our younger kids have been back in school for
two weeks. Peter, our main mechanic, heads back to college for classes
‘down to Bangor’ beginning Monday. He’ll be back weekends to repair
what equipment we broke the previous week. Yesterday, it was
re-mounting, re-bending and re-welding the left boom from our 14-row
sprayer which had met a tree beside the headlands and decided it wanted
to stay and mingle. These are the hazards of a farm surrounded by
woods. But, intending to pass no judgment upon you folks who live where
trees are sparse, we’ll take our trees along with the occasional
This reminds us of a story told many years ago by our old
neighbor ‘Doss’ about an incident another neighbor had yet many years
before. Seems this neighbor was mowing a field of hay with a team of
horses. Well a moose fly or something spooked the horses and in a
flash they were off a-running’. Fortunately, at the first jolt, the
neighbor had been tossed backwards off the mower seat and safe out of
harm’s way, away from the sharp scissoring sickle bar mower-knife. The
neighbor watched as his team galloped lickedy-split towards the woods
pursued by that darned mower making its scary rhythmic clickety-clack
noise at an ever increasing rate. This served to panic them even more
as the horses galloped ever faster and faster to escape the menace
behind them. The team was making a beeline to a couple of big trees
just on the edge of the woods.
Fortunately for 'them two hawses’ the gap between
the trees was just wide enough for them to make it through.
Unfortunately, it wasn’t for the mower. The neighbor learned a couple
of things about when a mower hits a big tree at thirty miles an
hour. First, the phrase ‘all stove up’ was invented for just this
application and that shiny John Deere mower became a mangled parts
machine in the twinkling on an eye. Second, it was probably pretty good
planning that horse harnesses back then were made out of leather which
did have some give before the fibers broke under massive duress and
they were yanked off the horse’s backs to keep company with the mower
and thrashed tree.
Eventually, the horses did simmer down and
were able to be rounded up. And there was no more mowing done
that day. This runaway horse story has been told and re-told
hundreds of times in our little farming town and has been part of the
fabric of our community for almost a hundred years. Such shared memory
is part of the ‘culture’ in agriculture and it is important that it
survives even as the old-timers pass on one by one.
Jim & Megan
Click here for
theWood Prairie Farm Homepage.
Creamed Potatoes With Peas
by Angela Wotton
Creamed Potatoes With Peas.
Steam 4 small potatoes such as Carola
Meanwhile, boil 1/2 cup half-and-half with 2 medium basil
leaves. Add fresh
peas and simmer until tender. Discard basil, add cooked potatoes, and
Adapted from A Passion for Potatoes
Once new potatoes and peas are
ready this is a main meal in our family right up until 'digging'.
here for our Kitchen Potatoes
Harvest Help Offer. Save 15% Now.
schedule the nights have begun to cool off, the days aren’t as warm as
they were just a few weeks ago, the sun is lower in the sky, and we’ve
lost an hour on both ends of the day. This tells those of us in
northern Maine that potato harvest (called ‘diggin’ in Maine) is just
around the corner.
This time of year farmers always need extra
help. Like other farmers, we now have our crew lined up. We all
can use extra cash to pay for the labor of our neighbors plus there are
expenses for fuel and equipment repairs. Unlike other farmers, we
have catalog costs for things like production and postage. Our
Harvest Catalog has just been mailed out. Look for it to arrive in your
mailbox any day now.
Now the fact is we could use some Harvest Help from
you. You can help us in a very tangible way if your place an order
right now. As thanks for your timely order we are offering a 15% Discount
for orders placed by 5pm Tuesday September 6. We will send out
orders as promptly as possible, as the weather allows us to harvest.
We are happy to hold holiday or seed potato orders here on our farm and
ship them when you need them later this Fall or Winter or Spring.
Orders must ship by 5/10/12. Because this is prior to
harvest, orders are accepted based on anticipated supplies. Please use
code WPF 1101.
Market growers: if you know what you need this is
your chance to save up to hundreds of dollars. The selection will
never be better so act now.
Kitchen potato orders of tens pounds per
variety or less as well as seed potatoes, grains, and vegetable and
cover crop seed will be shipped just as soon as they are dug in
September. Potatoes for kitchen use in quantities greater than
ten pounds (i.e. 20s and 50s) will ship around November 1 when the
potatoes are fully ready for Fall brushing.
Help us harvest and we’ll help you
save. We appreciate your support and business.
Jim & Megan
here for our Organic Seed Potato section.
Mailbox: Crop Failure and Crop Success.
I hope I find you
well and that your summer has been nice and pleasant!
The reason that I
am writing to you is rather sad – especially if you are a farmer and
miller as we are. The thing is that the harvest has been nothing less
than catastrophic in Denmark this year. This realisation has now dawned
on everybody and people are panicking.... - and so are we....
The 250 metric
tonnes of spelt we harvested before the rains were just perfect: 16.2
percent protein and more than 30 pct gluten. This is really good for
Denmark! And then came the rain and the result is that the rest of our
harvest – along with that in all of Denmark – simply cannot be used as
bread flour. We have managed to find the rye we need in Denmark, but
there is NO wheat to be found – at all!! And supplies are already
running low in the rest of Europe.
So my question to
you is this:
Do you think you
would be able to help us find 150 metric tonnes of high quality organic
We are looking for
wheat with 14 pct protein, a minimum of 25 pct wet gluten and with a
falling number of minimum 250.
procedure is that my Dad, Jorgen, visits all potential grain suppliers
to have a look at storage facilities, the grain itself and to take test
samples. Should we be able to buy some grain from you/your contacts,
then Jorgen would like to come and have a look at things as we normally
do. He can leave anytime after our Bread and Food Festival, i.e., the
7th of September.
We know nothing
about shipping costs, export rules, organic certifications etc yet, so
if you have any experiences in this area please share them with us. We
are also in contact with the Danish Authorities on the matter as there
is naturally a rather big difference in importing grain from the States
when you are a small-scale mill compared to the big industrial mills!
We really hope you
can help us!!!
All the best! - and
looking forward to hearing from you.
arrived today. Skærtoft is one of the farms and mills we visted in
Denmark last fall. They need 165 short tons of organic bread wheat. If
anyone can help please contact Marie-Louise or contact us and we will
forward. Here is the reality of dealing with climate change.
Jim & Megan
We are commercial pumpkin farmers and decided to try potatoes this year
for the first time and purchased your seed potatoes. We are
happy with our learning curve with our first crop, however, being
potato novices, we have a few questions:
1. Is it possible to plant potatoes in the fall with a harvest date
prior to the first killing frost? Our average first killing frost is
around November 11. We are asking because we think the size of
our crops would improve in cooler months.
2. Can we use the smaller potatoes that we
harvested that were too small to market/eat for seed potatoes for our
next crop? If yes, is there anything different we would need to
do in order to use the seed potatoes now for a fall crop?
3. We are trying to figure out a way to plant the seed potatoes earlier
to help offset our hot summers. What are your thoughts on us
planting the seed potatoes in March under black plastic mulch to help
warm up the ground and then removing the plastic mulch in late Spring
when our temperatures start to climb? We would add additional
compost at the time we removed the black plastic mulch.
Thank you in advance for your advice and recommendations.
West Point, VA
Yes. Do check around locally for best date but we have customers in
Virginia that plant a fall crop around mid-August. We have experienced
organic farmer friends near Fresno
California who plant in both mid-February and mid-August. The quality
of the Fall crop is usually superior (harvest during cooler weather)
and yields are good assuming a killing freeze of 27ºF doesn't kill the
plants off early.
2. Yes. Many of our southern customers get certified seed from us for
their Spring crop which is which is planted in mid-February to
mid-March. They save back a portion of their crop from their Spring
harvest in May or June and store it in a refridgerator/walk-in cooler
until two weeks before expected Fall planting date, say mid-August.
This allows the seed to warm up and wake up and be raring to grow. Our
crop here in Maine is not ready for harvest until September plus newly
dug potatoes must go through a dormancy period of 4-8 weeks before they
will sprout and grow. In their case the potatoes' dormancy period is
passed in the reefer. Using this technique they are never more than one
generation removed from clean certified seed.
3. Yes. Sounds like that would work but it seems like a lot of extra
effort too. If you have the time, go ahead and experiment with it. Up
here in Maine, we like the ground we've selected for early Spring
planting to be prepared rough and 'corrugated' by a chisel plow in the
fall. We'll spin on cover crop oats which catch, grow up to six inches
or so, and then winter kill in the late Fall. Roughed up ground dries
and warms much much faster in the Spring than 'flat' ground. Another
help might be to focus on short and midseason potato varieties which
complete their growth cycle before the onset of hot weather. Potaotes
are a cool season crop and they don't like steady temperatures into the
90s. Good Luck.
Wood Prairie Farm Quick
& Megan Gerritsen
Certified Organic, Direct from the Farm