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PLANTING ORGANIC MAINE CERTIFIED SEED POTATOES ON WOOD PRAIRIE FAMILY FARM. This week we made good progress planting o


PLANTING ORGANIC MAINE CERTIFIED SEED POTATOES ON WOOD PRAIRIE FAMILY FARM. This week we made good progress planting our crop of Organic Maine Certified Seed Potatoes.

The ground started out a little on the wet side due to recent rains totaling 2 ½”. So, for awhile we had to use a chain and a second tractor to pull the planter tractor through low, wet soil on the uphill pass.

However, soon the sun, wind and 80oF temps dried things out. While planting Thursday, we got caught at the far end of the field in a heavy, sudden down pour which soaked us to the bone. But yesterday it had dried out and we were back to planting.

In this photo, Jim is driving the Oliver 1750 Diesel tractor. Working on the back of the farm-fabricated ‘Tuber Unit Potato Planter’ and cutting whole greensprouted seed tubers are Peter, Amy, Sandra and Justin.

We plant two rows at a time. Teams of two people work one row and alternate cutting seed pieces with mounted seed knives. They then lay those seed pieces sequentially onto a segmented conveyor belt which deposits them into the furrow in the soil.

Our approach is a mechanized version of an old-time hand “Tuber Unit Planting” technique for growing seed. All the daughter seed pieces from a single mother tuber are planted together as a ‘Tuber Unit.’ How we plant is slower than conventional planting, but the big benefit is superior ability to remove an entire tuber unit afflicted with Potato Virus come roguing time in July.

We didn’t invent the idea for this mechanized Tuber Unit Planter. A skilled seed potato grower in Glassville, New Brunswick, built the first one. After checking his machine out, we came back and fabricated one ourselves. That was over 30 years ago. The current planter in the photo is the third Tuber Unit Planter we’ve made.

Caleb, Jim & Megan




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NEW! WOOD PRAIRIE VIDEO! WATCH – “Roll Your Own ‘Seed Snails’.” The latest Wood Prairie VIDEO is out. Find LINK in the


NEW! WOOD PRAIRIE VIDEO! WATCH – “Roll Your Own ‘Seed Snails’.” The latest Wood Prairie VIDEO is out. Find LINK in the Comments.

In our NEW video, “Roll Your Own Seed Snails,” Megan heads out to the garden to show you her new experiment. She teaches the Easy Steps which will put clever Seed Snails to work for you. Making and using Seed Snails simplifies gardening, cuts down your time investment and blesses you and your family with earlier harvests. Check out this fresh new gardening concept!

We hope you’ll watch, LIKE and enjoy this video. Thanks!

Caleb, Jim & Megan




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APPLYING ORGANIC BIOLOGICAL SEED INOCULANTS TO SPROUTING CERTIFIED SEED POTATOES ON WOOD PRAIRIE FAMILY FARM. Week befo


APPLYING ORGANIC BIOLOGICAL SEED INOCULANTS TO SPROUTING CERTIFIED SEED POTATOES ON WOOD PRAIRIE FAMILY FARM. Week before last, most nights went below freezing.

This last week – right on schedule – the shift to Spring arrived in Northern Maine. With soil temperatures warming our attention has been shifting over to planting our crop of Organic Maine Certified Seed Potatoes.

In this photo, using a “Roller Table,” Caleb’s brother, Peter (red hat) and sister Amy spray onto warmed, sprouting Seed Potatoes a special blend of organic biological seed inoculants. Enhancing with good biology the seed tubers and inoculating the rhizosphere – the zone of soil around the seed piece – insures a healthy crop and top-performing seed.

As tubers wind their way forward on the Roller Table, they are continually rolling-over, permitting both a final full visual inspection and 100% skin coverage by the sprayed-on mix of seed inoculants. Once treated, the seed is collected into black ‘Dutch Tulip Bulb’ crates which is how we handle and greensprout the 30,000 pounds of seed we will need to plant this years crop.

Now that the soil temp at 6am (6″ depth) crested 50oF yesterday, actual planting will begin immediately.

Caleb, Megan & Jim




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TAKING OUT THE TRASH ON WOOD PRAIRIE FAMILY FARM. Without meaning to, a farm can accumulate a lot of junk as the years g


TAKING OUT THE TRASH ON WOOD PRAIRIE FAMILY FARM. Without meaning to, a farm can accumulate a lot of junk as the years go by.

We’ve been patiently waiting for the ground to warm up so we can plant our crop of Organic Maine Certified Seed Potatoes. While Jim was in the Potato House grading seed, Caleb and crew loaded up scrap metal to haul away.

With their rugged constitution and diesel engines, past-their-prime school buses are a universal rural resource. Forty years ago enterprising local Potato farmers took to torching off the school-bus-body right behind the driver’s seat and converting the former bus into a slightly odd-spectacle but practical Potato truck.

Caleb got a good deal on this bus and then removed the body from the chassis frame and engine. He used the body as winter storage and has future plans for the chassis unit. In this photo, as Cane Corso “Rudy” watches work-in-progress, Caleb sits in the forklift. Peter (left) and Justin tighten the ratchet straps to hold down the scrapped bus body onto the road trailer. Next step was to wander around our farm equipment yards tossing into the temporary-covered-bus-transport various odds and ends of ripened junk metal to take up to the scrap yard for recycling.

Low prices have made for hard times across all segments of the metal recycling business. The nearest surviving scrap yard is in Caribou, thirty-five miles away. During the high market back around 2008, Light Iron was worth $100/ton (current price is forty inflated dollars per ton) and #1 Iron brought $180/ton (now down to $70/ton). Scrapping a car (3000#) used to bring $300-$400; nowadays you wouldn’t get much more than $100 for Detroit’s former finest.

With his 8000-pound mixed load of mostly Light Metal, Caleb earned a paltry $180. When you figure in fuel and the costs of running a truck, plus the labor to load and drive up and back, he would have lost less money had we just stayed home and gone fishing.

Our benefit, however, is cleaning up the farm. The economy’s benefit is nearly free scrap metal which can be melted down, re-used and made into new toasters, tricycles and tweezers. You’re welcome, Mr. Carnegie.

Caleb, Megan & Jim




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NEW! WOOD PRAIRIE VIDEO! WATCH – “Breaking Ground.” The latest Wood Prairie VIDEO is out. Find LINK in the Comments.


NEW! WOOD PRAIRIE VIDEO! WATCH – “Breaking Ground.” The latest Wood Prairie VIDEO is out. Find LINK in the Comments.

Late Winter, Northern Maine had a stretch of mild weather which went a long way towards melting our modest snowpack. Even though we continued to get snowfalls into April, the final dregs of depleted snowpack departed unusually early as compared to other years in recent decades.

So, even though Spring is coming, the Soil Temperature is not yet where we like it for planting Potatoes. We wait until the 6 am soil temp has risen to +50ºF. However, we have been able to get on the ground and do some early harrowing where we will be planting this year’s crop of Organic Maine Certified Seed Potatoes.

“Breaking Ground at Wood Prairie Family Farm” (9:08) is the name of our newest Wood Prairie ‘YouTube’ Video. The phrase is local Maine vernacular for early harrowing which breaks the “crust” formed over the soil during Winter. Early harrowing allows the ground to warm up and dry out faster.

In the video Caleb takes you along with him on his tractor ride. The video features some sneak peak Bird’s-eye-views of Wood Prairie Family Farm and our 23,000-acre forested and unpopulated Unorganized Township, extending over to Number Nine Mountain in the west.

We hope you’ll watch, LIKE and enjoy this video! Find LINK in the Comments. Thanks!

Caleb, Jim & Megan




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DIESEL RIGS LINE UP AHEAD OF MEMORIAL AROOSTOOK COUNTY PARADE. Community ties run strong in very rural Aroostook County


DIESEL RIGS LINE UP AHEAD OF MEMORIAL AROOSTOOK COUNTY PARADE. Community ties run strong in very rural Aroostook County, Maine.

Recently, a memorial parade was organized in memory of a local youngster who died in a tragic accident. The boy possessed an unbridled enthusiasm for diesel trucks.

So, in his honor a parade was assembled on a Thursday, featuring diesel machines of all shapes and sizes, including pickups, big rigs and farm tractors. This shot was taken beside the old K-Mart in Presque Isle.

The parade route passed by the elementary school he had attended. The school kids were lined up outside on the lawn along the street to watch the parade pass by.

Caleb drove his red-and-white Ford F250 diesel pickup truck, which is visible here in the lower left corner. Close to Caleb’s pickup but out of view, Peter and Justin each drove their diesel pickups and also took part in the parade.

Caleb, Megan & Jim




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‘INVENTING’ THE FAST WAY TO REMOVE BIG SLIDING DOORS FROM A TALL BUILDING. This Winter, as time allowed, we’ve slowly


‘INVENTING’ THE FAST WAY TO REMOVE BIG SLIDING DOORS FROM A TALL BUILDING. This Winter, as time allowed, we’ve slowly converted the ‘Big Shed’ over to an insulated Repair Shop.

We recently concluded this space would be the quickest and most practical location for us to warm up the 30,000 pounds of Certified Seed Potatoes we need for planting this year’s crop of Maine Certified Organic Seed Potatoes.

That construction job is now done and our seed is in the process of getting warmed up to break dormancy and prep for planting. The shed used to have a pair of big sliding doors on the west side. Once we decided to make it Maine-style-winter-proof, those drafty doors became a liability. So after the successional stud wall was built, off they came.

In this photo, Caleb (left) and Justin attempt to manhandle the second sliding door down to terra firma, without taking the time to get our Case Excavator up and running to help with the task. Seconds after this photo was taken, the door decided to descend very quickly on its own accelerated schedule. As the door fell earthward, both boys lunged out of the way to safety, no worse for wear. Job done.

This ‘Farm Story’ is excerpted from our latest ‘Wood Prairie Seed Piece.’ Find the LINK to the latest issue in the Comments.

Caleb, Megan & Jim




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NEW! WOOD PRAIRIE VIDEO! WATCH – “I’m a Farmer Not a Professional.” The latest Wood Prairie VIDEO is out. Find LINK i


NEW! WOOD PRAIRIE VIDEO! WATCH – “I’m a Farmer Not a Professional.” The latest Wood Prairie VIDEO is out. Find LINK in the Comments.

On any farm, before you can plant there’s a lot to do in getting ready. On our Maine farm there’s lots of equipment which has been sitting all Winter and now needs some TLC before we can use it this year. Late in the Winter we had a stuck tractor trailer and needed our giant gravel pit Payloader for the rescue. Unfortunately, we were out of luck because one of the huge Payloader tires had gone flat.

Caleb finally had the chance to tend to that flat tire and turned the process into the latest Wood Prairie ‘YouTube’ Video entitled, “I’m a Farmer Not a Professional.” Those old-timer 1970’s Michigan Payloaders had what were called “split rims” which could blow apart as you pumped in air so it’s wise to play is safe and stand back. Massive Payloader tires stand almost as tall as an adult, and a new replacement nowadays costs a hefty $3000.

Caleb, Megan & Jim




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CHECKING SOIL MOISTURE ON WOOD PRAIRIE FAMILY FARM. Checking the soil is a regular ritual. In this photograph, Ca


CHECKING SOIL MOISTURE ON WOOD PRAIRIE FAMILY FARM. Checking the soil is a regular ritual.

In this photograph, Caleb (right) and Jim check to see whether the soil is dry enough to work. Our technique is to take a representative fistful of soil, compact it in one hand, and then apply pressure with a thumb to break open the clod. The amount of thumb pressure necessary to pop open the clod tells us if the soil is ready to work.

This field is where we will grow this year’s crop Organic Maine Certified Seed Potatoes .

Most especially if a rototiller or farm machinery is involved, it is crucial not to work soil too early before it has sufficiently dried out. Violating this rule – especially in the Spring – can bring about season-long misery and result in soil which becomes compacted, cloddy or crusted, and poor performing.

So far in Northern Maine it’s been an early and dry Spring. A little bit of rain is in the forecast beginning this evening. We expect that rain will cause the current soil temp of 44oF to drop. We plan on planting Potatoes when the soil temp rises to 50oF for safe measure. Wound healing of the cut face of a seed potato piece will NOT occur at a temperature below 45oF.

We’re not believers in planting cold seed into cold soil. In our book, patience in the Spring is full of rewards.

This photo and story comes from today’s issue of the ‘Wood Prairie Seed Piece’ e-Newsletter. You will find the LINK for this ‘Seed Piece’ in the Comments.

Caleb, Megan & JIm




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INSULATING NEW SHOP AND TEMPORARY ‘HOT ROOM’ FOR SPROUTING SEED POTATOES. A couple of years ago, when we tore down an


INSULATING NEW SHOP AND TEMPORARY ‘HOT ROOM’ FOR SPROUTING SEED POTATOES. A couple of years ago, when we tore down an old shed to make room for our new warehouse, we lost the insulated ‘Hot Room’ we would use to annually warm up the 30,000 pounds of Certified Seed Potatoes we need to plant our own crop.

Once warmed, the seed tubers enter into our farm’s greensprouting process. For this warm up job last Spring, we used an old frozen-food road trailer insulated with six-inches of foam. That trailer worked well but then Caleb gave it away last Fall.

This Winter, we came to conclude our best option was to finish insulating the 24-foot x 48-foot former “Big Shed” now undergoing conversion into Caleb’s new repair shop. In this photo, Caleb (right) and Justin use nail guns to secure used pieces of galvanized metal roofing to the inside of the sixteen-foot-tall 2×6 studs. Next step will be to blow loose ‘Timber-Fill’ insulation into the stud-cavities.

The price of metal everywhere has really skyrocketed in recent years. This re-purposed roofing we’re using on inside walls still has lots of life left in it and will do a great job. Had we sprung for brand new metal roofing from Miller Metal, our local Amish friends in Easton, that one purchase would have cost us a cool $6000.

For years we bought locally, new metal for fabrication for 35 cents a pound. Then, beginning with the Great Recession in 2008, prices began going crazy. Right now up here new metal costs around $2.50/pound. That’s an increase of over 7x in fourteen years. Increases in the cost of farm equipment has, of course, gone up too.

Would be interested in hearing about your experiences or opinions. Please Comment below. Thanks!

Caleb, Megan & Jim




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