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ARE YOU OK ABOUT THE LEVEL OF PESTICIDES IN YOUR FAMILY’S FOOD? Jeff Miller, of ‘Miller Research’ in Idaho at last week


ARE YOU OK ABOUT THE LEVEL OF PESTICIDES IN YOUR FAMILY’S FOOD? Jeff Miller, of ‘Miller Research’ in Idaho at last week’s Potato School in Presque Isle, Maine (pictured below), confidently promoted the chemical industry view that pesticides-in-food amounts to much ado about nothing.

For example, despite Monsanto’s Glyphosate having been designated a probable-human-carcinogen by official panels of scientists at both the United Nations and in the State of California, Mr. Miller asserted, “Gram for gram, that cup of coffee is probably more toxic for you than Glyphosate.”

Maine largest newspaper, the ‘Bangor Daily News’ broached the Pesticides debate and has published an article. Wood Prairie’s Jim Gerritsen had attended the Potato School including Mr. Miller’s talk. Jim was interviewed by BDN and offered a countering point-of-view in the recent BDN article (see article link in Comments).

Caleb, Megan & Jim

“‘The proof is in the pudding,’ Gerritsen said. ‘Families have figured out that there is a direct connection between the quality and health of the food they feed to their families, and what their health outcome is.'”




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BORING A HOLE IN WOOD PRAIRIE CONCRETE WALL FOR RADIANT-FLOOR-HEATING-SYSTEM. In this photo, the concrete-boring-machin

BORING A HOLE IN WOOD PRAIRIE CONCRETE WALL FOR RADIANT-FLOOR-HEATING-SYSTEM. In this photo, the concrete-boring-machine positioned on the pallet held up by the Clark forklift, had completed its job. It bored out that smooth six-inch-diameter hole through concrete wall and the steel siding both inside and outside the ICF (Insulated Concrete Forms) building.

Caleb (right) discusses next steps with local plumber Zach Sargent (left). The bored hole will be used by the furnace to vent to the outside. The furnace will heat the water which will be pumped through the Pex tubes embedded in our new concrete floor. The warmed floor will then radiate the heat needed for keeping our Packing Shed warm though the cold Maine Winter.

Caleb and Zach have been best friends since Kindergarten days at the old Bridgewater Grammar School which was located in Town three miles from our farm.

Meanwhile, Halle our Great Pyrenees old-timer, positions herself strategically for maximized head-scratching.

Caleb, Megan & Jim




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MAINE TALES. “Getting Down to Business.” Nowheresville, Georgia. Circa 1984. It’s a reasonable question


MAINE TALES. “Getting Down to Business.” Nowheresville, Georgia. Circa 1984.

It’s a reasonable question. How many rebels are there lurking behind those smiling faces in rural America?

Our crew was hand-planting Loblolly Pine tree seedlings with hoedads on clearcuts all across the South. We worked during the Winter months when it was wet and cold, conditions which wore down planters but increased the seedlings’ likelihood of survival and that’s what mattered. We lived in our own individual vans (“rigs”) which we’d park on the muddy haul roads right on the clearcut sites we were planting. The goulash of license plates made clear there was plenty of geographic diversity among the working wanderers. Many of us came from the North where good-paying outside work in the Winter was few and far between.

Treeplanting was hard work but we were strong young men back then. We were paid for our stoop labor by piece-rate which must be one of the savviest inventions ever concocted by the capitalist class. If you weren’t planting you weren’t getting paid, but the more you planted the more money you made. In those days our piece-rate was 3.0 to 3.8 cents per tree. The best planters would repeat the lightning quick process of stooping over, gouging out a V-shaped hole in the ground with their hoedad, whipping in tree roots, and then violently heeling-in soil around the roots to exclude dry air and assure tree survival. Rinse and repeat four-to-five-thousand times a day. We worked first light to last light, seven days a week, everyday unless it was raining really hard.

That year we’d been moving around and planting across the state of Georgia. One time, going from somewhere to somewhere else, I drove through the farming town of Plains, made famous by the recently retired-from-office Peanut-Farmer-President Jimmy Carter. I stopped in at the Main Street antique store owned by Jimmy’s cousin, Hugh Carter. They had an unmistakable family resemblance to one another. Hugh was a congenial and unpretentious fellow, seemingly cut from the same cloth as the former President.

Not long after, somewhere deep in rural Georgia, we were about to finish up planting in one paper company district. Then we were to transfer a fair distance away away to start planting in another district. Dave Timby, our crew boss, assigned four of us to leave the main crew and to go over to another site which needed just six or eight thousand trees planted as a special favor to the local forester. One of our group cleaned out his rig enough so that the other three of us, plus the trees and our hoedads and planting bags would all fit in.

We got an early start at daybreak. We didn’t have trouble finding the site, and we commenced to planting trees. It was an overcast day but dry. By midmorning when we finished planting, the morning had warmed up to the low 40s. The planting was good, we had all worked hard, and despite the cool air we were all drenched in sweat by the time we got done.

After tumbling back into the rig we headed back to join up with the crew. Soon we came to an iconic dusty general store with a single gas pump out front. Needing to gas up, our driver pulled up to the pump while the rest of us went inside to find something to eat. Along the entire apex of the roof was a simple, large white sign with black lettering – visible from quite a distance – which announced that the modest establishment we were soon to enter into was none other than “Mrs. T.S. Turnipseed General Merchandise.”

Inside, an ancient wood stove was roaring and kept things warm and cozy. We were greeted by a spry and uninhibited mistress proprietor we were soon to conclude was the Mrs. Turnipseed. Her husband smiled weakly and out of habit it seemed, positioned himself out of the limelight. He appeared content to quietly play second fiddle and let Mrs. Turnipseed hold court. The sparseness of goods on the shelves, the dust adorning the cans and the utter lack of any traffic hinted that this old store’s best years may have been in the rear view mirror.

Back home in the State of Maine, someone would earn instantaneous, universal respect by just working hard. Evidently, the same set of values still flourished in rural Georgia. Despite, our haggard and disheveled appearances, our still obviously sweat-drenched shirts on that cold gray day gave away the secret that we were in fact hard working men and not dandies. With Southern charm and her deep Georgia accent, Mrs. Turnipseed enthusiastically interrogated us about our work and how in the world we happened to be in her little town. In no time the camaraderie took on the air of a family reunion.

The faucet had opened and Mrs. Turnipseed regaled us with story after story and editorial content about a wayward country headed in the wrong direction. Meanwhile as we were rounding up our drinks and donuts to purchase, Mr. Turnipseed was busy behind the counter feverishly writing something on the pages inside a small receipt book. Despite having spent barely ten dollars on gas and food, with a mischievous slight grin he presented each one of us with individualized, vague receipts each totaling around $35 for such imaginary purchases as motor oil, wrenches and widgets. He knew IRS code requires documentation of deductible business expenses and he was well-versed in what goods would pass muster.

Soon, the god-fearing Mrs.Turnipseed transitioned her tales to the inevitable Georgia topic, that of home boy Jimmy Carter. She deeply and unapologetically believed in Jimmy to her core. She testified she knew in her heart that Jimmy was a rock solid, honest, church-going Christian. As she was winding down, she related her final story. Soon after the 1980 election in which Ronald Reagan defeated Jimmy Carter, Mrs. Turnipseed found herself engaged in conversation with a local woman who had proudly cast her vote for Mr. Reagan.

The hapless woman opined, “Ya know, the only ones that voted for Jimmy Carter was N*****s and white trash.”

Never a shrinking violet and not one to miss a golden opportunity, Mrs. Turnipseed triumphantly related that she then extended forth her right hand and looking the woman straight in the eye said in earnest reply, “Well, Darlin’, come on over and shake this old white trash hand of mine!”

Jim




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CALEB & JUSTIN APPLYING METAL SIDING ONTO NEW WOOD PRAIRIE WAREHOUSE WALLS. In this photo, pieces of steel roofing cu


CALEB & JUSTIN APPLYING METAL SIDING ONTO NEW WOOD PRAIRIE WAREHOUSE WALLS. In this photo, pieces of steel roofing cut-from huge metal rolls & crimped-into-shape by our friends at ‘Miller Metals’ in the Old Order Amish Community in nearby Easton, Maine, are used as siding inside our new Potato building.

Caleb (on ground) and Justin (in forklift bucket) position and secure the metal to 1×4” wood strapping which is attached to the ICF (Insulated Concrete Forms) walls.

The ICF system uses tongue & groove blocks made from 2.5″ foam pieces, 18″ high by 4-foot long, with a center cavity of 6″ or 8″. That cavity is filled with concrete and rebar. What you end up with is a super strong, quiet and energy efficient structural shell impervious to wind and rot. Twenty-five years ago, when ICF was a brand new technology invented in Canada, we built the first ICF Potato House in the State of Maine. That structure is as sound today as it was in 1999.

The metal-roofing pieces are long and wide, cut to order. Because the first rib on the new piece lays right on top of the last rib of the previous piece, the work is accurate and goes along fast!

In recent decades, metal has become popular for roofs and siding. We’ve been using metal for 45 years. The Canadians have been using it for even longer. The Canadians are good neighbors and have lots to teach us.

Caleb, Megan & Jim




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LAYING DOWN RADIANT-FLOOR FOAM PANELS ON WOOD PRAIRIE FAMILY FARM. These specialized floor-foam-panels come in big gree


LAYING DOWN RADIANT-FLOOR FOAM PANELS ON WOOD PRAIRIE FAMILY FARM. These specialized floor-foam-panels come in big green bales of paired-panels with the green-up-side featuring the Pex-placement-nubs staggered and facing one another.

Each panel is two-foot by four-foot and ship-lapped. They are fast to lay down and easy to get perfect. The resulting effect is a multi-directional matrix, perfect for laying Pex tubing for a radiant-heat concrete floor. Here in Maine, the norm is laying half-inch Pex tubing every twelve inches.

In this photo Caleb (right) is assisted by his builder-brother Peter (left). Both are laying down foam panels atop the leveled and compacted gravel subfloor.

Also, ever present are some of the members of our Wood Prairie dog pack: Caleb & Lizzi’s sweet two-and-a-half year old Rottweiler ‘Ralph’ is at left. Peter & Lexi’s young and friendly German Shepherd ‘Loki’ is in center bottom play-fighting with Cane Corso ‘Rudy’. We’re grateful that all four members of our pack get along extremely well and that they all abide by a non-aggression pact with Wood Prairie cats.

Caleb, Megan & Jim




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CALEB UNLOADING PALLETS OF FOAM PANELS FOR PLACEMENT UNDER UPCOMING WOOD PRAIRIE WAREHOUSE CONCRETE FLOOR. Since we’re

CALEB UNLOADING PALLETS OF FOAM PANELS FOR PLACEMENT UNDER UPCOMING WOOD PRAIRIE WAREHOUSE CONCRETE FLOOR. Since we’re going to be heating our new Packing Shed/Warehouse with radiant-floor heating – half-inch Pex tubing embedded in the 6” concrete floor – we opted to make the job easier by ordering special foam panels from our neighbor.

The foam panels lay atop the gravel and makes laying the Pex tubing a breeze. It has become fairly universal in our cold Maine climate to lay down two-inches of foam underneath any concrete slab to keep Winter’s cold at bay. The nubs on these panels work great for Pex as you will see!

Caleb, Megan & Jim




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NOW GETTING TO LAST STEPS BEFORE CONCRETE FLOOR POUR: SPREADING AND COMPACTING GRAVEL. It took several truckloads of s

NOW GETTING TO LAST STEPS BEFORE CONCRETE FLOOR POUR: SPREADING AND COMPACTING GRAVEL. It took several truckloads of screened gravel to level out the 5000-square-feet area inside our new Packing Shed/Warehouse.

As we went we ran a big and heavy walk-behind vibratory compacter to settle the fill. With a 17-foot high ceiling, the dump truck had been able to dump most of each load right inside the building. Caleb and Justin had earlier installed the super efficient LED lights on the ceiling.

In this photo, Caleb once again uses the versatile New Holland Skidsteer Loader, this time to spread and level out the gravel to where it was needed. The laser level (on tripod) allows a high degree of accuracy in attaining a level surface and is easy to use.

After this gravel work was complete, next steps ahead of the concrete pour are laying foam panels, running Pex tubing for the radiant-floor-heating system and placing reinforcing-bar. None of this is complicated but each step is essential and the ordering will become obvious in future posts.

Caleb, Megan & Jim




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CALEB YANKING OUT CONCRETE PIERS ON WOOD PRAIRIE FAMILY FARM. The joists under the obsolete floor in need of removal ha


CALEB YANKING OUT CONCRETE PIERS ON WOOD PRAIRIE FAMILY FARM. The joists under the obsolete floor in need of removal had been supported by a heavy-duty wooden composite beam which sat on row of concrete “Sonotubes:” rugged round fiberboard forms filled with concrete and metal reinforcing bar (‘rebar’).

The footings for each rebar-reinforced Sonotube – spaced four-foot apart – were down below the frost line, four-to-five feet into the ground. Everything about that floor was designed for extra-heavy-duty permanence, so the piers were reluctant to leave their snug homes.

In this photo Caleb is in the cab of the 5500-pound New Holland Skidsteer Loader, using a stout logging chain to pull on a stubborn pier. Working the piers around and back and forth they all eventually popped out.

Shortly after, the fill beneath the old floor was compacted, then additional gravel was added. In this way the final concrete floor could extend seamlessly into this area abutting the remaining section of what was the old Packing Shed. That will continue to serve as a loading dock for daily pickups by parcel carriers USPS and Fedex for our Organic Seed Business.

Caleb, Megan & Jim




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WOOD PRAIRIE FLOOR REMOVAL: ONE DOWN & FOUR TO GO. We sawed up the 48-foot-long by 13-foot wide obsolete wood floor

WOOD PRAIRIE FLOOR REMOVAL: ONE DOWN & FOUR TO GO. We sawed up the 48-foot-long by 13-foot wide obsolete wood floor into five chunks which would fit through the gap of the twelve-foot-wide garage door.

Here, Caleb is using the grapple on the New Holland Skidsteer loader to remove the first floor section. Caleb’s brother Peter is making sure the section clears the doorway. Justin walks back and returns to prep the next floor section for removal.

When we built this floor in 1990, we knew it would be subjected to a lot of weight from multiple pallets of Potatoes. So we spaced the concrete Sona Tubes close at four-foot-spacing to support the heavy homemade composite carrying beam. Crossways, the floor joints were spaced 12-inches-on-center. The two-inch-thick floor was composed of two layers of full 1″ dimensional boards.

It’s our understanding that outside of Northern Maine this sort of construction is referred to as “over-engineering.”

Caleb, Megan & Jim




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