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NEW! WOOD PRAIRIE VIDEO! WATCH, “Big Rigs, Big Dogs and Stuck Truck!” Our latest VIDEO is out. Find LINK is in Comment


NEW! WOOD PRAIRIE VIDEO! WATCH, “Big Rigs, Big Dogs and Stuck Truck!” Our latest VIDEO is out. Find LINK is in Comments.

Now that the snow has melted in Maine, it’s time for us to get equipment ready for the upcoming farming season. One recent day, Caleb went out with his dogs, Ralph & Rudi, to get a truck and trailer going. As is customary on a farm and no real surprise, he ran into some trouble. You can watch the escapade in his newest YouTube Video Entitled, “Big Rigs, Big Dogs and Stuck Truck!”

The LINK for the new Wood Prairie VIDEO in the Comments!

Caleb, Megan & Jim




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MAINE TALES. “Rural Fringe Benefits.” Bridgewater, Maine. Circa 1977. It was a simple question I had asked


MAINE TALES. “Rural Fringe Benefits.” Bridgewater, Maine. Circa 1977.

It was a simple question I had asked my industrious friend. He was employed by a local Maine manufacturer who turned lumber into wood trusses. We had once made a purchase from this company and so there existed an abiding curiosity about how they treated their help.

I had asked, “Do they give you any benefits working there?” He accepted the question with great seriousness. The grimace on his face made clear that he was doing the best job he could in generating an answer. His mental effort took half a stone silent minute. Finally, a grin came across his face indicating success in grasping a promising response. With total genuineness and without a hint of sarcasm, he matter-of-factly replied, “Well, they give us a cup of coffee in the morning!”

Working hard has been a long tradition in rural Maine. By weight of evidence, also tightly bound to Maine tradition are modest and no frills blue-collar earnings. Welcome to Maine: happy is the worker with low expectations.

When I started in as a Cooper at the Bridgewater Barrel Company in the mid-1970s, everyone knew it was basic piecework. Coopers were paid 80 cents to make a barrel. A new Cooper hire was given three weeks’ probation and during that time paid $3 per hour to learn and succeed at making eleven-peck Cedar Potato barrels. By the end of the three weeks, either that hire had figured out how to earn his salt and make four-barrels-plus in an hour or, he was let go to explore other career opportunities. I passed that test and slowly worked my way up to making fifty Potato Barrels a day. I liked that I had the option to get up at 330am and head in early to start making barrels. Most days it took me nine hours to get my fifty done. The other experienced Coopers could meet their fifty-barrel-quota in a standard eight-hour-day. Earning $40/day was real good money in rural Maine back in the 1970s.

So, the barrel business was booming and we were still making barrels late into that Spring. Memorial Day was up ahead. Members of the then active local Bridgewater chapter of Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) had been harping on my neighbor and Barrel Mill owner Edgar Wheeler. By rights they argued, he should honor our nation’s veterans by not only giving us the day off, but also gifting us with holiday pay. Edgar consented and so, the mill was closed that Memorial Day and my co-workers and I all received $24. To this day that’s the only day in my life that I ever got paid for not working.

During that same era I worked here in Town for potato farmer Dan Bradstreet. I would help hang, weigh, sew shut and stack his Certified Seed Potatoes into 50-pound paper bags. For seed bound for Europe we hanged into 50-kilo burlap sacks. Throughout the day work was active enough that the 38ºF temperature in the above-ground-potato-storage was no bother. In farm country back in those days, the biggest meal of the day was still noontime (universally 11am-12 noon in Aroostook County) and it was called “dinner.” For my dinner, rather than greet the winter cold, warm up my truck, drive home, snowshoe into my unplowed camp, wolf down a meal and then turnaround and return back to the potato house by twelve o’clock sharp, I took the lazy approach. Poles apart from every other worker who invariably lived closer by and went home for dinner, I would hole up in the small, dusty, barely-used but heated cubby hole “office.” Dan encouraged me to make myself comfortable and crank up the oil heat thermostat. So, I’d grab a chair, eat my sandwich and read a book, warm and relaxed in the lap of luxury. More than once I would doze off and take a quick nap, responding to the drowsiness brought on by the cozy warmth. Now what other fringe benefit could possibly top that one?

Fifty years ago I worked as a milking-helper on a dairy farm. Bill, the laconic dairy farmer worked all the time. Once he labored for a stretch of seven years without ever taking a day off. His workaday uniform was black rubber boots, a green rubber rain suit – overalls and a matching hoodless raincoat that had the sleeves cut off – and a white plastic hardhat sporting an ID label declaring, “Head Bull Shipper” which must have been somebody’s idea of a clever joke. Bill milked about 80 cows, mostly Holsteins but also a few Jerseys. Milking was done in a eight-cow-per-side double-herringbone parlor set up.

At break of day, my job was to look useful assisting the Border Collies and bring in the cows from the pasture. As the cows moseyed on in from the muddy corral into the parlor I would feed out the grain from a cart using a four-quart-scoop. Above the din of mooing cow commotion Bill, knowing each cow and her production ability by heart, would holler out a sequence of numbers representing how many scoops each cow in that string was supposed to get: “2, 2, 4, 3, 2, 1, 3, 2.” It was my job to temporarily instantly memorize each set of eight digits and feed molassesy grain in the directed amounts. Playing Grain-Santa was the easy part.

The real work was having to wash the mud off every hind quarter and udder before the milking machine could be hooked up. First, milk cows were blasted with frigid cold water dispensed with enthusiasm from an inch-and-a-half fire hose. This shocking wash down eroded away much of the mud. After that I would get up close and personal. With scalding hot water jetting from a hose nozzle held in one hand, and using my other hand as a scrub brush I’d work to get each mud-covered udder clean.

I was taught one good trick and that was to lean into the cow with your shoulder as you worked. That way you’d keep the cow off balance and make it more difficult for the ornery ones to kick you in retaliation for burning them with that foolish super hot water. By strategically burying your head into the hollow just ahead of their thigh, you could also minimize the number of times you’d get stung in the face by a crusted-mud-and-manure-tail. Some of the big Holsteins had figured out how to kick sideways. When one of their kicks landed square on your thigh or shin you’d remember that incident as you hobbled around for the next couple of days. Avoiding a kick was that job’s fringe benefit. Once a string of cows was milked out, the milking equipment would be removed and I’d stoop under and dip each teat of every cow with a plastic cup holding a solution of Iodine. Then I’d release the cows one string at a time back into the pasture.

Milkings usually took about four hours. But they would extend up to six hours on the days when the electric human-hair-clippers were brought out to trim back the mud-collecting shaggy hair growth on certain udders. For my efforts I got paid $9 per milking. I’d make $18 a day when I was scheduled to work both milkings.

Then there was treeplanting. Like all planters, I got paid piece rate during the three winters I planted Pine trees down South in my bachelor days back in the early 1980s. Base rate was 3 cents per tree planted. However, Federal Labor officials forced the companies to pay us extra after the first forty hours worked in a week. Pay week ran Sunday morning through Saturday night. Often by Wednesday morning I would have my first forty hours behind me. Since many of us would put in 70-80 hours per week, those pennies and the overtime formula added up. In my case, over the course of a season I averaged 3.7 cents/tree. So once the days got longer with the progress of Spring, I would gross a thousand dollars a week and that was real big money even working seven days.

Our crew boss, Dave, was a good one. He was smart and had figured out crew motivation techniques with flying colors. Haphazardly, once or twice every season, while we were sweating in the mud or brambles deep in the woods, he would create a welcome surprise by bringing out an enormous box of fresh donuts for our ravenous and treat-deprived crew of about fifteen mostly young men. A crew boss’ pay, keenly structured to enhance boss motivation, was a function of the number of acres we planters knocked out in a day. Bribed and buoyed by renewed spirits only donuts in the outback could impart, the crew became invigorated and sure as shooting would plant harder than ever.

One day, as we were planting with bellies full of donuts, we ran some numbers in our heads. Our rough calculation was that Dave’s $30 worth of donut largesse swelled his earnings that day alone by $100. Pretty good ROI for some high-rising glazed good will. Ever the observant student, I learned that sharing a treat precious and rare – like donuts in the woods or ice cream bars on a hot Maine day after coming back from town with parts – is light years more effective motivationally than handing out the equivalent value in crass greenbacks. Now, forty years later, I can still taste those donuts on the Georgia clearcut. That is one old fringe benefit which is lasting a lifetime.

Jim

[Photo Caption: Maine Lumberjack. Circa 1943.]




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SO, JUST HOW EARLY IS SPRING WHERE YOU ARE? The other day we heard the tail end of a news story on Maine Public Radio wh


SO, JUST HOW EARLY IS SPRING WHERE YOU ARE? The other day we heard the tail end of a news story on Maine Public Radio which declared, by use of Phenolgy markers, Spring in Maine this year is maybe two or three or four days ahead of the norm.

Here in Northern Maine it’s still too early for ‘First Leaf’ or ‘First Bloom’ indicators. So, while non-biological and less scientific, our earliest 3 Spring-farm-markers hint that, yes, we are ahead as well.

Markers #1 & #2. The ice went out in both our farm ponds last weekend which is six days earlier than any year in the last ten years. We plead guilty to too often being too busy, but we’ve actually been doing a pretty good job recording “First Time This Year” events for the last ten years or so.

Marker #3. Shown in the photo below, Caleb did the first harrowing of the year on what will be this year’s Potato field, ‘Shaw South Field #31’ on Tuesday Apr 23. That is six days earlier than the next earliest year (2021) of the last decade. This marker is even less scientific because it involves factors like which field, how busy we are shipping orders and whether rain is in the forecast. This week’s weather forecast of snow on Wednesday (when it did come, it didn’t amount to much) motivated us to ‘break crust’ on that field ahead of the snow event.

When the first Poplar leaves emerge we’ll have a much higher quality indicator of where Northern Maine is with Spring. But at this point it looks like we’re ahead of the game.

How about where you are?

Caleb, Megan & Jim




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NEW! WOOD PRAIRIE VIDEO! WATCH, “We Can’t Put It Off Anymore!” Caleb’s new VIDEO is out and it explains our process of


NEW! WOOD PRAIRIE VIDEO! WATCH, “We Can’t Put It Off Anymore!” Caleb’s new VIDEO is out and it explains our process of cleaning, sizing and grading our Organic Maine Certified Seed Potatoes. Don’t miss it!

Because of sprawling time demands from our Fall-spilling-into-Winter warehouse construction project, we missed our normal target of finishing the pre-grading of our crop in January. Then, once that wave of peak shipping hit in February, it was all we could do to keep up with the flow of orders. However, once we ran out of graded ‘Dark Red Norland’ – one of our best-selling varieties – we had no choice but to shift gears and finish up “grading potatoes.”

So, Caleb and his brother, Peter, recently bit the bullet at lit into DRN. When they finished, we were finally done with grading for the year. Find LINK for the new Potato VIDEO in the Comments!

Caleb, Megan & Jim




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FINISHING UP GRADING ORGANIC POTATOES FOR THE YEAR ON WOOD PRAIRIE FAMILY FARM. In a normal year, we try to finish the


FINISHING UP GRADING ORGANIC POTATOES FOR THE YEAR ON WOOD PRAIRIE FAMILY FARM. In a normal year, we try to finish the job of pre-grading our crop of Organic Maine Certified Seed Potatoes in early January ahead of when the peak-seed-shipping season hits in February. However this Winter, much of the Wood Prairie crew was still up to our eyeballs building our new warehouse.

That construction work began in the Fall after Potato harvest, and continued into the early part of February. Last week we finally finished up grading, when we cleaned, sized and sorted a beautiful seed lot of Organic Dark Red Norland.

In this photo, Caleb (right) is inspecting Dark Red Norlands running over our ‘Lockwood Roller Table.’ Caleb’s brother, Peter, is grading “Bs” coming off the side belt of the wooden ‘Haines Drop Sizer.’ These smaller “B” tubers are conveyed up and into a hardwood pallet box by a foot-operated ‘Haines Single Bagger.’ Peter is a jack-of-all-trades builder and he has been a real shot in the arm on construction and Potatoes.

Our underground storage is still running at +38oF.

Caleb, Megan & Jim




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BEAUTIFUL HARVEST OF NEW CROP ‘PURPLE VIKING’ POTATOES. Long time Wood Prairie customer and talented Florida gardener Ka


BEAUTIFUL HARVEST OF NEW CROP ‘PURPLE VIKING’ POTATOES.
Long time Wood Prairie customer and talented Florida gardener Karen Drexler has a green-thumb and it shows here in this wonderful photo she shared with us.
The three tubers are part of her recent bountiful harvest of delicious ‘Purple Viking’ Potatoes. Great job, Karen!
Purple Viking is a spectacular variety we have begun growing and now offer as Organic Maine Certified Seed Potatoes, available Farm-to-Mailbox. We still have plentiful supplies of Purple Viking available on our webstore woodprairie dot com.
This is a variety you will be thanking us for having alerted you to. Beautiful, GREAT grower and delicious in the kitchen!
Caleb, Megan & Jim




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CALEB & AMY & RALPH & RUDY BOXING UP ORGANIC SEED ORDERS ON WOOD PRAIRIE FAMILY FARM IN MAINE. We’re still at peak ship


CALEB & AMY & RALPH & RUDY BOXING UP ORGANIC SEED ORDERS ON WOOD PRAIRIE FAMILY FARM IN MAINE. We’re still at peak shipping and we’re having a good week on Wood Prairie Family Farm with sunny days and cold nights.

We’re continuing to ship out large quantities of Organic Maine Certified Seed Potatoes and other Organic Seed. Unlike our re-seller competition – as we have done ever since we started up our Mail Order Farm-To-Mailbox Organic Seed Business 35 years ago – 100% of the Seed we sell is Certified Organic.

In this photo Caleb and his sister, Amy, are working together at our new shipping station, boxing up orders headed to customers via the US Post Office. Amy was up from college in Bangor to lend a hand during peak shipping. Our brand new warehouse set up has increased efficiency and we’re are moving out more orders with less effort than ever before.

Once an order is completed, the carton is stacked into a nearby palletized corrugated pallet box. Every afternoon a southbound USPS truck pulls in at 4:15 pm and gets quickly loaded with pallet boxes of orders by our forklift.

Caleb & Lizzi’s dogs, three-year-old ‘Ralph’ the Rottweiler (left), and two-year-old Cane Corso ‘Rudy’ trot down with Caleb most every morning when he goes off to work. While Caleb is working at his boxing station the dogs are content to observe the action from their high perch. However, should Caleb ever wander more than a dozen feet away from his work station, the dogs will immediately hop to their feet and follow closely behind Caleb as he checks on one thing or another. Ralph is super attentive and extremely loyal. Older brother Ralph normally takes the lead with Rudy following. Those dogs lead the life of Riley!

Caleb, Megan, Amy & Jim




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MAINE TALES. “The Buckeye Sage.” Fort Rucker, Alabama. Circa 1983. Duane was from Cincinnati and on the


MAINE TALES. “The Buckeye Sage.” Fort Rucker, Alabama. Circa 1983.

Duane was from Cincinnati and on the cusp of a new life and a new wife. What better way to make a clean break with the past than immersion into stoop-labor migratory-chic, planting little Loblolly Pine trees on clearcuts across the deep South?

Most of our treeplanting crew was young men in their twenties. Duane was on the far side of forty and far richer in acquired wisdom than any of the rest of us. Most treeplanter dreams hovered around owning a piece of land where they could be left alone. On the other hand, Duane had the underappreciated notion that his best way of leaving behind a humdrum past life before marrying his new bride come Spring was to become a nomad planting Pine trees.

I was one of the few on the crew who already owned a farm and that fact helped me to remain focused because I knew where each earned dollar could go to get the farm up and running. Treeplanting in the winter was a Mainer’s studied alternative to taking on bank debt. It was the 1980s recession, times were hard and stubborn unemployment figures were climbing nationally.

A few new conscripts were sent onto our crew midway through the season to rebuild numbers which had been in typical decline due to the high turnover. Duane was among the new batch and they all arrived after Christmas. Another hopeful fellow, despite having been repeatedly warned ahead of time that the work would be rigorous and punishing, planted a total of eleven trees before he had to throw in the towel. An arm, wounded by a bullet in Vietnam, came up short for swinging a hoedad thousands of times a day.

Duane was the everyman, full of jokes, acquired wisdom and storytelling. The unassuming extrovert, full of charm and charisma. For quite awhile he’d led a successful career as a Department Store Buyer for a gigantic national wholesaler which supplied retail brick-and-mortar icons including Macy’s. Duane was the toast of the town and surrounded by a legion of industry friends. Or so he thought. When he parted ways with that Buyer position one mid-December, instead of receiving the many hundreds of Christmas cards he had become accustomed to, instead he received a grand total of three. It came as a shocking revelation, he explained, and an eye-opener to see how just how badly he had mistaken deal friends for real friends.

Thereafter, he became the owner/bartender of an establishment across the road from the General Electric “GE Evandale” jet engine plant. This enormous GE facility was a top military contractor employing thousands and yes, all the government-contract-fat one might imagine. Duane had grown up in a union household and decidedly leaned in the direction of the working man. And so it pained him, and the instinctive loyalty he felt had been sorely challenged, by devious GE employees who after clocking in at the plant would spend virtually all of their night shift hanging out at his bar, only to return to the time clock ahead of quitting time so they could punch out. The loafers’ nickname for GE was “Generous Electric” and they were steady bar patrons night after night, month after month. By the time Duane made his foray into treeplanting, he’d had his fill of the everyday life.

Back in those more simple, laissez-faire days all of us treeplanters lived in our vehicles (“rigs”) which we parked right on the clearcut sites we were planting. When he showed up Duane arrived in the most bizarre registered vehicle one could ever imagine. It started out as a older Ford van, only the roof had been can-opener-removed and replaced with what looked like an upside-down welded-on row boat. Functioning much like a modern ‘High-Top Conversion’ van, he was able to fully stand unlike the rest of us stooped over in our standard-issue rag tag jalopies. His entire van had been oddly painted light-absorbing, flat black. When Duane showed up that first evening ahead of our Fort Rucker planting job, it was way after dark and for some reason his headlights and taillights had quit working.

Even back then the Army was cautious about conserving its precious human resources. Rather than utilize regular soldiers to provide base security, a private contractor had been awarded that responsibility. The big contractor would hire local good ole boys who, we learned after befriending them, were paid a hair over minimum wage to look official in their contractor-provided uniforms and tractor hats, and drive around in shiny blue company trucks performing their security duties as though they knew what was going on. So then picture this: on a pitch black night, Base security comes upon a black-wheeled-blimp suspiciously prowling its way – without any lights – inside the biggest Army Base in Alabama. His fish story is he’s searching for an alleged migratory treeplanting crew the bewildered guards knew nothing about. Out of our entire crew, there is absolute certainty that only Duane possessed the demeanor, talent and backstory finesse to have talked those security guards out of having him spend the night in the brig.

Fort Rucker is located in southern Alabama, near the town of Ozark, and was named in 1942 for Confederate Officer Edmund Winchester Rucker. It has long served as the primary flight training installation for the US Army. Another planter on the crew had been an Army helicopter pilot and he had received his training at Fort Rucker. Tom, our chopper pilot planter assured us helicopters were pretty safe…unless they were less than seventy-five feet off the ground. Seventy-five feet was the cutoff. Below that there often wouldn’t be enough time for a pilot to maneuver and recover should there be a mechanical problem before making a hard crash into terra firma.

On our first day a couple of Army officials showed up and lectured our crew to pay attention and not wander off into the active bombing ranges where the Army used live ordinance as they trained their pilots. That sounded like awful good advice. Then they soberly warned us, that as we planted across the vast clearcuts, should we happen to ever come across a stray dud bomb, we should carefully plant around the bomb. The pitch in their voices rose as they emphatically attempted to stress that we should in every case, never ever touch a dud, because there was a fair chance that it might in a very brief moment end its previous status as a dud bomb. Again, more helpful advice.

Once Dave, our crew boss, gave us the lay of the land and the spacing specs for this job, we were off to the races because as piece-work laborers we don’t get paid to just stand around. That first day, all day long, helicopters buzzed right over us, back and forth over us in endless succession. The helicopter noise was incessant and wearing. Like we always do, we planted until it was too dark in the evening to see. Then with darkness came the peacefulness treeplanters are used to and crave, though truthfully, we didn’t realize how much we craved it until it went missing.

Shortly after we ate our suppers, we drifted off for sweet dreams. However, along about 10:00 pm we were awakened by what we quickly came to figure out were unmentioned night maneuvers and yet more helicopter training. Then all of a sudden, the darkness vanished as white phosphorus bombs were deployed to provide battlefield illumination conditions. Night had become day and low flying helicopters buzzed back and forth overhead all night long.

That cacophony continued for the duration of our planting job at Fort Rucker. We were all eager to move onto to our next off-Base paper-company clearcut site. All clearcut sites look desolate and post-apocalyptic but, at least once we left Fort Rucker the quiet would return.

Like with all kinds of manual work, there are techniques and Duane was quickly learning the ropes. He stuck it out as planned and kept planting with us all that winter until we finished up the season in Delaware in April ahead of his wedding. The ultimate curator class of the best jokes have got to be bartenders. All that winter we were supplied with levity and diversion from sore backs by Duane the master joke-teller.

Duane’s home turf was Cincinnati where the Ohio River forms the boundary with the ever belittled Kentucky. Over the years we worked with a lot of planters from Ohio, and so the Ohio/Kentucky rivalry and associated jokes were familiar and non-stop. The Duane-joke I remember best had this Ohio commuter traveling everyday past a billboard exclaiming “Round The World Cruise Only $10!” Week after week of seeing the billboard builds up curiosity to the point where the fellow decides he must look into this sensational deal. So, he steps inside the office mentioned on the billboard and after asking his questions he hands over a ten-dollar bill. Then all of a sudden he’s whacked on the head, a trap door opens beneath his feet, he tumbles and slides down a chute and finds himself floating on an inner tube down the Ohio River. Once he regains his wits, he spies another fellow inner tube traveler. He paddles his way over to this other man who happens to be from Kentucky. The chagrined Buckeye sarcastically says to the Kentuckian, “I suppose it’s too much to expect a bottle of Champaign on this cruise.” His fellow Kentucky traveler answers, “Well, I can’t say for sure, but last year there wasn’t none.”

Jim




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THE FINAL VISUALS ON THIS WEEK’S “LUNAR SHADOW TOTAL SOLAR ECLIPSE.” Thinking ahead, Caleb had two additional Video cam


THE FINAL VISUALS ON THIS WEEK’S “LUNAR SHADOW TOTAL SOLAR ECLIPSE.” Thinking ahead, Caleb had two additional Video cameras set up to monitor reactions of four- and two-legged critters on Wood Prairie Family Farm during Monday’s Total Eclipse. One camera was set in the Barn, and the other in our front yard Eclipse viewing area. He assembled the highlights into this short Wood Prairie Video (3:59). Find Video LINK in Comments below. The new Wood Prairie Video is entitled “Wood Prairie Reacts to the Total Solar Eclipse!”

Maine’s last Total Solar Eclipse was back in July 1963. Our next one will be fifty-five years from now, in 2079. So it’s reasonable to assert that last Monday’s “Lunar Shadow Total Solar Eclipse” was accurately billed as a once-in-a-lifetime event.

Thankfully, our skies were crystal clear for the Eclipse and Northern Maine enjoyed some of the best viewing of the Total Eclipse anywhere in the USA. It was amazing to feel the cool down and to see how dark it the day became, to the point where stars in the sky were visible. Then, with the first thin sliver of sun returning after Peak Totality, near-normal daylight brightness quickly returned.

Wood Prairie players are identified in the video. Sitting next to Jim is our friend, Tom Deegan. Tom braved the crowds and drove north from Bangor to secure a good seat. Tom and Jim worked together planting trees down South 40 years ago. Tomorrow we’ll post another Treeplanting ‘Maine Tales’ featuring loud times on former forests.

In an earlier life, after giving RFK and his family the grand tour of the 1964 World’s Fair in NYC, Bobby Kennedy liked what he saw and immediately offered Tom a job in his (successful) campaign for the US Senate. Tom wisely accepted, thus opening a celebrated chapter in a long and interesting life.

Caleb, Megan & Jim




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CALEB & AMY BAGGING ORGANIC MAINE CERTIFIED SEED POTATOES ON WOOD PRAIRIE FAMILY FARM. In this photo taken Friday morn


CALEB & AMY BAGGING ORGANIC MAINE CERTIFIED SEED POTATOES ON WOOD PRAIRIE FAMILY FARM. In this photo taken Friday morning, Caleb weighs out one-pound-sacks of Organic ‘Adirondack Blue’ Certified Seed Potatoes.

Meanwhile, Caleb’s sister, Amy, double-staples identifying Potato Postcards and Blue ‘Maine Certified Seed Tags’ onto each bag. Amy drove up Thursday night from Husson University in Bangor for Easter, and to help our family farm keep up on orders during peak shipping.

We use that Red, foot-pedal-operated Haines Mfg ‘Single Bagger’ positioned beyond Caleb for filling 2.5#, 5# and 20# sacks. Jim, working in the underground Potato storage is responsible for the 45# cartons put up for Market Growers, which tends to while final-grading all the loose Potatoes needed by the upstairs crew for bagging.

We have tried filling 1# sacks in various ways and have found the most efficient manner – this side of an expensive automatic Weigher/Bagger – is to place the opened sack on an electronic scale and Caveman-style use two-cupped-hands to scoop up and then trickle in the correct amount of seed tubers. Using the Haines Bagger, one almost always ovefills the 1# sack. Then it takes more time to remove the extra gate-crasher-seed-tubers than to do the job right the first time, literally by-hand.

At this time of year, once every week the crew stops everything and switches over to bagging up thousands of bags of the twenty varieties of our Organic Maine Certified Seed Potatoes we grow. Then the balance of their week is spent custom-tubbing up Organic Seed orders and packing them into shipping cartons for the US Post Office and Fedex Ground to come around and pick up.

We rinse and repeat the process every week, until the ground is ready and we can plant our own crop of Organic Certified Seed Potatoes in mid-May. It was just back in mid-December when we poured the concrete floor for this brand new Packing Shed/Warehouse.

Caleb, Megan & Jim




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