Posted on

TIME TO MARK YOUR CALENDARS: MAJOR SOLAR ECLIPSE DUE APRIL 2024. This time aro…


TIME TO MARK YOUR CALENDARS: MAJOR SOLAR ECLIPSE DUE APRIL 2024. This time around Northern Maine will be ground zero as the Maple sap runs and the Winter’s snow is melting.
Graphic and data below posted by Eric Hendrickson. Caleb, Megan & Jim

Timezone EDT (Eastern Daylight Time)
Duration 2 hours, 27 minutes, 8 seconds
Duration of totality 3 minutes, 31 seconds
Partial begins Apr 8, 2024 at 2:04:49 pm
Full begins Apr 8, 2024 at 3:18:17 pm
Maximum Apr 8, 2024 at 3:20:02 pm
Full ends Apr 8, 2024 at 3:21:48 pm
Partial ends Apr 8, 2024 at 4:31:57 pm




Source

Posted on

WEEKEND POTATO PICKING ON WOOD PRAIRIE FAMILY FARM. This Fall we’ve taken to …


WEEKEND POTATO PICKING ON WOOD PRAIRIE FAMILY FARM. This Fall we’ve taken to hand-picking Fingerling potatoes on weekends, catering to schedules of Houlton schools which no longer close down for Potato Harvest Break. The tradition of Aroostook County schools closing for harvest goes back to 1945 and is still followed by schools in Mars Hill, Presque Isle, Easton, Fort Fairfield, Caribou and Washburn.
With perfect soil conditions our Finnish ‘Juko’ potato harvester will successfully dig small and long Fingerling potatoes. However, after getting more than 7″ of rain in the last four weeks we can do a better job digging up the rows with our old John Deere #30 digger and then picking the spuds up by hand.
When Caleb married earlier this Summer we gained a willing weekend crew of Houlton nephews, nieces, sister-in-law and brothers-in-law.
Two hours after this picture was taken we finished up just as lightening bolts and a thunderstorm hit the farm. Caleb, Megan & Jim




Source

Posted on

WELCOME MILESTONE: POURING THE FOOTING FOR NEW WOOD PRAIRIE PACKING SHED STORAG…


WELCOME MILESTONE: POURING THE FOOTING FOR NEW WOOD PRAIRIE PACKING SHED STORAGE. Yesterday was sunny, and warmer than one could hope to expect for mid-September in Northern Maine.
It took three truckloads and twenty-two yards of concrete to fill the over-sized beefy forms needed for the footing for our heavy ICF (Insulated Concrete Forms) building. By pouring on a Friday the forms can be removed on Monday.
In this photo, Paul is giving directions on the concrete consistency he wants, while his brother, Ezra, is raking the initial flow of concrete. Paul is a master builder. He worked for us one winter years ago when construction work was slow demonstrating he is a perfect and productive worker. His two oldest boys are helping us hand-pick Fingerling potatoes on weekends.
The two men atop the bank are the concrete truck drivers. They have the near perfect job. Company regulations prevent them from helping with the grunt work. There are times when the best drivers ignore that reg and also offer valuable how-to advice. They get to drive all over Aroostook County and discover treasure-like de-centralized building activity in hidden corners off the beaten path.
Their longevity on-the-job is revealed – as well as the possession of remarkable memories – when more than once one has made a comment like, “Yeah, I was down here 20 or 30 years ago when you fellers were pouring a footing.” Caleb, Megan & Jim




Source

Posted on

A ROLL OF THE DICE IN BUZZING WOOD PRAIRIE BUCKWHEAT FIELD. This field – ablaze…


A ROLL OF THE DICE IN BUZZING WOOD PRAIRIE BUCKWHEAT FIELD. This field – ablaze with Buckwheat – will produce next year’s crop of Wood Prairie organic Maine Certified Seed Potatoes.
In early August after having spread and disked in barnyard manure we planted a dual soil-building crop of Buckwheat and the biofumigant Rapeseed.
As is its custom, the Buckwheat grew fast and tall, and now overstories the slower-growing foot-high Rapeseeed. A million Buckwheat blossoms are literally abuzz with hundreds (thousands?) of wild honey bees. Can you spot the brown bee in the center of the photo?
By the calandar we expected the very-frost-sensitive-Buckwheat to have been blistered with cold by now, but our mild Fall has had other designs. When the frost does come, the Rapeseed will rise like a phoenix from the ashes and grow and prosper until chopped and plowed down in November as our last rite of the farming season.
We’ve heard stories of driven old-timers who would patiently follow foraging bees back on their beeline to their hive hidden somewhere in the woods in a hollowed out tree. The detective’s reward would be a sweet bonanza of ‘free’ wild honey. Caleb, Megan & Jim




Source

Posted on

CONSTRUCTING A BIG FOOTING FOR A HEAVY PACKING SHED STORAGE. Twenty-two years a…


CONSTRUCTING A BIG FOOTING FOR A HEAVY PACKING SHED STORAGE. Twenty-two years ago we built an addition to our underground potato storage. The additional room allowed us to switchover from ‘Barrels & Bins’ to our current Potato Pallet Box system. That addition – still in daily use – was the first potato house in Maine to deploy the then new concept of ICF (Insulated Concrete Forms) blocks. The ICF system uses Lego-like 18”H x 48”L tongue-and-groove blocks consisting of two rectangular pieces of 2.5” foam connected to one another by rugged plastic ‘spiders’ creating a 6” or 8” cavity. The cavity gets filled with concrete and re-bar. The result is a super-insulated, super-strong, long-lasting concrete building. Fortunately, one of the benefits of ICF is once you get the footing and ground work done, the laying of ICF blocks and rebar is relatively fast.
With all that massive weight of concrete one must build oversized footings to properly handle the building and snow load. Here, Megan is in the pit next to the stepped forms which will become the 12”x32” reinforced footing. The rise twenty feet behind her is a stubborn streak of ‘blue ledge’ bedrock running NW to SE which we first encountered 45 years ago when constructing our first building in this same general vicinity. Caleb, Megan & Jim




Source

Posted on

FIGURING OUT FALL FREEZES. Our friend, Portland garden writer Tom Atwell, takes…


FIGURING OUT FALL FREEZES. Our friend, Portland garden writer Tom Atwell, takes a stab delving into Fall gardening. In his informed manner, Tom uncovers the details of Fall frosts and explains the importance of the NOAA ‘First Fall Freeze’ map below.
Here’s the link to Tom’s new article. Caleb, Megan & Jim https://www.centralmaine.com/2021/09/12/ready-or-not-here-it-comes-first-frost/

“The earliest we have ever had a killing freeze in our Cape Elizabeth garden is Sept. 20. That was around 40 years ago, and the temperatures have been getting steadily warmer since then.

“Wood Prairie Family Farm, a family-run organic potato (and other crops) grower in Aroostook County, recently forwarded to its customers a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration map that shows first-freeze dates throughout the region. The map is based on data from 1981 through 2010, so I think the frost dates would be a little later now.”




Source

Posted on

THE REAL STORY BEHIND DANONE’S DECISION TO DUMP AUTHENTIC ORGANIC NORTHEAST FAMI…


THE REAL STORY BEHIND DANONE’S DECISION TO DUMP AUTHENTIC ORGANIC NORTHEAST FAMILY DAIRY FARMERS TO MAKE ROOM FOR FRAUDSTER CORPORATE FACTORY FARMS. Two weeks ago multinational corporatist ‘Groupe Danone’ dropped the bombshell that its subsidiary ‘Horizon Organic’ plans to drop 89 family organic dairy farms in the Northeast and replace their authentic organic milk with fake-organic-milk from law-breaking CAFO (concentrated animal feeding operation) factory farms. Organic family dairy farmers have been operating on a grossly unlevel playing field against the faker corporate behemoths. Mega corporate factory farms have long been operating illegally in violation of provisions of the Organic Foods Production Act of 1990 (OFPA). While they have never produced one drop of bona fide Organic Milk, CAFOs have single-handedly created a fake-organic-milk glut that – unless they are stopped – will drown out virtually all honest organic dairy farm families
It’s an enormous and sad story about relentless ag consolidation which has invaded organic, jaw-dropping lack of integrity on the parts of both enabler USDA and scheming corporate factory farms, and stark denial of justice for hard-working organic family dairy farmers who have been playing by the rules and now face an ominous future of being forced out-of-business and off their farms.
Our friends at Beyond Pesticides have written an excellent piece which summarizes the predicament and lays out the potential urgent solutions https://beyondpesticides.org/dailynewsblog/2021/09/danone-horizon-organic-threatens-the-backbone-of-organic-dairy-family-farms-and-their-consumer-supporters/
Please spend 10 minutes reading the article and learn how you can help these struggling family farmers at their darkest hour. Thanks! Jim

“Groupe Danone, multinational corporate owner of Horizon Organic, has announced that it is terminating its contracts with 89 small-to-medium-sized organic dairy producers in the Northeast as of August 2022. At that point, all of Horizon’s contracted organic dairy farms in Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, and northern New York may well have no buyers for their milk and will likely face a very uncertain future. In July 2021, Beyond Pesticides covered a major contributor to this development — the failure of the NOP (National Organic Program) to protect the integrity of organic dairy, which failure has advantaged large producers over smaller operations (see more on this below). This development in a region with historically strong demand for organic dairy products is of concern on several fronts, not the least of which is the fate of these small producers…

“‘Danone is effectively consolidating their supply base. The way they’ve done it is (what) any large conglomerate company would do. They do it impersonally. It’s not as if they are holding meetings with farmers in the area and saying these are the challenges we’re having in transporting milk and can we work together’…

“The report notes: ‘Large dairies have shifted from trying to justify their lack of grazing and pasture for their lactating dairy cows to creating the illusion of meeting the low standard set by the USDA. This illusion is made possible by a number of agreeable accredited organic certifying agents who are willing to collect large certification fees while looking the other way, facilitated by deficient oversight of these agents by the NOP’…

“The squeezing out of small organic producers who operate with integrity is a major concern for the organic dairy sector, of course, but also, for the larger issue of organic integrity and the public’s trust in the meaning of the certified organic label. Is the milk that comes from an ‘organic’ CAFO the same product as milk that comes from a small Vermont dairy whose herd is on pasture for half the year? Many believe it is not. In 2018, Beyond Pesticides wrote of ‘organic’ CAFO-produced milk: ‘The Washington Post’s 2017 report found that Aurora Organic Dairy, a major milk supplier for big box retailers like Walmart and Safeway, is producing milk that was less nutrient dense compared to small-scale organic family farms. . . . The subsequent [report] . . . found that the living conditions indicated by the photos [of CAFOs] did result in cows producing nutritionally deficient milk.’

“The NOP must clarify rules, tighten enforcement of standards, and level the playing field for small- and medium-sized producers, who are currently disadvantaged by the competitive perquisites the large conglomerate operations enjoy. Members of the public are encouraged to contact federal elected officials and the USDA itself to advocate for such changes. Meanwhile, consumers can consider their own dairy purchases and vote with their food dollars to support ethical, sustainable, and transparent organic brands that source from smaller, regional producers. For more information on why it is so important to not only protect, but strengthen the organic label, see Beyond Pesticides’ Keeping Organic Strong webpage.”




Source

Posted on

WORKING INTO THE NIGHT. With the weather forecast calling for over 2″ of rain -…


WORKING INTO THE NIGHT. With the weather forecast calling for over 2″ of rain – beginning this morning – both Caleb and Jim worked into the dark last night in order to get work done.
Jim continued to flame kill potato tops to get the crop ready for imminent harvest.
And in this shot, Caleb is holding the ‘stick’ or Surveyor’s Rod to determine whether he had excavated deeply enough to allow proper assembly of the footing forms for our new packing shed storage. A laser-apparatus attached to the stick works in tandem with the laser surveyor’s transit set out of harm’s way. When the depth is correct the stick unit emits both ‘beeps’ and flashing red lights signaling approval. This modern laser marvel eliminates one worker from the former two-man survey work.
We’ve fallen behind schedule from waiting two weeks for Versant to come out and disconnect our electric lines so we could further demolition and finish the excavation.
When the three man Versant crew finally arrived yesterday morning, it was headed by Matt Graves who 20 years ago was one of our star potato hand-pickers. He had entered the job market at the ripe age of twelve and for years was a reliable and fast picker for us.
Matt had just come back the day before from Pennsylvania where he was part of the lineman’s relief effort in the aftermath of Tropical Storm Ida. Caleb, Megan & Jim




Source

Posted on

AROOSTOOK STATE PARK: LAST HIKE BEFORE POTATO HARVEST. Sunday, Caleb’s sister, A…


AROOSTOOK STATE PARK: LAST HIKE BEFORE POTATO HARVEST.
Sunday, Caleb’s sister, Amy, was up from college and we took a hike in nearby Aroostook State Park. This now 800-acre park was the very first State Park ever in the State of Maine, established in 1939, thanks to the generous donation of its first 100-acres by local Aroostook citizens.
Here, Amy and Megan are coming down the relatively new ‘Notch Trail’ which descends from the ‘Ridge Trail’ towards Echo Lake. The Ridge Trail mostly travels the hogback between North Peak and South Peak of Qua Qua Jo Mountain (translates to ‘twin peaked.’).
The seasonal stream in the gorge below the trail is pretty much dry revealing that despite recent rains we are running at a significant precipitation deficit this calendar year.
We need to rectify that rain shortfall sometime after potato harvest. Caleb, Megan & Jim




Source

Posted on

FARM FAMILY HOMESTEAD. Sargent, Nebraska. Circa 1886. Sargent is located in Cu…


FARM FAMILY HOMESTEAD. Sargent, Nebraska. Circa 1886. Sargent is located in Custer County in the center of Nebraska, north of Kearney. The family appears to be sheep ranchers and had built an industrious sod house as well as a second sod building behind the water windmill. We count six children, five horses, four cows, about 40 sheep two wagons and one hay dump rake. Photo was taken by Solomon D. Butcher and is housed in the Library of Congress. Caleb, Megan & Jim




Source