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Friday, April 30th, 2021
Volume 30 Issue 5

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In This Issue of The Wood Prairie Seed Piece:

   Plenty of Time Left for Planting Everywhere!

Wilderness Mail Delivery, Stacyville, Maine. Circa 1894.

Beginning in 1890, the Post Office creed, “Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds” was extended to a part of the vast Maine wilderness. The new coverage extended to the area located east of what was to become Maine’s 200,000-acre Baxter State Park and the now five-year-old Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument 70 miles southwest of our farm. This story is shared by local historian Eric Hendrickson.

"How important were these locations in the wilderness? It may be hard to believe but there was daily mail delivered to the Hunt Farm and Lunksoos by 1890 and to City Camp deep in the heart of the Wassataquoik Valley. It was delivered by horse and wagon. The trip would start in Stacyville moving onto Tracy Farm at the entrance to the wilderness then on to Hunt Farm and Lunksoos. At Lunksoos they would ford the river and follow the road constructed in 1841 up along the edge of the Wassataquoik Stream to City Camp located near Russell Pond. City Camp was the main depot for the upper valley. The mail was delivered by wagon pulled by one horse. The wagon had to be light enough to allow the driver to lift it when it got stuck or had to go over a large boulder. The photo was taken by Lucius Merrill dated September 31, 1894 the only problem is that September only has 30 days."

Here on Wood Prairie Family Farm that same Post Office System still handles the majority of our parcels. Winter is shifting over to Spring, the farming season lies just ahead and we remain busy shipping orders daily all across the United States. All across the USA there is still lots of time left for planting a garden. Right on target we experienced the beginning of the winding from our peak shipping season ten days ago. However, we do continue to ship our Seed Potatoes steadily until the 4th of July. We are now caught up and provide very fast turnaround on new orders.

We continue to have excellent supplies of most varieties of all Organic Seeds including Organic Maine Certified Seed Potatoes, Organic Vegetable Seed, Organic Herb Seed, Organic Flower Seed and Organic Cover Crop Seed.

We have placed some top-selling Special items On-Sale. Do enjoy these savings and all the best with this year’s garden!

Caleb, Jim & Megan Gerritsen & Family
Wood Prairie Family Farm
Bridgewater, Maine

Special Offer: Welcome to Our Wood Prairie Sale!

Act now and enjoy great Savings for a Limited Time! Order today from our extensive selection of Organic Maine Certified Seed Potatoes, Organic Vegetable Seed, Organic Herb Seed, Organic Flower Seed and Organic Cover Crop Seed.

Wood Prairie Family Farm Photos.

Getting Ready for Next Winter on Wood Prairie Family Farm. In Maine, before one Winter ends we start getting ready for the next one.  In this photo taken right before mud season we brought in a load of 8.2 cords of 'second-growth' (small diameter logs) ‘tree length’ hardwood firewood logs.  The logs are being carefully and masterfully unloaded from a 'pulp truck' outfitted with its own hydraulic grapple loader. Out-of-view and working the loader, perched in a seat high atop the truck cab, is independent owner-operator Joe Ledger of North Amity.  In Maine, a cord (128 cubic feet 'tightly stacked' or 4'x4'x8') of wood is also legally and practically defined as 5000 pounds of wood.  So the truck stop weigh scale ticket indicated this load in fact weighed 41,000#. We’ll cut up and split this pile of firewood and it will last us a couple of Winters.

Loading Potatoes Headed Southbound.
   When you’re in Maine virtually everything outbound is headed south.  Here, Caleb loads a pallet of organic potatoes onto New England-based LTL ('Less than a truckload') common carrier 'Ross Express.' Skilled at logistics and execution, 'Ross' promises overnight delivery throughout New England which is quite the feat since Northern Maine is a full ten hour's drive time from Connecticut.   The labor situation was tight in New England before Covid and remains tight now.  'Ross' finds itself short on both truck drivers and warehouse workers.  Help Wanted ads have elicited scant response despite starting wages of $20+/hour.  Another LTL trucking company we loaded the day prior had just hired a new driver the day after he graduated from driving school. Gone are the days of being able to demand one-year's driving experience as a hiring prerequisite for truckers. Unfortunately, this new hire backed his big truck into a parked car on his second day of work.  That mishap allowed him the opportunity to seek gainful employment elsewhere.

Filling the Fedex Truck at Wood Prairie.
   Caleb's sister, Amy, while helping out in the packing room, took this photo this Spring. Here, Jeremy, our Fedex Ground driver for the past couple of years cheerfully and reliably transfers parcels from our loading dock onto his truck. These packages are scanned and entered into an efficient, water-tight logistics system.  Parcels will arrive at the New England Fedex sort hub outside Hartford CT - almost 500 miles away - by first light the next morning.  Halfway through this Spring the regional Fedex manager began to send in a second truck so Fedex could better handle the weight of our outbound organic Maine Certified Seed Potato parcels.

The Winds Pick Up in Northern Maine.
After a few decades of the doldrums, recent Marches have re-emerged as the windy-season.  Blowing snow and whiteout conditions have characterized Marches of late.  These events include rare but occasional closures of north/south U.S. Route 1 in Bridgewater due to strong westerly winds following snowstorms which has caused zero visibility and multiple vehicle accidents.  There was one recent day the winds blew particularly strong all day long.   It blew hard enough in the afternoon to topple a sound 15" Poplar tree eastward from our woodlot, effectively blocking Kinney Road. In this shot,  Caleb is working with our New Holland skidsteer loader to saw up into firewood and clear the fallen tree.  Thirty-five years ago a friend was limbing a tree sans hardhat. His chainsaw kicked back gashing his forehead. The doctor said another quarter-inch and he would have been finished. He began wearing a hardhat - with a hard bill - when chain sawing.  Learning from our friend's experience, so did we.  Plus Kevlar saw chaps.

April Snow Leaves As Fast As It Comes.
  Unlike western Massachusetts and New Hampshire’s White Mountains - which got 8" of snow from last week’s storm - we received just a few inches and that quickly melted even though the temperatures hovered in the 30s for several days.  The birds are now singing, frogs are croaking, grass is greening pastures and those are sure signs of Spring.   Fields and forest covered with snow did not freeze up here this past Winter and that sped along Spring drying. The lack of ground frost in combination with earlier warm temperatures leaves us well ahead of where we normally are and this year qualifies as an early Spring.  This photo is looking southeast from the yard towards our cow 'tarp barn.' Caleb is on a mission to move something or other with our massive old-timer Michigan Payloader.

Northern Maine’s Last Snowfall of the Year?
  It's a very rare April when we don't get snow.   Will last week's two-inch accumulation represent Winter's end?  On the other hand, we thought as much last year with a 14" snowfall on April 10 and another 8" on the 22nd.  But then after the calendar page turned we were a bit surprised to receive a final 10" snow on May 9.   Here, Amy finds her Ford Ranger pickup truck coated with last week's snowfall. Amy opted for the colorful 'Maine Agriculture’ License Plates.  Established in 2007, this Maine opt-in program dedicates $10 annually from each vehicle registration into a special fund which promotes Agriculture-in-the-Classroom education. Thanks to this fund, half of Maine's 180,000 school kids every year receive lessons teaching them about the importance of agriculture in the State of Maine and beyond.

Dreary Day for Spring Cleanup on Wood Prairie Family Farm.
  Scrap metal prices have been in the gutter for the past six years so there hasn't been much incentive to haul metal junk to the scrap yard. While the USA struggled through the Great Recession in 2008, much of the rest of the world was still booming, especially China.  With high demand scrap prices back then were 3x where they are today.  Metal junk and broken equipment tend to accumulate on a farm and this was the Spring to clean up.  So recently on a gray and dreary day hovering in the low 30s - alternating between big fat snowflakes and cold rain - Caleb loaded up our trailer with the first of two 4-ton loads of scrap metal for recyclers.  Meanwhile. one-year-old Australian Shepherd ‘Oakley’ demonstrates he has successfully trained local humans to throw sticks.  He has finally authenticated that while slow-witted we are at least good for something.



Caleb & Jim & Megan Gerritsen
Wood Prairie Family Farm
49 Kinney Road
Bridgewater, Maine 04735
(207) 429 - 9765 Certified Organic, From Farm to Mailbox