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Organic News and Commentary
From Maine
Saturday, May 16th, 2020
 Volume 29 Issue 8

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   Winter's Last Blow.


May Snowstorm Drops Ten Inches of New Snow on Northern Maine.

Last Saturday it was unseasonably cold all across the eastern United States, down as far south as northern Georgia. Here in Maine, much of the State received over half a foot of snow. In our northern part of Maine the wind came up and turned our ten inches turned into snow drifts up to four-feet deep. Heavy rain on the following Monday melted much of the weekend snow, but then it turned cold on Tuesday and once again new snow whitened the ground.

That April and now May have been cold in Maine won’t surprise many. Maine soil is still cold and field work is getting off to a slow start. Some farmers are pushing the envelope and beginning to plant their potatoes. We believe in waiting for the ground to warm to 50ºF (at a soil depth of 4” at 7am) before we start planting our potatoes.

This year, waiting for warm ground serendipitously has allowed us more time to work inside the packing shed and continue to whittle down the unprecedented flood of seed orders which continue to roll in. Our turnaround is still about one week and we very much appreciate your understanding and patience! While we are running out of some potato varieties, but we still have many in stock, including several in larger bag sizes. Website listings are current. Supplies of organic Vegetable, Herb and Cover Crop seed are good.

Thanks for your support and kind words for our family farm!

Please follow us on our Wood Prairie Blog and on Facebook and Instagram.

Be well and stay safe!
Caleb, Jim & Megan Gerritsen & Family
Wood Prairie Family Farm
Bridgewater, Maine
Our Best Selling Products!


     Wood Prairie Family Farm Photos.

Caleb Loading Pallets of Wood Prairie Seed Potatoes. On a snowy morning last month Caleb used our Clark Forklift to load potatoes. With icy ground under the new snow cover wood ash has been shoveled to gain traction. Truck driver Ross Grass is with three-generation M.E. Grass & Sons Trucking in nearby Mars Hill. Caleb and Ross went through school together and were two of the thirty graduates of Central Aroostook High School’s Class of 2012.

Halle & Bella Enjoying Thawed Out Kinney Road. April brings about the thawing of the surfaces of plowed roads in Aroostook County. The road beneath the graveled surface layer is still frozen, often down to a depth of four to six feet. The snow banks have been “winged” back by Billy Brewer, the Town snowplow driver. The goal of ‘winging back’ snow (with a snow-plow-truck mounted ‘wing’) in the late Winter is to create additional room for plowing day-to-day snowstorms. Billy has long been a truck driver. Back in the 1970s, Jim worked as a cooper (‘Barrelmaker’) and Billy was a ‘Nailer’ at Bridgewater Barrel Company where they both helped make many thousands of cedar potato barrels for local farmers.

Caleb Working in Underground Potato House. The ceiling in our underground potato storage is fourteen feet high. This height allows us to triple-stack four-foot-cube pallet boxes full of potatoes or quadruple stack 34” ‘Carrot boxes’ (used for graded potatoes). We maintain the potato storage at a perfect 38ºF and high humidity for the duration of the Winter. Now that it’s mid-May, the temperature has slowly crept up to 41ºF. We built this underground storage in 1999. We constructed the building around the battery-powered Yale Forklift so that Yale has lived down cellar for twenty-one years. Like most equipment owned by family farmers, we bought this unit secondhand. And yes, those are American-made Carhartt pants and vest, what we wear around here.

Sarah & Amy Getting Ready for Kayak Run. Rapid snowmelt in April – often accompanied by rain - pushes local steams to their high water mark. Taking advantage of the fast flow, under gray skies on the afternoon of Thursday April 16, Caleb along with siblings Peter, Sarah & Amy donned wet suits and kayaked down nearby Prestile Stream from the dam in Robinson (‘Raw-baa-sun’) to the Canadian border. With rains following our 14” snowfall on April 10, flow had peaked on Monday the 13th. By the 16th leafy thatch in streambank bushes indicated the water had already dropped three feet. The run was exhilarating and fortunately no one fell into the ice cold water. Sunday the 19th Caleb and Amy kayaked down the still high Meduxnekeag River from the Maine Woods at Harvey Siding down to U.S. Route 1 in Monticello

Oliver 1850 During May Snowstorm. The view is looking southwest from the edge of our farmyard. Unmoved from where it was parked last Fall and open to the west wind, our biggest and best 92-horsepower 1968 Oliver 1850 Diesel tractor was blown free of snow during our recent 10” May snowfall. The wind accompanying the storm made drifts four or five foot drift high, including on the leeward (east) side of our north-south oriented 132’ long ‘high tunnel’ (modern name for an above-ground plastic-covered greenhouse). A week later the remnant of that snow drift was still around.

View from Packing Shed One Sunny Late April Afternoon. Looking southward, most of our Winter’s snow has melted and departed except for the piles shaded by woods and buildings. Mornings, the Post Office sends out a truck which we load up with packages of seed. Then at 3 o’clock we take the balance of that day’s parcels into the Bridgewater Post Office located four miles from the farm. Here, preparing to drive in to the Post Office, Caleb is loading his F350 crew cab Ford truck. He bought this truck used and completely rebuilt it beginning with the diesel engine and going all the way back to tailpipe. Caleb is a natural mechanic and in 2014 completed the two-year Diesel Hydraulics program at Northern Maine Community College in Presque Isle. If it makes noise and belches diesel fumes, you’ve caught Caleb’s interest

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