Branch of the Pleasant River, Gulf Hagas,
Maine. Circa 2020.
Known as the ‘Grand
Canyon of the East’ Gulf Hagas is a hidden treasure in
the North Maine Woods in the vicinity of Katahdin Iron
Works. After driving past Brownville, one
can get to Gulf Hagas by tackling an enjoyable and
beautiful five-to-eight mile round trip day hike.
Over the Summer we took a
wonderful overnight ‘Farmer Vacation,’ hiked to Gulf
Hagas and stayed in an only partially-full State Park
campground not too far away from Gulf Hagas. Soon after
you begin your Gulf Hagas hike you’ll need to ford the
bridgeless West Branch which this July presented no
problems. However, during Spring runoff - or after
heavy rains – it might be another matter different from
our carefree crossing.
Indications are that during
this extraordinary Covid year many Americans embraced
the great outdoors with new enthusiasm. We hope
you were among them.
Again, we want to urge you to order your seed early this
year - especially the larger quantities - because we
expect to sell out. Thanks!
Wherever you are, we send your family our best
wishes for remaining well and staying safe during these
tumultuous times, most especially now during this
important Thanksgiving season.
Jim & Megan Gerritsen & Family
Wood Prairie Family Farm
Our Best Selling
Wood Prairie Family
the Dust During Potato Harvest.
Our record dry growing season (a combined 5.65”
of rainfall for June, July, August & September)
reversed course towards the end of potato harvest.
With repetitive rains, October 2020 now ranks as one
of Northern Maine’s wettest Octobers on record.
Here at the farm we received 6.52” of rain in October
alone. In this photo after completing a field
repair, Caleb leaves a dust cloud behind during the
extremely dry start to our Wood Prairie Potato
Harvest. Now, our unusual Maine drought is
quickly fading from memory.
Headed East Across Wood Prairie Potato Field.
One afternoon this Fall we were digging potatoes on the
south side of our main field. We were surprised to
observe a very determined bull moose exit the
North Maine Woods and make a beeline across our potato
about 150 feet from us. He
acted oblivious to the considerable noise from our
Oliver 1750 Diesel tractor pulling the clanky Juko
Potato Harvester. Ken took this shot with his
phone. Our year-round co-worker Kenyon is a real
outdoorsman, having grown up inside of Maine’s
wilderness Baxter State Park where both of his parents
were longtime Park Rangers. Given the moose’s
focused attitude, Ken allowed that the bull had picked
out the scent of a cow moose and had romance on his
’Big Pond’ Looking East.
shot was taken on the last day of September, a month
which gave us a paltry 0.38” of total rainfall. Over
the dry Summer we had irrigated potatoes from this
pond and drawn the water level down five feet from
Back thirty-five years ago we dug
out the first corner of this pond. Over the
years we’ve enlarged it two times so that it now
contains a surface area of one-and-a-half-acres.
When full, it’s 12 feet deep at the near end and, as is
our pattern, we dug it right down to ‘ledge’
(bedrock). Despite the water draw - and the
droning noise from the diesel irrigation pump - a family
of Wood Ducks lived on the Big Pond all Summer
long. This Spring a pair hatched out five
ducklings. By Fall, the fluffy babies appeared to
be almost as big as their parents.
The Brook in
Wood Prairie Cedar Swamp.
waterways were at record lows this Summer because of our
“NOAA D3 Extreme Drought.” Our farm has
a small year-round brook which flows through our
woodlot and is a minor tributary to the South Branch
of Whitney Brook.
Flowing eastward, the
South Branch joins the North Branch about halfway
towards the village of Bridgewater. When you cross
the bridge driving along U.S. Route 1 in Bridgewater,
you are crossing over the united Whitney Brook.
Whitney Brook meanders for several more miles to a point
very near the U.S. Border Port-of-Entry. There the
Whitney joins the bigger and longer Prestile
Stream. The Prestile immediately crosses the
U.S./Canada border. It continues on for miles in
Canada before in time it spills into the St. John
River. The St. John eventually flows into the Bay
of Fundy which is the part of the Atlantic Ocean which
separates Nova Scotia from New Brunswick.
Cutting & Splitting Firewood.
of the last outdoor jobs we get to every Fall is cutting
up and splitting firewood for heating our
buildings. Going on ten years ago, one Fourth
of July weekend our town had the misfortune to
experience the wild remnants of an early season
It came through that
Saturday with winds of 45 mph and quickly dumped 6” of
rain. With the ground saturated, the wind was more
than the shallow-rooted Poplar trees could handle.
Big Poplars blew over and with their spreading crowns
they each took down a half dozen nearby spruce and
firs. The woods in these parts became a mangled
mess of toppled trees one could barely walk
through. We had loggers - using European–tracked
logging equipment - come in to salvage the downed
wood. One result was we got a huge pile of
hardwood logs out of the deal. This pile has
helped us keep a year or two ahead on firewood ever
since. Here we're splitting wood and Caleb is
driving the skidsteer.
extremely partial to Oliver tractors. It helps
that for many years Bradbury Brothers not only grew
potatoes but had an Oliver Tractor dealership right
here in Bridgewater, just four miles from our farm.
That’s a big reason why there have been so many Olivers
in this country. Olivers are honest, hard-working
tractors, providentially safe from complicated and
short-lived modern electronics. Their
well-engineered design means that fifty years later they
are still being worked daily and farmer-mechanics
can repair them as needed. Olivers were in their
heyday in the 1960s and that’s the era most of our
Oliver tractors hail from. Taking a rest after
Fall work are (left to right) an Oliver 1650 Diesel, an
Oliver 1850 diesel and another Oliver 1650 Diesel loaded
up with front-mounted ‘suitcase weights’ which
counterbalance heavy rear loads.
Sunset on Wood Prairie Family Farm.
pretty sunset last week followed a morning with a
quickly departing weather system which first arrived as
snow, then shifted over to heavy rain and that erased
all the snow. This photo of clearing skies is
looking southwest from our yard. Our
six-month-old Australian Shepard, ‘Oakley,’ is
investigating scents found near an Oliver tractor.
That garden plot had been recently plowed and is now
frozen over, awaiting a winterlong blanket of
snow. Harvest is complete. Field work is
done. Firewood is secured away and stored
inside. We’re as ready now for a Maine Winter as
we ever are.
Caleb & Jim &
Wood Prairie Family
49 Kinney Road
(207) 429 - 9765
Certified Organic, From Farm to Mailbox