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THE SHIPWRECK ON MONHEGAN ISLAND. We had a Nolan family reunion on the Coast of…


THE SHIPWRECK ON MONHEGAN ISLAND. We had a Nolan family reunion on the Coast of Maine this week. On one day we took the ferry out from New Harbor to Monhegan Island which, visible from the mainland, is about 14 miles offshore. The passenger ferry ride takes about an hour. Some residents and Inns on the Island own pickup trucks or golf carts but visitors are not allowed to bring their own vehicles.
Monhegan Island is presently home to 64 year round residents (2020 census), ranging from fishermen to artists. There is a school for 5 to 12-year-olds. High school students attend classes on the mainland.
The island about 0.7 miles x 1.7 miles and is laced with a 12-mile-network of hiking trails.
The former Tugboat shown in the photo is known as the ‘Wreck’ and lies on the southwestern corner of the island between Lobster Cove and Christmas Cove. Megan is in the blue shirt and her nephew Connor Nolan is standing atop the hull. In the rise beyond them is a simple memorial consisting of a white cross and wreath.
European explorers first frequented Monhegan Island beginning in the early 1600s. However, ‘crude rock carvings,’ known as the ‘”Monhegan Inscription” could indicate visits by Phoenician sailors as early as 200 B.C. It is possible they could even be substantially older: Archeologist Dr James Whittall feels “the inscription is written in Ogam script used by the Celts in the Iberian peninsula as long ago as 2000 B.C.”
Caleb, Megan & Jim https://billfrederickportfolio.com/2014/05/16/journalism-as-history-ii-the-phoenicians-in-maine/




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ROGUING POTATOES (AGAIN) THIS MORNING ON WOOD PRAIRIE FAMILY FARM. Megan drives…


ROGUING POTATOES (AGAIN) THIS MORNING ON WOOD PRAIRIE FAMILY FARM. Megan drives the red Farmall tractor pulling the high-clearance Roguing Cart. Cassidy at left walks the potato rows. Kenyon and Jim – out-of-sight – work the other side of the flower bed.
The prominent Beneficial Insect Flowers blooming in this in-field Flower bed refuge this week are orange California Poppies and the remarkably prolific Beneficial Insect workhorse, ‘Phacelia’ (https://www.woodprairie.com/product/flower-seed-organic-phacelia-pkt/), with lavender blossoms. That single purple blossom towards the lower left is the first of our Cosmos, with many more on their way!
To Megan’s left, a lightly blossoming patch of Rose Gold potatoes and one nice row of Elba in full blossom. To her right are five more rows of Elba. Then many rows of Eliot Coleman’s favorite potato, ‘French Charlotte’ (https://www.woodprairie.com/product/organic-certified-charlotte-seed-potatoes/).
Last evening’s thunderstorms seemed to have broken the back of our heat wave. Today was sunny, warm, breezy and low humidity…as nice a Summer day as we get here in the great State of Maine. Caleb, Megan & Jim




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YESTERDAY WE ACHIEVED THE HOLY GRAIL OF FARMING. That would be getting hay into…


YESTERDAY WE ACHIEVED THE HOLY GRAIL OF FARMING. That would be getting hay into the barn without a drop of rain ever touching it since the crop was mowed thanks to a dry hot spell.
At one end of the spectrum, farmer friends in Nebraska – where it’s hot AND dry – have bragged they can cut hay in the morning and bale that same afternoon.
In cool Maine, depending on how early in the haying season it is, it usually takes three days for Timothy Grass hay to dry. Add another day or two if there is Clover mixed in because of Clover’s thicker stems. Cross that with the historical fact that it is typical for Maine to get a shower or two most weeks and you come to understand why Maine rain-free hay is not common.
One wet Summer about 40 years ago the rain pattern was so well established that while still working on a first cut into August, we’d mow hay while a current rain was winding down in order to be able to bale it before the beginning of the next rain event.
In recent decades, big ’round bales’ have made haying much less labor intensive and more equipment intensive. Here, Caleb is using our Skidsteer loader outfitted with a red hay spear to unload 800-pound round bales (equivalent to 40 ‘square’ bales) and put them away in the tarp barn.
Thunderstorms are likely here this afternoon and evening continuing into Monday. Caleb, Megan & Jim




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‘CALIFORNIA POPPIES’ DOMINATE BENEFICIAL-FLOWER-BEDS THIS WEEK. Muddy tractor t…


‘CALIFORNIA POPPIES’ DOMINATE BENEFICIAL-FLOWER-BEDS THIS WEEK. Muddy tractor tires are proof that waiting just 30 hours after this week’s heavy 1.5″ rain ended was cutting it close because a few low spots in the field were still wet and soft.
However, roguing for Potato Virus ‘waits for no man.’ We had delayed this week’s roguing so we could get back our first-inspection results from Kristi Bradbury, our State Seed Inspector.
After roguing our entire Potato acreage for three weeks, we’re now shifting over to focusing on the few seed lots which need special attention.
We received only one surprise – an early generation seed lot from which we neither expected nor had seen any signs of trouble. But this week the variety had matured enough to ‘break:’ virus-infected individual plants for the first time expressed visual symptoms sufficiently mottled to be visible to our eyes.
Out they go! Caleb, Megan & Jim




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AND SECOND PLACE GOES TO: CALIFORNIA POPPY! The first California Poppy blossom…


AND SECOND PLACE GOES TO: CALIFORNIA POPPY! The first California Poppy blossom opened a week ago. That makes it the SECOND EARLIEST (behind #1 Buckwheat) Flower to blossom in this year’s Beneficial Insect Flower Beds situated in and around our fields of Organic Maine Certified Seed Potatoes.
This week’s heat and rain have really pushed along the growth of both Flowers and Potatoes, helping Northern Maine catch-up in Growing Degree Days after falling behind because of a cool, wet Spring Caleb, Megan & Jim




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CALEB CUTTING HAY ON WOOD PRAIRIE FAMILY FARM. Bridgewater got its severe Thund…


CALEB CUTTING HAY ON WOOD PRAIRIE FAMILY FARM. Bridgewater got its severe Thunderstorm on Tuesday with high winds and and inch-and-a-half of rain which for a time came down at a rate of 13.4″/hour according to our farm weather station.
Yesterday, much of Maine received another batch of severe Thunderstorms but they went around us and we stayed dry.
With hot weather in the forecast Caleb cut our crop of Clover & Timothy hay. At the time of this shot it was 90oF, which is a hot day for Northern Maine.
This field was planted to Organic Seed Potatoes (https://www.woodprairie.com/category/the-organic-garden/certified-organic-maine-certified-seed-potatoes/) two years ago and will be back in potatoes in 2024.
In between potato crops we put our fields into sod to build the soil and break up potato insect pest and disease cycles. Over the course of our 4-Year Crop Rotation, we take a single cutting of hay for our own cows. We’ll hay this field again four years from now. Caleb, Jim & Megan




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MAINE TALES: “AN AWFUL NICE FIELD OF BUCKWHEAT.” Grand Falls, New Brunswick CA…


MAINE TALES: “AN AWFUL NICE FIELD OF BUCKWHEAT.” Grand Falls, New Brunswick CANADA. Circa 1987
The photo below shows Jim chopping down one of the nicest Buckwheat crops we have ever grown years ago one wet Summer. This ‘Maine Tales’ goes back decades and crosses the Border into ‘The Province.’ Caleb Megan & Jim

“No doubt our recurring nightmare of Buckwheat-weed-seed-paranoia traces back to one fateful Organic inspection we had thirty-five years ago. Today, we ought to be holding a party celebrating that this Spring we finally broke free of that Buckwheat phobia.

Forty years ago we were part of a group of farmers who met ‘across the line’ in Canada for monthly meetings in the wintertime, and field trips in the Summer. We called our group “SAVE” (“Sustainable Agriculture for the [St. John] Valley Ecosystem”). Sometimes a knowledgeable speaker would be brought in; other times, a local farmer would give a talk about some innovative practice she was doing.

Buckwheat, as the miracle soil-building cover crop that it is, got plenty of attention and deserved-hype from speakers and farmers alike. We were fluent and well-warned to chop and incorporate Buckwheat at 2% bloom lest early setting groats shattered to the ground and came back the next year as a miserable weed infestation in a valuable cash crop…”

READ MORE: https://www.woodprairie.com/newsletters/071522.html#Article_1




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CONTROL “WEEDS” AND NURTURE SOIL HEALTH BY UNDERSTANDING THE STAGES OF ECOLOGICA…


CONTROL “WEEDS” AND NURTURE SOIL HEALTH BY UNDERSTANDING THE STAGES OF ECOLOGICAL SUCCESSION FROM BARE DIRT TO MATURE FOREST

In regenerative agroforestry we work too hard for bad results when we unwittingly adopt the practices of degenerative agriculture, i.e., excessive weeding, tillage, chemical fertilizers and biocides, all of which keep the soil in a degraded state.

This image is from a stellar, inspired and accessible book called “Regenerative Soil, The Science & Solutions” by Matt Powers.

Here’s what the image conveys:
From left to right, as an ecosystem moves through the stages of succession from bare soil to mature forest, it moves from alkaline to acid, from bacterial dominant to fungal dominant and from arid to humid.

Understanding the stages of ecological succession can be the key to controlling “weeds” which are often present because bad management keeps the soil in a degraded state, i.e., closer to the early stages of succession.

A section of ground dominated by vines, shrubs and trees with slightly acid fungal dominant soil is going to be less inviting to “weeds.”

There are exceptions to this rule. Certain invasive species might be strong no matter how carefully you nurture soil health. However, it is harder for them to invade a mature ecosystem that includes a healthy soil ecosystem.

PRINCIPLES OF SOIL HEALTH
-Avoid tillage
-Avoid synthetic fertilizers
-Avoid toxic and synthetic biocides, including insecticides, herbicides and fungicides.
-Avoid bare ground. Always keep the ground covered with SOMETHING, whether living roots, (like cover crops) or organic matter (like leaves, limbs, logs, wood chips, mulch or crop clippings).

This 1) nurtures soil health, 2) enhances soil structure and function and 3) infuses the soil food web with a diverse and robust community of living things—bacteria, protozoa, fungi, nematodes, worms, slugs, ants, etc.

This community of living things IS soil health. This underground community of living things delivers bio-available nutrients to the plants. The plant community then returns the favor by nurturing an ever more robust soil food web.

A NEW FRONTIER
This whole discussion of soil health lead by Elaine Ingham, Christine Jones, Ray Archuleta, Matt Powers, and Gabe Brown is—arguably—the new frontier.

This topic has been so neglected for so long and is so little understood. But “in the land of the blind, the one eyed man is king.” A little knowledge goes a long way.

If you grow the soil, the soil will grow your plants.

“Soil and plants are one.”
—Ray Archuleta




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