Sixty Cents A Barrel The Going Rate For Filling A Basket Of Maine Potatoes On A Local Aroostook County Spud Farm.
Potato Picking In Maine, Not Child Abuse But An Entry Level Job You Learn Much From.

The real value of a dollar is learned at an early age in Maine when kids pick potatoes to earn that money with hard manual labor.

Something just handed over, given to you or that falls in your lap does not have the same meaning, value as anything purchased with money you worked hard to get. My oldest of four children, Elizabeth made a classic remark, observation in an aisle of Walmart at nine and a half years of age on one Maine fall Saturday night. After week three of getting up in the dark, transported in the wee hours of a fall havest morning in Maine with lunch, snacks, water jug, she was a seasoned field worker. Money she earned, sixty cents a barrel for each 165 pound round cylinder she filled with golden Maine spuds was too precious to fritter.

It was not that she could not bring herself to spend potato picking money.

She had zeroed in on an item for $3.60 she wanted. Just not enough to part with the six barrels of potatoes she struggled with to earn it. The value, the exchange was not on par, not a fair trade in her opinion. She knew what effort, sacrifice $3.60 took to make. Toiling in the hot afternoon sun, running out of barrels, it beginning to rain, enjoy lunch sitting in your “section”. Working with other kids the Maine potato farmer needed to get the crop to storage, out of the field.

In agricultural Maine families the number of kids numbering nine, ten or more were common in the late 1800’s, earlier part of this century.

The siblings were close, not spoiled when they were nine months, twenty minutes apart in age.

If they were this many in number, surrounding a long kitchen harvest table. Kitchens were a buzz with family. The spark, special nature of each child made the family unique, complete. Like distinct musical notes making the music. Each personality shaped the flavor, essence of the family with their contribution on the farm. All were needed. All had chores, a role to play. And the effort was worth it and not debateable. Defining that child who grew up to be pretty self sufficient, tightly connected to the rest of the lineage, his or her community, church, school, etc.

Grandparents in this same Walton like image too. Open porches used in season to sip something cold in the evening. Something hot mornings as the sun rose. As the day was planned, usually around the weather patterns of the next 24 or 48 hours. You learned about other family members, history during the porch talks, the labor on the farm. Families were together. Some in the back forty acres. Others in the barn. All working.

Being needed. Very much loved and appreciated. Money was not in big supply, and it was used carefully. Not spent without thought. And other things figured in to the day to day above and beyond money. Work, services, produce or critters traded, exchanged for something of equal or greater value if possible. I was proud of my daughter’s wisdom to grasp at an early age the value of hard work, sweat and the exchange rate, correlation of what value is. The price you pay before you do for anything is an awareness, respect for a resource. Knowing the score, being a business person. Maine, simple life, not simple people. Wake up, start your dream. Own some.
I’m Maine REALTOR Andrew Mooers