Breakfast for a Maine potato warrior.
A fall harvest worker needs a solid breakfast food fortification under his or her belt to do the day justice. Lots of snacks. The same attention given to the hearty sandwiches produced in the early morning dark to head to the fields.
Hard physical labor helping area Maine potato farmers get the crop out of the ground. Delivered to the darker than the inside of a cow storage bins. Safely, with all the worker’s arms, legs, limbs and fingers kept intact. The same number heading in as completing the Maine potato harvest the safety goal.
Oldest son may have his last day for a local Maine potato farmer today. Danny Corey grows 800 acres of the Maine spuds. Lots of acreage of grains too. Shifting focus to the tablestock and seed market after months of careful growing round the clock attention. Tending the Maine farm fields.
From planting, to cultivating, hoeing, spraying to avoid blight, then harvest makes Maine farming one big high tech production.
The farm I own is rented to a Maine spud grower with 500 acres of potatoes. And many area Maine farmers are wrapping it up this week with warm temperatures to complete the out of the ground fall harvest operation.
Dedication to spraying, an expensive operation this year to contain, avoid blight and lots of rain fall during the growing season added tension to the potato growing gamble. Ruts in the fields from the continuous spraying even though new high tech spray coupe’s are not heavy weights and designed to get in and out of fields treading lightly. Controlling the moisture is a relationship with Mother Nature that is up and down, contentious at best.
As the loads of potatoes in bulk bodies or barrels come in to the spud storage houses, how wet the harvest conditions are determines how much dirt, soil leaves the field. Add to the harvester process on a windy day with blowing dust, fine dirt exiting the same field and slowly the natural soil level lowers.
With the plows, harrows, discs year after year digging in to the soil, keeping the soil in place, in the field and not washed away during down pours is an on going campaign.
You do not want water laying in the field, rotting potatoes.
Nor rain racing toward a nearby stream, brook, river, lake, pond carrying nutrients, dirt in to a nearby water habitat. Drainage ditches, French drains, contour planting all designed to help soil conservation and keep the dirt in the field. The soil from pans under graders in the potato houses is brought back, put over the bald spots called field ledge.
Breakfast is ready, Jo Jo the potato worker Alex gives a ride north to Monticello is here to have a fresh cup of black coffee. The kitchen full of chatter, laughter.
And talk about hopefully the last day of Maine potato harvest.
Only three acres of purples to harvest in an operation that chews up 75 or more acres per day if all conditions are right. If the farming operation stays humming, purring.
But yesterday’s bin piler conveyor breakdowns, moisture increasing in the field both just enough for a set back to keep from wrapping up the potato harvest operation. To avoid another day of field and potato house work. It is a high tech three ring circus to keep air harvesters working, windrowers feeding them with spuds of all colors, varieties, shapes, sizes. Not a horse and one row farming operation any more.
Maine, come see our fertile fields, roam the woods, sample the recreation water and meet the down to earth people.