Up before 5am to tie on the kitchen apron to whip up a breakfast of home made beans, blueberry pancakes and brown in serve sausages.
For the oldest son home from his real jobs of working at a Colorado ski area, the white water rafting gig. Alex who gets filled up, caffeinated and sent out the door with a lunch to get him through a long day at the Corey Farms Maine potato house. Fall is in the air, the spud harvesting tradition continues.
The brown and serve sausage links got me thinking. Pre-cooked and ready to hit a hot griddle to sizzle. To finish what was already started back at the Three Little Pigs sausage factory in some other solar system. Prepared to “ta da”. End up like you see at the IHOP, in the commercials right in the privacy, comfort of your own home. In two shakes of a lamb’s tail. Quick like a bunny as you would remind the kids when the clock on the wall said we’re late for the sandman’s nightly visit.
It used to be the potato farmer of Maine grew just Green Mountains, Russet Burbank, Ontarios, Katahdins or a handful of other tried and tested strains, varieties.
Now 2157’s, Mocca’s, Purples, Atlantics, Red Pontiacs, Yukon Gold, Blues and a slew of other types. All with their own uniqueness, merits when hopping on, holding down its section of the supper table plate.
But like everything farming in Maine has gotten complicated. Seed farmers, specific niche market growers for the processors have come out of the smoke of battle to stay on the Maine farm. To adjust, become Spartan like tough as old board nails. As the number of spud farmers in Maine decreases. As the acreage planted, cultivated, harvested increases. Stay small, grpw big or run and hide, get out has happened. As the $2500 to $3000 to grow the acre of Maine potatoes separates the men from the boys. The shift from family farm to a factory agricultural operation grinds on like the cleats, tracks on a tank squeak squeak rummble, rattle and hum going into battle.
And the house wife, house husband too of which I was a member as a single full time parent needs something that jives with the busy schedule of active kids, jobs, life balancing act of today. So pre-cooked, throw this in the oven or microwave dial it in, ding ding your radiated food is done happened.
To fill a need, quickly fuel, fit a family on the tare.
Palm size hash browns to hold, nibble on. Or sliced, diced taters like the Ruby Tuesday reds ones with special secret seasoned cheese sauce to die for that are expensive but big time meal munching clock saving. NASCAR pit stop quick to laddle on to a plate. To complete the meal needed to avoid a drive through fast food visit instead. On the way to a hockey, soccer, baseball (insert here from the arm’s length list of activities) after everyone piles in “The Beast” to be carted here and fro. To wherever the kiddos need to be next as the Earth turns faster, faster spinning tilted on its axis.
Like MRE’s the armed forces enjoyed, shared huddled in a foxhole on enemy soil defending freedom.
Except created to overcome the no room in the just in time inventory / life on the edge approach to rise and shine. Before the sunset of the day in Maine happens. Meal, Ready To Eat…. hit and run, lock and load, rack ’em and stack ’em for the shock and awe. Except these vittles taste great and a scan of the nutritional merit shows shake your head side to side concern. Heavy sodium, fat and other not so healthy food information delivered in the all in one meal warnings. That glow eerily on the side panel, bar code scan area of the package disclaimer information.
The baked potato at 425 degrees for over an hour does not fit the overbooked, heavy time sensitive schedule today for many with kids. In single parent households or not. So reaching for the tray of pre-cooked, jump started Maine processed food is showing up in the grocery store coolers. To match the speed of life in a Maine household.
As the appetite of the food delivery options need to change, so do the patterns, habits, rituals of the Maine potato farmer on the production end of the food chain.
And boy have they ever since the days of being a young grasshopper. Standing over a Maine farm house kitchen table. Helping mom on the family farm with the three older brothers, Dad. Shaking out a dusty can of potato barrel numbered tickets. Fine dust filtering during the one potato, two potato tally. To determine the daily count of all the spud field warriors that had a hand, a part in the fall harvest tradition in Aroostook County Maine.