As I sit in Grand Isle, in the actual Crown of Maine, I’m looking at Canada while I work on updating the backlog of Dispatches. It’s been quite the winter, and that’s evident up here as the peepers are only just getting started, and the potato fields in the river bottom spreads are flooded from the snowmelt that’s still easing its way sideways across fields and down the slopes of the Valley.
Marada’s note below about lumberjack camps and cooks got a plethora of responses with fascinating anecdotes, links, and historical information.
Looking at the land up here in the Valley (the St. John Valley, for downstaters) the logging history is evident, though not immediately. Eighty years ago the Valley was open, virtually horizon to horizon; fifty years before that the log corrals were still in operation on the St. John, instead of anonymous piles of rocks at regular intervals in the river.
Today we, like the entire Northeast biome, are evidence of one of the only positive reforestation rates in the world as land that was cleared for pasture and hay are regrowing and closing in fields. While this may pang a farmer’s heart, it is testament of change, and asks us to be thoughtful about our actions in our own zip code, in the face of worldwide environmental pressures.
On a more immediate level, it also means that for the first time in generations, we have the unique task of stewarding forests that didn’t exist eighty years ago, instead of existing stands. How do we do this? How do we ‘weed our trees’ as Eli Berry recently asked me?
An interesting challenge, and one that many of us are scratching our heads and grappling with. Below, Marada marvels at the logistics of feeding lumberjacks…
This was originally sent January 9, 2014.
Under-observed Items on Our List
1. Ocean Approved Kelp
2. Living Grains Apple Jam (the real deal, but limited!)
3. Central Street Farm brew kits – good time of year to start one!
4 . Herbal Teas from Blessed Maine Herb Farm
5. Pita Bread from Scratch Farm
6. Morgan’s Mills Corn Flour
7. Maine Fresh Pies
8. Goat, Rabbit, and Lamb Meat – change it up!
9. Half chickens from Sunnyside – easy to cook, great for 1-3 people
10. Muchener Bier Radish
I’d best make this quick – my kids are clamoring for breakfast, lunches need to be made, the day begun (that is, the non-availability sheet making day!)….
We’ve all been saying ‘something’s got to give’ with this weather, the time of year, the inevitable breakdowns that come with extreme cold (frozen pipes, anyone?). I am definitely looking forward to next week’s promised warmer temps…but I also can’t help thinking of lumberjacks. To be more specific, the camps that were set up to feed them. Does anyone else think that whipping out pancakes for 50-100 men (hungry, grumpy, hungover, burly, I-love-moving-heavy-frozen-things-kind-of-men) seems like a rather thankless yet crucial job? Or maybe well thanked, depending on the camp and its character?
These temperatures get me thinking about the logistics of these frontier feats…how many wagons to haul in the food, how many weeks worth to haul in at a time, could we provision in this way today if we really thought about it? How many cooks to feed that many men? How many cords of wood to heat the stoves? Did they ever run out of coffee, and then what?
I’ll leave you with that thought to muse on for the day. Meanwhile, order up some COM provisions, stock your larders, ration your supplies for at least a week, and get those orders in before the oxen haul on out!
Now to feed my mini-jacks….