Essex Farm Note

Week 44, 2017

November, and yet we have green grass, and a few tomatoes in the hoophouse, herbs in the garden, fresh greens coming in. Things are still growing. The paddock that the sheep grazed three weeks ago has three inches of new grass in it. “It’s September weather in November,” Mark said this morning. This falls into the category of weird, but good. Our work is mostly caught up right now. We still have leeks in the field, but the other big harvests are home and stored. We still need to plant the garlic. And if the rain stops and the fields dry out, we have rye cover crop to plant, most urgently on the new Blockhouse Field, which has been well spread with compost, but could really use some carbon.

            The potatoes came in on Tuesday and Wednesday. It was a disappointing yield, especially when compared to the bountiful carrots and the beets that grew next door. Apparently the potatoes didn’t like the wet summer, and suffered from some blights, which kept production down. But every year we have some crops that thrive and some that don’t produce well; if we run out of potatoes, it should be possible to trade for more, given what we have in abundance. (We only trade with local farms whose standard for quality and avoidance of pesticides, herbicides, etc. meet our own.) Kennebec, our white storage potato, did better than the blues and reds. They are nicely sized, with no hollow heart and a very good taste.

            We got behind on the late season weeding in the herb garden, and the chickweed went nuts, forming a lush green carpet over the ground. Weeds! If you can’t beat ‘em, you can eat ‘em. We have chickweed in the share this week. The name comes from the fact hens love it so – and hens are smarter than they look. It’s highly nutritious, and it’s delicious. It can be eaten raw as a salad green or cooked like spinach. It’s got a bit of a crunch to it, and a mild, pleasing flavor.

            The Thanksgiving share comes in just two weeks. Let us know if you would like a particularly large harvest of anything for your feast. We test-slaughtered two of the larger turkeys yesterday, and found they’re bigger than we thought they’d be, coming in at over 20 lbs. We’re on track to have fresh Thanksgiving turkeys for all the members who have ordered them. The Christmas turkeys will probably be frozen, since the birds will get too monstrously big if we let them keep growing.

                        We had a mixed week in the dairy herd. One of the cows, Kimber, bagged up last weekend and looked ready to give birth, though according to my records she wasn’t due until December. When I double checked, I found we’d bred her twice. She must have settled on the first shot, and shown a false heat later. In any case, she had a pretty, healthy heifer calf, which Anne named Keen. A few days later, though, one of the first-timers, Kiwi, gave birth on a wet day, and didn’t claim her calf, who stumbled outside the fence and into a puddle. The calf was only a few hours old when we found her, but unfortunately too chilled to survive. Kiwi, though, is doing fine, and with all these fresh cows in the barn, we are making a lot of good milk. And that’s the news from Essex Farm for this win some, lose some 44th week of 2017. Find us at 518-963-4613, on insta at kristinxkimball and essexfarmcsa, essexfarm@gmail.com, or on the farm, any day but Sunday.

–Kristin & Mark Kimball

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