Essex Farm Note

Week 50, 2017

It was -6 at the weather station on the farm this morning – fifteen degrees colder than the low that was originally called for. Miraculously, we have no frozen pipes, the frost-free hydrants have been safely defrosted, and the storage trailers full of produce stayed just above freezing. The Swartzentrubers arrived just after dawn in their buggy, after a 45 minute commute, and they were not frozen solid, either, but they looked pretty close to it, and they did accept my offer to come in and warm up at the wood stove before starting work. Despite the low ambient temperature, the ground is still not frozen, thanks to the 3” blanket of insulating snow. It won’t be long, of course – the weather station says it’s 35 degrees at 2” underground.

            After a tremendous team effort, we have all the posts planted for the new fence now. While I had another week at my desk, I hear Joseph was the star attraction on this project. He made picking up the beefy 200-300lb cedar posts look like he was carrying a stick of bamboo. Now that the  now have five miles of posts up, we have some decisions to make. Should we spend extra for woven wire fencing, which offers the highest level of security, or use the more affordable high tensile? If high tensile, how many strands, and in what configuration? These are the sorts of questions we discuss over dinner at our house. Decisions will need to be made by next week.

            The dairy calves moved indoors. The pigs are snuggled into their outdoor pigloos, stuffed with copious amounts of bedding. The pigloos– made from a giant fiberglass water tank that we cut in half, and outfitted with rubber flap doors –have been in service since the farm started. Once, our first winter, while I was away on a trip, Mark spent the night in a pigloo, along with the pigs, just to see how warm it stayed. He reported that it was very warm and cozy inside, but that he had a terrible night’s sleep, because he kept getting snouted by his bedfellows.

            The last of the lambs and cull ewes went to the freezer this week. The lambs dressed out a bit smaller than I had hoped for as a shepherd, but exactly what I would have wished for as a cook. They were 100% grass fed except for their last week or two, when they got a little rye to supplement this year’s so-so quality hay. We retained about two thirds of this year’s ewe lambs for breeding. We’ll need to work hard this winter to keep them fed well enough so they can finish their growth and also carry a lamb.

            What else? We pulled in about 500 lbs of kale from the field before the hard freeze. Please take a lot of it this week and next. The hub will process and freeze what we can’t use. Please sign up for 2018! Paperwork is available and we really want to feed you.  We hired Jonathon Pribble to haul all the compost from around the farm to the new (!) complete compost barn. Mark goes out to gaze at the pile with love in his eyes. And that is the news from Essex Farm for this happy 13th birthday, Jet! 50th week of 2017. Find us at 518-963-4613, essexfarm@gmail.com, on Instagram at kristinxkimball and essexfarmcsa, or on the farm, any day but Sunday.

-Kristin & Mark Kimball

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