Essex Farm Note

Week 48, 2017

I have been at my desk most of the week and missed all the action on the farm, but here’s the report from outside my window. The rams have joined the flock this week. The older ram – who was named Peony, somehow – has red raddle slathered on his brisket, and the younger ram, who just arrived today, is painted green. When they mount the ewes, they mark them with their own particular color. We can keep score of the merits of youth vs. experience this way, see which ewes are bred and which are open, and get some Christmas-themed color in the field at the same time. I’m half excited and half nervous about the rate at which the flock is growing. We had 84 lambs this past spring, but of them, only 25 were ram lambs, and 59 were ewes. If we were to retain all the ewe lambs for breeding and not cull any ewes, we’d be lambing 140 ewes.

Many thanks to everyone who worked in the field to bring in the leeks this week. It’s a cold-hand sort of job, and takes a long time. But they are all in now. I’m making potato leek soup for team dinner tonight, with fresh challah bread. Meanwhile, the rest of the team was focused on getting the new fencing laid out – part of the CREP project, to fence out the wetlands. We have to decide exactly where to put them, and where the gates should be. The tricky part is knowing that these are 25-year fences, so we will have to live with these our decisions for a long time, even if the farm’s needs change. As Mark says, we’ll never get it exactly right, but we’ll try our best. The posts should be in next week. We had two new adorable calves in the dairy herd this week. Good old Fanny, one of our oldest cows, delivered her 7 th calf, named Fiddle. Last night, Frida (who is
a Fanny daughter) gave birth to Forina. Both babies are doing well. The pigs are in a new pasture, and their grain ration has been reduced because there is so much other food available to them. They are thriving on beets, pumpkins, skim milk, and a limited amount of rye berries, plus everything they can root from the field.

I have three good introductions to make, but time is short, so they will wait until next week. For now, I’ll just say a loud and heartfelt farewell to John Keating. He arrived with no farm experience, and quickly became a beloved and valuable member of the team. He’s returning to Chicago where he works as an actor. We hope he’ll be back with us sometime soon. Meantime, thank you John for your hard work and good company.

The Grange is hosting a benefit for area food pantries next Sunday, December 10 th . This is the annual performance of “A Christmas Carol” and holiday celebration. All proceeds will go to the food pantries in Willsboro, Westport, and Elizabethtown. Last year, they raised $1,000 and would love to top that this year. Several farm members will be on stage! Festivities start at 3pm with cookie making and kids’ crafts, along with music and refreshments for adults. Performance is at 4pm. Suggested donation is $10/adults, free for kids. Please help spread the word so we can keep everyone in our community at the table. And that’s the news from Essex Farm for this raw 48th week of 2017. Find us at 518-963- 4613, essexfarm@gmail.com, or on the farm, any day but Sunday.

–Kristin & Mark Kimball

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