Essex Farm Note

Week 11, 2017

When the sun came up on Tuesday morning the sky was matte gray; looking into it was like looking into the flat eye of some disturbed being. Just after 8 the sky seemed to break up and begin to move, subtle at first, like a plague of hatchling insects. As the day wore on, the wind came, and the tiny flakes swirled and drifted. By afternoon milking it was a real blizzard. Anne was scheduled to jar the milk, and she had valiantly tried to drive to us, but was stuck in a ditch at the bottom of Crooked S Hill. Mark went to pull her out with the F350, and I went to the milkhouse in her place. By then, the storm was so wild that I had to struggle through drifts and against the wind, and when I opened my mouth to take a deep breath snow flew in and melted in my throat, like breathing in a swarm of frozen gnats. As I set up to jar the milk, the pitch of the wind became even more fierce. The door to the milkhouse blasted open. Then slammed closed. Then slammed open. Ice formed on the threshold so it wouldn’t close at all and small drifts began to gather around the equipment.

            Stepping into the barn, though, was like stepping into another world. The noise of the storm was muted. All was calm. The cows were in their stanchions, chewing their cud as usual, with their steady circular jaws. Alex was teaching Zohar how to milk, talking her through the steps of teat prep. Barbie the cat was curled in a warm nest in the hay. The sows in the covered barnyard had buried themselves entirely, only the ridges of their backs showing, rising and falling with their breath.

            When the storm finally ended, there was much to be grateful for. People and animals were safe. The electricity even stayed on, which meant the chicks were warm in their brooders, and the seedlings warm in their flats. Thanks to Ben for plowing us out, to Jori for braving the slush and ice in Albany and New York City on Thursday, to our patient members for those late deliveries, and to the whole team for getting here on Wednesday morning despite the extreme conditions.  

            Big thanks too to everyone who helped spread the word last week about our search for a new dairy team leader. We have had several inquiries, and are still taking applications. I have two new requests this week. First, would you help us meet our goal of adding thirty new members by the end of the 2017? We are marketing shares at home here in Essex, in New York City, in Albany, and in the Lake Placid/Tri-lakes region. If you know someone who might be interested in a share, please put us in touch. The second request is for a big but short-term loan. We have grants from NRCS and NYS Soil and Water to build a 75’ X 300’ compost barn to protect our watershed from runoff. It will also help us make better compost, which will build even better soil, and grow even better plants and animals. Preliminary drawings are set, and construction must be compete by the end of the year. The grants pay out at completion of the $450K project, so we are looking for short-term loans to get us through construction. Please let us know if you can help. And that is the news from Essex Farm for this big bad stormy 11th 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