Essex Farm Note

Week 15, 2017

Peepers sang from the pond this week, signaling the start of the great annual game. Suddenly, the grass is coming, bright green life rising up out of cold dead brown. Even though the last patches of snow were holding out in the shadows, the fields were dry enough for work. Work we did! We pulled the straw from the strawberries and the sweet and green onions, and noted how beautifully the garlic next to them has germinated. We spread organic fertilizer with the spin spreader, and scratched it in with the pulvermulcher. We killed some overwintering weeds: shepherds purse, field pennycress, and peppercress, in preparation for planting onions, potatoes, and cover crops. The soil is still cold – 45 degrees – but nonetheless we are hoping to seed spinach, peas, lettuce, carrots and beets this coming week. The greenhouse is already planted to spinach, pok choi, and swiss chard. The overwintered parsnips are coming out of the ground today, and they should be sweet as Easter candy. Still, there is just enough cold at night to keep the sap running. Mark thinks we will get a run today. The maples will be budding in the next few days, which puts a hard stop to the maple season, but we might just eek out a few more gallons of very dark syrup. All this busy-ness was a full team effort from a small team that has been running at half power, due to a spring respiratory virus that ran straight through all of us. The sun has knocked it clear of us now.

            I’m heading out of town with the girls today, to pick up our seed potatoes in Central New York and sneak in a quick visit with family. This leaves Mark in charge of the flock, just as the first lambs are due to hit the ground. But everything is ready, and the ewes look good, and I do think he can handle it. We had a small setback in the sheep barn this week. Someone left the water on, and it overflowed, and flooded parts of the lambing area with a good five inches of water. All the deep bedding was saturated. This meant we had to decide quickly if we should move the flock to a different barn for lambing, lamb on pasture, or try to get it cleaned up before the quickly looming deadline. We settled on the last option, and Ben, Morgan, Jon, Mae, and Brandon spent several hours working hard with the skid steer and hand tools on Monday and Tuesday, hauling out the wet bedding, piling it for composting, and replacing it with dry. Everything looks cozy now, and as a bonus, we used the special circumstances to set up the first pasture, so sheep and guard dogs have more space to spread out as labors commence.

            We have Fledging Crow spinach in the share this week, and hooray for that. We’re close to final drawings on the new compost barn, hoping to break ground in 4 weeks. The pullets are on pasture and have begun to lay. The rollaway nest boxes in their coop are working beautifully. Special thanks to Chris and Joseph for getting auto waterers up and running, which saves lots of time and keeps water clean. The goslings did their first work this week, weeding the middle greenhouse. And that is the news from Essex Farm for this peepers! 15th week of 2017. Find us at essexfarm@gmail.com, on instagram at kristinxkimball and essexfarmcsa, at 518-963-4613, or on the farm, any day but Sunday.

–Kristin & Mark Kimball