Essex Farm Note

Week 20, 2017

First real heat this week, which put everything in motion. The lilacs hit the peak of their fragrant bloom, the asparagus leapt out of the ground, the grass grew high overnight, and the soil warmed enough to plant corn and potatoes. (The first big thunder storm of the season threatened too, with destructively high winds and heavy rain, but luck was with us, and it missed us.) This time of year, the office becomes a command center at the all-hands morning meeting, beginning at 6:00 sharp. What resources do we have available? Humans, horses, tractors, machines? How and where are they best deployed? Almost always, the answer right now is planting. If the pigs have to wait a week to get on new pasture, it won’t hurt too much, but if seeding is a week behind, the hit in production is huge. As I type, Ben is driving the corn planter to the field. We’ve set it to seed a little deeper this year, to try to keep the crows from getting too much of it (organic seed is not treated to deter them). And Joseph got all 2,250 lbs of seed potatoes in the ground yesterday. Hooray for that. Much as I love fresh greens, these are the crops that make me feel most secure. They are the big calorie plants, converting sun to carbohydrates, to power us living creatures throughout the year.

            Lambing is all finished! The rams are off the farm until fall; the orphans are getting fat on cow’s milk, and the ewes, lambs and guard dogs are grazing their way through the lush May pastures. The dairy heifers are on pasture this week, too, and we had two more litters of piglets born. We’re expecting two of the dairy heifers to calve in the next couple weeks. Here’s to new life.

            We’re sending thanks to the Adirondack Council and its sponsors this week for the Cool Farms/Healthy Park grant we received. We are using it to seed many acres of leguminous cover crops, which fix nitrogen, increase the carrying capacity of the land, and allow us to sequester more carbon. Seed is on the way, and the crop plan is in place. Thanks too to NYC member Hilary Rhoda who mentioned the Essex Farm CSA in an interview this week. Check out her interview and beautiful photos at bonberi.com.  And thanks as always to our hard-working crew! An astonishing amount of work got done this week, some of it in uncomfortable heat. For example, Mae and a rotating crew of helpers washed and boxed a record 261 dozen eggs in one day. Slightly belated welcome to Lauren Swank, who joined us from Brooklyn, and Tonya Larock, from just down the road, who works here after school during the week.

            Members, our team asked me to remind you to please wash your milk jars well (and return them). Most of you do! But about 10% of the jars come back in bad shape, and they really slow down our washing and sanitizing system, because they have to be separated and hand-washed carefully. To wash dairy glass: rinse thoroughly first in cool water, then wash in hot soapy water (or in a dishwasher), then rinse, and store glass and lids separately. We all thank you! And that is the news from Essex Farm for this whoop whoop 20th 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