Essex Farm Note

Week 21, 2017

Last week’s brief heat wave excepted, it has been a wet, cold spring. In years like this, you have to pounce on the dry days like a bobcat on a vole. This week, it was pounce, pounce, pounce. Now it’s raining again, and everyone is tired from all that pouncing. Ben and Chris planted 24 acres to field corn, and – bonus! – 2 acres to sweet corn. All other hands were transplanting vegetables, as fast as they could move. We got two thousand tomato plants in the ground, along with all the eggplant, peppers, summer squash and melons. Ben planted the last row of corn just as the sky opened up yesterday. Thanks, team, for making this big and tiring push to get plants in the ground while the hours of sunlight are still increasing.

            The beef herd went to pasture this week, too, which is always an exciting day, but it was perhaps a few notches too exciting this year. The herd contains some yearling stockers we bought late last year. They had not been handled much before coming here and apparently the winter spent eating hay in the covered barnyard was not enough to tame them. As they were moving from the solid walls of their winter quarters to the security of the high tensile fence, they had to pass through some temporary electric fencing. Something spooked them at the wrong moment, and four yearlings made a break for it. They tore down the temporary fence lines like so much floss, and ran full speed through the dairy heifers’ lines in the next field.  As heifers scattered, the four yearlings lit out for the horizon and disappeared. Joseph spent part of the afternoon tracking them through last year’s corn field, but lost their trail in the woods. Neighbors spotted them yesterday, coming out of the woods north of the farm at dusk to graze with the wild deer, with whom they must feel some affinity. Now they have disappeared again, deep into the woods. Jori is going to launch her drone tomorrow to try to spy them from the air.

            What else? The strawberry plants are in full bloom and look amazing. They are planted on drained ground and are loving this steady and copious rain, which causes the berries to grow large and plump. We bought a new electric scalder, to make chicken processing go more smoothly. We also moved the site for processing indoors, which means no more standing in the full sun or cold rain for that hard job. Also, in an act of strategic outsourcing we sent a load of cattle and pigs to the Tri Town slaughterhouse this spring for the first time, instead of doing them here ourselves. You’ll notice the packages look different as they come into distribution over the next few weeks. We are eager for your feedback, members. Here, we are of two hearts: we don’t like to ship animals, but also recognized the need to take some pressure off the team during the busiest weeks this spring.

            Tomorrow (Saturday) is our first farm tour of the year. It should be small and intimate, so please come join us! We leave the barnyard at 10; wear sturdy footgear and be prepared to cover a lot of ground. There’s a potluck lunch in the pavilion afterward, so bring a dish to share and your own place setting. Tours are always free for members, suggested $20 per person for non-members. And that’s the news from Essex Farm for this rainy 21st week of 2017. Find us on Instagram at kristinxkimball and essexfarmcsa, email essexfarm@gmail.com, by phone at 518-963-4613, or on the farm, any day but Sunday.                                      

–Kristin & Mark Kimball