Essex Farm Note

Week 24, 2017

I think we’ve turned the corner now from the wild spring whirl of plant! and weed! to the merely extremely busy summer rhythm of make hay and harvest crops. We brought in our first 160 round bales of first cut hay yesterday. I spent yesterday morning on a tractor in the beautiful field on Middle Road, spearing 600 pound bales with a spike like a diesel powered narwhal. Now, as the rain falls, they are safe in the barn and should test high for nutrition. Meanwhile, Ben planted 3 acres (!) of sweet corn, Joseph killed weeds with the horses, Chris with the tractor, and Anya and her whole strong-armed crew attacked them with hand tools, while also getting fall carrots planted and several crops fertilized. Every year is different, and there are no safe bets, but I’ve noticed that when we enter the second half of June with weeds under control, as they are today, it bodes well for the rest of the summer.

            A few births to report this week. Ewe 1901 had a late ram lamb on pasture. She was so big and wide I would have thought she was carrying triplets, but alas just had the one little boy. I didn’t get a chance to catch him for tagging and castrating until he was 4 days old, which meant he was already fast, and I got to test my sprinting skills. If he had been just a tiny bit faster he would have won the prize of keeping his testicles, but I got lucky with my crook and nabbed him. Every year I contemplate lambing a bit later in the year and doing it on pasture instead of the barn, and the sight of him with his pink newborn ears, so happy with his dam on the grass, was a good argument in that direction. We also had two litters of pigs born this week. One litter of 10 to Hyena Face (whose name makes sense if you see her) this morning and a litter of 11 to Pop Tart Martha (I don’t know about that one). And yesterday, the dairy heifer, Willow, had a perfect-looking heifer calf, but unfortunately, the calf died. We suspect that Willow (who was too fat) had a hard calving, and the calf was a bit weak. The calf was born with the membranes over her face, and while an experienced mother would have licked them off, Willow didn’t know any better. That was a bad note in an otherwise beautiful and productive day. We’re looking forward to California Raisin’s calf who is due in another week.

            First taste of strawberries in the share today. Beautiful lettuce. Some broccoli, which is a rare and delicious treat because it’s hard to grow in the spring. There’s chard, and herbs, and some lovely spring onions. Thanks to our neighbors Laura and Scott and Jay and Sarah for lending their tractors to us this week. And to our intrepid crew for getting it all done. And that’s the news from Essex Farm for this busy 24th 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