Essex Farm Note

Week 23, 2017

Another 1.27” of rain this week, on saturated ground. We knew we were going to get hit with a long, wet storm on Tuesday, so Monday was a marathon of urgency. Donald came over to till 30 acres for seeding, while the vegetable team planted all the leeks and most of the winter squash. Meanwhile, Joseph hitched Abby and Jake to the cultivator and trotted his way through all the vegetables, knocking back the weeds. Everyone else worked fast and hard to get the regular work and the milking done. The last squash went in the ground close to sunset. On Tuesday, in the rain, we caught up with what we’d put off on Monday, and on Wednesday we had our biggest chicken slaughter of the year. And so the week went, to the end. As usual when things are really rolling, a few emergencies punctuated the general busyness, e.g., the sows broke their waterer to create a gusher, and the horses escaped their overgrazed paddock just as we were getting ready for bed, and had to be caught and put into a hastily erected new pasture. Now, we’re all tired, and those of us with older joints are a little bit sore, but it felt good to work hard as a team and then, afterward, look back and feel rather amazed at what we managed to accomplish. In fact, when I consider the last 14 years here, the days that stand out to me as brightest are days like last Monday, when everyone comes together to make something beautiful happen against long odds.

            We have some fresh troops on the farm this week. Ali from Vermont has joined us for three key weeks, and Liv from Swarthmore for 2 big months. And Coleen Butler is back! She’s finished at UVM, and heading to Washington State in the fall, but we (mostly, the dairy cows) get her good company and hard work until then. On the other side of the equation, we are saying an early goodbye to Aidan, who got an opportunity to go on a canoe trip. I know our local members will miss seeing her in the butcher shop. Her last day is next Friday. And we’re also saying an unexpected farewell to Jon Christian, who got busy with his own hay business. Thanks to both of you for your time here, and best of luck. This leaves a couple big surprise holes in our labor force at a busy time so please, members and readers, get in touch if you are looking for some good hard rewarding work this summer.

            There is so much gorgeous food in the field this week. Plentiful chard, and some crazy-good lettuce, harvested at its prime. Lots of first-quality herbs. Radishes! They have been scarce in past springs, due to flea beetle pressure, but we got lucky this year, and the variety – cherriette – is one of my favorites for both taste and looks. The strawberries are just beginning to color, and there are lots and lots of them. I look at the fruit-laden row and am exactly half thrilled, half terrified at the prospect of picking them. In animal world, the lambs are growing fast and so well, and are eating more grass and less milk every day. Mary the dog is working on her herding skills, and keeping the corn fields clear of crows and seagulls. Another sow farrowed this week, a lovely litter of 13. And that is the news from Essex Farm for this saturated 23rd week of 2017. Find us on Instagram at kristinxkimball and essexfarmcsa, by email at essexfarm@gmail.com, or at 518-963-4613, or on the farm, any day but Sunday.                                      

-Kristin & Mark Kimball