Essex Farm Note

Week 10, 2018

I’m far away from the farm this week, at the hospital with my father, who is fiercely fighting leukemia, so this news comes via Mark and the rest of the gang. Among other adventures, I missed some serious livestock excitement this week. Dr. Goldwasser was at the farm on Monday, giving rabies vaccine to the dry cows and heifers in the dairy herd. As he worked on one side of the barn, there was a commotion on the other side, where the beef herd is wintering. As the team was catching one of the heifers for Dr. Goldwasser, he looked up, in his slow steady way, and said, “I think you have a bigger problem now.” The gates on the beef side had been improperly latched, and had broken, and the whole beef herd was out, heading north at a run, fueled by spring fever. Someone quickly posted an alert on our WhatsApp loop and soon Mark was coming east down Blockhouse Road in a truck and another team was headed west and a third team came across the farm road. Luckily, they got to them before they reached an intersection, or town, or a neighbor’s yard, and turned them back into the high tensile fence. The fast and aggressive turnout is directly related to the memory of the three beef cows that were at large for a week last fall, then took up residency with our neighbor’s herd of dairy cows, and required five people many hours to convince to get onto a trailer back home.

            It has been a good sugaring season. We’ve got 45 gallons of syrup in the can so far and are looking forward to more good runs this week. The growing season is well under way too, despite the snow on the ground. The onions have all germinated in their flats– a whole year’s worth of onions for all of us – and are in the heated greenhouse. The spinach that was direct-seeded in the south greenhouse has not yet had the courage to emerge. The cloudy weather is keeping greenhouse temperatures low. We could use some sun to coax those seeds out of their shells.

            We have new faces on the farm to introduce. Jonas Shetler and his wife Mary arrived from Heuvelton with their two young sons, three buggy horses, and a black Percheron stud. Jonas will be working for us this year to save up money to start their own farm. It’s wonderful to have his skills and energy here. We also welcome Teddi Rogers, who is coming from Stone Barns in the Hudson Valley, and is helping out with animals, dairy and plants. It’s great to have her here. Finally, a belated welcome to Mathew Pounds who is doing a ton of work in the dairy, including many of the milkings. Joseph Beiler, our main milker, is in Australia for a month, and Ben is laid up with a sore knee, so we’re really glad that Mathew was able to step in.

            The countdown to lambing has begun. Mary Lake comes a week from Monday with her shears, her skills, and her muscles. We have a hundred ewes for her this year – a far cry from the seven sheep she sheared for us just six years ago. First lambs should hit the ground right around tax day. Finally, please help us spread the word – we’d like to add 20 new members to the farm in the next two months. Happy members are our best marketers! And that’s the news from Essex Farm for this snow-stormy 10th week of 2018. Find us on insta at essexfarmcsa, or essexfarm@gmail.com, 518-963-4613, or on the farm, any day but Sunday.

–Kristin & Mark Kimball

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