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Essex Farm Note

Week 16, 2018

Long time readers are probably wondering how we managed to get into the fields last week, before the spring peepers began their spring chorus. Every year, the week we first work the ground has matched the first moment the peepers send forth their song from the pond. I neglected to tell you last week, but the peepers did sing –faintly, for one night only, but with heart. I wasn’t home to hear them but Mark reports that one warm evening last week, he and Jane let down the window before bed and coaxed them to croak. So the rule holds, friends, fifteen years in.

     After that small warm dry window came this week of comical and peeperless winter– snow, sleet, rain, and freezing rain. The fields, entirely planted, absorbed it as best they could. The drainage on all the new acres worked perfectly, and the peas have germinated. All of the animals except the horses are under cover now, and didn’t much mind. At the sheep pen, though, the ice coated the fence that keep sheep and dogs in. Suit, the Great Pyrenees, whose hobby is making escape plans, discovered that the ice made the bars slippery enough to squeeze her lean frame between them, sideways. I kept her tied inside the fence until the ice melted. She stayed in for two days, then discovered she could still slip out, ice or no ice. For now she has a nice roomy kennel inside the sheep paddock that is Suit-secure.

   Our first lamb arrived today, three days ahead of schedule. It was a single ewe lamb from a 2 year old ewe. They are jugged up and bonding today. We’re lambing significantly more ewes this year than last, and I expect the pace is going to get a little crazy next week. Speaking of birth, we’ve had three nice little heifers born in the dairy herd recently: Nellie to Nutmeg, Janis to Jiya, and Bailey to Brooklyn. Nellie was the first calf born here that was conceived with sexed semen – that is, semen that has been processed and selected to highly favor a heifer over a bull calf. It worked! All three of them are pretty little things, and doing really well. And it’s nice to have more milk to work with , now that these three good producers are fresh.

   During one of the wind storms this week, Mark and Jane walked east of the house, toward Superjoy field. As they crossed the new fenceline, they took note of an ash tree that was blowing hard in the wind. The inside of the tree was entirely dead, and the dead wood was creaking and moving at least two or three inches with each gust. “That one is not going to last long,” Mark said. Sure enough, three days later, it fell directly on the brand new 6 strand high tensile fence. Looking at it, I thought we’d have to redo that section, but the great thing about high tensile is it stretches and bounces and does not break. We had to replace two staples on one post, the Ives brothers cut the tree into stove wood, and the fence was back in service. Beware, members, the fence is charged with electricity now, and will knock you backward if you touch it. Warn your kids, too.

     Many thanks to everyone who wrote sending good thoughts to my dad. I’m very happy to report he’s out of ICU, and doing better. We’re lucky to have so much love and care around us. And that is the news from Essex Farm for this wintery 16th week of 2018. Find us online at essexfarmcsa.com, on Insta at essexfarmcsa and kristinxkimball, in the office at 518-964- 4613, or on the farm, any day but Sunday.

–Kristin and Mark Kimball