Essex Farm Note

Week 17, 2018

In the small gap of bright weather between rain storms, the fields were briefly dry enough to work. This time of year, those hours of good weather are as valuable as whole winter weeks. The team started early and worked hard all day to transplant onions, shallots, lettuce, spring broccoli, cabbage, dill and kale from the greenhouse. There are 3 acres of plants in the new field on Blockhouse Road now. The horses were as busy as the people. Jonas hitched his Percheron stallion to the seeder between a rotating lineup of our own draft horses, and planted another 8 acres of oat/pea cover crop, on parts of the field that were too wet for the tractor but just fine for hooves. It was impressive to see a stallion work steadily like any other horse, and alongside a mare no less. Once the rain came, it was back to greenhouse work. We finished potting up the tomatoes today, from their one inch soil blocks to 4 inch pots. They will go to the field as soon as the threat of frost is over.

     Lambing is going steadily now, and so far, smoothly. Yesterday at dawn, we had 7 ewes lambing nearly simultaneously, and even then, everything felt easily manageable. We have a really good set up this year –a pen for pregnant ewes, plus plenty of small jugs for the ewes who have just lambed, a medium-sized mixing pen where youngsters and ewes can get used to finding and recognizing each other, and finally a large pen where the whole flock will be once everyone has lambed. This has made for easy and efficient work. Moreover, the lambs have been born strong, and pop right up and start nursing. The only disappointment is that most of the ewes are having singles rather than twins – a consequence, I think, of relatively low nutrition at fall breeding time. Speaking of young stock, 20 piglets arrived last night from a farm in Brasher Falls. Ben and Anne brought them home in our van, which now needs a very thorough cleaning. We decided to buy our piglets this year after having some trouble with breeding and farrowing over the last couple seasons. Sometimes you have to take a step back and reassess the system, and buying piglets rather than breeding them will give us a change to do that this year.

     We had a navel infection this week in Bailey, the youngest Jersey calf, for which she received antibiotics. We had another calf with navel ill a few months ago – and that was our first case ever – so this, too, bears consideration and reassessment. The only thing I can think of is that we finally ran out of our 7% tincture of iodine, which is now illegal to buy, because people use it to make meth. The new formulation is 1% and doesn’t seem to be doing the trick, despite good clean bedding and diligent application.

     The Essex Fire Department and Willsboro/Essex Rescue Squad are in need of volunteers. Come to the firehouse tomorrow, 10-2, to learn more. We’re sending good healing thoughts to James at Full and By Farm, who is recovering from a head injury after being hit by a deer while biking. Finally, I’m sending heartfelt thanks, again, for all the notes, thoughts and prayers for my father during his fight against leukemia. I’m happy to report that he’s back home, and currently in remission. And that’s the news from Essex Farm for this peeperful 17th week of 2018. Find us at 518-963-4613, on the web at essexfarmcsa.com, on Instagram at essexfarmcsa or on the farm, any day but Sunday.

– Kristin & Mark Kimball  

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