Essex Farm Note
Week 31, 2018
Whole team meeting this week, in the midst of a storm of work. Picture us. Fifteen people, smudged with dust, blood, milk, manure and sweat. We’re gathered around the tables in the shade of the pavilion, among the summer crop of flies, the smell of Matt’s magnificent lunch, almost done, drifting out of the shabby kitchen. We are a diverse bunch. There are fifteen sets of beliefs around the table, from Anabaptist to atheist. Different core values, styles, orientations, ages, politics, and backgrounds. But there’s something powerful that connects and bonds us: we work together on this great living project that bridges week to week (to bring you food) season to season (to sustain the farm) and decade to decade (to foster the health and resilience of a system that begins with a single molecule and ends with the planet and all it carries). It’s not the what of the daily work that comes up, but the why. You don’t last long in farming if you don’t have a why. The why is what keeps you going out there, every day, into the storm of work.
Evan’s why was a double hit. As he drags the heavy hose to fresh pasture for the beef cattle each day, he reminds himself that he’s doing it in order to foster healthy pasture, healthy cattle, for the taste of that animal that will eventually nourish healthy people. That the hard work will make him healthy, too. If that doesn’t get him through the end of the job he thinks of Aldo Leopold: “A thing is right when it tends to preserve the integrity, stability, and beauty of the biotic community. It is wrong when it does otherwise.” It’s undoubtedly easier not to work this way, or produce food this way, but if the work and its result answers your why, you will keep going out, and do it with joy, though it’s joy of a particular color, more plain than bright.
You all have a why, too, I know, for being members of this farm, and eating this way. You could purchase your daily lot of calories in cans and packages, from Sysco and Wal-Mart, and it would be cheaper and easier. Your whys range from better taste, to health, to satisfaction, and maybe some of Evan and Aldo’s reasons, too. We’re so glad to be working on this great living project together. We think of you as collaborators, and we couldn’t do it without you.
That’s the why. So what about the what this week? We harvested garlic plus most of the onions, and they are in the loft of the West Barn, to dry and cure. Moved the orphan sheep to the main flock. Harvested and weeded like maniacs. I took a two-day class in artificial insemination, and it is, in short, much harder than it looks. At night I dream of cow cervixes. I’ve been bugging Ben to come over between shifts at his new job and re-breed cows for me so we don’t end up with a herd of open Jerseys in 9 months. We are saying goodbye to Arielle this week, so she can head back to school. She has been one of the strongest and bravest this summer! Arielle, thank you so much for your good work. We will miss you and hope we see you back here soon. And that’s the news from Essex Farm for this onion-scented 31stweek of 2018. Like us on FB to see what we post there, or find us at 518-963-4613, firstname.lastname@example.org, on Insta and the web at essexfarmcsa, or on the farm, any day but Sunday.
–Kristin & Mark Kimball