Essex Farm Note

Week 44, 2016

I just got back to the farm after 15 days in New York City, where I was holed up in my sister’s apartment, working on the new book. Mark and the girls came to get me on Wednesday, in the big van loaded with our city members’ shares, plus a donation of 150 carving pumpkins, birch leaves, and corn stalks, destined for Trinity Church, in Harlem, where they were having a Halloween party for the neighborhood children. Fifteen days is enough to clean the dirt from my hands, feel like a city person again. I took the A train from Canal to 125^th Street, and met the van full of pumpkins. I sensed the first sizzle of reentry then, the frisson of textures: hard angles meeting organic curves. Driving north last night, we ran into a crazy snowstorm. The visibility went to zero, there were cars off the road, pieces of bumper on the shoulder, shattered glass. We crawled along for hours, tense, at forty. When we got to the Westport exit, the snow suddenly stopped, and then we were home. Cold, dark house, happy dogs. The old, organic farm smells. The old, different farm challenges. Reentry is tricky, when the worlds are so different. I’m in the decompression chamber now, waiting to stabilize. I haven’t ventured out yet this rainy morning, but so far, all the reports sound good. Flops the sow had 11 piglets last week, and 10 survived, which is an excellent litter. Now that all have farrowed, they will move outside together. Yesterday, Kirsten and Anya got the rest of the garlic planted for next year: 8 1000’ rows, in good old Monument field. Cameron and Aiden have been busy in the butcher shop with fall slaughter. They have beef hanging, and pork and lamb almost ready to go. Ben and Jon have been spreading finished compost on the pastures. Ben and Mark have plowed the field along Middle Road, which was fallow this year; we will decide later if we should plant it to corn next spring, or wheat, or possibly seed it down to permanent pasture. Alex , Morgan and Barbara have been running the dairy so smoothly in my absence. I can’t wait to see how much the calves have grown. We are preparing to shift to winter mode, with cows in the covered barnyard, and calves across the way, in the East Barn run-in. There’s barely time to adjust before we’re off again. Mark and I will be in Boston most of next week, speaking at Babson College. The main event, on Tuesday November 1^st, is free and open to the public. I’ll read from the new book-in-progress, and we’ll talk on what we’re calling Organics 3.0 – how can a farm balance social, economic, and environmental sustainability, and how do we move the needle on what’s considered sustainable? Next Friday, Mark and I are speaking again, at the annual Youth Climate Summit at the Wild Center in Saranac Lake, always a highlight of our year. Then, on November 12^th, I’m going to be back in Boston at the MIT Media Lab, for a panel discussion hosted by Food + Future. I’m a bit daunted by this schedule but also happy to chime in with a farmer’s voice on issues around food and sustainability. And that is the news from Essex Farm for this homecoming 44^th week of 2016. Find us at essexfarm@gmail.com (mailto:essexfarm@gmail.com) , 518-963-4613, or on the farm, any day but Sunday. -Kristin & Mark Kimball

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