Essex Farm Note Week 33, 2016

The girls and I are off the farm this week, in my hometown, with beloved family. It has been an intense summer, in part because of good luck: the weather has been so agreeable, it has left little time for rest. To me, this growing season – our 13^th – has felt stressful, physically, emotionally, and financially. But with just a little distance from the farm, a deep breath, and some rest, I can see that it’s all so good. We have the most wonderful, loyal members a farm could ask for. We are working with a motivated, good-natured, hard-working team of farmers. Animals and plants are moving smoothly toward harvest. Summer crops are pouring in, enough for fresh eating, enough to put up. The first sweet corn is a week away from ripe. The field corn is eight feet tall and deep green, and we have a bin full of corn already paid for, enough until the crop comes in. The open ground, bare fallowed all season, is now sown to oats, buckwheat, peas, and rye. We’ve prepared enough ground for next year’s winter wheat, vegetables, and corn. We have enough first cut hay made for all our animals, plus extra to sell. We have 120 bales of second cut hay already in, and another 150 bales standing in the field, waiting for a window of dry weather. The new freezers and new coolers we put in last year are almost paid for, and have been an excellent investment – because of the coolers, last fall’s carrots are still sweet and good, holding their value until the new crop comes in; the freezers will soon be full of chickens, enough to satisfy all our members, plus enough for retail sales. So, from afar, I’m sending a midsummer farm toast: here’s to heat, sun, rain, soil, and toil, which, when mixed with faith, some luck and sprinkled with magic, yields enough. The pigs have finished grazing the wheat and are on the oat/pea cover crop in Newfield this week. It is amazing what 80 strong snouts can do. They consume every green thing in their path plus the roots, and leave in their wake enough shattered, spilled seed to turn the freshly-manured field bright green again a few days after they have moved on. When the oat/pea mix is gone, they will graze some of the rough ground we cleared last year, and then on to a corner of the field corn, where they will hog down a majority of their own feed in the form of green stalks and juicy corn until frost. They look lean, fit and healthy after their summer on pasture, and the biggest ones are ready to butcher. Meanwhile, the old layer flock has moved to 17 Acre Field, along with the dairy herd. We are moving the hens about a week behind the cows, to see if their busy triclawed feet, scratching at the piles of manure, will disrupt the population of horn and face flies, which has built up to an annoying level. The younger flock of 500 layers is moving through Fireman’s Field. We are hooked up to metered town water there, and because of the meter, we can see for the first time how much they drink, which is about 12 gallons per day, instead of the predicted 80 gallons per day – presumably because they are consuming water in the form of grass and clover. If, as Michael Pollan likes to say, we are not what we eat, but what we eat eats, then Essex Farm members are some very clovery, grassy people. And that is the news from Essex Farm for this green-fuse 33^rd week of 2016. Find us at 963-4613, essexfarm@gmail.com (mailto:essexfarm@gmail.com) , or on the farm, any day but Sunday. –Kristin & Mark Kimball

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