Essex Farm Note Week 32, 2016

The weather continues as if on order from a helpful purveyor: hot dry weeks punctuated by a soaking inch or two of rain. Ben, Jon, and Brandon made the first bales of second cut hay this week, quick-dried and rich with clover. Bob Perry came over with his combine to harvest the hard red winter wheat, which remained upright in the microburst of wind and hail that hit us two Saturdays ago, though the mature heads were heavy with grain. The field corn is growing steadily, and the sweet corn has tasseled. The first watermelons came in, just enough for a taste, but what is better than a taste of chilled watermelon, eaten in the afternoon shade of an oak, juice dripping down on the grass? Yesterday, the harvest wagon lurched home over the farm road under a colorful load of tomatoes. When the tomato flood begins, summer bounty has arrived in earnest. There were flats of the bright red slicers, which I have eaten to excess this week, while standing over the sink with the salt shaker in my hand; also, the oddball striped heirloom variety called Green Zebra, which is a hard sell on looks alone but will fly off the wagon once tasted at peak ripeness. Then, the husked, papery green tomatillos, a new crop for us this year, which I’m roasting in the oven as I type, along with jalapeños, to make a batch of salsa verde for tonight’s team dinner. Finally, there were many, many quarts of cherry tomatoes, evidence of how hard the harvest team has been working. I think that Sungold, the world’s favorite cherry tomato, might be dethroned by a new-to-us variety called Pink Princess. Or, maybe, it’s the mixed quarts that are truly perfect – Sungold’s tart acid chased by the Princess’s pure sweetness. We have tomatoes enough to satisfy everyone, and then more, and still more, enough to keep Jori and her crew busy processing sauce and salsa at the Hub on the Hill, hundreds of pounds at a time. While the fields are hitting their zenith, the dairy is approaching its nadir. We’re drying off the fall-bred cows, one by one, to let them regain their condition before calving. Calliope, Cori, Stevie and Kite are dry already, and Wonder will join them after milking this evening. The remaining cows are all late in their lactations, and therefore low in production. The calves begin to arrive around the 6^th of September. In other dairy news, we got blood pregnancy tests back on the group of cows and heifers that we inseminated artificially for spring calving. Over half of them caught on the first shot – a very good percentage, thanks to Ben Christian’s skill at breeding them, and to Coleen and the animal team for diligently watching the herd for signs of heat. This should be the last year in which we have a dearth of milk in late summer. From now on we’ll calve in spring and in fall, which ought to keep production closer to even over the course of the year. We are looking for a new farm car or truck, if anyone has one to donate. Road worthiness would be nice but not strictly necessary, and the ability to pull a wagon would be a bonus. And that is the news from Essex Farm for this hot hot hot 32^nd week of 2016. Find us at 518-963-4613, ( , or on the farm, any day but Sunday. Find pictures from the week on the blog at –Kristin & Mark Kimball

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