Week 31, 2020|Kristin Kimball |July 31, 2020

Welcome, August, and the dog days that come with you, and the simultaneous repulsion and attraction we feel for the coming frost, for fall, which is suddenly within our meager grasp of time. I’ve run out of good words to describe the dry conditions, so let’s turn to numbers. Thanks to our on-farm weather station, courtesy of New York State, we know the soil saturation 2” below the surface is .1 m3/m3. That’s .1 cubic meters of water per cubic meter. Total saturation in this particular location would be .6, and our normal reading this time of year varies between about .25 and .35. So, we’re in drought. The sweet corn is curling its leaves against the sun during the day. A hundred acres worth of cover crop seed is stacked and waiting for enough rain to ensure germination. And the hunt for good feed is getting harder. The sheep are moving through a big pasture that is usually quite mucky this time of year, but now is a dry stretch of browned out grass with a small green understory of weeds and forbs that they are picking through. The indentation over their half-empty rumens makes me frown when I move them in the morning. The beef cattle and heifers are making do, but aren’t going to set any records for growth. The dairy cows are our focus of concern. They have to graze near enough to the barn to come in twice a day for milking, and need high quality feed to be productive and healthy. That just doesn’t exist right now, so we’re feeding them the precious hay that we’d normally start feeding in October or even November. It’s unprecedented, and forces us to think nine months ahead, and budget what we have like misers. We are working with Brandon Herringshaw again this year to make our hay and Mark and Brandon are looking far beyond our own acres. Last week they made hay in Harkness, and this week they will go as far as Lake Placid. We have 1300 large bales of 800lbs each now, and need 2800 to feel securely supplied with both feed and bedding. As of now there’s no chance for a second cut without a real soaking very soon.

Lots of good things came to fruition this week. The garlic harvest was excellent quality, with large cloves in firmly packed heads, and very good flavor. It’s all in the loft of the barn now, drying. All the onions are in too, both sweet and storage, with massive yield and maybe the best quality ever. They seem to have liked the conditions this year, which limited the insects that nip at their tender leaves. Have you noticed there are almost no mosquitoes this summer? So few that Mark has abandoned his tent and sleeps out in the open, watching the bats, and this week, the comet NEOWISE. He’s on his 130th night outside, aiming for 365.

Miranda has been battling a mysterious high fever that tests say is not COVID and not Lyme but may yet prove to be anaplasmosis carried by a cursed tick. That, plus weather, plus condition in the world at large in this difficult moment have made me an uncharacteristically anxious woman. So I feel well qualified this week to recommend weeding as antidote to anxiety. It is a beautiful and productive moving meditation, and boy, do we have some weeds for you. If you would like to come over anytime this week, just get in touch and we’ll show you to your very own row. I’m heading out to weed the carrots as soon as I type the last period.

That’s the news for this dry dry dry 31st week of 2020. Find us at 518-963-4613, essexfarm@gmail.com, on the web at essexfarmcsa, and on Insta at essexfarmcsafarmerkimball, and kristinxkimball, or in the weeds, any day but Sunday.

-Kristin & Mark Kimball