Week 39, 2021｜Kristin Kimball｜October 1, 2021
First fire of autumn in the woodstove this week, to drive away the chill that settled on the house at night. Simultaneously, we are trying to collect and store the last of the summer sun’s energy in the form of hay. It’s not going very well. The forecast was glorious — eight days of bright sun and low humidity — and we leaned into it, cutting everything we could. Then the forecast shifted to six days of showers. It’s hard enough to make hay this time of year, when the dew is heavy and the days are short. Showers pretty much wreck our chances. But that’s how it goes. You have to place your bets based on the best information you have, and sometimes it’s wrong and you lose. We might get a few bales made this evening before the dew falls, but if not, it will all have to wait until next week, and it won’t be worth much except as mulch or bedding. The good news about the weather is that there is no frost in the forecast, so tomatoes, peppers and eggplants are still coming in a steady stream. Enjoy them while they last. And the apples! We have delicious eating apples available this week and will plan to press cider next week. Thanks to the Patakis, Lewises and Beth Schiller for opening their orchards to us. The big harvest of potatoes is scheduled for next week, followed by the fall carrots.
We’ve been laying plans for winter this week. Labor, money, and nutrients are the currencies we play with, because they are the ones we can control. Sun, rain, temperature, disease pressure, storms, all the wild systems that make up our field of play — those are crucially important, but beyond our influence. This time of year, we inventory the hay, to know what we have in terms of quantity and quality, and then budget the feeding accordingly. The ewes will need to be flushed on the best feed for breeding just before Thanksgiving, and kept on a high plane of nutrition while they settle their pregnancies, with more good hay saved for the end of pregnancy and the beginning of lactation. The dairy cows always need the best hay, since they are producing so many calories for us every day. The non-breeding beef cattle can do with less prime stuff, and the lowest quality is used for bedding when the animals are indoors, or to improve fertility on fields that need it.
Farewelcomes! This is a hard goodbye to make. Isabelle Smith started farming with us when she was fourteen. Her roots here go even deeper than that. Her grandmother, Frisky, was one of the first people to welcome us to town when we moved here 18 years ago. Isabelle returned summer after summer, then went off to college, graduated, started her adult life. By then she had the experience and education to do anything she wanted in the wide world, but came back to work with us. She has done just about everything here, and in her last campaign she took on some of the most difficult parts of the farm, including the machine shop, which meant acquiring the hard skills and knowledge it takes to keep all our tools and engines running. Meanwhile, she makes us laugh, and think, and become better farmers. She’s off to other adventures and we will miss her enormously. Thank you Isabelle for these many years and all the good work in them.
We welcome Jon Kraus onboard this week. Jon came for a farm tour six years ago, and is making a brave leap from working in agribusiness to whatever the opposite of agribusiness is — us. We are so glad he’s here. And we welcomed back Liz Resnik for a guest appearance. She spent the week putting up our kimchi for the year, and tending to some other fermented vegetables bubbling away in barrels Thanks Liz!
We have some requests from our front of the farm team this week. If local members could please not come earlier than 3pm on Fridays, that would help reduce stress on everyone as we hustle to get the share laid out. Weekend pickups are always available if you aren’t able to come during regular Friday distribution hours. And delivered share members, it helps us a lot to have your orders in on time. We harvest your share for you beginning at the crack of dawn on Monday mornings, so we really need those quantities by midnight on Sunday. And thanks everyone for getting your glass back every week. The Ball jar supply chain is still a mess, so we need every jar every week. And that’s the news from Essex Farm for this crisp 39th week of 2021. Find us at 518-963-4613, firstname.lastname@example.org, on Instagram at essexfarmcsa, or on the farm, any day but Sunday.
-Kristin & Mark Kimball