Week 20, 2021｜Kristin Kimball ｜May 22, 2021
The sun got serious this week, with daytime temperatures in the high eighties, and the first hay came in, carrying the dusty green smell of summer before summer has properly arrived. Brandon Herringshaw is making our hay again this year, using his equipment on Essex Farm land. He cuts and teds and rakes and bales it, and our crew picks it up and stacks it. You know it’s haying time when you see Anne driving the skid steer with extra seriousness, her sleeves rolled up. Mark is laser focused on the weather forecast when the hay is down, silent for once. I know he’s thinking five steps ahead, and that he will forget to eat until he finally comes in to crouch in front of the refrigerator looking like he’s about to pass out. When we are haying, there is no higher priority on the farm, because it is next winter’s security. Timing is everything. Wet hay is ruinous because it’s toxic to feed and, worse, prone to spontaneously combust in storage. But when it comes in this good — soft, leafy, nutritious, and thoroughly dry — it’s pure joy. There have been years, because of wet weather, when we haven’t been able to make our first hay until July and by then it is rough stemmy fibrous stuff that animals can’t get much out of. We got only 49 bales out of a target 2000 but it still feels good.
Can we all give the greens a round of applause? The butter lettuce? The romaine? I know it’s not just me because the kids eat it out of the spinner by the handful before I can get it into a bowl. Asparagus is in full swing. The strawberries are in flower. What comes next? The answer, with weather this warm, is everything. Beth Davis is leading the plant team this year, and she’s knocking it out of the park. Can’t wait to taste everything.
700 pullets arrived from Pennsylvania this week. We group together with lots of farms in the region to buy 4 month old organic pullets that are about to lay. They got here in good condition and went directly to pasture, and the very first night out, a predator, likely a fox, killed 16. Luckily, we have Lilly D’s chicken-trained livestock guardian dogs, Sven and Stella. Stella is still on house rest from her owl talon injury, but Sven came down from the older layer flock and went right to work. No more predation. Good boy, Sven.
We made a push to get more of the high tensile perimeter fence built this week. Big thanks to our friend and neighbor Chris McConnell who came back for a week-long cameo appearance to help us, and to Freddy who gave up his days off to work with the fence crew. We are so grateful to Mike and Andrea Ferrell for their incredible help. We now have a perimeter around Fireman’s Field and are close to finishing Field Ten on Middle Road, at the top of the sugarbush.
Jane is getting about three gallons of milk a day from her goats so I’m rich in goat milk to play with. It’s amazing how different it is from cow’s milk. Most days I make cheese. It doesn’t separate into skim and cream like cow milk does, and the curd is softer. Sometimes we make goat yogurt which is tart, smooth and drinkable; when mixed with ice, lime, and maple syrup it makes the most refreshing drink on hot days. Jane’s getting a bit tired of hand milking and thinking of buying a machine. We are encouraging her to make a business of it, but for now it’s a hobby. Her five kids are growing like crazy. We should have dehorned them when they were 3-10 days old but had put it off until our intrepid vet Dr. Martha was here to give Miranda’s pony her shots and a coggins test. It was the hottest day of the week and I did the horrible client thing and asked her last minute if she had time to show us how to numb and cauterize the horn buds. I’ve done it for calves but the goat kids look so delicate, I was afraid I was going to fry their brains. She kindly agreed, and there ensued an hour of sweaty stinky baby goat drama, during which they acted like they were going to die until we released them and they bounced away, full of pain meds and perfectly happy. I’m sure we made Martha late and then suddenly I was late to get the cat and dog to the vet in Westport. Of course I don’t own a proper cat carrier so I grabbed the nearest cardboard box and stabbed holes in it, stuffed a towel and the cat inside and taped it closed. The box didn’t last the length of the driveway. I ended up with a loose angry cat, and a claw to the bone on my pinky, which served me right. All ended well, and Dr. Martha is still speaking to me, I think.
Thanks so much to everyone who reached out about housing. We appreciate it so much! We’ve settled some people and are still hoping for longer term housing for others, so please get in touch with any ideas. We still have seasonal shares available, local and delivered. And that’s the news from Essex Farm for this summer-y 20th week of 2021. Find us at 518-963-4613, firstname.lastname@example.org, on Instagram at essexfarmcsa, kristinxkimball and farmerkimball, or on the farm, any day but Sunday.
-Kristin & Mark Kimball