Week 10, 2019 | Kristin Kimball | Mar 9, 2019

Our pre-dawn temperatures were below zero the last four days. It’s hard to reconcile that January-like weather with the sight of the greenhouses full of plants. All the alliums are planted now – leeks, shallots, onions and scallions. Thanks, Zohar and team, for getting that job done. The first lettuces are up in the flats, too, but not yet in the south greenhouse, where they are seeded, along with kale, directly into the ground. You can’t really blame the seeds for wanting to stay tucked in, in this weather. The forecast for the coming week looks, again, remarkably chilly. Still, the sun is getting stronger every day, and warmer weather must be coming very soon.

Mark has been sidelined with back pain this week, which means light physical work and heavy mental work for him. We are crafting the one- and five-year farm and family plans. In general, we’re trying to figure out what makes us happy and the farm most functional; specifically, making decisions on spending, like what labor-saving equipment we should invest in this year. Mark’s also finding his groove on social media. Check him out on insta at kimball8353 and on twitter @MarkKim61941626. He’s been talking a lot lately about the regenerative power of clover and other legumes, and the role they play in helping the soil hold on to carbon. Some people say the first best thing farmers could do to mitigate climate change is plant cropping mixtures with a lot of legumes in them. What if we crowd-funded clover seed for every farm that wants to plant it? This is the sort of thing we talk about at the dinner table, in case you were wondering. More on that soon, I’m sure.

We’re gearing up for shearing at the end of the month. For sheep’s sake I hope it gets warmer before then! We get a lot done on shearing day besides shearing: vaccinations, hoof trimming, and sorting wool. We have a lot of sheep to do this year and could use some volunteers to help skirt the fleeces and keep records. It’s a fun – if long – day, especially if the weather is good, so let us know if you’d like to lend a hand. No skills required! We’re scheduled to begin at 9 on Monday March 25th. After that, we’ll be getting ready for lambing, which begins, this year, right around April 17th. The ewes look good – but then they always do, with their wool on. I’m looking forward to seeing them shorn. I need to do a head count but I think we’re going to lamb 130 ewes this year. Lambapoolooza!

We usually stop breeding dairy cows between March and May, so that we avoid calving in the coldest months of winter, but since my artificial insemination skills still need work, I couldn’t resist breeding Calliope and Cream one last time this week. Calliope is one of our older, steady girls, and Cream was the cow who had the very hard calving a few months ago, with the fetal monster. Sometimes a difficult calving like that can make it hard to get a cow in calf again. I have my fingers crossed for both of them.

Huge thanks to our visiting volunteers! Bobby and Emily are here for the month, and Leah just wrapped up a great week. We are grateful for their work and good company. And a late but very fond farewell and thank you to Teddi who wrapped up her time here late last month. Thank you Teddi for your many hours in the dairy box, and all your good work. That’s the news from Essex Farm for this wintery 10th week of 2019. Find us at essexfarm@gmail.com, 518-963-4613, on the web and insta at essexfarmcsa, or on the farm, any day but Sunday. You can also find me (Kristin) on Instagram at kristinxkimball.

-Kristin & Mark Kimball