Week 7, 2021|Kristin Kimball |February 22, 2021

Just a quick and late farm note this week, as I catch up from a long weekend of shearing and all the related work. More on that in the next note. 

Mark went downstate for a few days beginning last Sunday, to help his mom and sister. As always, the farm noticed he was gone and did its best to thwart us. When we turned on the faucets Monday morning, nothing came out. After some troubleshooting with Mark over FaceTime, we realized the well pump was blown, maybe the result of a power surge. Most of our team spent the morning bucketing water to all the thirsty livestock. Luckily we had a replacement pump on hand, and Scott Feeley came right away to install it, and by mid afternoon we were back in business. Here’s to redundancy! And to our two artesian wells that produce some flowing water even without a well pump. And as always to our mighty team, who will do whatever is needed to keep our animals happy and comfortable. Special thanks to Isabelle Smith for doing the majority of the troubleshooting and coordination. 

One of the shortages of the pandemic year is ammunition. We cannot find any to buy right now. According to the suppliers we’ve talked to, it’s a convergence of a huge increase in demand and simultaneous decrease in supply. The decrease in supply comes from a slowdown in production due to the virus hitting factory floors. The increased demand is perhaps even more disconcerting to consider. If anyone local has a spare box or two of 22 long (lead flatnose preferred), we could really use it as we try to get a bunch of animals through the butcher shop before spring work gets underway. 

Speaking of spring work, we are at the leading edge of it right now. The seeds are all here, and onion and shallot seeds, which are always the first, will hit dirt in the greenhouse in the next few days. The sun has more power now, and it shines for ten and a half hours every day. Yesterday the driveway was muddy for the first time in many weeks. Mud season can be a drag, without the sparkle of winter nor the green of spring, so time in the greenhouse is restorative. 

We had another calf born in the beef herd this week. Luckily the mama picked a warm day. No lambs yet, but soon. We got the latest pregnancy reports back on the dairy cows and I am happy to say our artificial insemination percentages are really good. That’s a team effort since so much of success is about good heat detection. A heifer is doing her best to complicate it, too. We use a product called a kamar to let us know when a cow is in heat. It sticks on the tailbone and has a little tube of dye inside that pops when a cow stands to be ridden by other cows, which is the definitive sign of standing heat, and indicates she is fertile. One of the heifers has discovered that the little tubes of dye inside the stickers are sweet and has made a sport of chewing them off of her herdmates. Heifers can be silly like that. I ordered a bottle of bitter spray that I hope will deter her.

I can hear the kids downstairs finishing breakfast, heading out to chores and wondering out loud what I have planned for their homeschool day. What indeed? I better get on that. And that’s the news from Essex Farm for this productive 7th week of 2021. You can find us at 518-963-4613, essexfarm@gmail.com, on instagram at kristinxkimball, essexfarmcsa and farmerkimball

-Kristin & Mark Kimball