Week 50, 2021|Kristin Kimball|December 19, 2021

Solstice week, the deepest dark of the year. Five inches of snow fell fast last night, blanketing the farm in silence. The preceding days were a blur of preparation, cleaning the sides of the roads for snowbanks, picking up and storing the many little pieces of the farm that would otherwise be buried and lost until spring: water tubs and portable fencing, hoses and mineral feeders, a few stray and misplaced tools. The animals got a last-minute rearrangement too. Jane’s goats moved from their place around the pond to a stretch of brushy ground along the stream. They have two huts to cuddle in, and a bale of good hay, but for now, they are most excited about gleaning the last interesting weeds – a wilted tower of yellow dock was apparently the most delicious thing – and any brush they can reach.

The laying hens moved out of the pasture and into the shelter of the east barn. A score of them slipped through the new fence and returned, unprotected, to their old pasture, in that maddening self-sabotaging way of hens. When Miranda and I went riding on Friday (during a glorious last moment of bare fields, warm sun, blue sky) they squawked and scattered in front of us, more hysterical than usual. Then we saw a redtail hawk mantled over a splatter of feathers, mid-field. The hawk flew off when we rode toward her, and Miranda’s sharp little eyes spotted her a few minutes later in the distance, on a fencepost, with a mate. They perched there, still and very beautiful, waiting for us to leave. We tried to herd the chickens back to their coop with the horses and that was fun but comically useless. Later, Jane and I took Mary the English Shepherd to the field. As soon as she got permission she chased them down one by one and held them, one foot on a wing, mouth over the neck, until Jane or I scooped them up, and carried them four or five at a time back to the flock. I wish I liked anything as much as Mary likes catching chickens. This time, though, her enjoyment had a price: the chickens hid in a thick patch of burdock, and the burrs are at their stickiest right now. By the time we were finished, Mary’s tail was one giant burr that stuck to her side or her legs when she tried to wag it, and her floppy ears were propped into prick position from an accumulation of burrs. Now we’ve spent half the weekend trying to clean her up, and the house is littered with bits of burr and clumps of dog hair, but we’re getting close to finishing. 

The 2022 contracts are ready and heading your way. As I mentioned last week, prices are increasing slightly this year, from 5% to 8% depending on type, to account for inflation and jumps in the cost of reusable packaging, fuel and grain. (I was a little shocked to read that the price of beef in the grocery store has risen 20% in 2021, the price of pork is up 15%, and commodities are up 30%, which bodes a continuing rise in all grocery store prices in 2022.) Seasonal shares, as usual, carry a premium over annual membership and are available in blocks of at least 4 consecutive weeks, with discounts given this year for 12+ and 20+ consecutive weeks. As always, if you have any questions about the share, pricing, or the contract, reach out to Mark directly at 518-570-6399, or email essexfarm@gmail.com

The delivery schedule will remain the same as usual for both the upcoming Christmas week and for New Year’s week. We are sending everyone wishes for a very happy holiday. Stay safe and eat well! And that’s the news from Essex Farm for this snowy 50th week of 2021. Find us at 518-963-4613 (office) or 518-570-6399 (Mark’s cell); at essexfarm@gmail.com; or on the farm, any day but Sunday.


-Kristin & Mark Kimball