Week 22, 2020｜Kristin Kimball ｜May 29, 2020
Farmer phenology says to plant corn when the oak leaves are the size of a squirrel’s ears. This year, the leaves went from tight buds to the size of my palm in a flash. It’s been a season of extremes. Spring started out cold and wet, and this week, every sentient being on the farm was panting from heat. The pastures look a bit parched. As we sweated through our shirts at the sheep pen on Wednesday, Evan pointed out to me that the last precipitation we got came in the form of early May snow. The forecast looks promising for rain today, followed by much more moderate temperatures. Our animal team has done a great job weaving fences into the hedgerows to give shade to all the animal groups. Later in the season they will be able to handle heat better, but the first hot days following a long stretch of cool weather can be stressful, so it was very good to have them protected.
Lambing has slowed down now, with only thirty ewes left to go. Having a larger flock has brought lots of learning opportunities, from assisting at tricky births to diagnosing unusual issues. Here’s a new one: I think I had orf. I was feeling off about three weeks ago, went home and took my temperature to find it was 100.5. Not what you want to see in the time of coronavirus. I scheduled a Covid test in Elizabethtown, got swabbed (here’s to the Etown hospital nursing staff for making the drive-thru experience so seamless!) and went to bed when I noticed a strange sore on my hand. Since all my waking hours had been around the sheep I immediately suspected it had something to do with them. By the time the Covid test came back negative I was feeling perfectly fine and had become a Google expert in orf. (I think Kristin has too much interest in zoonotic disease, said Evan, who is familiar with my Googling.) It’s a common sheep pox virus that can cause symptoms in humans with close contact, including, in some cases, a mild fever. It’s also known as scabby mouth, but orf is more fun to say, plus a good scrabble word. It poses no threat to eaters and is self limiting in both people and sheep but I’ll definitely be watching out for it in the flock next year at lambing.
The greens are really moving now, and the asparagus is cranking. Haymaking starts this weekend. The first batch of broiler chicks is on pasture already and we’re awaiting the first eggs from our new flock of pullets. I’m seeing a lot of foxes this year, so here’s hoping they respect the net. Hometown Electric has been here this week rewiring the east barn to make it safer to run the brooders. Thanks for that, you guys. We’ve been working with Capital Bookkeeping Cooperative, and this week they revealed our new expense spreadsheets. I can’t contain myself when I look at them, not because the numbers are so amazing but because these brilliant people have made art out of our formerly messy books. This makes management decisions so much easier. I can’t wait to share some of the numbers, in gorgeously cogent form.
Local members, we hear there were some items out of stock last week at some pickup times; others have gotten in touch to ask about the limits we imposed. Please bear with us as the season shifts and we move from scarcity of vegetables into the season of great abundance, while also getting used to our new protocols! Keep communicating with us and we’ll keep working to dial it in. And that’s the news from Essex Farm for this snow-to-heat 22nd week of 2020. The farm store is stocked and open for business, so please tell your friends. As always you can find us at 518-963-4613, firstname.lastname@example.org, on the web and insta at essexfarmcsa, kristinxkimball, and farmerkimball.
-Kristin & Mark Kimball