Week 51, 2020|Kristin Kimball |December 18, 2020

There’s so much to be grateful for now, as we pass through the darkest part of a strange, dark year. The big storm went south of us, leaving just enough snow on the ground to hush the sounds of hooves but not enough to make walking difficult. We hit zero degrees on Tuesday, the coldest temperature of the season so far, and everyone did fine, without any frostbite or freeze ups. Inside, we’re ogling the seed catalogs, which have been floating around the kitchen table for the last week or so, becoming dogeared and rifled with sticky notes. The kids have marked all sorts of exciting impractical things, like mouse melons and catnip. I trust Mark, Beth and Isabelle will order the perfect vegetable seeds, so I go directly to the back of the catalogues, where the flowers are listed. Sweetpea, snapdragon, sunflower, cosmos, nasturtium, astor, larkspur, marigold, monarda. Just seeing their colors and whispering their names this time of year makes me smile. I know that my ambition in winter far outpaces my diligence in summer (I don’t like weeding!) so I will whittle my list down to what seems absolutely necessary before the order goes in. Members, if there are particular items you’d like to see in the 2021 share, now is the time to speak.  

A lot has changed in our farm landscape recently. The sugarbush on the hill west of the house has been thinned, leaving the sugar maples to thrive. We can see the sun set over the hill now, and the slope looks more like it did in the photos I’ve seen of this farm from the early 20th century, when the hill was used as pasture. We plan to feed the sheep and goats there for the next five winters, to keep the underbrush and regrowth down, after which we will let the maples reseed. I think I see some sledding there in our very near future. 

We’ve also had an excavator here this week clearing brush and trees to make new lines of high tensile fence. This will save so much labor for rotational grazing in the coming years and help keep the animals safe on the farm. It’s exciting, but it almost turned tragic. Mark was helping guide the excavator in the area I think of as the Bermuda Triangle of our farm, along a ditch in the middle of Long Pasture, just east of the pond. There is a row of dead and dying ash trees there, some already uprooted by windstorms. Mark wanted to take them out, since they keep falling on their own and landing on top of existing fences. This is the spot where a heifer was killed by lightning many years ago, and before that even, where some of our first herd of Scottish Highland cows died of shipping fever, just after they’d arrived. An unlucky spot. This week, as the excavator was pulling one tree, it must have dislodged the roots of its weakened neighbor, which was leaning in a different direction. Without warning it fell on the spot Mark had been standing on just a split second before. I guess that unlucky spot should be called a lucky spot now, thanks to Mark’s reflexes. 

We should have the 2021 share agreement out in the next few days. We would be so happy to feed you for another year! The share price will not change, but we are making some minor revisions to the agreement and it is taking me too long, so please forgive the delay. The most important part is that we’d love to expand our membership to feed 50 more families. If you can help us spread the word, we’d appreciate it. And that’s the news from Essex Farm for this winter solstice 51st week of 2020. Find us at 518-963-4613, essexfarm@gmail.com, on the web and insta, or on the farm, at a distance, any day but Sunday. 

-Kristin & Mark Kimball