Week 4, 2020 | Kristin Kimball | Jan 24, 2020

We are in that luxurious pause now between settling in for winter and preparing the greenhouse for seeds. We had the lowest temperature of the season on Tuesday night – negative 9F – but now are looking at a stretch of days hovering at or above freezing, without the threat of more severe weather in the forecast. This is the time for taking stock, and for planning. What do we have, what do we need? On a higher level, where have we come from, what are we now, and what do we dream of being?

The concrete is easier than the abstract! We sold our biggest tractor this week, a 7710 Ford that was approaching a time when repair costs outweigh value. So, we’re on the hunt for a new used tractor in the range of 85 HP. We’re also still looking for a used four wheel drive truck, and a diesel powered ATV.

We took delivery of a new 100 gallon cheese vat this week, an L.A. Van Zijll was made in Holland, plus a new 300 gallon bulk tank that can be used for milk storage or water for chilling. We need to send a huge and collective thank you to Barbara Kunzi, and Barbara’s aunt Ursula in Switzerland, whose bequest made this possible. We decided to build out a dairy processing area at the Hub on the Hill, rather than starting a building from scratch down here in the barnyard. Thank you Jori and the Hub for facilitating this! Barbara and Mark are at the Hub now, ogling these gorgeous pieces of shiny new stainless steel. Stay tuned for reports on implementation.

The seed order is in progress today. We are putting focus on succession planting this year. That is, making smaller plantings spread out over the season, so we can harvest more reasonable amounts over a longer period of time, with fewer weeks in which we (and you!) stagger under the weight of vegetables we need to process and put up for winter. We will aim for more greens in the greenhouse, and have plans to build a fourth greenhouse, slightly larger than our current largest. I’m also rooting for more variety of herbs, and for edamame if we can source the seed, and, selfishly, another year of collard greens, which I love. If you want flowers, members, please let Mark now, loudly and immediately! As we looked over seed catalogues this week, Beth and I barraged him with reasons to grow them (Morale! Beauty! Color is good for the soul!), and he countered with his usual litany of practicality (they are inedible and if not picked they go to seed and become pestilent weeds). Humph.

What else? The rams are out of the ewe flock, we placed an order for 750 organic pullets, the beef herd moved out of the covered barnyard to frozen ground and we are looking at shearing the end of March if all goes according to plan.

We are so pleased to be hosting Jane’s French exchange parents, Estelle and Sylvain, who are visiting us from northwest France this week. They live in a rural area that produces grains and potatoes as well as sheep, so we have a lot in common to discuss, and have really enjoyed their company, and learning the ways in which village life is the same on both sides of the Atlantic.

Thank you everyone who sent warm clothes this week! We are stocked up now and our farmer from Uganda is thoroughly warm. We are all grateful. And that’s the news from Essex Farm for this mild 4th week of 2020. Find us at 518-963-4613, essexfarm@gmail.com, or on InstaFB, the web, or IRL on the farm, any day but Sunday.

-Kristin & Mark Kimball