Week 13, 2022|Kristin Kimball|April 2, 2022

We’re at the brown hinge of the year now that will soon catapult us into the greens. These weeks feel long and slow but we will be grazing in a month. In case you were doubting the turn of season during this week’s truly cruel and frigid temperatures, I made some notes: 

  1. We heard a tree frog song last night, harbinger of the peepers that I expect to hear any evening now. We are sleeping with our windows open, so they can cheer us in our sleep. 
  2. There is a slight haze of green in the perennial pastures.
  3. The cucumbers and cherry tomatoes are seeded for our first greenhouse planting. 
  4. The sheep are sheared, and their bellies are big with lambs. 

Shearing deserves a bit more detail. Thank you, thank you to Anne Brown for organizing the two-day extravaganza of shearing, hoof trimming and vaccinating, to the whole crew of farmers and farm alumni who helped, and of course to Mary Lake and Leslie of Cando Shearing. Leslie is in her second year of shearing and bested her personal record by 11 sheep on the first day. Mary was a pleasure to watch as always. Their work is a strictly choreographed dance with razor sharp clippers and a sometimes reluctant partner, and it takes so much practice to get it right. The ewes without their wool look really good, in fine, fit condition, and I’m excited for lambs towards the end of this month. We have a case of what I think is pasteurellosis in one ewe today, which is a common, often fatal disease that can be brought on by shearing or other handling. I’m off to see what I can do for her soon as this note is finished. 

The weather was textbook perfect for frost seeding clover early this week. Those cold temperatures that made us all wince also froze the top layer of soil, opening fissures and cracks that allowed the seed to plant itself. We have a cover crop grant from New York State Soil and Water, which paid us for the whopping 500 acres we seeded over three days. That’s three quarters of a billion seeds. Thanks Scott Hoffman for coming in as a special agent to do that work so efficiently. This cover crop grant is one of the best I’ve seen in terms of a healthy soil return on the state’s investment, and is one of the more powerful ways that tax dollars can help mitigate climate change. The legumes like clover fix nitrogen in the soil; since nitrogen is generally the limiting nutrient for plant growth, increasing the nitrogen in soil increases its capacity to grow everything, which means increased capacity to sequester soil carbon. If I weren’t running out to doctor a sheep I would explain more thoroughly how that works!  Another time.

We had a lively lunch yesterday to celebrate the end of shearing, with potato leek celeriac soup, biscuits, and spanish tortilla for everyone. I’ve really been loving our potatoes lately. I’m going to work on a version of the spanish tortilla that uses our fats rather than olive oil. Sacrilege! Stay tuned for results. We are saying goodbye to Elyse Sinklier this week, with thanks for the work she did in dairy processing. We are hiring for that position. If you like working with milk and LOVE cleaning, we can train you. It’s 20 hours per week but we could fill in with other work for anyone desiring a full time position. And that’s the news from Essex Farm for this soft 13th week of 2022. Find us at 518-963-4613, essexfarm@gmail.com, or on the farm, any day but Sunday.

-Kristin & Mark Kimball