Week 18, 2020｜Kristin Kimball ｜May 1, 2020
According to the calendar, lambing starts in five days, but tell that to the lambs already on the ground. The jugs are nearly full of ewes with newborns already and the rest of the flock is looking awfully ripe. I hope the grass grows quickly in the next few days, so we can send new families out to pasture and make room for the big wave that’s coming. Yesterday, Anne, Nathan, Evan and I ran the whole flock through the chute and took several fecal samples to test for worms. We’ve been especially concerned about the group of bred yearlings, after losing three without warning to haemonchus contortus. This is the dreaded barber pole worm, a parasite that makes its living by sucking blood from the sheep’s stomach. Too many at one time will make a sheep weak and anemic, and she can die from loss of blood. It can happen very quickly, before symptoms are obvious. I looked at the fecal samples under the microscope while the rest of the team checked for poor body condition, pale membranes, and bottle jaw – an accumulation of fluid under the chin that is the tell-tale sign of late stage anemia. The microscope revealed a range in fecal egg count, from nearly clean to moderately burdened, but not nearly as much as I’d feared. For the moment at least, and despite the losses, we’re not in a serious crisis. We treated the few individuals that needed it, and left the rest untreated, per the organic standard. This helps prevent resistance to the medications we use to control parasites, and minimizes impact on the environment.
The horses, cows and heifers went to pasture this week. It was a pleasure to see them encounter the tantalizing grass for the first time since fall. Milk production leapt up, as it does every year when we hit grass. You’ll notice different flavors and a brighter color to the cream. Enjoy! At least as much is happening with plants as with animals right now. We have several acres of transplants in the ground, thanks to a big push by the whole team, and rhubarb has been separated and replanted. Cover crops are bigger and greener every day, their roots stretching down and out as the leaves stretch up. Asparagus is peeking out of the ground. The rain has come at the right moment, in just the right amount. How often do we get to say that?
I’m issuing the periodic reminder to members to take just what you need for the week, especially when it comes to meat. Don’t hoard it, don’t give it away, and please don’t feed it to your pets. If you have meat in your freezer now please use it up before taking more. It is not packaged for long term storage. Remember, meat is nutritionally dense, and expensive to produce. Treat it as the precious resource it is, enjoy every bite, and don’t waste any of it, including the bones. If you have questions about how to use a cut let us know.
Kids and I continue to stay busy in the kitchen. We’re trying to wean off the white comfort food this week, making a bit less pasta and bread and cake, and more polenta, tortillas, and roasted roots. You can’t keep stress baking batches of cinnamon buns if what you thought was an acute crisis is really the new normal, right? Here’s to keeping healthy and fed for the long haul, with thanks to members and supporters who are strengthening this local food system. And that’s the news from Essex Farm for this May Day 18th week of 2020. Leave us a message at 518-963-4613, or call/text Mark’s cell at 518-570-6399, or email firstname.lastname@example.org, or get us on the web and Insta at essexfarmcsa, kristinxkimball, and farmerkimball. The farm store is stocked and open so you can wave to us from there.
-Kristin & Mark Kimball