Week 45, 2019 | Kristin Kimball | Nov 9, 2019

Winter arrived overnight. It’s not clear if she’s here for a visit or taking up residence until spring, but her presence is unmistakable. There was an inch of ice on the sheep water tub, and temperatures will stay below freezing all day. In anticipation of her arrival there was a huge push to harvest cabbage (ten tons), plus leeks (half got eaten by cutworms in the spring, but they left us a hefty ton) and the rest of the greens. Then we needed to get the garlic planted before the ground froze hard. That happened yesterday, with two cold-fingered people perched on the back of the transplanter. Mark covered the cloves with soil just as the sun went down. We needed all hands to make it happen, and pulled in some alumni farm ringers for extra support. Thank you, Cory and Liam. It was heartening to see you two here. And thanks too to Amanda who is with us for a month to help. Aside from harvest, crop storage and freeze protection are the big priorities right now. We borrowed an onion topper from Juniper Hill Farm (thank you Adam!) and are halfway through topping, bagging and storing them in our basement. Our whole house smells of onions today, and so does everything in it, including ourselves. Here’s hoping for everyone’s sake that the smell in the house will dissipate soon.

We had two Jersey calf heifers born in the dairy herd this week: Kanye from old-timer, Kimber, and Penelope, from Phoebe. Penelope had a rough start, and came extremely close to dying of scours. Luckily, Dr. Goldwasser gave her a shot of the proper antibiotic yesterday and she went from moribund to lively overnight. Antibiotics are such a precious resource. As you know, using any antibiotic goes against the organic standard, and we let you know when we do it – never off-handedly, and only when an animal will suffer unnecessarily or die without it. It’s unusual for us to have a sick calf and we discussed the underlying cause with Dr. Goldwasser. The pathogen that infected her, a strain of e.coli, is ubiquitous, but only takes hold in the absence of good immunity, which comes, for newborns, exclusively from the mother’s colostrum. Phoebe’s colostrum was bloody from burst capillaries in her udder and that probably lowered the quality of the antibodies in it. And because I recently Marie Kondo’d the freezer and pitched my stash of frozen colostrum (a decision that sparked no joy in retrospect) we had no spare to feed her. That’s the way we learn, right? Even 16 years in. We have several cows freshening soon so we can restock, and I predict Penelope will make a full recovery.

I’m sad to report that Dr. Goldwasser was here to euthanize Mozzie, our Great Pyrenees livestock guardian who lived with the sheep to keep the coyotes at bay. He had osteosarcoma and had reached a point where we couldn’t keep him entirely comfortable anymore, so it was time. He was on duty until the end, as he’d wish, and went as peacefully as a dog could, in the field, with his sheep, full of a pound of ground beef, and basking in the love of Anne, who adored him and who, along with Charlie and Brandon, took charge of his care these last weeks. We’ll miss this good dog tremendously.

We’re celebrating the publication of Good Husbandry next Sunday November 17th at 4pm, at the Grange Hall in Whallonsburg. The suggested $10 donation goes to the Grange. There will be books for sale (holiday presents?!), which I’ll happily sign, and light refreshments. And that’s the news from Essex Farm for this crisp 45th week of 2019. Find us through our web page or on Insta at kristinxkimball (me), essexfarmcsa (farm) or farmerkimball (Mark) or IRL on the farm, any day but Sunday.

-Kristin & Mark Kimball