Essex Farm Note
What a soft November we’ve had. Last year, the ground was frozen solid by now. This year, we’ve had many days in the fifties, the cover crops are still green and growing, and we have barely put a dent in the woodpile at the farmhouse. Harvest work is so much more fun when there is warm sun on your back instead of sleet.
We got the rest of the carrots in and stored this week. It was a bountiful haul of well sized, straight, sweet, bright orange roots. Our method for harvest is to carefully double plow the rows, using the horses and the walking plow. The first pass, on one side of the row, tips the carrots out of the ground. The next pass, on the opposite side of the row, flips the carrots onto their tops, so that if all goes well, all we have to do is pick them up, snap the greens off and put them into a bucket for bagging. It is so much easier and faster than digging them up with a pitchfork.
In other good harvest news, both the field corn and the popcorn came in on Wednesday, ahead of the rain. Bob Perry and Mark Wrisley harvested both crops for us with their combine. The field corn gave us 133 bushels/acre, which is a really great yield, especially in a year with such a challenging spring. We got about 36 tons of it into the grain bin. It was pretty darn close to dry, too, at 16% moisture. We will keep the giant granary fan on it, until the moisture comes down another percentage point or two. We got about 3,000 lbs of popcorn, but it was much wetter, at 22%. It needs to be about 14% to pop well, so we have ordered some special dryers that can be placed in 1-ton grain bags. Until they get here, we’ll have the popcorn in a cooler, so it does not mold.
The day after the corn crops came in, Scott, Ben and Mark had those fields disked down and planted back to rye. Since November has been so kind to us, the soil is still warm enough for it to germinate before winter sets in for real.
In other news, Essex Farm is now home to the newest weather station in the New York State mesonet monitoring system. The state crew poured twelve yards of concrete for the foundation on Wednesday, and erected the 30’ tower on Thursday. In the past we have gotten our local weather reports based on information from the Burlington station; it will be a benefit to all of us – but especially farmers! – to have our forecasts based on better, more local data. For the real weather nerds (Mark, I’m looking at you), we will have real time readings for everything from soil temperature to relative humidity. Members can check out the station in Field 2, via the farm road or Blockhouse Road; as soon as our station goes live, anyone can see live data and images at www.nysmesonet.org.
I’m off to Cuba tomorrow, and back here in a week. Here’s to a delicious and joyful Thanksgiving to everyone. Thank you, readers, for all of your support, and thank you members for making this whole beautiful, bountiful project possible. And that’s the news from Essex Farm for this friendly 47th week of 2015. -Kristin & Mark Kimball