Essex Farm Note week 17

Essex Farm Note

Week 17, 2012


An end-of-April chill is upon us, and for the next few nights, the tender young things on the farm will have to withstand a dip into the 20s. I shiver for the asparagus, the chicks out on pasture, and the nine piglets that were born on Wednesday. This kind of weather is entirely expected (our frost-free date is not for another month) and we don’t foresee any dire consequences. The asparagus will die off but come right back; the chicks, fully feathered, should be fine if we can keep them dry; and the piglets are snug in their farrowing hut, bedded in hay, and warmed by their mother’s vast body. So we can get through this, but it does seem a little unfair, soft as we all are from this warm, mild spring.

Mark and I took a walk this morning, to check on the state of the farm. First, up the hill to the west. The horses are pastured in the sugarbush right now, to keep them off of valuable pasture during this wet spell. We can’t see them but we can hear them. With four new big boys in there, they are trying to figure out their new herd order, which they do with squeals and threats and the occasional bite or kick. I am putting my money on Abby to maintain her position as head mare. At the top of the hill, the three fields on Middle Road are too wet to work but we will soon plant at least one to oat/pea, and will leave the northernmost one to grow up as pasture, since it’s rife with clover. Back down the hill to the west pasture, the grass looks good enough for the cows to get their first nibbles this very afternoon. Then past the solar panels, and out to SuperJoy, where the rye is now underseeded to clover. The rye looks like it needs some nitrogen, so we might spread compost there after we’ve grazed it once. Next, the vegetables. Garlic seems thrilled with itself. Transplanted lettuces are growing slowly but happily. All 21 rows of onions are smiling. Peas have germinated. And the tile drainage’s terminus – where Mark always pauses to palm himself a drink – is flowing heavily, drawing excess water off the fields. Back toward home on Monument Field, we stop to admire the rhubarb, which needs to be deflowered (horticulturally speaking), and the impressive stands of vetch and rye, where the cows will be grazing shortly. At the end of the driveway we say hello to the flowers that Barbara planted last fall. They are blooming so enthusiastically they almost distract you from the rows of rusty equipment that Mark has parked out front. (In town, people ask me if we are having an auction. No, I say, just trying to keep our taxes down. Beauty, counters Mark, is in the eye of the beholder, and having all the equipment out and ready to hitch is, to him, about as pretty as it gets. To which I reply: sigh.) And on to our final stop: the sheep, who grazed the lawn this week better than I’ve ever mowed it. In all, an entirely satisfactory first quarter.

One important reminder, members: bring your glass back every week! We are scrounging for half gallons to get through this weekend. And finally, we’re hosting a Farmhack here on Sunday morning, beginning at 8:30. It’s free and all are welcome, but come prepared to nerd out on appropriate tillage.

And that is the news from Essex Farm for this nippy 17th week of 2012.

-Kristin & Mark Kimball

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