Essex Farm Note
Week 19, 2015
Mark went to an auction last weekend and came home with an I&J two-horse cultivator, the newest model we’ve ever owned. It has a padded seat (!) for the driver and rubber wheels and heavy metal arms to hold the cultivating attachments. We have not hitched to it yet, but looking at it, it seems like it will offer less finesse but more durability than our old 1930s cultivators, which are highly maneuverable but lightly built. He also bought a horse-drawn round bale mover. This useful item came up at the end of the auction when most people had already left, and he got it for a good price. It’s a very clever way to use horses and leverage to pick up a 500 lb. bale and move it, on wheels, without much effort. It will be useful during haymaking time, or when feeding round bales in the field. And then he bought, on impulse, a small Shetland pony named Trigger. Mark is not usually an impulsive shopper, but he must have been feeling good about his purchases, and he said he was impressed at how well the little guy handled himself in the auction arena, pulling a cart in front of a crowd of 200 people. Plus, he thought he looked just the right size for our girls, ages 4 and 7, who have been sharing Abby Belle, and could really use a second pony. So Trigger – all 10 hands of him – came home to us and joined Abby Belle in her patch of pasture in front of the house. It seems he knows how to use his small stature to his advantage. The first night, he ducked under the electric fence and went on a wild run around the farm in the dark, with Mary in high-speed illicit pursuit, and I, slow human, waving my useless fist in the air, calling whoa! And no! to anyone who would listen, which was exactly nobody. Trigger finally stopped when he found some corn on the ground outside the tack room. I should have known – ponies are like hobbits, ruled by their appetites. But oh! I got distracted by ponies and buried the lead! We also bought a new used tractor this week, to replace our defunct Ford. I’ll tell you more about it next week. For now, thanks to Jon Christian who found the listing, and the Cornell potato research farm in Lake Placid, for selling it to us.
This sudden hot weather has conjured the asparagus out of the ground overnight. I went out to look at the field one evening this week, and searched on my knees until I found a few heads just breaking the surface of the soil; the next day, there were whole patches bearing long thick green stems. We still have another week or even two before we have a real harvest for the share, but it is heartening to see a fresh and beloved vegetable up and growing. Some of the transplants that went in last week are doing well, and some – I’m talking to you, cabbages – need to buck up a little. They aren’t crazy about the clay soil we planted them into, and the dry weather. Taylor and Kirsten hitched one horse to the sap wagon to give them some water, which may have helped. The dairy cows celebrated the return to grass on Tuesday, and on Wednesday night, the calves were let out. They were born late last fall so this was their first taste of the green food they have known they were meant to eat, deep in their collective memory. They wasted no time getting down to it. Two more sets of twin lambs were born in the flock but no grass for them yet, nor for the beef cows, who are perhaps the most eager of all. And that is the news from Essex Farm for this action-packed 19th week of 2015. -Kristin & Mark Kimball