Last Blast

Dear blog readers, I have not posted here for a few weeks, due to technical difficulties, and lack of time to solve them. Here are the entries from August, as well as today’s note.

Essex Farm Note

Week 37, 2015

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Ninety degree heat this week, and we got lucky with the timing of the rain. The corn grew closer to harvest, and the hay rolled in like crazy. Mike, Taylor, Ethan, Scott, Ben and Jon got the field in Willsboro cut and baled. The last bales went on the truck just minutes before rain hit. All the farmers deserve huge thanks for pulling through a very intense six weeks of good weather. Ben managed the whole hay operation and we have more hay in the barn than we ever have had before. When I look at it I see future beef, lamb, and milk. Most of the haymaking was done with tractors this year, except for some raking. Still, the horses have seen a fair share of work. We’ve been keeping track of how many times we hitch horses this year and so far it is 117. On the mechanical side of things, the skid steer that was down for a month is finally up and working again. It had Mark banging his head with a wrench, trying to figure it out. This week, Joe V., our diesel mechanic, ripped the whole hydraulic system down to zero to reveal the problem: a bearing had self destructed and flung metal bits of itself into the hydraulic pumps.

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The dairy cows are pastured far from the barn this week, on the north side of the Middle Road fields. It’s a good ¾ mile walk to milking each morning. I have been enjoying the fall colors at sunrise – the goldenrod, the aster – and the fun work of herding cows with an eager and talented two year old dog. Mary is much more confident in her own power this year, and has learned that it’s possible to move stock at a walk instead of a gallop. She would prefer the gallop, but she knows she’s not allowed. This week, three of the springing heifers joined the milking herd, and Mary did a good job teaching them to respect her without freaking them out or running them through a fence. Calving is right around the corner. With calves comes milk, members, so hang in there with us through the low point of the dairy year.

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In other news, the young pigs went to pasture along Blockhouse Road this week, nearly 100 of them. The draft horses moved across Route 22 to Jackson Field. The rain that is forecast for this weekend should do a lot to bring on good fall pasture, and to water in the oat/pea cover crop we are rushing to plant today. We have hard red winter wheat planted in part of the newly drained Chad Field, and a few acres of cereal rye in the clay side of Superjoy. We’re hoping the rye will yield some nice straw as well as grain. The Barnes family was back this week with an excavator, to grade some of the farm roads and pull stumps from the new field. Finally, Kirsten and her crew used Jake and Abby to plow the first storage carrots out of the ground yesterday. What a fine looking load, and much more to come.

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Patagonia’s Worn Wear team is here today from 3-7, with the Poco Mas food truck serving up tacos, and music from Plowman’s Lunch. Also, beer. The event is free and open to the public. This Sunday, the freshly painted Whallonsburg Grange is celebrating its 100th birthday with a block party from 1-5. Burgers, games, music and lots of fun. Finally, there’s a nice article by Rowan Jacobson in this month’s Eating Well, about the resurgence of agriculture in and around Essex. And that is the news from Essex Farm for this last-blast-of-summer 37th week of 2015.

–Kristin & Mark Kimball

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