Essex Farm Note, Week 24

Essex Farm Note

Week 24, 2012

A quick note, as this dry weather is calling me to cultivate the three-inch-high corn.

The bad news of the week is that Mark was sidelined with some spectacular pain. If it weren’t so terrible it would be funny, because it’s not his back this time, but his, er, hip area. Basically, he has a pain in his butt. He says it feels like a charley horse that doesn’t relent. He couldn’t stay in one position for more than a few seconds, and he wore a hole in the sheets with all his flipping and flopping. He might have set a record for sleep deprivation. This injury has something to do with the fact that he played an exuberant game of barefoot ultimate Frisbee with the farm crew last week (give him ten hippy points for that), then stayed out on the tractor until midnight. The good news is that he seems to have turned the corner. He slept last night, and is up and about today. Thanks to everyone for the hard work, support, and love that got us through it.

There was a pretty column by Verlyn Klinkenborg in the New York Times on Wednesday, about his family’s farm in Iowa, and how it has changed since his father’s boyhood in the 1930s.  “Even when I was young,” he writes, “it was still biologically complex, full of different animals and various crops and a huge garden. The place is economically more complex now – managing loan and insurance programs, subsidies and incentives – but it is biologically simple: corn, soybeans, no animals, no garden.” Reversing that trajectory – creating a farm that is biologically complex, and economically simple – is exactly what we dreamed of when we started this place. I still think of us as an old fashioned family farm, growing for a very big family. And like the farm that Verlyn holds in his heart, it feeds us, body and soul.

We had an actual fox in the actual henhouse this week. He ran across the barnyard with a chicken in his mouth, and when Jenny came out of the milkhouse and scared him, he dropped it, but later returned to the scene of his crime. We found him tucked in a nestbox, his red head sticking out, but he foxed his way right past us. Gwen moved the electric net, and got it nice and hot, and so far, no more problems. The fox population seems to be high this year, and now that this one has a taste for hen, we’ll need to be vigilant about keeping the girls safe inside their net.

Now let’s talk strawberries. Thanks to our intrepid picking crew, the cooler is full of luscious red berries today. This week, we’re opening the patch for members to pick your own on Saturday, Sunday and Monday only. Please limit your haul to ten quarts per family for the season. (We may up the limit as we see how the supply holds out.) The rules are: 1. Don’t pick only the best berries, but pick every berry that is reasonably ripe in the section you’re working. 2. If you find a mushy berry, please pick it and throw it out of the patch. 3. Keep yourselves and your kids from crushing plants or berries. Have fun and don’t eat so many you get a belly ache.

Short news: Welcome to Liam Davis, who is here for the summer. No 4pm tour today, as I’ll be in the field. Next week at 4, we’ll do a hands-on demo on how to cut up a whole chicken. And that’s the news from Essex Farm for this glad-to-be-alive 24th week of 2012.                                                            –Kristin & Mark Kimball

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