Essex Farm Note
Week 8, 2016
Based on the highs and the lows alone it would be very hard to say what season it is. We’ve had whipsaw weather this month, from a low of -17 to well above freezing. Mark took part of the warm and windy Tuesday off to go windsurfing. The surface of the pond melted and re-froze into a perfect skating surface. I wonder what the roots are thinking, just below the surface. We are getting the buckets and the spiles out now, ready for tapping the sugarbush this afternoon and tomorrow. Who knows what kind of sugar season we’ll have? There’s no predicting. But with no snow around the bases of the maples it may well come on fast and be over quickly.
Our Amish friends, Samuel, Dennis and Emmanuel, were here again on Tuesday, to follow up on leads on land for sale in the region, on which they hope to start a new community. As bad luck would have it, our oldest cow, Sis, slipped in the barn that day, after evening milking, and could not — or would not — get up. This has been an occasional problem this winter, as the changing weather causes freezing condensation on the cold barn floor. Kirsten and Isabelle were milking, and Mark and the Amishmen and I went out just before dinner to see if we could help get her up. We tried lifting her in a sling, with a combo of English and Amish muscle, and then Ben Christian came over and demonstrated his fool-proof non-Amish method, which involved rolling Sis into the bucket of the skid steer, driving her out to the covered barnyard where the footing was firm, and gently dumping her, feet first, onto the sturdy bedding pack. She landed upright, and ambled off to eat hay, as though nothing had happened.
Construction projects and cleanup were front and center this week. Portable fencing reels have been measured, spliced, re-rolled, and are ready for green-up. We had a whole team cleaning up the edges of the high tensile fence lines with chainsaws and pruners. The water floats have been inventoried and bad parts replaced. The old granary has been cleaned out and repurposed to store all the fencing supplies, and the old fencing room has been cleaned out and reorganized, to store the minerals and supplements we mix into our feed. The milkhouse is also getting a major renovation, in preparation for the bulk tank we are installing there soon. All the stuff that is currently in the milk house will be moved to one of the newly installed trailers in the farmyard. We’re renovating the livestock too, actively searching for 3 or 4 new Jersey cows to replace the girls who must be culled. We bought 5 new ewe lambs for breeding stock, arriving at the end of March, and the whole flock is starting to get a touch of grain, to get in shape for mid-April lambing.
We have beef broth in the share today, our latest in a lineup of new value-added products, as we work toward making a whole-food share that is more convenient to use. We used Jori Wekin’s at the Hub on the Hill to make it, and are looking forward to more products from that commercial kitchen. I’m excited to see what works for members and to hear what else you would like to see included. And that is the news from Essex Farm for this is-it-sugar-time? 8th week of 2016.
–Kristin & Mark Kimball