Essex Farm Note
Week 17, 2016
Last week, hearing the forecast, I got the same physical, fluttery feeling I get when contemplating a fresh double espresso. The body knows before you even taste it: with this there will be action. Dry warm weather in April must be grabbed like a brass ring. All the field work that can be done now, on the early side, will pay dividends at harvest. So with that on everyone’s mind, and lambs coming like hotcakes, it has been a mighty exhilarating week for all.
Lambs! The first one arrived on Sunday morning, and we have 21 on the ground so far, including one ridiculously beautiful set of triplets. The singletons are uncomfortably big this year. This morning I pulled a 12 pounder from a first time ewe. Both the ewe and her lamb are alive and well, but the ewe looks like she would rather not attempt that business again any time soon, thank you very much. The good thing is that the lambs hit the ground so sturdy and hale they are up and nursing in no time, and after a day or so in the jug they are ready to go onto pasture with the rest of the flock. It’s good for the soul to see them bouncing along with their mothers on the bright new grass.
No new piglets this week, which was convenient, since lambing was so busy. We’ve given the sows who are close to farrowing a shot of selenium, a dose of wormer, and a bit more bedding to improve comfort and prevent chilling the newborns. So we’ve done what we can do, and now we hope. David Goldwasser called with one bit of news from Cornell about the piglet we sent for analysis last week. It died, he said, of a heart defect, a hole in the aorta. Assuming that was unrelated to our other troubles, I guess we picked the wrong dead pig. They will continue testing it for other things.
I’m sending a big thank you to the small but mighty dairy team this week. Barbara Kunzi is boss of the milk after it leaves the cow, Ben is bringing us closer to my goal of bull-free artificial insemination, and we have two new milkers, Alex and Aiden, who are learning the dance of bucket milking. Our friend and former farmer, Kelsie, has agreed to come back to milk four mornings a week until we find the right full time milker, for which I am really grateful. Ben has been milking every morning and he is badly needed in other areas right now.
We have had tractors and horses in the fields from can until can’t this week, getting ready for corn, beans, vegetables, and cover crops. Kirsten, Isabelle, Anya, Taylor, Aiden, Phil, and Mark spent last weekend transplanting onions, Brussels sprouts, spring greens, flowers, and herbs, and direct seeding carrots, beets, and peas. The new field, which we are calling Newfield, received much of it, and the deer tracks are so thick over there, Mark has spent every night since then camped out in the middle of it, in the moonlight, plant guarding. We need to get a hot wire up out there before he becomes too sleep deprived to be good company.
Big hugs to Megan Moody who is heading to work at the café at North Country Creamery. We are glad we will still have her in the butcher shop here one day a week. And that is the news from Essex Farm for this highly caffeinated 17th week of 2016.
-Kristin & Mark Kimball