It’s been a week of tidying up for the end of the year, both physically and financially. The team put a big effort into moving all the equipment to winter storage, to get ready for the snow and the plowing that comes with it. The popcorn is in, shucked, and drying. The laying hens moved to the greenhouses. The breeding sows came up from pasture, to the snug east barn. Meanwhile, Mark and I sat down with folders of receipts, the big ledger, and our various checkbooks to get a sense of our 2011 numbers so Mark could meet with our accountant. The numbers we finally flushed out of all those scraps of paper told the story of a farm that has truly become community supported. There were entries for generous donations, for in-kind gifts, and for interest-free loans. There are places where certain unnamed employees gave back their hard-earned paychecks. There were discounts from farmer-friendly suppliers and contractors. And a neighbor who wishes to remain anonymous has volunteered to enter every single check we’ve written and deposit we’ve made in the last eight years, which means that next year, we won’t be using that pencil-filled ledger anymore, but a slick, powerful spreadsheet. The amount of goodwill received – in the form of pies, words of encouragement, and expressions of gratitude for food received– is immeasurable. Thank you to our members, to the farmers who work hard for little cash, and to the friends of the farm for your support. You are what make this farm sustainable.
We had two new calves born in the dairy herd this week. Connie had a heifer, whom we’ve named Clementine, in honor of the season. Clara had a bull. Two more fresh cows means net milk production is back up, despite the drop we’ve seen since the cows finished the rich oat/pea pasture and started eating plain old hay. Egg production, however, has dropped precipitously. The hens did not appreciate being moved, and it took a few days to get lights on in the greenhouse, so we threw off their biological clocks. Finally, thanks to Ryan at Ace Electric, we finally have all of our electrical meters combined and hooked to the solar array. Hooray for closure on that long but worthy project. And that is the news from Essex Farm for this windy-enough-to-skew-a-solar-panel 50th week of 2011.