Essex Farm Note
Week 23, 2016
I was away for six days and when I came home everything was dramatically changed. The strawberry plants had gone from bud to flower to fat green fruit. The cover crop of rye on Monument Field, which had been thigh high, had been tilled in and the field made ready to plant to soybeans. The pastures, when I left, were still full of that soft, short, succulent grass that makes ruminants crazy with pleasure. Now the orchard grass has nearly gone by, its stems tough and topped with seedheads. Things move so fast this time of year, you can’t turn your head, or you lose the thread of the story.
Today, the first lettuces are coming in from Newfield, in gorgeous variety and in abundance. I grazed on a head of red oak leaf lettuce this morning, on my walk home from that field. It was so tender and sweet I ate the whole thing, leaf by leaf, dirt and all, savoring the sweet center last. The heat of the last ten days has accelerated the asparagus to the point where it’s hard to keep up with the picking. And those strawberries! I eyeball them every day when I walk Miranda to the end of the driveway to catch the bus. The fruits on the Early Glow plants are the size of shooter marbles, and yesterday I saw the first blush of red over the green. We might get our few first ripe berries by next week, or certainly the week after that.
The dairy herd has relaxed into a more moderate level of production now that the first flush of spring grass is over. It will soon be time to think of drying off the cows bred to calve in early fall. At the same time, Ben and I are getting set up to breed the heifers and some of the cows to calve next spring instead of calving all of them in the fall. This will help spread out our dairy production more evenly, and take good advantage of the best grass while we have it. This time, we’re doing it with artificial insemination instead of with a Jersey bull. We have a new semen tank on order, for storing frozen semen, and now we get to look through the Jersey sire catalogue, which makes me dizzy, because the full-color spreads are all so bullishly beautiful.
It was a huge week of planting and transplanting. We have close to 40 acres of field corn planted. Soybeans are going in right now, 10 acres. Sweet corn was planted yesterday. Last weekend, all the winter squash, melons, summer squash and cucumbers were transplanted, by hand, plant by plant. Over a weekend! Two acres of transplanting! Thanks so much for the whole team for making that happen. Potatoes are up, Adirondack Blues first, with their strange blueblack leaves. We bought a new manure spreader, on credit, a big investment in NEW equipment for once, and we have put it to good hard use already. The only thing we have been lacking is rain, and guess what? Forecast says we should get between an inch and two inches on Sunday and Sunday night. If we do get it, and manage to cultivate the corn once before it hits, we would suddenly and without precedent have everything a farmer could wish for. That is the news from Essex Farm for this golden late spring 23rd week of 2016.
-Kristin & Mark Kimball