Essex Farm Note
Week 37, 2016
It’s not all weeds, seeds and afterbirth you know. Like other businesses, we have structures and routines that are meant to sculpt order out of the chaos that will ensue from any complex multi-person effort. We have written sales and marketing strategies; weekly, monthly, and annual production goals. We have meetings – a rather shocking number of meetings! – and occasional mandatory all-team pep talks. We have a large collection of checklists, SOPs, and spreadsheets, some of which are useful.
My favorite of these non-dirt oriented business-things is our weekly management meeting. Our management team is made up of Mark and me (owners), Ben Christian (production manager), Anne Brown (office manager and much, much more) and Jori Wekin (minister of magic, and value-added coordinator). Every meeting starts with a round-robin of how everyone at the table is doing, and the wins and losses of their week, followed by an hour’s worth of discussion and problem solving on production, staffing and financial issues. Usually, I make a pot of tea for Ben. Sometimes, when the numbers are hard to swallow, there are cookies.
In true Essex Farm fashion, everyone on the management team has to name three wins for every loss we want to talk about. Some weeks, that’s tough and it feels forced. This week, it was a snap. The first win to celebrate was the end of second cut haymaking. It really was a spectacularly good year for hay. Thanks to Ben, who managed all of it, and did much of it, we have made a record amount of really good quality first and second cut, all stored under cover, with no major equipment breakdowns; if the weather continues to cooperate we may get some third cut in a week or so. The whole team deserves a lot of thanks for this achievement. We are also incredibly grateful to the landowners who lease us their fields, and to the Rice family for letting us use their pole barn for storage.
The second big win is the way the field corn is shaping up in Newfield, and along Blockhouse Road. The ears are long, heavy, and just beginning to dent. I admit, I was against planting the Blockhouse Road field to corn, and fought hard against it. It tends to be wet, and I didn’t think it was fertile enough. I lost that fight, Mark planted it, and it produced beautifully. There is one corner that didn’t size up well, but even that is going to be put to good use: we’ll turn the pigs into it next week, to harvest their own feed. This was corn grown from organic seed, organically fertilized, cultivated and managed.
The third big win, raised by Anne, was the fact that the Hub on the Hill has been processing hundreds and sometimes thousands of pounds of our bumper-crop vegetables every week – making kraut, fermented pepper sauce, canned tomatoes, salsa and more. Members will see some of these products in the share this winter, some are for the Hub to sell, and some will be sold in our store. Thanks to Jori and the Hub crew for adding value and storability to our ephemeral summer crops.
The forth, short win: the first calf is on the ground! A lovely heifer, Kelly, was born yesterday, from Kite. That’s the news from Essex Farm for this winning! 37th week of 2016.
-Kristin & Mark Kimball