Essex Farm Note, Week 34

Every year is notable for something. This one may well be remembered as the year of the weeds. When Mark taught agriculture in Venezuela he was known as el diablo de las malezas – the Weed Devil. He can absolutely wear you out talking about the fine points of weed control. This year, though, the weeds in the potatoes and the field corn got away from us. Those fields are far from the barnyard, and the half-crippled Diablo did not get out to see them with his usual frequency. We missed a couple of key cultivations, and next thing you know, the lambsquarters and ragweed were taller than I am. The corn will be what it will be, but we must clear the weeds from the potatoes before we can dig them. It is a daunting task. Lindsay has been leading weeding crews in that field whenever there is time to do it, and they have brought up several impressively heaped wagonloads of lambsquarters, but we need some reinforcements. So, in celebration of Labor Day, we are hosting the Great Potato Weeding Party on Saturday, September 1st, from 9am to 2pm. Bring loppers or hand pruners if you have them. We will cook potatoes in the field for lunch. RSVP to the farm office — essexfarm@gmail.com.

We have a very colorful share this week. Today’s potatoes are called Adirondack Blue, but they are actually a gorgeous deep purple. We also have Silver Queen sweet corn for the first time this week. I’ll be putting some in the freezer, if we have any left over. I love to use it for corn chowder in the winter. I hope you have all been putting up your tomatoes, because the blights are starting to take a toll on the plants. Some varieties are about done for, while others, like good old Juliet, are still going strong. Barbara Kunzi is away this week, taking a series of classes to become a master preserver. She’ll be our go-to woman for questions about putting food up. Barbara also runs the granary, so when she’s back, we’ll have our oats in the share once again.

The walls are up on our new beef barn. I’ve just gotten back into town and haven’t yet been down to see them, but Mark says they are impressive. The dairy barn walls will be next. It’s going to be great to have a dry sheltered place for the dairy herd to go during the worst cold, wet weather.  Dale Bigelow came over with his tractor to subsoil the newly drained ground in Monument, Pine and Mailbox fields. We’re planting those fields to cover crops and grazing mix next week. While Dale was here we had him turn next year’s corn ground. The drought across most of the nation this year has driven the price of corn to an all-time high, so we’re eager to get our own in the ground next spring in a timely manner. Thanks and farewell to Annelies, Jacob and Gus, whose good work boosted us through the heart of the summer. We are looking to hire one or two agri-superheroes of the strong and enthusiastic variety to get through harvest season. And that’s the news from Essex Farm for this sultry 34th week of 2012. -Kristin & Mark Kimball

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