Essex Farm Note, week 39

Lots of newsy news this week. We have a healthy new Jersey heifer, born to Fanny. This was Fanny’s first calf, so she’s on the milking line for the first time now. Jenny found the baby in the pasture and claims the naming rights. We name our calves with the same first initial as their mother, so we can keep cow families straight. This calf is a granddaughter to Fern, and we hope she’ll inherit that line’s good udder, longevity, and milkiness. I don’t think Jenny has picked the calf’s name yet, but I heard that Fenneke, Dutch for little one, is in the running. Members can visit the new arrival in the calf nursery in the east barn’s eastern shed, but please don’t climb in with her. She’s a newborn and needs some peace.

Mark, Lindsay, Liam, and Luke brought in the Delicata squash this week. Delicata is the zeppelin-shaped winter squash with green stripes. It has sweet flesh and thin skin that you can eat if you want too. It’s a nice convenient size and shape for stuffing. Squash is all well and good, but the vegetable star of the week is the absolutely gorgeous broccoli. This is the beginning of a bumper crop, and we expect to have it for another four weeks at least.  Melons, however, are making their final appearance today. It has been a good run, hasn’t it? There are still some raspberries in the field, so take advantage, members, and pick them before frost! I made raspberry jam this week, the last taste of summer sun in jars.

We’re looking at lots of numbers right now to decide if we are going to build a walk-in freezer. While it’s a big cash outlay, we think it could save money in the long run, because we could raise more animals during the growing season, while wintering fewer – focusing winter resources on the dairy and breeding stock. Pigs, for example, need a lot of feed just to keep warm in winter, hairless beasts that they are. The other big-ticket item on the docket this week is forage. We have plenty of first cut hay in the loft, but so far, thanks to drought, no second cut. First cut is low in protein, and we will need some better feed for the dairy cows at least. The second cut that is standing in the field is just now getting tall enough now to consider cutting, but the days are getting too short to dry it into good hay. Our options are to hire someone to bale it for haylage (baled wet, wrapped in plastic, and fermented), or to graze it now, and buy in some alfalfa or good second cut from another farm. The price of hay is expected to be pretty darn high this year, due to the drought. We’ll crunch some numbers and do the best we can.

Love and best wishes go to Lindsay Willemain, who finishes her last day today. Lindsay ran the vegetable department this year after Asa departed, and so we thank her for so many of the good things that grace our tables this fall. She took on a huge job in a challenging year, and I was so impressed by the heart and energy she brought to it.  We’ll raise a toast to her tonight at team dinner. Finally, I’m going to blog about what we’re cooking in the farmhouse this week, plus kitchen tips. We are welcoming a lot of new members right now and I thought this might help get the culinary ideas flowing. And that is the news from Essex Farm for this my-laundry-won’t-dry! 39th week of 2012.

-Kristin & Mark Kimball

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