Farmer reunion

Week 49, 2012

Mark and I were away for a few days this week, speaking at Cornell and Ithaca College. On the way home, we squeezed in a pair of farm visits with some old friends. First, Northland Sheep Dairy, where Donn Hughes and Maryrose Livingston milk a flock of sheep and make exquisite cheese. Actually, I think it might be more accurate to say that Maryrose milks sheep and makes cheese. To Donn, I think it’s all just an excuse to work his horses and mules. The newest addition to their farm, and one of the cutest things I’ve ever seen, is a three month old mule named Leigh, out of Donn’s Suffolk mare, Connie, and their mammoth jack (donkey), Eddie.

Next stop was year-round diversified CSA Greyrock Farm in Cazenovia, owned by Essex Farm alumnus Matt Volz, and run with our friends and former employees, Tim Biello and Sam Ehrenfeld, plus a host of other savage and lovely farmers. We found Sam’s girlfriend Brooke in the barn, milking the herd of mostly Brown Swiss cows, which includes Minnie, the girl Matt bought with donations from Essex Farm Note readers after his very first cow died an untimely death. Sam was in the butcher shop, as usual, turning pork into art. He gave us a little package of boudin noir that was so divine that Mark and I began discussing the gory technical details of making a batch here. At sunset we walked out to find Tim and Matt and Matt’s girlfriend Jillian in the field with Matt’s chunky team of Percherons. They gave us a tour from the wagon as we picked up hoses to be stored for the winter. We said goodbye in the first floor of an old barn that Matt is turning into a heated distribution center with a commercial kitchen. Greyrock has grown so much and so well in the last few years. Next trip, we’ll be looking at that new barn space for inspiration.

Meanwhile, back on our own farm, the gang kept all the animals fed, watered and inside the fences, got the last batch of chickens in the freezer, and stopped Jet from descending into the depths of depression. (He really doesn’t like it when his family goes away.) It’s such a pleasure to know we can leave the farm for a couple of days without (much) fear. Thanks, all. And members, please say hi to Travis, who joined the full time team this week.

It’s busy out there today. Peter Gucker and his crew are here putting finishing touches on the covered barnyards, which will be ready to receive cows very soon. We just got a huge bulk delivery of potting soil for next year’s greenhouse starts. And we put $7,000 of roasted certified organic soybeans in the granary. The price of soy – and organic soy in particular – has skyrocketed, alongside the price of other grains, so Mark and I are talking about growing it next year. We’re also looking into growing Canadian field peas – a high-protein alternative to soy.  And that’s the news from Essex Farm for this balmy! 49th week of 2012.

-Kristin & Mark Kimball

Comments are closed.