Dare to dream

Week 2, 2013

It’s planning season, always an optimistic time. It’s good to dream of what could be while the days are short and our spirits are fresh. It makes for some BIG dreams, and they might lose some of their puff as spring comes along and pushes them from imagination toward reality, but it’s good for us to have exciting goals to aim for. We keep the year plan and our mission and vision statements posted in the office, so feel free to take a look if you are interested. Here are the highlights:

Mission/Vision statement

This is in process. I’m never sure if it is useless or indispensible. We’re tweaking it to go beyond food, and aim to provide more of your material needs, like firewood.

New products

  • We hear your desire for winter greens, members. We in the Carhartts tend to be happy with shredded roots and vegetables from the freezer, but you miss your green salads. So we’ll try to make that happen for next winter. We need to write a hoophouse and row cover into this year’s budget.
  • We are definitely adding firewood to the share. In fact, Chad and his horses are pulling four cords worth of logs out of the sugarbush today. Stay tuned for specific details.
  • Scrapple. I believe it is the perfect breakfast food.
  • We’d like to add dried herbs, if we can work out a good drying system and make the time to do it.
  • Lamb and mutton. Our pilot flock is doing well and we plan to expand.
  • In the dare-to-dream category: corn tortillas.

 

Agriculture

There are always enough dreams in this category to keep us busy for the next hundred years. We’ve prioritized the most urgent ones, plus the ones that will give us the biggest bang for the buck.

  • Weed control. If we get behind on weeds, we pay a heavy price in increased labor, loss of production, and missed opportunity to work on other things. If we nail it, everything else is easier. Therefore, it’s priority #1. We need to set aside time this winter to overhaul our weeding equipment and perhaps add some multi-row cultivators to the arsenal.
  • Drain Jackson and Potato Fields. We are amazed at the exponential boost in production we’ve gotten from draining Monument and Pine Fields. Drainage is also a hedge against climate change – it helps mitigate the cost of extreme weather – so we believe it is a wise (though hefty) investment.  These two fields are about 25 acres total.
  • Grow enough high quality feed and bedding to make us independent of rising market prices. This may mean hiring out some of our haymaking and spring tillage.
  • Build a proper root cellar near the pavilion. This would reduce loss due to poor keeping conditions and save time hauling vegetables around in the winter. It would fit into the 5 year goal of a new distribution building.
  • We are looking at some “insourcing”: hatching our own chicks, making potting soil, saving seed, etc.
  • We need a huge generator in case the power fails.

 

Farmers

Mark and I are motivated to keep employees here as long as possible. When we asked the whole crew what they most want, it was unanimous: teamster training, and to build equity in their own houses and land. The first part is simple, and we have begun to throw ideas around for the second part. We’d love to hear your own ideas, if you have them.

 

In other farm news, we had a pair of lambs born on Wednesday night, twin rams. One had a slow start. He was small and a little chilled, and he had a hard time getting his front feet to work; I gave him a couple bottle feedings of cow colostrum (because Juniper conveniently calved the same night) and he seems to be in good shape now. You can say hi to the new boys and their mother in the run-in east of the East Barn. And that is the news from Essex Farm for this thawing 2nd week of 2013.

-Kristin & Mark Kimball

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