Essex Farm Note

Week 9, 2013

Mark had surgery to fix his knee on Tuesday. The top of his tibia got crushed by his femur when he fell, and the tibia was also cracked. Fourteen screws, a plate, several pins, and one big bone graft later, we’re home. The operation took somewhere between four and five hours, and Mark came out of it in full Markian form. Turns out narcotics make him more hyper rather than less.

I can’t say enough good things about his surgeon, Dr. Bullock, nor about the nurses and support staff at Adirondack Medical Center in Saranac Lake who took care of Mark for the two days he spent in the hospital. Now the long road of rehab begins. I am sending deep, heartfelt thanks to the many people who helped us this week, from the farmers who kept the farm running to the friends who took care of the girls and cooked for our family. What would we do without you?

Two more sows farrowed this week. Nine surviving piglets in one batch, twelve in the other. The mamas are doing well and the babies are growing so fast you can almost see it happen in real time. Pig milk is rich. Watching them, it occurred to me that each species has its own distinct mothering style. The ewes are sweet and nurturing, nickering and nuzzling endlessly with their lambs. They are the attachment parenting moms of the animal world. Sows are more like the overburdened mothers you see in the grocery store who offer to show their kids the back of their hand if they misbehave. Big, scary, tough-love mamas. I suppose I might be like that, too, if I had twelve squealing babies attached to my nipples for hours on end.

Jane’s cosset lamb, Gem, has moved to the barn, where he is getting free choice cold milk and a little bit of hay and grain. He is with his own kind, but lonely for his young human caretakers. Jane likes to carry him from his pen out to the barnyard, where he follows her around like a puppy.

We had the vet out on Tuesday, to see a dairy cow, Juniper, who got horned in both sides by one of the bossy cows (I suspect Connie, though I have no proof). Juniper’s organs were protected by her ribs but she developed the most enormous hematomas I have ever seen. They looked like overstuffed saddle bags. The vet drained the fluid out of them and declared her good as new. The replacement bull, Chris, seems to be getting a very good workout, which suggests his crooked predecessor lacked the ability to get the job done. We have two springing heifers due to calve in the next couple weeks. It will be nice to have new babies in the nursery again, now that the fall calves are getting so big.

Spring work has officially begun. We are moving the chickens out of the greenhouse in preparation for seeding, and the arrival of the first batch of chicks. Matt and Jenny have done fine work on the seed order. We finalized our seed potato decisions today. I’m ready for longer days, warmer sun and green green grass.

I’m off to speak at the Northeast Organic Farming Association New Hampshire conference. More thanks are due Ronnie, Don and Donna for caring for the kids and Mark while I’m away. And that is the news for this rough 9th week of 2013.

-Kristin & Mark Kimball

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