Essex Farm Note
Week 22, 2013
I zipped around the farm by bicycle with Mark yesterday afternoon. This is news because it was his first spin since he broke his leg the first week in February. It was a cautious ride, but enough to qualify as a zip. His leg is sore and weak, but his internal radio is tuned once again to WFRM, all farming, all the time. This is a good thing, considering the season. The drained fields are ready, despite this week’s hard, heavy rain, and the next three days are our window for the biggest planting push of the year. Yesterday, the whole team focused on potatoes, first cutting the oversize Kennebec seed potatoes into golf ball sized pieces, then hauling them to Monument field, where Jenny and Liam had Jake and Abby hooked to the potato planter. Watching Jenny and Liam work together reminded me of our first years, when Mark and I were a team of two. I am not nostalgic for the brutal hours nor the stress of startup, but watching them reminded me there is something precious about working hard together as a couple. It’s a facet of a relationship not many people get to explore. Like taking an arduous trip together, it pulls the shield of romance off of a relationship, and reveals its strengths and weaknesses. My friend Cydni, who grew up on a ranch and married a cowboy, says you should make sure you work a cattle chute together before you say I do. I think you should plant potatoes.
There is a real mix of diesel and horse sweat in the field today. Out the window I see two horses and two tractors at work in Pine Field, cultivating, harrowing, and plowing. In the barnyard, I hear Jonathon Pribble’s skid steer, which we are renting for the week, as we contemplate buying it. Travis used it yesterday to move a mountain of compost, which he is now spreading on the field. Everyone is moving quickly, despite the 90 degree heat. There is the annual feeling in the air that everything must be done right now. Tomorrow is June, and June, to us, is like April to an accountant or December to the elves. Full on, all out hustle.
What else? We took out a $30,000 line of credit with Yankee Farm Credit yesterday. Much as I hate owing, Farm Credit is a great company to work with. They take livestock as collateral! It was a bad week for chickens. Something got into one of the broiler coops and killed 80 half-grown chicks in one night. All but two were uneaten. Ron Bigelow, who is an expert in these things, says it was a raccoon, or possibly a mink, but either way, it was probably a mama with babies to feed. That’s what makes an animal kill so many at once. Cory spent nights on stake-out duty in the field, but so far, no luck. And the best news for last. We have the greens in the share today. We had our first meal of them last night – butter lettuce and spinach and a little chard – and we ate so much we hardly needed anything else. We can expect another two or three weeks of asparagus. We also have the year’s first fresh chickens in the share today. A common sense food safety reminder: keep chicken cold until ready to cook, and cook it thoroughly. And that is the news from Essex Farm for this hot 22nd week of 2013. -Kristin & Mark Kimball