If it bleeds it leads

Essex Farm Note

Week 26, 2013

Hard call on the lead this week. Should it be the rain, or the drive-by? Since the latter is bloodier and in ways more tragic, it wins. Someone killed one of our half-grown pigs last night. We found it dead in a puddle near the road this morning, shot in the head. It’s probably a $500 loss, in terms of dollars and cents, but more when you count the bad feelings and their side effects. We have no idea who would do this or why. Was it just cruelty, or personal? Two of our farmers saw a suspicious vehicle in the area yesterday. If anyone has any more information, we’d appreciate it, and so would the police.

The weather pattern has been gray, followed by rain, with grayness and rain — punctuated by heavy rain – predicted for the foreseeable future. It’s turning out to be a tough year for growing food. In one dramatic hour on Wednesday morning, we got 1.6”, on top of .6” that had already fallen; the pond overflowed its banks, the farm roads washed, and running water etched gullies in the topsoil. It looked worse than it did after Irene.

Thanks to the tile drainage, all the crops in Pine Field, Monument Field, and Superjoy are alright. Thanks to Gwen and everyone who helped her, the broiler chickens are up on pads of hay, and out of the standing water, and there is a trench through the chick house, to move water out of it. Thanks to Cory, the skid steer, and everyone who helped, the beef cows are in the covered barnyard, and not destroying the mucked-up pasture. Nobody could save the hay that is down. We made a good effort to get in what was cut last Friday but two tractors broke down at the same time (as will happen when you are in a hurry) and we ended the window of good weather on Tuesday with 600 good bales, 600 marginal bales, and 600 bales-worth of grass left down in the field. We’ll pick it up and compost it soon as we can get into that field with a vehicle. We can’t leave it or it will scuttle the next cutting.

Uplifting news? We have strawberries for you, members. The team picked two days this week, and froze the first batch, because they were not going to hold until today’s pickup. Yesterday’s picking has been washed and put in the refrigerator but the conditions are such that they will not hold for you either. You should either eat them or put them up before tomorrow. You can also hull them and mix them with a little sugar, and they will keep in your fridge. Sugar snap peas are also uplifting. They should be in the share next week. Matt led the effort to get tomatoes trellised yesterday. The plants look good and healthy so far. Take a load of scapes home today! You can freeze or pickle them.

Mark and I had a grand summit this week, to discuss strategy for the rest of the year. Part of it involves making sure member payments come in on time! If you are paying monthly or quarterly, those payments are due today. Farewell to Brandon, whose last day is today, and hello to Jeff Sherwood, who is here for a month from Virginia. Jeff is a combat veteran exploring farming as his next career. And that is the news from Essex farm for this wet 26th week of 2013. -Kristin & Mark Kimball


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