Nature Will Find a Way

Essex Farm Note

Week 34, 2013

A storm rolled through yesterday afternoon and dropped just enough rain to water in the transplants: fall lettuce and the overwintering scallions. The weather for the second half of the summer has been docile, as though it’s obeying our wishes, after all those weeks of cursed rain. Now the thing to wish for is a long, warm Indian summer and a very late frost, to let the corn kernels fatten, the soybean pods fill, and the root crops come to full maturity.

Even if they are a bit behind, the fields are as beautiful as they’ve ever been.

The whole team harvested tomatoes this week until their hands and forearms were black with resin, and there is much more to come. The plants seem to be outpacing the early blight that climbs slowly up the vines each year. Fall arugula is coming on. I can’t wait for that peppery green treat. We have some cantaloupe melons coming in, though I haven’t yet had one that was truly sweet. Jenny and Matt led a much-needed assault against weeds this week. The big weeds got pulled by hand, and hauled to the compost pile. Two teams of horses – Jake and Abby, and the old warriors, Jay and Jack – were hitched to the cultivators, to take care of the smaller weeds. We also used the one-horse cultivator again, to get the weeds between the wide-set hills of potatoes. Speaking of potatoes, we dug up a few Kennebecs on Wednesday to see how they are doing. You will remember that last year we planted a lot of acreage to potatoes but the field was low in fertility and the weeds got ahead of us, which left us with lots and lots of very small potatoes. As a farmer and as a cook, I hate small potatoes – too much work on both ends. This year, we planted much less land to potatoes but put them in drained ground, and invested them with a lot of compost plus bought-in organic fertilizer, and kept the weeds well under control. I think you will all be pleased with the results, members. The sample potatoes were big as my two fists put together.

We have baby news. Matt found two surprise litters of piglets in the field last Saturday morning, born without a hitch, on pasture, where their mamas had made neat little nests. Those sows were not supposed to have been bred, but we can trace this event to a day roughly four months ago when the boar broke through the fence and spent a brief but apparently productive few hours with his ladyfriends. On the other side of the farm, we’re keeping an eye on the beef herd, where the cows are due to start calving any minute. And Dr. Goldwasser was here to check the dairy herd for pregnancy. Out of twenty cows and heifers, only three were not bred: Alma, Juniper, and Stevie. Alma had a diagnosable problem, a persistent corpus luteum that has since corrected itself. Stevie is a young first-calf cow who will probably get another chance with the bull this winter. Juniper is a small and timid cow who is a big producer on grass, but has a hard time keeping up her condition and production during the winter, when she tends to get pushed away from the feed. If we could get her bred she might be a good candidate for nurse cow to feed two or three calves, and she’d be happier housed away from the rest of the herd. And that’s the news from Essex Farm for this Happy 6th Birthday Jane! 34th week of 2013. Find us at 518-963-4613, essexfarm@gmail.com, or on the farm, any day but Sunday.                                                                                                                                                 -Kristin & Mark Kimball

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