Essex Farm Note

Week 35, 2013

It is the season of abundance. We could talk about the tomatoes, we could talk about the raspberries, but we’re going to talk about the flies. We are thick with them, as we are this time every year. We have house flies, swarming around the office and around the door to our house, causing me to yell, reflexively, “Close the door, please!” every time a child comes or goes. We have the cruel green-headed flies, that irritate the horses. We have stable flies and face flies and the curious little horn flies that colonize the cows’ backs in flocks and always perch facing in the same direction. All abundant. So it was the perfect week to host a Cooperative Extension lecture focused on fly control. Ken Wise of NYS Integrated Pest Management led a walk through the pastures. He explained that the green-headed biting flies – including horse flies and deer flies – will buzz a pasture, looking for a dark anomalous shape. Then they will fly low around the anomaly, pull up to bite, and fly back out. Pesticides are not very effective on them, because they don’t spend much time on the host, and because they, like most types of flies, have developed strong resistance to the chemicals in the conventional arsenal. Traps that exploit fly vulnerabilities are more effective. The green-headed fly trap Ken showed the group was a dark anomalous shape that caught the flies in a tray of soapy water. The stable fly traps use that fly’s favorite color – blue – to attract and entrap them. On large farms, face flies and horn flies are vacuumed from the animals as they come in to milk. Ken emphasized that flies breed in damp organic material like old round bales, cool compost, and fresh manure. But they are very mobile animals, so local control of breeding areas does not necessarily mean we’d see our fly populations plunge.

Mark and Amy and I were busy this week working on numbers. It’s a tight, tight year, friends, thanks mostly to those weeks of rain that are being pushed from memory by the current glorious weather — for everyone, that is but us. There is no way to make up for corn that was not planted except with cold hard cash. Please make sure your payments come in on time and if you can pay early, we would surely appreciate it.

The second cut hay is about ready to bale. It is not a heavy stand but it has good feed value right now. We are readying the equipment, and trying to decide if we should make dry hay or wrap it for haylage. I’m voting for haylage, though it’s more expensive to make, because it would better preserve the precious leafy clover, which is high in protein, and will keep the cows in good milk. Speaking of milk, it is time to stop milking some of our herd, so they can get ready to have their calves. That means milk will be limited from now until freshening, which begins later in the fall.

It’s raspberry picking time. Members may come and pick any time now but please be mindful of taking too much. The patch is producing about 20 quarts a week right now, and we have 80 families. Finally, a huge thank you to Malcolm Drenttel for his excellent work this month. He’s returning to Connecticut tomorrow for his senior year of high school. Best of luck to you, Malcolm. And that is the news from Essex Farm for this high harvest 35th week of 2013.  -Kristin & Mark Kimball

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