Bittersweet

Essex Farm Note

Week 40, 2013

Fall is such a jumble of firsts and lasts. First days of stunning color in the trees, last days of strong sunshine. Goodbye growing season and all its potential, and hello harvest, which is effort fulfilled. It makes for a bittersweet mix, and that is my favorite flavor. We filled 24 large bins with winter squash this week – about nine tons. The delicata should store in our cellar until December. If we get lucky the butternut will stay sound until February. Members, take quantities home to can or freeze anytime. In the field, broiler chicken season is winding down; a group of chicks went to pasture this week, and the last order of babies arrived to take their place in the greenhouse. The beneficent weather means the corn is nearly secure now, and the soybeans are almost there, too. The potato crop looks promising, but for a little scab, which leaves them rough on the outside but just fine inside.

On the home front, Miranda has stopped taking a reliable nap, which is both good and bad. I can’t count on that quiet pair of hours anymore, but I am no longer tied to the house, either, and can take her with me on farm jobs. On the balance, I’m glad about it. I like to be in the field with her, even if tasks are roughly four times more difficult with a small child in tow. We spent an afternoon this week harvesting squash with Kelsey, Aubrey and Matt. Miranda played in the dirt and stomped the rotten squashes, and told fantastical stories to the farmers. It’s good to share the raising of a child with the people who work here. And if soil is indeed healthy for the human microbiome then Jane and Miranda should have bodies of steel. I wonder how the memory of these days will form the material of their adult selves. What will the smell of tilled earth and sun-warm squash evoke for Miranda, when she is my age? Then, there it is again, that autumnal feeling: the last nap is followed by the first shared day in the field; and a small grief for the baby who isn’t anymore, is outmatched by the joy of the child who is.

Travis spent many hours this week tick-tick-ticking away the glazed surface of the grindstones we use to mill our grain. Tedious work, but it will make milling so much easier. The dairy heifers have healed from pinkeye and are back in the field. The milking herd is down to eight now, still commuting from the good pasture on the other side of the farm. Richard Robbins would like to convey his thanks to members who filled out his survey. “We’ll be compiling the surveys shortly,” he says, “and will share the results with CSA personnel and members.  If you haven’t handed in your survey, it’s not too late.  We are trying to get as close to 100% participation as we can.” I would like to convey my own gratitude to those who were able to make share payments in advance. This has alleviated so much pressure on us. Thank you a million times. We are doing a trial run of the farm stand, starting tomorrow. Hours will be daily, 8am to 6pm. Please spread the word to your non-member friends. Finally, mark your calendars! We are having a party for all members at the Grange on Friday, October 25th, from 6pm-8pm. Potluck supper, state-of-the-farm address, member q&a, and a slide show to celebrate ten years of Essex Farm. Thanks to Andy Buchanan and Mary–Nell Bockman for launching this. And that is the news from Essex Farm for this glorious 40th week of 2013.  –Kristin & Mark Kimball

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