Hard Freeze

Essex Farm Note

Week 44, 2013

Sometimes this farm’s arithmetic includes some very interesting variables. In the current market, for example, one top-of-the-line registered Berkshire boar equals $200 cash plus four bushels of winter squash, onions and potatoes. This week, we were in the market for a new farm truck. For many years, we denied the fact we needed a farm truck. That just meant we used our car instead, for all sorts of jobs that cars should not be asked to do.

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Then, this summer, we bought our current Ranger, which was too far gone to be roadworthy, but good for hauling fence posts and calves and such around the farm. We have gotten our $250 out of it, for sure. However, in the last few months, the angle between the Ranger’s bed and its cab has grown increasingly acute, and then the brakes failed, so that whenever it was parked, the wheels had to be chucked. Mark asked Jason Demar at Haulin’ Junk to keep an eye out for a bargain for us. Jason called this week, with a much-used Ford 150. Mark and Travis went to see it, and thought it might actually pass inspection, and they settled on what may be my favorite deal ever: one large pile of ancient copper wire that came out of the ground when we put the tile drainage in, plus Travis’s old motorcycle that has been parked in front of the machine shop for the last few months, plus the now-V-shaped Ranger. What a bargain!

Don Hollingsworth very kindly hauled two dairy bulls to the farm for us this week. We ought not to have needed a dairy bull this year, because we raised our own, but alas, poor Finn turned out to have some conformational faults with his feet that disqualified him from the gene pool. We decided to buy bulls instead from our friend Steve Martin, in Westport. Steve has spent 20 years developing a grass-hardy Jersey/Milking shorthorn cross. The two bulls he sent us are naturally polled. Polled means they do not have horns, and it is a very rare trait in dairy cattle, and one I appreciate very much. Polling is a dominant trait, so if the bull is homozygous for polled that means all his offspring will be polled. We got one big bull who will go in with the cows in a couple months, plus a younger, smaller bull to be used with the heifers we’re going to breed. Meanwhile, we are pacing the pasture with cigars in our pockets, anxiously awaiting the first calves of the fall. They are due any minute.

We had our first hard freeze this week. The corn kept growing almost to the last minute, but its ears are pointing to the ground now in a gesture of surrender. The raspberries are mush today, but just after the freeze, they tasted like sweet sorbet. Miranda and Mary the puppy and I ate bellyfuls of them, each harvesting her own. Meanwhile, the black beans came in and are ready for threshing. Daikon and Brussels sprouts make their debut in the share this week. Daikon is a mild, humongous white radish that can be eaten raw or cooked, and it makes a wonderful pickle. We have enough to start a kim chi factory. This week, we hope to bring in the rest of the carrots and the beets. And that is the news from Essex Farm for this extremely windy 44th day 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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