Essex Farm Note Week 9

Essex Farm Note

 I was in Corvallis, Oregon, last week, to talk at the Oregon Small Farms Conference. There were close to 800 people there, and I’d guess about three quarters of them were farmers, and the vast majority of those farmers were under the age of 35. This is the conference’s 12th year, the organizers told me, and it has gotten bigger each year, and this year’s event was the biggest ever. If you need evidence that we’re all part of a vigorously growing movement, there you have it. I met several farmers who have started or are considering starting a CSA much like ours, where they will strive to supply a full diet, year round to their members.

Meanwhile, back on the farm, Mark, Courtney, Ashlee and Rob sorted the beef herd again, to castrate two bulls that slipped through the first time, and to catch cows so that Dr. Brooke could preg check them. Mark was full of praise both for Brooke and the handling equipment, which we bought last year, brand new, at retail price. You know how unusual and painful that is for us tight-fisted farmers, but the equipment is proving its worth. Over the next few weeks, we’ll be culling the cows that are not reproducing, and so be aware that the beef in the share will be the flavorful-but-tough kind that you’ll want to cook slowly with low, moist heat. Luckily, it sounds like we’re in for some good stew weather – we have snow at last, with a blast of cold predicted.

We’ve gotten tremendous response this week to Mark’s energy polemic. This reminds me that it’s dangerous to leave the farm, because left to his own devices, with time on his hands, Mark is libel to foment small revolutions. Thanks to everyone who has written, called and visited with valuable questions and thoughts. Members, your dedication, patience and support are invaluable. Lots more thoughts were spilled this week, in the barn and over the dinner table. The first thing to do is label the big idea, which is to develop systems that allow us to live well from the real-time energy produced by the sun. I like sun-fed systems. What do you think?

Seed order is in. Chick order is almost in. Mark and I are off the farm today to give a talk at UVM so you members are in the capable hands of Jenny, Rob, Barbara, Ashlee, Ryan, Courtney and Asa, who is off his crutches, hooray. Don’t forget we’re having a work session, potluck lunch, and tour on Saturday, March 17th, from 10am to 4pm. See the blog for all the details:

Mark went skiing at Whiteface with Chad yesterday. Mark hasn’t skied in 18 years and he was wearing his bright yellow raingear so I believe he was highly conspicuous. He and Chad talked about sugaring, but they’re being cagey about whether it is on or off at Essex Farm year. Whatever happens, it’s great to have Chad’s horses, Fern and Arch, in our barn again. Not that the journey back here was easy. Chad was hauling them up the Northway on Wednesday evening when his transmission blew. They were near North Hudson, and made the rest of the trip to Essex in first gear. It might have been faster to hitch them up and pull! That’s the news from Essex Farm for this last blast? 9th week of 2012.

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