Essex Farm Note
Week 30, 2014
I was away for a few days this week and when I came back I could see the farm had shifted. Mark had left a welcome home note on the counter. “We just passed that moment where the plants were unencumbered by blights, greens untouched by yellows,” it read. “Midsummer is here.” That was it. We moved from growth to maturity this week. The plants are putting energy into their fruits now, and the little niggling pests and diseases have taken that lovely bloom off the leaves. No matter. Nothing is meant to last forever, and there is beauty in every phase. This year has offered us better growing conditions than we could have hoped for. We are deep in cucumbers and zucchinis now, green beans and lettuce and herbs. We’ll have green bell peppers in the share today. The first red tomatoes are trickling in, and we expect enough for the share next Friday. Two, maybe three weeks until sweet corn, and after that, with luck, the cantaloupes.
We are not growing much grain this year. No field corn, no oats. This spring we decided to bare fallow some land, to get control of the weeds; in a few weeks, we’ll seed to cover crops, to have it ready for next year. We did grow a few acres of soft white winter wheat, and now it’s close to maturity. The storm that passed through this week did not knock the stalks over, and the clover and weeds growing underneath are still below the level of the heads. Mark wanted to test the moisture level this morning, so I filled a backpack with the heavy brown heads and brought them to the kids, who threshed the grains out by hand and winnowed the chaff in the breeze. The moisture meter read 18.9%. The afternoon reading might be four points lower than the morning reading, but it still doesn’t get us to the 13% we need to safely harvest and store the grain. So now we root for dry breezes, and hope the clover and weeds don’t grow much higher.
Mark and the crew got another 160 round bales of first cut hay made while I was away. Hooray for that. We are ready to start second cut as soon as we get a good window of weather. We have eleven new calves in the beef herd. Most are doing well but one poor little guy had a bad case of flystrike. This happens when the mama doesn’t lick the calf clean enough, and blowflies lay eggs in the hair that is all wet with birth fluids. Eggs become maggots, maggots pick at the calf, and so on, until you have a very unhappy calf. The treatment involves a lot of close contact with a lot of maggots, so thanks to Matt and Shona for taking on that task. They cleaned him up, shaved the bad patches, and treated the wound the maggots had created. When he went back out to his mother we treated him with some non-organic fly repellant, to keep the flies away from the wound while it heals. We always let members know when we do something outside of the organic standard, and this was one of those times. And it seems I have more news than time this week, so we will leave it there for now. Thanks to Griddles for making our picnic today! It’s about to begin. That’s the news from Essex Farm for this beautifully mature 30th week of 2014.
-Kristin & Mark Kimball