Essex Farm Note Week 10

Essex Farm Note

It’s a very sweet day here at Essex Farm. First, the literal. Chad, Kim, Sabrina, and a small pack of helpers got well over 300 sugar maples tapped this week. We’ve had decent runs for the last 48 hours, and Chad and our neighbor Ron Jackson have been firing the evaporator since dawn yesterday. Ron thinks we might get a run today from our small trees, but not the big ones, because last night’s temperature didn’t drop low enough for long enough to reset them, despite this morning’s chill and dusting of snow. But then, says Chad, we have got a lot of little trees tapped. I’m watching out the window now, hoping to catch a glimpse of Fern and Arch hitched to the sap wagon, which would mean there is enough in the buckets to justify collecting. Seems like everybody with an opinion on maple trees predicts that this will not be a good syrup year, because the weather has been so screwy, and there isn’t any snow cover. Maybe so, but for now, we can just enjoy the sweet steam rolling out of the pavilion, and the first good taste of spring.

The figurative sweetness comes from new twin ram lambs this morning. What a pleasure to go outside and find them just born, already up and nursing their mama. Happy births are an event that will never get old. We’ve given them a jug in the back of the pen so they can be alone and get used to one another. The ewe is a little nervous, so public viewing will have to wait until next week. In other sheep news, the older lambs had their tails docked this week. It is an unpleasant duty that has to be done. If you leave the tails long, the manure builds up on the wool, and flies lay their eggs in it, and things get less pleasant for the sheep from there. (See: note on flystrike from last summer.) It’s kind of remarkable how quickly they seem to recover. Jane stood by to soothe them during the 30 second operation, and about a minute later they were back to nursing their moms.

Spring is making her debut in other ways too. The older flock of hens has been exiled to a spot north of the compost piles, and Asa & co. are busy busy busy in the greenhouse, making soil blocks to start the leeks and onions. There are several dozen flats in the germination chamber now. Hooray for plants, and the promise of a new year.

What else? We had a good visit with Lars this week, brainstorming about the future of the land we lease from him. Mark’s mom is visiting from the Hudson Valley, but feeling terribly under the weather today. Our new farmer, Lindsay Willemain, arrives from Brooklyn today. She comes to farming by way of lawyering – she holds a law degree from Columbia – but I think the asset most valuable to her new life here is her bright spirit and adventurous attitude. Please help us give her a warm welcome to our little town. Speaking of little towns, I’m off to Indian Lake on Sunday, to kick off their Hamilton County Reads program. If you are in the area, come by and say hi. More info here: Last but not least by a long shot, don’t forget about next Saturday’s tour. Details are up over at the blog: And that’s the news for this sweet! 10th week of 2012.

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  1. Pingback: Sweet Day at Essex Farm | Kristin Kimball | Essex on Lake Champlain