Week 32, 2014
Farming is many things, but it is never dull. This morning, Mike came in from animal chores to tell me that he’d found a newborn lamb in the flock. None of the ewes is supposed to even be pregnant, let alone ready to lamb. So I just squinted at him, thinking, thinking. I have seen my share of unplanned breedings on this farm, so I know that the force of life is like a light, and given the slightest crack, it will shine through. I have heard of animals getting bred through a fence, and I have watched an ambitious young bull use a hill to his advantage. But in this case, I really couldn’t imagine how it might have happened. We didn’t even have a ram in mid-March, when the breeding must have taken place, and as for this year’s ram lambs, even if we’d missed a testicle during castration, the oldest would only have been four weeks old. Immaculate conception? Then I looked at my calendar, and realized that the new mother was one of the ewe lambs I bought this past spring, and they arrived here the last day of March – apparently two weeks pregnant. So it wasn’t a miracle, just some clever boy sheep who figured out how to get to the young ladies, and it wasn’t my fault! With that settled, Jane and Miranda and I went out to see the new baby. She was on her feet, a bit bothered by flies, but strong and ready to nurse. Several of the other ewes from that group have big udders, so it looks like we’re going to learn a lot about summer lambing in the next week or two.
Ah, summer. Sweet corn, tomatoes, green beans, and new potatoes. Who needs anything else? I don’t believe the vegetables have ever looked this good. Mark and I took our regular pre-harvest farm walk last night, after the kids were in bed. The winter squash plants have completely blanketed their 60” rows, and the jack-o-lantern pumpkins (new this year!) are already impressively sized. Get ready for canning, because the flow of tomatoes is about to become a juicy red tsunami. The sweet corn is filling out, and is sweet enough to enjoy raw in the field. Too bad we don’t have as much as we’d hoped, due to poor germination compounded by aggressive cultivation. A section of the onions has some kind of wilt, carried in by thrips. They aren’t likely to store well, so we’ll be harvesting them soon and using them up first.
We say goodbye to Isabelle Smith today. She’s returning to North Carolina for her senior year of high school. Some farmers are good and some farmers are fun but Isabelle is both and then some. We are so lucky to have had her here, and hope to have her back again next summer. Thank you for your good work and your good company, Isabelle.
We have two upcoming events to remind you about. Next Friday, August 15th, is another Picnic in the Field. Griddles will grill burgers, which will go on Jori’s homemade buns, accompanied by a variety of salads and side dishes. We’re shifting to more dinner-ish hours this time, serving from 5:00pm to 7:30pm. $6/plate members, $12/plate guests; it’s open to the public, so please spread the word and bring your friends. The next day, Saturday, August 16th, is our summer farm tour, at 10:00. All the details are on the events page. And that is the news from Essex Farm for this surprising 32nd week of 2014. –Kristin & Mark Kimball