Essex Farm Note
So much to report, so little time! Please forgive the lack of a note last week. I was out with the horses and the weather was too good to come in. This week, of course, we had a leonine reminder that it is March after all. The lows were seventy degrees colder than last week’s highs, and the cold wind roared. Still, thanks to drainage and this spring’s general dryness, we can work. We are ecstatic about how much is getting done so early. I’m about to go out and spread compost with Jay and Jack. Courtney will be on the two-way plow. I hope some of you caught sight of the grand hitch Chad set up this week, with six horses hooked to the big two-bottom plow that Bill West found for us at an auction in Pennsylvania. It’s a clever thing, with ground-driven hydraulics that lift the heavy bottoms when you press the foot pedal. An impressive machine, yes, but nothing compared to the living part of the equation: six big horses pulling together, a mighty herd of muscle. We just got new collars for all our horses, and this morning, Mark roached their manes to keep the long hairs from getting under their pads and irritating their necks. They look like war horses now, fierce and beautiful.
I will remember this week as the one of averted disasters. Our first batch of chicks arrived, and are snuggled into the new greenhouse, looking more vigorous than ever. I spent a lot of time on Wednesday morning fiddling with the heat lamps, trying to get the temperature in the brooder just right. Well, apparently I did not fasten the chain of the lamp properly, and yesterday, Jane and Keir and Emily smelled something strange in the farmyard, investigated, and found the greenhouse full of smoke, the heat lamp on the ground, about to ignite the dry bedding. Miraculously, they caught it just in time, and all of the chicks survived. Even more seriously, Asa had a near-miss with the horses on Monday. Again, it was the simple neglect of a fastener that caused all the trouble. When he hooked the horses to the forecart, the tongue was not through the ring of the neck yoke, but was supported only by its safety chain, which is not designed to take the full weight of a load. As he went downhill with a cart full of compost, the chain popped, the tongue dropped to the ground, and the tug chains came loose from the forecart, so the horses were entirely free. They bolted, and pulled Asa, who held on to the lines, over the front of the forecart. They all stopped a few yards away, and everyone is fine, but I don’t like to think of all the ways in which this episode could have ended. I feel incredibly lucky that the whole farm team got these two stark reminders of what is at stake, and to pay attention to details, and work safely and carefully.
Say hello to two new farmers. Angus Biederman is back with us, and Ryan’s brother Cory Weidenbach has signed on. One Gus plus a double helping of Weidenbach makes us feel almost invincible. And say goodbye the trusty old horned Honda Civic. Its inspection runs out tomorrow, and it is too rusted to pass again. If anyone sees Mark trying to transfer those horns to the good car, please tackle him for me. And that’s the news from Essex Farm for this lucky 13th week of 2012.