Essex Farm Note Week 14

Essex Farm Note

We’ve known for years that the farm has eyes. When Mark and I leave, it knows, and things go haywire. We were at St. Lawrence University this week, giving a talk and a reading. We left Wednesday, planning to return today. The farm waited until last night to spring. We got a message just before the reading started that ten Highland steers were out, and had run off the farm entirely, and were thought to be wandering somewhere in the woods north of Blockhouse Road. Gus and Jenny and Rob had spent hours trying to lure them home, and nothing – nothing! – would persuade them to come back in. We did the reading, went to bed at midnight, got up at 3, and arrived back here at 6, just as it was getting light. The first thing I noticed when we pulled in the driveway was that the heat lamps in the greenhouse were dark, which meant that three hundred and sixty chicks were chilled and in danger of dying. The circuit breaker had blown sometime during the night, and the chicks were piled three and four deep, trying to keep warm. I pawed through the pile, uncovering the ones that were getting squashed on the bottom, while Rob flipped the breaker back on, and Mark rode out with Ashlee and Gus to try again with the steers. By then, of course, the farm knew we were back. The steers were home, just outside the fence, waiting to be let in.

What else? While at St. Lawrence I met up with shepherds Betsy Hodge and Corey Hayes of Cornell Cooperative Extension. They raise sheep at the Extension farm in Canton and also on their own farms. I got to see their stock, guard animals (they use llamas and livestock guardian dogs), and their grazing and handling systems, and best of all I got to ask all the burning sheep questions I’ve been collecting. Mark came along and tolerated all of it rather well. On Tuesday, Bill West delivered our new four-row corn planter, which he bought on our behalf at an auction. Was good to see Bill back up north, and we have high hopes for this planter. All of our horses are wearing their new collars and pads now, and their new harnesses should arrive any day. It’s a little disorienting to have all this spanking new equipment when we are used to the well-worn kind, but we’ll be much safer with new.

Spring is trundling along. We are getting close on the early greens – sorrel, dandelion, green onions, and nettles. Hope you’re enjoying the dry beans as much as we are. Pastures are greening, much earlier than usual. Pigs are rounding with their babies. The rye is three inches tall. Next Sunday, Mary the shearer arrives to give the ewes a proper shearing, and then the flock will go on grass. Thanks to all the farmers – Barbara, Cory, Gus, Rob, Lindsay, Ashlee, Sabrina, Asa, and Courtney, who valiantly held the fort while we were gone this week, and especially to Jenny, who also took care of Jane and Miranda. We send healing wishes to Ryan, whose back is giving him lots of grief. Good Pesach and Happy Easter to everyone. I hope you enjoy a good meal with family and friends this weekend. Won’t it be great when we have spring lamb in the share? And that is the news from Essex Farm for this haywire 14th week of 2012.

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  1. Pingback: The Farm Has Eyes | Kristin Kimball | Essex on Lake Champlain