Essex Farm Note
Week 16, 2012
Yesterday, I hooked four horses to the pulver-mulcher, to fit Monument Field for planting. Now that it is drained, it’s nearly impossible to find a fault with that field. The rich, rockless soil will crumble if you look at it, and one pass of the pulver-mulcher left it fine and level, ready for seed. The pull was easy with four abreast, and we were taking the whole field in a large, uncomplicated spiral. By mid-afternoon, I was dust-drunk and wind-addled, and the horses were bored. Chad’s team was hooked to the left of the tongue, and Abby and Jake were on the right. When Chad’s horses are unmotivated, they start having a slow-walking contest with each other, until they are walking so slowly they could not walk any slower without stopping. Long-legged Abby was getting more and more irritated, and she snaked her head out and nipped Arch on the neck, which made him retaliate but did not make him walk any faster. Clearly, I needed to wake up and take charge. But with the lines arranged for four abreast, it’s difficult to give a poky horse a snap on the butt, and they are too far out ahead of the machine to reach with a stick or whip. I remembered that Chad sometimes lobs a stone at his horses’ rear ends at moments like this. So I whoaed, stooped to look for stones, and then found a fault with this too-perfect field: no stones anywhere. Not one. I worked my way around to the southeast corner, where the remains of an old house sometimes find their way to the surface. I picked up a chip of brick, then a small smooth rock, and dug deeper, and came up with something else in my hand. It was an old inkwell, made of blue-tinted glass, dulled like sea glass from its time in the dirt, but perfect. I pocketed the brick and stone (which worked perfectly as horse-motivators), wrapped the inkwell carefully in my jacket, and tucked it into my bag. What a shame it would be to break it on the way home to my desk, after coming whole through the years in ground fraught with plow point, hoof and tire, to meet my hand, here, now.
It must be spring, since I have more news than room to report it. We doubled down on horses this week, and bought four more big ‘uns. Cub is coming to work with us, finally. I have loved that horse since the day I first saw him, five years ago, at Bucky Terry’s place in Redford. He is a hulking, chesty, 10 year old Belgian with kind eyes and an easygoing nature, a half-brother to our Abby and Jake. We needed a partner for him, so on Tuesday we went to see Jim Carpenter, a dealer in Vermont. My first glance in the barn revealed Chuck, who is just like Cub in age, size and build. While I ground-drove Chuck, Mark pestered me to look at a flashy pair of black and white spotted drafts a few stalls down. I was skeptical – we are farmers after all, not circus people – but then I drove them, and was sold. At least we won’t have to worry about them being mistaken for deer during hunting season. Welcome Cub, Chuck, and full brothers, Obie and Amos. Now I’ll squeeze in the non-horse news, staccato style. Some greens in the share today. Asparagus up, hooray. Onions and lettuce transplanted. Carrots and spinach planted. Planting list now long as my arm. Four weeks ‘til chicken. Sows about to pop. Sheep on grass. Grass growing. Rain coming, right on time. Thanks, farmers. Thanks, members. All is well. And that is the news from Essex Farm for this expensive 16th week of 2012. -Kristin & Mark Kimball