Essex Farm Note
That storm hovered over us like a marsh hawk, didn’t it? It was the heavy, wet stuff. The skid steer got stuck on the farm road. The horses got out, and no wonder. When I went to check on one of the dairy cows on Wednesday night, the electric fence lines were coated with an inch of ice, dragging them down into the drifted, heavy snow. Mostly, we got lucky. The other animals were either in barns or were content to stay hunkered down in the hedgerow. The cow I was checking on did not calve in the heart of the storm. And our power stayed on, though everyone in the village had to go without all day yesterday. No power would have made things much harder. It is no fun to milk 19 cows by hand, now that we no longer have those giant milker’s forearms and hard, muscled hands. Ice walkers are a key accessory today, and everyone is carrying a shovel around, clearing paths and doorways before the piles ossify into permanence. Special thanks go to Amy and Jori who braved the storm to make the Wednesday delivery to New York City.
For the friends who are following along at home, yes, Pancake is still in the greenhouse. His relationship with Mary is evolving. Until now Mary was maternally indulgent, no matter what Pancake did. Then, this morning, as he was eating and she was yet again cleaning his face (he has the cleanest face in pig history), Pancake bit her, and Mary snarled and pushed him back. He is still getting fed by hand four or five times a day, but he should start eating on his own soon, and once he’s weaned he’ll go live with the piglets in the covered barnyard.
We’re still wrestling with where to put the sheep this winter. They are not going to start lambing until the first of April, and with their thick covering of wool, they would be fine outdoors with good feed and some shelter, but the problem is we need easy access to them, to get them their hay and water. Whatever we decide, we need to move them soon, before the next big storm makes getting to them in the field impossible.
We have some beautiful neck roasts of beef in the share today. This is my favorite cut for stewing, because it has tons of flavor, plus connective tissue that breaks down under low, moist heat for gorgeous, gelatinous gravy. It’s perfect for pot roast, or it can be cut into chunks for stewing. The key with braising and stewing is to keep the temperature low. I aim for just below the simmer. Too high, and the meat will get stringy, dry and tough.
We have a major changing of the guard taking place this coming week. We are saying goodbye to three dear and important members of our team. Aubrey, Matt, and Scott, we will miss you all so much. Thank you for your hard work, perseverance, and good will. We can’t wait to hear about your next adventures with animals, plants, food, and horses. And members, please help us welcome Kirsten and Megan, who came on board this week, and Greer, who has been with us for several weeks now but has not been officially welcomed. And that is the news for this nor’easter 50th week of 2014. Find us at 518-963-4613, firstname.lastname@example.org, or on the farm, any day but Sunday.
-Kristin & Mark Kimball