Let it Blow

Essex Farm Note

Week 3, 2015

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Had a lovely farm walk with Mark this morning, just as this front was coming in. The earth and plants are so deeply asleep. The mighty asparagus, thick enough to hide in over the summer, is reduced to piles of crackly brown sticks underfoot. We pushed through the raspberry canes that snagged us all season, so devoid of life now they rattled together in the wind. We checked on the kale, which is still conspicuously green in a field of white and brown, and still good to eat. The mice have dug a bunker in the old parsnip furrow, and are gleaning the frozen roots. We crossed the swamp and walked through seventeen acre field, which is crisscrossed with coyote tracks. At the metal barn we contemplated the disturbingly fast rate at which we are going through hay – two bays of the barn are empty already, only two bays to go, and we are not even close to halfway to grass. We will be reducing the herd size every week, but we will still have to buy hay before May. At least we have plenty of bedding, so the cattle are dry and comfortable.

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The temperature was dropping by the minute and the wind seemed to come from every direction in strong, sudden gusts. We stopped to check on the horses, pressed our faces into their thick fur and good smell, and then turned toward home. We are at the point in the year when it feels like the cold can’t touch us. We are adjusted and we are prepared. Let it blow. Many thanks to Kelly E. who brought us a load of good used outerwear yesterday, along with her delicious coffee cake. Those gifts made me think of the interplay between independence and interdependence in our community. There is a strong tradition of independence in the North Country. We cut our own wood and hunt or grow our own food and work hard at our own businesses and we are stoic in the face of adversity. But there is not a lot of extra fat in this land. It is a place with a small economy and a big winter, and the only way it works for all of us is to be frugal and take care of each other. I have lived here for eleven years now and I am still moved by the way this community takes care of each other. Person to person, family to family, farm to farm.

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Pancake the orphan pig is growing so fast and so fat, we have contemplated renaming him Pound Cake. We put another piglet in the greenhouse with him today. I think I expected a great reaction from him, but he was unimpressed, and, after sniffing the butt of the new pig, dog style, he ignored him, and continued to play with Mary. I bet he will discover the joy of a pig mate tonight, when the sun goes down and he learns how warm it is to snuggle with his new friend in the hay.

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Carrying Pancake’s new roommate to the greenhouse.

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Pancake meets a pig for the first time — and sniffs his butt like a dog.

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Old friends…

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…are the best!

            We had a rousing hockey game on the pond this week. Fledging Crow Farm was here and so was Harvest Hill so the ice was soon a blur of sticks, beards and Carhartts. No way to be cold when you are moving that fast.

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It’s time to look forward now, and think about spring. Kristen Howard is talking mushrooms. Kirsten is talking flowers. I am contemplating geese, turkeys, or maybe some meat goats. What would you like to see us try this year? Give us a shout and let us know. There is still enough winter left for dreaming. And that is the news from Essex Farm for this winter wonder 3rd week of 2015.                                                                                                 -Kristin & Mark Kimball

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Mark made this giant shovel out of an old barrel. Perfect for clearing the rink.

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Happy flock. Hopefully all pregnant. First lambs due on April Fool’s Day.

 

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Beef herd in the covered barnyard.

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Mary and Mark checking on the hay

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