Peppers Not Peepers
Week 15, 2019
We had snow and high winds this week, plus wild fluctuations in temperature. Peppers are up in the greenhouse, but no peepers calling from the pond just yet. The weather station in paddock 1 says the soil is 35 degrees two inches underground. That’s up three degrees in the last twenty four hours. There is no ice left on the pond and the last piles of snow in the shady spots have melted, so I bet the peepers are clearing their throats about now, practicing their scales, getting ready for the chorus. Every year I think they are late and every year I look back on my notes to find that they are the most consistent things on the farm. I expect to hear them this coming week.
Those peppers are not the only green things up this week. All three greenhouses are packed with life. Yesterday, the alliums came outside to harden off. We have lettuce and kale in the south greenhouse, ready for harvest. We are doling them out at distribution time as fairly as possible! In the fields, the rye is greening up. I expect we can have the first animals grazing it in just two weeks, with some sun and luck. The strawberry plants wintered well. We are a week or two from harvesting the first sorrel and chives, three from green onions, and the wild spring cleansing herbs are coming along too.
Lambing is set to begin this coming week. This weekend I’ll be going through my supplies. Lamb slings, to carry newborns to their jugs. Iodine and scissors, to clip and dip umbilical cords. A tube and large syringe to feed any weaklings, cans of scourable spray paint, to number each family, prolapse harness, suture material, lubricant, uterine boluses, ear tags, the strong rubber bands we use for castration, a bag of powdered colostrum. I treated myself to a new crook this year, which should make handling the skittish first-time young mothers a bit easier. Anne, Charlie, Brandon and Mark worked hard this week to get the jugs set up. We have some wonderful new-to-us equipment: enough panels for a laneway between the main flock and thirteen small jugs where new families spend their first day or two together, bonding. The jugs have actual gates – what a luxury! – so we can get in and out easily to tag and band the lambs, and make sure they are nursing well.
I’m sending a huge thank you to the awesome volunteer crew who came on shearing day to help skirt the fleeces. Happy to say we sold the wool this week and it will be made into blankets on Prince Edward Island. Hats off to Dancing Ewe Farm for getting this done while also managing their own lambing season for 100 dairy ewes. We couldn’t handle the logistics of transporting the wool to Canada nor the large outlay of capital against a long return this year, so we are very glad they could, and are putting our nice fleeces to good use. Dancing Ewe will sell the blankets along with their sheep cheeses, salumi, Tuscan olive oil and wine.
Best moments in our kitchen this week revolved around corn. We’ve been making homemade tortilla chips from our tortillas and lard, with a cilantro/sour cream/habanero dip. Really? It’s not hard, nor as messy as you’d think, and the result is incomparable to store-bought. And we are hooked on polenta again. I made a large batch on Monday and it fed us all week, sometimes sweet, sometimes savory, always delicious. And that’s the news from Essex Farm for this expectant 15th week of 2019. Find us on the web and Instaat essexfarmcsa, or at 518-963-4613, email@example.com, or on the farm, any day but Sunday.
-Kristin & Mark Kimball