Essex Farm Note

Week 32, 2017

There’s a heaviness to mid-August that seems to arrive on the air and spread to everything: the fattening fruit of the tomatoes, the full moon, the heavy pods of weed seeds, the thick-bodied insects upon which the hens are feasting. The heaviness feels seductive and a little dangerous. Linger, languor. Stay in this part of the season too long and our eyelids would grow heavy, our wills weak. Always, right about now, I begin to feel eager for light air and cool breezes, the first chill nights of fall. Walking through heavy grass with Mark yesterday, he reminded me that frost is only six weeks away. Six weeks! And between now and then there will be so much good food to eat. The sweet corn’s kernels are beginning to plump. I expect we’ll have some in the share next week, or the week after for sure, and then it should be an all-you-can-eat corn fest, with plenty for the freezer if we can keep up with picking. Cucumbers are coming in from the field now, and we planted more in the greenhouse this week, along with some supplementary late tomatoes, in case the early plants succumb to blight. We have hot peppers available this week, with some sweet ones getting very close. I’ve been loving the little purple striped cherry tomatoes – a new variety for us this year – and we had our first good harvest of large slicers this week. Meanwhile, some of the big storage crops are coming in. Isabelle and her team got all the yellow onions harvested yesterday and into the hot dry loft of the east barn to cure. The garlic came in last week, and is also drying. The summer carrots are all in now, too, and the fall carrots are beginning to size up.

            On the animal side, it’s been a birthy week. Ursula the sow had her litter, and we’re waiting for Cori the Jersey cow to calve, any minute now. Cori’s 2015 daughter, Crayfish, just came up from the heifer pasture to join the cow herd. She is the spitting image of her dark-spotted mother and also inherited her high-strung temperament. It took five days to teach her to walk into her stanchion but now that she’s finally got it she does it at a dead run. The older batch of turkeys got a paddock of grass this week,  and the younger set has moved from their brooder in the garage to a section of the middle greenhouse. They are awkward and strange and I like their weird little personalities. Something stealthy is picking off chicks in the west barn brooder. Charlotte suspects a weasel or mink. Mozzie the Great Pyrenees is living with the hens this week. All three dogs were getting bitten terribly by flies, and Mozzie’s nose was getting the worst of it. Repellant ointment would probably work, but the dogs hate it so much they run through the fence when they see me coming with it. The shade of the chicken barn is doing Mozzie a lot of good, and he should be back with the sheep in a of couple days.

            Members, we had a skim of ice on the milk in the bulk tank this morning. We are still getting the hang of that new piece of equipment! Freezing breaks up milk’s fat molecules, so some might notice a slight change in texture (it looks chunky in hot coffee) but the taste and quality are good. And that’s the news from Essex Farm for this heavy 32nd week of 2017. Find us at 518-963-4613, essexfarm@gmail.com, on Instagram at kristinxkimball and essexfarmcsa, or on the farm, any day but Sunday.                                                                                                      

–Kristin & Mark Kimball