Essex Farm Note

Week 33, 2017

Harvesting sweet corn is one of my favorite jobs. There’s the satisfaction of the blue harvest bag slung over one shoulder, getting heavier and heavier with every step and with each ear that goes into it. There are the brilliant black and yellow garden spiders, the size of a silver dollar, who sling their orderly webs on the sturdy scaffolding of the stalks. Best, though, are the rows themselves, which are like hallways with tall green living walls, exuding oxygen. When I was a girl I liked to gallop my horse down rows of mature corn, ducking behind her neck to avoid getting cut by the papery leaves zipping past. Those broad, powerful green leaves are so good at drawing in the energy of the sun, and transforming it into starch, into sugar. To me, sweet corn is the taste that means the end of summer is in sight. It is all the energy that has hit the ground since spring in a ingeniously wrapped package. I like sweet corn any way that a person can dish it up, from raw in the field to charred on a grill. I never boil it, but steam, and always in great quantities, so that there are two categories: the fresh on the cob corn that’s eaten hot with butter and salt; and the next-day corn, which is a different animal entirely. That one, I like best cut off the cob, reheated in a skillet with a little butter, then spritzed with lime (or vinegar), seasoned with salt and pepper, and topped with a giant handful of cilantro, some chopped green onion, diced tomatoes, and maybe some hot peppers, either pickled or fresh. I believe that any way you cook it, sweet corn plus some new potatoes is a meal. If you want to get fancy you can grill some sausages and throw together a green salad, but really the corn and the potatoes are all you need. This time of year, simple is good, and you can’t do any better than letting food speak for itself.

            We got some hay in this week, bringing the total for the year to 920 large round bales of middling quality. Now we are looking for the next dry window, to start the second cut, which is higher in protein and available nutrients; haymaking has been such a challenge this year, and the second cut will probably be reserved this winter for the lactating dairy cows, who need it the most.   

            Meanwhile, there are two large projects happening simultaneously, in different areas of the farm. In the northwestern corner, the 300’ compost barn is going up. So far, the topsoilhas been removed, and the concrete has been poured. It is the biggest structure we have built here, by far.

            Further east, along Blockhouse Road, the Barns are finishing installation of another 35 acres of drainage. It’s hard for me to watch without thinking of the money going into the ground along with the perforated pipe, but it’s comforting to see the quality of the soil it’s going into.

            We are looking for workers, volunteer or hired, for this coming week, during which a lot of our regular team will be away on vacation. If you’re interested, text Mark at 518-570-6399. I promise it won’t be dull. And that is the news from Essex Farm for this busy 33rd 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 

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