Essex Farm Note

Week 4, 2018

            The new ponds melted and refroze into an acres of smooth hard ice this week. After school yesterday, we bundled into warm layers and hiked out past the grunting brood sows and the curious horses. The boulder I call Coyote Rock – a huge glacial erratic where the wild dogs used to sit and howl – is now at the edge of the newly-filled pond, and perfectly placed for putting on skates. The sun was sinking, the wind was high, and a waxing gibbous moon stood overhead in the clear evening sky. Just as we got both kids laced, the interlopers arrived, trotting down the farm road, shoulder to shoulder, looking straight ahead as though to evade detection. Jake and Suit, two of the three Great Pyrenees who are guarding the sheep, were out of their fence and off on an adventure. This wasn’t the first time that an hour’s recreation was interrupted by a farm emergency, and I’m sure it won’t be the last. I hustled back into my boots, abandoned the kids, and ran. Who knows where they’d end up if they kept going? They are not known for coming when called. And if hundred pound dogs could get out of the sheep fence, it was likely that the sheep could, too. I really didn’t want to spend a cold night on an unplanned sheep muster. Luckily, the dogs came to me (I feed them). Luckily, I had baling twine in my pocket. Luckily, Mark came running to help. Sometimes, you get lucky. I walked them up the hill and back to the sheep, who were still in the fence, along with the third dog, Mozzie. The bottom of a gate had come loose, and it was soon fixed, and we were back on the pond, the four of us gliding together through the last cold light.

            The USDA Value Added Producers Grant application to support the creation of a creamery on our farm is wrapping up at last! Anne, Jori, Deirdre and I spent much of the week huddled around the farmhouse table with tea and the nearly incomprehensible application, strategizing, calculating and typing until our eyes blurred. Huge thanks to the whole team and to all of the members and farm note readers who answered our call for letters of support. They were a boost to the application and also to our morale. The awards are expected to be announced the last day of May.

            The beef in the share is from two Jerseys– one heifer and one cow – that we butchered last week. The same gene that makes Jersey milk so beautifully golden (from beta carotene) tints the fat of grass-fed Jersey cattle. Don’t be alarmed if you notice that color in the fat of this beef. It’s good to eat, and good for you.

            We are testing some tortillas in the share this week and would love to hear your feedback. These were made across the lake at Vermont Tortilla Company, from certified organic corn grown by our neighbor, Mark Wrisley. In order to make tortillas a regular and sustainable part of the share, we’d like to get a tortilla press up and running in our own neighborhood. Mark has issued a challenge to Jori and the Hub on the Hill to make it happen in 2018. Knowing some things about Mark and Jori, I’d put my money on it. And that’s the news from Essex Farm for this brisk bright 4th week of 2018. Find us on Instagram at kristinxkimball and essexfarmcsa, 518-963-4613, essexfarm@gmail.com, or on the farm, any day but Sunday.

–Kristin & Mark Kimball

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