Week 31, 2021|Kristin Kimball|August 6, 2021

Mark and Miranda and I are back from vacation (Jane is still with her exchange family in France), and it feels very August on the farm now. August is the tired month: busy, but without the buoyancy of spring planting, nor the home-stretch rush of the big fall harvests. In August, we grind it out. Thank goodness for the delicious summer produce, which is both the source of the exhaustion, and its recompense. We are sending love and thanks to our whole team for allowing us to get away last week, and holding this complicated farm together in our absence. 

I wrote a review of James Rebanks’s new book, Pastoral Song, for the New York Times, and you can read it here. His book is out in the US this week. I loved it. I’ve been a fan of his since I read his first book, The Shepherd’s Life. In the new one, Rebanks has gracefully illuminated some big issues we think and talk about here on our farm. He asks how to balance a farm’s ecological responsibilities with its economic realities. He questions the ‘ruthless efficiency’ of modern food production, an efficiency that drives down prices while squeezing out small farms, agricultural diversity, wildlife, and the health and vibrancy of rural communities. And much more. His observations are couched in stories that span three generations on his family’s farm in England’s Lake District. If you read the book, let me know what you think of it. 

Basil is approaching its moment of perfection and abundance, so it’s time to think about pesto. I don’t measure for pesto, but this is my rough recipe: 

  • 6-8 cups loose basil leaves (about 2-3 packed cups) 
  • 2 large cloves garlic
  • ⅓  cup toasted walnuts, or sunflower seeds, or, if you’re less frugal than I am, pine nuts
  • ⅓ cup any hard grating cheese like parmesan, grated
  • ⅓ cup extra virgin olive oil (approximately) 
  • Salt to taste

Combine everything, blend in a blender or with an immersion blender just until you like the consistency. Taste and adjust oil and salt — it sometimes needs more salt than you think. 

Now the short news. We had a dairy cow with a painful abscess in her foot last week and we treated it with an antibiotic. We always tell you when and why we use something outside of the organic standard, and we double the withholding period for any milk or meat. Antibiotics work! She’s all better now. The weather is turning fine again and we have hay coming in, hooray. We have two farmers with sore, injured backs. Oh, August. Send them good healing thoughts. Sweet corn is looking terrific, as are the tomatoes, the potatoes and the herbs. Deer have been feasting on our lettuce. We’re working on that. Miranda is raising another runt piglet, the smallest of a litter of 11, and he’s still in the adorable newborn phase, just beginning to follow her around. This phase precedes what I call the phase of regret. But why think about that now? Farewelcomes! Goodbye to Madeleine who rocked the last two months on the vegetable team and is going back to college. Thank you Madeleine and we hope to see you back here very soon. Welcome onboard Harmony, who is officially joining us four days a week, working mostly at the front of the farm, but dreaming of bringing dairy goats into farm-scale production. And that’s the news from Essex Farm for this deep summer 31st week of 2021. Find us at 518-963-4613, essexfarm@gmail.com, on Instagram at kristinxkimball, essexfarmcsa, and farmerkimball, or on the farm, any day but Sunday.  

-Kristin & Mark Kimball