Week 17, 2022|Kristin Kimball|April 29, 2022

As members know, eating seasonally from the farm means getting reacquainted with the ancient rhythm of the food calendar rather than the perpetual availability of the supermarket. When we eat seasonally, we trade ubiquity for quality, and for taste. The first year or two, it might seem strange not to have asparagus in winter, or strawberries in fall, and then it becomes strange to have those things. I really believe there’s something more, too: eating seasonally from our own climate matches what our bodies need for each given time of year. Winter is the time for hearty roots and rich meaty stews to fuel us through cold days; summer is lettuce, watermelon, and a proliferation of fresh herbs that are refreshing in the heat. I think of spring as the great transition, the time we awaken the palate from its winter rest with bitter, sharp tastes and the strange early plants. The asparagus has just pushed its hooded tips out of the ground, the rhubarb is beginning to grow, and the first nutritionally dense, mineral-rich greens – nettles, sorrel, dandelions – are close to prime harvest. Sorrel is an interesting one, extremely sour and lemony. I used it this week in an Essex Farm Hollandaise, with sorrel standing in for the lemon, to make eggs benedict. You can find the sauce recipe at the end of this note. Keep it in your pocket for asparagus season, which is right around the corner!

This spring has been especially slow and chilly. The soil is still cold, and the pastures are two to three weeks behind typical growth. Most years, we put cattle on grass the first week of May. Unless we see a big grass sprint from suddenly warm weather, it will probably be May 15 this year. Luckily we have enough hay to make it, but I can see the animals longing for the fresh stuff.

Lambing season began just like this spring, slow and chilly. Small newborns get lamb jackets when the temps are low and the wind is whipping, which makes them look like little sports fans, bundled up for the game. We saw the first lambs last week, then a pause and a dribble until the crescendo began yesterday. Now we’re really in it, and the flow will continue to increase and then peak about seven to ten days from now. So far, all is well, which is promising, as we often see the most problems at the very beginning and very end of lambing. The size of the lambs seems just about right – not so small they are weak, not so big they are hard to birth. We only bred a few of the 2021 ewe lambs, so most are experienced mothers, which also helps keep things simple. I think we have about 35 lambs on the ground now, on our way to about 300.

All 50,000 long-season onions are transplanted now, after a big push this week. The Millers, the Amish family who just moved here from Ohio, were a key part of that team. They are experienced vegetable growers, and are used to transplanting. They have fast, well-trained hands! Special thanks this week to Adam Hainer at Juniper Hill farm who has been giving us early greens in exchange for parsnips. And finally a reminder to everyone that we host outdoor meditation in the linden trees every other Sunday at 10:00, led by Paul Deal. All are welcome, and the next meeting is May 8th. Bring something to sit on, and meet at the electric car chargers if you don’t know where the lindens are.

That’s the news from Essex Farm for this lamb-tastic 17th week of 2022. Find us at 518-963-4613, essexfarm@gmail.com, on instagram at essexfarmcsa, or on the farm, any day but Sunday.

-Kristin & Mark Kimball

Essex Farm Hollandaise

  • 10 tablespoons butter
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 2 tablespoons cider vinegar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • A handful of sorrel leaves, chiffonade (cut in very very fine strips)

Melt the butter and keep it hot but don’t let it burn or brown.

Put the egg yolks in a blender with the vinegar and salt, or use an immersion blender. Zip the yolk mixture until combined.

With the blender running, add in the hot butter beginning very slowly, just a few drops, then a slow stream. Blend until it is thick, smooth and bright yellow.

Mix in the sorrel leaves and serve.

You can double the recipe, which makes using an immersion blender a little easier, but it doesn’t hold very well, so invite friends for brunch.