Week 22, 2023|Kristin Kimball|June 2nd, 2023

Boomerang weather! Last week was the surprise late frost, this week, we had drought conditions and heat warnings. Well, we’ll just have to heap weather under ‘things we can’t control’ and keep moving forward with courage. On the whole, this year is going incredibly well, thanks to our wonderful members and customers and our small, fierce team. Spring produce is delayed, because of the tough conditions, but the good news is that plants often regain ground as the season progresses. The frost left all the asparagus that was above ground tragically flaccid, for example, but the heat this week coaxed lots more out of the ground. We have enough for members as well as the farm store, where it is fresh picked and stocked on Saturday and Sunday. Tell your friends to stop by the store and say hello.

Tomorrow is our big shearing day, with three shearers coming from Vermont for an all-day sheep extravaganza. The ewe flock is more than ready to shed those heavy fleeces, and I can’t wait to see what they look like, underneath. I suspect they wintered well, and will emerge onto grass fat and happy. We have a good crew lined up for handling sheep tomorrow, but could use some volunteers for skirting and packing some fleeces. I’m thinking we’ll send some to the mill for yarn and batting this year, assuming we have enough that are reasonably free of burdock and other vegetable matter. If you are interested, email me at essexfarm@gmail.com, and we’ll sort out a schedule. No experience necessary, we’ll teach you how to do it. If anyone feels inspired to cook a big lunch for the shearing crew, we would not say no! Email me before 9pm tonight. It’ll probably be 15 people, and simple is better because we’ll eat outside in the few moments the boards are clear of ewes. Here’s the world’s most famous sheep shearing song to get you in the mood, and here’s a so-bad-it’s-wonderful version by dear, dear Olivia Newton John, accompanied by what seems to be an adoring and perfectly tone-deaf group of actual shearers.

Looking forward to next week, I’ll be driving south on our monthly Essex-to-NYC route, delivering our curated boxes and half and whole lambs. We have room for more orders this month so please spread the word to your friends and neighbors along that corridor. We make stops in Albany and New Paltz, and deliver to the door throughout New York City, anywhere except Staten Island. Anyone interested can email me for the curated box list and all the details.

All of our first cut forage was in before June 1, a record. It’s almost impossible to make dry hay in May, so we had Jon Christian wrap it as haylage, for expensive but extremely high-quality feed. Jon had his whole extended family engaged, from dad to grandpa to cousins. We’ve worked with the Christians since our first year farming and I have a vivid memory of toddler Jon playing around the hay elevator that year while we stacked bales in the mow. Now he runs his own hay business among other agricultural endeavors.

The wonderful wood fired bread oven was delivered Friday, and we’ve been experimenting with it all week, cooking pizzas for the team, pitas for my visiting friends, and a spectacular lamb roast for a special dinner. We’re taking a minute to consider all the ways we can use it here, and to get the hang of it, so stay tuned! It’s the most exciting thing that’s happened here in quite some time. And that’s the news from Essex Farm for this rain-dancing 22nd week of 2023. Find us at 518-570-6399, on Insta at essexfarmcsa and kristinxkimball, or on the farm, any day of the week.

-Kristin & Mark Kimball