Week 41, 2020|Kristin Kimball |October 2, 2020

I love this time of year. The energy of harvest is different from that of planting or weeding. It’s a celebration of all the work that came before, fulfillment of the seed’s promise, an end to the narrative arc of the year. And it’s food, so much food, coming home to be stored for the long cold winter. The team focused on bringing in the carrot crop this week. Most years we plow the carrots up for harvest, using the horses. It’s fast and efficient but it does break some carrots. This year, because every carrot is precious, we dug them all by hand. Once they were topped we poured them from buckets into one ton tote bags and moved them to the cooler. We store them just as they come from the field, dirty, and when we are ready to distribute them, we put a week’s worth through the root washer. They go in dull and muddy, like rough gems, and are tumbled and rinsed until they come out as bright and shiny orange jewels. We are crossing our fingers for the other big storage crop, the cabbages. They struggled to attain their full size and maturity in the drought. They aren’t quite there yet. Let’s hope they head up before the light disappears.

We got two inches of rain last week. That’s 27,000,000 gallons of water sucked into the ground on the home farm, doubling the saturation level two inches below the surface. It came a bit late to benefit vegetables, but it will give the cover crops a boost. Mark and I walked through cover crops this week for the delight of it. The plants are thick and as high as our knees in some places, so it feels like wading through an ocean of chlorophyll. The oats have gained the most organic matter, but are showing signs of the rust that plagues them every year. Vetch and peas are thriving. The Blockhouse acres are planted to a mix that includes forage turnip. I can’t wait to get the sheep flock on them, for the flush before breeding. The greens of the brassica family are rocket fuel for ruminants, exceptionally digestible and nutritious. Anne and I need to get together to sort the lambs, to decide which of the ewe lambs should be included for breeding. I have a nice ram arriving to take the first shift! It’s too big a job for one ram, and the junior varsity home-bred lambs will go in as a group three weeks later.

The kids and I are having a ball in the kitchen these days. We’ve been making bread with leftover whey from goat cheese making each week, plus a big pot of chicken stock for easy soups, and a batch of chicken liver pate. With those things in place we are never scrambling for a meal, no matter how busy we get. My favorite soup this week was cream of celeriac, made from a base of sauteed carrot, garlic, onion, and herbs with lots of shredded celeriac, simmered in chicken stock, then blended, and finished with sour cream.

I’m making another plea for jars and lids. The manufacturer has let us know not to expect more supply before next year, and we are scrambling every day to meet our needs. Please, please send back any you have at home! I know you listen to these asks because we’ve gotten back some jars with copper bands on them, which we last used in 2005. Thanks! And that’s the news from Essex Farm for this bountiful 41st week of 2020. Find us at 518-963-4613, essexfarm@gmail.com, on Insta at kristinxkimballfarmerkimball, and essexfarmcsa. Or at the farm, from a distance, any day but Sunday.

 -Kristin & Mark Kimball