Week 52, 2021|Kristin Kimball|December 31, 2021

Happy holidays, everyone, and hurray for the turn of the year. It’s not goodbye to the old year that I like so much but hello to the fresh, unblemished new one. Who knows what will come our way? For now, it’s a clean blank slate, like dawn.

The fields are all sleeping and the seed catalogues have arrived. As we move through the winter tasks (milking, chores, cleanup, veg wash, share prep, and butchering) we’ve been dreaming of warm soil, soft rain, strong sun, and fresh shoots. The first seeds will go into the greenhouse in 8 short weeks. It’s time to plan for planting, but we can’t do it until we know who we are growing for. Huge thanks to the members who have returned their 2022 contracts! If you haven’t gotten to it yet please let us know your intentions and get the paperwork back as soon as you can. And if you need help with the contracts or need help choosing which membership works best for you please just give us a call or shoot an email to Anh Thu at essexfarm@gmail.com and we’ll walk you through it. Please don’t reply directly to the farm note if you receive it via the mailing list (mailchimp) because we won’t get it. Email us directly and we’ll get right back to you.

The strawberries are mulched now, and the garlic is halfway there. Mulch is insulation that keeps these overwintering plants from the destructive freeze/thaw cycles that can tear roots and push plants out of the ground over the winter; it will protect them from late freezes when they start to grow in the spring. For mulch this year, we’re using 800lb bales of rained-on second cut hay rolled out over the crops. Using hay this way is a weak lemonade made from the big weather lemon that arrived during the last weeks of haymaking last summer – and at least we have a use for it, if not the one we’d hoped for. They require some serious human muscle to get them rolling, and Mark claims it’s a perfect workout to burn off the holiday torpor. If you’d like to join us, send him a text at 518-570-6399.

Our butcher shop is busy this week. Mark and Beth have been cutting up two gorgeous steers and one Jersey cow. Ground beef will be in the share first, followed by cuts. We always specify on the label when we have Jersey beef in the share, because the fat is often more yellow than that from the Hereford or Angus animals. All 100% grass fed and finished beef, like ours, will have fat that is more yellow than cattle finished in feedlots, regardless of breed. While average consumers reject beef with off-white fat because they are used to seeing pure white fat in the butcher case, yellowish fat is a good thing! The color comes from beta carotene, the precursor to Vitamin A, which the cattle get from the good fresh grass they eat. Excess beta carotene is stored in the fat. The feedlot cattle with pure white fat are just deprived. Jersey cows have seen a lot of fresh grass in their lifetime and metabolize the beta carotene slowly.

We had a few iffy eggs in the share and if you got one, we’re so sorry! When we transitioned the hens from pasture to their winter quarters they found some good hiding places to lay their eggs in, and they sat there for a while before they were found and collected, and froze a little bit, which changes the consistency of the egg after it is thawed. We’ve solved the problem and all eggs should be good eggs going forward.

That’s the news from Essex Farm for this final week of 2021. We are sending you all wishes for a healthy New Year full of love and good food. Find us at 518-963-4613, essexfarm@gmail.com, on Insta at essexfarmcsa, or on the farm, any day but Sunday.