Week 35, 2020|Kristin Kimball |August 30, 2020

Nobody can blow up a kitchen like our family can when we are all cooking at once. Friday morning, before ten, we had every dish and pot in the house in use, and a project on every surface. Jane, who turned 13 this month, was standing at the stove stirring a steaming pot of cajeta – caramelized goat milk — that she was making from her morning milking, while draining a batch of chevre. Miranda was learning how to temper eggs in Swedish rice pudding, for a late second breakfast. I was prepping carnitas and pico de gallo for team dinner, while Mark was raiding the fridge for the remnants of the previous night’s okra curry to satisfy his mid-morning hunger. It’s the sort of fragrant chaos that happens regularly in our kitchen, but now that the kids are becoming curious and competent cooks, it’s a foursome rather than a twosome. And it makes me very happy, even if I’m still the one who washes most of the dishes. We are featuring the farmers’ regional specialities at team dinners these days and Friday night’s was orchestrated by Beth Davis, who is from Los Angeles. It was a celebration of Cal Mex cuisine — tacos from those carnitas, which are hunks of confit pork cooked with warm spices until meltingly tender, then shredded and crisped under the broiler — plus carne asada done on the charcoal grill. There were black beans, tomatillo salsa, crema, habanera hot sauce, loads of fresh cilantro, and tortilla chips made from our own tortillas. Evan brought watermelon margaritas, served in glasses with the rims coated in salt and chile. We do know how to feast here at Essex Farm, don’t we? Members, the good people at Nixtamal in Brooklyn who make our tortillas for us are going to try to make tortilla chips for the share, for a crispy, salty ready-to-eat treat. If it goes well we would like to have them regularly. I’m hoping the first batch arrives in time for us all to enjoy them with fresh pico de gallo.

We had two cute new heifer calves in the last couple weeks. Foxie was born to Frankie and Cinnamon Raisin was born to California Raisin. Members, thank you for your patience with the recent limits on dairy, which were due to drought coinciding with several cows nearing the end of their lactations. Now that it has rained the grass is going nuts, and we have twelve (!) cows freshening in the coming weeks and so will soon be in extremely abundant production.

Mark worked late into the nights on the tractor this week, to get all the cover crops planted. They’re up already and looking incredibly beautiful, worth a drive down Blockhouse Road to see if you’re in the neighborhood. (He’s especially proud of how straight he planted those long, long rows.) I have my eye on a patch of oat, pea, cereal rye, annual ryegrass, vetch and forage turnip, to flush the sheep before breeding. Speaking of breeding I bought a new ram. He was originally from K Bar K farm, and I can’t wait to see him in person. K Bar K breeds Dorsets that thrive in a low-input forage based system like ours, and I’ve wanted to get my hands on those genetics for a long time. He’s been at work on a farm up in Dekalb Junction, and will be arriving here soon as I can get away to pick him up.

We said goodbye to Evan this week! He has cheerfully and competently handled the cow side of the dairy for the last twenty months and I will miss him tremendously. Happily, he’s going to be across the lake in Vermont with our old friends Scott and Aubrey at Family Cow Farmstead. Caitlin is taking over Evan’s duties here and I’m really looking forward to working more closely with her. We welcomed Jeanne Janson as a new full time farmer. She was farming at a NOLS outpost in Alaska, and brings great energy to her work here. And big thanks to our underage crew, Jameson, Izzy, Sofie and Jane, for the late-summer push.

Huge thanks to everyone who contributed to the Hub on the Hill’s fundraiser last week. It’s 51% funded now and we have two weeks to put it over the top. And hugs to jar angels Gail and John who found, bought and delivered 42 flats of half gallon Ball jars. Can’t thank them enough for that. Members, remember, there’s a sever shortage of jars so please return glass and lids every single week. And that’s the news from Essex Farm for this crisp 35th week of 2020. Find us at 518-963-4613, essexfarm@gmail.com, on insta at essexfarmcsa, kristinxkimball and farmerkimball, or on the farm, from a distance, any day but Sunday.

-Kristin & Mark Kimball