Week 2, 2019 | Kristin Kimball | Jan 12, 2019

A four day cold spell is on us. The temperatures through the weekend are expected to range between zero and ten, with wind chills of ten below. The farm roads are slick with ice. This morning, we had a scare, when the chore truck slid sideways and pinned Lavina between the truck and a wagon. She’s fine, thank goodness, just sore and scared. Anne drove her to Elizabethtown for x-rays, and then took her shopping for a treat to soothe the nerves. She picked out a heart-shaped Whitman’s sampler. I am picturing her curled up at home now, in front of the wood stove, eating some well-deserved chocolates. Feel better soon, Lavina!

The sheep came down from Guettel Field, which is about two miles from the home farm. They have been grazing fifty acres of stockpiled forage, supplemented by second cut hay. The cold hit just as the grass ran out, so home they came, along with the goat and the livestock guard dogs. The flock is 200 head now, with about 130 ewes bred for April. Speaking of guard dogs, our female Great Pyrenees, Suit, has been a huge challenge lately. She began escaping fences over the summer, when she was pastured with the hens. She honed her skills over the fall, defeating increasing layers of deterrents, so that by winter, we didn’t have anything that could hold her. She leaped electric net. She escaped a dog kennel reinforced with hog panels. She even got out of a locked barn, through a closed window, five feet off the ground. I finally ran out of ideas. For the moment she is living on the porch at our house or riding around with Anne and Charlie as they do the animal chores. She’s a people-oriented dog, and she seems extremely happy with this situation, but the danger is that when she’s free she patrols the areas where she has been on duty in the past – from the Firehouse Field to Guettel Field, two miles away. Now that the flock is back home, I hope she’ll decide to stay on the farm.

We have dry aged beef and lamb in the share now. The lamb I tried this week hung for 5-6 weeks and was meltingly tender and delicious. It has a distinct flavor, especially the ends. We want to hear how you like it, members, so we can plan how much meat to age and for how long. It is clearly marked “aged” and there are other cuts available if you’re not as into it as I.

We have a lot of newsy news this week, so I’m not quite sure what to lead with. I guess I will go the selfish route: My manuscript is in at last. I holed up at the Day’s Inn in Plattsburgh last weekend and went on a binge of words. Now we edit! Good Husbandry comes out next fall. I’m so grateful to my family and everyone here for shouldering extra work so I could finish.

We are saying goodbye to Katie Culpepper today. She will live on here in legend, and also in a whole string of improvements: to the online platform; the way we coordinate, harvest and pack the shares; and to all of the front-of-the-farm systems. Somehow she did all that while managing a wildly diverse group of workers (up to 16 per week!) with grace, kindness and efficiency. Katie, we love you, will miss you, and wish you a terrific next chapter. I have more hellos, goodbyes and thank yous to make, but they’ll wait until next week.

A round of applause to all of our 2019 members. We are so excited to feed you, and deeply grateful that you choose to use your food dollars to fuel this grand and delicious experiment. Please spread the word, we have space for new members. And that’s the news from Essex Farm for this crisp 2nd week of 2019. Find us at 518-963-4613, essexfarm@gmail.com, on the web and insta at essexfarmcsa, or on the farm, any day but Sunday.

-Kristin & Mark Kimball