Week 46, 2019 | Kristin Kimball | Nov 15, 2019

The thermometer at our weather station hit -1 F in the wake of a snow storm that dumped eight inches on us this week. What ugly weather for mid-November! It was, however, extremely motivating. When we realized snow was coming, we knew we had to get the soybeans in, and fast, because if the snow covered them, they’d be lost. The Wrisleys, who often harvest for us, couldn’t get to us, so Mark called Tom and David Kenyon at Aurora Grain in Vermont, and begged. Tom had already put his combine away for the winter and it was a big pain to get it out and across the lake on the ferry to us, but he did it. They harvested as the snow fell and by the end of a long day the beans were all in and stored in the drying bin. We got 28 bushels to the acre, which was respectable considering they had to cut high due to the snow.

After the storm, Tom and David switched the head on the combine, and brought in all 26 acres of our field corn. We got yields of four tons to the acre in some places, and three in others, which is not terrible considering we’d had to plant a lower-yielding 74-day variety, thanks to the wet spring. All that corn is in the bin now, a bit too moist, but frozen solid. Thanks, Kenyons! When the temperatures come up we can put the bin’s fan on to dry it. But so far, it has stayed cold.

That meant a mad scramble to protect the livestock water systems, make sure any vulnerable animals were secure, and bring in all late season crops that were still in the field. The team worked so fast and efficiently. All the remaining leeks and celeriac were dug in a two hour rush. Then the rest of the onions had to be topped and stored, and all nine tons of potatoes, which were dug long ago, had to be sorted and bagged, and both crops moved into the basement so they would not freeze. That took a team of eight until deep into the snowy evening to accomplish, but they did it. Elsewhere, in the trailers that serve as our root cellars, we had to pivot from keeping the stored crops cool to keeping them warm, to prevent freezing. Mark spent much of the week climbing over mountains of cabbages and carrots, arranging heaters, checking thermometers. Despite the stress, he came back to the house with a big smile, from contact with all that glorious food, the fruit of the whole team’s work for the 2019 growing season. Now that everything is tucked in, we can move our focus to the kitchen, and spend some good time this winter turning the harvest into delicious, nourishing meals.

The intensity of weather these last weeks meant we had to hold off on slaughter, so there is a limited meat selection right now. Your patience will soon be rewarded! We have beautiful beef, hogs and lambs all ready to butcher and should have a plentiful and varied meat selection all winter.

Please join us at the Grange on Sunday at 4pm to celebrate the publication of Good Husbandry. Colin Wells will be the host and we’ll have a little reading, a little Q&A, and some light refreshments. There will be books for sale too. The $10 suggested donation benefits the Grange. Thanks to Andy Buchanan for putting this together! We hope to see you there. And that’s the news from Essex Farm for this very cold 46th week of 2019. Find us through our website at essexfarmcsa, on Insta at essexfarmcsa, kristinxkimball, and farmerkimball, or in real life on the farm, any day but Sunday.

-Kristin & Mark Kimball