Kristin Kimball | Jun 17, 2016

Here we are at the solstice, and doesn’t it feel like it? The forecast calls for clear until Monday, and has been clear all week, so we, like every other farmer in the region, are maniacally making hay. We have 300 large round bales of grass hay down now, and about half of it baled. I love these long days of focused, urgent work, when everyone works together to get it in before rain, and large bets are laid on which way the clouds blow, and whether or not the repair on the baler will hold. We switched from square bales to round bales a couple of years ago, so we no longer spend sweaty summer evenings running through the field, throwing bales onto the wagon, then loading and stacking them in the hot barn loft, dizzy with effort and trying not to get walloped on the head when a bale fell off the elevator. My memories of those times are all happy ones, even the night when I tried to keep pace with Matt Volz, stacking, and got sick all over the new green bales. Haying is not so demanding now, physically, but there is still that enjoyable sense of urgency and unity that I have always loved. Vegetable team, led by Kirsten Liebl, is feeling the solstice burn. They are weeding, transplanting, and copiously harvesting now, all at once. There is so much coming in from the field for distribution today, Anya and Isabelle came in at 5 this morning to get a jump on it in the cool dawn. The obvious star of the share this week is the strawberry. Early Glow is still booming, and the Jewel variety is beginning to ripen now. The first bloom on each plant sends forth one enormous berry, which our girls call the King Berry, and all week they have been grazing on them, each berry the size of their fist or better. I made panna cotta for team dinner tonight, and as I type I have a pot of berries cooking down into strawberry sauce, to go on top. But there’s only so much sweet red perfection one can take, it is actually the B-list celebrity I’m most interested in this week: rhubarb. I made a version of Martha Rose Shulman’s chicken tagine (NYT cooking) last night, and rhubarb gave it that pop of brightness that pomagranite molassas brings to Persian cooking, or preserved lemon to Moroccan.

I have more to report but I’m out of time now, so that’s the brief news from Essex Farm for this make-hay-while-the-sun-shines 25th week of 2016. Find us at 518-963-4613, ( , or on the farm, any day but Sunday.

-Kristin & Mark Kimball