Week 3, 2022|Kristin Kimball|January 23, 2022

Winter temperatures again this week, with a nice snowstorm thrown in. I’ve loved walking along the farm roads on the crystalline fat moon nights, clear skies above and squeaky snow underfoot, that special silence that only descends with real cold. The animals are faring fine. I’m sure the sheep are grateful for their wool coats up at the top of the hill. The guard dogs seem delighted, cozy in their polar bear fur. The other animals shelter from the wind when it’s bitter like this, venturing out to sun themselves at midday. Having full bellies is key. Fermentation of hay heats them from the inside. The pigs are the most vulnerable ones, pink-skinned and naked monogastric creatures, like us. Their strategy is to pile together under huge drifts of hay. If you were to sneak up on them, you’d think the barn was empty except for the steam that escapes when they shift positions. For us humans, a change of dry wool socks at midday is a comfort, and a pair of ski goggles in high wind makes a big difference. Plus hand warmers, a good balaklava, and layers.  

In the kitchen I’ve been very minimalist these last weeks. I made a quiet New Year’s resolution to see how long I can go before I buy any food outside of the share, and my success depends mostly on being efficient with food preparation. So I have my winter weekend routine to set us up for the week: I make a gallon of stock for soups and sauces, a pint of chicken liver pate, and two loaves of bread. I defrost the meat we plan to eat and think a little about what we’ll cook. I stock up on eggs, yogurt, butter, fresh and fermented vegetables and milk. And I peel and cut several pounds of carrots and store them in one ziplock bag, some radishes in another, so the vegetables are the first thing someone will grab when they open the refrigerator. As long as those things are in place by Sunday night we can put out a meal during the week without a lot of fuss, and provide a snack at a moment’s notice. My new favorite thing in the kitchen is this yogurt strainer that turns our yogurt into super thick greek style yogurt. I think we went through 8 quarts of yogurt this week, putting a dollop of thick yogurt on everything from chili to frittata and eating bowls of it for breakfast with a spoonful of jam. There are lots of different models and shapes for yogurt strainers but I like this one because it is rectangular and fits easily in the fridge. 

We are still on the lookout for a cream separator, but we understand our options a little better this week. There is a $10K tabletop version that seems fragile and inferior to our old one but possibly workable, or there are two weeks of machining that might/should fix the old one. There’s also a 1950s Delaval 614 available in Maryland, but we can’t find a lot of information about this model (ours was a 619). Mark is leaning toward rebuilding our antique.. Many many thanks to Echo Farm for loaning us their separator in the interim! 

Everyone is poring over the seed catalogues now. We might try loofah this year, and Jane is gunning to grow some warty gourds, from a sense of irony, I think. Miranda has her eye on flowers. And there’s an internal debate about sweet potatoes. I say we shouldn’t – in the past, they’ve finished the size of my thumb, because it’s not hot enough to grow them here without black plastic mulch – but Mark, the optimist, sees every year as a fresh chance to succeed. We’ll let you know what happens. And that’s the news from Essex Farm for this sharp cold 3rd week of 2022. Find us at 518-963-4613, essexfarm@gamil.com, or on the farm, any day but Sunday.

-Kristin & Mark Kimball