Week 10, 2021|Kristin Kimball |March 13, 2021

The sun was so strong this week the snow cover shrunk from 100% to nothing overnight and the cold water filled the culverts and turned the ditches to rivers, moving from puddle to puddle on every slope. It tunneled beneath the cover of hay that preserved the soft icy snow underneath it in the ewe’s pasture, making a perfectly camouflaged trap for my unsuspecting foot. It made the animals content and the children wild. The cows and horses lay down to let the sun soak into their winter-dusted pelts and the younger child stripped and ran through the pasture, dropping her layers one by one, coat, sweater, then boots, socks, leaping red-footed over the muddy streams. In the dark of winter it’s useful to remember that this sort of joy is around the next bend, and here we are, arrived at last. 

That glorious sun is our source of warmth, food, movement, power, life. If we can capture it, and keep it, we can have it for our use. One of our guiding principles here is to try to hone and shape the cycle of energy to power the farm as much as we can with the sun that falls directly on these thousand acres.  We got one small step closer to that goal this week. Think of the pigs: spotted, oinking and fat. The sun feeds the grass and the grain. The pigs use that energy to grow muscle and blood and organs, to produce motion and heat, and store the excess as fat. They are very good at it and it’s tricky to balance the needs of the whole herd without some individuals putting on too much fat. We make some into lard for cooking and some into soap, but there is always more left over. This week, Dillon Klepetar at Echo Farm took fifty gallons of lard from us, to turn it into fuel. I don’t fully understand the process of turning fat to biodiesel but I know it produces one non-toxic byproduct — glycerin — and the yield is nearly 1:1. Now that his system is up and running he will take our excess animal fat and return it in the form of biodiesel mixed 50/50 with regular diesel, which we can use to fuel three of our four tractors plus the 4 wheeled ATV. 

The meal of the week here was undoubtedly homemade pasta with spinach sauce. I used farmer privilege to cut more than my fair share of spinach directly from the greenhouse on Wednesday, an enormous bowlful. Realizing it wouldn’t all fit in my pot I added a little water and blended about half of it to a bright green sauce. We cooked that with copious amounts of butter and garlic, adding the rest of the spinach in the form of chopped leaves. We threw in some chopped ham (bacon would have been good too, or sausage), lemon zest, nutmeg, black pepper, and red pepper flakes, and finished it with a lot of sour cream, and more butter, until it was silky. Heaven. Thanks to Barbara Kunzi for making the perfect homemade pasta, and to the sun for creating all parts of the meal.   

A few announcements. We’re hosting outdoor meditation this Sunday March 14th at 10 (don’t forget it’s Daylight Savings Time). If you’d like to join, text Mark at 518-570-6399 for covid protocols and location. Happy birthday to Isabelle. She was only 14 when she came to work here for the first time, and she’s turning 24, so watch out you teenage farm hands. You might think it’s just a summer job but the farm can hook you when you meet it at the right age. Farewell to Jeanne Janson who is off to take care of her grandparents. We will miss you Jeanne! And I just got word that one of the heifers is in heat so I will grab my AI equipment and leave it here for this sun-powered 10th week of 2021. Find us at essexfarm@gmail.com, on the web and Instagram at kristinxkimball, farmerkimball and essexfarmcsa.

-Kristin & Mark Kimball