Week 39, 2018 | Kristin Kimball | Sep 28, 2018

I’m away from the farm this week and so am sending the news as reported by Mark, who delivered it to me over the phone, as he was disking up the summer greens. The old season is going under the surface now, and the fall harvest begins. We got our first frost last Saturday night, just hours after the equinox. It was earlier than average, and a surprise. The forecast called for a low of 41 but when Mark went out before dawn on Sunday to bring in the cows for milking, he found their hose frozen solid and the clover silver with ice. But the thing about frost—about cold—is that it behaves like a liquid, flowing downhill in fickle currents, and settling in pockets. So, while some parts of the farm were frosted or even iced, others were untouched. Blockhouse Field, where all the vegetables are, must have been in a warm spot. No damage there, happily. We are still harvesting even the tender vegetables, like peppers, eggplant and tomatoes. Enjoy them while you may.

The potatoes came in this week, 2 acres of them, about 7 tons. We had a group of twenty people in the field picking them up after the potato digger went through. Thanks to everyone who helped. It’s good to have them under cover before the next rain comes. The Kennebec variety yielded well, but everything else was pretty puny. The dry weather is the biggest factor, as we do not use irrigation; leafhoppers also got their share. We should still have plenty to get us through the year.

Animal news, wild and domestic: Black bear sighting! Maybe the same visitor as last year? Dave spotted it at the edge of the corn field, in broad daylight. Corn is a powerful draw for a creature that needs to pack on some pounds for winter. I’m hoping the presence of the barking guard dogs in the next field will encourage him/her to forage elsewhere. Dairy cows are grazing the cover crops for the next 2-3 weeks. That should make them happy and productive. The sheep are in Firehouse Field, on some very good grass. The pigs are rooting at the edge of Firehouse Woods, keeping the brush back and generally enjoying themselves. The broiler chickens are coming in on smaller side at butchering time this year. It might be a consequence of the heat wave when they were younger, or maybe a slight snafu with the feed. In any case, they are delicious birds, slightly miniaturized. Cut them into parts or cook them whole but please make sure to use every bit. I know most of you do, but last week, I almost cried when I saw a carcass in the member compost bin that had only the breast meat and the legs cut off, at least half the meat and all the bones going to waste. If you don’t have time to make stock or soup right away, you can always put a chicken like that in the freezer, even if the bird came to you frozen. There are no food safety issue with refreezing.

Thanks to Isaac and the Middlebury Varsity Farming Team, who have been getting up early on Saturdays to come across the lake for fieldwork. Go team! Meat world has been busy this week, and we have fresh cuts and sausage in the share. We are still looking for sturdy farmers, as well as sturdy used vehicles, so let us know if you have any leads. And that is the news from Essex Farm for this harvest moon 39th week of 2018. Like us on Facebook to see what we post there, or find us at essexfarm@gmail.com, 518-963-4613, on Insta and the web at essexfarmcsa, or on the farm, any day but Sunday.

–Kristin and Mark Kimball