Week 42, 2018 | Kristin Kimball | Oct 19, 2018

The curtain finally fell on the 2018 growing season on Wednesday night. We had a real frost, at last, and a sigh of relief, because it killed the galinsoga just in time. That weed is our biggest nemesis in the vegetable fields – a fierce little low-growing plant that goes to seed so quickly, the Amish call it Ten Minute Weed. I’ve heard people say, only half jokingly, that the best cure for galinsoga, once it has gotten hold on your farm, is to pick up and move. Usually, we are aggressive about getting it out of the field, but toward the very end of the season we relax a bit, because its weakness is that it is annihilated by the first frost. This year, with such a late killing frost, it was beginning to drop seeds all over the clean fields, but ding dong, now it’s dead. So are the tomatoes, eggplants, cilantro, and all the other shivery tender plants. All the squashes are harvested, cleaned, and stored in a weatherized trailer. All the cabbages are in, save three rows of reds. They all still need to be trimmed and stored. The carrot, beet and cabbage rows are all sown to cover crop now. It’d be nice to have a warm couple weeks to get them going.

On the animal side of things, the annual cover crop of oats and peas we planted is so lush and nutritious we should get a lot more grazing out of it yet. The sheep made a long move between Firehouse Field and New Field, to finish the lambs and get the ewes in good condition for breeding. The dairy cows are moving through the sward in Pine Field, then on to Monument and Superjoy. In order to make use of all that green, the animal team has been busy this week moving stock tanks around and laying out four miles of hoses in such a way that a hard freeze won’t break anything. So glad we have these acres of forage on a year when the permanent pastures weren’t terribly productive.

I popped in to the butcher shop this morning to see how the hog carcasses looked. Scott and Anne slaughtered three of them yesterday, and Jonas, Mark and Tara were all busy getting them cut for today’s distribution. The fat covering is thick! They were extremely happy pigs. We’ll make good lard and maybe some cured lardo out of the fatback; I have a pan full of bellies roasting in the oven right now for tonight’s team dinner. I’m thinking crisped pork belly tacos with quick pickled onions and a spicy cabbage slaw. They’re also working on cutting the first quarter of a gorgeous side of Angus beef. This was from a group of animals we bought as weanlings and it makes me believe in good genetics. This group is just making really nice meat on grass alone. Of course, credit also goes to our animal team, who kept them moving on good pasture for the whole grazing season.

And that’s the news from Essex Farm for this frost-at-last 42nd week of 2018. Like us on Facebook to see what we post there, or find us at 518-963-4613, essexfarm@gmail.com, on Instagram and the web at essexfarmcsa, or on the farm, any day but Sunday.

–Kristin & Mark Kimball