Week 37, 2019 | Kristin Kimball | Sep 18, 2019

Did you feel the chill at dawn today? The ponds were hazed in mist and the dew was cold and thick on the grass. It’s the full harvest moon tonight. Frost could come any time now. We’re really hoping it will hold off a while longer, to give us a few more weeks of tomatoes, melons, sweet corn, and tender greens, and to give the field corn and the soybeans time to fully mature. If a freeze gets us before those crops are ready to harvest and store, we have a decent plan B: we can skip the harvest entirely and hog it all down in the field with our large fleet of pigs.

Welcome to Aquila, the most recent addition to the farm menagerie. Quill is a tri-colored English Shepherd, good old Jet’s great-great grandson. While he’s too young at 3 months to really know what kind of farm dog he’ll be when he’s grown, he shows signs of Jet’s large build, rock-solid temperament, and helpfulness, plus the breed’s characteristically high intelligence and strict sense of order. In the looks department, he got his great great grandma Pip’s blue watch eye, which gives him some special juju. He is, for sure, very tired at the end of each full day. Anne Brown has been taking him with her on the daily chore rounds, so he can get an idea of his future duties, and when he’s home, there are full contact dog-on-dog wrestling matches with his great aunt, Mary. Mary seems as happy as we are to have a pup in the house, and has been very useful in these days of early training. It’s the nature of a good English Shepherd to uphold the established rules, and when the little guy steps out of line – chewing a table leg, or chasing the cat – Mary jumps in with a reprimand. She’s fast, firm, fair and consistent, and Quill is a sharp student, so he has learned the basics very quickly. I can’t wait to see what he becomes. Thanks to Rod for bringing him across the lake for a ‘visit’ so I could discover how much I needed a new pup.

We are saying goodbye to Chris McConnell today! It’s hard to write that without welling up. Chris has brought so much to us and the farm for the last few years: kindness, dedication, leadership, good judgement, and an ever-expanding array of skills. He is often the first one here in the morning and nearly always the last one home, and has never left a duty unfilled. I know his family will be very happy to have more of him and that thought makes me happy too. We still get to see him here at milking on Saturdays for the rest of the fall, but now is a good time to say thank you, Chris, for everything. And thank you to Nicole and the girls for getting along without him for such long days. We are so glad you all will remain our neighbors and friends.

I’ve been putting up a lot of tomatoes this fall, a few pints at a time. Most years I just freeze the tomatoes in bags, to be made into sauce when I need it, but this year I am finding the canning relaxing, as long as I don’t get too ambitious and do too much at once. We have a new-to-us electric gizmo that quickly strains out the raw skins and the seeds, so I can leave the pot on overnight to thicken without fear the seeds will make the sauce bitter. I’ve also made a few batches of apple sauce and of apple butter, to preserve those amazing never-sprayed apples we have in the share. Apple butter with a spoonful of sour cream is my new favorite dessert. This week, I want to get some hardy greens into the freezer, for a deep-winter supply of saag paneer. I’m totally in love with the collards this year, so they will be first priority.

And that is the news from Essex Farm for this happy-9th-birthday Miranda 37th week of 2019. Find us at 518-963-4613, essexfarm@gmail.com, on the web and insta at essexfarmcsa, or on the farm, any day but Sunday.

-Kristin & Mark Kimball