Week 29, 2019 | Kristin Kimball | Jul 22, 2019

On our harvest walk this morning, when the air was still cool, Mark and I talked about the miracle that is modern meteorology. We have known for several days that the heat index will approach 100 degrees today, and push past 100 tomorrow. That gave us time to plan, to de-ice the coolers in anticipation, and think out our pasture rotations so that every grazing group of animals will have access to shade and cool water. Anne and her crew are thinking especially about the sheep, who can get overwhelmed with parasites quickly in heat, and their guard dogs, who have a hard time cooling off when it’s humid, and about the dairy cows, who need to keep up their feed intake despite the heat, and the smallest animals – the newborn piglets and chicks – who are fragile and must be kept well hydrated. All this is much easier with advanced notice, so thank you, meteorology. And knowing that the heat wave will abate after two days helps too, both logistically and psychologically.

You know who doesn’t hate heat? Plants. The chemical reactions that convert sunlight to growth work faster in high temperatures, so when there is plenty of water and fertility in the form of compost, as there is this year, and so many hours of sunlight, growth just takes off. The corn grew so fast, it got too tall for the last planned cultivation this week. It’s absolutely breathtaking in the Blockhouse field right now. The cover crop of millet, soy and corn looks like the most luxurious lawn ever planted. The millet in that mix is quite tolerant of wet conditions so it’s green even in the low places. The crows, though! Those clever little devils have pulled nearly every piece of seedling corn out of the cover crop mix. It’s not the plant they are after, but the mushy sprouting corn seed at the bottom of it, which must be a crow delicacy.

North and east of the cover crop, the vegetables are thriving, too. We picked the first cucumbers on our harvest walk this morning, and a perfect zucchini, which I grated and mixed with egg, flour, herbs, and chopped garlic scapes for zucchini fritters for breakfast. Don’t forget to take extra herbs for your freezer. They are so abundant and full of flavor now, and you will want them this winter. Our vegetable team has a challenge this year with the plants laid out in extra long rows. The rows make cultivation easier, but the heavy work of harvest harder. Wheels sink in the soft soil, and most the produce must be hauled all the way to the end of the row. Stay hydrated, team, and thank you for your hard work!

Our seventh and final sow had her litter this week. I think we have close to seventy healthy piglets on the ground now. I’m so glad the sows and their babies are still under cover, in the shade of the barn where we can keep them wet and cool with sprinklers. They will go to pasture when they are sturdy.

We’re thrilled to offer a popup Essex Farm dinner at Barrows Intense Tasting Room, in Brooklyn, NY on Thursday, August 1st. Mark will be there, with chef Gretchen Brinson. Price includes cocktails and wine. Gretchen writes, “Join us in the first of a series of dinners, each with the aim of reconnecting us to ourselves, our communities, and the earth.” Tickets $125 on eventbrite now. And that is the news from Essex Farm for this blazing hot 29th 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