Week 26, 2020|Kristin Kimball |June 26, 2020

The stretch of sweltering days felt oppressive this week, not only for us humans, but for the animals. We took frequent dips in the farm pond, with maybe a little skinny dipping after dark. The dairy cows spent afternoons eating hay in the shade of the covered barnyard. The chickens, horses and beef cattle lolled under trees in their pastures. But the sheep are in the field of oat/pea cover crop, in wide and treeless New Field. And while the planted annual forage makes for great eating, it lacks the cooling qualities of a perennial grass sod. Once the cover crop was half eaten, the sun hit the soil and heated it up like sand on a beach, and the sheep stood and panted and tried to shelter in the shade of one another’s bodies. Animal team spent a long hot day fencing a laneway through the length of the field to the hedgerow between Blockhouse Field and Golden Delicious Field, with new paddocks around it in a hub and spoke pattern. That way, they could graze in the cooler parts of the day and shelter during the worst of it. Now that cooler weather had arrived, they’re back to gorging on the shadeless midfield, but we’re keeping a close eye on the forecast.

Meanwhile, the window for planting sweet corn and carrots was narrowing this week without enough moisture in the soil to germinate seed. You all know how important the carrot crop is, and sweet corn is everyone’s favorite. With the forecast looking iffy, but without more time to lose, Beth and Charlie pulled off some miracles to plant both crops, then we all crossed our fingers and watched the sky. We got four tenths of an inch at the last minute, which should be just enough to germinate the seeds, if not enough to quench the thirsty ground. There is a hint of some showers in the forecast this weekend, and we’ll hope they hits us, because anything helps. Huge thanks to Hunter, Kyle, and Thomas who worked alongside us (but at a proper social distance) to make everything happen this week.

The girls and I are moving back into the farmhouse after our upstairs renovation. In the chaos and dust, I wasn’t doing a lot of cooking, and we lived for a while on what Jane calls “cold scraps.”  We still have a lot to arrange and unpack and sort and toss, but it’s good to be back in our kitchen. At lunchtime today Mark brought me some spicy mustard greens, my favorite, and a fat head of green garlic. I sautéed them together and we ate them wrapped in a tortilla with a fried egg, kim chi, sour cream and hot sauce and it tasted like heaven. This morning I made waffles, as a star vehicle for the strawberries, which are booming now. Since this will probably be the last week of asparagus harvest, I intend to make the most of it, and am planning to make a meal of them tonight with mousseline sauce. Speaking of strawberries, the lack of rain has meant delicious berries but low yield. We messed up, members, by offering you flats of berries we did not have. If you requested a flat we have you on a waitlist. Sorry for the confusion.

Finally, as you know, we lost our wonderful livestock guardian dog Jake last week. We miss him! And we rather urgently need a new guard before the coyotes figure it out. We are ISO working bred LGD pups, or adult LGDs that are safe around people and bonded to sheep. Or if anyone knows of a guard llama looking for a job that might be a good interim solution. Please get in touch with me if you have any leads. And that is the news for this hot 26th week of 2020. Find us at essexfarm@gmail.com, 518-963-4613, on the web and insta at essexfarmcsa, or on the farm, from a distance, any day but Sunday.

-Kristin & Mark Kimball