Week 5, 2020 | Kristin Kimball | Feb 3, 2020

We Kimballs had a great week with two visitors from France, Estelle and Sylvain, the parents of our French exchange student, Maria, who was with us last year from July through October, and with whom Jane lived from October until just a few weeks ago. Sylvain runs a seed cleaning company, working with farms throughout northern France and Belgium, so beyond the fact that we know each other’s daughters so well, we had a lot in common and so much to talk about: farms and farmers, livestock and seeds, the politics of food production, and the commonalities of rural life, no matter where one is in the world. We’re grateful to our daughters and to the exchange program, Adolesco, for bringing our two families together.

On the farm, it still looks like winter, but we are actively preparing for spring. Mark brought the draft horses Jake and Abby up from the far pasture, to trim their feet and begin getting them back into a work routine. I’m happy to report that Beth and I (plus many of you) prevailed on Mark so that the seed order, which is now complete, contains a good selection of flowers. The greenhouse is cleaned out, raked, and ready to be planted to spinach and lettuce. Last year’s brooders are clean now too, and ready for the first batch of chicks. We are about to finalize the shearing dates, for the end of March or beginning of April, with the first lambs expected May 5th. Our flock has grown too big to shear all in one day so we’ll spread it out to two this year, and trust we’ll be able to recruit some volunteers to help sort wool. 

There is still winter work happening, too. Mark went to Vermont this week to buy a new door for the machine shop, which will be great to have for the remaining cold weeks, so we can work in the shop and stay warm. I’ve been breeding dairy cows and heifers as they come into heat, almost every day. Beth, Elise and Anne butchered ten sheep this week! Which reminds me to say thank you, members, for being such good users of all parts of the animals in your kitchens. I notice a big uptick in use of bones, organs and lesser known cuts of meat and it warms my (probably very delicious) heart. 

Our supply of broiler chickens is going to be leaner than usual until the 2020 birds are ready. We had trouble with some of the batches of the 2019 birds in transition to or in storage and a good percentage of them were ruined. Other batches are fine, and we are carefully sorting, inspecting and rebagging them (thank you Hannah for that work!) so we will have some chicken available for late winter and early spring, but not in the usual abundance until a bit later in the year. If you have questions please give us a call. 

It was a delightful winter week in the kitchen, with lots of stews, soups and breads on the table, plus some recipe development for bonus material in the paperback version of Good Husbandry, which will be published in May. My favorite taste that came out of that project was maple lemon frozen yogurt, very simple and refreshingly tangy: 2 cups drained yogurt, 1 cup cream,  ¾ c maple syrup, 1 tsp vanilla, pinch of salt, and zest of 1 lemon, frozen in an ice cream maker until the texture of soft serve. Eat immediately because it gets a bit icy after storing in the freezer. 

And that is the news from Essex Farm for this hello-February 5th week of 2020. The kids and I are off to Utah next week to speak at the Utah Farm and Food Conference and explore some canyons and mountains. Find us at 518-963-4613, essexfarm@gmail.com, on the web, Insta, FB, or IRL on the farm, any day but Sunday.

-Kristin & Mark Kimball