Week 35, 2021｜Kristin Kimball｜September 3, 2021
It has been a week of friends, good food and a surprise window for dry hay. We got so lucky. The remnants of Ida that flooded the downstate area so cruelly brought to us, instead, high pressure, low humidity, and a strong wind. So, we put mowers in the field and cut 150 acres. The forecast was unsettled, so it was risky, but this late in the year, with the color of the leaves and grasses telling us how close we are to autumn, we have to take these big bets. Once laid, we all hustle to nudge the odds a little more in our favor. Everyone pitched in. Brandon Herringshaw, who contracts to make our hay, was humming with stress. Mark stayed out until midnight, mowing under lights. Everyone on our team dropped other work to get the bales from the field to the barn. And Joe VanDeWeert, who is a farm member as well as a superb diesel mechanic, rolled up after hours one night with his little boy Daniel on his lap to pull a blown hose from a tricky place in the bowels of the mower. Then our neighbor Mark Wrisley found a replacement and we were mowing again. The bales are rolling past the house now, on their way to the barn, each storing 800 pounds of the sun’s energy for the dark days ahead. Thanks to everyone who helped. And a huge thanks to another long-time member, Mark Bimonte, who fixes all of our big refrigerators and freezers. He was literally on his way out of town for vacation when our walk-in freezer’s temperature began climbing into the 20s, with tons of meat inside. We called him with some panic, and he turned around and drove directly to us, trailering his jet ski, only to find that someone had turned the dial up by mistake. Oh Mark, we owe you one.
Great news this week: our Amish neighbor Dennis Shetler bought the cider press from Rulfs Orchard, and we will be able to press apples there, maybe even this year. We would also like to do a smaller scale cider press at distribution, but will need some help to make it happen. If you would like to volunteer to learn the system and lead it, please text Mark at 518-570-6399. We are also looking for apple harvest help and local apple trees to harvest. Let us know if you are a landlord to some apple trees — young or antique — and would like to contribute their fruit.
Some dark news from the wider world of farming. Danone, the company that owns Horizon Organic, is pulling out of the northeast. They will buy milk instead from the huge “organic” concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) in Texas. I’m sure desert feedlots hosting 10,000 cows is not what consumers picture when they buy Horizon’s organic milk. And this move leaves scores of organic dairy farms in Vermont, New Hampshire and New York with no buyer for their milk. Our hearts are with these farmers as they begin picking up the pieces.
The vegetable fields are so bountiful now. The tomato plants are holding up pretty well, sweet corn still producing. Goodbye to summer squash. It doesn’t look or taste good anymore. Hello to a new load of ground beef. Because it’s from Jersey cows you’ll notice it’s full of good healthy yellow fat, rich in beta-carotene. This color is a feature, not a bug. Thanks and goodbye for now to Izzy, as she returns to high school in New York City after an intense summer on the vegetable team, and to Sadie, who is returning to California after a delightful week. We hope to see both of you back here soon. And that’s the news from Essex Farm for this busy 35th week of 2021. Find us at 518-963-4613, firstname.lastname@example.org, on instagram at essexfarmcsa, kristinxkimball and farmerkimball, or here on the farm, any day but Sunday.
-Kristin & Mark Kimball