Week 9, 2019 | Kristin Kimball | Mar 2, 2019

A truck just pulled in and dumped twenty yards of potting soil from Vermont Compost onto a tarp north of the greenhouses. Zohar is out there now, making flats with the soil blocker. By the end of the day we’ll have 80 flats of onion seeds in the germination chamber. And so now (as Anne likes to say at this time of year, and despite the low of zero this morning) let the wild rumpus start! The sun is out and soon the greenhouse will be full and we will be listening for the spring peepers, looking for the day the soil in the field is warm and dry enough to work.

We had a delightful dinner with Margaret Morris of Glengarry Cheesemaking this week. Margaret runs a cheesemaking supply store, teaches and writes about cheesemaking, and produces world-class cheeses. Mark went to see her creamery in Ontario earlier in the month, to look at a cheese vat, and we were happy that Margaret returned the visit. She brought some delicious samples of several cheeses – including a cheddar, a gouda, and two different bleus – and she said some nice things about our cows and their milk, which she found deliciously rich and clean-tasting. We sometimes forget how special it is to have 100% Jersey milk from grass fed cows, so it was gratifying to hear it from one of the world’s cheese stars. We’re looking forward to seeing her again as we develop our new dairy products this year. Mark also went to a class in dairy food safety for artisan cheesemakers this week, put on by Cornell Cooperative Extension. One of the instructors, Barb Williams, came to the farm afterward for tea, and we got to show her around and hear her thoughts on how we should proceed. We also had a great visit with our state dairy inspector, Neil, who is always helpful, and is working with us to pull together a workable plan. Between Beth, Margaret and Neil I feel like we are three big steps closer to getting our new line of products rolling. Meanwhile, here on the farm, we’re missing Barbara Kunzi, who does much of our dairy work, but for the best reason ever: she’s biking across New Zealand for two months. Both islands! We can’t wait to hear her stories.

It’s love season in the pig herd. We bought a boar named Ham Solo just before Valentine’s Day, and turned him in with nine nubile gilts. He seemed overwhelmed at first, but he’s in the zone now. We have been buying in piglets for the last couple years so it will be nice to have our own litters again. May the force be with you, Ham. Swine gestation is 114 days (three months, three weeks and three days) so we are looking for the first piglets around the 8th of June.

I did my own private cookoff contest in the farmhouse kitchen this week, pitting vegetables roasted in olive oil against vegetables roasted in ghee. The panel of judges numbered one (me) but ghee won handily. The flavor was better, and ghee’s smoking point is much higher than olive oil so you can safely crank the oven and get some color on the vegetables. Roasted carrots and roasted sweet potatoes are big hits in our house this winter. Cut peeled carrots or sweet potatoes (or a mix!) into ¾x6 inch batons, toss them with melted ghee, season with salt and pepper, and roast in a single layer on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper in a 450 degree oven until they are soft, a little blistered and have begun to brown. Adjust the salt before serving. And that is the news from Essex Farm for this bright cold 9th day of 2019. Find us at 518-963-4613, essexfarm@gmail.com, on the web and insta at essexfarmcsa. Mark posts his own unplugged version of our farm world on insta at kimball8353.

-Kristin & Mark Kimball