Week 1, 2020 | Kristin Kimball | Jan 3, 2020

I adore beginnings. It’s not the boozy end of a year that I look forward to but the washed clean slate of the next day, when the horizon feels entirely clear of regret, and full of potential. And here we are at the start of a shiny new decade. Welcome to 2020, members. Thank you so much for joining us. We are delighted to feed you.

Mark and Beth butchered several pigs in the last week of the old year, so we celebrated the new one by making scrapple. Do you know how much fun it is to make scrapple? OK, back one step, do you know what scrapple is? In short, it’s the world’s most perfect breakfast food. You have your whole grains, fat and protein all in one neat package, crisp on the outside, soft on the inside. It’s thrifty and tasty and filling enough to fuel an active morning of work. We haven’t made a big batch of scrapple in several years, and it was so nice to be able to do it at the Hub, where the kitchen is scaled to manage such a large project. Here’s how it’s done, farm style: Begin with four skinned pigs’ heads. This alone is a noble and dramatic way to start a year. It makes me happy to make delicious use of every bit of a pig, and there is something about a head that insists on acknowledging where it came from, which I think is a healthy thing to reflect on. Remove the eyeballs (interesting dog treats) and ears (wax is bitter) and quarter the heads with a bandsaw. Soak them in salted water for several hours, drain and rinse. Next, add to your heads four pig hearts, four pig tongues, eight hocks, a large hunk of liver, and any pork scraps that have not yet found another purpose. Cover with water and simmer until you can easily separate the meat from the bones. Reserve the broth, and grind the boned meat fine. Add the meat back to the broth, weigh it, return to a boil, and stir in a 4:1 mix of cornmeal:buckwheat flour at a rate of 7 parts meat + broth to 1 part grain by weight. Watch for lumps. Simmer, stirring constantly for 20 minutes or until the mixture begins to pull from the sides of the pan, as in polenta. Add salt, pepper, sage, marjoram, bay leaf, and onion powder, and stir, and taste, and correct seasonings. Then pour into a high sided pan to cool into gorgeous gelatinous sliceable slabs. That is scrapple. To prepare it, cut into slices, and fry in a little lard until it is crisp on the first side, then flip and repeat on the other. I like it best with maple syrup on top and an egg on the side. Let us know how you feel about it, members. We have a lot more pigs to butcher this winter and I’d be happy to do this again, if you like it.

What else? It’s been unseasonably warm. The ground was soft enough to dig parsnips this week. What a strange year, but the parsnips will be delicious. The rams have been busy with the ewes. We have more new calves in the dairy herd.  We’re considering moving the beef herd from the covered barnyard to Field One if the ground freezes hard again, to letting them graze on bales staged in rows there. That would save on some bedding, give them a chance to get some sun on their backs, and add fertility to that field. The downside is that it’s easy to churn a field to mud if the temperatures come up fast. We shall see what the weather does. Thanks to all the farmers who stayed over the holidays to keep the farm running smoothly. We deeply appreciate your work. And that’s the news from Essex Farm for this fresh first week of 2020. Find us at 518-963-4613, essexfarm@gmail.com, on the web, on insta, on facebook, or here on the farm, any day but Sunday.


 -Kristin & Mark Kimball