Week 2, 2022｜Kristin Kimball｜January 15, 2022
I am forced to lead with the cold this week, though it seems way too obvious. It’s -9 with -27 wind chill as I type. We haven’t seen these temperatures in a while, so we are alert for complications. Mark roused himself at 4am to run through the barnyard, checking on the storage spaces that hold our year’s worth of vegetables, to ensure they weren’t freezing. Nobody wants to lose a year’s worth of vegetables. Then at 6, on to the dairy barn, where Beth was trying to start the kerosene heater so she could milk without all the liquids turning to solids. The fan pressure sensor may have frozen, but they put it right, and milking has commenced. Now he’s off to do the animal rounds. They are acclimated to the cold, but wind is tough on them. I predict the biggest job of the morning will be to knock holes in thick ice to get them fresh water.
This brings me to a big non-weather related complication this week. Our trusty old Delaval 619 electric cream separator from the 1950s has finally, definitively, broken. We’ve been using this old beauty for more than 15 years. (Before that, we used an even older non-electric hand-cranked model.) We are having a terrible time finding a replacement. If any of our readers know of a stainless steel electric floor model cream separator in potentially working condition that’s been forgotten in the corner of someone’s barn or milkhouse, would you please let us know? We are exploring all options, anywhere. We’re in a tight spot. The separators currently being manufactured are either too small for us, or far too big, so old is our best bet. Mark is also looking into completely rebuilding the broken one, but it will require a machinist and a lot of good luck to get it going again. In the meantime, cream will be in short supply!
We lost a sheep to predation this week. I’m guessing it was a coyote, maybe a young coyote, because the sheep wasn’t consumed in the typical coyote way. We haven’t lost an animal to coyotes in years, thanks to the guard dogs. But we have had the flock separated into two groups for breeding, and since Captain died we only have one set of sheep guards, the 18 month old Great Pyrenees. These two are siblings and very tightly bonded so I’m wary of separating them, lest they jump the fence to be together. We’ve been switching the pair of them back and forth from one flock to the other each night. Predators hate change, so hopefully this will be enough to keep them nervous. The breeding flock will move down to the barnyard in about 8 weeks for shearing.
Last week’s story about the nine pig tongues needs an ending. I’m treading carefully here, because Mark is a little sensitive about this. He gets full credit for cooking them himself, after all. He insists, though, that tongues don’t need to be scrubbed or peeled, so they are now cooked, but still have a rind of very human-looking tongue skin on them (with taste buds and papillae). This is a little much for everyone in our house other than Mark, so he’s feasting on them all by himself. Nine tongues is a lot, even for him, so the dogs might get the leftovers after all.
Thanks to members who sent requests for unusual pig parts. So many of you want pig feet! I understand. They are scrumptious gelatinous treats. We don’t usually offer them because we skin our pigs rather than scalding and scraping them, which is a necessary step to make feet ready for cooking. When we have a little more leeway with labor in the butcher shop we’ll see if we can get some prepared for you. That’s the news from Essex Farm for this frigid 3rd week of 2022. Find us at 518-963-4613, firstname.lastname@example.org, on insta at essexfarmcsa, or on the farm, any day but Sunday.
-Kristin & Mark Kimball