Week 5, 2018 | Kristin Kimball | Feb 3, 2018

February. I love this month, when all the potential of the year begins to shift into action. It’s still winter, hard-frozen and covered in snow, but the light is getting stronger. We cross into ten hours of daylight, gaining three minutes a day. Crops that will be transplanted to the fields in April or May will start life in flats this month – onions, shallots, leeks, scallions, herbs, and the first lettuce. We will also direct-seed the south greenhouse to cold-hardy greens – my beloved mâché, spinach, maybe some chives, all for spring harvest. Sugaring is likely to begin before February is over. The sap buckets are already washed, the wagon is ready and the harnesses are waiting on the tack room wall.

Mark says I tell too many dog stories. Just one more, OK? On Wednesday evening, I was late going out to feed the Great Pyrenees, and when I got to the sheep pen, I saw two waving white tails instead of three. Jake sometimes falls deeply asleep in the middle of the flock, so I walked the whole pen, peering around sheep, but no Jake. The fence was fine, no sign of how he might have escaped. I walked every pasture in the dark, calling, and then drove around the farm and all the way to town. Finally, there was nothing left to do but go to bed. The next morning, Mark ran out to the sheep pen, while I took the kids to school. And there was Jake, lying on a comfy tarp just outside the fence, but so tired and sore from his night’s adventure he didn’t get up, just lifted his head, yawned, then snuggled back down. We think he got out by scaling a new water trough, which was situated near where I’d hung a bucket full of very tempting dog food on the other side of the wall, out of sight but certainly not out of smell. How he spent his hours at large, we’ll never know, but the coyotes seem to be giving us a wider berth.

We ate tortillas every which way this week, but the best might have been the simplest: toasted until fragrant over the gas stove flame, then eaten with black beans, hot sauce, sour cream, and cilantro. We’re getting loads of good feedback, and are working hard to find an affordable way to have them made fresh each week, from our own corn. We have them in the share again today, hooray.

We have many belated welcomes to make. Courtney’s husband Russ Schneider has joined us for some part time office work. We’re so glad he’s now firmly planted in our community. Scott Hoffman is back! He and his wife Aubrey met here, and now run The Family Cow Farmstand in Hinesburg, VT. They have the whole raw milk operation down to a lacto-T, so Scott is here, on special projects. He researched, sourced and set up a new root washer, a tool we’ve been talking about for five years. It’s a beauty. We have missed him and Aubrey and are so glad to have them back in the orbit. We’re also saying a huge warm hello to Katie Culpepper, who has joined our management team, tasked with increasing the quality and diversity of the share. She ran the farm at the North Country School, and arrives with mad, mad skills. Finally, welcome Matthew Pounds, who came from a fast-growing CSA in West Virginia with interest in diversified year round CSA (that’s us). It’s great to have him here. And that’s the news from Essex Farm for this deep breath 5th week of 2018. Find us at essexfarm@gmail.com, 518-963-4613, on Insta at kristinxkimball and essexfarmcsa, or on the farm, any day but Sunday.

–Kristin & Mark