Week 12, 2018 | Kristin Kimball | Mar 23, 2018

We’re past the spring equinox now, closer to the light half of the year than to the dark. But here in the North Country, the return of light doesn’t correlate with the return of heat. We had lows in the single digits this week, and had to scramble to place heaters, protect pipes, and keep water open for animals – chores that are usually well over by this time of year. We also postponed shearing, which was scheduled for Monday morning, when the windchill registered below zero. The sheep and the shearers were relieved, I think. We’ve rescheduled for next Monday. The first lambs will hit the ground in a month. Meanwhile, the greenhouses are helping make up the lag between light and heat. Who needs spring break in Florida when you can have spring break in the greenhouse, where it’s 80 degrees and humid, and you’re surrounded by happy young plants? Most days, we have to keep the doors cracked to stop it from getting too hot in there. Seeding for transplant continues at a fast pace, and the direct seeded spinach in the south greenhouse is growing nicely. If all goes well and the field drainage catches up with the snow melt, it’ll only be about 5 short weeks before we’re planting the onion starts into the field.

The Great Fencing Project is nearly half finished now. Scott, who has organized much of it, pointed out that we’re stringing enough wire, in linear feet, to reach from here to Plattsburgh. I am excited to have six strand perimeter fencing that will – or should — hold every class of animal from geese and lambs to cows and draft horses. In other animal news, we moved all the pigs off the pasture this week. The melting conditions made it too muddy and wet for them. They’re under cover now, and look happier. We’re getting braced for the arrival of our first batch of chicks, making improvements in the East Barn, where we brood them until they are big enough to get onto pasture. We’re pouring a new concrete slab in there this week and pulling out all the equipment for cleaning.

In the kitchen, we’ve been eating a lot of tortillas this week. We toast them directly over the gas burner of our kitchen stove, using tongs to flip them just when they start to char, but you can also heat them in a skillet or in the oven. Some of our favorite fillings to date have been the simplest ones: black beans with sour cream and some cilantro (from the freezer), plus a spoonful of our fermented hot sauce. Or pulled pork, cooked all day in the slow cooker with cumin and garlic and topped, multiculturally, with some tart kimchi or kraut. Last night, we had them with seasoned ground beef and onions, plus some Juliet tomatoes we had in the freezer, cooked down into a sauce. Sometimes we eat them for breakfast, with scrambled eggs. But Jane’s number one favorite treat is cutting the tortillas into thin slices and frying them until they’re crispy, and putting them on top of things or just eating as a snack – a technique she has now perfected. We have heard a lot of good feedback about tortillas, and have been busy thinking about what else we can add to the share. House-made tempeh and tofu (from our own soybeans) are under consideration. Let us know your thoughts. And that’s the news from Essex Farm for this bright cold 12th week of 2018. Find us at 518-963-4613, essexfarm@gmail.com, at our website essexfarmcsa, or on the farm, any day but Sunday.

-Kristin & Mark Kimball