Week 37, 2021|Kristin Kimball|September 17, 2021

Farming itself is only half of it. The other half is the wild things, and when the two intersect, we get surprises. Miranda and I saddled up for a ride on Saturday, she on her trusty Abby Belle, 21 years young now, and I on Beauty, the Morgan mare I just bought from Lilly D to be my own. Beauty’s foal, Sparky, born in July, came along. The joy Sparky takes in the freshness of her incarnation is great. She is testing out all the ways her little body can move. High-stepping trot, flying kick, rear snort and strike, and my favorite, a full out gallop across an open field followed by a twisting leap over nothing, all four feet in the air at once. Abby Belle, who is less freshy incarnated, pins her ears at the silliness. 

As we rounded the pond heading toward the raspberries, we noticed the goats’ electric net was oddly flattened at the far end. Something was on top of it, pressing it to the ground. From a distance it looked like a large mossy rock. Closer, it became something else. Mossy indeed, but not a rock. It was a snapping turtle, a foot wide across her shell. She’d tried to crawl over the fence, heading to the pond, and had become entwined. I imagined her ancient reptilian brain confronting this newfangled obstacle, compelled to move forward on its course despite the strange jolt of electricity. This time of year, she was probably in search of a mate, or maybe scouting a hibernation site. Did you know snappers here in the north don’t breathe all winter, when their ponds are covered in ice? They can stick their heads out of the underwater mud to exchange carbon dioxide for oxygen through their mouths and throats rather than their lungs, or if that isn’t enough they can shortcut the whole process and burn sugar and fats anaerobically. How amazing is that? But this one was in a pickle. I didn’t know how long she’d been there, getting a shock every second, and I wasn’t sure she was alive. 

We cantered back to Mark, who was working nearby, and he turned off the fence, then came to help. He lifted the turtle, and Miranda untangled her, careful to avoid the long sharp claws and the beak. Her leathery legs waved in the air. She wasn’t dead, just a little stunned. They carried her to the pond and she swam off. I hope she found what she was looking for.  

Our favorite meals this week came from a good old roasted chicken, served on the first night with mushroom gravy, and the next shredded on tacos, topped with tomatillo salsa. The most useful technique for roasted chicken is butterflying, or spatchcocking. It’s very easy as long as you have a good pair of scissors – quality poultry shears are what you want. Oxo and Henckels both make good ones. There’s a spatchcock demo video here. The benefits to this technique are speed — it cuts your cooking time nearly in half — and quality. A flat chicken cooks more evenly, so breast meat won’t become dry and cottony before the rest of the bird is done. 

Have you tried cooking with cider yet? I’m making pulled pork slow-cooked in cider today, something like this, and if you’re in the mood for a fall project there are lots of traditional American dessert recipes that use boiled cider. Here’s a nice compilation

Finally, the fennel is perfect and abundant right now. Our favorite ways to prepare it are braised in olive oil, like this, or raw and sliced micro-thin for a salad, like this

Mark is leading a walking farm tour here this Saturday, September 18th, departing from the driveway at 2pm. This is part of the Adirondack Harvest Open Farm week. He’s got a lot planned, including some giveaways and a visit with Tofu the lawn piglet. That is the news from Essex Farm for this miraculous 37th week of 2021. Find us at 518-963-4513, essexfarm@gmail.com, on instagram at essexfarmcsa, kristinxkimball, farmerkimball, or on the farm, any day but Sunday  

 

-Kristin & Mark Kimball