Week 38, 2021|Kristin Kimball|September 24, 2021

Quill, oh Quill. He’s English Shepherd, two years old now and not moving much closer to being a stand-up citizen. Miranda took him into the sugarbush on Saturday. Miranda, who loves a rebel spirit, has a lot of love for Quill, and had bought him a harness and retractable leash with her birthday money, so he was on a leash. Fifteen minutes later she was back, leashless, and dogless. Quill had flushed some deer in the woods, yanked the leash out of her hand, and disappeared into the thick, thorny brush. 

There ensued four stressful hours of bushwhacking, searching nearby fields, and alerting all the neighbors. Nothing. Afternoon was shifting to evening. Logically, I knew he must be entangled by the long leash in the sugarbush, but he wasn’t barking. We went back to the house to retrieve Mary, who is also an English Shepherd, but older and wiser. Maybe she could find him. She gamely dove through the prickly brush, sniffing, circling. We followed, listening. Finally, one high yip. Just one. Miranda and I centered on the sound, calling, like a very frustrating game of Marco Polo when Polo refuses to play by the rules. We were brush-blind, thorn-scratched, mosquito-bit and weary. 

The answer to unanswered questions is always, be still. When we were, there came one more high bark, and, looking, looking, I saw a flash of white fur between leaves, far off down the hill. It was the stripe of his nose. We pressed through thorns and brambles and the blown wild lettuce with its million-hooked stems and the dry clinging hitchhikers which are in their moment of perfection and abundance and got to him. His ruff was a thick beard of hitchhikers. His white nose was scratched. He had trampled the brush to the limit of what the entangled leash allowed. We patiently untangled him. He must be glad to see us. Surely he’d be so happy to get home. 

Home was the last thing on his young mind, apparently. When I unclipped the leash from his harness to navigate a tangle of chest-high brush, I learned what he had been thinking about, those four hours of constraint. The deer. Of course. As soon as he heard the leash clip click he took his opportunity and was off, again, disappearing into the deep thorns. Gone. 

It was another hour before we heard him again. The high yip of victory from far off in the woods. Maybe he switched quarries and treed something? Who knows. He has his own stubborn logic. We sat on the lawn in the last light, pulling thorns from our fingers, burrs from Mary’s fur, looking across the pond pasture and up the hill. Finally, the brush moved. The white stripe on his busy nose appeared in a break. He made his way through it, found the gate, ducked under, and came home.   

Besides the hitchhikers, sweet peppers are in their moment of perfection and abundance right now. The long, thin Jimmy Nardellos are my favorite, as usual. We’ve been loving them as a dip. Roast a tray of any of the sweet peppers under the broiler until soft with spots of black, blistered skin. When cool enough to handle, blend together with a clove or two of chopped garlic, some tahini, lemon juice and salt until smooth. Top with chopped cilantro. 

We’re on the lookout for a chore truck with a working heater, and some willing hands for harvest. Let us know if you have leads on either! That is the news from Essex farm for this equinox 38th week of 2021. Find us at 518-570-6399, essexfarm@gmail.com, on IG at essexfarmcsa, farmerkimball, and kristinxkimball, or on the farm, any day but Sunday. 


-Kristin & Mark Kimball