Essex Farm Note
Week 26, 2014
We are sleep deprived and red-necked, the house is a total disaster, the lawn is shaggy, and we’ve been eating cold scraps out of a nearly barren fridge. And this is exactly the way it should be when things are going well at the end of June. The weather is behaving as if custom ordered. We pulled some long days haymaking last weekend. Mike, Mark, Matt, Luke, Aubrey and Scott got the last load of bales under cover minutes before the rain started. Then it fell gently, steadily, so that the plants and grasses, which had which had just begun to wish for water, raised their leaves up in gratitude. Now the sun is out again and the forecast is clear and hot; Jon Christian is aboard the Ford, laying down more hay, and Mark is tedding it right behind him.
Aubrey and a crew of four just finished harvesting the vegetables for today’s distribution, and are moving on to strawberries. We are adding garlic scapes and bok choi to the lineup today. Scapes are the shoots that we remove from the garlic plants this time of year, to put more energy into the heads; in the kitchen, they a gentler version of our favorite allium. Blend them into salad dressing, or sauté with vegetables, or use them any other way you would use garlic. Today’s bok choi looks a little rough due to flea beetle pressure, but to my eye the battle-scarred leaves are more beautiful than pesticide-perfect ones. Also, bok choi is one of the most nutrient dense vegetables you can eat, so load up. We also have lots of herbs in the share today – the year’s first basil, dill, and cilantro. We will have snap peas very soon, with zucchini to follow. Tomatoes, peppers, and eggplant have never looked better. The only sore spot is the sweet corn. We planted several successions, but each suffered from something – planter problems, over-cultivation, or poor germination. We might get a bit of a harvest but it won’t be what we’d hoped for.
In animal world, we had a litter of 9 piglets born to one of the first-time mother sows yesterday. We should have more to farrow in the next few days. First chicken harvest went smoothly yesterday; we have fresh chickens are in the share. It turns out Isabel Cochran, one of our fabulous summer interns, is a trapping prodigy. She cleared the granary of eight woodchucks in less than a week, using the hav-a-hart trap and various fruity baits. The dairy herd is a bit smaller now, as we’ve culled several cows over the last month. It’s always emotionally difficult to cull dairy cows, because we work so intimately with them, but it was the right thing for herd health and for the farm as a whole.
Now for the newsy news. Next Friday is our July 4th picnic, catered by Griddles, during distribution from 3:30 to 6:30. It is open to the public. $6/plate for members; non-member guests are $12/plate. BYO beverages, plates, flatware, and a picnic blanket if you wish, and please help spread the word! The following day is our summer farm tour, beginning at 10am. Details on the events page. The farm store is bursting with fresh greens, milk, eggs, maple syrup, and it is open daily from 8am to 6pm. And that is the news from Essex Farm for this fun! 26th week of 2014.
–Kristin & Mark Kimball