A Banner Year…for mushrooms.

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Essex Farm Note

Week 26, 2015

The solar panels are locked into their most horizontal position now, faces to the sun in its high-in-the sky trajectory. We’re here whenever you choose to appear, sun, they say, and very well washed, too. Yes, the rain hit us again this week. It poured on Sunday, and again on Tuesday and Wednesday night, with another significant storm predicted for this weekend. Everyone’s a little sick of damp clothes under hot rubber pants and coats. We can transplant herbs and brassicas in the rain, move animals, slaughter chickens, and prune and trellis tomatoes, all of which was done this week. But we can’t make hay. Not in the rain, nor when it has recently rained, nor when rain is coming. That is the biggest problem at this point, because the more time passes, the more mature the grasses become, reducing the hay’s nutritional quality, and reducing the amount of precious second cut we can get before the sun loses its strength again in the fall. Let’s all hope for clear weather next week.

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The vegetables in the field are still fine, though the cabbages, Brussels sprouts, and dry beans in the northwest section of the field, where the soil is heaviest, have yellowed just a bit. Strawberries are doing well, shell peas are fattening, celery is thrilled, corn is thriving, and it sure is a fine year for mushrooms. We don’t grow them here but our neighbor Ron has been bringing them over by the bagful, from his home plot of oysters and winecaps. And Walker Cammack, of Walker’s Goods from the Woods, said it is a banner year for wild mushrooms, too. He brought us a sample of strange, delicious white coral mushrooms. My favorite dinner of the week was homemade egg noodles topped with loads of mushrooms, green onion and chard cooked with sage, butter, chicken stock and white wine, and finished with a few gratings of Barbara’s cheese. Meanwhile, Mark and Miranda have been occupied by fishing for crayfish in the pond. They made a trap, baited with a chicken bone. Half an hour after the trap went in, it came out with a dozen crayfish inside. Mark boiled them with salt, garlic, onion, old bay, and lemon, but I’m sorry to say that supply far outpaced demand. Not even the long lunch table of hungry farmers could be persuaded to eat them with much enthusiasm.

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We brought home three new dairy cows this week. Sweet-faced Jerseys, a bit smaller than most of our girls, certified organic, from Harris Farm, in Westport. Cows are creatures of habit and change is stressful for them, so I hope they have an easy transition to our herd and our systems. So far, all is well. Their milk should help round out our supply, which has been a little low this year.

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I have been really loving the chard this week. We moved away from the colorful and now ubiquitous variety called Bright Lights, to a green heirloom variety called Argentata. Bright Lights is a star at the farmers market because it is so striking when raw, but it loses its color when cooked, and I think Argentata is far better tasting, with less of the oxalic acid bite. We had a nice harvest of spinach this week, too. Time to start getting some chard and spinach in the freezer. The lettuce has been abundant and delicious. Last harvest of asparagus is scheduled for this week. Peas coming next week, hooray. And that is the news from Essex Farm for this wringing-wet 26th week of 2015.                                                 -Kristin & Mark Kimball

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Good old Pancake the pig is all grown up now. He’s the one with the black ears.

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Beets, lettuce, favas, peas.

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Penelope the cat enjoying a sunny moment on the Farm Store steps.

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Strawberry harvest. Those rows look very long at picking time.

 

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