Post-solstice Maturity

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Essex Farm Note

Week 30, 2015

I was traveling last week and came back to find the farm subtly changed, having made the shift into post-solstice maturity. More yellows among the greens now, more grasses headed out with seed. Fat crickets, too, and swarms of flies that bother the cows and horses. In the field, things are ripe and begging to be picked: luscious raspberries, the last of the sugar snap peas, and the first slicing tomatoes. The garlic is beginning to set, the wheat is heavy and turning brown. We cut a few acres of hay this week, between showers; still waiting for that good clear window that we know will come. Right now it feels like the bounty will last forever, but it’s high time to begin thinking about what to put up. I am more grasshopper than ant, and lazy about it. My freezer is still echoing but I’m determined to at least get some herbs in there this week. They offer a lot of reward for very little effort. To freeze herbs, just wash and roughly chop, and use the immersion blender to blend into a paste with some oil and a little salt. Freeze in ice cube trays, then transfer to Ziploc bags. Cilantro and basil are my first priorities, followed by dill. This week we also have a bumper harvest of sugar snap peas. They are not as good after freezing as they are fresh, but frozen snap peas are much better than no snap peas. They should be briefly blanched then cooled and well-drained before freezing.

Mark and the girls were at a party on Wednesday evening and I was alone at home with the dogs. Suddenly I heard voices outside. Was that German? And why hadn’t I heard a car pull up? I looked out the window to see three Amish men in the driveway. They had come down from St. Lawrence county, via bus, ferry, and by foot, exploring locations for a new community. I was immoderately excited to show them around. We don’t often get guests who can look at our arsenal of horse drawn equipment and know what each piece is for, and nobody has ever admired our horse drawn finger weeder before. Mark and the girls came home, and we all had dinner. The combination of Mark’s rapid-fire commentary and the crisp Amish sense of humor made for an enjoyable evening. I have not laughed so hard in a long time. The men stayed in our cabin that night, and the next day drove around with Don, to get the lay of the land. They are looking in many places, but I hope we will see more of them. We owe a lot to Amish ingenuity for keeping draft animal technology alive, and for many other low- or no-fossil fuel techniques that the Amish have invented or propagated, like the water-powered can cooler we use to cool our milk. It would be transformative for us to have a vibrant horse-powered, small farm community in our region.

Finally, some neighborhood gossip. A few weeks ago, our neighbor Ron came by to say he saw a mountain lion run across the road and into our sugarbush. Mountain lions, of course, are not supposed to exist here; if the news had come from other sources I would be skeptical, but Ron knows his way around the local fauna. If he says it I believe him. And that is the news from Essex Farm for this drizzly 30th week of 2015. -Kristin & Mark Kimball
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