Essex Farm Note

Week 39, 2015

Miranda and I took a ride to the raspberries after school on Monday. The pony kicked up thick clouds of dust that hovered in the golden afternoon light. The air was full of the dry, decaying smells of autumn. Mary chased the crows around Pine field, leaving zigzag contrails of dust in her wake. Taylor was disking down the flowers in Mailbox field – the mighty sunflowers going down to meet the soil they had come from – and we stopped to pay our respects to their faded beauty. As the pony lipped the weeds at the edge of the field and Miranda held fast to his mane I reached down into the turned earth and found it was damp, somehow still holding water just under the dust. That stored moisture has helped germinate the millions of seeds that Scott planted all over the farm in the last two weeks: cover crops of rye, just now shoving up to the surface in a thick red haze, and of oats and peas, coming up in green regular rows. When I look at those young plants I see future nitrogen, and future carbon, and by extension the stash of organic matter that enables the soil to hold on to moisture despite weeks and weeks of very little rain. We moved on to Superjoy, where the crew was harvesting winter squash, filling the bucket of the skid steer. Delicata alone filled five large bins, and the butternut lay ready for pickup, stretched across the field in long, heavy windrows. Next door, the pumpkins were huge orange beacons under browned leaves.

Later in the week the potatoes came in. I think potatoes probably give us the highest yield of calories for the number of calories invested – which is why they historically have made such a good staple crop for so many people around the world. The horses planted them, the horses hilled them, and the horses dug them. Kirsten and her crew did some heroic late-season hand weeding, which made it easier for the horse-drawn digger to move through the soil and pull the potatoes to the surface, where the whole (human) crew pitched in to pick them up. The sight of all those tons of potatoes put me in the mood for them again, in the kitchen. We had purple potato hash for breakfast, diced fine and cooked in lard with a lot of paprika, some garlic, and a handful of rosemary. I see gratins, and latkes, and mash in our near future.

Breaking news! We have Essex Farm yarn available in the farm store for the first time today. Barbara, our resident fiber expert, says the quality is excellent. It is 100% from our own Dorset and Polypay sheep, processed at a small fiber mill just across the lake in Richmond, VT. Here’s to local mittens, scarves, and sweaters. It’s $15/skein for non-members, $13/skein for members or in wholesale amounts. We also have large sheets of wool batting for $20 each, which can be used to stuff your own quilts, pillows, and comforters, or for craft or felting projects.

Sam Ehrenfeld will lead a discussion and demonstration about beef next week during distribution. Sam is a skilled and experienced butcher who started his career right here at Essex Farm, and has worked in shops in New York and Vermont for the last several years. Don’t miss the opportunity to learn more about beef from Sam. He’s the real deal. And that is the news from Essex Farm for this golden 39th week of 2015.

-Kristin & Mark Kimball


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