Solstice

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The Egg Department, off to work at sunrise.

Essex Farm Note

Week 25, 2016

Here we are at the solstice, and doesn’t it feel like it? The forecast calls for clear weather until Monday, and it has been clear all week, so we, like every other farmer in the region, are maniacally making hay. We have 300 large round bales of grass hay down now, and about half of it baled. I love these long days of focused, urgent effort, when everyone works together to get it in before rain, and large bets are laid on which way the clouds blow, and whether or not the repair on the baler will hold. We switched from square bales to round bales a couple of years ago, so we no longer spend sweaty summer evenings running through the field, throwing bales onto the wagon, then loading and stacking them in the hot barn loft, dizzy with effort and trying not to get walloped on the head when a bale fell off the elevator. My memories of those times are all happy ones, even the night when I tried to keep pace with Matt Volz, stacking, and got sick on the new green bales. Haying is not so demanding now, physically, but there is still that enjoyable sense of urgency and unity that I have always loved.

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Mowing

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It only breaks if you use it. Pay attention, girls, and you might learn to fix it.

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Family dinner in the field. Still hours to go before dark.

Vegetable team, led by Kirsten Liebl, is feeling the solstice burn. They are weeding, transplanting, and copiously harvesting now, all at once. There is so much coming in from the field for distribution today, Anya and Isabelle came in at 5 this morning to get a jump on it in the cool dawn. The obvious star of the share this week is the strawberry. Early Glow is still booming, and the Jewel variety is beginning to ripen now. The first bloom on each plant sends forth one enormous berry, which our girls call the King Berry, and all week they have been grazing on them, each berry the size of their fist or better. I made panna cotta for team dinner tonight, and as I type I have a pot of berries cooking down into strawberry sauce, to go on top. But there’s only so much sweet red perfection one can take, and it is the B-list celebrity I’m most interested in this week: rhubarb, in savory garb. I made a version of Martha Rose Shulman’s chicken tagine (NYT cooking) last night, and rhubarb gave it that pop of brightness that pomegranate molasses brings to Persian cooking, or preserved lemon to Moroccan.

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I have more to report but I’m out of time now, so that’s the brief news from Essex Farm for this make-hay-while-the-sun-shines 25th week of 2016.

-Kristin & Mark Kimball

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No filter on this shot, just sunset through a mean cloud. There was some hail in it, but it just missed us.

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Clover, birdsfoot trefoil, happy cows.

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