Essex Farm Note
Week 50, 2016
The temperature dropped into the twenties after midnight, as predicted. Yesterday was a scramble to bring in the leeks before they froze into the ground for eternity. They were in Newfield, in two very long rows. I arrived near dusk, and Anya, Taylor and Kirsten had been at them since morning. When you are crouched in cold mud, pulling cold leeks out of cold ground with cold hands, long rows feel like endless rows. I’d come just in time to top the greens from the last fifty feet with a sharp little blade – which gave me an unfair level of satisfaction for such a tiny commitment. The winter leeks’ leaves fan out and hold leek-scented rainwater that soaks mitts, sleeves, pants and skin, so that soon, everything smells of eau de leek, and will for some time, no matter how hard you scrub. After a day of aging it is a strangely not-terrible perfume. The potatoes grew next door to the leeks in Newfield this year, and I think that the plants were aspiring from the beginning to become what I’m making for team dinner tonight: potato leek soup, an elegant dish that is so much more than the sum of its few humble parts.
We spent Sunday bringing in the last of the cauliflower, broccoli, spinach, mizuna, chard, and arugula. Mark and I took the morning shift, and Anya and Phil worked from afternoon until dark. I was gripped by the same mania for a bargain that WILL NOT LAST that propels the Black Friday shoppers, and wasted half an hour filling a bin with handfuls of scraggly cold-nipped cilantro, which wasn’t worth the effort it took to get it into the freezer. The other harvests were a different story. The cauliflower was especially satisfying. Each plant yielded a snowy gift hidden inside a tight wrapping of green leaves. You cut the thick stem at the base of the head but leave the protective leaf wrapping. Our bags filled quickly, and we tipped them gently into the bins, so they would not bruise, all the while grazing on a row of spinach as sweet as candy. The spinach! Anya and Phil brought in 25 bins of it; most of it went to the Hub for freezing, but don’t miss it fresh this week. It is weird to have reached the second week in December with so much fresh produce still available, but nobody is complaining about it.
Mark trooped out to Firehouse Field after dark last night to shut the hens into their mobile coops and pull up the electronet stakes. The hens will be in and around East Barn for the winter. In the dairy herd, Fly and Beatrice both calved this week. Fly was a first-timer, and is settling in nicely to her new job, milking; Cori and Kite’s pregnancy tests both came back positive on the first insemination. Ben “Better-Than-A-Bull” Christian shares credit for that with Alex and Morgan, who are doing a super job with heat detection.
We hope you’ll come by the farm store for your holiday shopping. Everyone loves maple syrup – it’s the perfect hostess gift. ($8/half pint). We have yarn ($15/skein) from our flock’s own wool, as well as wool batting ($20/2lbs) for felting projects, hand spinning, dyeing, or as filling for homemade quilts, pillows, or throws. Members get a 10% discount at the store, and NYC members can add store orders to their forms for delivery.
–Kristin & Mark Kimball