Essex Farm Note, week 35

The cantaloupe melons are coming in, their flesh the color of mangoes, sweet and precious as these last days of summer. I harvested bushels and bushels of them this morning with Lindsay and Amy and Lindsay’s mom, Martha. Lindsay split one in half on the wagon with a harvest knife, and dug the seeds out with its tip. I ate a sun-warm slice and then another and wiped the juice from my face with my shirt. To eat a perfect melon is one thing, but to eat a perfect melon in a field chock full of them, from a platter the size of a wagon, is altogether something else. The former is tinged with longing — a single melon is a finite thing. The later is the taste of glorious abundance, and one of those sweet rewards a farm life gives you, to balance out the inevitable hardships.

It was a breathless week here. Harvest is coming into full swing, and we’re in the middle of two giant construction projects. Meanwhile, poor Jenny is out with septic bursitis in her knee. She is on hardcore antibiotics, still limping, and needs some good rest and TLC. You know how you never really realize exactly how much you need, say, your right hand, until you have it in a sling? That’s kind of what it feels like with Jenny out of commission. She is a quiet, cheerful and fiercely efficient farmer and she takes care of so many details here, it’s dizzying. Mark and Amy and I filled in for her at milking, and Jane and Miranda and I helped in the milkhouse, and everyone did a little extra on all fronts to keep the farm above water. It’s dangerous to single out any one of the farmers for special recognition because every single person here is working so hard and so well, but it seems like a good moment to send Jenny some extra love and appreciation, and wishes for a fast recovery.

I dearly love the shift from high summer to late summer, because it brings some of my favorite foods back to the kitchen. Besides the melons we have plentiful leeks in the share today, and more green beans, potatoes, eggplant, and beautiful carrots, with onions not far behind. The tomatoes are slowing down but there is an infinite amount of Juliet, the little oblong tomato, in the field. Members, if you want them for putting up, please go to the field and help yourselves. We also have edamame for the first time today. These are edible soybeans, the one green vegetable that every child likes. Boil them in the pods in very salty water until they are tender, then pop the beans out with your teeth. Don’t eat the pods. If you like these guys (and who doesn’t?) then now is the time to start putting some in the freezer. To freeze, blanch the pods for 5 minutes; drain and dry them before putting them in ziplock freezer bags so they won’t stick together. We have a LOT of edamame in the field this year and it will all be coming in very quickly – I’d guess in the next two or three weeks – so get your pots a’boiling.

Mark has spent the week down at the new covered barnyard, along with a crew of excavators and builders. I haven’t been down in the last few days but I hear the walls are up and it is starting to look like a very big barn. Don’t forget the potato weeding party tomorrow, from 9am to 2pm. We’ll serve boiled potatoes in the field for lunch. Everyone is welcome! And that is the news from Essex Farm for this breathless 25th week of 2012.

-Kristin & Mark Kimball

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