Week 3, 2013
After bragging to Mark about how dang successful I’ve been at avoiding illness this year, I’m down with fever and sniffles today, so a quick note before I crawl back to bed. Last Sunday, Mark and I rode Jay and Jack down to the cattle barn, then circled back through the swamp, where Jay dropped his head to sip the cold, clear water, and then home, over Monument field. The ground was almost bare of snow and water was running in little rills over the half-frozen ground. The drainage pipe at the low end of Monument Field was as full as I’ve ever seen it, drawing the melt off of 30 acres. We wouldn’t mind a bit more snow now, to insulate the ground and the perennial plants from extreme temperature changes.
In the kitchen, I re-discovered the utility of cheap beer this week. I made a big pot of pork and beans, with hocks and a beautiful piece of shoulder, navy beans, onion, garlic, carrot, and celeriac; all the flavors came together when I added a can of Genesee. Then, on Wednesday, I roasted a chicken, and as I was making the gravy, I realized I didn’t have the white wine I usually add, so I used a can of Busch instead. We still have a case of the special edition cans that were distributed during deer season, hunter orange. You’ve heard of red eye gravy? I’m calling this redneck gravy. And it was fabulous. Fancy beer is too hoppy, and adds bitterness. A good old boy American lager is just right. In other kitchen news, I’m doing another batch of nixtamal today, for tortillas. We’ve printed out some instructions for making nixtamal and masa for those of you who have been asking.
Liam is here until he and Jenny leave to travel in Colombia at the end of the month, and everywhere I see a horse these days, there’s Liam: ground driving Jay and Jack single and double, shadowing Chad while he pulls logs or puts calks on his horses’ feet, joining Mark to skid round bales into the dairy barn with Big Abby the mare. It makes me happy to see his desire to learn these skills. I know the other farmers are just as eager, but they are too busy with their farm duties to be with the horses as much as Liam is right now.
Cory got the last pig butchered this week, a triumph. It has been a busy, porky two months in the butcher shop. The rest of the winter should be a little bit easier on him. There is also beef in the share this week, from a cow we bought from Steve Martin, a grass-fed seasonal dairyman who milks all by himself in Westport. We invited Steve to team dinner last Friday, and interrogated him about his herd and his practices. Jenny and I are fishing for an invitation to his farm, to see how he handles his nurse cows and their calves. In other dairy news, we are losing confidence in the dairy bull, who is supposed to be breeding our cows right now. Every time he makes the attempt, he glances off-target, landing to the right. We suspect he has a physical defect. (Note to self: in future do not google bull penis deformity images before breakfast.) And that is the news from Essex Farm for this brisk 3rd week of 2013.
-Kristin & Mark Kimball