Firecrackers

Essex Farm Note

Week 27, 2013

 It’s fair to say we’re in disaster mode at this point. We got another .7” of rain yesterday, and though I’m away, Mark reports that it’s raining again right now. The storm clouds have been fickle. Reber Rock Farm, just 5 miles to our west, got 2” in the storm that brought us .7”, and Westport, 10 miles to our south, got none. The National Weather Service is forecasting another week of heavy rain and thunderstorms. What do you do with such weather? The best you can, I suppose. We’re recalculating our plans, both micro and macro. E.g, we’ll be putting more purchased organic fertilizer on the vegetables next week, to make up for nutrients that have been washed away. The team transplanted the fall brassicas to the space between the rows of strawberries in Superjoy, which is drained, instead of the undrained Middle Road field, where we’d planned to put them. The strawberries themselves are finished for the year, thanks to the extreme weather. We’re debating what to do with the broiler chickens. They are on Firehouse Field, which is one of our wet ones, and we’re seeing a lot of coccidiosis, a disease that thrives in warm, wet conditions. It is not usually fatal but it scars the intestines and stunts growth. You’ll have noticed, members, that the chickens are much smaller than usual this year. We’re considering different options for the next batches of chicks, including moving them off pasture to the dry, covered barnyard. There’s nothing that can be done about haymaking. It’s difficult to watch the uncut hay fields grow over-mature and less nutritious with every passing day. It’s a spiritual lesson, I suppose, in learning to accept the forces beyond our control, and a good intellectual and agricultural challenge to figure out how best to mitigate the damage. We are focusing on what we do have, and how best to use it. And for now, members, you are in good shape. It’s not this year but next year that weighs heavy on us. The share is still beautiful and plentiful, and we have the cushion of time to figure out the best plan for the future. Of the last four years, three have been extremely wet, with two of them setting historical records, so our strategy must take into account the possibility of shifting weather patterns. We believe that diversity equals resilience, and if we’re anything, we are diversified. Not to mention stubborn, resourceful and determined.

Sugar snaps in the share today! These are not shell peas, mind you, but the kind you eat whole, pods and all. Just snap off the stem end and pull off the strings. I like them raw and I love them steamed or sautéed with a little garlic and soy sauce. We also have a bumper harvest of bok choi. This tasty vegetable is a real superfood, packed with vitamins and antioxidants and also easy to prep and cook. It freezes well. Blanch for 2 minutes, chill in ice water for 2 minutes, drain, bag and freeze.

I hear the whole Essex Farm team took part in the 4th of July parade yesterday. There were drums, guitars, dirty (literally) go-go dancers and flames deployed all the way down Main Street. At the judges’ stand, Mark juggled torches and the farmers formed a human pyramid, which was enough to win the prize for best float. The only casualty was Mark’s nose hairs, which needed trimming anyway. The trophy is the shiniest object in the farm office now. Finally, members, please remind your summer resident friends that we have summer shares available! Details at 518-963-4613 or essexfarm@gmail.com, or on the farm, any day but Sunday.                                                                                                                                                  –Kristin &Mark Kimball

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