Harvest Home

Week 40, 2014

I’m home on a 24 hour visit, halfway through my writing residency at the Blue Mountain Center. The residency is heavenly but I have missed family and farm. I watched the leaves turning and falling around Blue Mountain Lake and knew that harvest must be in full swing. And so it has been. Mark, Scott and Luke tested out a new potato digger this week. Mark borrowed it from Golden Russet Farm across the lake in Vermont. It is larger than our old one, and bounces the dirt off of the potatoes with a different sort of tine, and also has a swiper on it that combs the weeds off to the side of the windrow, which makes it easier to pick up the potatoes. It took four strong horses to pull it, and it was still good heavy work for all of them. Now the potatoes – thirteen tons! – are in, waiting to be sorted and cleaned for storage, and the digger has gone over to Reber Rock Farm so that they can get their harvest in.

The frost that touched us the night before I left two weeks ago was as light as a frost can be, and patchy, and we’ve had no more since then. Some of the eggplant leaves were burned by it, and some of the leaves of the spent sweet corn, but the grasses are still green in the pastures, the flowers are still bright, and best of all, the raspberries are still fat and sweet. Come pick all you want, members, anytime.

Mark says the hens went on egg strike while I was gone. Production plummeted. A drop in production is normal in the fall, as the days get shorter and the weather gets colder, but this was a bigger drop than usual. Mike increased the protein in their ration, and Matt and Mark put lights in the coops, and production has bounced back to a reasonable level.

We have a large haul of broccoli in the share today, and the first fresh heads of cabbage. Some years we use organic sprays against cabbage loopers, but we did not do it this year, so you will find some innocuous green squirmy friends in both of those vegetables. You can soak them off in salty water before cooking, or you can just think of them as a touch of added protein. We really are in cruciferous plenty right now. Besides the broccoli and cabbage we have turnips, kohlrabi, and broccoli raab. I love thinking about how those crops have all evolved from the same family, selected for fat roots (turnip), or stems (kohlrabi) or leaves (cabbage) or flower (broccoli). In the kitchen, I like them best simply steamed, and served with butter.

And that is the news from Essex Farm for this glowing 40th week of 2014, in which Mark and I celebrated our 10th wedding anniversary. How can that be?

–Kristin & Mark Kimball

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