Steve’s Weekly Update for 5/26/10

Dear members,

Climatology 2010: It is May 26 and we are having another fairly hard frost at Mesa Top.    The freeze warning extended even to the Espanola Valley.  We had apple blossoms on our trees!  We’ll see if any survive.

Steve’s Soapbox:

This is a tough one folks.  I have quite a lot on my mind right now that is worthy of the soapbox.  I will try to take it slow and may need several weeks to roll this out for your consideration.  In the last few years we became acquainted with “too big to fail”, as it relates to our banks and some of our big industries.  During that same time I have come to another realization, almost the polar opposite.  I call it “too small to succeed”.

In the case of an enterprise or business or any multi-stakeholder scenario where there are not enough people or resources involved to reach a healthy balance of independence and interdependence, the situation is not likely to “succeed”.

I encounter many small farms that can certainly be praised for their success within certain limited frameworks, but overall, will never be a broad and holistically defined success.

My own farm is such an enterprise.  I realized this years ago and set out to build up the land base and the opportunities for agricultural and resource management along with it.  You have read about this previously as I whined on about debt and lack of access to capital.  But to build up the land base of the Farm, I have seen no other way to proceed.

It is looking like I cannot, where I am located now, ever get big enough to succeed:  to hire the best help, and pay them fairly, and cover the costs of the land, and generate enough activity to create healthy synergies in all directions.

My attempts to do this have placed me at odds with my neighbors as I try to create safe, quality, year round access to the farm, and also to reduce the debt through offering farm-friendly home sites.

I try my best to apply the lessons that I have learned over the years; lessons that I willingly and successfully share with so many of you and with farmers and ranchers and their advocates around the state, and around the country, but I seem to be unable to create enough progress in my own back yard.

It is time for a transformation.  It is a frightening time for me.  I hope that you can all keep me and Mesa Top Farm and its staff and also its unsympathetic, adversarial neighbors in your thoughts and prayers.  Who knows where it will all lead?  I will keep you posted.

This week’s Cow stories:  update on Mesa Top cows, Jim Miller Ayrshire projects and more:

I am kind of an “idiot” when it comes to my cows.  I do not play the game according to the strict rules of economic reality in cattle rearing.  My heifers are nearly 2 years old and are now being exposed to bulls for the first time.  I am not hurrying them.  I want them to breed, because producing babies and milk is how dairy cows “pay the bills,” but I have not been hurrying them.

Similarly I have held over older cows that have not bred for far longer than anyone in the “real world” of ranching would recommend.  (In the real world, one missed cycle and you are out!) I have held over bulls who do not appear to be effective breeders for longer as well.

Finally I am coming to grips with this and one cow and one bull who have not “contributed” except on the expense side for over 2 years are going to the processing plant.

I am sorry, but I have done all I can and it is time to “clean house” I root for all of my animals to “make a go of it”, to do what they need to do to contribute to the herd health and welfare.  I give them the best conditions that I am able to give (considering how small and limited in resources I am…) But when they do not, they have to go.

We will have plenty of grassfed ground beef from Mesa Top farms as a result.

This week’s cheese share update:

This week we will have a package each of Lazy Ewe Goat Feta and a package of Native Pastures Organic Asadero.

We are up to 8 cheese shares now and growing steadily.  Cheese share members, thank you for supporting this new innovation.

The variety will continue to expand as the numbers grow and the season progresses.

This week’s Veggie/Share Update:

This week we are in a lull on some of the produce items and also we are “between suppliers,” as some farms complete certain crops and others slowly begin.  This week’s produce originates from Vida Verde Farm and Los Poblanos in Albuquerque, and our own Mesa Top Farm.    We are still heavy on greens and early season roots such as turnips and radishes.  I am going to Southern NM later this week, visiting Shiraz Winery and will know then how soon we will see our first apricots!

I realize that at this time, there can be a feeling of being overwhelmed with all of the greens.  There is really only so much local food variety available until we get further into the season.  This is the reality of seasonality and it can test our creativity!  The local greens ARE very healthy.  We will continue to do all we can to pass along ideas and to share and inspire creativity.

Folks may be growing tired of the bananas. Considering the incredibly reasonable price that we pay for them, and the difficulty of finding fresh fruit now, we will keep on with them.  When other fruit starts, we will scale them back.

Our special surprise of the week is a 16 oz container of live, incredible sauerkraut from the amazing farmer/artisan food makers at Gemini Farm.  Some people just eat this stuff up by the bowlful.  Or you can add just a spoonful or two into your salad or add to any cooked green AFTER IT IS COOKED!  This is live food with terrific probiotic and nutritional density.

Membership news:

Membership is growing steadily through Farmigo and the many mouths spreading the good word about Beneficial CSA.  Thank you all for your help.

Finally we are closer to establishing a distribution point in Albuquerque.

If members have other suggestions of locations or communities where a distribution point might work, let us know.  Expansion of the CSA with our hands-on model of the self-serve farmstand approach works best as we add new sites, with local energy to support them, and local farms to contribute to the good of the whole.

’til next week….  enjoy the late spring bounty!

Steve Warshawer


1 Comment

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One response to “Steve’s Weekly Update for 5/26/10

  1. Alice Lee

    We will certainly keep you and the farm in our prayers as you head toward transformation, whatever form it takes.
    Change is.
    You seem to be a risk taker.
    Good luck.
    Alice and Wayne Lee

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