Steve’s Weekly Update 12/1/10

Hello Members,

Climatology 2010: Local, sustainable fuel (wood) still available: We had our first measurable snow and first zero degree morning!  The cut and split firewood from our forestry project is on hand and available if members need it.  Time to bundle up and keep warm.

Finance Revolution, continued! Did anyone get a chance to visit the Common Food Bank Web site?  Is anyone ready to talk more about “owning our own bank”?  Step one is that we help launch Common Good Bank.  We need founding members from our area for Common Good Bank to help it get its charter.  Then we need 50 members/depositors at which point we can begin to function as a local bank within Common Good.   NOTHING can empower local economy as much as a truly locally accountable and locally oriented bank. Please contact me for more information at ! Or visit !!!!!

Steve’s Soapbox: Senate Bill 510, the Food Safety Modernization Act, passed the Senate on Tuesday 11/30 by a vote of 73-25.  It was a monumental achievement for the sustainable agriculture coalition that I am a part of.  In the end we were able to reach a consensus with the major consumer groups who have been pushing for years to modernize the system.  The compromise between these two interest groups created an “unholy alliance” of opposition in which Tea Party-ers and Ultra libertarian farmers allied with agribusiness to try to stop the bill!

Interestingly, agribusiness is against the safeguards that we were able to negotiate that will help to protect small and mid scale farms and local producers from overly burdensome federal requirements, and the Tea Party-ers and Ultra-libertarians think that we have not done ENOUGH to alleviate federal government involvement.  So for opposite reasons they tried to stop the bill.  They were not successful in the Senate.

Now all eyes turn to the House, where a bill was passed in summer 2009 that is different form the Senate bill in many ways.  It includes virtually NONE of the safeguards against burdensome federal requirements that we sought for local and regional and small scale producers.

The only way that a bill will get to the President’s desk before this congress adjourns is for the House to agree to pass the Senate bill, and scrap their own version. For many reasons, there is concern as to whether this is possible. Agribusiness has much more strength in the House, and the Leadership of the key House committee seems to feel duty bound to push their agenda even if it means that there will be no bill at all.

What a shame it would be if a bi-partisan success was undermined by a combination of narrowly self interested forces such as are arrayed against the bill now.   I will keep you all posted, of course!


This week’s Cow stories:  Mesa Top cows, and Jim Miller Ayrshire project:

Be careful what you ask for, you just might get it…  So the saying goes.  Three days after publishing the November 18th member message, one of our 6 heifers had her first calf.

The back story is that we have 6 heifers, the first offspring of the Ayrshire herd that I bought from Pat Sullivan in Dec, 2007.  These cows were born in April through May of 2008.  I have written about my decision to delay breeding them until they were older, and had THOUGHT that they were bred in June and July of 2010, with the goal that they produce their first calves in late spring 2011, as they neared 3 years of age.

Well, “not so fast, my friend”!  Last February I brought back to NM some of the momma cows that Andy at Twin Mountain did not want any more.  (These went to Old Windmill Dairy and eventually to Kenny Carter’s High Desert Creamery in Las Palomas.) I also brought back the second bull that I had placed at Twin Mountain, a pure Ayrshire from original Jim Miller stock who I called Ug  (short for Ugly because he was so handsome).  According to Andy “that bull just isn’t right, he never works, he must not be fertile.”  So I pastured Ug with the cow herd until mid summer and culled him.  In fact, our lean ground is, I thought, Ug’s last contribution to the humans who have cared for him.

As it turns out, Andy was wrong!  The calves that are coming now are Ug’s.  The first calf is a gorgeous bull, who will have to be Ug Junior.  His momma is a big, well developed, gorgeous, classic looking Ayrshire and we are milking her now at Mesa Top!  (see pictures)  Another heifer looks like she is ready to pop any day, so we have her in the coral and are training her to the stanchion.

So where do we go from here?  Over Thanksgiving weekend Colleen and family were here and we were milking and handling milk and looking at the existing facility here at Mesa Top and realized that it would not take very much improvement to create a working milk parlor and raw milk cheese making room right here!  So off we go, to the next great adventure at Mesa Top.

We have had full vet checks done on all of the heifers and they are healthy.  Next week we will send off a sample of the raw milk to a lab for pathogen testing.  We are pasteurizing the milk (at low temp on our stove) until we see our test results

We have begun by developing a mozzarella cheese recipe, and cheese share members will receive our first test runs this week.  Mesa Top Ayrshire mozzarella, coming soon!


Meat program update:

Harvest date for out next beef has still not been set but it will likely be week after next, with a 3 week further delay for dry aging, to tenderize the meat.


This week’s cheese share update:

This week the cheese share will be Lazy Ewe Feta and Mesa Top Ayrshire mozzarella!


This week’s Veggie/Share Update:

This week we have an ample bag of salad mix from Agricultura COOP.  We have Mesa Top butternut squash from and carrots from Gemini.  As our potato of the week, we are giving the tender and buttery flavored banana fingerlings from White Mountain Farm.

We have a bit more fruit than usual for you these three weeks of December.  The last bounty from our New Mexico fruit growers and the early citrus specialty from South Texas Organics:  Meyer lemons and Rio star pink grapefruits, are all coming together now.

We noticed that a number of members did not take their persimmons last week.  Please accept our apologies as it seems we did not provide you with sufficient instructions on how to make the most of these incredible, tasty, unusual local treats.  We will have a flyer on persimmons for you this week, and more persimmons in your share.  We ask that even if you have never eaten a persimmon before, please take your share home, and try them.  We honestly do not think that any one will be disappointed.

It is one of the important aspects of the CSA that we introduce people to unfamiliar foods.  We realize that sometimes we need to do more to help you enjoy them.  In this case, persimmons do not spoil, there is plenty of time to figure out the best way to enjoy them.  A ripe persimmon, soft and sweet, and eaten like a pudding, is more satisfying that a chocolate bar…  (well, at least that’s my opinion, and I DO like chocolate!)

There are also poms and apples again this week. We are experimenting with storing the poms and will offer them infrequently from now until they run out. They are also available as Special order to any members who want additional poms.  I have always wondered what they would look like, “dressed up” and hanging on the Xmas tree…

Membership news: Welcome back from a holiday of Thanksgiving!  We hope that members will take advantage of the renewal bonus that we are offering.  $10 gift certificate for $150 Farm Account investment and $25 (a free week of produce) for a $300 investment.  We would love to help you give a share to family or friends, even for just a week if that is what members wish to do.  Check with Dena on how we can make this happen.


Thank you for your continued support!

Steve Warshawer



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