Steve’s Weekly Update 1/5/11

Climatology 2010: On the last CSA distribution day of December, a snow storm was piling up snow on the mesa.  Over 2 feet by the time it quit on Friday morning.  Then the temperature did not drop below freezing for nearly a week, and the snow melted and the mud spread.  Just a few days after Christmas, the temperatures plunged and Mesa Top recorded successive nights of zero degrees, followed by ten below zero.  If there is a pattern in our early winter weather it is that each year we get a warm storm which melts off and is followed by a deep freeze before new years.  So we are now back “on pattern”!  Today the temperature went above freezing for the first time in 5 or 6 days.


Finance Revolution, continued! It seems that this topic is not generating much enthusiasm.  Oh well.  If interested or curious, contact me at


Getting down off of Steve’s Soapbox: We learned in the member survey that very few members have been reading this section of the weekly message.  For a variety of reasons, the “era of the soap box” has ended.  La Montanita terminated the position that made it possible for me to do policy work,.  My contract with Walace Center / National Good Food Network to coordinate a national discussion on foods safety ends January 30.

The trips to Washington are ending along with the paying work that supported me to work on policy issues.  I have made many friends in the last two years of work, mostly on Food Safety, but also on Rural Economic Development issues, that I am sure I will stay connected to these many dedicated colleagues.

But when a door closes, another one opens.  I have been hired by Rick and Beth Schnieders to help them launch their mobile grocery store business, working in cooperation with community health partner Johns Hopkins School of Public Health to bring healthy food choices to underserved Native American communities.  I had been advising them on this project, and when they learned of the reduction in my employment by La Montanita, they asked me to help move this project forward.  It is very exciting to be working in a well financed private business venture, along with a public health organization to provide logistical and marketing solutions that bring better food to communities that have not had access to such foods.

I will not be under employed, and certainly will not be bored.  This new challenge fits with the lifetime’s work of developing creative ways to mobilize food and agriculture resources across a range of communities.

In place of Steve’s soapbox, we will develop an “ask Steve”  button on the blog and web page so that members with questions about food system issues can direct those questions to me in a way that allows my response to be shared with the rest of the CSA membership and community.


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

We had 2 calves over the holiday break.  Both were heifers.  Sadly, we lost one due to my lack of attention during the cold day after the 2 foot snow storm.  This was Cassie’s calf.  She is our oldest cow, a Tarentaise, who has calved in mid winter several times and never had a problem.  I just didn’t think she needed my help, but this time she did.  This was sad because we have not had a heifer from Cassie in 8 years and we finally got one and lost her.  Cassie is getting old.  No telling what the future brings.  She is very healthy now.

Then we had another heifer from one of the young Ayrshires.  That heifer is doing great and we are now milking momma also.  We are going to send off our milk samples for Cassie and Tippy (the next Ayrshire) to have them tested, and when they pass, we will start using that milk for raw cheeses also.  Meanwhile we are pasteurizing it and making mozzarella and ricotta.

We have our first batches o f cheddar starting to age. You can be looking for regular offerings of Mesa Top experimental cheeses at the CSA each week.


This week’s cheese share update:

This week the cheese share will be green chile cheddar and Romano.


This week’s Veggie/Share Update:

This week we again have an ample bag of salad mix from Agricultura COOP.  The intense cold of last week has affected some of the growers at Agricultura, but so far we are still able to count on their salad mix.

Another casualty of the frigid cold was the Mesa Top winter greens.  Our experiment in overwintering Collard greens has taken a hit.  We are harvesting and distributing the Collards this week even after they got seriously hurt by the cold.  We cooked them here at MT tonight, and they are very very tasty, but just not crisp.  We threw them onto a soup near the end of its process of heating up, and the slightly cooked collards were terrific.

Gemini carrots are back this week.  And also we hope to have Gemini Hubbard squash.  If we cannot make connection in time to offer those this week, we will substitute our fabulous New Mexico winesap apples.  As our potato of the week, we are giving sweet and buttery tasting banana fingerlings  from White Mountain Farm.

South Texas Organics Meyer lemons are again part of the share.  They have a fairly short season and we want you to be able to enjoy them while they are available.  Additional fruit is available by special order if you like.

This week’s fruit also include a couple of pomegranates again!  We are experimenting with storing some carefully selected poms to see how long they will store.  We hope to have a couple of poms for each share once in awhile over the next couple of months.


Membership news:

Thank you to the many members who took advantage of our holiday season discounts to “preinvest” for 2011.  We still need more support.  Early season member investments help us pay our farmers and get ready for the season ahead.

We appreciate your continued support!

Steve Warshawer



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