Climatology 2010: February arrives with plenty of snow, and expectation of record cold – so severe that the National Weather Service characterizes it as “life threatening.” By Thursday I am sure we will have forgotten the largely balmy January that just ended.
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This week’s Cow stories: Mesa Top cows, and Jim Miller Ayrshire project:
The new crew at Mesa Top is settling in well. We are restoring some of the orderly approaches to simple daily tasks that make this a fun place to live and work: efficient, best practices in care for the livestock and the processing of their products. Sanitation practices followed promptly and thoroughly result in a cleaner production kitchen and easier access to supplies whenever needed.
It is nice to have staff who want to understand what works and to take advantage of those past learnings. This respect for the culture of a work and living place is the foundation of a path forward of continuous improvement.
After the snow clears we can turn to improvements. The new dairy barn and cheese making plant will be added on using the original driveway and carport of the original section of farm house, built in 1989, and never really used. This area already includes a properly sloped and surfaced cement floor and relatively easy access to hot and cold running water as well as a logical, easy to access place for storing cheese for aging. It will be a fascinating “puzzle” to determine how to turn this existing, underused asset into a new, productive one.
No new calves, and this has me worried. I would be best for all if she does NOT calf during the bitter cold. She is trained to stay in our “calving room”, a spacious shelter with protection from wind and snow. But even under the best conditions, too much cold cannot help momma cow…
Woody, the heifer suffering from wooden tongue, has made surprising and dramatic steps forward. She can chew almost normally and can gather food into her mouth a bit as well. She is still very swollen up inside her mouth but she has the patience and vitality to keep eating, though slowly. I would not say I am confident of her recovery, but I am cautiously optimistic, which is a far more positive prognosis than a week ago.
This week’s cheese share update:
This week the cheese share will be a variety of artisanal cheeses.
This week’s Veggie/Share Update:
The frigid cold may mean further production setbacks for Agricultura COOP. We are hoping for some greenhouse greens and early spring produce by end of February from several sources.
Meanwhile we are thankful to have our mid winter supply of soil-grown sprouts. Susan Higgins grows her sprouts using organic pea seeds that originate in the San Luis Valley. The greens are very tasty.
We have potatoes and carrots as our staple produce items. We also have a storage butternut squash form Mesa Top. Remember back to the fall when the squash was curing in the field and we had our 4th hail storm of the year which marked up some of the fruit. We have sorted and cured the best, and after this we hope to have one more distribution of butternut squash for you. As we have found with other storage items such as garlic and onions, it is challenging to convince farmers to hold onto crops for us to distribute later in the season/winter to our members. Mesa Top is committed to this practice, but has limited production capacity. We continue to reach out to other farmers hoping to find more who will be willing to follow the methods of storing and curing that yield optimum storage quality product.
We also have the unique “sweet/sour” cherries from Shiraz. They are wonderful in a variety of uses, often with a little bit of sweetener added to bring out the flavor. And we have at last gotten for the CSA some of the small Rio Star ruby grapefruits from South Texas Organics. These are a special variety that is sweeter than any pink grapefruit that I have ever tasted. We hope to offer these 2 or 3 times before the season runs out.
On the grocery side we have another pound of quinoa. I have cooked this item several times and find that rinsing it carefully with warm water, two or even three times, and then boiling it slowly with 8 cups of water for 3 cups of dry quinoa gives a fluffy finish. I encourage members to use more quinoa as it is a protein source that is right for our altitude and climate. Additional pounds of quinoa are on sale through our online Marketplace.
Investment in your CSA Farm Account gives the CSA resources to help farmers start strong in the spring, and with that investment by the CSA, we hope to gain access to greater variety of produce throughout the season. The CSA can only make these offerings to farmers on the basis of your investment in your farm account. Especially as the snow falls, farmers are planning the next season’s production. Strong relationships with our farmers are supported by CSA investment in their supply needs and early season costs. Please consider that as you look at your budget and make your decision about your farm account investment.
We opened a new distribution location two weeks ago at the Commons on the Alameda. Welcome to those new members!
We appreciate your continued support!