Climatology 2010: It was -38 degrees Fahrenheit when the sun rose on Thursday last. That was lower than any reporting weather station in the state, including Chama and Angel Fire. I spoke to several farmers in the San Luis Valley and it was even colder than any location there… There was no wind, so in some ways it did not feel as bad as Wednesday AM when we had -`10 with 25+ mile per hour winds.
Everyone lived, animals and people. Even Woody, the ailing heifer survived. Pinky, the momma cow that was ready to calf, did so on Saturday night after the temps had finally rebounded. We had a backup generator failure, which I was able to fix. We had one valve/fitting in the water system of the Straw Bale building fail, and we were able to fix that also. We have struggled to keep unfrozen water available for the cows and the chickens. Egg production plummeted. It was so cold that none of the diesel (old) snow removal equipment would even turn over, let alone start up. But overall we came through it all in good shape and in good spirits
Finance Revolution, continued! Www.CommonGoodBank.com
This week’s Cow stories: Mesa Top cows, and Jim Miller Ayrshire project:
Suzy and Nathaniel and Sindy are doing wonderfully at Mesa Top and are getting more and more organized by the day. I went north to visit farms over the weekend and they attended Pinkie’s calving (Another gorgeous bull calf who has been named Bandito). All went well. We have one more heifer ready to calf in the next couple of weeks. If Woody continues to recover, she also has a calf in her. I hope she is further behind in gestation because I think her best chance for survival is the arrival of spring.
I visited the former Twin Mountain Milk House in South Fork, scene of Andy Warner’s drunken drug crazed insanity last summer and fall. Molly Wells, long time employee off Alan Vanderhorst, owner of the facility, has taken over operations. With the departure of my Ayrshire last fall, the remaining herd is all Alan’s stock originating in East Texas, and they are calving and doing well. All were bred by our Ayrshire bull and I saw one heifer calf who looks just like her poppa! I am looking to trade Molly a young Bull for equal weight in heifers showing strong Ayrshire influence.
Molly is not making cheese yet. For now she is concentrating on her Colorado cow share raw milk sales as a member of RMAC. It is nice to see the dairy cleanup up and running smoothly, and the cows looking healthy and well cared for.
Kurtis Ketchum in Fountain has submitted his final drawings for his milking and cheese parlor and is waiting final approval from the Colorado Department of Health. He has purchased a number of Jersey cows to go along with 4 Ayrshires that he received when Andy melted down. There will be plenty of calves and milk in the next month or two, and hopefully his license will be issued in time for him to become a “legal-for-trade” cheese maker in early spring.
Colleen’s two Ayrshires are going to move from her dairy, which will have a rest for the season. Dottie-Alice is ready to be bred, and Brown is soon (we hope) to calf. These two may end up at Kurtis’s, or may end up here at Mesa Top.
Pat Sullivan, who along with his family created Cada Dia Cheese and sold the Ayrshires to me in 2007 has reconnected with us from his new location in Oregon and has sent us some of his cheese which you will receive this week or next.
Mesa Top, with the addition of Pinkie to the milk line, should be able to implement the Sullivan system: fresh milk goes right from the cow to the cheese vat, with no refrigeration or extra costs and handling, and a small batch of cheese is made every day!
In the next couple of weeks we will settle on a work flow and design for the cheese plant at Mesa Top and if we can find some money, get to work building it! Anyone feel like making a low interest loan to MT for the plant and its equipment?
This week’s cheese share update:
This week the cheese share will be a variety of artisanal cheeses
This week’s Veggie/Share Update:
This portion of the weekly message gets more difficult each week as we keep having bad news about local produce availability. The natural gas outages last week were the kiss of death for several more NM “off season” growers. I am sad to say there is just not much food out there! We are doing all we can to keep things interesting by mixing in grocery and other items. We hope you will stay with us through the next couple of months as we move toward spring and the season of growth and diversity. Please consider investing early in the CSA so that we can help our farmers get on their feet and into production.
We are thankful to have our mid winter supply of sprouts. This week we have sunny sprouts and daikon sprouts for you.
We have the last storage onions from Mesa Top. Surely we hope to grow a lot more storage crops at MT this summer. As we look at the production plan for MT, we will likely reduce the fresh harvested items and focus more on storage crops such as winter squash and onions. As a farmer, this means less cash flow to cover production expenses during the season, but more cash flow in the winter. This type of adjustment to the business side of the farm has its risks and expenses as well. This is why it is so important for CSA members to invest in the CSA on a year long basis whenever they are able to do so, as we need to support our farmers year round if we are going to have local food year round.
We also have Hamlin oranges from South Texas Organics and baking potatoes from White Mountain Farm in Colorado.
From time to time we also add cheese to the regular share in winter, and this week we are including Goat Chevre from Old Windmill Dairy in Estancia.
On the grocery side we have bolita beans also from the Estancia Valley, and organic apple juice from Colorado.
I hate to keep harping on this, but the time from now to the true arrival of spring is so important for the CSA and for our NM farmers, and it is also so challenging and I am sure at times disappointing to members. There simply is less and less local food, especially produce. Farmers are scraping by and trying to find every available dollar to launch the next growing season. For many of you it must be a leap of faith to keep investing in the CSA and our network of farmers at this time.
Please keep it up! We appreciate all you are willing/able to do to help us build the network of farmers and thank you for your understanding as we work to continue bringing you a diverse share through the winter.
We appreciate your continued support!