Climatology 2011: Last week’s arctic blast and snow have abated, and again the damage was nominal. At Mesa Top the temps on three successive mornings were double digits below zero. This wears on the people, who struggle to provide for the needs of the cows and chickens, and themselves. We had one more water line freeze up, but it is a non-essential one, and did no damage.
Our yoyo weather then moved to the next extreme, as a rapid warm up has quickly melted much of the snow, turning the area into a muddy mess. But still, I’d rather slog through the mud than wonder what has frozen.
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This week’s Cow stories: Mesa Top cows, and Jim Miller Ayrshire project:
We are milking 4 momma cows now at Mesa Top and have shifted from hand milking to a simple, mechanical bucket milker, using a compressor that has been modified to function as a vacuum pump. Our highest milk total yet came Monday morning with 7.5 gallons of milk. The cows are comfortable with the mechanical milker. It is quick and easy on their bodies. By week’s end we hope that all crew members will be able to operate the system, leading to greater flexibility and getting us ready for the shift next month when we will begin preparation for vegetable production.
Pat Sullivan has been consulting with us on the design process for implementing his cow-to-raw cheese system. By next week we should be making cheese daily, with no refrigeration and reheating. (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.)
The former garage that will be converted to a cheese room is being readied for its makeover. This needs to be completed before we move into the produce season.
This week’s cheese share update:
This week the cheese share will be Mesa Top Ricotta and Cada Dia aged cheese from the Sullivans in Oregon.
This week’s Veggie/Share Update:
Dena reports that we had very positive member feedback on the food share last week. A special thank you to members for appreciating the difficult task and the great work that Dena is doing to “diversify” our share as much as she has been able to.
Please keep your questions and suggestions coming. We really appreciate it.
This week we have sunny sprouts. We also have the last Rio star pink grapefruits of the season, so for that reason we are giving you 4 per share. Do not worry about any drying out or loss of perfect appearance on the outside. These remain tasty and sweet inside.
We also have the last pomegranates from Shiraz, stored since harvest last fall, and storage carrots from Gemini Farm. Despite their rough appearance, these carrots are tasty and nutritious. They will store best kept bagged and dirty in your fridge. Wash and scrub them as you use them. If there are soft spots, cut them off and use the rest. Don’t let the appearance discourage you: they remain flavorful and nutritious.
The Gemini carrots are examples of what “eat local” means to me. In place of fresh produce from gas heated greenhouses that are as vulnerable as long distance food systems, I prefer root cellars and lightly processed foods from the summer and fall harvest as the foundation of local food availability in the winter. We have been able to give you a glimpse of this system by providing garlic, onions, butternut squash, carrots, and potatoes this winter, though generally in quantities far below what would be desirable. In future winters we hope to offer cabbage and root crops, along with more frozen and dried fruits and summer vegetables, along with fresh foods from warmer locales in our region.
Meanwhile we hear from one or two of our growers that fresh greens are just a couple of few weeks away, slowed by the cold, but still growing toward first harvest for distribution the first week in March.
On the grocery side this week we have sugar free apple butter and organic whole wheat flour from Southern Colorado.
Thank you for your increasing investment in the CSA as we begin to anticipate our relationship building efforts with our farmers going into the 2011 growing season.
We appreciate your continued support!