Steve’s Weekly Update 6/15/11

Climatology 2011:  Driving back from Colorado Sunday, helping Colleen and family move here for the summer, we got turned away by the newly exploded Raton Pass fire.  Information was sketchy except from the Raton Fire department, who helped me decide to turn west at Walsenburg and drive to SF via the San Luis Valley.  Much prettier but 2+ hours longer.  Waiting for moisture.

Thank you and an important opportunity:  Dena and I want to thank Pattie Ravenheart, former CSA manager and long time accounting person for the CSA and Mesa Top Farm for her 3 years of service.  Pattie has brought high standards of accuracy, accountability, thoughtfulness, and strategic thinking to her work, which has laid the groundwork for the present and future success of these businesses.  Pattie has decided to seek full time employment and can no longer fulfill the part time work responsibilities of BFCSA and MT.  We are looking for a new book keeper and accounting person!  If you have any leads, please contact Dena or Steve directly. 

This week’s Cow stories:  Mesa Top cows and Jim Miller Ayrshire project:   Happy and healthy and doing their cow thing, also wishing for moisture…

This week’s cheese and herd share update:   Cheese Cheese Cheese…  We have plenty of great Gouda ready.  Please try some!

The swamp cooler was delivered to the wrong gate by FedEx ground and sat there for 5 days until I realized it.  Meanwhile the backup generator went down as did the home-made, improvised vacuum pump.  We had made a deal for some used milking equipment and it has saved the day.  However we are struggling to keep enough power on hand to cool and keep the rooms from being too dry. 

Account of Visit to Shiraz Vineyard this week from Dena:

My son Ericson and I had the pleasure of visiting David and Sherry Banikarim’s Shiraz Farm on Monday in La Luz, right outside of Alamogordo. Just miles from White Sands, Shiraz is a patch of fertile green in the desert, watered by three deep wells.  Even though a hard freeze last winter did some profound damage, the Shiraz orchard is a testament to perseverance, resourcefulness and creativity. These same qualities can be attributed to all farmers.  David has gathered cuttings from around the world and grafted them, creating fruit trees unique in the US.  One treasure is a “rose flower water apple,” another is a white mulberry, both from David’s native Iran.

While walking through his orchard, we wakened a young coyote who sauntered off, in no particular hurry.  There was a group of young chickens under a plum tree – one of them found a worm which created a squabble among his siblings. David sent us home with an armload of fragrant spearmint, a bag of plums and some fig wood for our barbeque.

One of his quince trees was brought from Turkey by a friend.  Another friend owns a nursery in California that specializes in fruit trees from Iran which are a source for many trees now growing on David’s southern New Mexico farm.  (Up until recently, Iran was the largest grower of pistachios in the world – the US has now become number one – and the area around Alamogordo is full of pistachio orchards).  The climate and geography, reminiscent of Iran, are what drew David and Sherry to “retire” in La Luz.  Remember the bags of frozen sweet & sour cherries that we enjoyed all winter?  Growing up, David enjoyed these in two ways – as jam added to a rice dish with tiny meatballs, and as a traditional cherry syrup added to ice and water and served to special guests.

The Saturn peaches we have received in our shares for the past few years were also an important part of David’s childhood – unfortunately the fruit on these trees was frozen early this spring and we hope for their return next year.  We will have Shiraz apricots in our share for the last time this season on Thursday and green gage plums next week.  As Steve told us last week, there will be no pomegranates this year, also no figs or cherries.  Let’s treasure the apricots and plums for their rarity in 2011 – they are extra sweet just because they survived.

Herd share opportunities at Mesa Top:  The farmers need some help boiling down the lengthy, legalese format developed in Colorado, to a simple one page herd share agreement.  Along with this simple agreement, members interested in owning a herd share will need to visit the farm and meet the herd!

This week’s cheese share includes: Salado Gouda and green chile cheddar

Mesa Top Protein update:  I should have a pork availability date as part of next week’s member message.

This week’s Veggie/Share Update:   This is a very fruity week as we have the last week of apricots and the first week of James Cadwalader’s Sacramento Mountain grown cherries.  There are ample cherries so you can order more if you want, even by the case!

These fruit are never sprayed!  These cherries are a bargain as compared to certified organic cherries.  James is the third generation to tend these orchards and has moved them steadily to more sustainable practices.  The last barrier to certifiable organic practices is the source of phosphorus, which is crucial to tree health and fruiting.

Along with these sweet treats we have more carrots, beets, salad mix and some more baja bus garlic.


Membership news:  Thank you for your investment in the CSA .  We appreciate your continued support!

Steve Warshawer


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