Steve’s Update 8/24/11

Climatology 2011: We had a couple more cool, rainy days, and the pastures are green and growing.  Record heat is projected now, for a few days.  I suspect there will still be some rain, but the most productive part of the monsoon season is behind us.

Finance Failure equals financing opportunity:  I had success last week reestablishing basic credit for MT farm at Guadalupe Credit Union, and now they are considering my application for a refinance of the farm mortgages.  This is good news!  The credit union is great to work with.  I am fortunate that the small credit union that I have belonged to for a long time, when threatened with dissolution under the heavy hand of the regulators, was able to be merged into the larger and more prosperous Guadalupe Credit Union.  The transition was kind of messy, but as always in credit unions, the people make the difference, and the staff at GCU are very able and effective. My faith in the rightness of credit unions as an alternative to banks, to be supported and used first wherever possible, has been validated again by my recent experience.

This week’s Cow stories:  Mesa Top cows and Jim Miller Ayrshire project: Lawrence and Ursula Holmes of Cresset Community Farm near Loveland, Colorado paid us a visit this weekend.  They are long time biodynamic farmers, and are part of the Ayrshire project as well.  I began my learning about dairying at their farm in 1999 and 2000, and their methods capture the best of humane and high animal welfare practices, placing the well being of the cows at the center of the design for a healthy farm.  They received a heifer and a bull calf from Jim Miller that I raised here for a winter until they were ready to pick them up in 2005.  The bull has been their #1 breeder since he came of age.  All of their cows have Ayrshire influence and some are very strongly Ayrshire influence.  Lawrence is currently a board member of the RMAC (Raw Milk Association of Colorado).

Lawrence and Ursula have decided to leave their farm after 13 years because despite many thousands of hours of community development, and a very strong and loyal customer base, they have had no land security and are not able to plan for their future.  They farm on a property whose owner has a verbal commitment to community farming.  But “the rubber has never met the road,” so to speak.  Nothing has changed to allow Ursula and Lawrence to settle in and plan for the next generation of farmers.  They have not been allowed to build additional living space, so they have had to always share their home with staff.  They have not been able to hold the attention of potential future farmers because of the lack of security and facilities for family living.  Under these conditions, they finally decided it was time for them to move on.

Ursula and Larry have raised one heifer for us, who will be having her first calf this fall.  She is the best looking heifer we have seen.  This is in part because of the incredible forage that they grown in their pastures.  We are in discussions about moving their cows and hay down here for a year, while Ursula and Lawrence consider their next steps.

This week’s cheese and herd share update: We are hard at work packaging cheese for all members in this week’s share.  We are excited by the flavor and quality of the cheese.  We are getting a fairly dry, rich (but not strong) flavor that reminds me of a young Parmesan cheese.  We have the supplies on the way to begin production of feta cheese, which is something we are also very excited about.

We have a clear set of designs and sequence for construction worked out for finishing up our cheese room so that we can be inspected, and then can sell our cheese to a more broad audience.

We are also interviewing new prospective staff members to help with this phase of project completion and move forward into the new phase of production.

This week’s cheese share includes: smoked gouda and asadero.

Mesa Top Meat (Protein) update:  Nothing new except to say, thank you for your continued support as we deliver beef and pork shares and ground beef to members.

This week’s Veggie/Share Update:    The summer share continues to include a variety of vegetables including frisee from Matt Romero, cherry tomatoes from Rancho La Jolla, and shallots from Espanola Valley Farm.

We also offer Palisade peaches from Los Ranchos Durazno, fingerling potatoes from Gemini Farm South, and beets from Synergia Ranch.

And as mentioned above, we are also packing a piece of Ayrshire Jack for each member as part of this week’s share.

Enjoy the new varieties and the continuing bounty .

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

Steve Warshawer


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