Steve’s Update for 10/26/11

Welcome new calf Sophie

Climatology 2011:   The first wintry weather of the year is forecast for Wednesday and Thursday of this week.  Time to remember how to batten down the hatches.  Firewood, anyone?

Are you interested in sourcing firewood from Mesa Top Farm?  Taking care of our forests reduced fire risk, increases pasture and grass availability for livestock and wildlife, and provides a sustainable fuel for supplemental heating of our homes!  We have several different sustainable forestry projects that are producing fuel wood, at all stages of processing.   We have a “cut your own” area for people who have their own saws and trucks.  We have some dead and down and some precut wood ready to load.  We also have cut and split firewood, ready to deliver.  We do not have prices set for all of these different arrangements, but if you are interested, please email stevew@plateautel.net and tell us what you prefer.

This week’s Cow stories:  Mesa Top cows and Jim Miller Ayrshire project:  Okay, so last Friday was pregnancy check day for the range herd, comprised of our Tarentaise and Angus cross and dry momma  Ayrshire cows.  We had moved the herd into a nearby pasture and when Kat and Mike brought them in, I noticed that Bow was missing.  So I went out to look for her and found her standing over a beautiful little calf that could not have been more than an hour old.  Little Sophie  (see pictures) is our first calf of the new season.  We expect calves from Cassie and Blanca in the next few weeks, and Tippy and Abigail (her first) in a month or 6 weeks.  It looks like we are on target for a small herd for winter milk and then no new calves through the wintriest weather and another flush of calves starting in April.

This week’s cheese making update:   Progress continues on the electrical system upgrades.  We are hearing that costs for solar panels have come way down and so we are also hoping to add solar generating capacity in the near future

This week’s cheese share includes: a variety of artisanal cheese

Mesa Top Meat (Protein) update:   Earlier in the season I wrote about the challenge of developing our dairy program along side a meat program, while maintaining the highest animal welfare standards for all.  We struggle with raising so many young male cows, whether they are bulls or steers, in part because it is a greater and greater expense to “grow” them well, especially in this persistent drought.  Our idea has been to raise the boys on momma cows (which is against the best interest of most dairy operators) AND keep them on the mommas for longer than is considered “normal” to help them grow, and then wean them and take them directly to the processing plant.  This approach will yield a smaller animals, and more tender beef.  We have our first 3 ready to go under this program and have sold one entire young beef already.  We are pricing them at $3.75 per lb for “hanging weight” for a ½ beef with a $100 delivery charge.  For anyone interested, we can explain in more details, please check in with Dena or email me directly at stevew@plateautel.net.

This week’s Veggie/Share Update:   The share this week includes several success stories

The return of La Madeira Farm Garlic:  Bill Page has been selecting and replanting hard necked garlic for many years and this year he has “broken through” with a larger number of big heads of garlic.  Even after taking his 2500 largest heads and replanting for next year, he has several distributions of garlic heads for us that are all 2” or more.  We pay Bill a premium for his garlic in order to do our part to help cover his higher costs as he continues to improve his garlic variety.  In future years we hope that Bill’s garlic will become the seed garlic of much larger plantings, which will allow other farmers to get back into the garlic market, and with some modest degree of mechanization and increase of scale, we can have better priced, super quality, Northern NM winter storage garlic!

The arrival of Preferred Produce organic greenhouse tomatoes:  Preferred Produce is a one acre greenhouse operation just north of Columbus, New Mexico which has been founded to create high quality organic produce and good jobs for people in Southern Luna County.  Owner Matthew Stong is committed to triple bottom line sustainability.  He has created a modified growing system combining hydroponic and soil based greenhouse growing strategies.  His crew is trained to be very skilled at the fine tasks of planting and growing in the controlled environment of a greenhouse, and he pays them a fair, living wage.  Watch for more products from Preferred over the fall and winter as Matthew and his staff figure out which crops that thrive in the winter warmth and sun of the Southern New Mexico border.

The return of Sen Po Sai from Richard at Red Mountain Farm:  Over the years that he operated Harmony Farm Richard became very skilled at growing different asian greens that are very productive in our climate.  These greens are remarkably well suited for very light cooking.  Sen po sai was one of his favorites.  Relocated at Red Mountain Farm, Richard has expanded his plantings, giving us the chance to pass along a heapin’ helpin’ to our members this week.

We also have more of Grant Morrison’s fabulous, tasty, local-but-imperfect apples, a big bunch of chard from Synergia Ranch, and another unique treat:  Celeriac from Frisco Farm in the Gila.

Steve’s policy and advocacy corner.  The Super committee of the US Legislature who is grappling with spending and taxation issues has taken aim on the farm bill.  Normally every 5 years there is a year long process, well vetted across a range of interest groups, to arrive at a mandate for US Food and Farming policy for the next 5 years.  The Super Committee is trying to “pass” a farm bill in the next 8 days that they plan to create behind closed doors.   This would be a good time to weigh in and try to stop this abuse of power so click here for more information.

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

Steve Warshawer

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