Steve’s Weekly Update 2/22/12

Local business thank you and shout out:   We all appreciate opportunities to support local businesses.  These are our brother and sister companies, doing in their fields the same thing that the CSA is doing as a food hub:  pursuing excellence in product and customer service.

Here is a tip on another superior local business.  AB1 Locksmith on Cerrillos Road near St. Michaels is owned by John Cunningham, and has been for 16 years.  John’s staff did a terrific job for us resurrecting the worn out ignition switch and key system of our 31 year old Subaru wagon, which is the 3rd string car in the fleet, but much valued by Mesa Top staff and by Colleen and I when all other cars are in use.  If you need locksmith services, I highly recommend AB1.

Climatology 2012:   It feels like we are into the spring parade of “windbag storms”.  Temps are colder than spring, but the northern direction of the weather makers, and the prevalence of wind are all very much like early spring.  Hopefully we can get some moisture out of these storms soon as well.  We have had several light dustings of snow at Mesa Top.  In other years these would have been 3-4 inch snowfalls.  But not so this year.

This week’s Cow stories:  Mesa Top cows and Jim Miller Ayrshire project:  The big herd move was completed.  All of our cows are now at Dominic Battista’s farm in Roswell/Hagerman, or at Mesa Top.  It was a grueling weekend of travel for the humans and for many cows.

I have to say that there is no greater feeling in the world that walking across a lush green field among happy cows who are eating their fill and cavorting around as they seek out the next patch of tasty grass to feast on.

Two of the momma cows and calves came all the way home to Mesa Top, so now we are milking seven.  Three more are soon to freshen (had a calf and has milk), so we will be at a new maximum production level within a few weeks.

We are breeding about a dozen cows and heifers, and are aiming to have 20 cows in production at Dominic’s this fall.  We are hoping that his facility can produce retail ready raw milk from pasture fed Ayrshire cows.

Of course there is so much more to do, I cannot even list it all, but it does feel like we have reached the top of the mountain and can take in the view for a bit before we press on to the next one.

This week’s cheese making update:   We have only a bunch of small details left to finish in the cheese room before we call for our first visit from the dairy bureau.  I hate to put a time on it.  Soon….

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

Mesa Top Meat (Protein) update:   Two young beefs went in for processing today.  We would love to sell ½ beef (about 110 lbs table meat from these young animals).  Or sell a good number of family beef packs when the meat comes home in the next couple of weeks.  Please keep that in mind.  Maybe 2 families can split a half?

We should have chickens back on the availability list next week as well.

This week’s Veggie/Share Update: This week we have an interesting mix of produce and dry/grocery items.   We have organic avocados from Mexico via Patagonia, organic tomatoes from Preferred Produce in Columbus/Deming, and buckwheat sprouts from Sungreen Living Foods.  We also have organic oranges from Patagonia.

On the dry/grocery side, we have peanut butter from Arrowhead Mills in West Texas, which is made with the same Valencia Peanuts as our favorite, Sunland peanut butter from Portales.  (Sunland has nothing to sell this year) We also have stone ground Mountain Mama whole wheat flour from Gosar Farms in Monte Vista, Colorado.

Membership news:  We had a terrific farmer to farmer meeting this week, including several of our core farms: Red Mountain Farm, Gemini Farm North and South, Rancho La Jolla, and Mesa Top Farm.  Synergia Ranch was also contacted to participate, but the key person there was out of the US this month.  We talked about Cooperative planning for the CSA, and about how the farmers can benefit from committing to supply the CSA, and to producing crops that help us increase the local farm portion of the year round produce supply.

It has long been my goal to see the CSA evolve into a COOP, one in which both members and farmers have benefits from the success of the business.  We are clearly fortunate to have a group of outstanding farms who understand what a successful CSA can mean to them.  We are also considering how to develop benefits to members from the success of the CSA.

The fundamental approach in successful COOPs is patronage dividends:  a share of the profit of a successful business can go back to the producer members on the basis of their sales to the CSA, and to members on the basis of their purchases from the CSA.  It is a “COOP Success” for members to benefit more, the more they buy from the CSA, and for farmers to benefit more, the more they sell to the CSA.

Watch for more information about the process of moving Beneficial CSA into a cooperative structure.

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

Steve Warshawer

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