Steve’s Update 5/30/12

Climatology 2012:  After 3 days of wicked winds last week, the air has calmed and now we have the typical June super-dry weather.  At Mesa Top the morning temp dropped to 28 degrees on Monday, after daytime highs in the 70s on Sunday.  Diurnal temp swings are at their maximum: that is the difference between daytime highs and nighttime lows.  This reflects the desiccating dryness of the air.  We are in the low 80s in the day now, and low 30s the next morning just before sunrise.  We pray for the steady shift toward more moist air, which first is noticeable in afternoon clouds, then afternoon storms.  We have to hope for a good old fashioned monsoon season to bring life to our dry landscape.

This week’s Cow stories:  Mesa Top cows and Jim Miller Ayrshire project:  I have been watching the range herd as they work their way across the leased pasture and they are happily munching away on the grass, even as its growth slows.  Their bodies look good.  One of the last cows due to calf this summer had a healthy bull calf.  Conversations and overtures to neighbors about additional pasture continue.  In the next week or two we will hope to make a move.

This week’s cheese making update:  We opened up our oldest wheel made from the Muenster recipe, as it is about 65 days old now.  It has an excellent flavor and texture, though does not have the full Muenster style rind and smoothness.  Most likely we are not totally proficient at making the natural rind, that seals the cheese and introduces a different beneficial bacteria to the wheel.

It will probably be fall until we go back to the Muenster recipe again, as we are now experimenting with our small scale version of Tucumcari’s Asiago recipe.  We plan to  bring some samples in to the CSA this week, along with a few packages for sale.  We welcome your suggestions for a name:  what should we call this cousin of Muenster?

This week’s cheese share includes: Tucumcari Muenster and Sharp Cheddar

Mesa Top Meat (Protein) update:   Mesa Top pork is being packed and delivered from the Western Way meat processing plant in Moriarty, over to the COOP warehouse today, I will pick it up later this week and we will have it back on the marketplace for next week.

We are considering postponing processing another beef for a while, but have located a source of grass fed ground beef near Colleen’s old farm Elbert County, Colorado, in tall grass prairie country.  The cattle there look fat and happy to me.  I got to see them when we all spent the weekend there a couple of weeks ago for Kim’s (Colleen’s eldest daughter) graduation from high school.

The cattle are coming from Running Creek Ranch right next door to her old place.  We have a relationship there because we once lost a heifer, who got out onto one of their pastures and spent a very hot, dry, and lonely September wandering around a 640 acre paddock while another neighbor gave her water, until we got word on her whereabouts and went to get her.  That was an adventure because she was wild to start with due to how she had been raised at Twin Mountain, and then her walkabout made her even wilder.

Running Creek has an arrangement with the USDA processing plant in Elizabeth to process their culled cows:  young cows who fail to breed by a certain age, or older cows who do not successfully breed back.  We have brought in some of their ground beef, which we used at Mesa Top on our Memorial Day hamburgers.  It is very good! We will sample it to Dena and if all is well we will start offering it to members via the market place.  It will be a lean ground beef, with a little more fat than the Mesa Top ground.

This week’s Veggie/Share Update:  Mesa Top is in full transplant mode, with squash and cukes getting out into the field, along with storage onions.

We have another allium filled week for you, with spring garlic scapes and chives and green onions from La Madeira and Gemini farms, Talon del Gato Farm, and Espanola Valley Farm.

From other vegetable families we have cluster tomatoes and lettuce from Preferred Produce, and Sugar Snap peas from Espanola Valley Farm.

We also have a live basil plant for you, from Talon del Gato.

Last week a group of farmers who are supplying the CSA met with Dan Hobbs from Rocky Mountain Farmer’s Union to talk about the process of turning the CSA into a Cooperative.  The benefit to the farmers of a Cooperative market place was discussed, along with the values that the farmers as a group need to be sure to offer to members.

The CSA and its member/citizen eaters collectively constitute a valuable market that farmers depend on increasingly for a portion of their sales.  To build and strengthen this market place, the farmers who are able are pledging to offer preferential pricing and availability on their products.  This should help the CSA build up to a more efficient size and level of efficiency.  Then at the end of the year, the business will return a dividend to the farmers.

We are investigating how to offer similar benefits to members in the form of a patronage refund.

All of these ideas base themselves around a larger membership, with more opportunity for farmers to market their products and roe choices for members to purchase a greater and greater portion of their food from the CSA.

Membership news:  Please keep referring new members!  We add $10 to your Farm Account for every member you refer.

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

Steve Warshawer

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