Steve’s Weekly Update 9/13/12

Climatology 2012:  The progression of fall cold fronts has begun, cooling the days and nights, with the yo-yo effect of rapid rebounds to warmer weather and then back to cold with the next front swinging through.  This is the change of season’s time.  After not a single night below 40 degrees, we had patchy frost on the roofs and a few plants over the weekend on Sunday morning.  It IS fall.

This week’s Cow stories:  Mesa Top cows and Jim Miller Ayrshire project:   The pastures at Mesa Top are very bare.  We are starting to plan the winter moves.  8 weaned heifers ranging from 7 to 11 months will go to La Puebla, hopefully for the winter, returning in spring, ready to be bred if they have grown large enough.  About 20 mother cows and first-calf heifers will go to Roswell where Dominic will be ready to milk, or he will foster extra calves to the mothers, and they will raise more beef,  and the core Mesa Top herd will stay home.  We plan to resume milking and cheese making when they begin to calf.

We are hoping for the best with hay and feed costs.  The drought that has spread across most of the Midwest has led even more difficult conditions for livestock owners this winter.  The hay is more expensive and harder to find.  The corn crop failure that is projected due to the drought will send another tidal wave of costs through the livestock world.

This year the Federal government is supposed to be renewing its farm and food bill, which funds most agriculture and food assistance programs, and is updated every five years.  Instead of updating the bill, the dysfunctional, warring ruling parties of our two party system are playing Russian roulette with the food system by proposing to suspend participation in or curtail Major conservation programs in order to use the money for farm disaster relief.  In separate polls by D’s and R’s, 71% of farmers in the most drought stricken areas do not want to see long term conservation programs sacrificed for short term disaster relief.

For more accurate and precise details and summary of the farm bill fight, follow the blogs and updates of the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition:

It is going to be a long fall and winter, with crises exaggerated to support the political agendas of the warring major parties.  We the people and especially we the farmers are the likely losers, no matter who wins the election.

Other livestock news:  I think it was 1995 or ‘6 when the last really severe corn crop failure occurred, and corn prices went through the roof.  That was when Mesa Top switched its poultry feed around to emphasize wheat as the foundation feed, and began experimenting with ration based only on local feeds:  wheat and maple peas.  Eventually we had to allow some corn and soy back into the diet in order to attain a nominally viable level of egg production, but have remained 75 to 80% local in the chicken feed.

Wheat follows corn prices though, so the rising prices of corn have also destabilized the Mesa Top poultry feed regimen.  In searching for solutions, we found the nearest area of dry-land wheat production, with a cooperative grain elevator, in Melrose, New Mexico (between Fort Sumner and Clovis).  The COOP is cleaning wheat right now, and we are buying the screenings:  the broken and light kernels, which along with other foreign matter, are cleaned out of the bulk wheat as it is cleaned for re-planting by COOP members.  This arrangement will save us a lot of money and our payments to the fatrme4rs COOP are much appreciated because it has been a hard time for dry-land wheat farmers due to our drought.  Their yields and quality are down, so every bit if revenue that they can realize from their crops is appreciated.

This week’s cheese making update:  the hiatus in cheese production continues.  But the cheese that is aging in the coolers will hold us over until late this year when the next cheeses reach 60 days of age.

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

This week’s Veggie/Share Update:  This week’s share contains several items that are waning with the transition to fall.  We offer one last delivery of Schwebach Farm’s famous corn and the first of their Yukon gold potatoes. Although this may not be the last week, summer squash and cukes are also waning.  We offer those items as part of your share this week from Rancho La Jolla and Synergia Ranch.

The Mesa Top tomatoes are ripening nicely in the greenhouse, and will produce in modest quantities for another month or so.

We also include tiny sweet peppers from Rancho La Jolla, parsley from Talon de Gato and lettuce mix from Mesa Top.  This has been a difficult lettuce year with the dryness and heat.   This picking has good texture but again the flavor is right on the edge, having lost the sweetness of lettuce grown in cooler temperatures.

The jonathan apples are as sweet as they can be now, and we include another delivery from Rancho La Jolla.

Membership news:  Help us spread the word and sign up more members!  We add $10 to your Farm Account for every member you refer.  With the great variety of summer produce, and with a terrific fruit year here in New Mexico, this is the most exciting time in the CSA season!

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

Steve Warshawer


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