Steve’s Weekly Update 1-2-13

Happy New Year and best wishes for the health and well-being of members, family, and friends!

Climatology 2013:  Wintry weather with a lot of cold and occasional snow and wind continues.  It has been several weeks now since we experienced even a day above average.  This is how the pendulum swings after weeks of extreme warmth in November and early December.  It is sure a relief to see the ground covered in snow for a while.

This week’s Cow stories:  Mesa Top cows and Jim Miller Ayrshire project: We have 8 calves on the ground at Dominc’s in Hagerman and all 5 fall calvers here at Mesa Top have had their calves.  There is another still expected down south before we are done with the fall calving.

The last calf of the season at Mesa Top is a beautiful heifer who is the first calf of one of our favorite young cows, a sweet tempered, gentle cow who is called Cindy Lou.  Her little gal Lilly Lou had to be pulled by Colleen and me in a 10 degree morning (following an 8 below zero night).  Dom had mentioned that these cows rarely calf before or on a full moon but that often there is a surge of birthing shortly after.  Sure enough Cindy Lou came into labor about 36 hours after full moon.  We had been keeping her in the “maternity ward,” a big room in the barn that is well wind protected and clean and airy.  She was enjoying being pampered – plenty of food and fresh water and no competition from the larger, more aggressive cows, as she approached delivery time.  Despite the arduous labor, momma and baby are doing very well.

The challenge for us in the dairy during a cold spell like this is keeping the vacuum line free of ice so that the milking machine functions properly, and keeping ice and manure off the ground in shaded areas around the milking parlor.  We have rerouted the vacuum line, eliminating all corners and making it easy to disassemble and move indoors to keep it warm and dry.  We are chipping ice regularly…

The cold and snow has put a damper on ranch improvements here at Mesa Top for the time being, though we did manage to power through the first stages of the cold and finish installing and testing the solar powered pump and storage tank and valve and control system for our ranch water system that allows water to be delivered to all key points around the perimeter of the ranch.

This week’s protein update:  Mesa Top Ground beef is in at the CSA for the foreseeable future.  We also have plenty of steaks and roasts to make up your family beef packs.

This week’s cheese making update:  The Salado Jack production continues, and the cheese is looking good.  With the excellent hay that we have this year, and soon to increase to 5 cows on the milk line, cheese making is an every other day activity.  The milk is of very high quality with a nice 20-25% cream layer.

Mesa Top is ready to begin offering herd shares of fresh milk and possibly other raw milk products Beneficial CSA members!!!!We are planning a meeting for members and friends interested in herd shares.  We will send a separate email with information on the meeting later this week.  Or contact Colleen Warshawer at the farm:  575-422-2238 if you want to know more right away!

This week’s cheese share includes: hot pepper jack and Asadero.

This week’s Veggie/Share Update:  Our first weekly share of the new year includes several storage crops from last fall’s harvest.  The “oldest” are the jumbo heads of garlic from La Madera Farm that were harvested in July and cured so that they are easy peel.  As they have gotten older, their flavor has gotten even better!

From the root cellar are carrots from Gemini Farm, harvested in October and washed up for presented now, ready to eat.

From the potato sheds in the San Luis Valley come White Mountain organic russet potatoes, also harvested in October.

From the greenhouse at Preferred Produce, South of Deming, New Mexico, we have organic bell peppers, lettuce and grape tomatoes, harvested fresh this week.

On the fruit side we have the last of the season organic New Mexico apples.  This week you will receive large winesaps, which are far and away the best variety of apples for storage.  Unlike sweeter, more sugary varieties which break down and gets mushy quickly, the winesaps are tart and tangy.  They retain their flavor and some of their crispness even when they are stored without a lot of fancy technology (such the controlled atmosphere storage that is utilized to extend the life of harvested apple for several additional months).  These apples were grown at Cider Mills Farms in Mountain Park, New Mexico, between Alamogordo and Cloudcroft, in the foothills of the Sacramento Mountains.

We also have our favorite winter citrus, from South Texas Organics:  Rio Star Ruby grapefruits and Hamlin oranges.

We hope you enjoy this great start to the New Year!

Membership news:  Help us spread the word and sign up more members!  We add $10 to your Farm Account for every member you refer.

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

Steve Warshawer

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