Steve’s Message 10-30-13

Member message for Beneficial Farm CSA, week of October 31st 2013


Climatology 2013:   A blast of wintry weather is coming to us as a storm system passes through Colorado and is followed by a period of cold weather.  We have had a couple of smaller storms which have begun to leave snow behind on the high mountain peaks. 


This week’s Cow stories:  Mesa Top cows and Jim Miller Ayrshire project:  We made several cow moves this week.  We took one herd off of our 280 acres State lease land and  held them near home for a couple of days.  We brought the 2012 heifers (now between 8 months and a year old) up to La Puebla and brought the 2011 heifers and put them with the larger herd, and moved them onto the Herrera Ranch, immediately to our North.  15 cows, including two young calves and one bull are now together there.  We will be expecting 5 to 7 calves from among this group in the next 4 to 6 months, and then the first calf from the 2011 heifers will hopefully come very late next summer or early fall.

We still have a lot of cows at Dominic Battista’s in Hagerman, and will perhaps add a few from there to our herd.  At that point we will sell a of the cows unless we can find more neighboring land and bring along some of the cows from the South that are better beef and range cows.

You can’t make this stuff up, ANOTHER chapter:  Our oldest cow, the grandma of the herd, is Cassie, a pure bred Tarentaise who came to Mesa Top in 2000 at age 3 so now she is 16 years old.  She is getting a bit senile and has lost her alpha position in the herd.  Used to be whenever we fed the cows hay, Cassie could control a large amount of it and keep the other cows away while she ate to her heart’s content.  Now she is not as strong, and does not dominate.  She was the first winter calver we had, about 6 years ago, and was also the first cow that we milked at Mesa Top.  She probably lost the calf that would have been due in Winter 2012, but had another heifer late this spring.  Cassie was up on the State lease pasture.  Several times I found Cassie off by herself, happily grazing, and she would suddenly appear to remember “where’s junior”, and start walking directly on some apparently pre-determined route, directly to her calf, who was happily romping around with Abigail’s calf.

Cassie has always been a bit of a Houdini, finding her way over, under and around fences and gates whenever “the grass was greener on the other side”.  Recently we started seeing tracks outside the state lease pasture.  2 or 3 times we found Cassie fairly near the main gate that we use to haul water and to load and unload cows when we move them by trailer.  When I was returning home from the airport after my last trip to Washington DC. I noticed that the gate was latched in a different way than Colleen and I do.  Last Sunday my sisters were visiting from out of state and we were looking for the cows to get an idea if all were gathered, or if perhaps some besides Cassie had gotten loose.  Of course we found Cassie on the road, and her calf on the pasture side of the fence.  We walked her back to the gate and let her in, where she promptly joined her calf and went on about her business.

After we let her in, a neighbor who was driving home stopped and told us that she had found Cassie walking along the road toward the gate one day, and followed her.  When Cassie got to the gate, she butted it with her head, and turned to the neighbor and mooed.  It was obvious that Casssie expected the person to know what needed to be done:  “glad you could make it, now open the gate and let me in.”  The neighbor complied, and watched Cassie walk in and head off to go get her calf.  The neighbor was all smiles describing the experience.  Cassie made a good impression on behalf of Mesa Top Farm!  This neighbor also owns a small ranch, adjacent to Herrera’s, and we have been hoping to discuss leasing/grazing up there.  Cassie’s four legged diplomacy may have helped advance that conversation in ways us two leggeds have never been able to do. 

Two days later I found Cassie walking down the County Road almost a mile from the usual gate.  I could not turn her, she was intent on the direction she was headed in, toward another, newly installed (locked) gate.  So I decided my best bet was to get to that gate and open it and see what she did.  I got there and opened the gate and as she approached she started mooing and her calf, who as safely in the protection of Abigail and the rest of the herd, responded from 50 yards away or so.  Cassie came right through the gate, back onto the State Lease land, and went to her calf to resume her mothering duties.


This week’s protein update:  

The turkeys keep eating and growing and cleaning up the garden area.  They are very busy and content when pastured in the garden.  As they get larger they are flying less and present less of a risk to get over the fences.  I counted 44 the other day.  We have lost a couple, but so far so good!  We are planning our harvest for 2 days between the 21st and the 26th with pickup/delivery arrangements to be completed on or by the 26th.

We hope the CSA will put these up on the marketplace this week, and members will be able to order them through the CSA.  If you are interested, please let Dena know.


This week’s cheese making update:  Colleen is making cheese twice a week.  We are using our “tried and true” Salado Jack” recipe.  All raw milk cheese from Mesa Top is aged at least 60 days because that is the “best practice” to assure the success of the beneficial microbes that create the flavor and texture of the cheese.  We find that the cheese begins to get a good flavor after 4 months of age.

We have a good supply of one year and older cheese, so we will be able to provide sharper, more aged cheese to the CSA members ongoing until the cheese of 2013 reaches good age and flavor

We also have plenty of fresh milk for herd shares, and we do thank our one loyal herd share member and would welcome more!  The fresh milk is delicious.  Contact Colleen at the farm if you want to learn more:  575-422-2238


This week’s Veggie/Share Update:  Another remarkably varied share this week.

From below the ground we have potatoes from Gemini Farm and beets from Synergia Ranch.   

Above the ground, edible “Stem” portions are leeks from Talon de Gato and fennel from Red Mountain Farm.

Our greens this week are turnip greens from Talon de Gato.

We are very strong on fruits this week:  zuccini and cucumbers come from the greenhouse at Preferred Produce.

At last we received our one shipment of Western Slope Colorado apples, and your share includes Organic Gold delicious and Rome beauties packed by Rogers Mesa Produce.  Watch for emails from Dena about availability of apples by special order for your cooking or baking needs.

Thank you farmers!


Membership news:  Please follow us online at Facebook and Twitter. This is a great way to show your friends our weekly shares, recipes and updates.

Remember when you 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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