Member message for Beneficial Farm CSA, week May 8th, 2014
Climatology 2013: NOAA LINK: http://www.weather.gov/forecastmaps
The springtime weather yo-yo is in effect. From hot to cold, from windy to calm, from promising precipitation to high and dry. The weather making patterns are in conflict as we move toward summer.
Even without precipitation, the cool weather is a benefit now. The same holds for more calm weather. These conditions preserve the limited snow pack and reduce fire risk. We are still getting snow on the highest elevations. We even saw a few flakes at Mesa Top during last week’s cold snap!
Speaking to friends in fruit growing areas of our region, the word is that next week we will hear our first meaningful assessment of the fruit crop for this season. THAT is something to look forward to!
This week’s Cow stories: Mesa Top cows and Jim Miller Ayrshire project: Exciting news for Mesa Top! We are in beginning discussions with the owners of another ranch not too far from home where we might gain access to additional pasture and be able to utilize our herd to improve range and forest health, and reduce fire risk. This opportunity arises indirectly out of years of work at the Santa Fe County level trying to create programs for conservation of agriculture and related opportunities as development works its way across Santa Fe County. Watch for updates as the process continues!
Flower had her calf, a beautiful heifer. We are guessing that she was a bit past term. Her calf is long legged and big. Not at all like her mom, who is stocky and short legged. Therein lies a problem! Flower got so big in her udder that her teats are low to the ground, and little Buddy can’t seem to find them! Observing her (and Flower’s) confusion we realized that we need to bottle feed her. Still this is not best as Flower needs her calf to be nursing during the day. We are hoping that the little one finally gets hungry enough to solve her own problem.
Cassie, our aging herd leader, has a large udder that hangs low and her calves have never had trouble finding it. This is all new to Flower though, who has been a good producer, but never become so large as she has this time.
This week’s protein update: We have three veal shares left, also a few beef shares, and ground beef still available. Our baby chicks arrived. It’s been a tough start for the next flock of pullets, as we had some feed related issues and travel stress for them to contend with. We lost a fair number in the first weeks. Now they are starting to grow. The 2 dozen meat birds are almost comical looking as their growth outpaces the little barred rock laying hens. We will have fresh chickens in a couple of months!
This week’s cheese making update: With so much great milk available, we are still trying to keep the cheesemaking going at Mesa Top, but that is a struggle as we also launch the vegetable season. We are making some improvements to the cooling in our cheese aging area so we can create the right environment for young cheese. It is essential that the aging area be cool enough that the enzyme/microbial process is slow. We are hoping to manage the aging area climate with only circulation of nighttime cool air and some swamp cooling during the day, to add humidity and reduce temperature swings.
We are very happy with the flavor profile of our younger cheeses. Even so, Dena informed us about their tendency to mold. We want to point out that this should be no surprise as this is LIVE FOOD! Once exposed to air, the living cultures that are present in the cheese, that create its unique flavor and allow that flavor to change over time, all have different interactions with air. When sealed inside the wax of an uncut wheel, they exhibit one set of characteristics, once exposed to air, it is a different set! So with our vigorously active, younger cheeses, once opened to air, they will mold. If you want to hold the 6 oz pieces of cheese that you get in your share for more than a week or so, after breaking the vacuum seal, you can expect to trim off some mold. There is no danger there, just a little waste, along with a bit of “sharpening” of the flavor.
We hope to be including more of our young cheese in your share soon.
This week’s Veggie/Share Update: Like last week, this week’s share is still strongly supported by Preferred Produce, who is near the peak of the variety that they harvest from their greenhouses.
Items from Preferred include cluster tomatoes, cucumbers, red bell peppers, and kale.
From the hoop houses at Talon de Gato we have lettuce mix
From storage at White Mountain farm come Yukon Gold potatoes. These are the most flavorful of the potatoes from White Mountain. We are pretty near to the end of last fall’s Colorado potato harvest so they will tend to want to turn green and start to grow quickly! Don’t store them for too long! Best to eat them soon.
From outside the fresh produce department we have delicious raspberry ginger jam from Heidi’s Organic in Corrales.
Members now receive a $25 gift from the CSA when when you help us spread the word and sign up more members. The process is simple, refer a friend and be sure the CSA knows that your recommendation led to their joining and we will add $25 to your Farm Account. Thank you for your investment in and continued support of the CSA. We appreciate your support!