FROM THE MESA TOP: Message for Beneficial Farm CSA members, May 29th, 2014
Climatology 2013: NOAA LINK: http://www.weather.gov/forecastmaps
Following the latest measurable (over 1 inch) snow in 50 years, now we have the earliest named tropical storm in the East Pacific in the history of named storms. Hurricane Amanda is in position to impact the Southwest with moisture flow this weekend.
In between, Memorial day weekend was wild on the Mesa Top. 4 days with significant rainfall in each. Starting Friday with big storms including hail TWICE! After the first hails storm as we walked around tossing row covers off plants to keep the hail from freezing them, I commented that the good news is it never hails twice in the same day. An hour later it hailed again! Saturday and Sunday included nice rains, slow and gentle. And Monday, the hail gods struck again, more forcefully than Friday. Hail the size or small marbles. And an hour later, what never happens, happened again, for the second time in four days. A second hail storm. A total of 3.5 inches of rain (and melted hail) measured in 4 days.
All of the ponds are full. The canyon ran for half a day. The spadefoot toads have come up from the mud in the bottom of the ponds and are calling for mates. We have had a flock of 5 wild ducks hanging out at our largest pond, even as its surface area dwindled to just 5 to 10,000 square feet. Now they are set up for the season with more like 25,000 square feet of pond surface!!
The hail struck pastures greened up almost instantly when sun and warmth returned on Tuesday.
The Mesa Top squash and cucumbers survived thanks to the hoop and row cover system that we use for hail and frost protection. There was modest, plant loss, and now that the sun is out, we will see how quickly the stronger plants grow out of the damage, and we will replace whatever damaged plants we can replace.
Now we look ahead to this weekend and we will see how Amanda’s moisture looks if and when it reaches us!
This week’s Cow stories: Mesa Top cows and Jim Miller Ayrshire project: The range herd has divided itself in two. Half are hanging around close to feed and half have been off for 3 days, weathering the storm on some pasture about a mile east of the farm center. We expect to see them wandering home today or tomorrow. We will rotate them off of the pasture that they are on now, to allow it to gain the full benefit of the moisture we just received. We will have plenty of water to send up to the Herrera Ranch and that is where they will spend the next month or so.
We found a home for Maya and Flower and their calfs. They are being sold to a small family farm that offers herd shares in the Pagosa Springs area. They will move next week. We hope to sell another half dozen more more cows, mostly from the Hagerman herd, while demand and prices are high.
This week’s protein update: Yesterday we found an unwelcome intruder in the chick brooding area. A 6 foot long bull snake had been feasting on baby chicks! It was so full and so large that it was not much a challenge to catch and move the marauding beast.
We spend a lot of the summer watching for bull snakes and rattlesnakes around the hen house. Both species love to eat the bountiful mice that live there. And some of the bull snakes have figured out how to swallow eggs. We figure that is part of the predator balance and everyone who goes to the hen house is trained on how to watch for and avoid snakes. They do not bother the hensa and the hens pay them almost no attention at all
But the baby chicks have no survival instinct. One year we had ravens praying on them, and as a result their yard is now covered with a netted roof. It is well fenced to protect them from dogs. Now we add another danger, snakes, which we sure had not expected. Oh well, live and learn.
This week’s cheese making update: Cheesemaking will end for now with the move of Flower and Maya to Pagosa. It stared earlier than usual last fall with early September calfs from Dottie and Bow. Colleen can finally get her much needed break from milking and cheese making. And we avoid the fly season and heat of summer which present the greatest challenges for sanitaryconditions and cooling.
We have plenty of cheese aging, and will be able to supply once a month cheese to the shares through the summer with the first-of-its kind chile jack aged and ready mid summer
This week’s Veggie/Share Update: This week’s share is strong on greens, all of which come from Northern NM farms: Head lettuce and Pac Choi from Talon de Gato, Kale and Spinach from Green Tractor Farm in La Cienega.
Along with the greens is one bunch of green garlic from Ancient Waters Farm in La Madera.
Rounding out the share is a sungold tomato plant from Talon de Gato, an orange cherry tomato that does very well in our climate and elevation.
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!