member message for Beneficial Farms CSA, Distribution of August 14, 2014

Member news:  Thank you, those of you who gave us feedback via our quick membership survey.  The conclusion is that the frequency of lengthy emails is not valuable to most members.  We also looked at how communications have “crept” over the last year especially, toward this frequency and realize that with the exception of changes, and reports of problems, there is no reason for more than one email.  This week we will ONLY offer details in today’s email, and if there is a follow up email it will be very short.  We will indicate in the subject line, something clever, like  UPDATE…


MarketPlace  News:  At the height of the growing season, it is hard to fit every type of produce available into your weekly share. Plus variations in member preferences seem to be at their peak also when the availability of local produce is greatest.  The market place is now populated with as many products as we can find that are available from your local farms each week.


New and special on the marketplace:


Corn:  Schwebach Family Farm sweet corn is a mid-summer to early fall treat that we look forward to very year.  The Schwebach family has been renowned for their sweet corn for 2 generations at least.  There will be some corn in your share, but if you are a sweet corn lover you may want to grab another half dozen using our marketplace special:  buy 5 and get one free, (half a dozen for price of 5).


Jalapeno peppers:  Hot peppers are loved by some, avoided by most.  Jalapenos are the meatiest of the hot peppers.  We hope to have them available on the marketplace on an ongoing basis from Bertha Aredondo at Chapparal Community Farm.  They are 8 or 9 to a pound, so to make it easy we price them by the pepper


Baja Garlic braids:  As we get ready for the Northern New Mexico garlic, now well cured and available from several of our farmers, we want to close out the baja garlic braids by eating all of the garlic.  Again we offer a buy 5 get one free on the garlic itself, or w REDUCED PRICE for whole braids of $8 for 2+ lbs of garlic.  The have likely lost some weight due to dehydration but will be easier to peel as a result.  Peel and freeze, or roast them with the beets coming in this week’s share.


Continuing seasonal specials:

Peaches:  Thomas Cameron’s Rancho Durazno is known for “peaches you remember”! Don’t forget to order yours; there will be only a couple or few in your share this week


Basil: from Talon de Gato:  buy 5 bunches get one Free! It’s time to make pesto and to stock up.  You can freeze it and use it all winter, or if it has enough olive oil in it, save it in your refrigerator!


Roasted Green Chili:  Talon de Gato is the first farmer to have roasted green chili available for Beneficial this season. We have 1/2lb bags available starting this week on the marketplace. We welcome larger green chili orders, please let us know.


Cantaloupes: Preferred Produce’s bargain fruit will be available for the next few weeks, not in your share this week.  Order them from the marketplace while they last.



Seasonal produce still holding strong on the Marketplace




Lettuce mix,

Lettuce heads,



Summer squash



Temporary Our of Stock:  (soon to return:)

Tomatoes:  Preferred is in a lull due to the cool and cloudy weather but things should be picking up in the next week or two.


Carrots:  Several of our farmers who are strong on fall crops report that their carrots are sizing up and getting the great cool season weather that we look forward to.  Bulk carrots should be in stock again soon.



Check out the Webstore:

[Link to Web Store]


Here is what we are planning for your Beneficial CSA Share for Thursday August 14, 2014


Sweet corn                                                                                    from Schwebach Farm

Salado Chile Jack Cheese (Aged, raw)                                           from Mesa Top Farm

Lettuce head                                                                         from Talon de Gato

Tender Arugula, bag or bunch                                            from Talon de Gato

Dill bunch                                                                   from Green Tractor

Beet Bunch                                                      from synergia

Peaches                                   from Rancho Durazno



This week’s share in a mix from across the produce field, from tree top to below the ground.  Remember that you can cook the beet greens.  The dill is an item we do not see often.  If you cannot use it fresh, it dries easily and can be crushed and saved for later.  A cold beet salad with a dressing using the fresh dill would work…


The beets themselves will store well.  Roasting them, quartered and brushed with oil is also a tasty way to enjoy them.  You might want to store them in the fridge for a week or two as we are hoping to have carrots  week, and potatoes soon as well.  We are “closing out” the baja garlic, with specials price on the marketplace.


For your salad we have tender arugula and a nice head of lettuce from Talon de Gato.  More about the Salado chile jack in the “cheese making update” near the end of this message.




From the Mesa Top and other News: 


Climatology 2014: NOAA LINK:


The monsoon seems to be winding down.  There is some moisture around, but it is not building up to provide widespread rain.  And the forecast calls for significant drying toward the end of this week.  We had a 45 degree night at Mesa Top already, and that is an indication of drier air in place, and cold fronts coming down the front range.  In July those fronts brought storms, now there is more wind. These are signs of fall.


From the Wild:  Rattlesnake gallery not yet ready, sorry


Cow stories:  Mesa Top cows and Jim Miller Ayrshire project:  This is the time of year when we start trying to keep an eye on the bred cows, as many calve in the fall.  We love fall calving, especially when we have had decent rains and have some green pasture.  The mother cows seem to benefit from their time on the grass in building up their bodies to be ready for the rigors of lactation.


Then as the cows come into milk, we gradually assemble a group for the milk line.  We like fall and winter milking and cheese making.  Easy to keep things clean (this can get a little tough in a wet/muddy winter) and the cows are happy to live a leisurely life, not having to work so hard for their feed:  life is easy when you are fed nice hay twice a day!!!


We try to keep a good eye on who is getting ready to calf, but almost always it is an adventure.  This year’s adventure has begun.  With lots of natural water holes on the ranch, we see that herd a lot less frequently.   Steve  located the range herd out on the Herrera ranch on Sunday, and Druidia  (daughter of Dottie), one of the 8 heifers, due to have their first calves this fall, was dripping milk from all four quarters and looked huge (like a dairy cow).  Usually that is a sign that a young calf is around.  But with first time heifers it is so hard to tell.  We thought she had not yet calved, so we made plans to go get her


The herd followed his trail home, and ended up in the evening at the west end of Herrera ranch.  Steve and Colleen walked Druidia all the way home, another mile. And She seemed content to eat alfalfa and hang out in the maternity ward.  We figured she would calf that night.  But in the morning, she was agitated, and calling out, and had not calved, so Colleen “preg checked” her and there was no sign of a calf inside her either.  So we had to hope that the young calf who had been almost 24 hours apart from Mother was old enough to withstand that separation from milk, and were safely bedded down somewhere and had not been found by predators.


Steve walked Druidia back along the exact trail she had followed with the herd and then all the way home the night before.  About 1.5 miles along she caught up with the herd, at our water tanks, as they headed back to deeper grass.  Two more cows joined her on the trek toward the Herrera water holes and the far eastern end of the ranch.  The cows were not frantic, except at one point where there were noises off in the brush that could have been coyotes.  The cows dashed over to the area, but nothing was found and lots of calling met with no reply and the trek resumed.  About another mile and a half later Druidia’s calls were answered by a little brown calf that bounded out of the brush and immediately began to nursing feverishly.


The momma and calf and her two search companions then raced back to rejoin the herd.  We have seen mother cows stash their calves and go about their business for many hours, but this pushed the limits.  We feel lucky to have had things work out in the end.  We can be glad it was a relatively warm night, and no rain.


Hopefully we can get Druidia AND her calf, and 3 other heifers who are looking big, back to the headquarters soon.  Milking and the buildup of the milk herd for cheese making will begin.


Meat and animal protein update:  We are looking at scheduling of more birds to raise at Mesa Top.  We also have identified an older bull that can be our ground beef supply, but we also have to consider whether it is really “costing out” for us.  These aging animals are fetching surprising prices from the regular cattle markets.  Our price has perhaps remained too low for the ground beef.  We are looking at price increase; we’ll see what the analysis tells us and whether we can offer a value to members as well as meeting Mesa Top’s financial needs.


Cheese making update: See above, the fall resumption of milking is probably 4, maybe 6 weeks away.  This week we hope you will enjoy the mild chile aged raw cheese from Mesa top.  Produced in later March and early April, at over 4 months age this is when our cheeses have the best flavor and still are not super dry and sharp.


Thank you for your investment in family and local and regional agriculture.  We appreciate your support as we work to improve the CSA as a vital element of our local and regional food system!


Our farms and farmers thank you for your support,


The Warshawer/Swendson/Agard Family

Beneficial Farm CSA


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