Member message for Beneficial Farm, CSA for distribution of November 7th, 2014


Member news:

Site news:  For the second week in a row, two random share bags were lifted at the El Dorado pickup point by persons other than those for whom the shares were intended.  To remedy this problem we have made arrangements with Anna at Anna’s Home and Garden Shop that she will hold the shares and Special orders at her store.  We have been delivering the shares at about noon.  And Anna’s shop is open until 5PM.  If this early cut off time is a problem please let us know and we will see what we can work out.  We also plan to put up a sign at the former pick up point encouraging whoever has been enjoying the food to consider joining!!!  (Lol)


Home Delivery!

We have been talking for a while about doing home delivery for CSA members, and we believe we are ready to start offering it; we just have to keep the number manageable in the beginning. We have been asking some of our members what they feel is a fair delivery charge; generally we have heard $10 would be acceptable for just a share but if they are ordering more, it should be lower.


We would like to start home delivery as a $10 charge, and any member who orders $50 or more will receive free deliver in the form of a credit. One of the benefits of home delivery is that even if you’re not home when we come by, you can leave a cooler out for us to put your share in to keep it chilled. If you are interested in switching to Home delivery, email or call us.


Poll on New Marketplace items

We have an online poll we would like you to take a minute to give us your input on some marketplace items we want to add on. There is also a way for you to add your own thoughts on products we can work on offering. These polls are a great way for us to get your input, and for you to see what other members would like to see us working on.


We are learning more about how to operate the Blog features, so look forward to quicker responses to comments/inquiries



Reminder:   If you are having trouble getting to your share during the allotted pick up times, we suggest you change your pickup location to Hillside gallery and restaurant or discuss home delivery with us.  We have made arrangements so that shares can be held there in coolers for several days if necessary.  And so far the results have been excellent in terms of quality of the produce.


Communication:  We have ordered a new phone for the CSA Cell # and will receive it Friday this week, so after this, Colleen will be answering 505-470-1969.  We apologize for the difficulty reaching us by phone.  A new, modern phone to replace the one that held only ½ a battery charge will make a big difference.



Now, On to the food!


Farm and Marketplace News:  No squash in your share this week.  Pie pumpkins, Hubbard squash, acorn, and butternut squash all available on the marketplace.


Stayman (Winesap) Alert:  Certified Organic Staymans continue.  Enjoy them any number of ways!  They are superb for juicing, store well, and have a distinctive flavor, neither too sweet nor too tart.  Volume pricing, check the marketplace


Mesa Top firewood program:  Winter 2014/5 price determined: $125 for half chord and $250 for a chord in the El Dorado and Lamy area.  $140 for a half chord and $265 for a full chord delivered to town.  If you are real far away we can work something out.  Load at our wood yard in Canoncito, for a discount!


News and specials on the marketplace:


Salad Mix from Sol y Tierra: 

We will have spicy and regular lettuce mix, generally alternating weeks.  This week the spicy mix will be in your share and also available on the marketplace.  This is a real treat, courtesy of our southern farm groups.  Hopefully they will have it in abundance straight through the winter.


Onions:  Candy semi-sweet yellow onions for just $1 p/pound from Schwebach Family Farm.  We encourage you to add on onions, a bargain and an easy item for us to add to your share bag.


Garlic:  medium to large heads for $1 each.  That’s equivalent to about $6 per lb.


Winter Squashes:  Pie Pumpkins, Hubbard squash, acorn, and butternut squash all available.


Pomegranates:  In your share and on the marketplace.  These also juice very nicely.  We are offering a volume price for juicing.


Cabbage, red and green:  Large (4 lb.) heads from Cerro Vista Farm North of Taos


Winesap Apples Certified Organic Staymans continue.  Enjoy them any number of ways!  They are superb for juicing, store well, and have a distinctive flavor, neither too sweet nor too tart.  Volume pricing, check the marketplace


Cucumbers: Now coming in from the greenhouses at Preferred Produce, 1 in your share, more on the marketplace.  They are a bargain.


Carrots:    In your share this week, and available on the marketplace from Schwebach farm.


Tomatoes: Grape tomatoes and vine ripened tomatoes from Preferred produce on the marketplace this week.


Kale and Collards:  Mesa Top has a greenhouse full of tender young green kale.  It is almost sweet as a result of the cool nights.  In your share this week, if we are successful at protecting it from the next two mornings of temperatures in the teens, Row-covers to the rescue!



Check out the Webstore:


Here is what we are planning for your Beneficial CSA Share for Thursday November 7th, 2014

Carrots                                                       from Schwebach Family Farm

Collard bunch,                                                           from Mesa Top Farm

Hakurei Turnip, small bunch                                         from Sol y Tierra

Radish bunch                                                                    from Sol y Tierra

 Spicy salad mix                                                               from Sol y Tierra

Cucumber                                         from Preferred Produce

Pomegranate                                 from Shiraz Vineyard




On several of these staple items, we are trying to include them in the share every 3 weeks or sometimes 2 weeks in a row.  We have a portion of the membership who receives shares every other week, and we want to mix up the timing to be sure that as much as possible everyone gets to see the cross section of foods that are available.

So this week Schwebach carrots are back in the share.  And Preferred cucumbers are included again.

For salad we have spicy salad mix from Sol y Tierra, and also radishes and/or hakurei (sweet) turnips.  The greens will steam or sautee.

We also have collards from Mesa Top, tender for light steam or sautee or try them as a gluten free wrap

To keep things sweet we include pomegranates again.

If we are short on the greens from Sol y Tierra we will sub in some winter squash.

From the Mesa Top:


Climatology:  The tranquil fall weather gave way to our first winter storm, coming in from the Northwest, with the usual fetch of warm moist air out in front of it.  A nice rainy spell through the day and evening Sunday.  And snow on the peaks.


Last week the NOAA meteorologists released some research to support their expectation that this will be a colder and wetter than average winter for New Mexico.  This will result from El Nino conditions in the tropical East Pacific.  Here is a link to the report, which includes some interesting historical perspective about how El Ninos have affected us in previous events:


From the Wild:  There is a female wood duck who has taken up residence on the full reservoir, which is large enough when full that she just paddles around when a danger presents itself at the shore>  She is probably waiting for a group to arrive so she can move north in the safety of numbers.


Cow stories:  Mesa Top cows and Jim Miller Ayrshire project:   One more cow and calf pair sold, and May Mobley is not producing enough milk for us to take any without short changing her calf, little Minnie.


The milk line herd is 5 cows.  We are ready soon to explore the possibility of a few herd shares.  Contact Colleen if you are interested.


We made the planned run to Hagerman last week and brought back a yearling bull, 7 momma cows, and 5 heifers.  We sold Huey, the oldest bull, from old Cassie, our foundation Tarentaise cow, at the sale barn.  It was a remarkable experience going to the sale.  The big bulls are selling for quite good price.  Huey got us $1.20 per lb. and he weighed just over 1600 lbs.  The big packers want the big bulls for the muscle weight, which they blend together with fat and trimmings from fed cows to make the different grades of ground beef.


We saw some thin, scrawny cows and they went cheap.  We also saw crazy high prices for young, small heifers, $4 per lb. for 200 lb. calves that were probably 3 or 4 months Old.


Nationally the cow herd has dwindled to numbers not seen since the 1960s.  Many, many ranches in areas that have been suffering from drought are empty of cattle.  Replacement stock prices, such as mother cows with calf by side and young heifers are at historic highs.  For Mesa Top this means we can view our cattle herd as a sustainable piece of the farm enterprise.  We can raise enough money from selling cheese, cows (and beef) to pay for the hay we need to buy in the winter.  We now have almost 50 cows and heifers.  We seem to be adding 8 to 10 per year.  As the youngest reach breeding age, and with successful annual calving rates around 80%, we will be able to sell 15-20 young males and 5 to ten heifers or cows with calves.  This is a break even proposition with plenty of good food coming out of the process as well as live cattle for other family operations.  We still are alert to opportunities to lease empty ranches, and rotationally graze them.


All of this means that beef prices will stay high or get even higher.  We will continue to offer local grass finished beef in different ways.  Ground especially is the preference of more customers, and steaks are going to the fine dining world.  We are looking at ideas on how we could resume the family value pack.  We always want the foods from our farms to be available to our members.  We also have to take care of business and pay our bills.


Meat and animal protein update:  Sweetgrass ground beef is back.  As we review our options with the yearling bull that we brought home, we may add another grade of more tender, lean ground beef, which will be a higher price than the regular ground.  Watch for more information


Pullet eggs and giant hen eggs continue.  The pullet eggs are larger so now you are receiving to 1.5 dozen that are equivalent to a full sized dozen.


Cheese making update:  The rhythm of cheese making is getting set.  Colleen made her 15th wheel of the season of the house favorite Monterey jack.  We made an experimental wheel where the curds were left to set and cool for 4 hours instead of the usual 1.  When heating them back to the “raw milk” temp of 100 degrees, the curds developed a texture somewhat like mozzarella before they were put into the mold and pressed.  We will mark that wheel and maybe cut it as soon as it reaches its mandatory 60 day age, just to see what it is like.  Often these experiments teach us about qualities of the process that we had not anticipated.


Thank you for your investment in family farmed, 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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