Early summer update, and how to get our products this season

Although water supplies are in shorter supply throughout the region this year because of a year-long drought, our ponds are full and looking good! We’ve had at least four families of geese frolic in the ponds around the farm this spring.

Many of you noticed we weren’t at this growing season’s first Telluride Farmers Market on Friday, June 5. This is the first market we’ve missed since the market’s inception almost 20 years ago. Due to the Coronavirus epidemic we pivoted our business plan this year to ramp up food deliveries to distribution points through our popular CSA program. We’re now feeding some 70 households in the Telluride region, from Ridgway to Norwood to Telluride/Mountain Village and points in-between. Anne’s vegetable garden here at the farm is also sold-out of product through her small CSA, although you can find some of her nutrient-dense produce at the Norwood Fresh Food Hub on Grand Ave.

When planning our season in late winter, and with the virus taking hold in the US at the time, we decided we didn’t want to risk exposing ourselves or our apprentices to the virus at the market all summer long. We also didn’t know if the market would even be in existence. And, we suspected that market patronage would be down due to a slower than usual summer tourism season and possible absenteeism from some market regulars who also didn’t want to expose themselves to the virus at the market.

There’s good news all-around from this decision. While we’re sold-out of CSA shares for the season, there are still a myriad of ways by which customers who missed the signup can obtain our products:

• Farm products — chickens, eggs, pate and bone broth — are available at the farm. Simply call us in advance (970-327-4762) and we’ll put your order into a cooler that is kept at the beginning of our driveway on 43ZN Road. That cooler always has eggs available (“small”-sized) for $4/doz if you’re in the ‘hood. Please leave your money in the jar provided inside the cooler.

• You can place orders for our chickens and eggs online through the Norwood Food Hub.

• Our eggs are available at Ghost Town in Telluride.

• Check out Vicki Renda’s Fresh Food Movement to place orders for our chickens.

• If ordering chickens in bulk for winter storage, or if reserving a turkey for the holidays is what you’re looking for, we recommend you fill out our meat order form. Just fill it out with your deposit and pop it in the mail. Please be aware we’re on the verge of selling out of both the chicken and turkey via the meat order form for the season! 

Essentially, we’re still sheltering in place here at the farm, doing what we love, growing food for our friends and neighbors. No doubt, though, our social life has taken a beating, as we’ve had to say “no” in more than one occasion to be with friends. We simply can’t risk our health since all seven of us living here are committed to ensuring the viability of the farm and to meeting the food orders of our customers.

Other than some supply chain challenges and the need to rehash our business plan, the pandemic hasn’t thrown us off. We roll out of bed in the morning, arm ourselves with a couple cups of coffee and start the day with chores. What does have us off-balance a bit are the consistently strong winds and some other extreme weather we’ve had to deal with this season so far.

One day, a micro-burst of wind launched two of our pastured poultry pens into the sky and up against the wildlife fencing, damaging both and sending pasture-raised broiler chickens scattering every which way. Another wind event flipped our Canestoga egg-laying chicken tractor over (twice!) before we safely secured it.

Yesterday, Saturday, was another great example. We got word that a vicious storm packing 70mph gusts and golf-sized hail was about to descend on Norwood. With that forecast in mind, and with dark clouds on the horizon, all of us — Dave, DeAnne, Anne and the boys, Barclay and Tony — kicked into action and secured as much of whatever needing securing as possible. We made sure the overflow diversion at one of our ponds was cleared of debris in the event the rain verified as forecasted. Fortunately, we got the rain, at least some of what was forecasted, but the strong winds never materialized. The storm was vicious, yes, but short-lived. Now, as this is being written at the end of the first week of June, we’re anticipating a couple cold nights here at the farm that will surely conspire to wreak havoc. Preparations are being made in the garden with the forecasted 30-degree temps.

Subtropical moisture wrapped into ominous dark clouds from a cold front are about the descend on Wrights Mesa and the farm on Saturday morning, June 6, 2020.

We’re constantly reminded of how difficult it is to grow food that is then distributed to our loving customers. There’s never a dull moment around here. As the saying in Colorado goes, “If you don’t like the weather, just wait five minutes.” Farming in this region, or anywhere in the world, is challenging, for sure. The pandemic has also shown that our industrial food system is not as secure as citizens might think. It doesn’t take much to throw it off so it can’t produce the food that Americans have grown accustomed to. That’s why the local food movement is growing leaps and bounds. Food security for all households comes from supporting local agriculture. That’s one of the many lessons being learned from this pandemic. Thank you for joining us along this wild ride!

Enjoy the following selected images of life on the farm:

Caledonia, a Dexter milk cow, busy eating down the grass before our pastured poultry intensively graze through the same pasture. She’s milked every morning.
Last season’s regeneration project is already showing signs of benefiting the ecosystem by enhancing bio-diversity through the planting of trees and shrubs and improving on our water retention systems.
Vedder, our Red Heeler, taking the Livestock Guardian pups Lukin and Bee Girl across the pasture on a romp. In just four months, these large dogs weigh and are larger than Vedder!
Norwood had a lovely candle-lit vigil in memory of George Floyd.
Beautiful sunsets are never in short supply on Wrights Mesa.

May you all stay healthy!

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