Monsoon just around the corner?

As farmers we keep an eye on the weather on a daily basis. Winds, high temperatures, overnight cooling, precipitation forecasts, cloudiness, you name it. If you can stay one step ahead of this ever-changing climate that we try to grow food in, you’re that much better off in the long-run. Of course, the trickiest time of year is in the spring, when temps can fluctuate wildly and storms can brew snow, even in May. This year, who can forget the overnight freeze on June 12? Temperatures have been varying wildly the past few weeks here at the farm, as well, with overnight temps in the low 50s and highs in the mid-80s, an amazing 30-degree swing in an 8-hour period! But as we all know, it’s been extremely dry for the past few weeks. And the wildfires have begun in earnest throughout the Four Corner states, including a new fire perilously close to the historic town of Breckenridge.
We only measured 0.10″ of an inch of precipitation in June, making it one of the driest (and warmest) months since we started the farm 16 years ago. In fact, Tucson just officially declared that June broke all kinds of temperature records for the month of June, including the fact that it was the hottest month of all time in that desert burg. Why mention Tucson? Because, in the summer months, if you want a hint at what may be in the offing precipitation-wise, pay attention to our Sonoran desert neighbor to the south. That’s where our moisture streams through on its way from the Gulf of California (and sometimes the Gulf of Mexico) to the southern Rockies.
And relief from the dryness may soon be on the way!
Forecasters in Tucson say there’s a good chance for a “strong upswing in activity next week.” And our (Tony’s that is!) favorite forecasting weather model also shows the same for our neck of the woods. We certainly don’t want to jinx anything, but this could mean the beginning of what is hopefully a prolonged and wet North American monsoon season. We can only hope!

Farm happenings

What’s been going on on the farm? Anne’s kids have been taking care of a recently hatched duckling, and having a ball doing so.

Jonah watering “Wilbur the duck”, who has been entertaining him and his brother Elias the past couple weeks!

And last night, Anne showed up with a Nubian mama goat and her two week old kid, both as cute as can be. She’ll be milking the goat, which means we’ll have two milking goats on the farm, providing us with nutritious and tasty raw goat milk.

Barclay milking Dahlia early one recent morning.

Barclay and Tony recently participated in a discussion on grass farming and the benefits grass has to sequestering carbon from the atmosphere, which is an important topic in these days of human-influenced global warming. Carbon sequestration is an initiative being pursued by several entities in the region, including the Telluride Foundation, which recently invited some USDA folk to Telluride to discuss the subject. We’ve certainly found an improvement in our grass pastures from the intensive rotational grazing we practice with our chickens and turkeys (and seasonally with a couple steers), and are wedded to the proven fact that meat and by-products (e.g. eggs, milk and cheese) from grass fed animals are very healthy for human consumption. Certainly in the West End grass is the main commodity being grown by ranchers making it possibly even more important economically in the future.

… and at the bakery

As many of you know, our bakery has moved off the farm and into a downtown Norwood location.  We’ve gone from 650 square feet to over 1500 and we’re loving it!  We have a beautiful store front and are open every day but Monday.  We have sweet and savory items for sale, such as quiche made with Indian Ridge Eggs or turnovers using our greens. We also sell pastries using organic fruit from the Western Slope and many gluten-free items as well. We are a true “farm to bakery” establishment and we hope that you’ll stop by the next time you are in the “hood”.

Our addictive granola


Who are your farmers?

So, who are your farmers? We thought we’d briefly introduce our two interns this summer, Josias and Elizabeth, who both hail from Fresno, Ca. They are primarily focused on the pastured poultry operation, working closely with Tony for the most part. We’ve had an internship/apprenticeship program here for the past 15 years or so and have met so many varied and interesting young farmers who have mostly gone on to great pursuits. We have no doubt that Josias and Elizabeth have a fantastic future ahead of them, as they’re both smart, hard-working, observant and nice to be around, too.

Elizabeth and Tony are securing the turkey roost after a rotation in the pasture.

In their own words:
“Eli is a recent college grad who’s arrived in Colorado by way of Pennsylvania…by way of California. Originally from Fresno, Eli attended university in the Bay Area, graduating with a degree in Gender and Women’s Studies. Her interest in farming stems from a desire to work toward equitable food access, as well as a love of cooking and baking.
“Joe is a California transplant, with interests in existentialism and American neo-pragmatism. Joe cares about sustainable practices, having worked at a recycling center and now with agriculture.” He adds, emphatically, “Go Raiders!”
Look for the two of them on alternating Fridays at the Telluride Farmers Market, or on most days here at the farm.
You all met Anne the gardener and CSA manager, through the CSA info we sent out earlier this summer, but we’ll repeat her brief bio here in case you missed it:
Anne LeFevre (who has a brother in Telluride named Dave) farmed for many years in the mountains of Northern New Mexico with her two boys, aged two and a half and five and a half, before moving to Colorado after a short stint in North Central Washington.

Some of the tomato plants loving the warmth and protection of the hoop house. Anne recently spent time trellising these plants to make sure they’re propped up.

She writes that in this week’s box, you’ll find: salad mix, arugula, red frills mustard, radishes, carrots, hakeuri turnips, a bunch of beet greens with small beets, ciIantro, dill and endive. The little beets with greens were thinned to make more room for the up and coming full sized beets. The cilantro is a bit rough around the edges, literally, this week. It’s a new seed variety and doesn’t hold well in the garden.  I cleaned it up some but you may need to pick through again.
The deeply lobed leaves of this pale green Endive are slightly bitter. It can be added into lettuce salads, eaten alone or sauteed with other greens. I like to eat it with a warm dressing which wilts it slightly.  This can be done by toasting sunflower seeds or pine nuts in a skillet, add oil, vinegar, salt and pepper then toss with the endive leaves while it still hot. Enjoy!
Remember your veggies have not been washed … plus please bring back your boxes, bags, rubberbands, egg cartons and other reusable items. Thank you. (The planet thanks you too!)
Chickens this week will be distributed to folks who signed up for a “Chicken every Week.”

Have a great week AND thank you!