Ram pumps, broccoli raab, bok choi and (still) green grasses

It may be just a trickle in this particular ditch, but there’s nothing like fresh running water to keep things green and the ponds full!


Week 3 of distribution

We’re in Week 3 of this season’s distribution. So far so good. The warm (hot?) weather has really perked the garden up and it’s taking off.

We’re happy to announce that this is the first week for our pastured poultry distribution to those members who signed up for a chicken share. These birds weighed in at an average of nearly four and one-half pounds, large by any measure. This is one of the benefits of being a CSA member: you will share in the bounty of the harvest as well as in any hardships that may ensue. In this case, members signed up for and paid for chickens averaging 3.65 pounds, so enjoy the extra healthy, flavorful meat!

Bok Choi and Broccoli Raab

It’s always a surprise (even if you read the newsletter), when you open your weekly box and start pulling out your produce.  Even the most savvy foodie may have a hard time identifying all the produce. To that end, we’re going to give you a little more information about what is in your weekly share.

This week it’s Bok Choi. It’s the elongated upright head of dark green leaves and large white stems.  Farmer John Peterson writes, “Since the texture of the leaves differs from that of the stems, choi is practically two vegetables in one.  The leaves can be cooked and eaten like spinach, while the crisp stems – sweet and mild in flavor – can be used like celery or asparagus.”

The other mystery green in your box is the broccoli raab. It’s in the broccoli family, made familiar by its tiny flowers. It’s a sweet, mild green that can also be used much like spinach. Barclay recommends sauteing it with a little olive oil, garlic and salt.

To that end, here’s what’s in your boxes this week:

  • Bok Choi
  • Medley Salad Mix (comprised of salad greens, spicy greens, Asian greens and arugula)
  • Head Bibb Lettuce
  • Broccoli Raab
  • Dill
  • Pastured Chicken for chicken shares
  • Pastured Eggs for eggs shares
  • Granola and bread for bakery shares

We think you’ll enjoy this week’s recipe from Bon Appetit , but we encourage you to hop on the internet or check out a good cookbook for more ideas. This week’s recipe can be found by clicking here.

Look also in the recipe file for a wonderful idea using herbs.  The feathery like bundle in your box this week is Dill.

An example of poultry “mob grazing”, where these pens are moved everyday to fresh grass. In this instance, the pens, which house about 65 chickens, are moved towards the camera. The birds leave behind a uniform amount of organic, natural fertilizer throughout the pasture, resulting in increased pasture health and fertility. This is a true example of “pastured poultry,” and as humans, we get to enjoy the health benefits from the green grasses eaten by the birds.


Did you know we installed a Ram Pump?

This week we cranked up our Ram Pump. This may be one of the farm’s better kept secrets. But we thought we’d spill the beans. It’s really cool!

We installed this pump about four years ago as a means of trying to make the farm more resilient to drought conditions, when water (and the springs) on Wrights Mesa are stressed. That’s the situation we find ourselves in right now this early summer season. In essence, the ram pump takes water from one spring on the north side of the property (Caretaker Spring, as we’ve called it; named after Barclay’s parents farm in the Berkshire Hills of Western Mass.) and pumps it to the pond from which we irrigate the garden. The beauty of this system is that the ram pump, actually an “old” technology that’s been around for a long, long time, doesn’t require any electrical, solar or gas energy for it to work. It uses the force of water descending down a slope to force the water great distances. In our case, the water is pushed uphill to a maximum height of 24′, traveling a distance of more than a quarter mile across the pasture. The only downside is that the system is not very efficient; seven gallons of water are discharged for every gallon pumped (one can argue that that water would simply flow downstream anyway if it weren’t captured). In our case, the water is flowing into our irrigation pond at about 4 gallons per minute, or about 5000 gallons per day, enough to offset what our irrigation requirements are for one day.

Check it out in this short video:


If this video doesn’t work, here’s a still image of the Ram Pump:

This is it: the Ram Pump, which pumps water uphill for over 20 vertical feet, crossing almost a quarter-mile of pasture, before dumping water out in our irrigation pond. It uses no electricity or gas, only the force of water.

Still some green grass and high tides around here …

You may have noticed, but the dry conditions are stressing out plants and trees throughout the region. We heard of the caterpillar moths invading drought-weakened aspen trees east of Telluride, which is not a usual occurrence this early in the growing season. Here on the farm, grasses are already going to seed. When it’s dry, plants want to propagate in a hurry, or risk dying off. Seed heads are sure beautiful to look at, and we have quite a variety of grasses here at the farm. Fortunately, many of our pastures are still green and vibrant.

Layer hens moved to fresh green grass this morning.

Indeed, it was another beautiful morning, with crisp, clear skies. Skies have been bluebird for several days, with very little haze or smoke. This is a view to the west just after sunrise, with the La Sal Mountains in the distance. The trailer parked here houses one of our flocks of Animal Welfare Approved layer hens












Solar panels get readjusted to their “summer set”

Another one of our favorite projects is moving the solar panels to better capture the sun’s rays in producing energy. We move them four times a year: at each of the two equinoxes and at each of the two solstices. Here’s Barclay this morning, finishing setting the panels to their “summer set.”

In the summer the 52 solar panels, which produce 10kW of solar energy, enough to power the entire farm, lay almost flat to best capture the sun’s rays.


We hope this finds all of you well. Enjoy the deliciousness and healthfulness of this great food! And we can’t say it enough: thank you for supporting local agriculture.