Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Newsletter and Buying Club Open

Greetings from Dancing Hen Farm!

We will be delivering Buying Club orders this weekend.  Ordering is not open and will close Thursday (12/13) morning.  Availability includes eggs, pastured chicken, apple orchard pork and storage vegetables.

It was so nice to have sunshine for a few days this week.  The sun always helps to bring a smile on a winter day!  I know this part of the country is not known for sunny days, but it seems we have really had your share of clouds this year, so the sun has been very welcome!  Warmer temperatures, but rain over the weekend, so more clouds on the way.  But, in about a week and half we will be celebrating the Winter Solstice and then the days will begin to get longer.  Slowly getting longer, but longer none the less!  Seems strange to be talking about longer days when there are still so many winter filled days ahead of us.

Farmer Don has been busy with the "wood stove shuffle" recently.  He replaced a large (homemade?) wood stove from our main nursery greenhouse with a much more efficient air tight wood stove.  This air tight stove will allow us to keep a fire burning for longer periods of time and also use less wood.  Hopefully we can avoid our transplant freeze out from occurring again this year.  But, I fear the dance of the wood stoves has just begun, for now Farmer Don is convinced the stove in the greenhouse is better than the one in the house! 

We have started to make some tentative plans for our 2019 season and the word of the year will be "change".  We are excited to be implementing a new marketing and business plan for our farm.  And we want to thank everyone in advance for their continued support.  Watch social media and your email for announcements concerning the 2019 season.  "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has." Margaret Mead.

With less than 12 hours to get your buying club orders in, I need to end this newsletter and get it into the email stream! 

We wish you a peace filled holiday season!  Be safe, be happy and count your blessings.

Monday, December 3, 2018

Buying Club this weekend!

Greetings from Dancing Hen Farm!

Yes, we will be delivering for buying club this weekend.  Ordering is now open and will close early Thursday morning.  Deliveries will be Friday (12/7) and Saturday (12/8) depending on your pick up location.  Look for a good supply of Dancing Hen Farm Apple Orchard pork, pastured chicken, eggs and storage crops (potatoes, beets, carrots, etc).  We also have a very limited supply of salad greens and baby salad turnips.  More information about our winter buying club can be found on our website ( or by contacting us at the farm. 

The farm has most definitely made the transition into winter.  The snow and very cold temperatures a few weeks brought an end to most of our crops.  Even the plantings in our unheated greenhouse did not respond well to the cold temperatures.  But, as a fellow farmer once told Farmer Don:  "we aren't supposed to grow vegetables in the winter in Pennsylvania".

Speaking of snow -- the heavy wet snow several weeks ago, almost also brought an end to our chickens.  During the storm one of our coops collapsed.  Farmer Don was out at 2 am trying to rescue chickens and salvage the structure.  This was our "summer" chicken house, so it really was never built to withstand snow.  Generally we move all the chickens into a more sturdy coop for winter and the summer coop is partially dismantled prior to the first major snow.  We are lucky to have not lost any chickens.  Farmer Don was happy to report that most of the birds had already moved into the other coop by the time he realized there was a problem went to their rescue.

Farmer Don has been very busy in the kitchen lately.  He has been pouring over past issues of Cooks Illustrated to make everything from the perfect turkey to the perfect chocolate chip cookie.  And to think for years turkeys have been roasted at 325 until done and chocolate chip cookies were made following the recipe on the back of the bag!  But, no, Farmer Don's turkey was brined and rested and even flipped during the roasting time!  And his cookies involved browning the butter, rather than simply creaming it and as with the turkey there were several times when the cookie batter rested.   But, I have to admit, the turkey was delicious, very juicy, tender and flavorful.  And as the recipe promised, the cookies were tasty and have remained soft and chewy.  So the next time I make cookies, will you find me browning butter and resting batter?  No, you will probably find me smoothing the wrinkles out of the bag, so I can read the recipe better!  But, I have no problem eating all the food which flows from the kitchen when Farmer Don wears the chef hat!

Ok, it is getting late, the dogs need a walk and I need to get ready for bed.  I will bid you all good night!
May this holiday season find each of your safe, healthy and happy. 

Thanks again to each of you for your continued support of our small family farm.

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Buying Club Open

Greetings from a chilly Dancing Hen Farm!

Buying club ordering is now open.  Ordering closes tomorrow, Thursday, at 5 am, with deliveries this weekend.  Deliveries will be Friday night to Bloomsburg and Saturday to Dallas (10 to 10:30), Forty Fort (11 to 11:30) and Mountain Top (12 to 12:30).  On farm pick-ups will be available anytime after 2 pm on Friday.

Buying club availability includes a good supply of 2018 Dancing Hen Farm Apple Orchard Pork, including bacon and pork chops.  We also have Dancing Hen Farm pastured chicken (halves and wholes) and eggs available.  Our chicken remains very popular and we do not anticipate our supply to last through the winter, so you may want to consider ordering some now, if you have freezer space.  We also have limited amounts of fresh cooking and salad greens and storage crops available.

I just realized this is our last Buying Club delivery before Thanksgiving, so you may want to stock up on some items for the holiday feast!  This year Farmer Don raised a few turkeys on farm.  A first for Farmer Don and a first for our farm.  The turkeys have been fun to watch.  They think Farmer Don is the "leader of the band" and follow him around.  The turkeys have a strange awkward, but almost graceful way of moving.  I like to say they look like dinosaur ballerinas. 

Time to move on to the next task.  Maybe next week's newsletter will be a bit longer?  Until then:  Be safe, be well and don't forget to count your blessings.


Monday, November 5, 2018

CSA Week 20 Newsletter

Greetings from Dancing Hen Farm!

This is Week 20, the final week of our 2018 CSA.  Week 20 boxes will be delivered tomorrow, November 6th.  Week 20 is not an egg week.  After this week's delivery, we will be transitioning to our winter buying club. 

It seems only fitting that we started and now end our 2018 season with a very wet harvest and pack.  And what better way to end our season but with a word of thanks.

First "Thank You" to all our farm helpers.  These individuals show up no matter the weather or the task and give us their all to keep our farm going and our CSA boxes filled.  So Thank You, Phil, Annie, Stacy, Lori, Ken, Nancy and Joyce.
Here is to each of these workers:

As you know from last week's newsletter, Phil works Mondays in our pack house and also helps at market and helps with deliveries.  Annie is a long time friend of both Farmer Don's and mine.  Annie has been our "jack of all trades" this season.  Each week she and her Golden Retriever companion, Bella, spend a night or two sleeping on our floor and working on farm.  Annie faithfully works, harvesting, packing and diligently completing any task Farmer Don finds for her to do, even when he hides the tools.  Stacy is one of our work share workers and is our ace chicken catcher.  When not catching chickens, Stacy can be found harvesting and tending our field crops.  Lori works "second shift" here on farm.  She arrives late in the afternoon on Monday and works into the night packing CSA boxes for Tuesday's deliveries.  Ken is another work share and worked early season.  When not weed wacking, Ken can be found preparing and planting fields.  Nancy is our delivery driver.  She arrives early Tuesday morning and she and Phil spend  the day distributing boxes to our CSA members.  Nancy also does flower bouquets for sale at our farm markets.  Joyce is a true friend of the farm, volunteering most every Monday to help with harvest.  She works through the bugs and the heat, without complaint, even when Farmer Don assigns her scallions to harvest each week.

I also want to thank our site hosts.  These individuals voluntarily offer us space in their businesses or homes for our use.  These drops sites are integral in getting CSA boxes to our customers.  So, thank you to Chris and Meredith, Stephanie, Bloom Naturally, Guy, The Whole Life Center for Health, Gwen, Crestwood Pharmacy,  and Balance Yoga.
If you see any of these individuals, please thank them for all of their hard work.

I also want to, again, thank each of you.  Thank you for your support of our small family farm.  Thank you for your support of the local economy and local sustainable agriculture.  Without you, our members and friends of the farm, we would not be able to what we do. 

Now some logistics for this final week and our upcoming buying club deliveries.

Boxes.  Please return your boxes to your pick up site.  Farmer Don will be out and about to pick the final boxes up once the season is over.
Buying Club:  We will be delivering buying club orders this weekend.  Buying club ordering opens Tuesday morning and ends Thursday morning.  We will have 2018 Apple Orchard Pork and pastured chicken available.  We will also have a limited supply of eggs, greens and storage crops available.  To participate in this buying club you will need to "purchase" a free buying club membership.  Please note there will be a delay in purchasing a membership and when you can place orders, as your account will need to be activated.  Watch for a separate email to buying club members detailing this week's ordering.  If you have questions concerning the buying club, please do not hesitate to contact us at the farm.

As summer fades into fall and fall fades into winter, so does our 2018 season fade away.  Time for rest, reflection and rejuvenation.

"and we bid you, goodnight, goodnight, goodnight.

Monday, October 29, 2018

Week 19 Newsletter

Greetings from Dancing Hen Farm.

Our CSA is winding down.  Week 19 boxes will be delivered tomorrow, Tuesday, October 30.  After tomorrow's delivery there is one week remaining in our CSA.  Week 19 is an egg week.

Today is harvest and pack day on farm.  Always a busy day!  Most of the day is spent harvesting and portioning items for our CSA boxes.  Then the late afternoon and evening is spent custom packing each box.  The past few weeks we have been behind schedule a bit; as we have been missing our main pack house guru, Phil.  Phil had been visiting his brother Virginia.  Those of you who frequent the Dallas Market know Phil, as he is also Farmer Don's assistant at market.  On Monday's Phil spends the day weighing and portioning most of our harvest.   A HUGE job!  and a job Phil excels at!  When he is missing on Monday, all of us are behind schedule.  Phil also helps with deliveries and buying club, so if you see Phil out and about, please be sure to thank him for his help.

With the CSA coming to an end, our marketing will soon shift into buying club mode.  We have 2018 Dancing Hen Farm Apple Orchard Pork and Pastured Chickens available now for CSA members.  In the next few weeks we will start up the winter buying club.  Watch your email for the announcement of our first delivery.  In the meantime, if you have not already done so, please go to our website and sign up for our winter buying club.  You will need to register with our site and "purchase" a free buying club membership.  We can then activate your account so you will be able to place an order once ordering is open for a delivery date.  If you have questions about our winter buying club, please do not hesitate to contact us.

As our season winds down, life here at Dancing Hen Farm takes on a different rhythm.  We continue to have animal chores and will continue to have some greens growing, but in general life slows a bit.  In the kitchen cooking slows as we make more soups, stews and roasts; things which warm the house and soul.  Our discussions tend to drift to reflection.  Reflection on the past growing season and the past year.  Soon we will put pencil to paper and begin our plans for next year and plan for the renewal of spring after a healing winter.

Time to move on to the next task.  Thanks again for your support and in Farmer Don's words "be safe, be well and enjoy the veggies".

Thursday, October 18, 2018

CSA Week 18 Newsletter

Greetings from Dancing Hen Farm!

It seems like forever since I have written a newsletter!  I diligently started one most every week, but never got them finished.  So here goes - another try.

CSA Members:  Boxes delivered on Tuesday were Week 17.  Week 17 was an egg week.  Ordering is not open for Week 18.  Week 18 is not an egg week.  After Tuesday's (10/23) delivery of Week 18 boxes, there are 2 weeks remaining in our 2018 CSA season.  


After several false starts, I think we can finally say Fall is here.  Today was windy and chilly and we have had a spotty, but hard frost in our fields.  This means our summer growing season has ended.  We did harvest some crops in anticipation of frost and those crops may remain available in limited numbers.  We do still have greens to harvest and storage crops available.  

Fall on our farm is a time for movement and transition.  In the past few weeks our animals have been on the move.  First Farmer Don "ran the pigs".  Each year we celebrate moving our pigs from the hill behind our greenhouse to our barn with an event we have named "the running of the pigs".  In the past this has been a community event with help coming from friends and neighbors.  This year Farmer Don decided to move the pigs himself and much to my surprise he led them to the barn with little fanfare.  So, our annual event may become "Framer Don's stroll with the pigs".  Stay tuned to see how next year's stroll goes!  

We also moved our turkeys onto grass.  These turkeys are Farmer Don's pet project.  This is our first attempt at raising turkeys and he is having quite the time nurturing them and trying to figure out their behavior.  We have raised chickens for a number of years and have gotten used to how chickens respond to things and in all honesty we thought the turkeys would just be larger chickens and in some ways they are.  But in other ways they are quite different.  For instance, the turkeys are very quiet and not as flighty as the chickens.  Chickens tend to run and scamper and squawk, but for the most part turkeys move more slowly and quietly.  We will have to let you know how our turkeys finish and they may become an annual project.  Not sure we will raise more than "for family", but only time will tell.

A couple of weeks ago Farmers Don, Phil and Joyce took some time off farm for some entertainment.  They hopped on a charter bus in Buckhorn destined for State College to see the Penn State Ohio State football game.  From what I hear they walked all over the parking area, saw some trophies and the band, met up with some old friends and unfortunately saw Penn State lose the game.  This is the second Penn State Ohio State game Farmers Don and Phil have been to and Penn State lost both games.  I don't want to say, but maybe our farmers are not bringing the Lions any luck?  

With our CSA coming to an end, I want to take a few minutes to talk about our Winter Buying Club.  The Winter Buying Club is a program we initially started to extend our season.  This is separate from our CSA buying club.  There is no fee to join the Winter Buying Club and it is a pay as you go system.  You will place an order, like you do for your CSA box.  Then you will meet us at a designated time and location to receive your order.  You make payment when you pick up your order.  Deliveries are Friday night to Bloomsburg, Saturday mornings to Back Mountain and Mountain Top and anytime after 4 on Fridays on farm.  You will need to log onto our website and "purchase" a free Winter Buying Club membership.  Please watch emails for when our buying club will start this season.

Well, the time is getting late and I need to send the dogs out for one last walk.  So, I will say, until next week.  Be safe, be well and enjoy your veggies.  And don't forget to count your blessings.

Farmers Day Off