Monday, August 13, 2018

CSA And Flooding

Hi Friends,
Due to extreme flooding today (Monday, Aug. 13th) on and around the farm, and loss of power, we have decided to cancel this week's deliveries. We will add an extra week to the end of the season to fill our 20 week season. Check out the local news networks to see some of the damage in our local area, Benton. Keep our neighbors in your prayers and well wishes as we know many folks are in a lot worse shape than we are.
Thank you for your understanding, be well, and send us some sunshine.
A soggy Farmer Don

Friday, August 10, 2018

Newsletter -- Week 9

Greetings from Dancing Hen Farm!

Welcome to Week 9 of our CSA.  Week 9 ordering is well under way and will end on Sunday at 6 pm.  Week 9 is an egg week and a CHICKEN WEEK.  If you ordered a chicken share, please check for a cooler at your drop site.  Your chicken will be in the cooler.

On farm, we are still dealing with rain showers, almost every day, although I do think yesterday and today have been dry for us.  I should say, "yet", as the sky is looking pretty dark and threatening right now!  It looks like this weather pattern is to stay with us for the next week or so.  We are hoping the clouds part sometime over the weekend so we can head out to the yard and get a glimpse of the Perseid Meteor Showers.  With a new moon on the Saturday and the showers peaking Sunday night into Monday, this should be a good weekend for viewing.  Let's hope for some cloudless skies!

In the fields right now the word is tomatoes.  We have quite a few nice red slicing tomatoes starting to ripen.  Cherry tomatoes should continue to be available.  Heirloom tomatoes may be in limited supply this year.  Early in the spring, we lost over 500 heirloom transplants to either cutworms or a field vole.  We never spotted the culprit, so we aren't positive what mowed down the plants in one night!  Asian greens are looking good and should be back on the availability list soon.  Okra is starting to set fruit, despite being a favorite food of Japanese Beetles.  Eggplants are flowering and with continued luck we should have some fruit in several weeks. 

It is never a dull moment here on Dancing Hen Farm.  Each fall, I generally talk about "the running of the pigs", when we move the pigs down from the apple orchard to the barn.  Well this week our pigs decided to do some running of their own.  Of course, they picked the one day Farmer Don and I were both off farm to go for their run.  Luckily, Ann was here doing chores and watching the farm.  When she went up to feed and water the pigs, she noticed the fence was down and more than half our pigs were missing/gone.  She was able to capture one escapee and put her back inside the fence, but the others were nowhere in sight.  She called in help from my sister and brother-in-law and the three of them proceeded to search for the pigs, finding no pigs and no signs of them.  It's kind of hard for six 125 to 150 pound pigs to hide, but somehow it seemed they disappeared!  When Farmer Don and I got home, he sent everyone else home and took the dogs up to look for pigs.  I could hear him up there, beating on a bucket and calling "here pig, here pigger".  My hopes of him finding the pigs were low.  I had nightmarish visions of them eating all our neighbor's sweet corn, running wildly through the nearby campground or never being found and Dancing Hen Farm being responsible for a new feral pig colony.  But, Farmer Don can now be called a "pig whisperer".  He came down several hours later and told me "the pigs are in".  "What!!!????  Where were they?"  He said he found them walking down the farm access road headed for home.  He and the dogs then led the pigs to their fenced pasture and he finished mending the fence.  He told me the pigs seemed tired and they headed right for their water and food once got to their fenced area.  Needless to say, the next day was spent working on fences!  What do they say ""good fences make good neighbors"?  And a farmer who loves to interact with his pigs is priceless when they need to be called home!

Did you know this is National Farmers Market Week?  Do you think there is a greeting card for that?  I'm not sure about the card, but I do know farmers markets are in full swing right now.  Why not stop by a local farmers market, pick up some great local food and "shake the hand that grows your food".  On Saturday, Farmer Don and Farmer Phil will be at the Back Mountain Farmers Market in Dallas.  In addition to Dancing Hen Farm produce, Farmer Phil will also be selling veggies from his family's extensive garden.  If you go to the Dallas market, be sure to ask Farmer Phil what he has for sale.  On Sunday Farmer Don will be at the Mountain Top Farmers Market. 

So, I am already late getting this newsletter out, so I think I will end the rambling now. 

Until next week.

Saturday, August 4, 2018

Wilda Mae

This past week we said good-bye to Wilda Mae, Billie.  Bill was very much a one person cat and her person was Farmer Don.  She followed him around and slept almost every night snuggled under the covers with him.  Rest is peace Billie Cat, until we meet again.

Friday, August 3, 2018

CSA Week 8 Newsletter

Greetings from Dancing Hen Farm!  Welcome to August

Ordering for Week 8 of our CSA is now open and will close on Sunday at 6 pm.  Week 8 is not an egg week.

Last week brought us torrential rain and this week brings us crazy humidity and downpours.  Hopefully we are getting enough sun to ripen our tomatoes.  All this rain and humidity makes me nervous about disease in our tomatoes.  Most worrisome, is late blight.  Early this season, late blight was already confirmed in Pennsylvania and New York and we were convinced we would lose our crop before our plants even set fruit.  Then some drier weather moved in and the blight threat subsided.  Now the threat is back, especially with last week's storms coming from the southeast part of the state.  One way late blight spreads is in the air currents and these storms came to us via the areas with confirmed blight.  Humid, moisture filled air and foliage which stays wet for most of the day is heaven for late blight spores.  The only thing in our favor is the heat, blight tends to like slightly cooler temperatures.  We have our fingers crossed that blight will come to our fields later, rather than earlier.

Speaking of tomatoes.  We have tomatoes!   Get your recipes ready, or at the very least have your salt shaker nearby.  Cherries, including sungolds, are ripening nicely and should be available for many weeks.  Sungolds became available for choice by themselves this week.  Our large field tomatoes, slicing and heirlooms, are just starting to turn and I expect them to be available for choice next week, or maybe the next.  Please remember we pick our larger tomatoes on the green side and may require a few days on the kitchen table to fully ripen.
We continue to pick cucumbers!  Believe it or not we think we have harvested close to 1,000 pounds of cukes this season.   That's half a ton!!!  Definitely the year of the cucumber.  Our first summer squash planting has also been bountiful, but production here is slowing.  Our second squash planting looks good, but we anticipate a few weeks where summer squash is a bit scarce.  We are starting to pick green beans, with a few pounds going out this week, with lots of beans available in the coming weeks.  Also new this week are dandelion greens.  I would suggest pairing dandelion with a nice warm balsamic vinaigrette or hot bacon dressing.

On farm, this past week, brought both sorrow and joy.  First we lost yet another farm resident.  Wilda Mae, or Billie, as we called her, was Farmer Don's cat.  She was a one person cat, following Farmer Don around and sleeping under the covers with him.  Wilda was named after one of my Mother's school mates.  She was a stray at a friend of ours house and his grandson wanted to name the kitten William. Only William was a girl!  We brought her home named William, when my Mother suggested Wilda Mae, after a grade school classmate.  Wilda lived life on her terms and she died on her terms.  Rest in peace Billie.

On a more joyous note.  Farmer Don and I ventured up the river a bit to hear some live music.  In our younger years, live music was a staple in our lives.  Recently, we have not been out to see music for quite some time.  It took a bit of planning and all of Farmer Don's negotiating  and debating skills to get me there.  Eventually I gave in and off we went, even dragging our friend, Annie, from college, with us.  And, yes, Farmer Don, I have to admit, I had a good time and being out in public wasn't nearly as horrendous as I imagined.  If you see Farmer Don, thank him for pushing his wife out of her new homebody comfort zone.

In our kitchen, some summertime regulars are starting to appear.  This includes a perpetual bowl of sungold tomatoes!  And last week, we had our first BLT's of the season.  I haven't started any canning or freezing yet, but may try a quick batch of freezer pickles this weekend, depending on how I feel.   My freezer pickle recipe is very simple containing only cucumbers, onions, salt, sugar and vinegar, no spices.  In the fall and winter, I like to add a few of these pickles to my salad, sometimes as a replacement to any dressing.  I am hoping for tomatoes to can and beans to freeze, but that will probably be the extent of my preserving this year.
Speaking of preserving, we do still have bulk cucumbers available.  We sell them in half bushel boxes.  A half bushel box weighs about is 20 pounds and will easily make two batches of pickles.
Farmer Don spends his weekends at farmers market.  On Saturday he and Farmer Phil are in Dallas at the Back Mountain Market.  This market is now at the Dallas high school and you will need to follow the detour signs as Hildebrandt road is closed for construction.  On Sundays he is at the Mountain Top Farmers Market at the Crestwood High School.  If you come either of these markets, please stop by our tables, say hello and "shake the hand that grows your food."

Ok, it is getting late and I need to head to bed.  I will print this gibberish for Farmer Don to read and most likely email it out to everyone tomorrow morning.

Until next week.......

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Week 7

Greetings from a soggy Dancing Hen Farm!

CSA Week 7 ordering is now underway and will end on Sunday at 6 pm.  Week 7 is an egg week.  Hopefully everyone is enjoying their Week 6 boxes.

Wow!  What more can I say about all the rain this week?  I don't have an amount for here on farm, as our rain gauges are, as Farmer Don would say, "having opportunities right now".  But, I do know Monday was by far one of wettest ever.  We all owe Farmer Don, Stacy, Jane, Joyce, Ann and Lori a huge thank you  for bringing in the harvest and then packing boxes under a leaky roof.  Three solid days of heavy showers has left the farm (and the farmers!) a little soggy.  But, today the sun was shining and already our upper fields are drying out.  And even though the amount of rain was excessive, some of our crops did benefit from this rain.

So, our crops.  Our tomatoes are finally starting to ripen and we expect our cherry tomato (including sungolds!) to become available in larger numbers next week.  Larger tomatoes will need a few more weeks and some warm sunny days before they color up for harvest.  We continue to harvest summer squash and cucumbers although both of these plantings are slowing down a bit.  Our next planting of summer squash is looking good and we will be harvesting off of those plants soon.  Asian greens are looking good, as are our snap beans.  I anticipate greens to be available first, followed by beans.  Our winter squash plantings are looking good. 

Before I forget!  If you are looking to make some pickles, please contact us at the farm for case pricing on cucumbers.

Our kitchen is still focusing on meat and zucchini on the grill, with either a cucumber or a green salad.  Although tonight we had our first cherry tomato salad!  I mixed in some cucumber as well to stretch the tomatoes a bit, but I think the transition to tomatoes is beginning.  Soon I will be talking about sliced tomatoes and tomato sandwiches!  Last week Farmer Don did get a bit more creative in the kitchen.  He pulled out one of our Deborah Madison cookbooks and made some really delicious braised fennel over saffron rice. 

For any of our members and farm friends who are on social media, the farm has a facebook page, a pinterest page and a blog!  I post farm updates, these newsletters and pictures to our facebook page ( and to our blog (  Please follow along! 

With summer in full swing and vacation season upon us, time for some quick housekeeping notes.  If you are expecting chicken or a buying club order, please remember to check any coolers at your drop site for your items.  If you are going on vacation and won't be picking up your box, please let  know so we can donate your share.  Our drop sites are unable to store or keep items refrigerated for you. 

Yes, a bit of a short newsletter this week.  Sorry, I think spending 3 days fretting about all the rain has me tired out!  So, I will say, until next week.  And enjoy those veggies!

Thursday, July 19, 2018

CSA Week 6 Newsletter

Greetings from Dancing Hen Farm!  

Week 6 ordering is now open and will close Sunday at 6 pm.  Week 6 is not an egg week.  We hope everyone is enjoying their Week 5 box.

Sitting on the back porch enjoying a beautiful evening!  We have a wren family in our bird bottle and Jenny Wren is not happy with the dogs, cat and I hanging out near her babies.  With each trip to and from the bottle, she stops and scolds us extensively!  Growing up, we always had wrens nesting in a bird box close to our back porch, as I am so fondly remembering tonight.

After a hot start to the week and some nasty storms on Tuesday, the past few days have been beautiful.  Clear blue skies, low humidity and cool nights for good sleeping.  Our low was 51 on farm this morning!  I stand corrected, Farmer Don just told me it was 46 up in the field this morning!  It does seem the hot and muggies may be back for the beginning of next week; I am sure just in time for Monday's harvest.  This year, I think our harvest days (Mondays) have been some of the hottest ever.  And the gnats are back in full force as well!  

On farm, this is still a transition week for us.  So hang in there, lots of good things coming your way!  Cucumbers and squash continue to produce well.  Snap beans are so close, but just not quite ready for picking.  I anticipate a few more weeks, at least and then we will have beans available.  We have planting of green, yellow, dragon and purple beans.  We also have a small planting of flat Italian style green beans, but those are just starting to grow, so they will be a while yet.  We have lots of tomatoes on the vine, but we will need a few more weeks of heat and sun to ripen them.  Our sungolds and some cherry tomatoes are slowly ripening and again, we anticipate lots of these available in the near future.  Cooking and salad greens are in the ground and these cooler days and nights, combined with Tuesday's rain should have them growing nicely.  This also true for our second round of Asian greens.

Speaking of starting to produce.  Our new flock of laying hens have started to lay!  The first few weeks of eggs are quite small (pullet eggs), but soon those eggs will be in the rotation and we can again offer eggs as a choice item or on our buying club.

It seems I have been talking a lot about what will be happening "soon" in this newsletter, so let's talk a bit about the past.  Today is Farmer Don's and my wedding anniversary!  Yes, we were married in July, one of our busiest times on farm!  Of course, many moons ago, when we promised our love to each other, we were not farming.  Don was climbing the corporate ladder of the restaurant business and I was in graduate school destined, or so I thought, to become a Doctor of Entomology (bugs!).  Now our lives are much simpler and the only climbing Farmer Don does is up the side of the greenhouse when he needs to make a repair to the plastic!  I still have a strange fondness for bugs, but never did become "Dr Miller".

So, the night is moving on and Farmer Don just about has our anniversary dinner ready.  We will again be dining on most all Dancing Hen Farm produced food.  I would say not a bad way to spend our anniversary!

Thanks again to everyone for your continued support.  Have a great week and enjoy those veggies.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

2018 CSA Week 5

Greetings from Dancing Hen Farm!

Welcome to Week 5 of our CSA.  Ordering is now open for Week 5 and will close, Sunday at 6 pm.  Week 5 is an egg week and a chicken delivery week.  If you ordered a chicken share, your chicken will be at your drop site in a cooler.  Please leave the cooler at your drop site.

On farm, we are considering Week 5 a transition week.  We are transitioning from spring greens into summer fruiting crops.  Our greens were really hit hard by the recent heat waves and hence their availability is very limited this week.  We do have more heat tolerant greens coming on, including cooking and salad greens.  Summer squash and cucumbers are loving the hot weather and are really producing.  The plants look good, so we should see several more weeks of nice harvest.  One of our Amish neighbors had a few cherry tomatoes ready for harvest which we were able to offer this week.  These are certified organic.  Our tomatoes are looking good, but not quite ready for picking.  We anticipate sungold cherries will be our first tomato to ripen. We have several planting of beans which are flowering and starting to produce tiny beans, so we should be harvesting beans soon.

The saga of nuisance wildlife on farm continues.  Farmer Don is again doing battle with the raccoons.  This year we have lost some meat birds to the coon family, a first for our farm.  We are fighting back with electric!  Our meat birds are now enclosed in their own electric pen.  A hot wire, close to the ground, seems to be have stumped the coons, at least for now.  Raccoons are crafty, so I will not be surprised if they don't figure out how to get around the fence.  We also have our yearly deer with babies in our orchard.  This year we seem to have one doe and one fawn.  Soon Mommy deer will be bringing baby down to our production fields to teach it where to find nutrient dense organic veggies!  We are hoping our insect row covers will also keep the deer out!

In the kitchen, zucchini on the grill and cucumber salad is still the norm for us.  And we aren't complaining.  Summer squash and cucumbers are something we usually only eat, fresh, in season.  We are starting to harvest some larger zucchini, so I will need to get my zucchini bread recipe out.  I make the bread into muffins which I freeze.  I find these muffins really convenient for breakfast, as they allow me to defrost just the number we need for breakfast.
A quick reminder to please return the wax share boxes for us to reuse.  We also reuse egg cartons and cardboard berry boxes.  Please leave these items at your drop site.

Until next week!
As always, thank you for your continued support!