Thursday, September 21, 2017

A farm visitor and Week 14 Newsletter

Greetings from Dancing Hen Farm.  Welcome to Week 14 of our Summer/Main Season CSA.  There are 4 weeks remaining in the Summer CSA.  Our new 8 week Fall/Winter CSA will begin immediately after the Summer CSA ends.  Week 14 is NOT and egg week.  Week 14 IS a Chicken Week.
The dog days of summer seem to have arrived in September this year.  Almost as if Mother Nature got her months mixed up, with cool August and now a hot September.
We are not complaining about the warm weather here on farm, as we have some late planted summer crops which are really enjoying this bit of a heat wave.  Our last planting of summer squash is looking beautiful and we should be harvesting off of these plants for several weeks, or until we get a hard frost.  We have a small planting of flat Italian green beans which also are starting to sizing up nicely.  We will have to see how the other beans recover from their deer attack.  We have our fingers crossed that our broccoli will size for harvest as well.  Lettuces are looking good, so salad mix should continue.  We should continue with small okra harvests and tomatillo harvests until a hard freeze.  Greens, including a nice planting of radicchio, are looking really good.  Our high tunnel (unheated greenhouse) is planted with fall and winter greens, including a beautiful bed of Asian greens to be harvested as a stir fry mix.
We had an unexpected visitor on farm this week.  Monday morning, just as everyone was gathering to begin harvesting, we spotted a large bald eagle perched in a lone apple tree in one of our pastures.  It sat there for quite awhile, as if it were watching over the farm.  Most likely watching over our chickens and contemplating its next meal!  We were convinced it was large enough to carry off a small child or one of our dogs.  Although eagles pose a real threat to our free range chickens, there was something quite magical about this beautiful bird perched high in a tree.  What a nice sight to start the morning with!
Several weeks ago, I had another beautiful and exciting, although maybe not quite as majestic, sighting.  We have quite a bit of wild milkweed growing on our farm and I make it point to stop and check them often for caterpillars, monarch butterfly caterpillars, to be exact.  In the ten plus years that we have owned this farm, I have rarely seen a monarch caterpillar, so I was quite excited to spot a late stage caterpillar on one my surveyed milkweed plants.   I was hopeful this year, as I have been seeing many more adult butterflies.  Maybe the monarch population is starting to rebound, just as the bald eagle population seems to be rebounding and perhaps both of these beauties will become regular visitors on our farm.
Ah, yes, from nature, to the kitchen!  We are still busy cooking on the grill.  Farmer Don is really excited to still be eating grilled zucchini -- one of his favorites.  Tonight we are having a grilled ham steak.  I like to grill pineapples alongside the ham steak.  Out of convenience, I often use canned pineapple and I like to marinate the steak in the juice the rings are packed in.  We also have been really enjoying our fall salad mix and are once again having salads nightly.  When we aren't having fall salad mix as our salad, we have been enjoying massaged mustard greens.  Very easy and really good alongside fish or grilled meats.  As with any massaged greens salad (think kale), start by placing cleaned greens in a bowl, sprinkle with some coarse salt and some olive oil.  Next, use your hands to massage the salt and oil into the mustard greens. When the mustard greens begin to wilt, they are ready to be dressed and served.  We like to dress this salad with a balsamic reduction.  And I like a sweeter dressing, so when I make balsamic reduction,  I mix one half cup of balsamic vinegar with 2 tablespoons of honey.  Bring the vinegar/honey mixture to a boil and simmer for about 10 minutes to reduce the volume.  Allow the reduction to cool and drizzle atop individual servings of greens.  Extra reduction can be stored in the refrigerator.  Note: if you are not a fan of sweetness, you can eliminate or reduce the amount of honey.
It looks like another beautiful weekend for a farmers market. If you haven't visited your favorite farmers market this season, this weekend might be a good time to get out, support your local producers and shake the hand that grows your food.  Farmer Don and Farmer Phil will be at the Back Mountain Market on Saturday.  This market is at the Dallas Elementary School.  On Sunday, you can find Farmer Don at the Mountain Top Market, held at the Crestwood High School.  If you go to either of these markets, please stop by our table and say "hello".
In closing, I want to again, thank each of you, friends and members of our farm, for your support.  As I have often said, without your support, we would not be farming and preserving this rocky hillside we call home.  We need to preserve small family farms and to preserve small family farms, we need consumers willing to support these farms.  So, thank you for doing your part!

In Farmer Don's words:  "be safe, be well and enjoy those veggies" 

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Week 13 Newsletter

Greetings from Dancing Hen Farm.   This is Week 13 of our Summer/Main Season CSA.  Hopefully all our CSA members are enjoying their boxes.   Week 13 is an egg week.  There are 5 weeks remaining in our Summer CSA.   Next week, Week 14 is a chicken week.

And speaking of chicken.   We are happy to announce we will have a limited amount of chicken available at markets this weekend.  We will be at the Back Mountain Memorial Library market on Saturday.  This market is located at the Dallas Elementary School and is open from 9 to 2.  On Sunday, from 9 to 1,  we will be at the Mountain Top Farmers Market at Crestwood High School.   And speaking of markets.  Farmer Phil is back from vacation and will again have "Farmer Phil's produce" for sale at the Back Mountain Market. 
On farm, our harvest is slowly turning from summer crops to fall and winter crops.
First summer crops.  Our field grown tomatoes are coming to an end and will be available in only limited numbers from here on out.  The exception to this is sungold cherry tomatoes.  We have a nice bed of sungolds in our greenhouse which should continue to produce a fairly good supply of sungolds for a number of weeks.  Tomatillos should be available until frost kills the plants.  With warmer temperatures predicted this week, we are hopeful for a small, late season, harvest of cucumbers.  These vines have fruit on them and just need to size up a bit.  Likewise, we have a planting of a variety of summer squash we are still hoping to harvest from.  We had two large beds of purple, yellow and dragon beans planted, the plants were beautiful and were flowering and starting to set small beans.  Then, last week we noticed the plants looked a little odd.  With closer examination, we discovered deer had been in both beds and eaten the tops off of virtually all the plants.  Farmer Don has not given up these plants, but I fear we do not have enough frost free days for them to recover and produce beans.  The deer also ate several beds of sunflowers, so sunflowers will also only be available in limited quantities.  Can you tell deer are not our favorite animals on farm?  The other morning they were camped out in our yard eating fallen crab apples! 
And now cooler season crops.  Greens are looking good and you can expect greens to be in abundance for the remainder of the season.  We are harvesting baby mustard and turnip greens right now.  These greens are absolutely beautiful and are young and tender, requiring very little cooking.  Kale and Swiss Chard will continue to be available.  Salad greens will also continue to be harvested.  We are also harvesting some nice arugula right now, along with broccoli rabe.  Asian greens are planted and should be ready to soon. With so many greens being harvested, Farmer Don asked me to tell everyone about a book we use frequently for greens (Greens Glorious Greens by Johanna Albi and Catherine Walthers).   This book features 35 different greens, providing not only  recipes for each, but nutritional information, storage, and preparation information, as well.  We find the recipes fairly easy, but delicious!
More cooler season crops.  Winter squash is slowly starting to come in and Farmer Don will make the varieties available as they are harvested.  Carrots and Cabbage should also continue to be available, along with potatoes and onions.  We have been in touch with our neighbors for certified organic sweet potatoes and they are starting to harvest now.  Sweets like hot weather, so this cooler summer is making yields a bit less than in years past.  We have more salad radishes planted and hopefully they will mature and be ready for harvest before the end of the season.  Rutabaga, storage/winter radishes and turnips are planted and we are awaiting them to size up a bit before harvest.
As long as we are talking about cooler season crops, let me again mention that this year we are offering a limited number of fall/winter shares.  The fall/winter season will run for 8 weeks immediately following our summer season.  Egg shares are also available for purchase during our fall season.  Please note, we reserve your share when we receive payment.  Thanks to everyone who has already signed up!
In the kitchen, we continue to cook based on what we are harvesting.  Recently, I was looking for a  new recipe using tomatillos and I came across this Tomatillo soup recipe.  (  Farmer Don gave it a thumbs up, which means I can make it again.  I substituted our own spicy sausage for the chorizo, skipped the cheese and used all chicken stock, as Farmer Don was reluctant  to sacrifice one of his beers.  We also continue to eat around tomatoes - with BLT's and grilled cheese and tomato sandwiches being a stable in our diet this time of year. 
So, I started this newsletter late last night and now it is early morning.  Time to wrap things up and move on to the next task. 
Have a great week!

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Week 12 Newsletter

Greetings from Dancing Hen Farm!  Welcome to Week 12 of our Summer/Main season CSA.  Hopefully all of our CSA members are enjoying their boxes.  Week 12 is not an egg week.
It seems like it has been raining for days!  Although I know it hasn't, since Monday was a beautiful day for harvest.  But, Sunday was a wash out and the rain started Tuesday afternoon and continued right through last night.  I am ready to dry out!  It is, however, fairly easy to keep our rains in perspective, by simply following any the news outlets.  Texas is still drying out from rain measuring in the feet and now Hurricane Irma is, literally, destroying entire islands and bearing down on Florida.  Yes, we are lucky to be in relatively dry Pennsylvania.  It is all a matter of perspective.
These cooler rainy days are helping some of our crops and bringing an end to others.  Greens, both salad and cooking, are growing well and enjoying the cooler temperatures.  Most of our summer crops, however, are not so happy.  We are continuing to harvest some beautiful tomatillos and our sungold tomatoes planted in our greenhouse look beautiful.  The majority of our tomato harvest, however, is quickly coming to an end and you can expect to see fewer and fewer tomatoes available.  Our final planting of snap beans look great and are flowering nicely and starting to produce beans. Hopefully the beans will mature before fall and frost really set in.  We have another summer squash planting and like the beans, we are hopeful for a harvest before frost.  Peppers are producing and we are watching our eggplants in hopes of a small harvest.
Our fields are just about completely planted for fall and winter harvest.  This week we are focusing on getting our greenhouse planted for fall.  We will allow the sungold tomatoes to continue to produce, but other crops planted in the greenhouse will be removed, these beds will be turned over and greens will be planted.  We are excited for a nice fall harvest of greens this year.
Speaking of fall we are six weeks away from the start of our new fall/winter CSA.  For fall we have full and part shares available and add on egg shares.  The fall share runs for 8 weeks and begins immediately following our summer/main season.  You do not need to be a member of our summer CSA to become a member of our fall CSA.  Registration is now open on our website for fall memberships.  As always, if you have questions or need additional information, please do not hesitate to contact us.
Continuing with our fall theme.  Fall, on farm, means more protein becomes available.  We will once again be offering apple orchard pork.  Freezer pork will be available by the half and whole.  In a few months, we will also have some individual cuts of pork available for sale through our buyers clubs and at markets.  Watch your email for more details on pork or email us with specific questions.  We have increased our production of chicken for this fall and soon we will, also, have some chicken available through our buyers club and markets.  Chicken has been in short supply this season!  For most of this season we have been sold out of chicken and Farmer Don and I are eagerly awaiting having chicken for our own dinner table soon!
Boxes!  Yes, boxes again!  First, thanks to everyone one who treats our boxes with care and returns them each week.  And then my usual reminder:  Please return your box to your pick up site! If we deliver you box to your house, please leave empty boxes and coolers on your porch for us to pick up.  As I have said in the past, we try hard to keep our operation sustainable.  By returning your box, not only are you helping us to be financially sustainable, but you are helping the environment by keeping these boxes out of our ever growing landfills in Pennsylvania.
Our kitchen has been fairly quiet recently.  I did freeze beans last weekend and still would like to find time to can some salsa verde.  My plans were for more tomatoes, but with our tomato harvest quickly coming to an end, I am thinking the sauce and tomatoes in the pantry now will have to last the winter.  I will still make and can some applesauce and of course, sauerkraut is still in the plans.  If I get really ambitious and somehow find an additional day in an upcoming week, I may also try and can some pickled beets.  Dinners this time of year tend to be fairly simple, using ingredients from the farm.  We tend to eat late in the evening, after chores are complete and darkness has fallen.  Maybe not the best for our bodies, but reality on a busy farm.
So it is now light out, the dogs are begging for breakfast and I need to get this day started. As usual, I will pass this over to Farmer Don to read and then send it off to all our farm members and friends.
Be safe, be well, enjoy your veggies and have a great week.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Week 11 CSA Newsletter

Greetings from Dancing Hen Farm!  Happy Labor Day!!  This is Week 11 of our summer/main season CSA.  Week 11 is an egg week.

And suddenly it was fall!  Today was fairly warm and I am sure we will still have some warm days (dare I say summer-like?), but this past week has had me dreaming of pumpkins and apples and looking for changing leaves.  I do love fall, but this almost seems like the summer that wasn't, with lots of rain and cooler temperatures.
Our fields are slowly turning over to more fall like crops.  Our greens are loving this cool weather.  Watch for mixed mustard greens, turnip greens and more lettuces coming soon.  We have a small planting of arugula and with a bit of luck, should provide a harvest in the next few weeks.  Winter squash will be coming soon. We are working with some of our neighbors to once again secure sweet potatoes this year.  Unfortunately this cooler weather is not helping our remaining summer crops mature.  We have a final planting of summer squash and cucumbers which are slowly growing and trying to make fruit, only time will tell if these plants produce harvestable fruits.  Our second, and larger, planting of okra is also suffering from the cooler weather, as are our eggplants.  We are thinking our tomatoes will start to slow down in the next weeks.
CSA members will be noticing some new items appearing on our pick list.  New last week were tomato seconds.  These are beautiful and, for the most part, heirloom tomatoes.  They are usually ripe and do  have minor blemishes or cracks and will generally need to be used shortly after they are received.  You will receive approximately 2 quarts of tomatoes for each seconds order.  These are the tomatoes we use on farm!  New this week are no spray sweet corn, crab apples and fall salad mix.  The crabapples are old fashioned crabapples off of a large old tree we have on farm.  This year it is weighted down with apples.  Crabapples are small, hard, sour/bitter apples and generally are not good eaten fresh.  They do however make good jelly, pickle or can nicely and can be used to make chutneys.  As our crabapple tree is unsprayed and un-managed, the apples will have some blemishes.   Here are a couple of websites with information on crabapples, including some recipes.  If all else fails you can do as we did as kids and a great crabapple fight!  Also new this week is fall salad mix.  This is a favorite mix on farm and will include lettuces, mustards, sorrel, herbs, and more! 

Our kitchen is still in preserving mode.  This week we canned tomatoes and I have beans in the cooler to freeze.  Plans are for another batch of tomato sauce and possible more canned tomatoes.  I am thinking ketchup and relish will not be in the plans this year.  But, I may try a turn some of our tomatillos into salsa verde for canning.  We also have plans for our annual batches of sauerkraut.  We have a nice German fermentation crock which holds 10 pounds of fermenting cabbage.  Our plans are to fill this crock, 2 or possibly 3 times, this year.

Farmer Don and I had a night out this past Sunday.  One of our few nights away from the farm this summer!  We attended a "meet the farmer dinner" at the Blind Pig Kitchen in Bloomsburg.  The farmers featured were our friends Johnny and Leah Tewksbury of Tewksbury Grace Farm.  We had a great night filled with delicious food and good friendship.  At least one third of the guests at the dinner were fellow and farmers and friends of ours, so we got a chance to catch up on how everyone's summer was going and swap some great farm stories!  If you have not been to the Blind Pig yet, I would encourage you to do so!  You can learn more on their website.

Farmer Don is busy making dinner as I type and he just told me we are about ready to eat.  So, I end here, print this, so Farmer Don can read it, and eat some pasta with fresh tomato sauce!

Be well, be safe, be kind and keep our neighbors in Texas and Louisiana in your thoughts and prayers.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Week 10 CSA Newsletter

Greetings from Dancing Hen Farm!  Welcome to Week 10 of our Summer season CSA.  Hopefully all our members are enjoying their week 10 boxes.  Week 10 is not an egg week.  Week 10 is a chicken week.
Did everyone get a chance to experience the eclipse this week?  Quite the media hype and such crowds of people traveling to see darkness fall during the day!  I have to admit, I would have loved to experience the darkness!  On farm, we didn't get the fancy glasses, and obviously we didn't experience darkness, but we still were able to view the event.  Thanks for farm volunteer/helper Stacy and her beautiful eclipse viewing box, we were able to watch the moon move partly over the sun.
WOW!  That is all I can say about the upcoming weather.  The humidity and, what seemed to us like daily rain showers, is being replaced by sunny mild days and cool nights.  This dry stretch will be very welcome after such a wet growing season for us.  However, the weather forecast just showed some predicted overnight temperatures in the upper 40's.  Soon we will be saying the dreaded "f" word.  Frost!  Generally, here on farm, we get some light frosts in September, and a killing frost in October. 
So, what does all this talk of frost mean to the farm and our crops.  The killing frost will generally mean our true summer crops will come to an end.  These crops include, tomatoes, summer squash and beans.  We will harvest what we can of these crops right before the frost to save what harvest we can.  However many of our crops actually improve with the cooler weather.  Greens, both salad and cooking, love cooler weather.  Their growth will slow, but with some minimal row covers greens will survive some fairly low temperatures.  As the temperatures cool, kale will become ever so sweet and chard will deepen in color.  Lettuce will also become sweeter and more tender.  And yes, the animals will also enjoy the coming cool mornings.  Cool mornings is when I really miss having cows and horses on farm.  Watching a horse or cow, run and buck through a frosted pasture, is sure to bring a smile to my face.  But, it is also fun to watch Rosie and Shady run around in the frost or watch the pigs snort and charge around their field.  The cool weather will even have the chickens more active and foraging more.
Ohhh! All this talk of frost and here it is August and we are in the middle of an explosion of summer crop harvest!  There are still lots of crops growing in our fields and lots of harvests still to be done.  It is officially tomato season on farm!  Lots and lots of tomatoes are being harvested and they should continue for quite a few weeks to come.  Farmer Don has started some tomato tastings at market and it seems everyone has a different favorite.   I think the heirlooms, obviously, have the best flavors and I am still amazed at the differences in taste from variety to variety.  And who can deny that sungolds are a universal favorite.  Looking to do some tomato tasting, stop by one of our markets and ask Farmer Don for a sample.  We should have beans available for quite a few weeks, as our plantings are finally really starting to produce.  Lettuce and salad mix should become readily available again and kale and chard will continue.  We have an arugula planting which has germinated and we are awaiting it to size up and hopefully not be devoured by bugs!  Asian greens are in the ground and will become available in the upcoming weeks.  We also have another planting of summer squash and cucumbers which are looking really good and we should be harvesting from these in the upcoming weeks.
We are busy planting and preparing for this year's Fall/Extended season CSA.  To assure crops are available, we are planting our greenhouse and building mini greenhouses in our fields to protect plants for the upcoming cool temperatures.  Storage crops; potatoes, winter squash, sweet potatoes and carrots, will be harvested and made available as well.  We already have quite a number of members signed up for this Extended Season.  Thank you to everyone who has signed up!  We do have some memberships available.  Please remember, as is always the case, we hold your membership when we receive your payment. We do anticipate limiting the number of membership for this part of our CSA.
The kitchen was busy this past weekend with tomato processing.  It was tomato sauce weekend!  50 pounds of Roma tomatoes were processed and cooked down to 20 pints of canned sauce.  Processing tomatoes can make a quick mess of the kitchen, but the ping of sealing jars somehow makes the mess seem unimportant.  And 20 pints of sauce cooling on my kitchen table is a beautiful sight, even if I am still wiping tomato splatter off my wall!  The cool, wet summer has me a bit behind in canning as crops have taken their time in ripening.  My plans for this year's preserving is to still can some tomatoes and possibly another batch of sauce.  In the upcoming weeks I will also freeze some green beans and hopefully some cooking greens.  Not sure I will get much else "put up" this year, only harvest and time will tell.  I do love preserving!  I find spending a day putting food away for the winter months extremely satisfying and it brings back such fond memories of my childhood and many summertime hours spent with my Mother, Grandmother and sisters canning, pickling and freezing.
This weekend looks like a beautiful weekend for market!  If you haven't visited one of the local farmers markets, I would encourage you to do so.  On Saturdays Farmer Don is at the Back Mountain Library Market in Dallas and on Sundays he is at the Mountain Top Farmers Market at the Crestwood High School.  If you are at one of these markets, please stop by our table and say hello and ask to sample some tomatoes.  We really love to meet and connect with our members and markets allow us that opportunity.
So, the sun is up now, the dogs are patiently, ok not patiently, waiting for their breakfast.  Time to get off the computer and get on to the chores of the day. 
Until next week......

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Week 9 CSA Newsletter

Greetings from Dancing Hen Farm!  Welcome to Week 9 of our Main/Summer Season CSA.  Hopefully our CSA members are enjoying their boxes.  Week 9 is an egg week and Week 9 is the half way point of our Summer CSA.  Next week, Week 10, will be a chicken delivery week.

We have had an unusually wet (and somewhat cooler) summer here on farm.  This is evident by our need to still mow our grass.  Usually by now the heat of summer combined with a the usual need for rain, leaves our grass brown and dry.  Not so this year!  In fact, Farmer Don is mowing right now.  Unfortunately, this year of lots of mowing, our riding lawn mower seems to be in need of a transmission.  So, we are now mowing more than half our yard with the tractor!  The tractor makes the task of mowing go quicker, but it does tear up the lawn a bit.  Maybe next year we will finally bring sheep on farm and allow them to do the mowing for us.  I think we will also have to budget for a new mower!

Tomato harvest is in full swing, with lots of cherries and heirlooms being picked.  Farmer Don asked me to mention that we harvest our tomatoes, especially the heirlooms, slightly on the green side.  We do this to prevent the tomatoes from cracking and therefore spoiling in the field.  For this reason, the tomatoes you receive in your boxes may require a day or two the kitchen table to fully ripen.  With the varied colors of some of our heirlooms, it is sometimes tough to determine when they are ripe and ready to eat.  I like to tell people that ripe tomatoes will feel slightly soft to touch.  Speaking of tomatoes, we are getting some certified organic bulk Roma tomatoes from a neighbor.  If you are interested in making sauce, please contact us.

Continuing on with harvest.  Beans continue to be available, as do summer squash.  Cucumbers are almost done and will be available in very limited numbers going forward.  Barring any nasty blight outbreak, we anticipate tomatoes to be available in good numbers for quite a few weeks.  Swiss chard continues to look great and our next planting of kale will be sizing up shortly.  New last week, we saw collard greens become available. Escarole and dandelion greens will be harvested for several more weeks.  We are still harvesting salad greens and heads of leaf lettuce should again become available in the next few weeks.  Tomatillos are looking good and a small planting of ground cherries are starting to mature as well.
The seed house is still a flurry  of activity as we finish up seeding for the season.  Lots of lettuces, Asian greens and cooking greens being seeded and germinating.  Fall crops are being planted in our fields, as well.  Last week we direct seeded fall greens and radishes and today we planted rutabagas.  Winter squash and pumpkins are looking good and with a bit of luck we will have a nice harvest this year. 

In years past, I used to feature a crop each week and pass on recipes.  I am thinking of bringing this tradition back for the next few weeks.  This week I want to talk a bit about tomatillos.  Tomatillos or husk tomatoes are a staple in salsa verde or green salsa.  They are high in vitamin C and fiber and also provide dietary sources of potassium, magnesium and niacin.  Tomatillos have a papery husk around the fruit.  To use, peel the husk away and rinse the fruit.    On farm, we add tomatillos, raw, to salads.  One of Farmer Don's specialties, this time of the year, is pico de gallo, which he also adds tomatillos to.  Tomatillos pair very well with pork.  I would suggest getting the slow cooker out and making a pot of chili verde using a pork shoulder.  I can't seem to find a weblink to my recipe, but here is a fairly straight forward recipe (  Another farm favorite tomatillo recipe is Tomatillo Bread Salad.  The addition of black beans to this salad makes it a meal for lunch or dinner.  The recipe comes from a CSA farm in Arizona  ( ).
In our kitchen, in addition to using tomatillos, we have starting to binge eat tomatoes.  Our kitchen table always has a bowl of cherry tomatoes for snacking and several large heirlooms ripening.  As mentioned above Farmer Don keeps us supplied with fresh pico de gallo.   Tonight for dinner we had a farm favorite -- BLT's.  It is so nice to have our own lettuce, tomato and bacon!  And the bread was locally made as well!  This weekend, I am planning to make and can some tomato sauce.   Hopefully this year I will also get some tomatoes canned and some ketchup made.
This past week we said good-bye to another of our summer interns.  Jane will be heading a bit south to start her freshman year at Gettysburg College.  Thanks Jane for all your help this summer!  Good Luck at college, you will be missed on farm.

So, the hour is getting late.  Farmer Don just came in from late night animal chores.  I need to print this newsletter, allow him to read it and hopefully get it sent out either tonight or early tomorrow morning.

As always, thank you for your support of our small farm and sustainable agriculture.  "be safe, be well and enjoy those veggies".

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Week 8 CSA Newsletter

Greetings from Dancing Hen Farm!  Welcome to Week 8 of our Summer CSA.  Week 8 is not an egg week.  Last week, Week 7, was an egg week.  And next week, Week 9, is the half way point of our summer CSA!

An early August  morning and a cool 50 outside!  Fall, could it be?  The past few days have certainly felt more like fall than the heat of summer we usually feel this time of year.  I am sure there are plenty of hot days still to come, but still I am seeing and feeling fall.  Apples are falling, golden rod is blooming, days are getting shorter and the geese have started flying over the farm. 

Our harvest, however, is still saying summer!  Although these cooler temperatures, make Farmer Don's job of predicting harvest a bit tougher.  Our summer crops still need some warmth to fully mature.  Tomatoes are starting to ripen and we anticipate their availability to continue for quite a few weeks.  There are a lot of cherry tomatoes being picked right now and heirlooms and slicers should follow in good numbers shortly.  Summer squash continues to produce, while cucumber production is falling off a bit.  Okra should become available next week or the next.  We are closely watching several plantings of green beans and these should be ready for harvest in the next few weeks.  Greens, cooking and salad continue to be harvested.

Continuing on a bit with fall.  New this year, we are offering a Fall CSA share.  The fall share will begin in October, right after our summer season ends, and will run for 8 additional weeks.  Many of our Summer CSA members have already signed up for our fall season and we thank each of you for your support.   We do still have memberships available and you do not need to be a member of our Summer CSA to sign up for Fall deliveries.  Please visit our website or contact the farm for additional information. 

Boxes, yep, boxes again!  Please return your share boxes!  As I have said in the past, these boxes cost the farm between 1 and 2 dollars each.  This cost adds up quickly, considering we have 100 CSA members.  In the beginning of the season we generally budget 2 to 3 boxes per member, but this budgeting is based on members returning their boxes for re-use.  Unfortunately, this year, we are needing to go to the produce supply house on a regular basis and purchase boxes.  Please help us out and if you have share boxes at your house, return them to your drop site so we can pick them up.

Our kitchen is still in summer mode.  Grilled meats and veggies continue to be the theme for most farm dinners.  With tomatoes coming on, they are taking a more prominent role in meals.  Grilled tomato and cheese sandwiches are always a favorite, as are BLT's.  I do like to roast cherry tomatoes.  The roasting really intensifies the flavor.  Cherry tomatoes can be placed in a shallow roasting dish, along with salt, garlic and perhaps a few herbs.  Stir to combine the ingredients and roast in a hot oven until the tomatoes are soft and their skin is bursting.  These tomatoes can be served as a side dish, as a pasta sauce or as a topping for a toasted baguette.  Or, half way through the roasting, add salmon or chicken to the pan.  Spoon some of the tomatoes and their juice over the meat, turn down the oven and continue to roast until the meat reaches the desired temperature.
This week we said "good bye" to one of our summer workers, Blyss.  Thank you Blyss, for your positive attitude, hard work and dedication to the farm this summer!  Blyss will not be helping on farm, but she will still be helping out at the Back Mountain Farmers Market.  If you see Blyss at market, be sure to thank her for helping us grow your food this season.

The sun is now up, the temperature has warmed a bit and farm is buzzing with activity.  Time to say "good bye" until next week.