Sunday, January 27, 2019

2019 CSA Registration and More!

Greetings from Dancing Hen Farm! 

It's here!  No not spring!  2019 Dancing Hen Farm CSA details and Sign Ups!

New for 2019.  We are implementing an Online Market Share.  This share is a pay as you go, order when you want share.  This share is only available for on farm pickups and deliveries to a central pick up site.  The will be no home deliveries for the Online Market.  Online Market Shares will require a non-refundable deposit of 100 dollars to get started.  The deposit will act as a bank account and your purchases will be deducted from this balance.  All purchases will be at farm market prices, including eggs and chicken.  You will need to deposit additional money into your account when your balance gets low.  Add on chicken and egg shares are not available to Online Market Share holders.  Your items will be delivered with our CSA share boxes.

Details for our 2019 CSA.  We will continue to be a full choice CSA, meaning each week you will be able to pick the items you receive in your box each week.  You will have your choice of a full (10 items each week) or part (6 items each week) share and you can add an egg (9 dozen eggs) or chicken share (5 deliveries) to your CSA share.  Our early bird sign up is back and will run through February.  We will also, again, be offering a returning member discount.

New for our 2019 CSA:  Our drop sites have been consolidated, resulting in fewer drop sites.  We have shortened the CSA by eliminating a few weeks of deliveries at the end of the season, resulting in an 18 week season.  In 2019, deliveries will be on Wednesdays.  In addition we are downsizing the size of our CSA by cutting the number of shares available by half.  Shares will be reserved by order in which payment is received.  At this time we only accept cash (in person) or checks for payment, although we have begun exploring a system to take plastic. 

After many family and farm meeting and more heartfelt talks then we can even count, we feel it is necessary to implement these changes due to family needs, health and transportation costs.  Thank you for your support and understanding as we move Dancing Hen Farm into 2019, our 12th year of growing for you, our community! 

As we have indicated in past newsletters, 2018 was a very difficult year for us.  Like most farmers in Pennsylvania, we battled Mother Nature with all we had and She fought back hard!  Our washed out road serves as a constant reminder to us, how torrential and downright scary the rains were this year!  Farmer Don asked me to be sure to say a special "Thank you" in this newsletter to all of our farm workers and volunteers during the 2018 season.  Perseverance was the name of the game for our workers last season.  I think almost every week's harvest was completed in the rain last season!  Farmer Don also asked me to again thank you, our farm members and friends for your continued support of our farm.  Your kind emails, notes and words of encouragement at market go a long way to keep Farmer Don farming!

On a more personal level, my goal is to stay out of the hospital in 2019.  2018 found me spending many, many, way too many, nights in the hospital and many more nights and days recovering at home.  I am still recovering, but getting stronger all the time and doing my best to stay as healthy as I can.  I want to also thank everyone for their kind words, notes and prayers.  It brings me comfort to know I have the Dancing Hen Farm community behind me.  So here is to health and strength in 2019!

So, on that emotional note,  let's get back to the 2019 CSA!  As always, if you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact us. 

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Winter Buying Club Newletter

Greetings from Dancing Hen Farm!  Happy New Year!

Buying club ordering is now open for this weekend's delivery.  Ordering will end at 5 am Thursday morning and deliveries will be Friday or Saturday, depending on your pick up site.  We currently have half chickens available (we are sold out of full chickens until next summer).  We also have a good supply of apple orchard pork and storage vegetables available and a limited supply of eggs. 

Welcome to 2019,our 12th year of growing here at Dancing Hen Farm!  Recently I was looking at some old newsletters from our very first season.  I am sure some of you remember these newsletters.  Farmer Don used to write all the newsletters and I would type, format and print them.  Each box received a hard copy of our newsletter.  We have come a long way from those first packed boxes.  We still stress and struggle a bit over what items will be available for shares.  Now, as a choice CSA, that stress is more drawn out, as we try to estimate our harvest of crops almost a week in advance and watch and beg these crops to be ready for harvest in the numbers we need to, fill our members' choices!  One very obvious common denominator in the past 11 growing seasons has been the weather.  I sometimes tell people our best weather for growing was our first year.  But, then I remember the hail storm.  How could I ever forget?!  The day before our very first CSA harvest, we witnessed hail do damage to our crops like I had never seen before.  Beautiful, ready to harvest salad mix and heads of lettuce were pulverized, kale was stripped from its stems, peas and tomatoes were snapped off and row covers were ripped to shreds.  We scrambled that first week to work with other growers to find product to put in our member's boxes.  And I might add we packed those first boxes by candle light, as the storm had also left us without power!  (on a side note -- we will forever be indebted to Farmer Don's sister Gail for her help packing those boxes!)  So, after the hail of season one, we saved what plants we could and re-planted others and then the better weather started! 

These long winter months are often a time for us to reflect.  Reflect on these past seasons, reflect on life before farming, and reflect where we want to go from here.  We often find ourselves wandering why we do this, why farm?  I usually turn to Wendell Berry to answer this.  For those of you not familiar, Wendell Berry is an American author, novelist and poet, he is also an environmentalist and an observer of social behaviors.  I turn to his quotes often for inspiration and reflection.  In the words of Wendell Berry:

 “Why do farmers farm, given their economic adversities on top of the many frustrations and difficulties normal to farming? And always the answer is: "Love. They must do it for love." Farmers farm for the love of farming. They love to watch and nurture the growth of plants. They love to live in the presence of animals. They love to work outdoors. They love the weather, maybe even when it is making them miserable. They love to live where they work and to work where they live. If the scale of their farming is small enough, they like to work in the company of their children and with the help of their children. They love the measure of independence that farm life can still provide.”  

So, here at Dancing Hen Farm we are moving forward with plans for our 2019 season.  Please watch your email, as we will be rolling out the details for the coming season soon.  We will be downsizing, but Farmer Don is committed to continuing to offer choice CSA shares to members.  Memberships will be available for purchase soon, as well as some other new options for purchasing Dancing Hen Farm products.  

With philosophies of life and pending season opening, I will end here.  Thanks for reading and as always, thank you for your support of our farm and local sustainable agriculture.

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Christmas Buying Club

Greetings from Dancing Hen Farm!

Yes, you can still get Dancing Hen Farm items for your Christmas Dinner!  Farmer Don will be doing deliveries this weekend.  Ordering is open and will close tomorrow, Thursday 12/20, at 5 am.  Deliveries will be Friday or Saturday, depending on your pick up site.  We continue to have storage crops available, pastured chicken, apple orchard pork and a limited supply of eggs available.

Speaking of eggs, we are trying our best to get eggs to people on a first come, first serve basis.  Unfortunately, the cooler temperatures and shorter days mean our chickens are laying fewer eggs and our eggs supply is limited.  Some farmers will put a light in their chicken coop to keep their chickens laying eggs by making birds believe the days are longer.  We do not do this, preferring to allow our chickens to stay in sync with Mother Nature.  This means fewer eggs during the winter months, so fewer eggs this time of year for everyone's holiday baking needs.

The farm is in holiday mode!  We are decorated.  The wreath has been hung on the barn (Thanks Jason!) The Christmas tree is up, as are our other decorations and outside lights.  Farmer Don is in cookie mode.  Farmer Don's favorite snack is chocolate chip cookies and a milkshake.  This time of year he gets out the stand mixer and makes cookies.  As I mentioned previously he likes to use the recipe from Cook's Illustrated, but he also has a recipe for Chocolate Chip Kale cookies.  The kale cookies are not nearly as complicated to make as the Cook's Illustrated ones and we get to pretend they are healthy because they have kale and oats in them.  I think Farmer Don would prefer not to have kale or oats in his cookies, but I think I actually prefer the flavor of the kale cookies. 

I don't even want to talk about the weather.  It is winter, so it is cold and cloudy!  Friday is the first day of winter, but the first day of winter is also the Winter Solstice.  The Winter Solstice is also the shortest day of the year, with days getting gradually longer after Friday.  Another interesting fact is that the full cold moon is on the 22nd this December, very close to Friday, the 21st.  A full moon coinciding with the solstice is a rare event, so it is exciting to have a full moon so close to the shortest day.  It may be hard to enjoy the full moon, as the skies are to be cloudy, but we will turn our eyes to the night sky nonetheless.

As I mentioned last week, we are busy making plans for next year.  Please watch your email for some new and exciting changes coming your way. 

And, as always, a huge thank you to each of you for your support of our farm.  Without our farm friends and members, we would not be able to sustainable produce on the rocky hillside we call Dancing Hen Farm.

We at Dancing Hen Farm want to wish everyone a Festive and Happy Holiday Season.  Take some time to enjoy the magic of this season and as always, don't forget to count your blessings.

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.