Tuesday, May 5, 2020

2020 CSA, May 1st update

Sunday May 3, 2020 7:51 pm
Hi Friends! Welcome to May 2020! Typing to you from the back porch! Finally able to enjoy the porch with nice weather. Gotta say the last week of April was horrible. Rain almost every day, topped by Thursday with 2 inches here on the farm. Thankfully no one floated away. Basement got a little wet, but to be expected.
The big news on the farm to report is plastic back on the high tunnel. We had a small work crew and got the tunnel covered. The tunnel hasn't seen a plastic roof since our tornado last April. A little bit of soil work out there and we'll be ready to plant. And that work will be happening early this week as the tomatoes are big and ready to move out of the seed house. A nice variety of cherries, slicers and paste. Scallions will probably also go in this week. Last Wednesday, right before the deluge, I was able to seed green beans and red potatoes. Knowing we were getting rainfall, pushed me to get those into the ground. Peas up on the top hill look real good. The brassica seedlings look strong in the seed tunnel, thinking they will go out in two weeks.
On the animal side of things, the hens are doing well. I'll curse myself and say no fox attacks in over a week. The latest predator had four wheels. Tough to run from those, usually the running is what does henny hen in. We have 50 more hens arriving on farm this Tuesday afternoon. This year I'll just put them in the coop with the older 30 hens and let them have at it. No time to build a new coop. Hoping the older girls can teach the young ones how to behave. The broiler peeps are growing up. One more week in the brooder, then out on grass for the final 4 weeks or so. They'll be out in one of our vegetable production plots and help to fertilize the soil for any upcoming plantings. Nice how that works. Last year we had the broilers out in plot five for the season. Plot 5 is where I will plant the scallions this year and when we were preparing the planting beds we noticed worms in the soil. Another great sign. Regeneration at it's best. Plot 5 took the season off last year, with cover crop and broilers covering the soil. So, we should reap the rewards this season with nice crops out of that plot!
Regeneration leads to Farmer Don and Joan's health. Gotta say we are doing well. More good days than bad. And Joan's bad days are not leading to the hospital! For me I'm through 2 weeks of a 6 week radiation and chemotherapy partnership. Didn't know you could partner with Chemo and Radi did you? Well let me tell you folks you can, I am and all a part of my regeneration. Four more weeks no big deal. Hey, I get to listen to Jimmy Buffet while they toast my throat. Doctors have me set up for success. And, hold your breath, here we go, " Food is medicine and the farm is the Farmacy." But Farmer Don, you said the partnership was with the high heat and drugs. Well as many of you know we grow vegetables here, raise pastured pork, have free range eggs, along with pastured poultry, fed organic grains, making the diet from the Farmacy really good. And 2020 CSA members, as well as our buying club friends will soon be sharing the harvest as well. I meant sharing the medicine from the Farmacy! The big medicine right now are the microgreens. Wow, just tiny little guys packed with nutrients. We'll do our best to keep the clam shells of micros going all season so everyone can enjoy.
Time to shower and get dinner going. Open face hot beef sandwiches. Forks Farm minute steaks. Yum. Before signing off gotta thanks many folks on so many levels. Number one all the members who have signed up so far. Your support allows us to run the Farmacy. And share the medicine! Number two, cards and emails offering moral support as we continue to heal. Many of you have reached out and it means alot to Joan and I . For that I thank you! Finally the physical help around the farm. From Teri in the seed house, to Jason doing bed work and help on the high tunnel ,and my Amish friend John, with his father Levi, and two of their sons putting the plastic on and growing out the tomatoes we will plant this week, I say thank you!
So, time to continue the regeneration process. To each and everyone of you, Joan and I say a very thoughtful thank you, and wish you all good health and well being. Be safe out there.
Farmer Don

Sunday, April 12, 2020

Farmer Gail

Thanks Farmer Gail for all your help!!! 

Buying Club Clarification

Just a quick note to clarify our buying club.

It seems Farmer Don's latest newsletter has caused some confusion about the buying club.  Right now we are running our winter buying club.
First and foremost, all orders must be picked up on farm.  We are trying our best to maintain social distancing and keep our contact with people to a minimum.  Orders can be picked up at your convenience.  All orders will be in our walk-in cooler which is behind our house, outside the walkout basement.  Pick-ups will be self service.  There will be hand sanitizer available for use.  A cash box will be inside the cooler.  We encourage people to write checks, but change will be available.  At this time we do not take credit or debit cards.

The online ordering window for the buying club is from Tuesday at 5 am to Thursday at 5am.  However, if you miss this window and would like to place an order, please feel free to email us your requests and we will do our best to fill your order.  Also please give us a day and approximate time when you would like to pick up.
Currently we have full and half pasture raised chickens available (4.75 per pound).  free range eggs (5.00 per dozen), most cuts of apple orchard pork, including bacon (9.50 per pound), chops (7.50 per pound), sausage, ham, ham steaks and more. Email us if you are looking for a certain cut of pork.  Through our buying club we also offer Wild For Salmon burgers and filets and Whitenight Family Farm Raw milk and raw milk cheese.  Veggies are limited right now to storage potatoes, onions, small heads of red and green cabbage and special harvest items.  Currently being harvested are small amounts of spinach and salad greens. 

As always, if you have questions, please do not hesitate to contact us (dancinghenfarm@epix.net or 570-925-0263).

And Thank You for your support of our small family farm and local sustainable agriculture.

2020 CSA - Happy Easter - Farm Update

Good Morning Friends!
Farmer Don checking in to "Hi", and Happy Easter! Hoping this newsletter finds everyone safe and sound, spending time at home with family. Easter for us has always been a family holiday. This year, a little different, as just Joan and I will be together for Easter, with Farmer Phil and his family being sequestered up the road at their farm. For us ham dinner is on the agenda. Maybe a little relaxing celebrating as Farmer Don was born a few moons ago on the 12th.
Around the farm, life has been busy, as the season dictates. Warming up slowly, though if you were out yesterday, as I was, the wind and cold was somewhat brutal. I know 35 degrees and 15 mph winds does not equal January but to me it was brutal. The dogs even said, " Dad, get us back in the warm house! Now!" Chickens are okay with the wind, though not quite as much free ranging. Speaking of free ranging, a lot of clean up around the coop and no real sign of the fox has emboldened the hens to wander out in search of bugs and grass! But, the threat from the sky is always present, and yesterday the dogs and I broke up the hawk's dinner. Our predator was about to enjoy chicken dinner when I can around the corner and forced a fly away. Sorry to say the hen was down, but the hawk went away hungry, Probably not a good thing, as when I do chores this morning, I thinking the hawk will be eating breakfast at my hens's expense. We'll see.
Peas, carrots and beets are in the ground. The seedhouse is a busy site and overflow seeded trays are out in the "holding seed house". Work this week will be on the high tunnel. The farm had a nice drop of composted horse manure two weeks ago, so that will be applied to our fields as well as the high tunnel ground. Tomatoes are scheduled to go into the high tunnel this season. While the farm does all it can to produce vegetable based compost, the amount needed for our fields far out reaches this. So, where we can find some good compost we bring it in. I'm working hard to generate everything here on farm, but with no four legged animals to help, we're missing a key piece of the puzzle. With help from our neighbors, the farm has been receiving a spring cleaning. I've worked hard to get a weeded pasture back in operation and looks like we are there. Now, a few horses, beef cattle, or sheep and the farm will be set. Animals are a lot of work, so have to move slow with this. I'm thinking our Amish friend may pasture his horses over here this summer. Again, we'll see. Peeps are coming to the farm next week. This is one type of fertilizer I can utilize. After 4 weeks growing up in the barn brooder, the birds move out to a field of the farmer's choice. I like to rotate the chicken tractors from plot to plot. So, here on the farm, we have ten different growing "plots". For example, last year, we ran the chickens on plot 5, and didn't use that plot for vegetable production. This year plot 5 will be vegetables, and hopefully some of the nitrogen from the chicken manure got into the soil, to be used for this season's vegetables. A form of regeneration!
So, regeneration. We'll use that to update Farmer Joan and Farmer Don's health. Joan continues to hold her own. Resting comfortably around the farm. Eating as well as she can and staying away from the hospital. Strange days these are. I gotta bet you're feeling the same way. The doctors for Joan have now become a phone call, which is fine with us. The less interaction for her the better. Things here on the farm, in regards to our health battles are very interesting. Joan's path is very convoluted, many branches, much to consider, many meds to take. Upset stomach, headaches. I'm sure many of you can relate. We do our best to get the gut bacteria up, yet the meds say "nope". Kinda sucks but that's what it is for her, she knows this, but bless her heart, she plows forward. I cook the best farm food I can find and hope that some of it makes it in and stays there. You know what I'm talking about? Again, FOOD IS MEDICINE AND THE FARM IS THE FARMACY! My situation is much more linear, in that, "here it is Farmer Don, we gotta do this and that and you'll be just fine". Yea, okay, gotta tell you, sometimes tough to believe. Last week had 8 teeth pulled to prepare for upcoming radiation treatments. I was just starting to eat WELL again, after the neck and tongue surgery. Now my mouth is a disaster area, learning to chew all over again. "The stitches will dissolve", yea okay, hope they have some protein with them, cause I just swallowed some, maybe add some honey next time. So, yea, moving into the radiation part of my regeneration. Guess you have to kill cells to regenerate. Okay, I'll deal. "Mr. Hess, we have to map your head, face and neck." Yea, okay, so what does that mean? " Just breathe, it'll be okay". Last time I heard that, I also heard, through the nitrious, my wisdom tooth crack as it came out of my head. "Just breathe". Yea, okay. So this time, I laying flat on the table, getting ready for a CAT-scan. No big deal. Except, for me, missing 8 teeth, tongue has a hole in it, saliva working overtime, Lake Jean, in my mouth, trying to swallow what I can. "Just keep breathing", Yea that's called living, I can handle this. So, here he comes, Mask time, trying to sufficate me. Full face covering. "Gotta tape it down, just breathe". I know this is important. We have to get a good mask to help pinpoint the beam. Trying to think and breathe at the same time. I'm thinking, "Guinness for Strength" when I get home! Two minutes later the mask is off and I'm still around to talk about it. Knowing many, many folks have been down the road I'm going down, so no big deal. Many of you have, I'm sure. Next up is the official mapping of my head, then the treatments. I majored in Geography at PSU, kinda know mapping, but my head, not so much. Oh well. A chance to make some new friends. Heck, 5 days a week, for 6 weeks, I'll get to know the nurses and doctors over there pretty well. And eating, well, that will become a challenge again, just as it was, post operation. So, we eat as well as we can now, pre-treatment. Can't chew to well, but I can swallow somewhat, so we move forward. All part of the regeneration. On the other side of my mess, and this virus mess, we will all be stronger, wiser and kinder. I'm excited to get to that point, but have to have patience. We'll get there. And we'll get some toilet paper.
Finally, thanks all for the support, and allowing me to share my thoughts, trials and tribulations with you. All accounts should be updated. We are still taking memberships if any family or friends are thinking about food this season. And, our buying club remains open, 24/7. I'm going to add spinach, some escarole, some frizzy endive, fresh herbs, and maybe a little salad mix to the list this week. The spinach looks great, but will go to seed shortly, so I have to harvest. And I want to share the harvest with you, our members.
Be well, friends, stay safe, wash your hands, don't touch your face. Regenerate!
Farmer Don

Friday, March 27, 2020

Planting update, March 26th, 2020

Hi Friends!
A quick update from the farm. Sometimes, many times, on the farm, when opportunities present themselves, you have to take advantage. As a grower, the weather is the defining subject. And, on this forum, I've spoken about the weather many, many times. Well, yesterday was one of those days of opportunity. The rain on Wednesday wasn't too heavy and we dried out over night. I had previously set up to have composted manure delivered, and the seed order had arrived two days before. I knew from Joe, ( WNEP), the weatherman, rain was forecast for early Friday and both Saturday and Sunday. Not good weather to plant. So, yesterday it was. As a grower for almost 15 years, probably planting peas 15 different ways, finally knowledge and equipment have come together to make the planting a somewhat simpler task. Knowing the job in front of me, away I went. The planting beds were clean from the previous year thanks to our nephew Keith and his son Jeff, and our Amish grower friend John and his son Stephan. So, tractor work was easy. Chisel plow went well. Compost arrives. Gotta spread it. Four 250 ft beds to work. Spreading by hand, out of the back of the RTV. No problem, been there, done that. As Stacy, Ken, Jason and Neil all know very well. Shovel right in the bed, shovel right in the bed. Up and down to the compost. Finally, the beds are composted. Another run with the chisel to incorporate. Next is the disk to smooth the bed. Changing equipment taking time. Keep going, gonna get this done. Okay, beds are ready for shaping. Run the special disk wheel to make the trenches for the seeds. Done, looking real well, soil not wet, not too dry, cool. Real excited this is working. Down to the house to check on Joan and the pups. 5pm. Getting a little late. Tell Joan I have to keep going, get the planting done. She voices her support, "go get it done, but don't over do it" , Okay I'm back at it. Puppies have been fed and are ready to help Dad finish the job. Peas, 1/2 lb of seed per 40 row ft. Okay, weigh the first amount, get an idea how many seeds for the 40ft. Got it and away we go. Spreading seed by hand. Again no problem, been there, done that. Shady walking around doing her own thing. Cool. Rosie though, wants attention. Needs a job. A border collie with no job, not good. Every rock thrown out of the planting bed becomes a fetch toy. Bark, bark! "what are these little white things you keep putting on the ground?" "throw them for me, I want to do something..I'll fetch them for you." So, Rosie and daddy move forward, seed, bark, seed, bark, Five lbs in, one bed done, Snow peas are in the ground. Move on to Mr. Big, our shelling peas. Got the mojo going. Feeling it. Thanking the Lord for giving me the strength to work. Sweater on, Sweater off. Don't know if I'm hot or cold. Keep planting, we're gonna finish. Finally all the seeds are in. The final two beds being the Sugar Snap peas. Two beds of just Sugar Snaps. Yea! Final step is tractor work to cover the trenches. Just have to turn the disks a different direction, move them out a little on the tool bar and away we go. Last step. Again, no problem, got this, been there done this. Lining the tractor up to run the bed. Have to be in line. Can't screw up now. Too close to finishing and finishing strong! Away I go. Keep the tractor on line. No looking back. Stay the course. Trust yourself, trust your equipment! Finish the bed, turn around for the next run. Finished bed looks great, YEA! Three more to go, no problem. Bang out the next three beds, same results. Wow, this worked, worked well and the peas are planted. Again, thanking the Lord for giving me the knowledge and strength to finish the task. Thanking the Lord for giving Joan strength and health. Clean up and down to the house for dinner, a late dinner, but a feel good dinner. Turkey Broccoli Casserole. Tired but excited. Bottom line, Peas are Planted. Looking forward to sharing the harvest!!!
So, friends, thanks for the support, continue to support small businesses and sustainable agriculture and be well out there.
Farmer Don

Thursday, March 26, 2020

Farm Update, March 24,2020

Hi Friends,
A quick update from the farm. Hope every one is holding up okay with isolation in place and much scary and sad news coming at us from all sides.
Here on the farm, Joan and I continue to feel and well appreciate the cards and well wishes coming our way. We can feel the positive energy and are doing our best to rebound it out to all of our farm friends!
Isolation on the farm, at this time of the year, is something that involves tasks lists with the push to get the season started. Last Saturday was filled with tractor work, running the chisel plow to begin the process of planting bed preparations. Sunday was and is a day of rest and the weather Monday was, well, the weather, snow , sleet and a cold rain. But, the seed order arrived and now every day can be a seed house day. As today was. The seed house train is on the tracks. Brussels Sprouts, Celery, Scallions, Leeks, Parsley and Chives are on the train and heading the station. WooWe!
And inside the farmhouse, for me, the kitchen has become a zen den! I'm sure many of you can say the same thing! Planning meals for the week, then spending quality time in the "den" getting in the groove, great music in the background, flavors and smells all around. Sunday was a Turkey day for the farm. Back around the Thanksgiving holiday, we qualified for a free turkey from the grocery store, so I said okay, we can eat some and the rest can go for dog food. (I make my own dog food for our puppies) So Sunday was Turkey Day. A great long cooking day, slow and low, nice aromas filling the house. Then Monday, boil the bones day to make a healthy stock. I mean what else is there to do. Might as well cook and make it count.
To wrap up, local, sustainable food is available all around us. For us Forks Farm London Broil is on the menu this week. Can't wait to cook that. Tammy's Superfood Kimchi is a winner for me and easy to get at the Forks Farm Market. Salmon also from Wild for Salmon with curbside service. And to take a day off from the kitchen, let the Blind Pig cook up a fantastic dinner for you! For us, our Buying Club is open for orders. Again we are doing self service, farm pick up only. And we can be flexible with pick up times and dates. Hikes around the farm during pick are also encouraged. A good source of air and exercise. Come ready for mud if you choose to hike as it is mud season here.
Finally, everyone, be safe out there, and if there's anything we can do for our community we will. Right now we have a nice selection of food for you, just order and come on out.
Thanks again for the support, be well,
farmer Don

Sunday, March 22, 2020

2020 CSA, accounts update

Good Morning friends!
A quick note. I couldn't sleep last night, you know (toss and turn, drool & spit), so I got up and entered all the payments the farm has received. So, accounts are updated as of today. If you have any questions please contact the farm and we'll work it out. Thank you to all who have sent in their payments! Early payment is a huge boost for the farm. As I type, our big seed orders are in the mail system and on their way to the farm.
Yesterday, we had a small work day on the farm. Nice sunshine in the afternoon after a cool start. We were able to clear out leftover plastic and drip tape out of the planting plots allowing me to get in with tractor to chisel plow. Got 4 plots chiseled as part of our start up to the season. We also worked in the seed house, filling trays with potting soil for some upcoming seeding. Probably do some more of the same today, but add some rest in as well.
Hope everyone is handling shelter in place ok. At the farm, we pretty much do this on a daily basis. Joan works on her puzzles, and farmer Don rides around on his tractor and works on small projects. Fixing and getting the high tunnel up and running is one of those small projects. As many of you know last April we had a just miss for a tornado. Lot's of damage down in Benton but a near miss for us. The plastic on our high tunnel was completely ripped apart and I chose not to replace last year. But this year we're moving forward with replacement. So, a small project on the farm. Also, irrigation, another storm related loss last season has turned into a small project this year. Our water system was hit by lightning last August, so we ran with out irrigation from that point forward. This year we'll fix the system and hope for no major weather events. Hoping to finish the water this week.
Looking to get the Peas in the ground this week! Joan and I both love fresh peas. Hopefully I can eat them fresh off the vine a little later in the year. My tongue situation may say not so quick buddy. One way or another I WILL enjoy the harvest as will many of you. We are working hard to get veggies going and out for sale. We had some members come out to the farm yesterday and pick up orders. A nice day to do that. Self service, social distancing, good food, plenty of space and fresh air. Our buying club will be open all the time now for on farm pick up orders. And email orders are also welcome anytime. Lot's of Apple Orchard Pork, Pastured Poultry, Free Range Eggs, Wild for Salmon, Raw Milk and Cheese, and what ever veggies I can share. Again, the farm is always open for self guided tours if the house and shelter in place gets cramped. We have 26 acres for you to explore.
Time to get some breakfast going.
Be well, stay safe, wash your hands and flatten the curve!
Farmer Don