Tuesday, December 16, 2014

The hanging of the wreath and some late season greenhouse work.

The wreath makes its way to the barn.  

The finished product, 2014.  Note the addition of garlic this year.

Farmer Tommy helps Farmer Don plant some late season lettuce.

Buying Club for December 19 - 20 and Farm News

Greetings from Dancing Hen Farm!

Our buying club is now open for this weekend's deliveries.  As always, ordering opened at 5 am today, Tuesday (12/16) morning and closes Thursday morning (12/18) at 5 am.  Look for pork products, chicken, storage vegetables and kale.

Yes, kale!!! This warmer weather has melted the snow and given us the opportunity to harvest under the row covers here in our lower field.  I was able to harvest kale last night for dinner and it was beautiful and oh so delicious!  Just remember quantities are limited, so please order early.

On farm, last weekend, we finally got our Christmas tree and barn wreath up.  Lots of thanks go out to Jason and Tommy for their help with the wreath.  Tommy drew the design and Jason created the wreath.  There is even garlic on the wreath this year!  I will try and post some pictures on facebook and the blog.  Farmers Jason and Tommy also helped out in the greenhouse with some late season planting and bed preparation.  Thanks guys!!!

We finally tried this year's pork chops for dinner last night and we agree with our customers.  They were delicious!  Farmer Don declared them "the best cut from this year's pork"!  I baked them in the oven on a bed of apples with just a bit of brown sugar and butter.  Colcannon made with fresh harvested kale and a simple spinach salad completed the meal.  We still have a tiny, tiny bit of spinach under row cover as well, so the spinach was also freshly harvested. 

Earlier in the week, Farmer Don made sweet potato tarts.  I guess they were more like tartlets, as he made them the size of large cookies.  He uses a recipe out of the Vedge cookbook for the filling and then uses a butter based recipe from Cook's Illustrated for the crust.  He made them really early in the morning and boy was it nice to awake to a house filled with the aroma of baked goods.  I had two for breakfast!  There is filling left over, so maybe we will have a sweet treat tonight?

Other than cooking, we are busy on farm planning for next year.  As with every year, last year had many successes and also some "opportunities", as Farmer Don likes to say.  This was our first season as a full choice CSA and for next season, we will continue to allow all members to choose the items they receive in their box each week.  For the upcoming season we will be trying to make not only more variety of produce available, but also more quantities, so fewer members experience "sold out" items.  We learned a lot this year about which items were really popular and which not so.  We are taking a hard look at our harvest and planting lists from last year to help determine planting levels for next year.  We do like customer input, so please if you feel so inclined, send us an email and let us know what veggies you would like to see more or less of.

Speaking of the CSA.  Our early bird discount ends on December 31st.  You will need to register on the computer and submit your payment to us by this date to receive your $30 discount.  We also offer a returning member discount and this discount does not expire.  A big thank you to everyone who has already signed up for the 2015 season.  Your funds allow us to order seed, potting mix and other supplies needed months before your boxes of vegetables are ready for delivery. 

This Saturday is the final Forks Farm Market of the year.  Farmers Don and Phil will be behind the table selling eggs, kale and some storage crops.  Why not take a break from the hustle of the season and spend a bit of time at Forks Farm?  You can pick up food for the holidays and some last minute gifts.  At least for now, the weather doesn't look too bad. 

Speaking of weather, the local weatherman just reported it has been 9 days since we have had a sunny day!  Today we are to have rain, so no vitamin D to be had today!  But, never fear, the winter solstice is this Sunday, December 21.  Winter solstice marks the shortest day (longest night) of the year, after this day, the days start getting longer.  Gradually longer......   But, we will take any extra minute of daylight we can get! 

Speaking of daylight.  The sun (what sun?), is not up and I need to walk the dogs and check on the chickens. 

Happy, happy holidays from the farm!!!!

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

News and Buying Club Open

Greetings from Dancing Hen Farm!

Our buying club is again open for deliveries this weekend.  Ordering opened this morning at 6 and closes Thursday (12/11) at 5 am.  We have plenty of pork, chicken and eggs on the list and a limited amount of storage vegetables.  We continue to get good feedback on our pork.  The bacon is very popular and we are almost sold out of ham hocks!  If you have questions about our buying club, please contact us at the farm. 

On farm, we are already in a holding pattern until spring.  Farmer Don continues to do a bit of planting in our greenhouses.  These crops will overwinter under plastic and then start growing and be ready for harvest early spring.  Spring seems a long way away today as the freezing rain in coating the farm with a sheen of ice!  But, come March we should have beautiful greens to harvest.  We do have some harvestable kale under plastic in our lower field, but the weather is not cooperating for us to get any harvest in for buying club orders.  We will be at Forks Farm Market next weekend, 12/20, and hopefully we will get a bit of harvest in for that market. 

Speaking of Forks Farm Market.  Fork's Holiday Market will be on Saturday, December 20 from 10 am to 1 pm.  This is another festive market to attend.  Why not stop in and pick up some last minute locally produced gifts or foods for the holidays?  Farmer Don and Farmer Phil are again scheduled to be at market, so be sure to stop by and say hello if you come to market. 

We were busy in the kitchen this weekend.  We finally cooked down our turkey carcass from Thanksgiving.  And what beautiful broth it produced!  I told Farmer Don I thought it was some of the best broth we have ever made.  Thick and rich!  I ended up with about 4 quarts.  2 of which went into the freezer and 2 were used in a wonderful turkey noodle soup.  On Sunday we cooked a pork roast and wow was it tasty.  No special way of cooking it, a simple herb rub and a slow roast in the oven. 

Thanks again to all of you, our farm community, for allowing us to share our harvest with you.  A special thank you to everyone who has signed up for our 2015 CSA.  Please remember to take advantage of our early bird discount, we need to receive payment by December 31.

Until next week, be safe, be well and enjoy some local foods!

Monday, December 8, 2014

Turkey Broth

One of my favorite things about Thanksgiving!  Turning the turkey carcass into beautiful broth.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

News and Buying Club

Greetings from Dancing Hen Farm!

The buying club is open!  Place your orders online between now and Thursday (12/4) at 5 am.  Deliveries will be made to Bloom Naturally Friday night (5:30 to 6 pm)  and Dallas (10-10:30 am) and Forty Fort (11 to 11:30 am) on Saturday.  You can pick your order up on farm anytime on Saturday.

On the buying club this week will be eggs, chicken, pork and storage vegetables.  All of the eggs, chicken and pork were produced here on Dancing Hen Farm, as are some of the vegetables.  Other vegetables are from our friend at Landisdale Farm.  Landisdale is a certified organic farm in Lebanon County.  Our pork has been very popular and we are getting lots of positive feedback.  The pork chops seem to be everyone's favorite.

We hope everyone had a happy and filling Thanksgiving.  I spent Thanksgiving with my sisters.  It is always nice to be surrounded by generations of family!.  Farmer Don has been working off farm recently and he actually worked on Thanksgiving!  But, he still got to eat turkey dinner, since we had Thanksgiving II on Sunday.  Thanks to our neighbors Toby and Sarah for providing us with a farm fresh turkey they raised.  The turkey was delicious and it was so great to look at our table and realize the vast majority of what we were eating was locally produced!

On farm we are still recovering from the cold and now the snow.  We do have a few rows of greens covered with plastic here in our lower field.  Farmer Don is hoping to take a look at them the weekend.  With any luck we may have a bit of kale to offer to buying club members in the near future.  Our greenhouses are planted, but the plants are tiny and will not be ready for harvest until early spring.

The chickens are so happy to see the snow melting.  When we get deeper snow, the chickens are forced to free range in our barn.  The first blade of grass sticking through the white sends them scrambling to eat some greens.  It is amazing to watch them and see how much vegetation they eat!  That vegetation helps keep the yolks of their eggs nice and orange.

I am always in search of recipes which use the vegetables and meats we have on hand.  Recently I was searching for a good way to use chicken and sweet potatoes.  I came across this recipe and after having it for dinner, Don and I decided it will most definitely be a keeper.  ( http://www.eatingwell.com/recipes/chicken_sweet_potatoes.html  )   I used chicken halves rather than thighs.

Our membership drive for 2015 is in full swing.  We offer both returning member ($20) and early registration ($30) discounts.  To take advantage of the early registration discount, we need to receive your payment by December 31.  Thank you to everyone who has already signed up!  Seeing all those names appear on the website gets us excited to start planning for next season.

Thank you also to everyone who came out to shop at Forks Farm Market's Turkey day.  Farmer Don tells me he and Phil were busy!  He also told me he saw many, many friends and members of the farm.  There will be one more Forks Farm this year, December 21.  I am not sure if we will have much to sell, but we do plan to be there.

Well, the sun is starting to rise, the dogs are begging for a walk and I can hear the roosters crowing wildly in the barn.  Time to stoke the woodstove and head out for morning chores.  Be safe, be well and enjoy the local food!

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Frozen Farm News!

Greetings from a frozen Dancing Hen Farm!

Although the weather is predicted to be warmer for the next few days, the damage has already been done.  We and our plants were not ready for January temperatures in November!  We lost most of our greens, even those we had tucked under row cover or growing in our unheated greenhouses.  The kale should be fine.  It will be a bit limp to touch, but will still be oh so sweet and good to eat.

Thanks to all of our buying club members for your understanding and support as we deal with this unprecedented cold!  Some of the items in your most recent orders really showed the effects of the freezing temperatures and other items we were forced to leave off of your orders.

Speaking of the buying club, we will be continuing the buying club on a limited basis in December.  From our farm we will have chicken, eggs, pork and a limited amount of winter squash and kale available.  We will also be offering storage crops from our friends at Landisdale Farm.  These storage items will include Landisdale's famous sweet potatoes, onions, potatoes and hopefully some beets and carrots.  Watch your email for when the buying club is open again.

This cold weather has turned our basement into a greenhouse!  Our unheated plant nursery was full with beautiful transplants when the temperatures took the plunge.  Rather than lose flats and flats of plants, we moved them all into the basement.  These plants are to be planted in our unheated greenhouse.  Every fall we fill our unheated greenhouse with transplants, lettuce, kale, scallions, beet greens.  Once planted, we cover the plants with row cover and allow them to overwinter.  In late February, the days begin to get longer and the plants begin to grow again.  By March we are harvesting greens!  This year, the cold came a bit too early and the soil in our greenhouse is frozen solid!  It does freeze most years, but not in November!  We are hoping to get these plants planted Monday and Tuesday of this week and we will keep our fingers crossed that the weather will stay a bit warmer and they can become established before the next round of temperatures in the teens and single digits.

I also want to thank everyone who has already signed up for our 2015 CSA and for remitting their payments!  It is always so exciting for us to see so many new and returning members sign up for the next year's harvest!  As most of you know, we are now accepting memberships for the 2015 CSA season.  Our CSA runs for 22 weeks and starts around the first week of June.  We offer 2 share sizes and multiple pick-up and delivery options, including home delivery.  Everyone of our CSA members is able to choose exactly which items they receive in their boxes each week.  We also offer egg shares to CSA members.  If you have questions or would like additional information, please feel free to contact us at the farm.

Dinners this past week included a one pot meal Farmer Don made using ribs with roasted winter vegetables.  This was a recipe from the most recent issue of Mother Earth News and boy was it good!  I don't generally think of cooking ribs and serving them almost as part of a stew or soup, but I really would recommend this recipe.  We saved the leftover broth and I will use it to make a vegetable and sausage soup this week.  Here is a link to the recipe  http://www.motherearthnews.com/real-food/short-rib-recipe-zmrz14djzmar.aspx#axzz3JhqUAK5r  I will keep you posted on how the soup turns out!

Speaking of winter vegetables.  We have these HUGE turnips growing randomly around the farm.  And when I say HUGE, they are HUGE.  Larger than softballs and pushing the size of a bowling ball!  When we first located them we laughed and joked about them and tried to determine where they came from.  We were certain, because of their size they would be strong tasting and woody.  The other week, I harvested one the bigger ones and presented it to Farmer Don.  He cut it open and proclaimed it beautiful!  I was still skeptical, convinced Farmer Don was again bonding with his vegetables a bit too much.  But, after I got done praising him for the rib and vegetable dish, he told me it contained half of his prized turnip!  I had to admit, the turnip was tasty, but I am not sure I can go as far as calling it beautiful!  So, if anyone is in the market for a basketball sized turnip, please contact the farm.

Thursday is Thanksgiving, that means this Tuesday is Forks Farm's Turkey Market.  This market runs from 1 to 6 pm and is always so much fun and very festive!  If you have the time, stop by and pick up some fixings for Thursday's feast.  Farmers Don, Phil and Neil will be behind our table.  Be sure to stop by and say hello!

You know the drill by now.  Once I talk about markets, the newsletter is drawing to an end.  Just in time, as I have two dogs starting to demand dinner!

From all of us here at Dancing Hen Farm, Happy Thanksgiving!  Be safe and be well!

Monday, November 17, 2014

News and Buying Club

Greetings from Dancing Hen Farm!

Our buying club will be open this week!  Ordering starts tomorrow (Tuesday 11/18 at 5 am) and closes Thursday (11/20) at 5am.  All orders need to be placed online.  If you have not already done so, you will need to register for a Free Winter Buying Club share.  Deliveries will be made to Bloom Naturally Friday night (5:30 to 6 pm)  and Dallas (10-10:30 am) and Forty Fort (11 to 11:30 am) on Saturday.

Yes, the weather, yes I need to say something about this weather.  COLD, that is the word!  The lows are being predicted in the mid to low teens the next few nights.  That is frigid for November!  And obviously not very conducive temperatures for growing vegetables!  Even with protective row covers, we may very well lose many of our plantings.  With more normal winter temperatures, we can harvest protected hardy greens into December.  Only time will tell how crops handle these temperatures and as Farmer Don always reminds us "Mother Nature bats last".

With that being said, a small disclaimer about our buying club selection.  We will do our absolute best to fulfill orders.  There is no reliable way to predict what will be harvestable on Friday.  Farmer Don has done his best to make our availability list reflect what he feels will survive these temperatures.  We may however need to make adjustments come Friday, our harvest day.  You may also see kale become slightly wilted.  This kale is still edible and will be very sweet, but the texture may be altered.

Pork!  Yes, our apple orchard pork will be on the buying club this week.  Look for cured bacon and ham; sweet rope and loose country sausage, chops, and roasts.  We will be selling these products by the pound and will not know final cost until we pack your order and weigh the exact item you are getting.  Farmer Don will list the price per pound in the description of the item and will give you an estimate of how much the pack will weigh.  However your online order total will only reflect .01 for any pork items.  We will have your actual order total when you pick up your order.  If you have questions about this, please contact us at the farm.

We continue to have chicken available as well.  Look for half and whole broiler chickens on the buying club.  Stew hens are also in good supply right now.  I cannot say enough about cooking a stew hen for some nutritious bone broth.  I put stew hens on to cook early in the morning and allow them to cook all day.  There is nothing to compare to coming in from the cold and smelling that simmering broth!  You can use your broth immediately, or refrigerate it of freeze it for later use.  Chicken broth can be canned as well, but you must use a pressure canner to safely can this low acid product.  My adventures with the pressure canner will have to wait for a later newsletter!  Let's just say, I have much better luck freezing broth!

We currently have plenty of eggs available for buying club members.  Stock up now for your holiday baking needs!

Speaking of eggs, we said good bye to one of our roosters this week.  Fancy Pants went to live with Jenn, Ed and family in Shavertown.  He was the rooster for our orchard flock of chickens.  We moved these chickens to the barn for the winter, but he still considered the orchard his home.  Every night he would make his way, alone, back up to the old coop and climb up onto a roost.  We were already worried about how he would interact with our other roosters and didn't want to see him spend a cold winter alone in the orchard.  Jenn and Ed were looking for a rooster for their backyard flock, so the other night Farmer Don picked Fancy off his roost, gently placed him in a box and delivered him to his new home.  He will be missed here, but we think he will be happy with his new small flock of hens.  Farmer Don told me Jenn and Ed's daughters were already taking pictures of him!

Next Tuesday (11/25) is one of my favorite farmer's markets, Fork Farm's Thanksgiving market.  The hours for this market are from 1 to 6 pm.  This is a festive fun market, with everyone shopping and getting ready for Thursday's feast.  We will be at market, but, as always, the weather will dictate what we have available.

Well, it seems my buying club newsletters area taking the same format as my CSA newsletters.  Talk about markets means time to end the newsletter!  So, I will end here!  Stay warm and thank you again for your support.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Week 22 - CSA Newsletter

Welcome to Week 22!  The last delivery for 2014 CSA!

First Farmer Don and I both want to thank each and every member for their support!  It is you, our community, our members and friends of the farm, who enable us to do what we do.  Thank you for allowing us to "share the harvest" with you!

Thank you also to all of our site hosts, our volunteers and our employees.  Without this support system we would not be able to do what we do.  The amount of work which goes on behind the scenes by these individuals is huge.  Their hard work makes it possible for us to get our vegetables, eggs, and chicken to all of you.

Our work and our sharing of the harvest is not over for 2014.  As with last year, we will again be offering a pay as you go winter buying club for as long as the weather allows us to harvest.  This buying club operates a bit differently than the buying club associated with our CSA.  First, we do not drop boxes at central pick up sites or at individual homes.  Instead, we meet customers at designated time, at a designated spot.  The window for ordering is a bit different as well.  Ordering opens on Tuesdays at 5 am and closes on Thursdays at 6 am.  Deliveries are made on Friday night to Bloomsburg and Saturday mornings to Dallas and Forty Fort.  You can pick up on farm as well, anytime after 4 or Friday or anytime on Saturday.  We are still working on establishing a Mountain Top location.  Ordering is currently open for this week's buying club, with deliveries this weekend.  To participate in the buying club, you will need to purchase a free buying club membership.  Also we need to activate your account before you can order.  I try to check the website regularly to activate individuals, but there will be a delay between registering for this option and being able to order.  As always, if you have questions, please do not hesitate to contact us.

We are already planning for 2015.  2015 CSA registration is now open on our website.  We offer a returning member discount and an early bird discount.  To take advantage of the early bird discount, we need to receive payment by December 31, 2014.  As with this year, we will continue to be a full choice CSA.  All members will be able to sign onto our website and choose the exact items they receive in their boxes each week.  We will again offer egg shares, but will most likely be limiting the number of egg shares available.  We are debating a chicken share and will send out an email if and when this option is added. 

I will continue to sent out weekly emails as long as our buying club is operating and periodic emails after that.  If you want to keep up with farm news, we post regularly on facebook (https://www.facebook.com/pages/Dancing-Hen-Farm/111155465564952) and to our blog (http://www.dancinghenfarmcsa.blogspot.com/). 

Boxes!  We will make one last trip to our central pick up sites to collect boxes.  Please try and return any boxes to your pick up site.  We will also accept boxes at our buying club pick ups, the farm or at the Forks Farm Thanksgiving Market. 

Time to say good bye!  Watch your email for farm news!  And as always "be safe, be well and enjoy those veggies"

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

2015 CSA Registration is now open!

Greetings from Dancing Hen Farm!

Wow multiple communications in one week!  Sorry if I am overloading everyone's InBoxes.  I have a couple of quick farm announcements.

If you remember for the last few newsletters, I have been telling you I would sending out an email once 2015 registration was open.  Yes, you guessed it!  Our website has been updated and online registration for 2015 can begin.  Remember, all CSA members get to choose their items weekly and we offer 2 share sizes, an egg share and multiple drop sites.  As with previous years, we are offering a early sign up and returning member discount.

I also wanted to remind everyone our Winter Buying Club is not open for ordering.  Ordering will end tomorrow morning at 6 and deliveries will be made Friday and Saturday.  We once again have eggs on the buying club and we are featuring stewing hens this week.  This web page contains good information on bone broth and if you page down it has some nice instructions on cooking a stew hen.  http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2013/12/16/bone-broth-benefits.aspx

As always, if you have questions or need additional information, please do not hesitate to contact us at the farm.

Thanks to each of you for your continued support.  Without you, our farm members and friends, we would not be able to continue to "share our harvest".

Farmer Don and Joan
Dancing Hen Farm

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Running of the Pigs

Tonight was the farm's annual Running of the Pigs!  

Our pigs spend the summer high on the hill in our old apple orchard.  All summer they relax in the shade of the old apple trees, eat fallen apples and root and dig as pigs love to do.  Then come fall, we are faced with the challenge of moving these, now large hogs, off the hill and into our barn.  So, we build a runway and with a silent prayer for success "run" the pigs to the barn.  Farmer Don, equipped with a bucket of feed and apples, starts down the runway first and calls his piggies to follow him.  We follow the pigs with a piece of outstretched plastic.  The pigs see the plastic as a wall, so they keep moving down the hill, rather then moving back to their familiar pasture.  This year was one of our best runs yet!  We need to thank our new neighbors, Mike, Joyce and Phil, for their help. The extra sets of hands were greatly appreciated!


Week 21 - CSA Newsletter

Welcome to Week 21!  Next week is our last CSA delivery season for the 2014 season. 

Today is another warm day and although cold and windy, the weekend temperatures were not nearly as cold as was predicted.  It looks as though another cold front is coming for next weekend, but still the low temperatures will not be horrible.  Most everything we have remaining in our fields will easily survive these temperatures.  That is good news for next week's harvest and future buying club harvests.

Speaking of the buying club.  As we did last year, we will be extending our harvest with a winter buying club.  The buying club will continue for as long as we have product to harvest.  Look for lots of greens!   We will also continue to have radishes, rutabaga and turnips available.  In addition, we will be buying in a few storage crops from our friends in Lebanon County, Landisdale Farm.  Landisdale is a certified organic operation and they grow some beautiful sweet potatoes!  We currently also sell our pastured, organically fed chickens through our buying club.  Soon we will be adding our apple orchard, as well.  Watch for more details about the buying club coming soon.  As I have said in past newsletters, we are considering adding a buying club pick up in Mountain Top. 

As most of you have seen, our harvest is heavy with greens this time of year.  Look for more greens going out next week.  Some of these greens, such as kale and mustard, get milder and even sweeter with the cooler temperatures.  Other greens, such as broccoli raab and chicory retain their bitter undertones.  As I have said in the past, try lightly boiling or steaming these greens first to tame the bitterness a bit.  I like to pair raab with some crisp fried or roasted potatoes.  Cook the potatoes while you are washing and blanching the raab.  I tend to cook the potatoes in the oven, as I have never had success with traditional fried potatoes.  (My Mother always told me I stirred them too much?)  Once your potatoes are roasted (or fried) and browned and crisp, add them to a saute pan with your blanched raab, olive oil and lots of garlic.  Stir to coat everything with the oil and garlic and cook until raab is the desired doneness.  A fried egg or two makes this a meal for me!

With fall underway and winter knocking at the door, our kitchen has turned in to soup central.  This time of year most of our soups revolve around chicken stock and greens.  One of Farmer Don's favorites is a soup featuring kale and tortellini.  Very simple, sauté some garlic and onions in olive oil, add a quart or two of chicken broth, kale and cheese tortellini.  Cook until the tortellini and kale are cooked and serve topped with fresh grated parmesan cheese.  We do make our own chicken broth using our own stewing hens.  Stewing hens are older hens and require a long cooking time and generally do not provide lots of meat, but do produce beautiful, tasty broth.   Speaking of stewing hens.  We have stewing hens available through our buying club. 

You should have received an email last week concerning our pork.  If you are interested in reserving pork, please email us.  All pork is on a first come, first serve basis and we have had a lot of interest.  In order to hold your pork we are asking for a small deposit.  ($50 for a half and $100 for a full).  If you have questions about purchasing pork, please email or call us.  All meat is custom cut and wrapped at a USDA certified butcher.  We often get asked about freezer space needed.  A half hog should easily fit into a 3 to 4 cubic foot freezer. 

We have been receiving quite a few inquiries concerning registration for next year's CSA.  We will be again offering early bird and returning member discounts.  As was the case with this year, all 2015 members will be choice members, so you will be able to pick the items you receive in your box each week.  Currently, we are working to get the 2015 registration up and running on our website.  Thanks to everyone for their patience on this!

Speaking of 2015.  We are already planning for next year.  This year we were back on the learning curve, as Farmer Don likes to say.  This was our first season to offer all members the ability to choose their items.  Thank you for your patience as we fine tune things and learn which items people really like and which items are not nearly as popular.  We will be using this year's harvest data to help us plan our planting schedules for next year.  We are always looking for input and feedback, so please feel free to email us with any suggestions or comments.

It's about that time.  Shady, the dog, is snoring loudly on the couch!  She knows she isn't supposed to be on the couch and besides, why is she inside on such a warm, beautiful, spring (oops I mean fall!) day?  Time to "encourage" her to move outside.  And time to wrap up this newsletter.

Be safe, be well and enjoy those veggies!

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Apple Orchard Pork

Dancing Hen Farm's Apple Orchard Pastured Pork is now available for sale.  We will be selling whole and half hogs cut and wrapped at a USDA butcher.  At a later date, we will be selling individual cuts through our buying club.

Whole or Half:
The current price is $4.25 per pound, based on hanging weight, the step just before the meat is cut into roasts, chops, etc.  Some hogs are bigger than others.  Average hanging weight should be between 175 and 225 pounds.  Thus, half a hog would cost around $375 to $475 and a whole hog would be $750 to $950.  A half hog would put an average of 70 pounds of meat in your freezer and a whole hog around 140 pounds.  Curing of the hams and bacon and seasoning of the sausage is included in the price.

Due to limited quantities and expected demand, we will be taking orders on a first come/first serve basis, with a deposit to secure to your order.  ($50 deposit on a half pig, cut and packaged and $100 on a whole pig, cut and packaged.)

As always, thank you for your support of our farm and local agriculture.  If you have questions or need additional information, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Dancing Hen Farm

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Week 20 CSA Newsletter

Welcome to Week 20!

Week 20!  The CSA is winding down, only 2 more weeks of deliveries after this week.
Of course, I have to start the newsletter talking about the weather.  As I have said before, as farmers we tend to obsess with the weather!  Today is to be beautiful!  Temperatures in the 70's and beautiful sun.  I hope everyone gets a chance to get outside and enjoy these mild temperatures, because this weekend is predicted to be much different.  Saturday will struggle to get out of the 30's with overnight temperatures predicted to be in the low to mid 20's.  I guess this means our snap and wax beans are finished for the season. 

Many of you will see broccoli rabe in your boxes this week.  This is another Italian green and we grow and heirloom variety.  This variety is known for its edible leaves and stems, rather than its florets.  This raab can be treated like any of the leafy greens.  We like to lightly steam or blanch it and then give it quick saute with olive oil, lots of garlic and some salt and pepper.  This saute is really good served over pasta.  Try adding sausage or white beans for some added protein.

Our apple trees are pretty much finished for the season, but we are still getting some really good apples from our friend and fellow grower Mervin Hoover.  Mervin originally started a small minimum spray apple orchard for his family's consumption.  As these trees did well, he planted more and now offers these apples for sale.  He is currently managing this orchard organically and producing some beautiful and tasty apples!

With the regular season CSA drawing to a close, you will begin to hear more about our winter buying club.  Our winter buying club operates similar to our CSA, in the sense that you log into our website to place your order.  With the buying club, we have limited pick up sites and we meet you to collect payment.  We currently deliver buying club orders to Bloomsburg, Dallas and Forty Fort.  You can also pick your order up on farm.  We are considering adding a Mountain Top site after the CSA ends.  If you would be interested in a buying club delivery to Mountain Top, please send us a quick email so we have an idea of how many people may want to participate.  We are currently operating the buying club and will continue to do so until the weather prevents us from harvesting.  Buying club ordering opens up Tuesday morning and ends Thursday morning.  You must purchase a free winter buying club share to participate.  Purchasing the share does not in any way obligate you to place an order.

Speaking of the buying club, we will soon be adding sustainably produced meats to the buying club.  In addition to pastured poultry we also produce pastured pork on our farm.  In the next few weeks, we will be adding individual cuts of our apple orchard pork to the buying club.  We are also working with a neighboring farm to offer grass fed beef.  Watch your email for when these items are added.

Boxes!  It seems I have talked about boxes in many of our newsletters this year.  Thank you for taking good care of our boxes!  We do re-use our waxed share boxes.  These boxes cost the farm close to two dollars each and our cost in boxes adds up very quickly.  Please remember to return boxes to your pick up site for us.  After the last CSA delivery, return your box to your drop site.  We will make the rounds once more to retrieve boxes and supplies.  If you received you box at home, please drop your last box at one of our drop sites or keep your box for us for next year. 

Are you looking to keep in touch with the farm during the off season?  We do have a facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/pages/Dancing-Hen-Farm/111155465564952), a blog (http://www.dancinghenfarmcsa.blogspot.com/) and a pinterest page (http://www.pinterest.com/dancinghencsa/).  We do update all three of these sites with farm news, pictures and recipes.  In addition, I will try and occasionally write and off season newsletter and send it out to farm members.

2015, yes we are already preparing for our 2015 season.  We are currently working with our web designer to open the 2015 CSA registration.  We will be sending emails and posting on facebook, once registration opens.  As with other years returning members and members signing up early will receive a discount.

Farmer Neil has already left for deliveries and the coffee pot is already half empty.  Or should I be saying the coffee pot is now half full?  It is all a matter of perspective!  In any event, this means, time to wrap up this ramble and get on to the day's chores.

"Be safe, be well and enjoy those veggies"


Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Week 19 CSA Newsletter

Welcome to Week 19!

Our season is 22 weeks, so there are 3 more deliveries after this week.  This is an egg week and week 21 will be the last egg week.

Our farm was in celebration mode this week!  Farmer Neil and Serena were married on Saturday.  It was nice for all of us to take a day away from the farm and spend some time with family and friends.  What a beautiful day and for a truly wonderful couple.  May they enjoy many happy years together!

Other news this week was the chill.  Sunday night brought freezing temperatures to the farm.  These temperatures pretty much mark the end to any warm season crops still in the ground.  We are trying to keep some tomatoes going in one our unheated greenhouses.  This is the latest we have kept tomatoes , we will keep you posted on how they do.  However these cold temperatures do not mark the end of our growing season.  We still have plenty of greens yet to harvest and storage crops to be distributed.

Speaking of greens, we are currently harvest turnip greens.  Like most greens turnip greens pack a nutritional punch.  Among other nutrients, they are high in Calcium and vitamins A, K and C.  Turnip greens can be cook like any leafy green.  As with other greens, if the bitterness is too intense, try lightly boiling or steaming them before a saute.  Turnip greens are often the green used in classic greens dishes served in the southern part of the country.  Here is a link for a beautiful turnip green tart (page down to see the recipe!)  http://www.101cookbooks.com/archives/turnip-green-tart-recipe.html    You could substitute any green for the turnips and I find the use of cornmeal in the crust really interesting.  Maybe recipe for the upcoming holidays?

We are in the midst of our radish harvest.  We are harvesting our gourmet salad radishes right now as well as some of our winter or storage radishes.  Members who have been with us in the past know how much Farmer Don loves his winter radishes!  This week we are sending out some Black Spanish radishes.  These are easy to recognize in your box, because, their skin is black.  Their flesh, however is creamy white.  These radishes can be grated or sliced and eaten raw or cooked.  Historically these radishes have been grown in Europe since the 1500's!  I think that would qualify them as an heirloom?   They are also used medicinally to treat a variety of conditions.  Recently, from an article published in 2012, their juice was shown to reduce cholesterol and gallstones.  Although the study involved mice and not humans, it does show real promise for using the juice from radishes for lowering blood lipid levels.  On farm we do eat them sliced raw and also add them to soups and our roasted vegetable mix.  

Please watch your emails for the opening of our 2015 CSA registration.  This should be occurring soon.  We will again be offering early sign up and returning member discounts.

Our winter buying club will continue as long as the weather allows us to harvest.  Last year we delivered buying club orders into December.   Within the next few weeks our own apple orchard pork will appear for sale through the buying club and we are working with a neighbor for possibly adding some grass fed beef.  If you have questions concerning the buying club, please contact us at the farm.

This week we will be at Forks Farm market.  This is the last regular season Forks market of the year.  If you have not made it to market, why not visit this Saturday.  This is a great market right on farm, featuring vendors selling a great variety of local products.  As always, if you come to market, please stop by our table and say hello to Farmer Don!

Well the sun is up, although we seem to be fogged in.  Time to finish the newsletter and move onto the chores of the day.  So, be safe, be well and enjoy the veggies!

Sunday, October 19, 2014


The farm had reason to celebrate yesterday!  
Congratulations Neil and Serena!

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Buying Club Open


With outside temperatures nearing 80's it is hard to believe we have opened our winter buying club.  But, we have!  Ordering opened today at 5 am and will close Thursday at 5 am.

All buying club orders need to be placed online.  If you are not already registered on our website you will need to create and account and purchase a FREE winter buying club membership.  On our home page (www.dancinghenfarm.com) please follow the link to "purchase shares".  This will guide you through creating your account and purchasing your share.  Purchasing the buying club share does not obligate you to buy, it simply allows you to have access to our ordering system.

We are hoping to continue with the buying club until the weather forces us to stop.  Last year we were able to make deliveries until the end of December.

Every week the ordering window will be the same (5 am Tues to 5 am Thurs).  The delivery schedule will also be the same.  On farm pick ups will be ready anytime after 5 on Friday or anytime on Saturday.  On Fridays we will meet customers in Bloomsburg at Bloom Naturally from 5:30 to 6 pm.
On Saturdays we deliver to Dallas and Forty Fort.  We will be in the parking lot at 100 Lake St in Dallas from 10 to 10:30 am.  We will be at 900 Rutter Ave in Forty Fort from 11 to 11:30 am.  In Forty Fort, we are in the parking lot at the opposite side of the building from Maines Cash and Carry.
In most cases we will be delivering in our white delivery van or black Honda CRV.  If you do not see either of these vehicles, look for someone with boxes of vegetables!

Thanks again for your support of our farm and local agriculture.  If you have questions or need additional information, please do not hesitate to contact us at the farm.

Happy ordering!!

Monday, October 13, 2014

Week 18 Newsletter

Welcome to Week 18!!!  Our winter buying club is starting this week.  See below for more details.

How many weeks have I been talking about frost?  Frost and bugs!  This past weekend we had a heavy frost.  Although this frost killed our peppers and eggplant, the gnats survived.  Thankfully the covering Farmer Don put on our beans protected them and we will be able to harvest and fulfill our orders for green and yellow beans.  He also covered a small planting of peas and we are waiting to see if they will produce peas or not.  This time of year is always a bit of a gamble for our last plantings of some tender crops.

While we are on the subject of beans.  If you ordered dry or soup beans this week, please either try and shell them soon after receiving them or spread them out on some newspaper.  They were harvested today in the drizzle and dampness and their pods may be damp and molding could result.

Farmer Don harvested peppers and eggplant before the frost on Saturday night in order to avoid losing the entire crop.  He harvested all fruit, regardless of size.  Therefore you will see a real variation in size of these products, with some being quite small.

Members receiving Farmer's Choice boxes this week will be getting, among other items, a long red radish.  These  are currently also our specialty radish on choice.  They are a traditional long red Chinese radish and have hot, but also sweet flavor profile.  They can be eaten raw, added to salads, added to stir frys and soups or roasted.  You can also pickle them, using your favorite recipe for refrigerator pickles.  Rumor has it Farmer Don will be adding these to his kimchi as well!  Don't forget radish leaves are edible.

 We are now harvesting our rutabagas.  Rutabagas are a vegetable which used to intimidate me a bit.  I think because I always pictured the huge wax covered rutabagas at the grocery store.  But, they have become one of my favorite fall and winter rood vegetables.   Rutabagas originated as a cross between a turnip and a cabbage.  They can be eaten roasted or mashed, as you would potatoes.  I always add them to my mashed potatoes.  The leaves are also edible and our rutabaga are not waxed.  For a special treat try creamed rutabaga greens.  Simply substitute the spinach or turnip greens in a creamed greens recipe.  This weekend Farmer Don made a recipe out of the cookbook Vedge, a roasted rutabaga salad.  It was delicious!  Here is an internet reference to the recipe.  http://lisacohen.typepad.com/my_weblog/2014/03/roasted-rutabaga-salad-with-pistachios-from-vedge.html

With no markets this weekend, we are restarting our Winter Buying Club.  All orders will need to be placed online.  This means, if you have not already done so, you will need to sign up on our website and "purchase" a free winter buying club membership.  This buying club is separate from our CSA.  Winter buying club ordering opens at 5 am on Tuesday and closes at 5 am on Thursday.  You can pick your orders up on farm after 5 on Friday or anytime on Saturday.  We will deliver Friday to Bloom Naturally.  Please meet us between 5:30 and 6 pm, to the side of the store.  On Saturday we will deliver to Dallas and Forty Fort.  Our Dallas meet up site is 100 Lake Street.  We will be in the parking lot of the building between 10 and 10:30 am.  Our Forty Fort site is 900 Rutter Avenue.  We will be at Forty Fort from 11 to 11:30.  Look for us in the parking lot furthest from the Maines Cash and Carry.  At all sites, either look for our white delivery van or black Honda CRV.  If you have questions concerning the Buying Club or need help getting signed up, please do not hesitate to contact us at the farm.

Please watch for upcoming information on our 2015 CSA.  Registration is not up on our website yet, but should be soon.  For 2015, all members will again be able to choose the items they receive in their box each week.  Egg shares will also be available and we are considering adding a chicken share.  Watch your email for details coming soon.

We are still taking reservations for our pastured "apple orchard" pork.  More information will be coming soon, including pricing.  Again watch your email.

Farmer Don is downstairs packing share boxes.  Both dogs are snoring away at my feet and I need to move off this chair before the snoring duet becomes a trio.  Sooo  "be safe, be well and enjoy those veggies"

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Another great dinner

Last night, Lydia, one of our interns from the summer, was in town and stopped over for dinner. Farmer Don outdid himself with a menu from the cookbook Vedge and of course featuring Dancing Hen Farm vegetables.  We started dinner with a delicious roasted rutabaga salad with pistachios. The main course was pho (or Vietnamese rice noodle soup) with roasted butternut squash. Unfortunately, I forgot to get the camera out and take pictures until all that was left of dinner was a pile of dirty dishes!

But, it just so happens early this week, Farmer Don was also creating and this time we had the camera ready!  That night he was featuring Dancing Hen Farm sausage and vegetables.

Puffed Pastry Cups filled with sausage and chard and served over a arugula cherry tomato salad.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

CSA Week 17 Newsletter

Welcome to Week 17! 

Well, finally the dreaded frost has arrived on farm.  Over the weekend we had our first frost of the season.  We were able to cover our green beans and a late season planting of peas.  However, we lost our outside basil and our small late season summer squash planting.  But, this first cold snap was not enough to rid us of the bug invasion!  The cooler temperatures are great for our greens.  You will notice the leafy greens taking on a sweeter flavor as the temperatures cool into fall.

Speaking of greens.  We are in a bit of a transition for lettuce right now.  Salad mix and head lettuce should make their way back onto our choice in larger numbers soon.  Our latest planting of salad greens is sizing up nicely in the field and we are trying to patiently wait for it to grow a bit before we start harvesting.  We have several succession plantings of arugula which look really good.  The arugula we are harvesting is young and tender - just beautiful!  Kale and chard are continuing to grow and be harvested.  We are also harvesting turnip greens right now.  Turnip greens have a flavor profile a bit like mustard greens and they are very high in calcium.

Speaking of greens, again.  Did you know that radish greens are edible?  They are a bit hairy, but cooking them tames the hairs.  Try them in stir frys, soups or add them raw to your smoothies.  We are harvesting some nice radishes right now, so if you get radishes in your box, don't toss those greens!

The sweet potatoes in boxes last week were our own.  This is a large milestone for Dancing Hen Farm.  After 7 years of production, this is our first successful crop of sweet potatoes.  Those of you who have been with us over the years, know that we generally buy in certified organic sweet potatoes from our friends at Landisdale Farm in Lebanon county.  We will again be purchasing sweets from these great folks, but for now we are enjoying a small harvest of our own.  And speaking of edible greens, did you know that sweet potato greens are edible?  Farmer Don read this after he had composted all the greens.  So, maybe next year we will try sweet potato greens as an item.

We are receiving a lot of calls and emails concerning our pastured pork.  Farmer Don is still working out our costs, but we should have pricing details to you soon.  In addition to freezer meat this year, we will also be selling individual cuts of pork.  Again, stay tuned for more details, including price per pound on the freezer meat. 

Did anyone happen to see the lunar eclipse this morning?  Rosie and I went out a bit before 6 and although the stars were shining brightly to the east, to the west clouds obscured the moon.  But about a half hour later, the clouds cleared for a bit and there the moon was obscured this time by the earth's shadow!  If you are interested, here is a link I found showing when eclipses will occur and where they will be visible.  http://www.timeanddate.com/eclipse/list.html

Another gentle reminder concerning share boxes.  Please treat your share boxes gently and return them to us for reuse.  You can return your box to your pick up site, left on your porch if you get home delivery, returned to the farm or handed to us at a farmer's market we attend.  We also reuse the berry boxes we use for packing and egg cartons.  Thank you for helping the farm be more sustainable!

The 2014 season is quickly winding down.  This Saturday is our last market at the Back Mountain Library.  That means our Winter Buying club will be starting up next Saturday.  This buying club runs independent of our CSA.  All buying club ordering is done online, so if you want to participate, you will need to register on our website and "purchase" a free winter buying club membership.  Watch your email for more details concerning this buying club.

Speaking of markets, rumor has it we will have some helpers at market this Saturday.  Our nephew Phil will be helping me at Forks Farm this week.   Phil and his family just relocated to the area and are excited to be getting settled into the community.  Lydia (and possibly Noah) will be at Back Mountain helping Farmer Don.  The weather looks beautiful, so come on out and catch the last couple markets of the season!  As always, if you are at market, please stop by our table and say hello.

The sun is up now, time to get the day's chores going.  Thanks to each of you for your continued support of our farm and local agriculture.  We could not do what we do without you!  And in Farmer Don's words: "be safe, be well, and enjoy those veggies".

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

CSA Week 16 Newsletter

Welcome to Week 16!

Bugs!  Yes, bugs!  That is the biggest topic of conversation right now, at the grocery store, the feed store, the hardware store, farm market....  What is up with the bugs this year?  Sometimes I feel like they are holding me captive in the house.   The minute you head outside, they immediately swarm.   Yesterday, I had to wear my hat to eat lunch on the deck!  Harvest was really rough, as even hats and hoods and Burt's Bees couldn't hold the gnats at bay.  I hate to say the F word, but I am almost wising for a Frost!  Of course a heavy frost could be a detriment to some summer crops we are hoping will still size up.  We have a  late planting of green beans and squash.  Each of the these crops has fruit, but needs a few more days (or weeks) to reach a harvestable size.  Our peppers could also use a few more weeks of warm weather to really size up. 

In the fields right now, we are in a bit of a transition.  We have a large planting of lettuce which is sizing up nicely.  Look for head lettuce to be available soon and salad mix to continue to be available through the end of the season.  Our green mustard is winding down, but we will soon be harvesting red mustard again.  The collard greens we are currently harvesting are really beautiful and our radicchio has headed up nicely.  We also have some beautiful large heads of green chicory available.  Chicory is one of the more bitter greens we grow.  To temper this bitterness, try steaming or boiling the greens before adding them to the saute pan.  This pre-cooking method will mellow the bitterness of most greens, including dandelion. 

Our 2014 season is slowly winding down.  Six more CSA deliveries and only two Back Mountain Market and two regular season Forks Farm Market remaining.  As we did last year, we will again be operating a winter buying club.  This buying club is separate from our CSA buying club and we are anticipating it to begin October 18, the week following our last farmers markets.  To participate in the winter buying club, you will need to register on our website and "purchase" a free winter buying club member ship.  At this time, if you were a member of our winter buying club last year, you will not need to re-sign up.  If this changes, we will let you know via email.  With the winter buying club, you place your order on line and then meet us at a designated location to pick up and pay for your purchases.  As always, if you have questions or need additional information, please do not hesitate to contact us.

In the next few weeks we will also begin taking memberships for our 2015 CSA season.  As we have in past years, we will offer a discount to returning members and to members signing up early.  Please watch email for an announcement concerning this.  We will continue to be a choice CSA, in which members are able to choose the items they receive in their box each week.  We are considering adding a chicken share to our CSA for next year.  Stay tuned on the chicken share, as we are still working out the details.  If you have questions or need additional information on the CSA, please see our website (www.dancinghenfarm.com) or contact us at the farm.

Last week I put out a notice about our pork.  We have gotten some interest and we have an individual who feels a half may be too much for her small family.  If anyone is interested in splitting a half with this family, please contact us here at the farm.  We are anticipating pork to be ready around the first of November and we should have some prices to you in the next few weeks.  Our pork arrives vacuum packed and frozen.  We often get asked about freezer space.   To store a half a pig you will need between and 4 and 5 cubic feet of freezer space.  Again, if you have questions concerning our pork or would like to reserve some meat, please contact us.  If you are looking for grass fed beef, we know of neighboring farms who are currently taking reservations for their beef.  If you send us an email, we will forward you their contact information.

Our kitchen has been fairly quiet recently.  I am still busy drying herbs and am hoping to make applesauce and possibly apple butter this week for canning.  Last weekend we cooked a ham and Farmer Don used the bone and some leftover meat to make ham and bean soup for dinner tonight.  We have been eating bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwiches recently, as we rush to get our fill before the end of the tomatoes.   

A quick note to CSA members as the season winds down.  Please let the farm know if you cannot pick up your box.  We will donate these veggies and not let them go to waste.  If you are running late and unable to pick up your share on Tuesday, please contact your site host and let them know you will be picking up late.  The site hosts at our central pick up sites are only responsible to hold boxes until 5 pm on Wednesday.  (This is actually an extension from our noon Wednesday earlier cut off time.)  After this time, 5 pm, your box will be donated.  Please pick up on time.  The site host will not store your veggies in the refrigerator if you do not pick up.  Many site hosts have been overly accommodating for late pick-ups.  Please remember our site hosts are volunteers.  They  are gracious enough to allow us to utilize their facilities, properties, houses, etc., for a share box drop site where members can go to pick up the delivered shares.  The site hosts manage these sites by collecting and storing the share boxes for pick up the next week, so they can be used again during an upcoming pack.  A huge responsibility that the farm appreciates the hosts for doing.

Market news!  We have a new market employee, our nephew Phil.  If you see him helping Farmer Don at market, be sure to give him a warm welcome to the Dancing Hen Farm crew.  This week's markets include the Bloomsburg University Market on Friday and Back Mountain Market on Saturday.  Stop by, say hello and pick up some local foods.  If you go to Back Mountain, you can again sample Farmer Don's kimchi.  Vegan, although maybe not totally authentic, kimchi.

Time to move on to the next task.  Be well, be safe and enjoy those veggies!

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Week 15 Newsletter

Welcome to Week 15!  Happy Fall!

There was a chill to the air this morning, really feeling like fall is here.  It seems I have been talking about fall for weeks now.  And looking at this week's weather forecast, I am thinking next week I may be talking about a return to summer.  The temperatures this weekend are to be near 80 again!  A perfect day for market!

The cooler night time temperatures are good for our greens.  Cooler temperatures not only sweeten the flavor of the greens, but also reduce some of our insect pressure.  The Bok Choy is really beautiful right now.  We are also currently harvesting some huge green mustard.  Both bok choy and mustard are versatile greens, as you can enjoy them cooked or raw in salads.  Mustard greens have a distinctive spicy bite which does mellow a bit with cooking.  Recently I have been looking for recipes using mustard greens and came across a recipe for mustard greens pesto (http://nourishedkitchen.com/spicy-mustard-green-pesto/)  and another recipe for massaged mustard green salad (http://www.eatingwell.com/recipes/mustard_greens_salad.html).  I see the pesto as a great addition to pasta or grilled cheese sandwiches.  I may try making some and freezing it this weekend.  We love massaged kale salad, but it never occurred to massage other greens!  Another one I will need to try.

I think I can finally say our tomatoes are coming to an end.  We pulled up about half of our field grown tomatoes last week and are in the process of re-planting those fields with late fall and winter greens.  We will do our best to get what tomatoes we still have out to our members, but I am thinking there are not many more weeks of tomatoes to be harvested.  Much to my surprise, I think our tomato harvest wasn't a complete loss this year.  The late blight disease had us very worried, but we were still able to harvest quite a few tomatoes.  Thanks to you, our members, for your patience and understanding concerning our tomatoes this season. 

This week we will add some different winter squash to the choice list.  Get your recipes ready for Spaghetti squash and butternut squash!  These squash have spent the last few weeks curing in our greenhouse and are now ready to go into your boxes. 

In the kitchen, these cooler temperatures also mean time for soup.  We use our stewing hens to make delicious bone broth and in turn use this broth to make delicious, nutritious soups.  Farmer Don recently made his specialty, Italian Wedding Soup.  He had his eye on a large head of escarole for several weeks and finally harvested it and used it in soup.  I can honestly say, I think this was his best batch yet!  I think I even took a picture?  If I did, I will post it on facebook and our blog. 

We tasted Farmer Don's latest kimchii this week.  I have to admit it is probably his best batch yet.  It will still need a bit more time for fermenting, but we are both really excited about the results.  I am predicting another 3 to 5 pounds will be made this weekend!  If you like kimchii and attend the Back Mountain Market, be sure to ask Farmer Don about his kimchii.  He will gladly give you all the details and maybe even a sample.

If anyone is looking for sustainably raised pastured pork, please contact us.  We will have a limited amount of freezer pork available this fall.  This meat is from hogs raised on our pasture and fed lots of our organic vegetables.  Pork is sold by the half or whole and comes  vacuum packed and frozen.  Ham, bacon, and sausage are standard with all orders, unless you specify otherwise.  Scrapple and lard are also available upon request.  Halves will yield approximately 80 to 100 pounds of meat and wholes will yield 170 to 200 pounds of meat. 

Speaking of meat, we also have chicken available.  These meat birds are raised on our pasture and fed certified non-gmo organic grain.  Half and whole roasters and stew hens are available through the buying club, at the Back Mountain Market or on farm.  Chickens also come vacuum packed and frozen.  For more information on our chicken, please contact the farm.

I want pass a huge thank you on to a group of Bloomsburg University students who volunteered on farm Sunday afternoon and evening.  The students were from the university organization H.O.P.E  (Helping our Planet Earth).  They spent several hours learning about our farm and helped farmer Don set up some irrigation in fall planting plots.  It was great to have their energy and enthusiasm on farm!!!

Time for another gentle box reminder.  Please remember to treat your share boxes gently and return them for re-use. 

The weather looks absolutely beautiful for market this weekend.  We will be at Forks Farm and Back Mountain markets on Saturday and the Bloomsburg University market on Friday.  Please, if you come to market, stop by our table and say hello. 

Yep, you guessed it, this week's newsletter has come to an end!  So, "be safe, be well and enjoy those veggies".

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Week 14 Newsletter.

Welcome to Week 14!

So I am thinking the cooler temperatures may be settling in for the season.  I just watched the weather and it looks like a slight warm up over the weekend, but highs in the 60's and low's in the 40's for the rest of the week.  I even heard mention of the f word for Thursday night.  Frost that is.  Frost is most definitely a nasty word around here.  Frost means the end to many of our summer crops.  Frost also mean lots of extra work for us as we scramble to try and cover tender plants and harvest what we can.  Frost, of course, also means we are closer to winter, which also means a lot of extra work for us.  But, that is a topic for an entire newsletter!  So we will move on.

I want to thank everyone who braved the rain to come out to market this past Saturday.  It was a cold wet day.  Seeing so many customers dedicated enough to local foods to come out in the weather, lifted all the vendors spirits.   

This week, the first of our winter squash made an appearance in boxes.  Delicata and Acorn squash will again be available for next week.  Butternut and spaghetti squash will become available in the next few weeks.  Both Delicata and Acorn squash are good sliced in half moons and roasted in some butter and maple syrup, honey or brown sugar.  As a side note, unlike like most winter squash, the skin of the delicata is edible.  Acorn squash are great for stuffing.  Follow one of the many stuffed acorn recipes available or simply use a mixture of rice or quinoa and beans seasoned with a bit of salt, pepper and your favorite herbs.  I find it best to first roast the squash a bit, then stuffing it and then return it to the oven for a final roasting.

As many of you probably know, here at Dancing Hen Farm we are big fans of cookbook author Deborah Madison.  We have many of her cookbooks and honestly feel we never go wrong with any of her recipes.  This weekend at market, Farmer Don was encouraging everyone to try a simple shredded radicchio salad with a walnut vinaigrette and toasted bread crumbs and hard cooked eggs.  We made the salad again this week for dinner and WOW!  it was better than we even remember it to be.  I have posted pictures of our version on both our facebook and blog (http://www.dancinghenfarmcsa.blogspot.com/ ).  The recipe is from Vegetable Literacy and here is a website  which talks about the book and lists the recipe.   http://tablematters.com/2013/04/01/higher-vegucation/

Out of the kitchen and on to the farm. 

With the cooler temperatures moving in we are starting to get our extended season production systems in order.  This includes closing up our unheated greenhouses.  We keep the plastic top on these houses during the summer, but we remove the end walls and lower side walls for ventilation.  In the fall we rebuild the end walls and re-install the sides to make a nice protected environment for our plants to grow over the winter.  We are finally giving up on the majority of our tomato field and will be turning it over for winter production.  This field will be planted with lettuces and cooking greens. We will build mini greenhouses over these beds to protect the plants during even the coldest of winter temperatures.  Our goal is to harvest into December and then, depending on the weather, stop harvesting until the end of February when the protected plants start to grow again.  We will continue to harvest from these fields into April and early May.

Fall crops still maturing in our fields include greens, brussel sprouts, cabbage and  broccoli romanesco.  The cabbage is starting to head up and we expect to see a harvest out of these plots in the near future.  We are continuing to try and nurse our brussel sprouts into sprouting.  Stay tuned for the results!  Broccoli romanesco unfortunately is a bit of an inside joke here on farm.  Last year was our first attempt at this crop.  Romenesco is the funky space ship looking lime green vegetable falling somewhere between broccoli and cauliflower.  Last year we had beautiful huge plants.  When I say huge, I mean 4 feet plus tall with gigantic leaves.  Unfortunately, the plants got bigger and bigger, but we never saw any flower heads to harvest.  And also, unfortunately, this year, we are again producing beautiful plants, but no flowering.   Stay tuned on this crop as well.  I am sure you will hear cheers ringing from the farm if we find beautiful space ship flower buds in our romanesco field!  Or maybe you will hear us this winter cheering on the deer as they devour the huge, beautiful, non-fruiting plants?

I am sure you have noticed apples are off the choice for the time being.  We are currently assessing some other trees for harvest.  We need to mow around them first!  We know one is a hard tart apple probably best suited for cooking, but we aren't certain about the others.  We will keep you posted if we are again harvesting from our trees and we will at least try and give you an idea of the characteristics of the apples we are harvesting.  Sorry, but we honestly do not know the varieties.  We have also been in contact with a friend of ours who has organic apples.  We may purchase some apples from him this season and will keep you posted on the varieties we purchase.

This weekend we will again be at Back Mountain Memorial Library Market.  As always, stop by, say hello and pick up some great local food.

As always, thanks to each of you for your continued support of our small family farm and local agriculture.  And, as always, in the words of Farmer Don "be safe, be well and enjoy those veggies"


Shredded Radicchio salad with a walnut vinaigrette.  Thank you Deborah Madison for another great recipe!

Monday, September 15, 2014

Sunday Kimchi

Sunday Kimchi

The primary fermentation crock

Farmer Don filing the jars.

Ready for a second fermentation in the fridge.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Week 13 Newsletter

Welcome to Week 13!

Yes, I think I can finally say the signs of a change in season are here.  The heat wave from last week seems to have faded into a hot steamy memory.  Mornings are starting to be a bit chillier and watching this morning's weather, the outlook is for even cooler temperatures this weekend.  The cooler temperatures are always welcoming on farm, although as I have mentioned before, we still have some summer crops we are hoping will mature.  Historically we get our first frost in September and with lows in the low to mid 40's predicted for this weekend, I am sure frost is not far behind.  The first frost of the season is generally a light frost only effecting our most tender crops, but it in our minds, it still marks the end of the summer growing season.

On farm we are still getting our fields set for fall and winter production.  Lots and lots of greens going into the ground over the next few weeks.  Look for fewer and fewer summer crops to be available and shift back to an availability more heavy on greens.  We will be harvesting our winter squash this week.  These squash will be put in the sun in one of our greenhouses to cure.  Delicata and Spaghetti squash require little or no curing, so these will be the first to be available.  We will be harvesting our sweet potatoes shortly as well.  This is our first season of what we hope are successful sweet potatoes.  Those of you who are returning members know we always have lots of sweet potatoes available, but in the past we have purchased them from a friend of ours who runs a certified organic farm to our south.  We will keep you posted on how our sweet potato harvest comes along.

One green we are harvesting right now is bok choy.  Whenever I see bok choy being harvested two things come to mind.  One is a youtube video (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R1YNUqglW70) made by some farmers in New Paltz, NY.  In this funny video, one of the farmers is absolutely in love with her bok choy; reading the baby bok choy bedtime stories and signing to the plants in the field.  She even makes bok choy pizza for her csa customers.  Farmer Don likes his Asian greens, but I don't think he has started signing to them yet!  The other thing that comes to mind is our first year of growing and Farmer Don's first farm market cooking demonstration.  He made a bok choy salad.  I will post the recipe below, as it is still a favorite, not only to make, but also to hand out to people at market looking for a way to use bok choy.

In our kitchen, if we are not making bok choy salad, we routinely add bok choy to stir fries and soups.  For soup, I would suggest a basic noodle soup (Japanese udon noodles work well) made with chicken (or vegetable) broth to which garlic and bok choy are added.  For a special treat, top each bowl of soup with a poached egg.  For stir fries we often us a recipe from Andre Chesman's "Serving up the Harvest".  In this cookbook, Chesman gives instructions for a basic stir fry and suggests you alter the vegetables as crops become available.  There are many stir fry recipes available with a simple google search.  We find the secret to a stir fry is having all of your cutting and prep work done before you start cooking.  We like to start any meat we are using to marinate first and then cut the veggies, grouping the veggies according to how long they take to cook.  For bok choy this means separating the stems from the leaves, as the stems will require a bit more cooking time.  Speaking of separating leaves from stems.  If you find bok choy leaves a bit too bitter for your tastes, simply cut some of the upper leaf away and compost it.

This time of year our kitchen is a constant flurry of activity.  This past weekend Farmer Don used 10 pounds of napa cabbage and bok choy to make a batch of kimchi.  Over the past year he has been trying to perfect his recipe and he feels confident this batch will be his best.  This latest batch is fermenting in crocks in our back bedroom and I can already smell the lacto fermentation process starting.  We should know in a few weeks how it turns out, so stay tuned.  On farm we have always done a lot of preserving, canning, pickling, fermenting and freezing, and we are currently working out the logistics and a business plan to offer these products to our customers.  Stay tuned for more details on this as well.

It seems our buying clubs are generating some questions.  I will try and offer a bit of a clarification.  We offer 2 buying club options.  The first is a buying club available only to our CSA members.  This option allows CSA members to order additional produce, meats, seafood and value added products.  The order is then delivered with your weekly CSA box.  We do require a 50 dollar deposit to participate in this option, since we deliver the product with your box.  The deposit amount declines as you make buying club purchases.  The second buying club option we offer is what we call a Winter Buying Club.  This option is open to everyone and does not require a deposit.  We have not currently opened up option 2 for the season.  With option 2, you will need to meet us at a designated time to pick up and pay for your order.  We anticipate the winter buying club to start in about a month.  Watch your email for announcements concerning the winter buying club and if you are a csa member and would like to order from the csa buying club, please contact the farm to sign up and make your deposit.

Time for market announcements.   Farmer Don will again be on the Bloomsburg University campus Friday morning for a Farmers Market.  On Saturday we will be at both Forks Farm Market in Orangeville and at the Back Mountain Memorial Library Farmers Market in Dallas.  If you visit any of these markets, please remember to stop by our table and say hello.

Thanks again to each of you for your continued support of our farm and local agriculture.  Have a great week, be safe, be well and enjoy those veggies.


Bok choy, trimmed, chopped - 8 ounces
Fresh goat cheese - 1 ounce
Toasted walnuts - 1 ounce
Fresh fruit - 1/2 apple, a tangerine, etc.
Chopped green onion - 3 or 4

2 tablespoons cream, whisked until pillowy (this takes a minute or two, it's also easier starting with more cream but since the dressing doesn't keep well, make only enough for the current meal)
1 tablespoon rice vinegar (or lemon juice or another vinegar)
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon good mustard

Combine just before serving.

Monday, September 8, 2014

July scenes from the Back Mountain Memorial Library Farmers Market.  Thank you to Farm Intern Lydia for sharing the pictures.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Welcome to Week 12!

I hope everyone had a great Labor Day.  Labor Day, the end of meteorological summer.  Say what?  Seems like summer is not quite ready to end around here.  Good weather for the remainder of our summer crops, not so good for our lettuces and cooking greens.  But, as Farmer Don always say, "Mother Nature bats last", so a continuation of summer we will endure.

Speaking of summer crops our tomatillos are still going strong.  We are growing a purple heirloom and a traditional green variety.   The purples are exceptionally sweet!  If you have not tried tomatillos yet, I would encourage you to do so.   They are the main ingredient in salsa verde, are good added to chili, pair well with pork and, believe it or not, are a good addition to scrambled eggs.   I will post a really good bread salad recipe below.  This salad is a favorite summertime lunch here on farm. 

 On farm we are busy getting our fields turned over for fall.  This includes planting fall crops, but also seeding cover crops to improve our soil's fertility.  We are again planning on using low tunnels for extended season production of greens this fall and early spring.  A low tunnel is a mini-greenhouse made of plastic sheeting we place over our rows of plants.  The plastic protects the plants and last year these tunnels allowed us to extend our harvest into December.  We have plans again this year to continue to offer produce for as long as possible into the winter months.  Watch future newsletters for more details on how you can order items once the CSA ends.

We still have some summer crops to mature, so the recent heat should help.  Peppers and eggplant are fruiting nicely.  This week we will offer some fairytale eggplant.  These small eggplant are purple and white and are great for grilling.   We will also be offering some lunchbox peppers from our friend Teri over at Mad Dog Farms.  Teri grows organically and is known for her garlic and peppers.  Other summer crops waiting to mature here on our farm include another planting of summer squash and more green beans and our own sweet peppers.

As our production turns from summer crops into fall, look for more greens to become available.  We have large plantings of kale and swiss chard waiting to mature, as well as more Asian greens and cabbage.  Collards will make an appearance soon and we are waiting patiently to see if the broccoli romanesco will form heads this year.  Lettuce and salad greens should remain available for the duration of the CSA. 

Our winter squash will soon be harvested and put in one of our greenhouses to cure.  Farmer Don had a very unhappy discovery in our winter squash bed last week.  It seems one of our resident groundhogs decided to make a new home in the middle of the blue hubbard bed.  He, and most likely his family, ate most of the hubbard fruit and a few of the butter nuts.  Farmer Don promptly filled his new house in with rocks!  Groundhogs, a never ending battle here.  Sometimes we fill a bit like Bill Murray in Caddyshack!

Time to bring this to an end.  Sorry for the delay this week.  I have a few animals staring me down for breakfast, so I need to start morning chores. 

Don't forget to visit us at market.  Today Farmer Don will be on the Bloomsburg University campus at a Farmers Market  and Saturday he and Farmer Neil will be back at the Back Mountain Memorial Library.  Stop by and say hello!

Be safe, be well and enjoy those veggies!!!

Tomatillo Bread Salad (Sara Jones, Tucson CSA)
3 slices stale bread, cubed
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon cayenne
1 teaspoon ground oregano
1 basket tomatillos, husk removed, cleaned and grilled or roasted
1 medium onions, thinly sliced
1 cup beans, preferably black beans, rinsed
1 tablespoon olive oil
Juice from one lime
Salt and pepper to taste
Cilantro, optional

Toss bread cubes with herbs and spices and oil. Toast in a 400 degree oven for about 8 minutes, stirring occasionally to brown evenly. Roughly chop roasted tomatillos, reserving any juice that they release. Toss together tomatillos, onions, croutons and beans. Drizzle with tomatillo juice and lime juice, season with salt and pepper and serve at room temperature, garnished with cilantro.