Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Greetings and Welcome to Week 7!

The big news here on farm is the weather.  The calendar says July, but the weather feels more like September!  We aren't complaining, but some of our plants are.  This cool weather presents the perfect storm for diseases in our squash, cucumbers, tomatoes and potatoes.  We are trying to keep ahead of the plant diseases, but this is very challenging in an organic system.  Most of these diseases are caused by fungi which are spread by the air currents from farm to farm, garden to garden and plant to plant.  Right now as I sit looking out at the bank of fog encasing our tomato field, all I can think, is the perfect storm continues.

This week we harvested our entire crops of sweet onions and garlic.  The sweet onions have been and will continue to go out in boxes  These onions are considered a non-storage onion, so we cure them slightly, but they are not intended to be stored for winter consumption.  Our garlic on the other had will be cured for 2 to 4 weeks to allow the papery outer skin to dry.  Garlic will start going out in boxes in the next month and will continue to be available throughout the CSA season. 

Our cucumbers and summer squash are starting to wind down.  We do have another planting coming on, but we anticipate a small lapse in availability as this next planting matures.  Our cucumbers and squash have done well this year and we hope our members have been enjoying them as much as we have.  Speaking of squash, our winter squash is looking really beautiful this year!  We have high hopes for a nice harvest. 

Here's another friendly reminder concerning our boxes.  Please remember to treat share boxes gently and return them for us to re-use.  Sliding the tops, rather than pulling on them, will prevent tearing of the tabs.  We also re-use egg cartons and the small green berry boxes some items come packaged in.  Thank you, by reusing these items we are making our farm a more sustainable system. 

We have chicken available through our buying club or for purchase at the Back Mountain Memorial Library or on farm.  We sell full and half broiler chickens and full stewing hens.  All chickens are managed organically, with continual access to grass, bugs and fresh air.  If you have questions about our chicken or the buying club, please contact us at the farm.

Speaking of Back Mountain Memorial Library Farm Market.  Farmer Don will be at market this Saturday from 9 am to 2 pm.  Stop by and say hello!  Remember to arrive early for the best selection.

The fog has now lifted from the tomatoes.  Time to move on to the next task.  Until next week.  Be safe, be well and enjoy the veggies.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Welcome to Week 6!

Well, ok, Week 6 is coming to an end and we are well into choice for week 7!  Sorry for the delay in the newsletter this week.  We finally settled on a  ghost/guest writer as Farmer Don is busy with the flurry of the farm.

The tomatillos are really nice right now and if you haven't tried them, I would encourage you to do so.  They make a great salsa verde and pair well with pork.  I recently made this grilled salsa to top a sirloin we were having for dinner.  ( )  Then the next day for lunch Farmer Don made a simple summer squash soup topped with salsa verde and we used the leftovers on the soup.  The recipe was from a Deborah Madison cookbook, but I found the recipe on line.  It is the same recipe, but the website does not mention the salsa verde?  I am not sure why, as we all thought the salsa made the soup.

As I said above, the farm is always a flurry of activity.  We generally have several interns and volunteers on farm as well as Farmers Don and Neil.  Each day we stop for a bit of an extended lunch.  Farmer Don generally cooks for all of us using farm ingredients.  This creates a nice time for fellowship and gets everyone in out of the heat for a bit.

How about those cucumbers?  Wow what a nice harvest this year!  We have been eating a cucumber salad almost every night for weeks.  I am hoping to make some pickles this weekend or the first part of next week.  If anyone is interested in making pickles, please contact the farm and we can go over pricing on bulk cucumbers.  I have also been pickling garlic scapes this year and they turned out better than we expected!  If you are at the Back Mountain market this week, stop by our table and ask Farmer Don for a sample.

Are you a part of our CSA buying club?  Farmer Don is starting to make more items available on this buying club.  Look for some additional value added products in the next few weeks.  We also have our chicken available through the buying club.  We sell our meat chickens by the half and the whole.  The price on the buying club is an estimate.  Most whole birds come in between 14 and 18 dollars per bird.  We will adjust your buying club balance accordingly when you make a purchase.  We also have stew hens available.  These are older chickens and are perfect for making stock.  If you have never made homemade chicken stock, it very easy and can be made in your crock pot or on the stove top.  Here is a great discussion  on the health benefits of bone broth, as well as a how to recipe for making chicken broth using a stewing hen.

Market season is in full swing.  Back Mountain market started last week.  Farmer Don reports that it was great to see so many CSA members as well as our loyal farm market customers.  We will be back at the Back Mountain Library Market this week and will have veggies as well as chicken and eggs for sale.  Rumor has it both Farmers Don and Neil will be behind the table, so be sure to stop in and say hello!  This week is also a Forks Farm Market.  Forks Farm Market is a really nice market on the Hopkins family farm in Orangeville.  Vendors set up under the trees and there is music playing in the barn!  If you are at Forks this week, stop by our table and say hello to Joan.

Time to wrap this up, print it out and have Farmer Don give it a quick read before it gets sent to all our members.  In the words of Farmer Don "be safe, be well and enjoy those veggies"

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

CSA 2014 Week 5

Greetings from a far less tropic Dancing Hen Farm! And welcome to Week 5 of the CSA!  And Week 1 of the Dallas Back Mountain Library Market.

So nice to see the weather break and have a few days of cooler breezes to contend with.  Hopefully no severe storm warnings for a few days as well.  Everyone, humans, animals and plants, appreciate these days of lower humidity.

A word on crops.  Mid July and I think we can finally say our peas are starting to wind down!  Next year we are thinking more shelling peas and fewer snow peas.  We will plant the same number of sugar snaps, but hope the harvest is a bit more prolific than this year.  Zucchini and summer squash are still coming on strong.  These are some beautiful plants and they are producing nicely.  Our cucumbers are also still producing heavily and we are starting to harvest a few lemon cucumbers.  These are an heirloom cucumber which produces a round yellow fruit, looking a bit like a lemon.   These lemon cucumbers will be available in very limited quantities.  We were able to harvest a few tomatillos this week and we anticipate a much larger harvest for the next few weeks.  Big news for us is that our tomatoes are starting to ripen!  Always a time to celebrate!!!!

A word on pick up sites.  For most sites pick up time is from 4 pm until 6 pm.  If you are running late or are unable to make a pick up, please notify your site host.  We are asking site hosts to keep boxes available until noon on Wednesdays.  After this time all boxes will be donated by the site host.  Please also note, site host's are not able to refrigerate boxes for you.  I your box is left at the site overnight, it will not be left at room temperature.   If you pick up Thursday, on farm, your box will be kept in our cooler and will be available until Saturday morning, at which time we will donate your box.  Remember if you are going out of town, you can always arrange to pick your box up at our farm or at one of the markets we attend.

A word on markets.  This Saturday, July 19, is the first week for the Dallas market on the grounds of the Back Mountain Memorial Library.  We are excited for the opening of this market.  Market hours are from 9 am until 2 pm, but we do sell out of items quickly, so come early for the best selection.  We will be featuring not only our organically grown produce, but also our pasture raised chicken.  As always, if  you come to market, please stop by our table and say hello.  We love to meet our members!!!

A word on buying clubs.  If you are a CSA member and opted into our buying club, extra items are available for you to purchase when you make your CSA choices.  Our other, pay as you go, buying club is temporarily on hold as work out some logistics.  We encourage you to visit us at one of our markets.
A word on using the items in your box.  We are posting recipes to our pinterest site (  Now that tomatillo season is here, we have to share a farm favorite for Tomatillo Bread Salad  ( With the addition of the beans, this salad is easily a meal!

On farm we are in preserving mode.  Last week we pickled garlic scapes and are struggling to wait 2 weeks to taste them!  Stay tuned for how they turned out.  This week we will pickle some cucumbers and make some zucchini spread (  Zucchini spread is something new for us, if we like it we will make more for freezing.  Pickles are a real treat on farm.  Even if you aren't up for all the fuss of canning, you may want to try some refrigerator or freezer pickles.  These can be made in small batches with cucumbers or zucchini.  Here are some recipes:  For freezer cucumber pickles:;  for freezer zucchini pickles:  If you would like bulk zucchini or cucumbers for preserving, please contact us at the farm.

As we draw to an end.... Be Safe, Be Well and enjoy the veggies!  And don't forget CSA choice begins Thursdays at 6 pm and ends on Sunday at 6 pm.

Canning and Preserving has started on farm.

Most recently we pickled garlic scapes.  We have to wait 2 weeks for the flavors to develop before we eat them!  That could be hard!

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Week 3 Newsletter

Welcome to Week 3!  And a Happy Independence Day!

The heat is on!  Can someone remind me, why we were so impatient for warm temperatures in March?  We always seem to be talking about the weather here, but so much of what we do revolves around the weather.  And what about our recent string of beautiful weekends?  Looks like that trend will continue this weekend with humidity and temperatures forecast to fall, starting Friday.  Here on farm we could use a good soaking rain.  Thankfully our new well and irrigation system still allows us to keep crops watered. 

A testament to how cool our spring was are our peas.  We are in the real height of our pea harvest and here it is July 4th.  Peas are generally considered a spring crop, with harvest ending closer to the middle of June.  We anticipate lots of snow and snap peas for next week's choice, so get your recipes ready.  Once again we will have a limited number of shelling peas available.  The shelling pea pods are a bit small this year, with fewer peas per pod, but the peas are really sweet.

For week 4, look for the following on the choice.  We will be harvesting our first green snap beans.  Generally our early harvests of a crop are small, but don't worry we have plenty of beans planted.  Watch for them to remain on choice for several weeks.  Cucumbers will also be back on choice and again should remain there for several weeks.  We are continuing to harvest both zucchini and yellow squash.  For all of our salad fans out there, we will also be offering a limited amount of salad mix.  We have had germination and pest pressure problems with our lettuce this year, so bear with us as we nurse our crop to a harvestable size! 

News on the farm.  We received honey bees from a CSA member last weekend.  We are excited to have these pollinators on farm.  We are still busy planting.  This past week we were able to get all of our winter squash planted.  Now we are hoping the row cover we have in place will keep out the beetles!  Speaking of pests, we are continuing to battle groundhogs and deer in our upper fields.  We estimate we lost over 2,000 broccoli plants and just as many cabbage plants to these pests!  We still have our fingers crossed for a small early broccoli harvest.  We will replant both of these crops soon in a lower bed in hopes of a fall harvest.  We have a beautiful second rotation of Asian greens ready to be planted out.  Beets and carrots are sizing up nicely.  Watch for tomatillos to go out starting Week 5.

We had several volunteers on farm last week.  CSA member Amanda spent the day with us working alongside our field crew.  Thank you Amanda.  CSA member Jason, is a regular volunteer around here.  This week he brought a friend and they helped us with a tractor tire in need of repair.  Thank you Jason and Joe! 

A quick note on buying club.  If you have pre-paid for a buying club membership, some extra items are beginning to show up on the buying club list.  These items will be delivered with your CSA box (please make sure you don't have 2 boxes at your CSA site!).  We have chicken available at this time as well.  As we are still working out the logistics of delivery of this perishable item, chickens are currently only available for on farm pick up.  If you would like to order chicken, please contact the farm.  You can still register for the buying club.  Once we receive your $50 membership, we will activate you and you can begin to order extra items.  As you order, the amount is deducted from your account.  Questions?  Contact us at the farm.

We do have a very limited number of shares still available for the 2014 season.  If you know anyone who might be interested, please have them contact us at the farm.

You can find us on the web!  Look for us on facebook and pinterest ( or visit our blog (

Thanks to everyone for returning share boxes!  Boxes are a large expenditure for the farm and we try to re-use them as much as possible.  We also re-use and need egg cartons on farm.

Have a great holiday weekend!

It must be summer!  Zucchini and summer squash harvest has started.

And we have a new addition to the farm family.  Honey Bees!!!