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!