Monday, February 23, 2015

More Farm News and Our Buying Club

Greetings from Dancing Hen Farm!

Yep, it's still cold!  Although, we had a really nice Sunday this past weekend.  By afternoon, the sun was shining brightly and the temperature was in the 30's, pushing 40.  The dogs and I spent some time outside trying to soak up some Vitamin D.  Rosie was having a blast playing Frisbee and Shady was close by soaking up the sunshine.

We are doing a buying club delivery this week.  The ordering window opens Tuesday at 5 am and closes Thursday morning at 5 am.  Deliveries will be Friday evening to Bloomsburg and Saturday morning to Dallas and Forty Fort.  This week we have plenty of protein (eggs, chicken, pork and beef) on the buying club, as well as a limited amount of storage vegetables.  If you have questions about our winter buying club, please do not hesitate to contact us at the farm.

A special "Thank You" to our Forty Fort customers who helped us out by meeting us early last weekend.  Farmers Don and Phil made it back to the farm just as the snow was starting to pile up.

These chilly temperatures really keep me in the mood for soups and stews.  Growing up a staple in the Miller household was chicken pot pie.  My family made a traditional Pennsylvania Dutch chicken potpie.  This pot pie is not a baked casserole topped with a rich curst, but instead is more of a stew cooked on the stove top and loaded with homemade potpie noodles.   My mother and my Grandmother both felt stew hens made the most flavorful potpie.  My Grandmother always made the noodles and she never followed a recipe (a handful of this, a pinch of this, milk to moisten, etc.).  I do have a recipe I follow from an old church cookbook and after some internet research, I found this website with a good recipe for pot pie (and chicken and dumplings!).  In the noodles, I would probably replace the unhealthy vegetable shortening with healthier, locally produced, lard or butter.  .

This Saturday, February 28, is National CSA Sign-up Day.  Do you think Hallmark will have cards available?  It seems this date was chosen because it is the most popular day to sign up for CSA shares according to the 2014 CSA Farming Report.  So, I guess Dancing Hen Farm is participating, since we will be taking memberships that day!  See our website for details.

Thanks to everyone for their continued support of our farm.  As I have said in the past, it is you, our farm community, which allows us to do what we do, allows us to share our harvest.

Stay warm and hope for spring!

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

More Farm News

Greetings from a frozen Dancing Hen Farm!  We hope everyone is keeping warm!  Happy belated Valentine's Day!

Our buying club is again open this week.  As always, ordering opened today, Tuesday, at 5 am and closes on Thursday (2/19) at 5 am.  Deliveries will be this weekend.  Farmer Don has been working with Farmer Dan at Landisdale Farm this winter to secure extra certified organic vegetables for our buying club.  There will be a limited amount of kale this week!  I am excited for some kale, as I used the last of our own stockpiled greens last week.  Also look for sweet potatoes, potatoes, beets , rutabaga, onions and red and green cabbage.  We also have a good supply of Dancing Hen Farm eggs, poultry, and pork and Stillwater Field Farm's grassfed beef.  All orders are placed online through our website.  You will need to "purchase" a free winter buying club share to place an order.  New members please note, I will need to activate you before you can order, so there will be a lag between registering and being able to place an actual order.

This time of year we begin to get lots of inquiries about our CSA.  I know many of you are already familiar with our CSA, but this newsletter is also posted to our blog so many people not already associated with our farm are also reading.  So, I thought I would take a few moments to talk about our CSA.

Dancing Hen Farm CSA (community supported agriculture) runs for 22 weeks.  Our start date is very dependent of weather, but most years we start around June 1 and deliver boxes of veggies for 22 weeks, ending around November 1.  We offer 2 share sizes, full and partial.  Full share members receive 10 items each week and partial share members receive 6.  Examples of items would be, a bag of salad mix,  a bunch of kale, a pint of cherry tomatoes, or 3 to 4 summer squash.  We are a full choice CSA.  This means members are offered the opportunity to choose weekly from a list of seasonal fresh produce and we harvest and custom pack your box for you.  We offer several convenient delivery/pick up options.  Members can pick up their shares on our farm or for a small fee members can pick up at a central pick up site or have their box delivered to their homes.  Egg shares are available to CSA members.  Egg shares are for 11 dozen eggs, or one dozen eggs every other week, starting week 1.  Eggs are from our own free range chickens.  CSA members are also given the opportunity to purchase additional items (though a buying club).  These additional items are either produced on our farm or on neighboring sustainable farms and businesses.  As always, if you have need additional information on our farm or our CSA, please do not hesitate to contact us at the farm.  And be sure to visit our website (

In the kitchen this week.  We spent Saturday turning 10 pounds of cabbage into sauerkraut.  Anyone who has talked with Farmer Don at market knows he is a passionate about lacto fermentation and the benefits of eating fermented foods.  There is a ton of information on the internet about the benefits of fermented foods and recipes for making fermented foods.  We make a very basic, traditional sauerkraut.  We start with finely chopped cabbage (a food processor really speeds up this job).  Salt and a bit of whey are then added to the cabbage and thoroughly mixed.  (We make whey by straining yogurt; the whey is the resulting liquid.)  Next we pound the cabbage to release the juices.  The cabbage and the resulting juices are then placed in the fermentation container.  Recently we have been using stoneware crocks, but you can easily use a clean jar.  It is important to pack the crock fairly tightly to exclude air pockets and to assure the top of the cabbage is below the liquid.  To keep the cabbage submerged you can add weight to the top of crock.  Many people use a clean stone or a weighted plate.  We have the best luck with a water filled food grade plastic bag.  The sauerkraut is then allowed to ferment at room temperature for several days, after which it is moved to colder environment for longer storage.  We will keep you posted as to how our latest batch turns out.

As long as we are talking about cabbage...  This week we are offering some red cabbage from Landisdale Farm.  I will be making a traditional Pennsylvania Dutch/German sweet and sour dish with some for us to enjoy with pork chops.  The cabbage will be chopped fine and added to a skillet with a bit of oil (or butter) and an apple or two.  As the cabbage cooks down, I add a bit of brown sugar (or honey) and some apple cider vinegar.  Cover and continue to cook over low heat until the cabbage is cooked to your liking.  Stir often and add a bit of water if things start to stick.  Add salt and pepper to taste and enjoy!  As I indicated this pairs really well with pork, either chops or a roast.

Just another friendly reminder about our web presence.  In addition to our website, we have a facebook page ( and  a blog ( where we post our newsletters, farm pictures and farm updates.  If you are looking for recipes, please visit our pinterest page (

As always, thanks to each of you for your support of our farm and local agriculture.  We are honored to have such a supportive community.  Now all we need is for the snow to melt and the temperatures to warm so we can start growing!

Sunday, February 15, 2015


Sauerkraut Time!

With the wind howling outside and the temperature struggling to get above 10 degrees, we decided it was the perfect weather to make some sauerkraut.   We make sauerkraut very traditionally by adding sea salt to shredded cabbage and then pounding the cabbage to release the juices.  We do add a bit of whey to increase the numbers of good bacteria present in our finished product.  Stay tuned for how that finished product turns out!

The cabbage!

Straining some whey from plain yogurt.

Shredding the cabbage.

Pounding and pounding to release the juices.

Loading the crock.

Let the fermentation begin.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Farm News Feb 8 2015

Greetings Farm Dancing Hen Farm!

Buying club deliveries will begin again next week.  We will have limited vegetables, but a good supply of chicken, eggs, pork and beef.  As always, ordering will start Tuesday (2/10) at 5 am and will end Thursday (2/12) at 5 am.  Deliveries will be Friday (2/13) to Bloomsburg and Saturday (2/14) to Dallas and Forty Fort.  If you have questions concerning the buying club or our delivery site locations, please do not hesitate to contact us at the farm.

This last week saw Farmer Don and I on a rare trip off farm, a vacation for us.   Annually, in the beginning of February, we travel to State College to attend the PASA (Pennsylvania Association of Sustainable Agriculture) annual  Farming For the Future Conference.  This conference allows us to spend several days surrounded by like minded people focused on sustainable living.  We spend our time catching up with many of our farming friends, meeting new people and attending workshops.  This year Farmer Don really focused on the soil health workshops.  He even spent an entire day of intensive workshops learning about restoring and keeping soils healthy and alive.  (yes, only a group of famers could spend an entire day celebrating soil!)  The  PASA conference is really a highlight of our year.  We leave the conference excited and re-energized, ready to make a difference farming sustainably.

February is a month of transition for us.  It is during February that we really begin to see the effects of lengthening days.  By the end of February, the dormant plants in our greenhouses will slowly start to grow and we will begin slowly awakening our seed house.  Greens, cold hardy herbs, scallions and onions will be planted out in seed flats.  Approximately 5 to 6 weeks after seeding, these small plants will be transplanted into our fields and then approximately 4 to 6 weeks after transplant we will begin harvesting.  Seeding really gets underway in March and the first part of April, as we seed our summer crops like tomatoes and eggplant for planting out in May.  There is nothing more beautiful than a greenhouse full of transplants!

We are accepting memberships for our 2015 CSA.  The CSA is really the basis of our farm, building a community of members to share our harvest with.  Our CSA is 22 weeks, generally beginning around June 1 and running through October.  We are a full choice CSA.  Members are able to choose weekly from a list of seasonal fresh produce.  We then harvest and custom pack your box for you each week.  We offer central pick up sites throughout Luzerne and Columbia counties and for a small, additional, fee we also will deliver your weekly share box to your home.  In addition to vegetable shares, we also offer egg shares.  Eggs are from our own free range chickens.  If you have questions about our CSA or our farm, please do not hesitate to contact us

We eat a lot of eggs here on farm and I often find myself looking for new recipes.  I came upon this article on Huffington Post's website.  ( )   .Some of the recipes are classics, like burritos, soft scrambled eggs or egg sandwiches.  Other recipes are a bit more unique, like kimchi omelets, breakfast pizza or quinoa breakfast hash.

Recently I have been craving tomato soup.  One of my favorite recipes if for a Tomato Sweet Potato Bisque.  ( ) .  I can't remember if I have shared this recipe before or not?  I alter it a bit by using my own canned tomatoes and homemade chicken or vegetable stock, whichever is in the freezer.  This time of year, I generally do not have jalapenos, so I skip the jalapeno and add maybe a pinch of dried red pepper flakes for a bit of heat.

It looks like this week will bring a real range of weather.  Tonight, as I type, our outside temperature is still in the mid 30's.  Freezing rain and snow are to move in tonight and tomorrow and then by the end of the week we are to be back to high temperatures in the teens!  I guess we won't be putting the snow boots and long underwear anytime soon.

I want to thank each of you again for your continued support of our farm.  Buying club delivery days are exciting for us!  So exciting to see the support we get from each of you for the food we are producing.

Take care, stay dry, stay warm.....