Sunday, March 29, 2015


Spring is coming to Dancing Hen Farm!!!

Chilly March Greetings!

Chilly March Greetings from Dancing Hen Farm!

There will be NO buying club this week.  Have a great holiday weekend!  The buying will resume the following week with deliveries April 10 and 11.  We will keep our buying club going for as long as possible, discontinuing it once our farm markets begin.  Vegetables will become available as they become harvestable on farm.  Once our CSA begins for the year, only excess vegetables will be made available to the buying club as our first priority is to our CSA members.

Temperatures on farm this morning were 14!  Not exactly the temperatures we need to thaw the ground and keep our unheated greenhouse warm.  But, the sun is high in the sky and that makes 14 in March seem much warmer than 14 in February.  We are very thankful for the sun!  All things in time, spring will come and soon we will be planting and ultimately harvesting from our still frozen fields.

Our nursery greenhouse is slowly filling up with planted flats of greens.  As mentioned above, we still have frost in the ground, so we are still in a holding pattern for field work.  We have our crop rotation planned and we anticipate peas will be our first crop planted.  We will be planting them in one of our cooler fields this year.  Peas take approximately 60 days from planting to harvest and they do not tolerate hot temperatures.  A cooler field will hopefully allow us to get a harvest, even if we skip spring and move directly into warm summer temperatures.  We are actually hoping to have peas in our first week's CSA boxes!  Stay tuned for pea planting!

Some exciting news.  We will be getting a weather station and our on farm weather data will be available for all to see online.  A professor at Bloomsburg University will be installing a weather station here in the next few weeks.  This is part of a grant awarded to monitor the weather conditions in the Fishing Creek watershed.  Once we go live, we will post the link.

Last Monday our newest laying hens arrived.  We now have an additional 200 hens on farm, so we should have plenty of eggs for sale this season and our farm will be alive with dancing hens this summer.  The new girls are slowly getting used to life here.  They are still a bit skittish and aren't real fond of the cool night time temperatures.  Currently, they are in  temporary housing in the barn and in the next few weeks they will move to unused greenhouse in the field next to the barn.  This move will give them access to the outdoors so they can eat grass and forage for insects.  These new layers should start laying eggs in a month or 2, just in time for the start of our CSA.

Farmer Don was in the kitchen last night.  He used a beef brisket to make a Cuban Braised Beef.  Paired with some black beans and rice and it was delicious!   Don is partial to the magazine "Cook's Illustrated" and the recipe he followed was in the April 2015 edition.  Farmer Don has been working off farm in the evenings this winter, so dinners together have been limited.  Most of our meals together are brunch and revolve around eggs, so sharing this hearty dish was a real treat. 

This year our winter buying club has been a huge success.  We are getting great feedback from everyone concerning our pork and poultry.  Sign up for our 2015 CSA is really starting to pick up.  Please remember we have a limited number of shares available.  Memberships will be held in the order in which payment is received, not in the order in which online registration is made.  If you have questions concerning our buying club or CSA, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Farmer Don asked me to be sure to thank everyone for their support of our farm.  As I have said in the past, it is you, our friends and customers, who allow us to sustainably farm this hilly patch of ground we call Dancing Hen Farm.  You allow us to do our part in preserving a piece of land for future generations. 

Until next week......

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Spring News

Spring Greetings From Dancing Hen Farm!

The buying club will be open this week.  Online ordering begins on Tuesday at 5 am.  We still have a good supply of apple orchard pork, eggs and pastured poultry. 

Even with snow on the ground, the signs of spring are here on farm.  We are seeing robins daily and the male gold finches coming to our feeders are slowly starting to get their summer yellow plumage.  Before the ground became white again, I saw a few of my flower bulbs starting to push through the soil.  The maple tree by our parking area has large beautiful buds.  And, it appears some of our kale may have survived the bitter winter temperatures.  We have some rows covered in plastic and before this latest snow covered them again, I was able to see some green growth.  Once the snow melts and the weather warms a bit more, we will uncover these rows.  Stay tuned for what we find!

Our farm is slowly awakening from the winter slumber, as we gear up for our eighth year of production.  This week we will be receiving 200 new laying hens, so we should have a good supply of eggs this year.  These chickens will begin laying eggs in about 4 to 6 weeks.  They will temporarily be housed in our barn and we will move them to mobile chicken coops in the field once the weather warms and the grass greens up a bit. 

Last week we did some seeding of lettuce and scallions.  This week we will most likely do some additional seeding of cooking greens and more lettuce.  Farmer Don is still a bit nervous about getting seeding started too early.  With the persistent snow cover, cool nighttime temperature and deep frost, we anticipate our fields will not be ready for planting any time soon.  If we get plants seeded too early, they become leggy and pot bound before the fields are ready.  Healthy transplants produce beautiful nutrient dense crops.

Farmer Don and I were at a potluck this weekend and made a new recipe I thought I would share with everyone.  It is a savory sweet potato cheddar bread pudding, with of course some kale or other cooking green added as well.  Here is a link to the recipe.

We are starting to get our work crew lined up for this summer.  Many of you have already met Farmer Phil at buying club pick-ups and last fall's markets.  Phil will be working with us this summer as well, helping out with market and helping out in our pack house during harvest and CSA pack days.  Phil's brother Farmer Matt will be joining us in a few weeks as well.  Matt worked with us a few years back, helping with harvest, pack and deliveries.  We are excited to have him back and more involved in all of our on farm activities. 

We do still have CSA memberships available.  Our CSA runs for 22 weeks and all members can choose the items they receive in their boxes each week.  All sign ups are done online (  We generally start deliveries the first week of June, depending on weather.  If you have questions about our CSA, please contact us at the farm.

Thanks again to all of you for your support of our farm and local agriculture.

Monday, March 16, 2015

March News

Greetings from Dancing Hen Farm!

There will be no buying club deliveries again this week.  Sorry for the inconvenience.  We are dealing with some family health issues and need another week to get things back on track.  The plan is to resume deliveries next week (March 28 and 29).

On farm we are moving into mud season.  Our snow is slowly melting away, with more and more bare ground becoming visible each day.  Much of our farm is on a northern slope, so unfortunately we will have areas of snow for quite awhile yet.  We are still in a bit of a holding pattern with planting.  Farmer Don started some scallions in seed trays last week and he has plans to direct seed some radishes and greens in the greenhouse beds this week.  By next week, I am thinking our seed house will be beginning to fill with early transplants.  With St Patrick's Day tomorrow, we obviously will not be getting our peas planted tomorrow!  We are still holding out for April 1st, but that may even be a bit of a stretch.  We need the snow to melt and the soil to dry a bit before we be able to prepare the fields for planting.

The melted snow has our chickens happily foraging anywhere bare ground is visible.  It is nice to see them scattered around the yard and farm again.  This year's snow pack has had them stuck in the barn for way too many days.  Our eggs are always delicious, but as the chickens spend more time foraging, the yolks will become more and more orange.  Next week we will be getting another flock of chickens.  The prolonged winter is again challenging us with these new chickens.  The ground is still too wet and cool for them to be moved directly onto pasture, so we will need to make a temporary home for them in the barn.

Last night we had pork chops with sauerkraut for supper.  The sauerkraut was made here on farm and put in the crock to ferment about a month ago.  We jarred the remaining kraut and it is now continuing to ferment in the walk in cooler.  We do not can our sauerkraut.  The heat involved in canning kills all the beneficial lacto bacteria.

It is hard to believe that this Friday the 20th is the Spring Equinox, or the first day of spring.  The forecast for Friday is 1 to 3 inches of snow!  Spring, I guess not quite yet.....

Until next week.....

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Welcome to March News.

Greetings From Dancing Hen Farm. And Welcome to March!

March, in like a lion, out like a lamb?  Let's hope the lamb is as strong as the lion and latter half of the month is warm and lacking in snow.  Sunday, March 1st, was the meteorological first day of spring.  We spent that first day of spring, as most of you did, watching the snow fall!  I think many more people associate the first day of spring with the spring equinox, which this year is March 20th.  And I certainly hope we spend that day working in the fields rather than watching the snow fall!

Speaking of the weather and spring.  Farmer Don has held off on getting planting going.  With overnight temperatures still predicted in the single digits to low teens and our greenhouses unheated, we cannot risk getting seeds going only to lose them to the cold.  He is really itching to get his hands in some soil though!  This coming weekend he is hoping to begin seeding a few transplants in our basement and next week he will be doing some planting bed preparation in our large unheated greenhouse.  With the sun higher in the sky he will be working in the greenhouse in short sleeves!  The sun makes our greenhouses a real oasis on a sunny day!  The problem is without a heat source, the night time temperatures still fall way below the freezing mark on these cold early spring nights.

Peas are one my favorites!  Here at Dancing Hen Farm we plant sugar snap peas, snow peas and shelling peas.  It is an old tradition to plant your peas on St Patrick's Day.  Peas will actually germinate in soils as cool as 50 degrees, with 60 to 65 degree soil temperatures being optimal.  Farmers generally try to get their peas planted as soon as the soil can be worked.  This means the ground has dried enough to crumble and not clod or cake up when cultivated.  We are estimating our snow pack on farm is at least a foot and Farmer Don is thinking we will be planting peas on April Fool's Day.  Which by the way is pretty much when our peas were planted last year.

Oh yes, the main reason for this newsletter was to let everyone know our buying club is open again this week.  Ordering is open and will close at 5 am on Thursday, with deliveries this weekend.  You will notice our vegetable availability has decreased this week.  We do, however, have a good supply of eggs, chicken, apple orchard pork and Stillwater Fields beef. 

We are continuing to receive new CSA memberships.  Please remember we do have a limited number of shares available and we have sold out in past years.  All memberships are held in the order in which payment is received, not in the order in which online registration is made.  Our 22 week CSA is a full choice CSA, meaning all members are given the opportunity choose which veggies they receive in their box each week.  For our members' convenience, we also offer home deliveries to some areas of Luzerne and Columbia Counties.  Please contact the farm to determine if your home or business is within our home delivery area.  For general CSA information or to purchase a membership, please visit our website.

Over the weekend we had a small impromptu dinner party and Farmer Don made a great lasagna.  Lots of nostalgia here, as we used my Mother's recipe and lasagna pan!  Of course, we used Dancing Hen Farm beef, sausage, dried herbs and canned tomatoes in the sauce.  I have to confess, the noodles and the cheese were not locally sourced.  I cannot wait for summer, when I can replace the noodles with zucchini or eggplant.  I love lasagna and my mouth is watering just writing about it.  We have some leftovers, I am thinking lasagna for dinner tonight!

Speaking of recipes, I am always looking for recipes.  I try to have printed recipes available on our farm market tables.  As any of you who reads these newsletters knows, I also like to share cooking and recipe tips here.  And I try to update our pinterest page with recipes as well.  So, send me your recipes! 

Speaking of cooking.  Farmer Don is in from morning chores.  Times to make some eggs for breakfast!

Take care, stay warm and yes, spring is coming!