Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Happy Summer in May!

Greetings from Dancing Hen Farm! 

And welcome to summer?  Seems we have skipped over spring and moved directly into summer with these recent warmer than warm temperatures.  This nice weather has us really scrambling to get field work and planting accomplished.  As Farmer Don says, we are like a gerbil on the wheel as we try and get this months and last month's task accomplished.  Speaking of weather, we really need some rain.  Our fields are really dry, making us thankful for our irrigation system. 

The buying club is open this week and ordering has already begun.  Once again we will have limited amounts of salad mix, spinach and some young baby radishes.  We still have chicken, eggs and pork available as well.  Grass fed beef from our neighbor's farm is back on availability.  We have added grass fed steaks.  Local eating at its best - a grilled grass fed steak paired with a fresh green salad!

This week, we are again running a buying club special, offering our stewing hens at a discounted rate of 8 dollars each (down from 10).  With summer fast approaching this is the perfect time to make some chicken stock for the freezer.  I am trying out a new recipe for a curried chicken salad this week using meat from a recently cook stew hen.  If we like the results, I will share the recipe in a later newsletter.  For now, I will paste my recipe for cooking a stew hen at the end of the newsletter.

Speaking of chickens, it was been a busy week on farm for our chickens.  Our first batch of broilers are now on pasture.  These chickens spend their first few weeks of life under heat lamps in an area in our barn.  Yesterday was their big day as they moved from the brooder to some freshly mowed grass.  Within minutes of their move, they were running around in the sun and fresh air and eating grass. 

This Saturday Farmer Don and Farmer Phil will be at Forks Farm Market from 10 to 2.  At this market we will be featuring our transplants.  As I have said before, Forks Farm is a really nice producer only market.  The market takes place on farm, with many local vendors.  The weather looks beautiful on Saturday, I would encourage you to come visit Forks Farm and pick up some locally produced foods!  Information, including directions can be found on their website (www.forksfarmmarket.com)

Speaking of transplants.  Hopefully next week we will be adding transplants to our buying club.  If you would like Farmer Don to start specific plants for you, please contact us at the farm and we will do our best to work with you.  Our tomato transplants are just starting to break the soil, so it will be a few weeks before they are ready for sale and planting.  Again, if you would like specific tomato transplants, please contact us at the farm.  Farmer Don grows a nice variety of heirloom and hybrid tomatoes and we usually have extras from our farm starts for sale.

Mark your calendars!  We will be having a farm open house on May 31st from 1 to 3 pm, with a farm tour starting at 1:30.  This is a great opportunity for you to "shake the hand that feeds you".  Come by meet the farmers, meet the animals and see where you food is being produced.  Watch your email for more details in the coming weeks.

We are proud to have our farm products in several restaurants in Bloomsburg.  Since its opening, Baker's Guild on Center Street has been serving Dancing Hen Farm products.  Baker's Guild is open daily for breakfast and lunch.  Now our friends Sarah and Toby are opening a farm to table restaurant on Iron Street.  Their restaurant, The Blind Pig Kitchen, will be open Wednesday through Sunday from 5 to 9 pm to start.  The Blind Pig's grand opening is this Friday, May 8.  The Blind Pig has been a vendor, serving ready to eat foods,  at Forks Farm since last season, so many of you may have already sampled their delicious dishes.  And last, but not least, our vegetables will also be featured at the Inn at Turkey Hill this season.  The Inn's Farmhouse restaurant is open daily from 5:30 to 8:30. 

Another quick reminder concerning the CSA.  We do still have a few openings for the 2015 season.  Remember all members choose the items they receive in their box each week.  We are anticipating deliveries to start the first week of June.  As we get further into the month of May we will contact you with an exact start date.  Regardless of the start date, our CSA will run for 22 weeks.  If you have questions, please do not hesitate to contact us at the farm.

It seems I have been writing for long enough!  The growing season must be under way, for me to have so much to talk about.

Thanks again to each of you for your support of our small family farm and local agriculture.

Farmer Don and Joan

And Stew Hen 101

There are many ways to cook a stew hen. Here is Dancing Hen Farm's rendition. 

Place a thawed stewing hen (cut up, if you would like) in a large stock pot with enough cold water to cover the bird and 2 tablespoons of cider vinegar. Allow the chicken to sit in the cold water for 30 mins to an hour. Next, add to the pot, a large quartered onion, 2-3 coarsely chopped carrots, several stalks of chopped celery (include the leaves!), a few cloves of garlic, a bunch of fresh parsley (if available) and some thyme. Note that the vinegar does not change the taste of the broth, but, helps extract minerals from the bones, increasing the nutrient content of your broth. 

Bring the pot to a boil and carefully skim off any foam that rises to the surface of the pot. Turn the heat down and allow pot to slowly simmer for 10 or 12 hours. After simmering, allow pot to cool slightly and pour contents through a fine strainer or cheese cloth. Once the bones and meat have cooled enough to handle, remove meat from the bones. Discard the cooked vegetables and cleaned bones. Allow broth to cool and skim off any excess fat. Broth can be used for soups or stews or in any recipe calling for chicken broth. Broth will keep in jars in the refrigerator for several days or in the freezer for several months. 

Stewing hens tend not to be very meaty, so don't be surprised if you end up with a small amount meat. The meat can be added back to the broth for soups or stews or saved and used for chicken salad, tacos, etc.

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