Friday, June 26, 2015

Week 2 Newsletter

Welcome to Week 2!  Happy Father’s Day! and Happy Summer Solstice!

Week 2 was not an egg week.  Egg weeks are odd weeks, so Week 3 will be an egg week.

Rain, rain, rain.  That is the weather topic of late.  I think Wednesday this week was beautiful and dry, but it seems daily rains are the norm recently.  It is hard to believe we are still under a drought watch.  Bill brought us over 2 inches of rain last weekend and the forecast is for another 2 inches this weekend!  Now in all honesty our fields are wet and our crops are starting to show some effects of too much rain.  We will need to monitor closely for disease.  And boy does the rain make the weeds grow!!!!

Hopefully everyone has figured out the routine for the CSA.  Remember ordering opens on Thursday night at 6 pm for the next week’s boxes and closes Sunday night at 6 pm.   That means ordering for week 3 is open now.  Please remember all items are available on a first serve basis and each week some items will be limited in number.  Don’t worry if you forget to pick items, you will still get a box, a farmer’s choice box.  Sometimes farmer’s choice boxes get some items not on the pick list.  Farmer Don is estimating harvests almost a full week before we actually harvest.  For this reason, there may be items ready for harvest he did not anticipate being ready.  Also please be aware, that we occasionally will need to make substitutions if items are not ready for harvest as anticipated.

We are busy as ever on farm.  We are continuing to plant daily.  We are almost done with the main planting of our summer crops.  There are still some pepper and eggplants to go in the ground.  Many crops we plant almost continuously throughout the growing season.  In fact we have one field we are ready to turn over and completely re-plant for a second time this year.  This field had some early greens and cover crops growing.  Now it is ready to be tilled and replanted with a different crop. I took a walk through our large unheated production greenhouse yesterday and was happy to see lots and lots of flowers on the sungold tomatoes.  Sungolds are always a favorite!  I will be watching closely for the first fruit to appear!  I will have to really be on the lookout if I want to get the first ripe one, as Farmer Don is way better than me at finding the first ripe fruit.  Speaking of which, I have been watching our wild blackberry bushes carefully for ripe berries and had even found a few to eat.  Then yesterday, Farmer Don comes across the yard with at least 2 cups of berries cradled in his shirt tail.  It seems he has a secret stash I didn’t even know existed!

Animals are busy on farm as well, both friend and foe animals.  Our pigs now have a bigger pasture to romp and play in.  The pigs love the rain, as it keeps their wallowing areas filled with water and mud.  Pigs wallow in the mud to control their body temperature, keeping them cool on hot summer days.  Our second batch of meat birds are now on pasture and looking good.  The laying hens are providing us with an abundant supply of eggs.  These hens spend their days roaming the farm eating bugs and vegetation and at night they return to the barn and coop to their roosts to sleep the night away.  Unfortunately their nights have not been peaceful, as they are being visited almost nightly by a hungry predator.  We are fairly certain this is a raccoon.  Whoever the predator, it seems to have a good appetite, taking almost a chicken a night.  Speaking of nightly visitors.  Several weeks ago, we noticed a beautiful tiny baby deer in our orchard.  We knew Mommy deer was close by.  Now it seems Mommy and baby have found our veggies and are visiting the chard and lettuce beds nightly.  Like the raccoon, they also seem to have a healthy appetite and from the amount of chard and lettuce which has been eaten, we are thinking they are hosting a nightly dinner party for their friends and relatives!

In the kitchen this time of year we are often looking for quick meals.  We rely heavily on leftovers, often cooking several chickens at once to be eaten cold all week.  We also eat lots of salads.  A favorite of Farmer Don’s is an Asian slaw featuring napa cabbage.  I generally just throw together a dressing for this, using very little oil, just a few drizzles of sesame oil.  I am thinking the recipe/ration would be around:  3TBS of rice vinegar, 3 TBS of lime juice, 1 TBS of soy sauce, 1 TBS of sweetener, a bit of fresh chopped ginger, a shake of red pepper flakes and a drizzle or two of sesame oil.  I also tend to thin the dressing by adding just a bit of water.  Whisk everything together, taste to adjust the flavors and pour over some thinly chopped napa cabbage.  I usually also add some thin sliced onion or scallions.

Please remember to treat your share boxes gently.  Slide, rather than pull the flaps open.  Don’t forget to return share boxes to your sites so we can re-use them.  We also re-use egg cartons and blue/green berry or portion boxes.  These items can also be left at your pick up site.

Thank you again for your support.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Week 1 Deliveries

Farmers Don and Matt are out and about in the van making today's deliveries.  Say hello, if you see them.

Monday, June 8, 2015

2015 CSA Week 1 Ordering Starts this week.

Greetings from Dancing Hen Farm!

It is finally time.  CSA deliveries start next week.  That means ordering starts this week!  Ordering for Week 1 will begin Thursday, June 11 at 6 pm and will end Sunday, June 14 at 6 pm.  You will need to log into our website using your email and password you registered with, in order to make your selections.  If you are having difficulty, please contact the farm.  All items are available first come first serve!  Happy picking! 

Please note all OFF FARM CSA deliveries are on TUESDAY.  We guarantee your box will be at our drop-site after 4 pm.  All ON FARM CSA pick-ups will be on Thursday, with boxes available after 4 pm.  Please watch for an additional email with the details of your pick up site.

There will be NO buying club this week!  We will be busy getting ready for Week 1 CSA and Forks Farm Market.  Please consider visiting us at Forks Farm Market on Saturday.  If you wish to pre-order anything from us for pick up at market, please email us.

On farm we are continuing to plant, plant, plant.  Our fields are filling up.  We have most of our tomatoes planted and peppers and eggplants should go in soon.  We continue rotations of greens, beans, cucumbers and summer squash.  Our greenhouse planting of cucumbers are looking good and should be ready for harvest in the next few weeks.  Summer squash has flowers and should be setting fruit soon, so again we should have a harvest in a few weeks.  Salad and cooking greens are sizing up nicely.  Shelling peas are filling out and sugar snap and snow peas are flowering.

For Week 1, we are looking to harvest lots of greens.  Cooking greens should include mustard, kale, chard, tatsoi, napa cabbage, and turnip greens.  We should be able to harvest some arugula and Farmer Don is watching the lettuce closely for size.  We may have a surprise harvest of some cucumbers out of our high tunnel.  There will be some fresh herbs and a half dozen eggs on the choice as well.  Please note Week 1 is an egg week for members purchasing an egg share.  This half dozen would be in ADDITION to your egg share. 

This week I would like to talk a bit about mustard greens.  Mustard greens have a peppery/horse radish flavor and can be cooked or added raw to salads.  Cooking will mellow the peppery taste.  Mustard greens are extremely nutritious, with high levels of Vitamin K, C and A, as well as copper, manganese and calcium.  All this for only 36 calories per one cup serving!  If you have a favorite massaged kale salad, try substituting mustard for the kale.  For massaged salads, after massaging the greens with salt and olive oil, I like to dress the salad with a bit of honey dissolved in cider vinegar.  Here is an actual recipe for massaged mustard greens ( ).  Here is a basic braised mustard greens recipe.  Note this braising technique can be used for any cooking green and the bacon is optional.  Try varying the vinegar you use as well, I often finish braised or sauted greens with a splash of balsamic vinegar.

The farm does have a pinterest page, where I try and post recipes and other helpful websites.  I have not been keeping it up to date over the winter months, but I will be adding recipes as the season moves along.  Thanks to everyone who has sent me recipes.  I will be trying to get them added in the next few weeks.

This Saturday we will be at Forks Farm Market (www.forksfarmmarket) from 10 am to 2 pm.  This is a really great market on the Hopkins family farm.  This market is well known for its variety of vendors and products available, well worth the drive.  We will be there with a variety of greens and transplants.  If you come to market, please stop by our table, say hello and see what we are harvesting!

We do still have a few CSA memberships available.  Please contact the farm, so we can arrange for your first delivery!  If you have signed up on our website and we have not received payment or you have not contacted us concerning payment, you will not be able to sign onto our website to order and you will not receive a box for week 1.

There are a multitude of reasons we do what we do, but most important to us is to be able to share our harvest of nutrient dense vegetables with our community.  Thanks to each of you for your support of our farm and local agriculture.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Farm News and Buying Club News

Greetings from cooler wetter Dancing Hen Farm!

So, so nice to see yesterdays rain!  We received around an inch here at the farm, causing the entire farm a collective sigh of relief.  Everything already looks greener!  Irrigating our fields just does not compare to the positive effects of a good rain. 

Also, nice to have the rain hold off during our open house yesterday.  Thank you to everyone who took time out of their Sunday to visit our farm.  Farmer Don had just completed the farm tour before the first storm made its way across the farm.  Visitors are always welcome on farm.  If you would like to visit, we do ask that you call or email us first to be certain someone is down near the house to greet you.

Yes the buying club is open this week.  We will once again be harvesting some cooking greens for sale.  Greens will again be limited, so order early for the best selection.  With summer in full swing, it is grill season.  Our chicken and many of our pork and beef cuts cook nicely on the grill.  A dancing hen farm favorite are grilled ham steaks.  We generally baste the steak with a bit of maple or shag bark hickory syrup before and during grilling.  For a treat, grill some pineapple to serve with the ham.  In addition to meat and greens, we do still have no-spray potatoes available.  There potatoes were grown by a neighbor of ours and a perfect baking potato.

Strawberries!  A true early summer treat!  New this week, we will be offering a neighbor's no-spray strawberries to our buying club members.  Strawberries are just starting to ripen and this grower is estimating that the berries will be ready by the end of this week, but to quote Farmer Don "Mother Nature always bats last".  That means, if the berries are not ready this week, your orders will be filled the following week. 

On farm this week, we were busy installing a new grass waterway.  This waterway will help with erosion and runoff control.  Hopefully last night's rain will help the newly seeded grass to germinate.  A HUGE thank you goes out to a group of Bloomsburg University students who volunteered on the farm last week.  They helped us to secure the erosion control mats on the waterway.  This was a really big job, as thousands of small stakes needed to be pounded to secure the mats.  Pounding anything into our rocky soil is never and easy task!  The mats are necessary to hold the soil in place until the grass roots become established.

Our crops continue to grow and continue to be planted.  We are excited to see cucumbers forming on our cucumbers planted in our high tunnel.  We have also been filling the high tunnel with tomatoes.  Summer squash and greens in the fields look good.  Last week we ran drip tape in our peas as they were suffering badly from lack of water.  The shelling peas are flowering and setting pods and we anticipate the snap and snow peas to be flowering this week.  We have a planting of string beans which are sizing up nicely.  Cooking and salad greens have already been planted twice on farm and should be ready to go by our first CSA delivery.

This week we see the arrival of our pigs.  They will summer high on a hill in our old apple orchard.  In the fields we will be planting winter squash, tomatoes and more greens.  We still have a late planting of potatoes which will also hopefully be planted this week.  Our peppers are growing nicely in our plant nursery and should be ready for planting in the next few weeks.  We will be seeding more transplants for planting, including summer squash, cucumbers and lettuce.

We have had a surge of CSA member sign ups.  Thanks and welcome to all new and returning members!  We do still have a few spots remaining in our 2015 CSA.  We are looking at our first delivery to be on Tuesday, June 15 for off farm deliveries and Thursday, June 17 for on farm pickups.  The last delivery will be 22 weeks later during the week of November 9th.  Please watch your email for details concerning the first delivery and when and how to order the items for your box. 

As always when we see new members, I like to remind everyone that we are on several social media sites.  These include facebook (, pinterest ( and a blog ( 

As always thank you everyone for your support of our farm and local agriculture.

Until next week.....