Friday, July 31, 2015

CSA Week 7 Newsletter

Greetings from Dancing Hen Farm!  I hope everyone is enjoying their Week 7 CSA boxes.  Week 7 is an egg week, so if you purchased an egg share, you should have received eggs in your box this week.  Please also remember that the half dozen eggs available as a choice item for the CSA are in addition to your egg share.

Sorry this newsletter is getting out a bit late.  This was a very busy week on farm.  The beginning of the week brought some unexpected personal issues and then we had a visit from some family members midweek.  We love to have visitors on farm.  This week we welcomed my uncle and two of my cousins.  Our families were very close when I was growing up, so it was great to catch up with everyone and reminisce a bit.  This was the first my uncle and one of my cousins had been here.  I think their biggest impression of the farm was that we have too many chickens and here I was worried about all the weeds!!!

Tonight is a full moon, a Full Blue Moon.  Blue Moon because this is the second full moon in July.  The first happening on July 2.  We have not had a Blue Moon since 2012 and knowing Don and I we probably talked about it in 2012!  According to the Farmer’s Almanac, this moon is also known as a Full Buck Moon or a Thunder Moon.  Be sure to take a step out on the porch and enjoy tonight’s moon.  I just find full moons so magical.  I love how bright they make the nighttime landscape.  Just don’t try what I used to try in my younger years – driving without the lights.  Yeah, probably not one of my smartest moves.  Don was never very pleased with me if he were a passenger in my car during my night vision experiments!

Nope, I am not going to talk about the weather!

But, I am going to talk just a bit about late blight, another of my favorite topics!  Late blight is spreading very quickly in the states around us.  Many of the NY counties bordering PA are now positive for the disease.  Farmer Don is worried enough that he began a copper spraying program this week on our tomatoes.  We have our fingers crossed, as our heirlooms are just now starting to exhibit the slightest bit of color.  As I have said in past newsletters, I am sure I will be talking late blight again before the season closes.

For the most part our fields are looking really good.  Our lettuce has finally started to grow and so far the deer seem to be keeping away from it.  In the next week farmer Don will do one last harvest from our greenhouse cucumbers.  These plants will be pulled up and this bed will be replanted.   The winter squash is doing very well.  Fruit is already sizing up nicely and we are looking for a nice winter squash harvest this year.  Spaghetti squash will be the first to appear in your boxes, followed, most likely, by delicate squash.  Speaking of squash; it is definitely summer squash and zucchini season.  We even have neighbors sneaking some into our walk in cooler!  Our first summer squash planting is done and we are now harvesting from plantings 2 and 3.  Our 4th planting is quite large and is already starting to produce some fruit.  We will most likely plant a 5th and final small planting of summer squash and hope for a mild fall!  Beans and greens continue to go out and continue to be rotationally planted.  We are still harvesting all the basils, as well as limited numbers of other herbs.  Farmer Don is gearing up for the last hurrah in the seed house.  We like to shut the seed house down in August and do a final push to get everything in the ground for fall harvest.  This year we are again hoping to extend our season with some low tunnels in our fields and plantings in our solar heated greenhouse.

Wow!  Speaking of August.  Happy August.  It does not seem possible that tomorrow is August 1.  Soon we will be sending the kids back to school and I will be talking about apples.  And there is golden rod blooming along our road already, a sure sign we are on the way to fall.

Speaking of apples.  Our trees are loaded with fruit this year.  As many of you know we have a very old, very un-manicured apple orchard on our property.  For the most part we do not even know what varieties are growing.  We have been told by neighbors it has be 30 or 40 years since these trees were in production.  We feel confident saying the trees are at least 50 years old, if not older.  We will be offering these apples to our CSA members.  We call them ugly apples, as they have not received any spray in the last 30 or 40 years and they therefore may have some disease or insect damage.    They may be ugly, but they are really tasty!  Watch for them to appear on the choice list in the next month or so, as some of our varieties seem to be early maturing.

Our kitchen seems to be fairly boring right now. Tonight, as I type this newsletter, farmer Don is busy making a chicken and summer vegetable stew to be served over rice.  We have also been using lots and lots of summer squash!  Zucchini is one vegetable I do not try and preserve.  We just eat and eat and eat it while it is in season.  We really love to grill zucchini.  I also often simply saute it, either plain or with some onion, garlic and pepper.  Throw in some sungolds and serve over pasta for a meal.  Growing up my Mom always made a sausage, zucchini, tomato, and pasta dish.  I am sure there is a recipe somewhere for this dish, but it is really simple to make.  Start by browning some sausage in a large fry pan or dutch oven with a lid.  While the sausage browns, get the water boiling for the pasta (my Mom always used elbow macaroni, I use whatever short pasta I have in the pantry).   Drain the cooked sausage, if necessary.  If desired, add chopped onion, pepper and garlic to the pan and allow the onion to soften.  When the onions are soft, add some Italian seasoning and the chopped or sliced zucchini to the pan and put the lid on.  Allow the veggies to cook until the zucchini is just about done.  Next, add chopped tomatoes (or a can of tomatoes) to the pan, replace the lid and allow everything to finish cooking.  Finally stir the cooked pasta into the veggies.  Serve in large bowls topped with parmesan cheese.  Add a fresh salad and some warmed bread and you have a feast!

On Saturday Farmer Don and Farmer Phil will be at the Back Mountain Library Market from 9 to 2.  This market is now at the Dallas Elementary School.  On Sunday, Farmer Don will be at the Mountain Top Farmers Market at the Crestwood High School.  At both markets we will have our usual supply of eggs, chicken, pork and organically grown veggies.  Look for lots of summer squash!, sungolds, and greens on the table.  If you come by market, please be sure to stop by our table and say hello.  Farmer Don loves to meet CSA members and friends of our farm.

It sounds like our dinner is ready, so I am off to eat.  Have a great week!

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

2015 CSA Week 6 Newsletter

Greetings from Dancing Hen Farm!  Welcome to Week 6 of our CSA.  Week 6 is NOT an egg week.

What would a newsletter be if I didn’t talk about the weather?  And wow, the heat has been on lately!  But it is summer and we do live in Pennsylvania, so heat and humidity are to be expected in July.  This kind of heat for us on the farm brings on its own set of challenges.   Animals are very vulnerable during these heat waves.  We need to check chickens and pigs multiple times a day to be certain they have water.  We try to encourage our dogs to remain in the house during the real heat of the afternoon.   Rosie, this year, has discovered how cooling a dip in the pond can be.  Often during the hottest days you will see her heading off across the yard, only to return dripping wet.  She has yet to really swim, but loves to wade in up to her neck.  Shady, our other dog, hunts frogs in the pond.  Frog hunting, Shady style, involves standing perfectly still in ankle deep water staring down a frog.  She will literally inch her nose closer and closer to the frog, until she is almost touching it.   Of course, when the frog jumps the game is over.  I have never seen her try and catch one of the frogs, once one jumps away, she just moves on until she finds another to stare down. 

Speaking of the pond, like Rosie, Farmer Don also likes to cool off in the pond.  We often spend a bit of time in the evenings by the pond with the dogs.  Farmer Don jumps off the dock a few times to cool down, Shady hunts frogs, and Rosie searches for the perfect fetching stick.  Our pond does not have fish, but does have a lively frog population, as well as turtles and water snakes.  Not being a fan of water snakes or snapping turtles, I generally spend our pond time safely seated in a chair on the bank! 

We had a few storms move through this afternoon and evening and I am waiting for the predicted cool down.  Tomorrow is to be absolutely beautiful!  I am planning on doing laundry and Farmer Don is planning on planting, planting and planting.  The push is always on to get things planted.  The fields are due for another round of salad and cooking greens and some more beans.   We will continue to harvest greens and beans through the season.  In the fields both summer and winter squash plantings are looking good.  We should have a nice supply of summer squash through the summer and our winter squash is already fruiting.  We will most likely have spaghetti squash going out first.  We are starting to harvest our greenhouse grown sungold tomatoes, just as our greenhouse grown cucumbers come to an end.  Field grown tomatoes and cucumbers are growing nicely and should be ready for harvest in several weeks.  Our peppers are starting to grow and with any luck, they also will be ready for harvest in the coming weeks. 

This weekend we will be attending two farmers markets.  On Saturday, from 9 to 2, Farmers Don and Phil will be at the Back Mountain Library Market.  This market is now at the Dallas Elementary School.  On Sunday, Farmer Don (and maybe Farmer Phil) will be at the Mountain Top Farmers Market.  This market is from 9 to 2 and is in the parking lot of the Crestwood High School.  If you visit either of these markets, please stop by our table and say hello.  Farmer Don really enjoys meeting our CSA members!  At both markets we will be selling free range eggs, pastured chicken, apple orchard pork and organically grown vegetables.  Our eggs sell out fast, so if you are looking for eggs, be sure to get to market early.   Our laying hens have free range of our organically managed farm and are also fed certified organic grains.  This year’s meat chickens are some of the best we have ever produced.  Our first two batches have been 4 to 6 pound birds.  We offer both whole and half broiler chickens.  Our chickens are raised on pasture, with their grass diet supplemented with certified organic grains.

Well, time for me to print this newsletter for Farmer Don to proof read and then move on to making supper.  Tonight we are having sausage sliders and cherry tomato and cucumber salad.  I will most likely also cook some kale or green beans, which ever are harvested and in the cooler.

Have a great week!

Packing Boxes.

Ready to start packing

The wall of boxes

Farmer Don organizing the pack line

Shady the Supervisor

Summer Squash

No explanation needed!

Half dozen eggs are one of our CSA choice items.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Week 5 CSA Newsletter

Greetings from Dancing Hen Farm and Welcome to CSA Week 5!

How about last weekend?  Finally a weekend without an inch or two of rain.  I actually had to water the potted plants I have on our patio, but I am not complaining.  It looks as though we may be entering a bit of a drier pattern with the weather.  Today is beautiful, sunny, with low humidity.   A nice break!

The wet June has had a huge effect on most farmers in our region.  Those of us that grow vegetables are struggling with disease and weeds.  Framers growing field corn, soybeans and small grains are also struggling.  If corn was planted early enough, the June rains have treated it well and it is pushing 6 feet tall and already in tassel!  Late planted corn is struggling with too much water and yellowing in the fields.  The same is true with soybeans, many bean fields in our area are simply yellowing and dying from too much water.  Grass or hay farmers are probably having some of the biggest challenges this year.  The super dry May caused fields to stop growing and then the constant rain of June left farmers unable to mow and bale their hay.  This weekend the hay fields around our farm were buzzing with activity as farmers tried to get mowing, raking and baling done in the short window of dry weather.   This hay is essential for farmers to feed their animals during the winter and this coming winter there may very well be a shortage of hay and many farmers may be scrambling to find feed for their animals.

Speaking of animals.  Our pigs continue to enjoy this wet weather.  They love the mud and the weeds growing in their pasture.  Our pigs also enjoy all of our vegetable scraps.  Tuesday is a big day for them, as all the trimmings from Mondays harvest are collected in a large blue bin.  It is fun to watch how excited the pigs get when they see the bin being hefted from the back of the truck.  Right now their favorite seems to be Chinese Cabbage.  Later in the fall we will pick apples from orchard to feed them, another pig favorite. 

Tomatoes.  Our tomatoes in our greenhouse and in the field are looking good right now.  It will not be long before we see some ripe cherry tomatoes from our greenhouse and our field tomatoes are flowering and forming fruit.  All this is great, but the weather, rain, rain, rain, has been worrisome for tomatoes this year.  Each year, I do a bit of a public service announcement concerning late blight and it is time again to talk about this devastating disease.  Late blight is a fungus which attacks tomatoes and potatoes and to a lesser extent eggplant and pepper (any plant in the nightshade or Solanaceae family).  Late blight is actually the disease responsible for the Irish Potato Famine in the 1800’s.  I remember in college, my plant pathology professor doing a lecture on plant diseases in history and of course late blight was a main topic.  But, back to the disease.  We do not currently have any late blight symptoms on our farm, however yesterday was an almost perfect day for late blight.  The temperatures were cool, it was cloudy and there was a wind from the west.   I took a walk at lunch and we still had dew on the grass.  Late blight, being a fungus, think mushrooms, needs moisture to grow, so heavy long lasting dew or moisture from rain showers, allows the fungus plenty of time to infest plants.    After my walk, I checked out a late blight map on the internet and late blight has now been confirmed in Pennsylvania, in Erie County.  Erie County is to our west.  Most of our winds come from the west and therefore will be spreading the spores from west to east.  Late blight is a true community disease, as the spores are spread on the wind from farm to farm, garden to farm or even patio tomato to farm.  In all likely hood, there are more cases of late blight in the state then have been reported to cooperative extension offices.  At Dancing Hen Farm, we are again very worried about our tomato crop.  Most conventional, non-organic, growers rely heavily on synthetic fungicides to control late blight.  Even with these fungicides, many growers still see an almost complete loss of their tomato crop on years with favorable blight weather conditions.  For organic farms, like Dancing Hen Farm, our arsenal of weapons to control this disease is very limited.  Most organic farmers, us included, use a combination of copper (an organic approved control method) and plant resistance.  Unfortunately, we often still lose our tomato crops when blight conditions are favorable.  Our plants were sprayed with copper when they were planted and we will continue with periodic applications as the season and weather progresses.  We also have some tomato varieties with variable late blight resistance planted.  These are hybrid tomatoes (NOT GMO’s) which have been bred and selected by the plant breeders because they have showed some resistance to blight in field trials. 

Wow! Plant genetics, hybrids, GMO’s, and heirloom varieties – a topic for a later newsletter!  For now let’s continue with late blight. 

Now for the public announcement part of my late blight rant.  As I said above, late blight is a true community disease.  Please take a moment to learn what the symptoms of late blight are.  If you see these symptoms on your garden tomatoes, please bag them and dispose of them in the garbage.  Here is a link to the actual USA late blight page  By navigating through the menu at the top you can view pictures of the disease.  Here is an informative Penn State publication about late blight in the home garden.

Ok, I am off of my late blight soap box for this newsletter.  But, I doubt this is the last you will hear about blight this year.  Keep our tomato crop in your thoughts and keep your fingers crossed for days like today, sunny and dry!

Back on the farm.  Just as our peas are starting to wind down, our beans are starting to ripen.  Plenty of beans to come, so get your recipes ready.  Summer squash are growing and producing.  Our first planting was mowed down this weekend, we are harvesting from our second planting and our third planting has flowers and small fruit already forming.  The basil is still looking really nice this year.  Second and third planting of Asian Greens and lettuce are in the ground now and should be ready for harvest in the next few weeks.  Our broccoli is looking good.  We have had the broccoli plants covered to protect them from flea beetles and now we will need to watch for later season insects, the cabbage looper and diamond back moth.  The second planting of cucumbers is trying desperately to survive the groundhog attacks and we have high hopes for a good harvest here.  Our first planting of cucumbers, in the greenhouse, is starting to wind down.  Peppers are coming along slowly.  Fennel should be coming our soon, we lost some of our early bed to deer, but our second bed is growing nicely.

This week’s selections will offer some surprises.  As many of you know, we work closely with neighboring farmers and often purchase product from them to supplement our own crops.  This week we will be offering some produce grown by John Jaramillo at Nut Creek Farm in Danville.  John uses organic methods on his farm and is certified Naturally Grown.   You will see John’s cherry tomatoes on the pick list.  These cherry tomatoes are an orange/yellow cherry, very similar to sungolds.  John also grows a variety of Italian green bean.  These are a flat bean, cook them like a traditional green bean, being careful not to overcook them. 

Farmer Don and I actually had a social engagement last evening, which is some of the reason this newsletter is arriving a bit late.  We spent the evening with a group of other local organic growers at the Blind Pig Kitchen in Bloomsburg.  It is always nice to swap stories and trade knowledge with other growers.  Thanks to Justin at Old Tioga Farm for coordinating the event.  And thanks to Sarah and Toby at Blind Pig for hosting and feeding our sometimes rowdy group.

This week in the kitchen we again have not been too adventurous, making mostly comfort food with homegrown ingredients.  In other words, meat and potato type meals.  Pork chops on the grill with foil packet potatoes and lightly cooked snap peas.  Grilled chicken with red potatoes cooked with garlic and chard and steamed wax beans seasoned with butter and lemon thyme.  The potato and chard dish is an easy and tasty way to use these two ingredients.  Simply saute some garlic (or garlic scapes) in some olive oil, keep the temperature low to allow the oil to become flavored by the garlic, but to avoid burning the garlic.  As the garlic is cooking, boil your potatoes in some salted water until just tender.  Add the chard stems to the garlic and oil and allow them to soften.  Next add the potatoes and chard, some salt and red pepper flakes.  Continue cooking until the potatoes can be slightly smashed in the pan the chard is cooked. 

A note on boxes and choice.  The window for choosing the items for your box opens on Thursdays at 6 pm and closes Sundays at 6 pm.  All boxes are labeled on one end with your name and those of you who have chosen items should find a pack list inside with your picks.  If you do not choose items for a week, don’t worry, you will still receive a box of veggies.  This box will be what we call a Farmer’s Choice box.  We do re-use our share boxes, so please treat them gently and please return them each week.  We also reuse egg cartons and green berry boxes.  These items can be left with your box at your pick up site. 

This week marks the opening of the Back Mountain Memorial Library Market.  The market has moved to the Dallas Elementary School.   The hours remain the same, 9 am to 2 pm.  Please stop by and say hello to Farmers Don and Phil.  We will have veggies, eggs, chicken and pork for sale.  Get there early for the best selection!

Thank you again for your support of our small family farm and local agriculture.  Have a great week and enjoy those veggies.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Week 4 Newsletter

Greetings from Dancing Hen Farm!  Welcome to CSA Week 4 and welcome to July.  We hope everyone had a happy, though wet, Fourth of July.

Yep, it is still raining.  We got another inch plus over the weekend and have had showers every day so far this week.  I did get some wash done and dried on the line on Sunday and Monday.  Our crops are really starting to show the signs of too much rain.  Disease is setting in and the weeds are taking over the farm!

Although the fields are wet and weedy, we still have some healthy crops coming on.  Cooking greens are looking good.  Our first run of Asian greens are starting to wind down, with a second planting ready to go in.  We will be taking a bit of a break from salad mix in the next few weeks, as we wait for our fields to recover from the deer invasion of a few weeks ago.  Beans are growing nicely and we anticipate a long run of snap beans.  Peas are still going strong, but starting to wind down.  Shelling peas are done for the season and snaps and snows should hang on for a few more weeks.  Planting 2 of our summer squash is producing nicely with plantings 3 and 4 getting big and starting to flower.  Our greenhouse cucumbers are still producing and our field planted cucumbers are growing.  Winter squash is looking good and barring a disease or insect invasion we should have a good amount of winter squash this winter.  All our melons are planted, although the resident groundhog seems to be taking a liking to them.  We will keep you posted on how melons progress.  The sungold tomatoes in the greenhouse are loaded with flowers and fruit and the wait for the first ripe tomato continues.  Field grown tomatoes look good and will be staked this week.  Field and greenhouse peppers are looking healthy, flowering and starting to produce some tiny fruit.

Our apple orchard pork inventory is starting to be depleted.  We are sold out of bacon, ham steaks, ham hocks, loin roasts and pork chops until the fall.  We now have a plentiful supply of pastured chicken available, both halves and wholes.  Our chicken this year is some of the nicest we have produced with nice consistent weights.  We still have extra eggs for sale, as well.  All of these products are available through our buying club or at the Back Mountain Memorial Library Market.

Speaking of farmers markets.  We will be at Forks Farm Market in Orangeville this Saturday from 10 to 2 selling vegetables.  Then next Saturday, July 18, is the opening day for Back Mountain Memorial Library Market.  We are really excited for the Back Mountain Market this year.  The hours will be the same, 9 to 2, but the market is moving to a new location.  This year we will be setting up in the parking lot at the Dallas Elementary School.  We are excited to have more space for vendors and more parking for customers.  We will be selling vegetables, eggs, chicken and pork at the Dallas market.  If you visit any of the markets we attend, please be sure to stop by and say hello to Farmer Don.

In the kitchen, we are happy to have so many fresh vegetables to cook with.  As I type this newsletter, Don is in the kitchen making dinner.  We are having salmon packets on the grill.  I glanced at the packets before he sealed them and they are overflowing!  Squash, kale, beans, carrots, potatoes, parsley, and of course Wild for Salmon, salmon portions.  Last night we had fresh chicken on the grill, along with roasted potatoes and grilled zucchini. 

The basil we are harvesting looks beautiful right now.  We have several varieties of basils available at this time.  Most everyone is familiar with sweet basil.  We grow two varieties of sweet basil.  The traditional smooth leaved and an Italian sweet or Genovese basil, with a larger frilly leaf.  These sweet basils are a favorite for pesto and pair well with tomatoes.  Another sweet basil we grow is Red Opal basil.  This basil has distinctive deep red leaves and can be used in place of sweet basil in most recipes.  Red basil pairs well with salmon and here on farm we often add it to the foil packets of salmon we cook on the grill.  Speaking of salmon, another basil which pairs well with fish is Mrs Burns Lemon Basil.  This heirloom basil has a distinctive lemony scent and pale green leaves.  I love the aroma of lemon basil and use it in salads and with fish.  Lemon basil also makes a great simple syrup for use in lemonades, iced tea or fruit popsicles. The final basil we grow is Thai Basil.  Thai basil with it distinctive purple stems, holds up a bit better to cooking than sweet basils so is a good addition to soups, stir frys and curries.  Here is a website from a farm in California with some really good recipes.   If you need larger quantities of basil, please contact us for availability. 

Speaking of herbs.  Fresh herbs store best at room temperature in a glass of water on your kitchen counter.  Treat the herbs like flowers; cut the stems fresh and place them in water.  Preserving herbs is also easy and simple.  Try freezing herbs in olive oil in ice cube trays.  Once frozen, transfer the cubes to a plastic bag.  When you are ready cook simply melt an herb and oil cube in the pan and you are ready for a tasty saute or stir fry. 

We just finished our delicious supper.  Farmer Don has headed out to do night time chores.  The kitchen is even cleaned up!  Time to end this ramble for the week.

 Please remember to return your boxes.  Have a great week!

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Buying Club open this week!!!!

Greeting Dancing Hen Farm Buying Club Members!

Yes, Farmer Don has made the call and our buying club will be open this week.  Ordering is now open and will close Thursday morning at 5 am.  Deliveries will be Friday night from 5:30 to 6 at Bloom Naturally in Bloomsburg and Saturday morning from 10 to 10:30 at Dallas and from 11 to 11:30 at Forty Fort.  On farm pick is after 4 on Friday or any time on Saturday.  If you have questions about pick up site locations, please do not hesitate to contact us at the farm.

Please note, this is our extended season buying club and is separate from our CSA and the buying club we offer to CSA members.  Back Mountain Memorial Library Market starts July 18, so this will most likely be our last extended season buying club until the fall.

We will be at Forks Farm Market this Saturday selling vegetables.  If you would like to pick up your order at Forks, please contact the farm and we will have your box behind the table.

Looking to keep up on farm news?  Please check our facebook page ( or our blog (  Farm communications and pictures are posted at both of these sites.

Thanks again for your support, as I have said in the past, without you, our community, we would not be able to do what we do, sustainably farm this bit of hilly land in northeastern Pennsylvania.

Friday, July 3, 2015

2015 Week 3 Newsletter

Independence Day greetings from Dancing Hen Farm!  We hope everyone is enjoying their Week 3 boxes.

As seems to be the trend this summer, I am a bit late getting the newsletter out.  That means ordering for Week 4 is well under way.  Just a reminder ordering opens at 6 pm Thursday and closes at 6 pm Sunday for the next week’s box. 

July already!  Where did those cold winter days go?  It seems just recently we were huddle in the house waiting patiently, well maybe not too patiently, for the ice and snow to melt so we could get planting.  Now here we are ready to celebrate the fourth.  Tomorrow looks to be a bit rainy and cool, but I am thinking the rain will stop before evening picnics and fireworks. 

Rain!  We have really been getting soaked by rain recently.  The yard is a swamp and our road is washed out again.  We now get to sleep to the sounds of running water as the usually dry ditch across from the house is still running freely.  May was so dry we had problems getting plants growing, now all the rain is causing disease to move into our crops and our plants to stress from too much water.   One of my sisters has predicted July will be hot and dry and we will have more flooding towards the end of August.  We could use a bit of hot dry weather right now, the flooding, I am not so sure about. 

This past week on farm, Rosie, our border collie, added another saga to her life story.  Many of you have met Rose and most of you have read stories about her in the past.  She is a bit accident prone and maybe a bit too curious for her own good.  This past Monday, Farmer Don was done with packing boxes fairly early.  He decided to take the dogs for a walk around our fields, as he does most evenings.  Rose likes to nose around in the fence rows looking for what we always assume are the farm’s resident groundhogs.  She ran up the farm road a bit in front of the farmer and our other dog.  She was not gone long when she came sprinting back, running through the high grass and rubbing her face on the ground!  Farmer Don got a strong smell of skunk and that quickly Rose was gone.  I then began smelling really strong skunk at the backdoor and immediately knew someone was skunked!  Yep, Rose, had her second encounter, with a skunk.  Needless to say, no one, animal or human, was too happy Monday night.  Shady, our other dog, kept a wide distance from her sister.  Rose got several special baths and was forced to sleep the night in our workshop in the cellar.  Currently, she doesn’t smell too bad, but, from past experience she will be stinky for months, especially if she gets wet.  Let’s hope the predicted hot and dry July comes true!!

Well, it seems to be the year of the skunk.  I had this newsletter all ready to send out and was waiting for Farmer Don to read it over lunch when I learned of another skunk encounter.  Shady, our other dog, met up with the skunk this morning!  I guess she was nosing around in the same hedge row where Rosie got sprayed.  At least we now have a pretty good idea where the skunk lives!  And thankfully, it seems Shady did not get as a direct hit as Rose.  Looks like baths for all at Dancing Hen Farm tonight!  I am thinking as long as we are bathing Shady, we might as well put the de-skunk solution on Rose again, as she is still fairly stinky.

Speaking of pets.  This week we said a sad farewell to Tigger.  Tigger was a large orange Tabby which had belonged to my parents.  He was older and his health had been failing for several years.  I already miss his loud motoring purr and his constant demands for attention and food.  He felt it was his job to be sure the food and water bowls were kept full and if either was lower than he liked, he was sure to track someone down and let them know.  Rest in Peace Tigger and thank you for sharing your life with us.

In the fields, we continue to plant, plant and plant some more.  Most of our major plantings are complete for the season, including winter squash.  This week we will finish up with some late peppers, eggplant and okra.  This does not mean planting is complete for the season.  We will continue to plant, on 1 or two week rotation, many of our cooking greens, salad greens, snap beans, as well as some other crops.  Our herbs are doing well and our field planted basil has sized up nicely and appears on Week Four’s choice list.  Our summer squash, zucchini, yellow squash, and eight ball zucchini are really starting to produce.  We also have patty pan squash planted with this same rotation, but they take a bit longer to mature.  Patty pan squash should appear on the choice list soon.  My most recent trip through the greenhouse revealed many tomatoes on our sungold plants.  Get your cherry tomato recipes ready, as it will not be long before sungolds appear in your boxes.  Of course, what I hear from many members is that the sungolds barely make it home!  There are two crops we grow which I cannot resist right off the vine, sungolds are one and peas are the other!

How about the size of some of the Chinese cabbage going out last week!  Wow!  I often take Monday off as a vacation day from my off farm job to help on farm with harvest and pack.  Last Monday, I was working our field rinse station and when these cabbage came in I was amazed.  They looked beautiful. This morning I see Farmer Don has his kimchi recipes and notes out on our kitchen table, so I am thinking the fermentation crocks will again be getting some use over the weekend.  When you see Don at market, be sure to ask him about kimchi and good bacteria.  He may even have some kimchi with him for sampling.

In the kitchen, we made a nice rolled flank steak this week.  The recipe called for stuffing it with a spinach, cilantro and peanut pesto.  Since I didn’t have spinach or peanuts, I substituted kale and walnuts.  I should have taken a picture to post on facebook and our blog, as the pesto stayed bright green and contrasted beautifully with the meat.  Farmer Don declared the recipe a keeper, so if I make it again, I will be sure to take a picture.  Another favorite and quick dinner for us consists of eggs and greens over polenta.  I saute the greens, whatever is harvested, in a pan with a bit of olive oil and garlic.  When the greens are just about done, I make several holes in the greens, crack an egg in each hole, add a couple of tablespoons of water, put the lid on the pan and allow the eggs to steam/poach.  Serve the greens and eggs over some fresh soft polenta.  For me, keeping the egg yolks on the soft/runny side is perfect to mix with the polenta.  Farmer Don, however, prefers the yolks cooked more firmly. 

With grill season in full swing, I thought I will continue on the food and cooking theme and talk a bit about veggies on the grill.  Any of the summer squash are really great on the grill.  We usually marinate them in a bit of oil and vinegar based Italian salad dressing, grill them briefly on both sides and then top with a bit of fresh grated parmesan cheese.  Eight-ball zucchini, the small round zucchini, going out in our summer squash melody are nice to grill.  Cut them cross-wise to make coins.  I like to make zucchini pizzas out of the eight balls.  Cook each slice on one side, flip over and top each slice with a tablespoon or so of red sauce and a sprinkle of cheese.  Close the lid to the grill to allow the squash to finish cooking and the cheese to melt.  For the meat eaters in your family, top each slice with a piece of pepperoni before you add the sauce and cheese.  Another veggie good on the grill are garlic scapes.  Brush the scapes with a bit of oil and grill, flipping once.  Scapes can even be used at skewers for grilled veggies.  For squash, cut your squash in cubes and carefully thread onto the scape.  The non-flower end of the scape will be stiffer, so start your veggies at this end.   All this talk of grilling veggies, I can’t wait for tomatoes and eggplant and okra!!  The grill will be busy here at the farm!

Let’s see.  I talked about ordering, the farm, the pets, cooking, and the weather, of course.  I am thinking it is time to wrap up this week’s rambles with my weekly box reminder.  Please remember to return your boxes so we can re-use them.

Have a great holiday.  And as Farmer Don always says:  “be safe, be well and enjoy those veggies”