Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Happy New Year!

Greetings and Happy New Year from Dancing Hen Farm!

Hopefully everyone enjoyed the mild November and December.  Last night brought a bit of winter with some snow and sleet and temperatures are to be in the 30’s over the New Year holiday.  But, the long range forecast is for warmer than usual temperatures next week.  We are not complaining, at least not yet, here on farm.  Our greens are still surviving under cover and like everyone we are thankful for lower utility bills.  I have to admit, the mud is starting to wear on me a bit and being a bit of a worrier, I am worried about the effect this mild weather will have on our farm ecosystem. 

This time of year, when we open up our CSA for sign up, is always rewarding for Farmer Don and I.  It is so nice to see so many new and returning members signing up for next season’s CSA.  Thank you to everyone who has signed up and remitted payment for a CSA share.  If you have not yet signed up, there is still time to take advantage of our early bird discount of $30.   The early bird discount expires January 31.  We also offer a returning member discount of $20.  The returning member discount does not expire.  We utilize these early memberships to help us raise funds for farm supplies.  Our supplier offers a fairly large discount for orders placed during the winter months and without this early support we would be unable to take advantage of this offer. 

We are excited to be offering a new addition to our CSA.  This year we will be offering a chicken share.  This is an add-on share to our main vegetable shares.  Members purchasing chicken shares will receive chicken 6 times during the main csa season.  Each delivery will include one full chicken and two halves.  In addition, you will receive a stew hen with the last chicken delivery. 

Please watch your email for the continuation of our winter buying club.  If the weather holds, we should still have greens to harvest.  Our chickens are still laying, so we should also have eggs, in addition to chicken and pork to offer.  This winter buying club is separate from the buying club associated with our CSA.  To participate in the winter buying club, you will need to sign into our website and purchase a free winter buying club share.  As always, if you have questions, please contact us. 

In our kitchen, Farmer Don has been the chef recently.  We received some new cookbooks for Christmas and he has already been making recipes from them.  Last night he made some delicious parmesan encrusted pork chops, roasted potatoes and spicy sweet and sour sautéed cabbage.  We generally have a roast chicken once a week.  The chicken bones are then utilized to make a broth base for some soup or stew.  We are, of course, planning a traditional pork with sauerkraut for New Year’s Day.  Pork and sauerkraut is one of my favorite meals!!!
With so many new faces signing up on our website, I thought I would again remind everyone of our internet presence.  I am sure most everyone has found our website at www.dancinghenfarm.com.  In addition we also have a farm facebook page ( https://www.facebook.com/Dancing-Hen-Farm-111155465564952/ ),  a blog (http://dancinghenfarmcsa.blogspot.com/ ) and a pinterest site (https://www.pinterest.com/dancinghencsa/ ).    I try to update facebook and the blog regularly.  Pinterest is a bit of a work in progress and is one of my projects for this winter.

Time to give this newsletter to Farmer Don for a proof read.  Welcome new members and thank you to everyone for your support.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Buying Club open and CSA Registration starting.

Greetings from Dancing Hen Farm!  Happy Spring?  I mean Winter? 

Our buying club is open this week.  Ordering in underway now, and will end at 5 am Thursday morning.  This will be our last delivery for the year.  Watch your email for winter deliveries.  Farmer Don has purchased in some produce from area farms this week, including sweet potatoes, carrots, kale, chard and onions.  All veggies are grown organically.  We also have turnip greens, mustard, Asian greens and braising mix from our farm.  If you are looking to do some holiday baking, our chickens are still laying and we have plenty of farm fresh eggs available.  Our apple orchard pork has been very popular and cuts are starting sell out.  We also have half and whole chickens available.  As always, if you have questions concerning the buying club, please see our website or contact us at the farm.  This will be the last buying club of this year.

Registration for our 2016 CSA is now open!  We are offering early bird and returning member discounts.  Early bird discounts of $30 are available to anyone registering and paying by December 31, 2015.  The returning member discount is $20 and can be redeemed by all renewing members, regardless of when they sign up.  As with previous years, we will have 3 delivery options and two vegetable share sizes.  Our base price for shares starts with pick up at our farm in Stillwater, Pa.  Then there are one time delivery fees added to this base price if you choose to pick up at a central pick up site ($50) or have your share delivered to your home ($125).   Dancing Hen Farm is a full choice CSA with all CSA members able to choose the vegetables they receive each week in their box.  Our CSA runs for 22 weeks, from approximately June 1 to November 1.  In addition to vegetable shares, we also offer several add on share types, including egg shares and new this year, a chicken share.  CSA members are also able to participate in a CSA buying club.  This buying club is separate from our winter buying club and requires a $50 deposit.  Purchases are deducted from your deposit and delivered with your shares.  Please see our website or contact the farm for more details.

How about this spring weather?  Forsythia and dandelions are actually blooming!  And my flower bulbs are trying to poke their heads up.  We have not checked our garlic, but I am sure it is growing as well.   But, a change is on the way.  High temperatures are predicted in the 30’s this weekend.  However, Farmer Don tells me this cool down is short lived with warmer weather returning again next week.  I am not complaining about the warm weather.  I actually am kind of enjoying it.  But, it is so very odd to not be wearing a coat outside in December in Pennsylvania!

On farm, we are still in clean up mode, although this weather makes us itchy to start planting seeds!  This year we did not plant our large unheated greenhouse for the winter and in the next few weeks we will remove the plastic from this structure.  This will expose the soil inside this greenhouse to the weather.  The soil will freeze (hopefully!) and be exposed to rain and snow.  Although we will miss the early spring greens, removing the plastic will help to reduce disease and insect pressure and rejuvenate this otherwise protected soil.  We are also getting our supply lists together for next year.  Seed catalogs are rolling in and we are already pouring over them comparing varieties and prices.  We try not to over order seeds, but it is so tempting to order one of everything!

I almost forgot!  Other farm news includes the purchase of a new delivery van.  Our new delivery vehicle is a shiny black minivan.   For the last half of this season, we rented a minivan for deliveries and found it more than large enough for our needs.  We are gradually starting to downsize our farm operation and a large gas guzzling cargo van was just way more vehicle than we need.   Our biggest challenge was finding a used minivan within our price range and with low miles.   The internet has really changed how we shop for cars!  Farmer Don was finding vehicles all over the east coast.  Thankfully we located this vehicle near Scranton.

With this I will end this newsletter.  Thank you to everyone for your support this last year.  Take time to enjoy the magic of the holiday season! 

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Buying Club is open with deliveries December 11 and 12

Greetings from Dancing Hen Farm!

The buying club is open this week.  Ordering is now open and will close 5 am Thursday morning.  Deliveries will be Friday and Saturday.  Please see our website or contact us at the farm if you need more information.

Our apple orchard pork is selling quickly.  We have already sold out of roasts.  In addition we have placed a hold on pork chop sales.  Pork chops are always one of our most popular cuts and the last few weeks we have sold a large number of chops.  Before we can offer any more for sale, we need to make sure our inventory is accurate and up to date. 

We continue to have a good supply of eggs and chicken available on the buying club.  Currently, you are able to purchase up to 5 dozen eggs on the buying club.  If you are in need of more than 5 dozen, please contact us, at the farm, and we will do our best to fill your order.   

The fog in our area has been really amazing the past few mornings.  So very thick, with dangerously low visibility.  In addition the cool morning temperatures causes the fog to freeze on surfaces, including trees, grass, and wires.  Unfortunately it can also freeze on the roads, so be careful driving if you are experiencing this fog locally, in your area.  On farm, this frozen fogs creates such a beautifully eerie scene!  I posted some pictures on facebook and on our blog (www.dancinghenfarmcsa.blogspot.com). 

Farmer Don (and myself to a limited extent) have been taking advantage of this mild fall and early winter to enjoy some time in the woods.  Hiking is one of Don’s favorite activities and we are blessed to live in an area with miles of wonderful trails to enjoy.   I have a couple of new pictures to post and will try to do so later tonight.

Please watch your email for the announcement of the opening of 2016 CSA registration.  This year we will again be offering early bird and returning member discounts.  As with past years, you will be able to add an egg share, if you desire.  We are excited to this year be offering a new chicken share.  These chickens are raised on pasture on our farm.  If you purchase a chicken share, you will receive chicken 6 times during the CSA season, or every 4 weeks.  Each delivery will include one whole broiler and two halves and on the final delivery you will also receive a stew hen.  All chicken will be delivered frozen in a cooler separate from your vegetable box.  As always, if you have questions, please contact the farm.

It is getting late and I still have a long list of household chores to do before bed, so I will bid you all “good night”.  Be safe, be well and thank you once again for supporting our small farm.

Frozen Fog

We have been waking up to a foggy farm the past few mornings.  The thick fog combined with below freezing temperatures cause the fog to freeze on everything creating some beautifully eerie farm scenes.