Friday, December 30, 2016

Happy New Year and Farm News!

Greetings from Dancing Hen Farm.  Happy eve of  New Year's Eve! 

We hope your holidays have been happy and that this new year will be filled with health, happiness and peace!

Winter is here!  We celebrated the winter solstice a little over a week ago.  This is exciting, as now our days are starting to get longer.   We are still waking up in the dark and eating supper in the dark, but January will bring sunrises close to 7 am and sunsets after 5 pm.  By the end of February, sunsets will be after 6!  February is when our plants overwintering in our unheated greenhouse will begin to grow again.  And depending on how well they survived the winter, we will hopefully have some greens to harvest in March.

Speaking of harvesting.  Our winter buying club is on hold for a few weeks.  If you are interested in our apple orchard pork or eggs, please contact the farm.  We will work with people on an individual basis to get product to you.  If we have enough people interested, we may do a buying club delivery to a drop site. 

With the new year, comes the end to our early bird specials for CSA sign up.  We will still honor your early bird discount, as long as your envelope is post marked by December 31. That is tomorrow!  After December 31, returning members are still eligible for a returning member discount and all members purchasing a summer and fall share are eligible for a discount on the fall share. As always, if you have questions about our CSA, please do not hesitate to contact us. 

Each year, the start of our CSA sign up is a very exciting and humbling time for Farmer Don and I.  Exciting and also humbling to see so many new and returning members investing in our farm.  Thanks to each of you.  As I have said in the past, these early funds help us order supplies, at a discount, for next season's production. And without you, our dedicated members and friends of the farm, we would not be able to do what we do; farm and preserve this rocky hillside we call home and more importantly share our harvest with you, our community.

Farmer Don has been very busy in the kitchen recently.  For a number of years now he has been a fan of the magazine "Cooks Illustrated".   We even have one of their huge how to cook anything style cookbooks.  For the past month or so, he has been applying more and more of their techniques and making many of their recipes.  Although I sometimes feel as though the kitchen has been turned into a science lab, I have to admit the resulting meals have been delicious!  And is has been really nice to have a resident cook in the house.  Most recently he made a gumbo utilizing a dry roux.  The dry roux was made by baking the flour, dry, in the oven until it turns a beautiful cinnamon color.  Probably not very authentic, but I have to admit this may be the first time we actually got a nice dark roux and therefore a nice dark gumbo.   And as a northerner, I thought the resulting soup was delicious!  Tonight he is making a beef bolognese for us for dinner and he has a breakfast strata casserole picked out for New Year's day breakfast.  Speaking of New Year's day.  I will be back in the kitchen on New Year's Day making the traditional pork and sauerkraut; one of my all time favorite meals!

On farm this time of year means planning and projects.  We are busy planning production for next season. This involves evaluating the past season and its successes and challenges.  It also means analyzing our weekly availabilities and harvest lists to determine crops we need to grow more and/or less of.       Farmer Don is busy reworking some of our greenhouse space.  When complete, we will have 2 small greenhouses with woodstoves installed and a smaller germination area heated passively with compost.  Hopefully, the woodstoves will allow us to get transplants going earlier in the spring and alleviate some of the losses we have endured most every year due to late spring freezes. 

Here, I will end and wish everyone a very Happy and Prosperous 2017!


Monday, December 12, 2016

Farm News, Buying Club this week and CSA Registration

 Greetings from a festive Dancing Hen Farm!  Our tree is up and decorated, the lights are hung outside and the wreath has been hung on the side of the barn.  Thanks to Jason, for once again helping us with "the hanging of the wreath".

The buying club will again be open for deliveries this coming weekend.  This will be our last buying club of 2016 and possibly our last until early spring 2017.  Overnight temperatures in the single digits by the end of the week will most likely end any outdoor greens harvest for this season.  Remember, ordering opens on Tuesday morning at 5 am and closes Thursday morning at 5 am.  If you have questions concerning ordering, delivery or pick up times, please contact us at the farm.  This week, we will continue to have apple orchard pork, eggs, as well as a limited supply of storage vegetables and greens.

Thinking about joining our CSA for 2017?  Please consider signing up this month.  Not only will you receive some early bird discount (up to $75 plus a free egg share or buying club credit), but these early funds received allow the farm to save hundreds of dollars on supplies that we can buy at a substantial discount before January 1. 

We are making a few changes to our CSA for 2017.  We will continue to be a full choice CSA, meaning all our members will have the opportunity to chose the exact items they receive in their boxes each week.  We are, however, making changes to our summer, main season, CSA and we are adding a Fall CSA.  Our summer CSA will now run for 18 weeks and our Fall CSA will run for 8 weeks.  If you sign up for both the summer and the fall season you will get 26 weeks of organically produced farm fresh vegetables starting June 9.  We will continue to offer add on egg shares for both the summer and fall season.  We will offer an add on chicken share during the summer season only.

As always, if you have questions, please do not hesitate to contact us.

It seems winter has arrived at Dancing Hen Farm.  Snow is on the ground and temperatures are predicted to really plummet over the next few days.   The season changes are good for our souls and the snow is beautiful!  Of course, Farmer Don may disagree, as he just got done digging us out!  And it seems Shady, our older dog, also disagrees.  I just watched her look longingly at the barn as she contemplated leaving the shoveled walk way to make her way to the barn.  Her desire is to get to the barn so she can have her "second breakfast", as we call it.  She knows where some of the chickens secretly hide their eggs and much to the farmers dismay, she looks forward to getting to these eggs before him and feasting on them daily! Rosie, our border collie, on the other hand, loves the snow.  She races and jumps and rolls and harasses the farmer as he tries to shovel or sweep!  She also likes hidden eggs, but playing in the snow is way more fun than hunting for eggs any day.

In the kitchen, we still have not gotten our large batch sauerkraut made!  Hopefully today or tomorrow that project will be complete.  We will slice the cabbage, most likely with our food processor, salt it and pound it to release the juices.  Once sufficient juice has been released from the chopped cabbage we will pack the cabbage into our fermentation crock and wait for the beneficial bacteria to do their work.  We make a very basic cabbage kraut, preferring not to add carrots or caraway seed.  Well, I guess I should say I prefer a cabbage only kraut.  Farmer Don often convinces me to add some carrots, but has yet to sway me over to adding caraway seeds.  I had hoped to have this new batch of kraut ready for our traditional New Year's Day feast, but I am thinking it will not quite be sour enough by then. I will keep you posted.

Time to end this note and move on to the next task at hand (baking some breakfast bars!)

Thanks to each of you for your continued support!

Glad Tidings to All!


Monday, December 5, 2016

2017 Registration now open!!!!

Greetings from Winter Wonderland at Dancing Hen Farm!

Although we  awoke this morning to a layer of wet snow covering everything, our thoughts are to next spring and summer, as we plan for our 10th CSA season.
 
Registration is now open for the 2017 season!  We have made some changes for this coming season and by signing up now, members have the opportunity to save up to 75 dollars and receive a free egg share or credit towards our buying club.  Our CSA will continue to be a full choice CSA, allowing our members to customize their boxes each week.  Full and Partial shares will be available.

First the changes.  We have decided to go with a two season CSA.  We will offer a Main or Summer season which will begin June 9 and run for 18 weeks.  This Summer Season will be followed by a Fall Season which will run for 8 weeks, starting October 10.  We will continue to offer an egg share for both the Summer and Fall season, with eggs delivered every other week.  We will also, again offer our chicken share.  Chicken shares will be delivered with the Summer season CSA and will consist of 5 deliveries.
 
Now the savings.  All returning members will receive a $30 discount.  If you purchase both a Summer and Fall Season CSA, prior to the start of our Summer CSA, you will receive $25 off the cost of the Fall Season.  And all members signing up, and paying, for their shares prior to December 31, 2016, will receive a $20 early bird discount.  In addition to the early bird discount, members registering and paying by December 31, will also receive their choice of a free egg summer season egg share or a $40 credit to our buying club. 

Please visit our website for additional details and pricing. 


As always, thank you for your support of our farm and local agriculture.  If you have questions for us or need additional information, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Greetings and Biying Club Open

Greetings from a foggy, soggy Dancing Hen Farm!

We will be running our Winter Buying Club this weekend.  That means ordering is now open and will close on Thursday morning at 5 am.  If you have questions about delivery locations and/or times, please contact us at the farm.  All ordering is done online for the buying club.  If you have not already done so, you will need to create an account and "purchase" a free winter buying club share.  Once purchased, we will need to activate before you can order, so there will be a delay between registering and being able to order.  We will continue to run the buying club for several weeks or until our storage crops are finished and our greens are frozen beyond harvest.

This week on the buying club we have a good supply of apple orchard pork and eggs.  Storage crops available include sweet potatoes, carrots, turnips, beets and cabbage.  We also have some salad and cooking greens available, including, mustard, kale, chard, mixed salad greens and arugula.

Hopefully everyone had a great Thanksgiving and everyone has recovered from the post dinner food coma!  Our dinner was peaceful and the food plentiful.  We are still eating leftovers!  I will be cooking down the turkey frame over the weekend to make soup.  I think I enjoy turkey frame soup almost as much as the Thanksgiving meal!  My soup usually is a turkey version of chicken corn soup.  Chicken corn soup was a stable in my Pennsylvania Dutch family.  Following my Mother's and Grandmothers' leads, I think my chicken (or turkey) corn soup is a bit different each time I make it.  I will say, I do not add hard boiled eggs to my soup.  I did not even know they were in corn soup until I moved to central PA, where everyone's corn soup included eggs.  I also generally do not add homemade rivels or dumplings to my soup, but I do often add some thin egg noodles.  If you google Pennsylvania Dutch chicken corn soup, you will get a good list of websites with recipes.  My mouth is watering just writing about this soup!

Please watch your emails closely for the opening of registration for our 2017 CSA.  We are planning some changes for next year.  We will be offering a shorter main season and also a fall season.  The main season will run for 18 weeks and the fall season will follow the main season and run for 8 weeks.  We will again be offering add on egg and chicken shares.  Discounts will be offered for retuning members, members registering early and members purchasing both the main and fall season shares.  We anticipate the website to be updated shortly and once we are up and running, I will send an email out to all members.

Last Saturday, Farmers Don and Phil had a great adventure.  Rather than doing buying club deliveries, they were in the stands at Beaver Stadium cheering Penn State on to a victory.  This was Farmer Phil's  first time at a Penn State game.  Even though the day was a bit windy and chilly, both farmers report having a great time.  Rumor has it Farmer Phil was high fiving everyone around them in the stands!  Now they are trying to convince me they should go to Penn State's bowl game.  But first Farmer Phil is traveling with his Mom and Dad to Disney World for some Christmas pre-gaming! 


Until next week.......

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Happy Thanksgiving!

Greetings from Dancing Hen Farm!  Happy Thanksgiving!

There will be no buying club this weekend as we celebrate Thanksgiving and spend time with family.  Buying club deliveries will resume next week, with ordering opening, Tuesday, November 29 and deliveries Friday and Saturday, December 2 and 3.

It seems winter has arrived in Pennsylvania.  That means the rhythm of the farm is also changing to our winter mode.  For the most part, other than a few covered beds of greens, our fields have been put to rest until spring.  We continue to do projects on farm, but generally our activities center around keeping chickens watered and keeping wood chopped for our wood stove. 

Farmer Don and I will again be spending Thanksgiving on farm.  We will miss spending time with some of our extended family, but it is always good to avoid the travel rush and enjoy some time together in the kitchen.  Our meal will be very traditional, including, of course, turkey and stuffing!  I am hoping make pies this afternoon, but if I don't get to them, we will stray a bit from tradition and have apple crisp for desert! 

Please watch your email for the opening of our 2017 CSA registration.  We will again be offering discounts for returning members and early sign ups.  Our CSA will continue to be a full choice CSA, allowing each member to sign onto our website and customize their box each week.  In addition to our vegetable shares, we will also offer add on egg and chicken shares.  If you have questions or need additional information, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Farmer Don and I want to wish each of you a Happy Thanksgiving!  We are so thankful to have such a supportive community!


Time to refill the coffee cup and move onto the next task!

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

November 15 Farm News

Greetings from Dancing Hen Farm! 

With our main season over we have moved into our extended season.  This is the first week of our 4 week extended season CSA.  Today is delivery day.  If you have signed up for the extension, you should have received an email from us yesterday.  If you have NOT received the email, please contact us.

The other way we extend our market and CSA season is through our winter buying club.  Ordering for buying club is now open and will close Thursday morning at 5 am.  Deliveries are to Bloomsburg Friday night and to Dallas, Forty Fort and Mountain Top on Saturday morning.  On farm pickups are anytime after 4 pm on Friday.  If you need information on our pick up sites, including times and exact location, please see our website or contact us at the farm. 

Pork -- Our 2016 pork is here and available for purchase.  We are sold out of bulk/freezer pork, but individual cuts are available.  Last night Farmer Don updated our buying club availability to reflect the new inventory.  This means pork chops and bacon are again available! 

Haven't we been having some beautiful fall days recently?  Wow!  Cool mornings, sunny warmer afternoons.  I love this weather, I just wish the days were a bit longer.  It seems a change is on its way.  The forecast is for cloudy and highs in the 30's on Monday.  And maybe even some snow!  Did everyone get a chance to view the super moon?  A bit cloudy last night, but Sunday night the November beaver moon was huge and bright over the farm. 

On farm, we are entering into winter mode.  Days are short meaning hours to get farm projects done are also short.  Once the freeze of winter sets in, we spend most of our time and energy on keeping our chickens supplied with warm water and keeping our woodstove supplied with split firewood.  But for now, some of our fields still have greens in them for harvest.  Farmer Don has them tucked under plastic row covers to keep them a bit warmer.  We should be able to harvest these greens for the next several weeks.  Many of them will overwinter and we will again harvest in the early spring.  We are also working on getting our chicken houses ready for winter.  In the summer we put shade cloth on the coops to keep the temperatures down.  In winter, this shade cloth is removed to maximize the heating of the sun for the chickens.  Other fall farm projects include garlic planting.  In the next week we will finish planting our garlic for 2017 harvest. 

It is hard to believe that next week is already Thanksgiving!  We will be roasting a turkey this year.  Our menu is always very traditional and we are excited that, once again, most everything on our table will have been grown within 5 miles of our farm.  One of the many things to be thankful for! 

Speaking of Thanksgiving, our friends at Forks Farm will be hosting their annual Turkey Day Market on Tuesday, November 22.  This is always a fun and festive market and although we will not be there as a vendor, we will be there shopping and picking up our turkey.  If you have never been to a Turkey Day, I would encourage you to visit.  The market is open from 1 to 6 pm.  If you haven't purchased your turkey yet, you may want to contact the Hopkins and see if they have turkey still available.  www.forksfarmmarket.com

Well, it seems I didn't have too much inspiration for this newsletter, but the sun is now up and I need to move on to my next task.  Time to get this newsletter posted to our website. 

Thanks again to everyone for their continued support.  Have a great week!


Sunday, November 6, 2016

2016 CSA Week 22

Greetings from Dancing Hen Farm!  Welcome to Week 22 of our CSA.  Week 22 is the FINAL week of our regular season CSA.  Week 22 is NOT an egg week.  Week 22 IS a CHICKEN Week.

Our buying club will be available for next weekend deliveries.  Ordering for the buying club opens 5 am on Tuesday (11/8) and closes at 5 am on Thursday (11/10).  All buying club orders should be made through our website.  In the coming weeks, look for additional pork products to be available through the buying club.

Farmer Don and I both want to thank everyone for their support!  It is you, our community, our members and friends of the farm, who enable us to do what we do.  Thank you for allowing us to "share the harvest" with you!

Thank you also to all of our site hosts, our volunteers and our employees.  Without this support system we would not be able to do what we do.  The amount of work which goes on behind the scenes by these individuals is huge.  Their hard work makes it possible for us to get our vegetables, eggs, chicken and pork to all of you.

Even though this is the last week for our regular season CSA, our sharing of the harvest has not ended for the season.  We are extending our season for 4 additional weeks and as mentioned above we will again be running our winter buying club.  Just a reminder, we need to receive payment for the extended season CSA prior to the first delivery.  Our first delivery is scheduled for Tuesday, November 15.  If you are interested in the buying club, you will need to purchase a free "winter buying club" share through our website.  As always, if you have questions, please contact us at the farm.

We are already planning for 2017.  2017 CSA registration will open shortly on our website.  Watch your email for when registration is available.  We will again offer a returning member discount and an early bird discount.  To take advantage of the early bird discount, we need to receive payment by December 31, 2016.  As with this year, our regular season CSA will continue to be a full choice CSA.  All members will be able to sign onto our website and choose the exact items they receive in their boxes each week.  We will again offer egg and chicken shares, but will most likely be limiting the number of egg shares.  We are debating adding a pork share and will send out an email if and when we add this option.

I will continue to sent out weekly emails as long as our buying club is operating and periodic emails after that.  If you want to keep up with farm news, we post regularly on facebook (https://www.facebook.com/pages/Dancing-Hen-Farm/111155465564952) and to our blog (http://www.dancinghenfarmcsa.blogspot.com/). 

Boxes and coolers!  We will make one last trip to our central pick up sites to collect boxes and coolers.  Please try and return any boxes or coolers to your pick up site.  We will also accept boxes at our buying club pick ups and at the farm.

Don't forget to vote on Tuesday the 8th.  And get ready for a night sky show on Monday the 14th.  November's full moon is a super, super moon.  This full beaver moon will appear as the largest and brightest moon in the sky since 1948!  Get out and enjoy!  Hopefully we will have clear skies.

So, have a great holiday season, stay warm this winter, enjoy those veggies, be safe, be well and enjoy your veggies.  As always, thank you for your support of local organic agriculture.




Wednesday, November 2, 2016

2016 CSA Week 21 Newsletter and Buying Cub is Open!

Greetings from Dancing Hen Farm.  Welcome to Week 21 of our CSA.  After this week's deliveries, there is ONE delivery remaining in our 2016 CSA.  This week is an EGG week and NEXT WEEK IS our final CHICKEN delivery week.  I hope everyone is enjoying their Week 21 boxes!

The winter buying club is open this week.  Ordering closes at 5 am on Thursday.  Deliveries are Friday night to Bloomsburg and Saturday morning to Dallas and Forty Fort and Mountain Top.  On farm orders can be picked up after 4 pm on Friday or anytime on Saturday.  All buying club ordering is done online.  If you have not already done so, you will need to create an account on our website and "purchase" a free winter buying club share.  This buying club is separate from our CSA.  If you have questions, please contact us at the farm.

Yesterday was our annual running of the pigs.  This is a yearly tradition at Dancing Hen Farm.  We raise our pigs high on the hill in an abandoned apple orchard.  The pigs spend the summer grazing between the trees, sleeping beneath the trees and eating leftovers from our vegetable fields.  Each fall we must move the pig down to our barn.  So, on a designated fall day, our neighbors gather with us on farm and we literally walk/run the pigs down to the barn.  Some years this task is accomplished with little to no stress to humans or animals and other years, well let's just say, "pigs rule the hill".  This year, went so smoothly that I missed the actual running.  With the run falling on a CSA delivery day, I stepped in and did afternoon deliveries for Farmer Don so he could work with his pigs.  By the time Farmer Phil and I were done with deliveries, the pigs were already sleeping peacefully in the barn.  Thanks to all who assisted!  The farm and the pigs are grateful for your calm assistance.

Last week, we had another gathering of the neighbors as we replaced the plastic on our large greenhouse.  Getting plastic over a 30' by 100' metal frame is not an easy task.  We tie rocks and rope to one side and literally throw the ropes over the top and then pull on the ropes to pull the plastic over the frame.  The clothesline we used as rope wasn't quite up for the task and broke several times, putting some of our helpers on their backsides!  Once the plastic is over, we have to work quickly to get it fastened into placed, before the slightest wind creates a giant plastic parachute.  Our mission was accomplished and our greenhouse is currently being planted for late winter/early spring production.  Thanks again to all who assisted with this task!

Is anyone looking to continue receiving Dancing Hen Farm products after the CSA ends?  For the first time, this year, we are offering an extended season to our CSA.  This extension will be 4 weeks of deliveries, starting immediately after the regular season ends (November 15).  These shares are not being offered through our website and will be farmer's choice partial shares (6 - 7 per week, chosen by Farmer Don).  Egg shares are also available.  Egg shares will again be every other week, or purchase 2 egg shares for one dozen every week.  The cost is $100 for the veggies and 10 for a single egg share.  If you are interested, please email the farm.  We will need to receive your payment prior to start of the extended season.  Payment can be mailed to the farm.

We will also be continuing with our Winter Buying club this year.  As I mentioned above, the winter buying club is separate from our CSA.  The winter buying club was created as a way for our dedicated farm market shoppers (and CSA customers) to continue to purchase Dancing Hen Farm products after markets close for the season.  This buying club is a pay as you go option and requires you to meet us at a designated place and time to pay for and pick up your selections.  If you would like to participate in the winter buying club, you will need to "purchase" a free winter buying club share on our website.  As always, if you have questions or need additional information, please contact us at the farm.

In the kitchen, I am just about finished with preserving food for the season.  I am hoping to can another batch of applesauce and I have some cabbage safely stored away in our cooler to make sauerkraut with.  Last winter we added a German fermentation crock to our kitchen "appliance" shelf.  Yes, another appliance!  And like many of my appliances, I find I do not use the crock as much as I had anticipated.  This crock is quite large and in all honesty is too big for most bathes of vegetables I ferment.  Recently I fermented some radishes and I would have needed over a half bushel of radishes to fill the crock!  That would be a lot of radish pickles!  Too many!  But, for sauerkraut, the crock is a perfect size.  So, this month, Farmer Don and I will brine and pound the cabbage and put up to ferment in the crock.  The sauerkraut will easily be ready for the traditional pork and sauerkraut New Year's Day dinner!

Wow, how time flies when you are drinking coffee and writing newsletters!  It is now mid to late morning.  I need to end this newsletter, as I am driving to Philly today for a doctor's appointment.  Wish me luck, with the transit workers on strike! 

Be safe, be well and thank you for your continued support of our small farm!



Tuesday, October 25, 2016

2016 Week 20 and the Buying Club is Open!

Greetings from Dancing Hen Farm.  Welcome to Week 20 of our CSA.  After this week's deliveries, there are 2 weeks remaining in our 2016 CSA.

The winter buying club is open this week.  Ordering closes at 5 am on Thursday.  Deliveries are Friday night to Bloomsburg and Saturday morning to Dallas and Forty Fort.  Mountain Top orders can be picked up at market on Sunday.  All buying club ordering is done online.  If you have not already done so, you will need to create an account on our website and "purchase" a free winter buying club share.

Ah, yes, the weather.  The seasons are changing in Pennsylvania and that means temperature swings!  Crazy to think we were in the 80's a week ago and tonight we are to get a hard freeze.  And I have heard a rumor there may be some snow on the ground on Thursday!  Hard to believe,  Farmer Don was working in shorts last week and he now he is burning our woodstove for heat!  Let's hope he doesn't have to get the plow out just yet!

Even though our main CSA season is winding down, we are still busy, busy, busy on farm.  In the fields we are planting the last of our winter cover crops and getting beds of greens ready for the winter.  Tonight, we will be covering many of our cooking and salad greens with row cover and plastic to protect them from the cold winter temperatures.  With a bit of luck, we will be able to harvest from many of these beds into December and then will again harvest from them in late February or early March.  If the weather and the wind cooperate, this week we will be putting the plastic back on our large greenhouse.  The past few weeks we have been cleaning out and preparing the beds in this greenhouse for overwintering.  Lettuce and kale will be planted for early spring 2017 harvest.  It will nice to have our greenhouse back for production next season. 

In boxes this week, we are continuing to pack winter squash, cabbage, sweet potatoes, kale, swiss chard, arugula and mustard greens.  New this week are rutabaga.  Our rutabaga are a bit small this year and please do not throw away the greens.  Rutabaga are in the same family as kale, mustard, cabbage and turnips and their greens are tasty and nutritious.  Use the greens as you would any cooking green.  It appears as though tomatoes, green beans and peppers are done for the season.  Look for greens and storage crops to continue to be available.  We have a small planting of celery and a small planting of baby leeks which will, hopefully, be ready before the end of the season.

With our regular season winding down, we have put a plan in place to extend our CSA into the fall.  The extension will be for 4 weeks, starting November 15.  The extended shares will be part shares, six items per week, and will be farmer's choice shares.  Egg shares are also available.  Vegetable shares are $100 and egg shares are $10.  If you would like eggs every week, you can purchase two egg shares.  These shares will not be offered through our website, so if you are interested, please email the farm.  We will need to receive payment prior to the start of the extended season.

So, I have a confession to make.  I have a habit of buying kitchen appliances which I am convinced will change my life.  But in reality, I have a shelf of kitchen gadgets which seldom get used.  Some of the things you will find on this shelf are, a pressure canner, an immersion blender, a food processor (now used often to make dog food!), a stand mixer, and a crock pot.  Although I use all these gadgets, I don't find them nearly as life changing as I had anticipated.  For instance, I had visions of using the crock pot to make chicken and beef stock and then using the pressure canner to produce jars of shelf stable, non-frozen stock.  Let's just say, I am still making stock in my trusty stock pot and storing the jars in the freezer!  I did make some delicious peach butter in the crock pot the other year, but canned it in my old enamel hot water bath canner.  But, over the weekend, I used the crock pot for dinner!  I started by placing a mix of veggies in the bottom of the pot.  I used onions, sweets, winter squash and white potatoes.  Next I rubbed a chuck roast with some salt, pepper and dried herbs and seared it on all sides.  The roast was then placed on top of the veggies and a small amount of liquid was added.  The liquid was a mix of wine, balsamic vinegar, Worcestershire sauce and water.  I set the pot to low and let it cook all day.  The resulting dinner was really tasty!  And as I did chores around the house and farm, it was nice knowing that dinner was already made!  Maybe there is still hope for the crock pot to change my life?

We do still have some bulk freezer pork available.  If you are interested in bulk pork or have questions for us, please contact us!  We are anticipating pork orders to be available the second or third week of November.  Individual cuts of pork will be available through our winter buying club around that same time.  Bacon and hams are cured using a nitrate free cure.

I want to take a few minutes to thank some Bloomsburg area restaurants who regularly use our, and other farms, products.  The Blind Pig Kitchen is a true "farm to table" restaurant, sourcing all meats fruits and vegetables within 65 miles of the restaurant.  Toby and Sarah purchase 5 CSA shares from us each year to use in the restaurant.  More information, including their seasonal menu, can be found on their website (www.blindpigkitchen.com).  We also sell produce and eggs to the Inn at Turkey Hill.  The farmhouse at the Inn is a fine dining establishment and their menu features locally produced items.  More information can be found on their website (www.innatturkeyhill.com).  Please support your local farmers by supporting these two fine restaurants!


The end is here...  until next week.... "be safe, be well and enjoy those veggies"

Thursday, October 20, 2016

CSA Season Extension

Announcing Dancing Hen Farm's 
2016 Season Extension

4 Additional Weeks of CSA deliveries (Nov 15, Nov 22, Nov 29, Dec 6)

Part Shares (6 items) Farmer's Choice Boxes
Egg Shares also available (2 Weeks - Nov 15 and Nov 29)  Double egg shares also available

Prices:
$100 for the vegetables
$10 for an egg share

These shares will not be offered through our website.  Please email us at the farm to confirm your registration.  Payment must be received prior to delivery.

Delivery available to:  Drums, Bear Creek, Dallas, Forty Fort, Bloomsburg and Danville

Contact us at the farm if you opted for home delivery during the regular season and would like home delivery for the extension. 




Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Buying Club this Saturday!!!

Greetings from Dancing Hen Farm!
Our buying club is again open for deliveries this weekend. Ordering opened this morning at 6 and closes Thursday (10/20) at 6 am. Deliveries will be .Friday night to Bloomsburg and Saturday to Dallas and Forty Fort.  Mountain Top orders can be picked up at the Mountain Top Farmers Market on Sunday.  On farm pick-ups will be available anytime after 5 pm on Friday.
On this list this week you will find cooking and salad greens, including arugula, mustard, kale and chard.  We also have a selection of winter squash, sweet potatoes and white potatoes.   Radishes, both salad and storage, are also being harvested.  Non vegetable items include half chickens, a limited amount of pork and eggs.
Thanks again to all of you, our farm community, for allowing us to share our harvest with you.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

2016 Week 19 Newsletter

Greetings from Dancing Hen Farm!  Welcome to Week 19.  Week 19 is an EGG week.  After week 19's delivery there are 3 deliveries remaining in the CSA season.  We have one more chicken share delivery and it will be our final delivery, Week 22.

Last Tuesday, we awoke to a frosty wonderland.  Fluffy white ice crystals clung to everything.  Our first hard frost of the season.  The temperature outside was 30 and the temperature inside was cool enough to cause Farmer Don to start a fire in the woodstove.  For the most part we were ready for these cold temperatures.  Mid October is late for our first frost, so the majority of our tender, summer crops were already done for the season.  We were able to harvest or protect most other crops.  Many of our late season crops, such as lettuce and kale, continue to thrive in these cooler temperatures. 

On farm we are busy preparing for our fields and farm structures for winter.  Fields are being cleared and the last of our late season cover crops are being planted.  Other field plots are being covered by mini-greenhouses to prolong their harvest into the early winter.  Soon we will be putting the plastic back on our unheated greenhouse.  This large high tunnel will then be planted with cooking and salad greens.  These greens will rest peacefully until late winter/early spring.  Once the days begin to get a bit longer (think end of February or the beginning or March) these plants will begin to grow again and should be ready for harvest in April.

Speaking of harvest.  We are continuing to harvest greens.  Kale and mustard greens will become sweeter with the frost.  Salad greens and chard are also looking good and will continue to be harvested.  Potatoes are still being lifted from the ground.  We should have salad radishes and specialty storage radishes available for the remainder of the CSA season.  We are hoping to continue to have winter squash, sweet potatoes, cabbage and carrots available as well.  We have a planting of rutabaga which we are hoping will size up in the next few weeks. 

The mustard in our fields is absolutely beautiful right now!  Last week at market, Farmer Don did a taste test with arugula and young tender mustard.  Much to his (and our customers') surprise, most people liked the taste of the mustard over the arugula!  Mustard greens are one of the most nutrient dense greens you can eat, with high levels of vitamins, minerals and anti-inflammatory compounds.  They have a peppery, almost horseradish, taste, which does mellow with cooking and as the days get cooler.  Cook mustard greens as you would any green.  They pair well with sausage and we often substitute them for kale in our sausage, kale and garlic potato soup/stew.   Farmer Don likes mustard greens raw, in salads or as a substitute for lettuce on sandwiches or burgers.  A favorite are burgers or roast beef sandwiches topped with blue cheese and mustard greens.  Massaged mustard greens also make a great salad.  We generally just substitute mustard for the kale in our favorite recipe, but here is a recipe http://www.eatingwell.com/recipe/252168/massaged-mustard-greens-salad/   There are two different mustard greens options on the choice right now.  One is a bag of smaller, more tender greens.  These leaves are perfect for salads and if cooked, require very short cooking times.  The other mustard greens available are bunches of larger leaves.  This mustard can be eaten raw, but are not as tender and they hold up better for cooking. 

I am still busy preserving for the season!  Most recently, I lacto fermented some radishes.  Our salad radishes were so beautiful, I couldn't resist putting some in brine!  They are now bubbling away on the counter.  I tasted them yesterday and I decided they haven't been curing for quite enough time.  I like them a bit more sour.  I also have some cabbage in the cooler which I have set aside for sauerkraut, another lacto fermented product.  So, as the lactobacillus bacteria worked their magic on my radishes, my sister and I made and canned applesauce!  Ideally I would like to can one more round of applesauce and then, once my sauerkraut is finished, preserving will be just about done for the season.  It has been a productive year in Dancing Hen Farm's canning kitchen this summer!

Attention winter buying club members!  Next Saturday we will be starting up our winter buying club.  This buying club is separate from our CSA.  Ordering for the buying club will begin at 5 am on Tuesday, October 18 and will close Thursday, October 20 at 5 am.  Deliveries will be on Saturday, October 22.  If you are not already a member of our buying club, you will need to register through our website and  "purchase" a free winter buying club membership.  If you need additional information or have questions please contact us at the farm.

It is hard to believe our 2016 CSA and market season is coming to end.  We want thank all of our customers for their continued support.  As I have said in the past, it is you, our customers, which make Dancing Hen Farm possible.  Our goal is to leave this little farm and our environment a healthy place for future generations.


In closing Farmer Don's quote: "be safe, be well and enjoy those veggies".

Monday, October 3, 2016

2016 Week 17 Newsletter

Greetings from Dancing Hen Farm.  Welcome to Week 17.  I hope everyone enjoyed their Week 16 boxes!  This week, Week 17, is an EGG week and is also a CHICKEN week.  After this week, there are 5 weeks remaining in the CSA.

The calendar says fall and the weather has been saying rain.  Lots of rain the past few days.  Very welcome rain for the low water table and some of our newly planted fall crops.  However not welcome for the last of some of our summer crops, such as tomatoes.  This coming week looks drier with the possibility of more rain over the weekend and maybe a cool down for the start of next week.

Our fields and harvest are really starting to look more fall like and less summer like.  Tomatoes are starting to wind down and the rain has caused much of the fruit to split and show some disease.   We will continue to harvest tomatoes up until the first frost, but the numbers available will most likely be decreasing each week.  In the upcoming weeks we will be harvesting more green tomatoes, so get your fried green tomato recipes ready.  Our greens, on the other hand are really starting to thrive with the cooler weather.  Look for kale, chard and mustard greens to continue to be available.  Arugula is looking good and should be available for the next few weeks.  The green beans we are harvesting right now are absolutely beautiful and we should have green beans available at least for another week or two.  Winter squash should continue to be available.  Radishes are beautiful right now and we are hoping our succession plantings will keep them available for several more weeks.  Sweet potatoes should continue to be available and we will be digging white potatoes soon.

In the kitchen, I am still in preserving mode.  I think I am finally done with tomatoes!  However, last week I did experiment with lacto fermenting some sungold tomatoes.  The initial ferment in complete and the fermenting jars are now resting in the fridge.  I have been sampling them and they are tasty, with the tomatoes actually being a bit fizzy when you bite into them.  I am still deciding if I like them enough to make another batch this year or even make them again next year.  This weekend we froze beans and next weekend we are hoping to make and can some applesauce.  I am also hoping to make some sauerkraut and ferment some radishes as well.  And if our beets come in high enough numbers, I will try and can some pickled beets.  Wow, it seems I will be canning and freezing into the winter!

With cooler temperatures we are using the grill less and the oven and stove top more.  Last week, I used one of our hams and made a big pot of ham and green beans.  I usually make this meal in the winter and use my frozen green beans, but it was so nice using fresh green beans this time.  We are also eating lots of sweet potatoes right now, usually baked or roasted.  One of my favorite go to recipes for sweet potatoes combines sweets, cooking greens and apples.  Here is a link to the recipe http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/sweet-potatoes-apples-and-braising-greens-240487  I usually make this dish with kale and skip the parsley.  I also prefer to cube my sweet potatoes and slice the apples.  Another fall and winter go to recipe here on farm involves roast white potatoes, kale and sausage.  As fall and winter progress, we make this dish almost every week!  Here is a link to the recipe https://www.caloriecount.com/kale-sausage-garlic-roasted-potatoes-recipe-r150667  I feel like I have shared these two recipes every year with our CSA members.  Maybe for next week I will try and come up with something new! 

With the CSA and farmers markets starting to end, it is time to talk about how you can receive Dancing Hen Farm products into the fall and winter.  We will be extending our CSA this fall, most likely for 4 additional weeks.  Please watch upcoming newsletters for pricing and details.  We will also be starting our winter buying club soon.  Again watch upcoming newsletters for details. 

Our 2016 apple orchard pork will be available in November.  We sell our bulk pork by the half and whole and are now taking reservations.  Please contact the farm if you are interested in bulk pork.  A whole hog will yield 125 to 140 pounds of meat and will require a at least 7 cubic feet of freezer space for storage.  We will also have a limited amount of cuts available for purchase through our buying club. 


The night is getting late and the boxes are packed, time to end this newsletter.  Have a great week!  

Monday, September 19, 2016

2016 CSA Week 15 Newsletter

Greetings from Dancing Hen Farm and Welcome to Week 15 of our CSA.  Week 15 is an egg week.  After this delivery there are 7 weeks remaining in the CSA.

It is early Monday morning, the sun has yet to rise and a gentle rain is falling.  Oh how we need this rain, and as I have said before, I really enjoy a nice rainy day.  I am sure the entire farm is soaking up this beautiful rain.  Saturday, I was up tending to the pigs and their area was so dry and dusty.  Large billows of dust drifted into the trees as the pigs charged around, excited to be receiving their vegetable treats.  Our crops were also feeling the lack of rain.  We have several beds of direct seeded crops for fall which also are enjoying this gentle moisture.  Plant growth and germination in these beds had pretty much stopped.  Hopefully it is not too late for them to recover.  However, as beautiful and welcome as this rain is, Monday rains are not always a welcome site here on farm.  Mondays are our marathon day of harvesting and packing for CSA deliveries.  Harvesting in the rain and mud is always a challenge.  Equally challenging is dodging the leaks in our pack house roof as we wash and pack the harvest!

On farm, our fields are in transition.  We are still harvesting summer crops, but we are slowly moving into fall mode, with more greens becoming available as the season progresses.  We anticipate peppers and tomatoes being available at least until we get a killing frost.  I think we are starting to see an end to our zucchini and summer squash harvest.  Sweet potatoes should be available through week 22 and we will be digging another bed of regular potatoes soon.  Our sunflower harvest is coming to an end, as is our basil harvest.  We have a nice bed of arugula planted, which should be available for harvest in a few weeks.  Our rutabaga are planted and starting to size up.  We have a small planting of kohlrabi which will also be ready for harvest soon.  This rain should push our lettuce planting along, so look for more lettuce and salad mix coming your way.  This week we started to harvest a few radishes and hopefully the rain will help the remainder of this bed mature.

In the kitchen, well on farm as well, we are still drowning in tomatoes.  Which isn't a bad thing!  I am still in canning mode.  Quarts of canned tomatoes, pints of sauce, half pints of ketchup and relish are all lining my shelves.  Although I have a pressure canned, the products I have been making this summer can all be canned in a hot water bath canner.  To me, there is something comforting and fulfilling about my old black graniteware canner, filled with jars, boiling away on the stove.  And once the jars are removed from the canner, there is nothing more satisfying than the familiar plink of a sealing jar. 

It seems when I am not canning tomatoes, I am eating tomatoes!  Last night we had a favorite and simple salad of sliced heirloom tomatoes with fresh basil and dressed with a bit of olive oil and balsamic vinegar.  With fall coming, I am looking to make some soup and I love tomato soup.  With sweet potatoes being harvested this sweet potato/tomato soup becomes a farm favorite.  http://abcnews.go.com/GMA/recipe/carla-halls-tomato-sweet-potato-bisque-recipe-18228720 .  The soup calls for canned tomatoes, but fresh tomatoes can easily be used.  To quickly peel tomatoes, score the bottom of each tomato with a knife and dip the tomatoes in boiling water.  Chill the dipped tomatoes in ice water and then slip off the skins.  On farm we also often make a quick no cook tomato sauce over pasta.  No cook sauce is an easy recipe to master.  I generally use a variety of tomatoes, cherries, slicers, plum and heirlooms.  Dice the tomatoes, being sure to reserve the juices.  Place the tomatoes and the juice in a bowl and a couple of table spoons of olive oil, some basil, minced garlic and salt and pepper.  Allow the tomatoes to rest/marinate at room temperature for 30 or so minutes.  Meanwhile cook and drain your pasta.  Add the still warm pasta to the bowl of tomatoes and top with some fresh grated parmesan cheese and enjoy.

Speaking of tomatoes, we have cases of canning tomatoes available for purchase.  These are red slicing tomatoes, perfect for canning whole or cut up.  If you are signed up with the CSA buying club, you can order through the buying club.  If you are not a CSA buying club member, please contact the farm and we can arrange to get tomatoes to you. 

And as long as we are talking buying clubs, let me take a moment to explain our two buying club options.  We offer a buying club as an add on to our CSA.  This buying club is only available to our CSA members and requires a $50 deposit.  Purchases will be deducted from the deposit and items will be delivered with your CSA share.  Our second buying club is a winter buying club and is open to anyone.  The winter buying club is generally only open when our CSA is not running and we are not attending markets.  For the winter buying club, we meet customers at a designated location to deliver your purchases and collect payment.  If you have questions about our buying clubs, please do not hesitate to contact us.

We do still have a few members, who elected to pay for their CSA memberships with a payment plan, who still owe money to the farm.  If you have yet to pay your September payment, it is now overdue.  Thank you for your cooperation!

Staying with the reminder theme.  Please remember to return your share boxes, egg cartons and berry boxes for re-use.  Also please remember to treat your pick up site with respect.  Many of these sites have limited space for box pick up and storage, so please try to keep share boxes in the space allotted for them.  Share boxes do fold flat, to save space.

So, now it is night  and harvest is done and boxes are just about packed.  It was a wet harvest, but the rain did end in the morning and held off until afternoon, when we received another nice gentle rain.  As our chores for the night came to an end, I finished up a batch of ketchup.  The timer just went  off indicating the jars are ready to be pulled from the canner.  Then I need to head to bed, for tomorrow is another long day.


Thank you again for your support of our small farm.  Be safe, be well and enjoy the veggies. 

Sunday, September 11, 2016

2016 CSA Week 14 Newletter

Greetings from a fall like Dancing Hen Farm.  Welcome to CSA Week 14.  Week 14 is not an egg week.

First let me apologize for not  sending out a newsletter last week.  Some weeks are busier than others and last week was one of those hectic weeks and before I knew it, it was time to write Week 14's newsletter!  Speaking of where does the time go.  Here it is already after 4!  I am only halfway through my chore list for the day.  I guess cleaning will have to wait, again.....

What a difference a day (or even several hours) makes!  Yesterday was hot, hot, hot and oh so humid.  This morning, around daybreak here on farm, we were still hot and humid and then a cold front came blowing trough.  Unfortunately, it blew through dry and we did not get the good soaking rain our plants and animals could use.  It did however bring clear blue skies, lower humidity and cooler temperatures.  Today really feels as though fall is on its way and from looking at the forecast, we may need jackets and maybe even a blanket on the bed later in the week.

In the fields, I have to say, our tomatoes continue to produce.  We are harvesting lots of heirlooms, cherries and red slicers.  We anticipate our tomato harvest to continue until we get a killing frost.  Our tomatillo planting is also doing well.  Fennel will most likely continue to be available for several more weeks.  We have lots of greens in the field and they should enjoy this week's cooler temperatures.  We have had a nice little break from lettuce and salad mix, but the plantings are looking good and will become more plentiful as the season progresses.  Our new plantings of Asian greens, including mustard, are growing nicely and we should be harvesting them in the upcoming weeks.  The first of the winter squash and sweet potatoes are hitting the boxes this week.  Summer squash is starting to wind down.

In the kitchen we are still in tomato mode.  We continue to eat tomatoes at least 2 meals a day, if not 3.  I am not sure if I have passed on a favorite recipe of mine using chard, cherry tomatoes and eggs?  If not, it is makes a good quick dinner and here is the link  http://blog.williams-sonoma.com/polenta-fried-eggs-greens-and-blistered-tomatoes/  .  This just reminded me of another favorite egg and tomato dish, Shakshuka.  I guess traditionally, in Israel, Shakshuka is served for breakfast.  However here on farm, we generally have it for dinner, with a nice crusty loaf of artisan bread to soak up the juice.  Also, since we love our greens here on farm, we sometimes change the recipe a bit by adding some chard or kale to the tomatoes.  If you are not familiar with Shakshuka, here is a good write up and a basic recipe  http://toriavey.com/toris-kitchen/2010/07/summer-2010-travel-blog-shakshuka/  . 

In the kitchen, I am also in preserving mode.  Recently, each weekend has been dedicated to canning tomatoes and this weekend has been typical.  Yesterday I made and canned tomato sauce.  Today my sister and I canned tomatoes.  As I type, I have a pot of sauce cooking down on the stove and will can it later this evening.  I tend to make plain sauce and add spices, garlic, onions and peppers, later, when I use the sauce.  I flash freeze peppers and dry spices for this very reason and generally we have onions and garlic in our cellar until spring each year.  I really love putting food up and only wish I had more time to spend in the kitchen on this task!  I used to pickle quite a bit, but found I was the only one eating the pickles, so now I generally just make a few freezer pickles for a midwinter treat.  This year I did make some zucchini relish and other than more tomatoes, I am also hoping to make and can some applesauce this fall.  I also would love to be able to can some of our sungold tomatoes.  So, I am in search of a good recipe for canning (maybe pickled?) cherry tomatoes, so if anyone has a good recipe, please pass it on. 

We will again have a limited amount of freezer pork available this fall.  We anticipate pork being available the beginning of November.  If you are interested in freezer pork, please contact us for more details and pricing.  We sell our bulk pork by the half and whole.  A whole hog will yield 125 to 140 pounds of meat and will require a at least 7 cubic feet of freezer space for storage.

So now it is after 5!  Where does the time go?  My sauce is processing in the canner.  Farmer Don is still in the field, turning some plots over in our lower field for some late season plantings and cover crops.  I need to get some chicken in the oven for dinner or we will be eating at midnight!  Soooooo  as Farmer Don would say:  "be safe, be well and enjoy those veggies"



Tuesday, August 30, 2016

2016 CSA Week 12 Newsletter

Greetings from Dancing Hen Farm!  Welcome to Week 12 of our CSA.  Week 12 is NOT an egg week.

Sorry for the delay in getting this newsletter out to everyone.  Time really got away from me this week.  I do hope everyone is enjoying their boxes!  I also want to give everyone a heads up that next week (Week 13) will be a chicken week.  If you purchased a chicken share, don't forget to look for your chicken in the cooler at your drop site.

As we drift into the second half of our CSA, I do believe I feel fall in the air.  This morning even felt a bit chilly!  The days are definitely getting shorter.  It is now 8 pm and already dark and this morning when I left the dogs out at 5:30, I put the porch light on for them.  The barn and tree swallows seem to have already migrated from the farm for their southern winter homes and the flowers in our wild areas are changing from white Queen Anne's lace to brilliant yellow Golden Rod.  This weekend at market, I noticed the fruit vendors' tables are starting to be filled with more and more apples.  I am not complaining, as I do think fall is my favorite season.

Speaking of fall, I am happy to say I am also seeing lots of butterflies on farm this fall.  This included quite a few Monarchs.  For the past couple of years, I saw very few if any Monarch butterflies.  Let's hope we have left enough diversity in our landscapes that these magnificent insects will survive.
 
However fall is not the season we are actually celebrating on farm right now.  We are celebrating tomato season!  You will be seeing lots and lots of different tomatoes in your boxes in the coming weeks.  We will continue to harvest right up until frost.  Our heirlooms are ripening well right now.  Remember heirlooms are called "ugly tomatoes" for a reason.  Do not expect the heirlooms to be a perfectly shaped tomatoes and don't expect them to be without blemishes.  Although I think heirloom tomatoes are beautiful, their real claim to fame is their taste!  If you read the descriptions in the seed catalogs, you would think they were selling wine and not tomato seeds!  If you are at one of the markets we attend, stop by our table and ask Farmer Don for some samples.  He loves to do tomato tastings!  Speaking of taste, we are continuing to harvest sungold tomatoes.  Sungold tomatoes are orange/yellow sweet cherry tomatoes; a real farm favorite.  We are also starting to harvest some grape and paste tomatoes.  Something I want to mention again about our tomatoes is the bluish residue you may see on some.  This is an organic copper spray we use to control fungus on our crops.  Farmer Don is determined to not lose our tomato crop to late blight this year, so he is spraying copper every couple of weeks.  Sorry for any inconvenience this may be causing.

Speaking of tomatoes.  Are there any canners out there?  We will be offering bulk tomatoes through our buying club.  The first available will be some certified organic paste tomatoes from our Amish neighbors.  Please see the buying club or contact us at the farm if you are interested.  If you are not a CSA buying club member, you can pick up pre-ordered bulk tomatoes at one of our markets or here on farm. 

In the kitchen, what else would we be focusing meals around, but, tomatoes!  This time of year, I eat tomatoes for breakfast, lunch and dinner!  A simple tomato sandwich (bread and tomato!) for breakfast, grilled cheese and tomato for lunch ( I like mine with sharp cheese and open face, under the broiler) and always, always tomatoes some way as a salad for dinner. Growing up, my family ate a lot of tomatoes.  Often we simply had sliced tomatoes as our salad.  Heirlooms are especially nice served as simple sliced tomatoes.  Add some fresh basil and a drizzle of olive oil and balsamic vinegar for a special treat.   A favorite salad from my childhood and now a favorite on farm, features sungold tomatoes.  No recipe here - halve a pint of sungolds, add some thinly sliced onion and pepper and dress with a simple red wine vinaigrette.  You can save the dressing in your fridge for a week or so and add more tomatoes (or cucumbers) each night.  Tomatoes also pair wonderfully with pasta.  Another farm favorite, pasta with fresh, no cook sauce, also doesn't really require a recipe.  Simply chopped a variety of tomatoes and place them in a large bowl.  To the chopped tomatoes add some fresh herbs, minced garlic, salt and some olive oil.  Cover the bowl and allow the tomato mixture to sit for about 20 or 30 minutes.  I usually get the tomatoes ready first and then start the water to boil for the pasta.  Once the pasta is cooked and drained, I consider the sauce done.  Add the pasta and some parmesan cheese to the tomatoes, stir to combine, serve and enjoy!  Tonight for supper we had another farm tomato favorite, BLT's, and again, no need for a recipe.  Ok, enough about tomato meals, well at least for this week!

A quick reminder concerning share boxes.  Thank you to everyone for so diligently returning your boxes.  Did you know our boxes fold flat for storage?  As many of you know, some of our drop sites have limited space for our boxes.  Please when you pick up your share from these sites, fold you box and stack it neatly in the spot designated for boxes.
 
I also want to remind everyone that in addition to our website, we also have an online blog and a facebook site.  I post some farm updates and pictures to both of these sites and post newsletters to our blog.  Find our blog at http://dancinghenfarmcsa.blogspot.com/  And if you are on facebook, please visit and like our page at https://www.facebook.com/Dancing-Hen-Farm-111155465564952/

It is getting late, let me get a copy of this printed for Farmer Don and then email and posted for all our members and friends.  Have a great week!  Be safe and enjoy the veggies.





Sunday, August 21, 2016

2016 CSA Week 11 Newsletter

Greetings from Dancing Hen Farm.  Welcome to Week 11, the halfway point of our CSA.  Week 11 is an EGG week.

It is Sunday afternoon and the rain is pouring from the sky.  We are actually enjoying a rainy afternoon on farm.  I am, obviously, working on the newsletter and farmer Don is catching up on paperwork.  While Farmer Don was at Mountain Top Market this morning, my sister and I froze 100 ears of sweet corn.  Having an extra pair of hands made the task go quickly.  We also had fun reminiscing about freezing and canning growing up.  As we bagged our corn for the freezer and decided we would not need to freeze more this season, we were amazed that our family would often freeze 250, 300 or even 500 ears of corn!  WOW that is a lot of corn, even for a family of 6!  For me, another benefit of freezing corn is corn stock.  I have my stock pot on the stove right now, boiling some of the leftover cobs.  Corn stock is great to use when making risotto or as a base for soup or chowder.

As I mentioned above, we are at the halfway point our CSA.  What better time to say thanks to the many people who help us share the harvest?

On farm, we have several people who play a huge role in keeping our fields planted, maintained and harvested, in addition to helping us assure our animals are cared for.  Although Farmer Matt has moved on with his farming career, every crop we are harvesting right now is done because of Matt's hard work earlier in the season.  Thank you Farmer Matt!  All those tomatoes you planted and staked are starting to ripen and go out in share boxes!  We also have several part time people helping us in the fields this year.  First, Amanda.  Amanda volunteered several years on farm and this year has returned to work part time.  Lydia is another returning worker.  Many of you know Lydia from our Back Mountain Market stand.  Lydia also helps out on farm several days a week.  And Jason, sure shot Jason (you will have to ask him about that!).  Jason has been volunteering on farm for several years and is our "jack of all trades" and expert chicken bagger.  Ken is a new, very hard working, volunteer this year, working one day or so a week.  Thank you Amanda, Lydia, Jason and Ken!  On harvest day and also in our seed house, you will find Farmer Phil and Joyce working hard.  Many of you know Farmer Phil from market.  Phil is our expert scale man and spends most of Monday weighing and portioning the items members receive in their boxes each week.  Joyce helps on Mondays with harvest and also spends some time seeding and weeding.  Thank you Farmer Phil and Joyce!

We also want to sage a HUGE Thank you to all our CSA site hosts.  Our site hosts coordinate our drop sites and act as a liaison between the farm and our CSA members.  These individuals are our farm cheerleaders.  They graciously allow us to use their businesses or homes to help us share the harvest.  Please, if you seen any of our site hosts, thank them for their support of our farm, your farm.

And, of course, a big thanks to each of you; our farm members, customers and friends.  As I have said before, without your support, we would not be able to sustain our small farm. 

In the fields, our field grown tomatoes are starting to ripen.  You will see sungold and heirloom tomatoes available in the coming weeks.  We will also begin harvesting fennel soon.  Our chard and kale continue to look good.  The lettuce will enjoy this week's slightly cooler weather.  Our final planting of cucumbers and squash look great and we will be harvesting from these new plantings soon.  Basil loved the recent hot weather and our other herbs will continue to be available in small numbers.  Our latest planting of green beans is looking beautiful and we are excited to get a good harvest off of these plants.  We also have some soup beans planted and we are hoping they will have time to mature before the frost sets in.  Much of our broccoli fell victim to one of our resident groundhogs, but we are hoping to have a very small harvest in the next few weeks.  We continue to plant greens, cooking and salad.  We also have a large seeding of rutabaga to be planted in the next week or so.  Our fall root crops will be seeded soon, as well as some direct seeded cooler weather crops, such as arugula.

A quick trip to the kitchen and then I will let everyone rest their eyes!

A member recently emailed me about using our chard to make a pot of beans and greens.  This email made me realize I had yet to talk about this simple, yet delicious dish.  Beans and greens is very much a go to meal here on farm.  Traditionally, I believe this dish is made with cannellini beans and escarole, but can be made with any bean and any green.  Canned or previously cooked and frozen beans make this a quick mid week supper.  Generally, I start by sautéing some garlic and onion in olive oil in a dutch oven.  I add whatever greens I have on hand and a bit of stock or water.  I let the greens cook until wilted, but still bright green.  Next stir I stir in some red pepper flakes and the cooked beans.  Allow to continue cooking until the beans are heated.  Serve as a meal with some crusty artisan bread or use as a side dish.  I also sometimes add more broth to this dish to make a quick soup.

If you are a member of our CSA buying club option, you will begin to see some extra items available.  Farmer Don will be adding extra greens to this availability soon.  We also have a lead on some organic bulk roma or paste tomatoes.  If you are interested in these sauce tomatoes, please watch the buying club or contact the farm for information.

Time to sign off, allow Farmer Don to proof read this and move onto my next task.  Be safe, be well, enjoy the veggies and don't forget to return your boxes!



Monday, August 15, 2016

2016 CSA Week 10 Newsletter

Greetings from Dancing Hen Farm.  Welcome to CSA Week 10, one week shy of the half way point.  This is NOT an egg week.

Summer.  We seem to be caught in the grips of summer.  Heat, humidity and almost daily thunder storms have become the norm.  I do think today was not quite as oppressive as the past few days have been.  And the forecast is for some cooler and drier weather coming our way Wednesday and into next week.  Even with the hot weather, I do see some signs of fall!  Yes, fall.  Have you noticed the days are getting shorter?  I already have seen goldenrod blooming.  Soon I will be writing about changing leaves and frost!

A few notes about some items in your boxes this week.  We really like to work with our friends and neighbors to share the harvest.  The beautiful corn and peppers are from our next door neighbors.  They are transitioning their farm to an organic operation and these products are no spray.  We also offered a very limited number of carrots and cabbage this week.  These items, along with some greens, came to us by way of Farmer Neil.  Some of you may remember Farmer Neil.  Neil worked for us for several years.  He now has his own small operation specializing in log grown mushrooms and organic vegetables.  Nothing please Farmer Don more than a past employee using the knowledge gained at Dancing Hen Farm to grow their own vegetables!

On farm, the big news is tomatoes.  It is officially sungold season!  Sungolds, those ever so sweet orange, cherry tomatoes.  A true favorite here on farm.  In fact, all of our field grown tomatoes are finally starting to ripen.  Our kale and chard also continue to look good.  The kale has grown out of its early flea beetle damage and we are harvesting both Red Russian, a flat leaf kale, and the more traditional curly kale.  Our salad mix continues to produce.  Zucchini and summer squash are going strong.  We should be digging another bed of potatoes shortly.  Okra is slowly growing and we are eagerly awaiting a good flush of okra in the coming weeks.  Our second planting of cucumbers is very close to producing and we have our fingers crossed for some broccoli we have planted.

In the kitchen, we are continuing to cook on the stove top and the grill to avoid heating up the house with the oven.  But, I have to confess.  I have used the oven to roast some cherry tomatoes.  To me roasting these small tomatoes really brings out their flavor.  I simply coat them with some olive oil and a bit of salt and pop them in a hot oven.  Once they start to burst and shrivel; they are done.  I like to use these roasted tomatoes (along with all the juices from the pan!) with some fresh basil as a pasta topping.  At least one night a week, we have a large salad for dinner.  The base of the salad is our salad mix and we add all sorts of chopped vegetables and top it all with some type of protein.  This week our protein was poached salmon portions, but, most weeks we use leftover meat from a previous meal.

I am fairly certain boxes are packed for tomorrow morning's deliveries.  It is getting late, time to wind down for today and plan for tomorrow.  Thank you again for your support not only of our farm, but of all local small farmers.


Monday, August 8, 2016

2016 CSA Week 9 Newsletter

Greetings from Dancing Hen Farm.  Welcome to Week 9 of the CSA.  Week 9 is an EGG week.  Week 9 is also a CHICKEN share week.

Sometimes I really do not know where the time goes!  Here it is Monday night already and I am just now getting a minute to sit down and write this newsletter.  I cannot complain, because, for me, keeping busy is a good thing.  Now if I could just somehow find an extra day in each week!
August arrived a bit cooler.  Cooler is a relative term.  I am just happy for the daily temperatures to be out of the 90's.  And even happier to have the air conditioners shut off and the windows open.  It looks like the beginning of this week will be sunny and dry.  Perfect weather for ripening our field grown tomatoes!  Although it once again appears the heat and humidity will be making a return by the end of the week, with daytime temperatures predicted in the 90's and overnight lows near 70.

Our field grown tomatoes have been very slow to ripen this year.  We are finally starting to see some ripening and have started picking sungolds.  Watch for heirloom tomatoes to begin ripening in the next few weeks.  As with every year, we are battling a bit of disease in our field grown tomatoes.  Farmer Don has sprayed some copper on them to fight the fungal diseases.  Copper is an organic approved fungicide and is one of the few sprays we use here on farm.  If you notice some blue residue on your tomatoes, this is the copper.  We try to wash and wipe down tomatoes before they go out to our customers, but sometimes we do miss some areas. 

For several weeks now the farm has been serenaded by hawks.  I am convinced they have a nest across the road, up behind our house.  Today the calls were even louder and seemed to be originating around the willow tree by our lower field.  Sure enough, around lunch time, Rosie and I spotted a large hawk soaring over our lower field.  Diverse farms, such as ours, have a real love hate relationship with hawks.  As vegetable farmers, hawks are really nice to have around the farm.  They help to control many of the smaller creatures which tend to wreak havoc with our crops.  And personally, I love watching them glide and soar with the wind!  However, as chicken farmers, hawks are very much the enemy.  We have watched hawks take down chickens very close to us, our dogs, our house and our barn.  I have been working on training Rosie to respond to the hawks' cries.  She already does a really good job at responding to a chicken's distress call and seems to know to look up for a hawk.  She will chase after the hawk, if present, and I like to think she is chasing it away.  My goal is to get her to chase the hawk (based on hearing it) before it has its eyes (and talons) set on a chicken.  Speaking of hawks and chickens.  Our chickens are actually smarter when it comes to hawks than you might think.  If they see the shadow of a large bird flying over, they run for cover.  Literally, they run under the nearest bush and hide.  Now, I am not saying we still don't lose our share of chickens to hawks, but I find it interesting to watch the chickens' behavior.  I often wonder how they learned this?

In the fields.  I have already talked about the anticipated ripening (and harvest) or our field grown tomatoes.  New to pack this week, were tomatillos.  Our salad greens continue to look good, as do our cooking greens.  Kale, chard and lettuces should be available for the remainder of the season.  We are harvesting our second planting of beans.  We have had some issues with beans this year.  Our first planting was lost to the deer and this second planting was also hit hard by the deer.  The harvest numbers are small and we apologize for this.  Please be patient, we have more beans planted and we are working to keep the deer and ground hogs away from it.  Summer squash continues to produce, including patty pan and eight ball zucchini.  Our first planting of cucumbers is finally done.  We have another smaller planting of cucumbers which will be ready in a few weeks.   Beets are done until later in the fall.  We are continuing to dig red potatoes.  Okra is slowly setting fruit and should be available in a week or so.  Our peppers are setting fruit and hopefully we will have a small harvest in a few weeks, followed by a larger harvest prior to frost.

In the kitchen, I am waiting patiently for some tomatillos, so I can make one of my favorite recipes,  roasted tomatillo bread salad.  Here is a link to the basic recipe.  http://www.tucsoncsa.org/2009/07/tomatillo-bread-salad/  I generally roast the tomatillos in the oven, being sure to save all the juices.  Other than freezing some berries, I have not started canning and freezing yet this summer.  I wanted to make some easy freezer pickles and hopefully we will have some extra cucumbers from the next planting for me.  I also have plans for zucchini relish and, of course canned tomatoes.  Farmer Don will probably want me to make some salsa, as well.  I generally freeze green beans, but will have to wait and see how our next planting does.  We will buy in some sweet corn to freeze and some apples to make into applesauce, as well.  Stay tuned for how my canning and freezing progresses! 


Well, you all know, it is Monday night, which means Farmer Don is packing tomorrow's boxes.  I need to make my way down to our pack line and see if he needs help.  So, I will say "until next week".  

Sunday, July 31, 2016

2016 CSA Week 8 Newsletter

Greetings and welcome to Dancing Hen Farm CSA Week 8.  Week 8 is NOT and egg week.

This week we welcome August and we say good bye to Farmer Matt.  Monday is the first day of August and Friday is Farmer Matt's last day.  Farmer Matt has accepted a more permanent position at another farm in the area.  Rumor has it he will soon be trimming a lot of Christmas trees!  If you see Matt on deliveries this week, be sure to thank him for his help!  Farmer Matt you will be greatly missed here on farm, by the farmers and the puppies!  Don't be a stranger Matt!

We have been getting some much needed rain lately.  Saturday afternoon brought some heavy downpours, but also several hours of a nice soaking rain.  The weather looks to be cooling off a bit this week.  It will be nice to throw open the windows and air out the house!
 
In the harvest basket this week is our first pickings of eggplant and green beans.  As always, these first harvests are generally very small, with a much larger harvest coming in the next few weeks.  Escarole was another new item on the list this week.  We continue to harvest some beautiful salad mix and this week we are harvesting a large bed of butter head lettuce.  Chard, kale, squash and cucumbers also continue to produce.  This is probably our last large cucumber harvest, as this first planting is about done. 

In the fields, our field grown tomatoes are looking good.  They are setting fruit and the field grown cherry tomatoes are starting to slowly ripen.  Our third, and final, planting of summer squash is looking good and we anticipate having a good supply of squash for a number of weeks.  Tomatillos are looking really good.  They have set fruit and we will wait for the husks to fill before harvesting.  We have started to plant our fall crops, with our greens and winter squash planted and looking good.
 
Unless I am at Forks Farm Market, Saturdays are a very peaceful day for me.  I get caught up on housework and the dogs and I do animal chores.  Yesterday was a good on-farm day for me.  Rose and I watered and fed the broiler chickens, enjoying the view from our upper field.  Shady joined us, as we made our way up to the pigs.  The pigs are always an entertaining stop and yesterday was no exception.  The minute I turned on the hose they came running for a shower and a fresh mud bath.  I tried giving them some zucchini, but it seems they have had their fill of zucchini.  They opted to line up shoulder to shoulder and eat grass instead.  It amazes me how much vegetation our pigs eat.  I smiled as I watched our pigs, so relaxed and seemingly happy.  It saddens me to think so many pigs are raised confined, inside large swine barns.  I understand agriculture and I understand farmers everywhere are just trying to make ends meet and feed people.  But, I am so thankful our pigs are happy, outdoor pigs; free to eat plant, root in the dirt and play in their mud pond.  Yesterday, I also took the camera for a ride around the farm.  My hope was to get some pictures of happy pigs, but the pigs had retired to their hedgerow for an afternoon nap!  The dogs and the vegetables were more cooperative about getting their pictures taken.

Farmer Don asked me to be sure to let everyone know, we will no longer be attending the Pittston Farmers Market.  We are sorry for any inconvenience this may cause.  Please visit us at one of our other markets.  Every Saturday we are in Dallas at the Back Mountain Library Farmers Market and every Sunday we are at the Mountain Top Market.  On the 2nd and 4th Saturday we will be at Forks Farm Market in Orangeville.  As always, our products are also available for pick up on farm.  If you would like to pick items up on farm, please either call or email a few days in advance so we can have your order harvested and ready for you.
 
Today is Sunday and the hours are slowly ticking away.  Rosie has been patiently waiting for a walk and I have long list of house chores I am trying to get done.  I best get moving!

Have a great week!



Saturday, July 30, 2016

Rolling Doggies!



Freezing Blackberries

Ready to pick and eat!

Ready to freeze.


Off Farm Activities Spring 2016


Pearl watching over her goats at Crystal Brook Farm.

Our college friend Farmer Annie's farm, Crystal Brook Farm


The goats


Farmer Don and Farmer Annie.

 

Farmers Phil and Don celebrated their birthdays with a trip to see the Phillies.


Farmer Phil at the game.

Rosie and Shady visiting their cousins.