Monday, February 29, 2016

Happy Leap Year

Greetings from Dancing Hen Farm!  Happy Leap Day! And Good bye Meteorological winter!

How about that weather yesterday?  We all wanted to spend every minute of the day outside!  Spring must be coming.  The crocus are blooming!  Daffodils and tulips have pushed through the ground and are getting taller each day.  Trees are budding. And, of course mud!  Spring on the farm means mud everywhere.  With the recent rain, most everywhere on farm is mushy.  I have to say not as muddy as past years, but mud is mud.  With the dogs enjoying the warm weather, Farmer Don and I spend lots of time each day wiping paws, and legs and bellies, before anyone is allowed back in the house.  Although our dogs love to romp in the mud, at least neither of them finds a need to roll in it.

I posted a few pictures on our blog ( and our facebook page of yesterday.  I had planned to take more pictures, but the batteries in my camera died.  So, you will have to trust me when I say, Farmer Don spent his time yesterday getting our seeding house and nursery in working order.  It won’t be long before we start seeding our early greens.  This year we are experimenting with putting a wood stove in the nursery with hopes of keeping this previously unheated greenhouse above freezing, even during the cool spring nights.

As eager as we are to get our hands in the soil and start getting transplants going, we have learned from the past to know, for us, on our farm, this is way too early to start plants.  There will still be way too many night time temperatures way below freezing and even with our new woodstove installed, we fear very cold nights will still result in frosted transplants.  So we spend our time on farm projects.  We will be clearing some fence rows this week.  Our farm has lots of old hedge rows between our fields.  In some instances these untended areas benefit a farm by providing habitat for beneficial insects and birds and by acting as a windbreak.  However some of our untended fence rows are causing more problems than benefits.  We have areas which are actually providing too much shade to some of our plots and other areas serve as the perfect habitat for groundhogs.  Any of you who have followed us from year to year know that groundhogs are always a problem on our farm.  Each year we lose quite a few crops to groundhogs.  Probably our worst groundhog battle was several years ago when the groundhogs got under our protective row covers and ate close to 1000 broccoli plants!  We are hoping that by removing the fence rows we will be removing the cozy protected environments of our groundhog families and they will move on or at least be more visible to predators.

Our CSA sign ups really jumped in the last few weeks.  Thanks to all who have signed up!  Your CSA dollars are already at work.  Farmer Don has ordered quite a few supplies for this season.  Our peas and onion seeds have been ordered and were delivered last week.  We are currently working on our big seed order for the season, with the hopes of ordering the bulk of our seed next week.  We work hard to source organic seed and if organic is not available, we always choose untreated and of course, non gmo seeds. 

Since we are seeing new members, I want take a bit of time to explain our CSA and our buying clubs.  First, as most of you know, our CSA is a full choice CSA.  This means you have the opportunity to choose your items each week.  We custom harvest your vegetables and deliver them to you.  But don’t worry, if you don’t choose you still get a box of produce each week, a farmer’s choice box.  Our CSA runs for 22 weeks, with week 1 being the first or second week of June, depending on how our crops are maturing.  We offer two add on shares for CSA members and a buying club option.  Members can purchase an egg share.  Eggs are from our pastured chickens and are delivered every other week for a total of 11 dozen eggs.  New this year, we are offering a chicken share.  Members purchasing a chicken share will receive 12 broilers and one stew hen during the regular CSA season.  Frozen chickens will be delivered approximately every 4 weeks.  Each delivery will consist of a whole chicken and 2 halfs.  On the final delivery (week 21) in addition to the two chickens, a stew hen will also be delivered.

We also offer two different buying clubs. One is a buying club only open to our CSA members. This CSA buying club allows members to purchase extra items to be delivered with their weekly boxes.  The CSA buying club requires a $50 deposit.   Your purchases are then be deducted from your deposit.  The second buying club we call the Winter Buying Club.  This buying club is open to anyone and is free to join, in other words no deposit is necessary.  With the winter buying club, you meet us at a designated site to pay for and pick up your selections.  We currently have winter buying club pick up sites in Dallas, Forty Fort, Mountain Top, Bloomsburg and on farm.   The winter buying club is still on winter break, so watch your email for when we may open up this buying club.  Please do not hesitate to contact if you need additional information or have questions.  We do still have eggs, chicken and pork for sale on farm.  If you are interested in picking any of these items up, please contact us so we can have your order ready.

Cooking and eating this winter has been a different experience for us.  Since I did not get many vegetables preserved and Farmer Don did not do a large winter greens planting, we have been forced to purchase produce from the grocery store, something we have not done in the recent past.  I have to say, I am impressed with the variety and to some extent the quality of vegetables available at the store.  We have been able to keep our refrigerator’s produce drawer stocked with kale, chard, bok choy and napa cabbage!  Of course purchasing these items has greatly increased our carbon foot print this winter, as most of these items are not grown locally and therefore are being trucked great distances to finally arrive on our dinner table.   Soon, hopefully very soon this will be changing and we will again be eating fresh locally grown produce from right here on Dancing Hen Farm.  I simply cannot wait!  What I would do right now for a sun warmed sungold tomato!!!!  Now that I have said the above about buying vegetables, I just realized tonight we had a homegrown meal.  Pork chops, homemade sauerkraut, baked sweets and locally frozen sweet corn!

Thanks to again to each of you for your support of not only our small family farm, but local agriculture. 

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