Monday, March 14, 2016

March News

Greetings from Dancing Hen Farm.  Welcome to March!

With the increased day length and warmer temperatures, the farm is a buzz with activity.  Last week’s mild temperatures allowed Farmer Don to spend some time on the tractor getting some of our fields ready for early spring planting.  The pea plot has been plowed, but there was still a bit of frost in the ground, so we need to wait for a final thaw before planting.  We were hoping to get peas planted this week, but the weather looks a little wet, with rain showers forecast most every day.  Stay tuned to see when we get the peas planted.  Farmer Don also tilled some plots in the field down by our house.  This field was free of frost, so Farmer Don was able to get some early greens planted.  We now have three beds planted and safely tucked under row cover to protect them from the freezing temperatures we will continue to experience until close to June 1.  The planting of these plots represents some of the earliest planting we have ever been able to accomplish.  Again, stay tuned to see how these early plantings fare.

Farmer Don is also busy in our seed house and nursery.  The woodstove installation is complete and we are slowly filling the nursery with trays of seedlings, or at least planted flats.  We will have to wait a bit for the seeds to start germinating.  I cannot wait!  To me, a greenhouse full of transplants is a beautiful site!  I promise to get some pictures to post on our blog and on our facebook page.

This spring, Farmer Don has been doing some fence work on farm.  Any of you who have visited our farm know our chickens are truly free range.  This creates some problems on our farm.  Chickens can be very destructive to plants and lawns.  We have difficulty keeping them out our field plots and flower beds.  Our chicken coop is also very close to the road and although our road is not overly busy, people due tend to drive quite fast.  Each year we lose numerous chickens to the road.  Farmer Don is attempting to fence the chickens off the road.  So far this fencing is giving mixed results.  We have a few chickens who have learned they can jump/fly over the fence and a few others who walk a very long way to walk around the fence.  Farmer Don’s goal is to add more fencing, to at the very least, keep the walkers inside the fence. Farmer Don and Farm Phil also spent a day last week working on an upper fence row near where we will be planting our tomatoes this year.  This fence row tends to shade our field a bit, so Farmer Don determined the brush needs to be removed.  Now we have a clean fence row, but a large brush pile.  Our plan is chip this brush to add to our compost pile.

Speaking of compost.  Last week we had a dump truck load of compost delivered to the farm.  This compost will be spread on our fields to add nutrients and help with the tilth (or structure/fluffiness) of the soil.  This year we are also committed to starting an intensive composting program on farm.  We have always done some composting on farm and have produced a really beautiful end product.  Unfortunately, we have been unable to produce enough to make much of a dent in our farm’s needs.   So, we are stepping up the production a bit.  We will be getting raw materials from our own farm and our neighbor’s farms.    These raw materials will be mixed and allowed to age for at least a year.  Once aged, our pile will become a beautiful and rich amendment for our fields. 

This seems like a good point to talk about farm needs.  We could use your clean yard waste for our composting system. This could include grass clipping and leaves.  We do need the source to be from non-sprayed yards and we need everything to be clean of trash and garbage.  For transportation purposes, it would be best if you could bag your yard waste.  If you would like to contribute your yard waste to the farm, please contact us.

Our 2016 CSA signups are going strong.  The warmer weather has everyone thinking about summertime and meals revolving around farm fresh food.  Remember as a full choice CSA, you pick the items you receive in your box each week.  We make items available to our CSA customers as the produce becomes ready for harvest, so you will still be eating seasonally.  We limit the amount of shares we have available and we anticipate selling out this year.  Please note, your CSA spot is reserved in the order in which we receive payment, not when you sign up on our website.  Speaking of our website, we are currently working on getting paid members activated and updating our accounting system. Hopefully in the next few weeks members’ accounts will reflect correct balances.  If you have questions concerning your membership or the amount you owe us, please contact us. 

The other week, we were enjoying pizza and beer with Farmer Matt and, as is often the case, our conversation revolved around the farm.  We were busy brainstorming some ideas for the farm when Farmer Don decided what we need to do is “barnstorming”.  So, this spring Farmer Don will be barnstorming the region.  He will be making himself available at various places and events throughout the area to informally meet with people and answer any questions they may have about or farm and our farming practices.  Please, watch your email for announcements about where Farmer Don will be.  If you have a suggestion for a good meeting place, please contact us.

We are hoping to open our winter buying club up sometime in April.  We will have protein (pork, chicken and eggs) for sale, as well as a small amount of storage crops available.  Once again, please watch your email for details on when we will be taking orders.  And, as always, if you would like to pick up any of our products on farm, please email us.

I think I have been rambling long enough!  Thanks again to each of you for your support of our farm and local sustainable agriculture.