Monday, April 25, 2016

Meet the Farmer and Membership Drive

We are excited to be adding Danko's All American Fitness as a pick up site for our 2016 CSA.  Danko's is located at 3 North River Street in Plains.

Farmer Don will be at the gym from 4:30 to 6:30, tonight, for a Meet the Farmer and Membership Drive.  If you are in the area, stop in, "shake the hand that grows your food" and learn about our farm, our CSA and our growing practices.

He will have farm fresh eggs for sale and if you pay for your CSA membership tonight you will receive a 3% discount.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Greetings from Dancing Hen Farm.  Happy Earth Day!

What a nice run of beautiful weather we have been having.  Warm sunny days and cool nights, what more can a farmer ask for? How about some rain?  The fields at Dancing Hen Farm are oh so dry.  We did have some showers overnight and we are hoping for some more rain today.  I do think the really cold temperatures are over for this spring.  We do anticipate at least a few more frosty mornings, but we don’t anticipate temperatures in the low 20’s.  Generally here on farm, our last frost is some time mid to late May.  For that reason we hold off on planting tender crops, such as tomatoes and peppers, until closer to June 1.

Speaking of cold temperatures.  We are a bit worried about our apple trees.  Farmer Don is certain the recent temperatures in the high teens and low 20’s have damaged our budding apple trees.  Only time will tell just how much damage was done and if we will be able to offer “Dancing Hen Farm ugly heirloom apples” this year.  We that being said our thoughts and prayers go out to the fruit growers in our region.  These growers will most definitely see economic loss from this cold snap, including, most likely a complete loss of their apricot crop.

I am happy to report our peas are up!  These peas were planted close to 3 weeks ago.  Last night the dogs and I walked up to the field they are planted in and it was so nice to see beautiful long rows of baby pea plants.  I was beginning to really worry about them, but Farmer Don kept assuring me they were fine and just need some moisture and warmer soil temperatures.  I am glad his farmer’s intuition was correct.  We have sugar snap, snow and shelling peas planted.   We are hoping to have peas for our early CSA boxes.

Around the time Farmer Don planted the peas, he also direct seeded some greens.  Like the peas, these greens are also enjoying the warmer temperatures.   We are hoping to harvest these greens for some early farmer’s markets and buying club deliveries.   We have some nice young Asian greens and a bit of spinach in these plots.   We also have direct seeded radishes and some carrots planted.  The radishes need some rain to get them growing and the carrots have not yet germinated, again moisture will help boost the germination along.

Our nursery greenhouses are filling up with trays and trays of sprouting seedlings.  Kale, Swiss chard, scallions and lettuce are all sprouting and sizing up nicely.  In the next few weeks these seedlings will be planted out and before we know it they will be ready for harvest.  This week we started seeding some early summer crops, including summer squash, zucchini and cucumbers.  These seeds generally germinate fairly quickly and the resulting plants are extremely frost sensitive.  Therefore, when we plant them out, we will need to put a protective row cover over them and monitor temperatures closely.  Next week we will continue with seeding lettuce and have plans to start seeding some tomatoes and eggplant.

We have a busy couple of weeks coming up, with many opportunities to come out and meet the farmer.  Tomorrow, April 23, we will be at Forks Farm for their first market of the season.  Market hours are from 10 am to 1 pm.  Forks if a really nice local market on the Hopkins family farm and features many local vendors.  Information about Forks Farm and their market can be found on their website.

We are excited to be adding a CSA drop site in Plains at Danko’s All American Fitness on North River Street.  Farmer Don will be at the gym this Monday evening (4/25) and next Saturday morning (4/30) to answer any questions you may have about our farm or our CSA.  If you are in the area, please stop by and say hello.

The following Saturday, May 7, we will be in Luzerne at a Fit Food Fest and market sponsored by Chic Chic Marketplace and Changes Fitness.  The market is at Changes Fitness at 37 Tener Street in Luzerne from 11 am to 3 pam.  At this market, we will be promoting our CSA and selling eggs, chicken, pork and hopefully some greens.  Again, stop by, say hello, learn about our farm and pick up some local nutrient dense foods.

With so many new people signing up for our CSA and starting to follow our farm, I cannot end this newsletter without a few words about us and our CSA.  We are a small diversified family farm located in northern Columbia County.  As Farmer Don likes to say, “We are primarily vegetable growers”, although we do keep a large flock of laying hens and raise chickens and pigs for meat.  We use organic methods on our farm, but, we are not certified organic.  If you have questions about our farm or our farming methods, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Our CSA is a full choice CSA. This means each week, members sign onto our website and choose the exact items they wish to receive in their boxes.  All boxes are delivered (or ready for pick up) on Tuesdays.  The CSA runs for 22 weeks and we anticipate our start date will be the first full week of June.  In addition to vegetable shares, members can also purchase add on egg or chicken share.  Please see our website (www.dancinghenfarm) or contact us at the farm if you have questions or need additional information.

The sun is up (aren’t these longer day nice!), the dogs just came in from chasing deer, the chickens are clamoring for breakfast.  Time to get the day’s work going.  

Sunday, April 10, 2016

More Spring Photos

It was 90 plus degrees in our seedhouse this afternoon, even though the outside temperature was only 40.  Farmer Don had to get out his summer clothes to do some seeding.

This rock has been teasing our farm equipment since the very first time we plowed our lower field.  This week the chisel plow (with a little help from Farmer Don) unearthed it.  The plastic in the background are some early spring plantings of cooking and salad greens.  We haven't checked them since the recent cold temperature.  We are hoping they survived the freeze.

One of Rosie's favorite activities -- hunting groundhogs!

Thursday, April 7, 2016


This little one visited the farm with his Dad.  They were picking up some chickens for their own backyard coop.  He had fun riding the buggy with Uncle Farmer Don!

Friday, April 1, 2016

April News

Greetings from Dancing Hen Farm! 

Happy April Fools’ Day!  April Fools’ Day always brings a smile of reminiscing to my face.  Every year that I can remember, my Father would fool us.  Always with the same trick.  He would come into the house and announce “there is a big buck out in the yard.”   I was always fooled!  I’m not sure if this is because I was the youngest or the most gullible?  But, never the less, I would always run to the window looking intently for a deer.  Finding none, I would turn from the window and see the sparkle in my Dad’s eyes and know I had been fooled again.  Dad, please know I am still looking for those big bucks for you.

What would a farm newsletter be without me jabbering on about the weather?  I cannot help myself, here on the farm, our whole world seems to revolve around the weather.  And the fickle Pennsylvania spring weather is always the perfect topic of conversation.  We seem to be having a typical, although dry, spring.  Sunny and 70 one day and 35 and snow showers the next.  And don’t forget the crazy spring winds!  What the means on farm is that our nursery greenhouse needs vented on sunny warm days and then shut up tight and a fire started for the cooler days and nights.  It also means we need to really resist getting too much planted.  With overnight lows predicted it the 20’s (or lower), frost and freeze damage becomes a real issue.  We do have peas planted.  Peas are a true spring crop, needing cooler soil temperatures to germinate and the plants do not tolerate the heat of summer.  We also have some early season greens planted in our lower field.  These beds of greens are currently covered with fabric row covers and when the night time temperatures drop into the 20’s we add a plastic row cover on top.  But, like in our greenhouse, we need to be sure to vent these beds by removing the plastic during sunny warm days or the temperature will rise to high and the small plants will wither.

We are already battling wildlife on farm this season.  Last year we had a doe and her two fawns feasting on swiss chard in our lower production field.  And Mommy deer and her two babies (now grown) are again visiting this field and have already walked through our row covers.  Our resident groundhog population is also awakening from hibernation.  Rosie, our border collie, is very tuned into both of these species of animal.  All farmer Don and I have to do is say “get the deer/hog” and she is off looking for the intruder.  And believe it or not, she knows to run to a groundhog hole when we say “hog” and scan the fields visually when we say “deer”.  In addition, she seems to instantly know if the deer are near and will visually scan the farm until she finds them and chases them off our property.  Unfortunately, the deer most often visit at night when Rose is tucked safely in the house, sleeping the night away.  This time of year the groundhogs are very busy digging out their holes and building nice underground dens in which to have their babies.  The dogs and I walk every night and we focus our path where the groundhog holes are.  Rosie knows where all the active holes are and runs from hole to hole exploring and digging at each.  I am hoping she can at least encourage them to move further from the farm to set up housekeeping!  The other night she was able to sneak up on a groundhog outside its den and a scuffle ensued.  Thankfully Rosie came out the winner and although the groundhog was able to retreat to its den, I am certain it is still licking some wounds as I type this newsletter. 

Farmers Don and Phil have been out and about lately dropping our fliers at local businesses.  This is a favorite spring activity of Don and Phil.  They drive around dispersing our information and then, the best part of the task, they eat lunch out!  The fliers are being positively received and we hope this outreach will help us fill the CSA memberships we have remaining.  If you know of a place where we should have our information posted, please contact us at the farm.

Speaking of our CSA and memberships.  We continue to receive memberships and sign ups daily.  And as I have said in the past, thanks to everyone for their support.  We always feel so humbled by the number of returning and new members we get each and every year.  The CSA is really the backbone of our small farm.   We rely on memberships to help us with operating costs for the upcoming season.  As with many farming operations, our expenditures are very high in the beginning of the season.  Seeds, soil amendments, row cover, general supplies, all need to be purchased long before the first vegetables are harvested and ready for market or CSA boxes.  And yes, we do still have CSA memberships available for this season.  Please see our website or contact us at the farm for information.

Since we are seeing a real influx of new members, I want to again take this opportunity to let everyone know we do have a small web presence for those wishing to follow us online or through social media.  I maintain a facebook site ( and a blog (  I post news and pictures to both of these sites and our newsletters are always posted to the blog so friends of the farm can read the latest news, without being on our email lists.  We also have a pinterest site (  I have not been posting to the pinterest site recently, but I am hoping to start adding recipes and other useful information soon. 

I know some have been waiting patiently for us to start our winter buying club again.  We still have this in the plans for April, but have not sent a date as of yet.  Please watch your email for when ordering and deliveries will be happening.  We do have lots of eggs right now and they can be picked up on farm, as can chicken and pork.  If you are interested in any of these products, please contact us so we can have your order ready when you arrive. 

Speaking of the visiting the farm.  We often have people contacting us asking about farm visits.  Yes, farm visitors are always welcome.  Farmer Don really enjoys showing people around and talking about how we grow your (and our!) food.  It would be best if you call or email us prior to arriving, so we can be sure to set some time aside to give you tour.  We are planning our yearly open house in May.  Again, watch your email for details.

It seems I have been typing forever!  So, I will end with Farmer Dons words: “be safe, be well and soon you will be enjoying those veggies”.  I will also say, enjoy the crazy spring weather.  Soon enough we will be in the heat of summer, farmers markets will be open and we will be delivering CSA boxes.  And that is not an April Fool.