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.

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