Greetings from Dancing Hen Farm. Welcome to CSA Week 3. This IS an egg week.
CSA members can choose their items from 6 pm on Thursday until 6 pm on Sunday. This year we seem to have quite a few early birds, those individuals who make their selections soon after the ordering window opens. If you forget to order, do not worry, Farmer Don will pack you a farmer’s choice box. Sometimes, if many items are sold out when you sign on, you may make out better with a farmer’s choice box. Farmer Don estimates harvest numbers 5 or 6 days prior to harvest. Predicting yields is not an easy task and he often under estimates our yields. So, there may be more of an item available then we first anticipated. For instance this week our cucumber and squash harvest appear to be much more plentiful then we originally thought. These items may appear in our farmer’s choice box this week.
I am writing this newsletter sitting by the pond. Pond time is a bit of a regular afternoon activity here on farm. Farmer Don swims and we reflect on the day and week.
This week we have had lots of animal activity here on farm.
Our second batch of meat birds arrived and they are settled into the brooder, their nursery. The first batch of meat birds are on pasture, enjoying the fresh air, sunshine, grass and bugs. This week also saw the arrival of another flock of laying hens. These hens are pullets or teenage hens and were raised on pasture in Lancaster County. In a month or so they will start laying eggs and will be in full egg laying production for next summer.
Pigs also arrived this week. They will spend the summer and early fall high on the hill in our apple orchard. The pigs love the orchard. They have nice shade and lots of vegetation to root up and eat. By fall they will have dropping apples to eat. Each day they receive treats from the vegetable fields and have already learned the farmers bring the treats and run for the fence when we approach.
Sticking with the animal theme. Rosie, our border collie, experienced her annual encounter with a skunk. After several treatments with a skunk off potion and some bubble baths, her presence finally doesn’t make our eyes water! But, if you pick up on farm, beware, Rosie is still a bit stinky.
Unfortunately, not all animals on farm are even as friendly as the skunk. We are once again dealing with a chicken predator and deer and groundhogs eating our crops. We now have our chicken coops wrapped in electric fence in an attempt to keep our chickens safe. This tactic worked for several weeks, but this week, we again had some laying hens killed. So, now we have expanded the fence and have moved chickens into a more secure coop. Keep your fingers crossed that we can keep our hens safe. Equally as depressing as chicken predators are our friendly produce eaters. A walk through our fields shows extensive damage to some crops. The deer seem to prefer chard, beet tops and lettuce. They also have taken the top out of our peas and have really grazed down our cover crop areas. The groundhogs, on the other hand prefer our kale and Asian greens. A groundhog family managed to eat several hundred feet of bok choy and Chinese cabbage. Thankfully Rosie has been harassing the groundhogs and I know for a fact some of the babies will not be back.
The farm, as always, is busy. I can finally say we have all of our summer crops planted. Peppers and eggplant were planted last week. Our second planting of summer squash is in and our third planting has been seeded in the greenhouse and will be planted out in a few weeks. Rotations of greens and beans are in full swing. Our winter squash is waiting to be planted in the field, as soon as we have beds prepared. Our peas are still producing nicely and we are beginning to harvest some nice cucumbers. We continue to harvest summer squash and our lower chard bed has survived the deer attack and is looking good.
In the kitchen, we are continuing with our field to table cooking theme. Farmer Don and I both really enjoy sitting down to a meal made up entirely of Dancing Hen Farm products. Last night was a simple meal of grilled zucchini, pork chops and a cucumber salad. Grilled zucchini is a real farm favorite. Brush the squash with a bit of olive oil or marinate it in some Italian dressing, then grille and sprinkle it with a bit of parmesan cheese. The cucumber salad we enjoy is dressed with a simple homemade oil and vinegar dressing. My Mom made the very best oil and vinegar dressing. The recipe was never written down and none of us have ever been able to replicate it. Every summer Mom would make 7 day pickles for us to enjoy over the winter. One of the secret ingredients in her dressing was some juice from these pickles. Even with the addition of pickle juice, I still cannot get the dressing right! My nephew Keith is working hard to figure out the recipe, if he does, hopefully he will write it down and I will be sure to share it!
This is a Forks market week. Since you are receiving this newsletter after market, I will thank all who stopped by and said hello! Our other markets start up in July. With July starting on Friday, that mean markets are starting. Stay tuned for dates and times. We will be returning to the Back Mountain Market, the Mountain Top market and new this year the Pittston market
Ok, time to end yet another newsletter. As always, thanks to each of you for your continued support. And from Farmer Don: “Be safe, be well and enjoy those veggies.”