Greetings from Dancing Hen Farm. Welcome to Week 9 of the CSA. Week 9 is an EGG week. Week 9 is also a CHICKEN share week.
Sometimes I really do not know where the time goes! Here it is Monday night already and I am just now getting a minute to sit down and write this newsletter. I cannot complain, because, for me, keeping busy is a good thing. Now if I could just somehow find an extra day in each week!
August arrived a bit cooler. Cooler is a relative term. I am just happy for the daily temperatures to be out of the 90's. And even happier to have the air conditioners shut off and the windows open. It looks like the beginning of this week will be sunny and dry. Perfect weather for ripening our field grown tomatoes! Although it once again appears the heat and humidity will be making a return by the end of the week, with daytime temperatures predicted in the 90's and overnight lows near 70.
Our field grown tomatoes have been very slow to ripen this year. We are finally starting to see some ripening and have started picking sungolds. Watch for heirloom tomatoes to begin ripening in the next few weeks. As with every year, we are battling a bit of disease in our field grown tomatoes. Farmer Don has sprayed some copper on them to fight the fungal diseases. Copper is an organic approved fungicide and is one of the few sprays we use here on farm. If you notice some blue residue on your tomatoes, this is the copper. We try to wash and wipe down tomatoes before they go out to our customers, but sometimes we do miss some areas.
For several weeks now the farm has been serenaded by hawks. I am convinced they have a nest across the road, up behind our house. Today the calls were even louder and seemed to be originating around the willow tree by our lower field. Sure enough, around lunch time, Rosie and I spotted a large hawk soaring over our lower field. Diverse farms, such as ours, have a real love hate relationship with hawks. As vegetable farmers, hawks are really nice to have around the farm. They help to control many of the smaller creatures which tend to wreak havoc with our crops. And personally, I love watching them glide and soar with the wind! However, as chicken farmers, hawks are very much the enemy. We have watched hawks take down chickens very close to us, our dogs, our house and our barn. I have been working on training Rosie to respond to the hawks' cries. She already does a really good job at responding to a chicken's distress call and seems to know to look up for a hawk. She will chase after the hawk, if present, and I like to think she is chasing it away. My goal is to get her to chase the hawk (based on hearing it) before it has its eyes (and talons) set on a chicken. Speaking of hawks and chickens. Our chickens are actually smarter when it comes to hawks than you might think. If they see the shadow of a large bird flying over, they run for cover. Literally, they run under the nearest bush and hide. Now, I am not saying we still don't lose our share of chickens to hawks, but I find it interesting to watch the chickens' behavior. I often wonder how they learned this?
In the fields. I have already talked about the anticipated ripening (and harvest) or our field grown tomatoes. New to pack this week, were tomatillos. Our salad greens continue to look good, as do our cooking greens. Kale, chard and lettuces should be available for the remainder of the season. We are harvesting our second planting of beans. We have had some issues with beans this year. Our first planting was lost to the deer and this second planting was also hit hard by the deer. The harvest numbers are small and we apologize for this. Please be patient, we have more beans planted and we are working to keep the deer and ground hogs away from it. Summer squash continues to produce, including patty pan and eight ball zucchini. Our first planting of cucumbers is finally done. We have another smaller planting of cucumbers which will be ready in a few weeks. Beets are done until later in the fall. We are continuing to dig red potatoes. Okra is slowly setting fruit and should be available in a week or so. Our peppers are setting fruit and hopefully we will have a small harvest in a few weeks, followed by a larger harvest prior to frost.
In the kitchen, I am waiting patiently for some tomatillos, so I can make one of my favorite recipes, roasted tomatillo bread salad. Here is a link to the basic recipe. http://www.tucsoncsa.org/2009/07/tomatillo-bread-salad/ I generally roast the tomatillos in the oven, being sure to save all the juices. Other than freezing some berries, I have not started canning and freezing yet this summer. I wanted to make some easy freezer pickles and hopefully we will have some extra cucumbers from the next planting for me. I also have plans for zucchini relish and, of course canned tomatoes. Farmer Don will probably want me to make some salsa, as well. I generally freeze green beans, but will have to wait and see how our next planting does. We will buy in some sweet corn to freeze and some apples to make into applesauce, as well. Stay tuned for how my canning and freezing progresses!
Well, you all know, it is Monday night, which means Farmer Don is packing tomorrow's boxes. I need to make my way down to our pack line and see if he needs help. So, I will say "until next week".