Tuesday, October 25, 2016

2016 Week 20 and the Buying Club is Open!

Greetings from Dancing Hen Farm.  Welcome to Week 20 of our CSA.  After this week's deliveries, there are 2 weeks remaining in our 2016 CSA.

The winter buying club is open this week.  Ordering closes at 5 am on Thursday.  Deliveries are Friday night to Bloomsburg and Saturday morning to Dallas and Forty Fort.  Mountain Top orders can be picked up at market on Sunday.  All buying club ordering is done online.  If you have not already done so, you will need to create an account on our website and "purchase" a free winter buying club share.

Ah, yes, the weather.  The seasons are changing in Pennsylvania and that means temperature swings!  Crazy to think we were in the 80's a week ago and tonight we are to get a hard freeze.  And I have heard a rumor there may be some snow on the ground on Thursday!  Hard to believe,  Farmer Don was working in shorts last week and he now he is burning our woodstove for heat!  Let's hope he doesn't have to get the plow out just yet!

Even though our main CSA season is winding down, we are still busy, busy, busy on farm.  In the fields we are planting the last of our winter cover crops and getting beds of greens ready for the winter.  Tonight, we will be covering many of our cooking and salad greens with row cover and plastic to protect them from the cold winter temperatures.  With a bit of luck, we will be able to harvest from many of these beds into December and then will again harvest from them in late February or early March.  If the weather and the wind cooperate, this week we will be putting the plastic back on our large greenhouse.  The past few weeks we have been cleaning out and preparing the beds in this greenhouse for overwintering.  Lettuce and kale will be planted for early spring 2017 harvest.  It will nice to have our greenhouse back for production next season. 

In boxes this week, we are continuing to pack winter squash, cabbage, sweet potatoes, kale, swiss chard, arugula and mustard greens.  New this week are rutabaga.  Our rutabaga are a bit small this year and please do not throw away the greens.  Rutabaga are in the same family as kale, mustard, cabbage and turnips and their greens are tasty and nutritious.  Use the greens as you would any cooking green.  It appears as though tomatoes, green beans and peppers are done for the season.  Look for greens and storage crops to continue to be available.  We have a small planting of celery and a small planting of baby leeks which will, hopefully, be ready before the end of the season.

With our regular season winding down, we have put a plan in place to extend our CSA into the fall.  The extension will be for 4 weeks, starting November 15.  The extended shares will be part shares, six items per week, and will be farmer's choice shares.  Egg shares are also available.  Vegetable shares are $100 and egg shares are $10.  If you would like eggs every week, you can purchase two egg shares.  These shares will not be offered through our website, so if you are interested, please email the farm.  We will need to receive payment prior to the start of the extended season.

So, I have a confession to make.  I have a habit of buying kitchen appliances which I am convinced will change my life.  But in reality, I have a shelf of kitchen gadgets which seldom get used.  Some of the things you will find on this shelf are, a pressure canner, an immersion blender, a food processor (now used often to make dog food!), a stand mixer, and a crock pot.  Although I use all these gadgets, I don't find them nearly as life changing as I had anticipated.  For instance, I had visions of using the crock pot to make chicken and beef stock and then using the pressure canner to produce jars of shelf stable, non-frozen stock.  Let's just say, I am still making stock in my trusty stock pot and storing the jars in the freezer!  I did make some delicious peach butter in the crock pot the other year, but canned it in my old enamel hot water bath canner.  But, over the weekend, I used the crock pot for dinner!  I started by placing a mix of veggies in the bottom of the pot.  I used onions, sweets, winter squash and white potatoes.  Next I rubbed a chuck roast with some salt, pepper and dried herbs and seared it on all sides.  The roast was then placed on top of the veggies and a small amount of liquid was added.  The liquid was a mix of wine, balsamic vinegar, Worcestershire sauce and water.  I set the pot to low and let it cook all day.  The resulting dinner was really tasty!  And as I did chores around the house and farm, it was nice knowing that dinner was already made!  Maybe there is still hope for the crock pot to change my life?

We do still have some bulk freezer pork available.  If you are interested in bulk pork or have questions for us, please contact us!  We are anticipating pork orders to be available the second or third week of November.  Individual cuts of pork will be available through our winter buying club around that same time.  Bacon and hams are cured using a nitrate free cure.

I want to take a few minutes to thank some Bloomsburg area restaurants who regularly use our, and other farms, products.  The Blind Pig Kitchen is a true "farm to table" restaurant, sourcing all meats fruits and vegetables within 65 miles of the restaurant.  Toby and Sarah purchase 5 CSA shares from us each year to use in the restaurant.  More information, including their seasonal menu, can be found on their website (www.blindpigkitchen.com).  We also sell produce and eggs to the Inn at Turkey Hill.  The farmhouse at the Inn is a fine dining establishment and their menu features locally produced items.  More information can be found on their website (www.innatturkeyhill.com).  Please support your local farmers by supporting these two fine restaurants!

The end is here...  until next week.... "be safe, be well and enjoy those veggies"

Thursday, October 20, 2016

CSA Season Extension

Announcing Dancing Hen Farm's 
2016 Season Extension

4 Additional Weeks of CSA deliveries (Nov 15, Nov 22, Nov 29, Dec 6)

Part Shares (6 items) Farmer's Choice Boxes
Egg Shares also available (2 Weeks - Nov 15 and Nov 29)  Double egg shares also available

$100 for the vegetables
$10 for an egg share

These shares will not be offered through our website.  Please email us at the farm to confirm your registration.  Payment must be received prior to delivery.

Delivery available to:  Drums, Bear Creek, Dallas, Forty Fort, Bloomsburg and Danville

Contact us at the farm if you opted for home delivery during the regular season and would like home delivery for the extension. 

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Buying Club this Saturday!!!

Greetings from Dancing Hen Farm!
Our buying club is again open for deliveries this weekend. Ordering opened this morning at 6 and closes Thursday (10/20) at 6 am. Deliveries will be .Friday night to Bloomsburg and Saturday to Dallas and Forty Fort.  Mountain Top orders can be picked up at the Mountain Top Farmers Market on Sunday.  On farm pick-ups will be available anytime after 5 pm on Friday.
On this list this week you will find cooking and salad greens, including arugula, mustard, kale and chard.  We also have a selection of winter squash, sweet potatoes and white potatoes.   Radishes, both salad and storage, are also being harvested.  Non vegetable items include half chickens, a limited amount of pork and eggs.
Thanks again to all of you, our farm community, for allowing us to share our harvest with you.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

2016 Week 19 Newsletter

Greetings from Dancing Hen Farm!  Welcome to Week 19.  Week 19 is an EGG week.  After week 19's delivery there are 3 deliveries remaining in the CSA season.  We have one more chicken share delivery and it will be our final delivery, Week 22.

Last Tuesday, we awoke to a frosty wonderland.  Fluffy white ice crystals clung to everything.  Our first hard frost of the season.  The temperature outside was 30 and the temperature inside was cool enough to cause Farmer Don to start a fire in the woodstove.  For the most part we were ready for these cold temperatures.  Mid October is late for our first frost, so the majority of our tender, summer crops were already done for the season.  We were able to harvest or protect most other crops.  Many of our late season crops, such as lettuce and kale, continue to thrive in these cooler temperatures. 

On farm we are busy preparing for our fields and farm structures for winter.  Fields are being cleared and the last of our late season cover crops are being planted.  Other field plots are being covered by mini-greenhouses to prolong their harvest into the early winter.  Soon we will be putting the plastic back on our unheated greenhouse.  This large high tunnel will then be planted with cooking and salad greens.  These greens will rest peacefully until late winter/early spring.  Once the days begin to get a bit longer (think end of February or the beginning or March) these plants will begin to grow again and should be ready for harvest in April.

Speaking of harvest.  We are continuing to harvest greens.  Kale and mustard greens will become sweeter with the frost.  Salad greens and chard are also looking good and will continue to be harvested.  Potatoes are still being lifted from the ground.  We should have salad radishes and specialty storage radishes available for the remainder of the CSA season.  We are hoping to continue to have winter squash, sweet potatoes, cabbage and carrots available as well.  We have a planting of rutabaga which we are hoping will size up in the next few weeks. 

The mustard in our fields is absolutely beautiful right now!  Last week at market, Farmer Don did a taste test with arugula and young tender mustard.  Much to his (and our customers') surprise, most people liked the taste of the mustard over the arugula!  Mustard greens are one of the most nutrient dense greens you can eat, with high levels of vitamins, minerals and anti-inflammatory compounds.  They have a peppery, almost horseradish, taste, which does mellow with cooking and as the days get cooler.  Cook mustard greens as you would any green.  They pair well with sausage and we often substitute them for kale in our sausage, kale and garlic potato soup/stew.   Farmer Don likes mustard greens raw, in salads or as a substitute for lettuce on sandwiches or burgers.  A favorite are burgers or roast beef sandwiches topped with blue cheese and mustard greens.  Massaged mustard greens also make a great salad.  We generally just substitute mustard for the kale in our favorite recipe, but here is a recipe http://www.eatingwell.com/recipe/252168/massaged-mustard-greens-salad/   There are two different mustard greens options on the choice right now.  One is a bag of smaller, more tender greens.  These leaves are perfect for salads and if cooked, require very short cooking times.  The other mustard greens available are bunches of larger leaves.  This mustard can be eaten raw, but are not as tender and they hold up better for cooking. 

I am still busy preserving for the season!  Most recently, I lacto fermented some radishes.  Our salad radishes were so beautiful, I couldn't resist putting some in brine!  They are now bubbling away on the counter.  I tasted them yesterday and I decided they haven't been curing for quite enough time.  I like them a bit more sour.  I also have some cabbage in the cooler which I have set aside for sauerkraut, another lacto fermented product.  So, as the lactobacillus bacteria worked their magic on my radishes, my sister and I made and canned applesauce!  Ideally I would like to can one more round of applesauce and then, once my sauerkraut is finished, preserving will be just about done for the season.  It has been a productive year in Dancing Hen Farm's canning kitchen this summer!

Attention winter buying club members!  Next Saturday we will be starting up our winter buying club.  This buying club is separate from our CSA.  Ordering for the buying club will begin at 5 am on Tuesday, October 18 and will close Thursday, October 20 at 5 am.  Deliveries will be on Saturday, October 22.  If you are not already a member of our buying club, you will need to register through our website and  "purchase" a free winter buying club membership.  If you need additional information or have questions please contact us at the farm.

It is hard to believe our 2016 CSA and market season is coming to end.  We want thank all of our customers for their continued support.  As I have said in the past, it is you, our customers, which make Dancing Hen Farm possible.  Our goal is to leave this little farm and our environment a healthy place for future generations.

In closing Farmer Don's quote: "be safe, be well and enjoy those veggies".

Monday, October 3, 2016

2016 Week 17 Newsletter

Greetings from Dancing Hen Farm.  Welcome to Week 17.  I hope everyone enjoyed their Week 16 boxes!  This week, Week 17, is an EGG week and is also a CHICKEN week.  After this week, there are 5 weeks remaining in the CSA.

The calendar says fall and the weather has been saying rain.  Lots of rain the past few days.  Very welcome rain for the low water table and some of our newly planted fall crops.  However not welcome for the last of some of our summer crops, such as tomatoes.  This coming week looks drier with the possibility of more rain over the weekend and maybe a cool down for the start of next week.

Our fields and harvest are really starting to look more fall like and less summer like.  Tomatoes are starting to wind down and the rain has caused much of the fruit to split and show some disease.   We will continue to harvest tomatoes up until the first frost, but the numbers available will most likely be decreasing each week.  In the upcoming weeks we will be harvesting more green tomatoes, so get your fried green tomato recipes ready.  Our greens, on the other hand are really starting to thrive with the cooler weather.  Look for kale, chard and mustard greens to continue to be available.  Arugula is looking good and should be available for the next few weeks.  The green beans we are harvesting right now are absolutely beautiful and we should have green beans available at least for another week or two.  Winter squash should continue to be available.  Radishes are beautiful right now and we are hoping our succession plantings will keep them available for several more weeks.  Sweet potatoes should continue to be available and we will be digging white potatoes soon.

In the kitchen, I am still in preserving mode.  I think I am finally done with tomatoes!  However, last week I did experiment with lacto fermenting some sungold tomatoes.  The initial ferment in complete and the fermenting jars are now resting in the fridge.  I have been sampling them and they are tasty, with the tomatoes actually being a bit fizzy when you bite into them.  I am still deciding if I like them enough to make another batch this year or even make them again next year.  This weekend we froze beans and next weekend we are hoping to make and can some applesauce.  I am also hoping to make some sauerkraut and ferment some radishes as well.  And if our beets come in high enough numbers, I will try and can some pickled beets.  Wow, it seems I will be canning and freezing into the winter!

With cooler temperatures we are using the grill less and the oven and stove top more.  Last week, I used one of our hams and made a big pot of ham and green beans.  I usually make this meal in the winter and use my frozen green beans, but it was so nice using fresh green beans this time.  We are also eating lots of sweet potatoes right now, usually baked or roasted.  One of my favorite go to recipes for sweet potatoes combines sweets, cooking greens and apples.  Here is a link to the recipe http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/sweet-potatoes-apples-and-braising-greens-240487  I usually make this dish with kale and skip the parsley.  I also prefer to cube my sweet potatoes and slice the apples.  Another fall and winter go to recipe here on farm involves roast white potatoes, kale and sausage.  As fall and winter progress, we make this dish almost every week!  Here is a link to the recipe https://www.caloriecount.com/kale-sausage-garlic-roasted-potatoes-recipe-r150667  I feel like I have shared these two recipes every year with our CSA members.  Maybe for next week I will try and come up with something new! 

With the CSA and farmers markets starting to end, it is time to talk about how you can receive Dancing Hen Farm products into the fall and winter.  We will be extending our CSA this fall, most likely for 4 additional weeks.  Please watch upcoming newsletters for pricing and details.  We will also be starting our winter buying club soon.  Again watch upcoming newsletters for details. 

Our 2016 apple orchard pork will be available in November.  We sell our bulk pork by the half and whole and are now taking reservations.  Please contact the farm if you are interested in bulk pork.  A whole hog will yield 125 to 140 pounds of meat and will require a at least 7 cubic feet of freezer space for storage.  We will also have a limited amount of cuts available for purchase through our buying club. 

The night is getting late and the boxes are packed, time to end this newsletter.  Have a great week!