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".