Tuesday, February 28, 2017

March Buying Club!

Greetings from Dancing Hen Farm!  Welcome to March!
We will be doing buying club deliveries this weekend.  Ordering is now open and will close Thursday at 5 am.  We are featuring eggs and pork and still have some storage crops available.
How about this crazy weather!  60's today and tomorrow, followed by the threat of more severe storms and then highs in the 30's and 40's.  I have heard a predicted low in the single digits for Friday night!  Hold on, the Pennsylvania roller coaster weather is on the run again!

Farmer Don and I spent this past weekend out of town.  Each winter we try and get away for a bit of relaxation and for our annual intensive farm business meeting.  This year we ventured to Rhode Island to explore and visit with some family.  Farmer Don even took off his shoes and waded into  the ocean.  I'll post some pictures to Facebook and our blog later.

Before we left on vacation, Farmer Don spent a bit of time working in the greenhouse and field.  The warm weather allowed him to work a bed here by the house and plant some spinach.  We are hoping to have a harvest from these beds later in March or April.  He also planted a small planting of radishes in our unheated greenhouse.  If the weather does not get too hot, we will hopefully have some radishes to harvest in 4 to 6 weeks.  We will keep you posted on how these early crops are progressing.  Farmer Don tells me the radishes are already starting to germinate!  I have not had a chance to check out garlic, but I am thinking this warm weather probably has it pushing through the ground.
Speaking of planting, March marks the start of our "gear up" for the upcoming growing season.  Soon our seed house will be filled with flats and flats plants, which eventually will be planted out into our fields.  Farmer Don is busy putting the finishes touches on his new germination chamber and his new wood heated greenhouse nursery is holding heat well, even without the woodstove burning.  Again, I will keep you posted on how things are growing.

I think I will end here.  I still have dishes to clean up, dogs to walk and in all honesty, I am ready to head to bed!


Monday, February 13, 2017

More News and Buying Club Deliveries

Greetings from a windswept Dancing Hen Farm!

Our buying club will be open this coming weekend.  As always, ordering will begin Tuesday at 5 am and close Thursday at 5 am.  Deliveries and/or pickups will be Friday or Saturday, depending on location.  We continue to have eggs, apple orchard pork, storage vegetables and a limited amount of Dancing Hen Farm sauerkraut.  Please note, there will be NO buying club next weekend.

Today, again, the wind is really whipping.  Hopefully all our trees and structures will survive this latest blast.  But, wasn't it nice to see some snow this past week?  It was a pretty and enjoyable snow, until the wind started.  The wind was strong enough to send Shady sprinting to the barn during our evening walk.  She stayed out of the wind and with dry feet, watching Rose and I struggle with wind and drifts.  I have to admit, I was slightly envious of her and wished we had not ventured so far from the house!  We will see how tonight's walk goes with our most recent Arctic blasts of wind.  Hopefully it will die down a bit by sunset. Thankfully drifts will not be a problem after yesterday's rains and today's temperatures have firmed up the mud.

Here on farm, we are eagerly awaiting spring.  This is always a tough time of year.  We are starting to get excited to get things growing, but we need patience for a few more weeks.  We have learned, the hard way, that even with heat, our transplants will not fare well during the dark days of late winter and the cold overnight temperatures which are, most definitely, still on the horizon.   We are hoping our new heated nursery greenhouse will allow us to get transplants going earlier and will provide the warmth needed to keep the tender plants from freezing.  For now, we will plan, plan and plan for the upcoming growing season and continue to procure supplies.

Speaking of greenhouses.  I have been peeking in our large unheated greenhouse and I am excited to see the baby lettuce plants growing, ever so slowly, but none the less, growing!  With the gradually lengthening days, hopefully we will have greens to harvest in a month or so.  We also have some low tunnels (or mini greenhouses) in our lower field.  I am not as enthusiastic about the  survival of the plants under these structures.  The latest snow, combined with deer and dog traffic has collapsed some of them and unfortunately, this is not a good sign for the kale and chard overwintering underneath.  Once the snow melts and the wind stops, farmer Don will lift and repair these structures and will be able to get an idea of the status of the plants underneath.  Hopefully some of the plants will be fine and we will be harvesting from these in March as well.

As I mentioned, we are busy planning for our 2017 season.  And we have some work opportunities available.  We are looking for 1 or 2 summer interns and also have some work share positions available.  Our interns become immersed in the operation of our farm and work alongside us to learn about farm operations, as well as all aspects of our CSA and our farm markets.   We offer paid intern positions.  If you or someone you know is looking for a seasonal job and  wants to connect with how and where their food is produced, please contact us.  Work share positions generally involve working on farm approximately one day a week or at one of our farmers' markets.  For your work hours you will receive a CSA share and/or other farm products.  If you are interested in a work share, please contact us for more details.

Speaking of farm needs.  The farm can always use clean five gallon food grade buckets. Those of you who have worked in the food service industry are very familiar with these "pickle buckets".  If you or someone you know has access to these buckets, please contact us.  These buckets are one of the most versatile tools on farm.  Among other tasks, we use them for collecting eggs, harvesting veggies, hauling water and feed for animals, compost, and the list goes on....

We do still have CSA memberships available for 2017.  We are a full choice CSA, meaning each member is able to sign onto our website and choose the exact items they receive in their box.  New this year, we have split our CSA into two seasons. We are now offering an 18 week Summer share, followed by an 8 week Fall share.  We will continue to offer add on egg and chicken shares.  If you have questions about our CSA, please do not hesitate to contact us.  And a HUGE, thank you, to all members who have already signed up and remitted their payment to us.  Your support is what keeps us growing! 

Time to get some work done!  Have a great week.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

February News and Buying Club Open

Greetings from Dancing Hen Farm!

The buying club is now open for orders.   Deliveries and pick-ups will be Friday and Saturday, depending on location.  Ordering ends Thursday at 5 am.  We continue to have eggs, apple orchard pork and storage vegetables available.  New this week; we have a limited supply of Dancing Hen Farm sauerkraut.

I have deemed this winter the season of the rubber boot.  Slick slimy mud is the new norm on farm and I wear my boots daily!  Generally mud season doesn't set in until closer to spring, but this year, we have had very few days of solidly frozen ground.  It does look like we may get some snow this week, but temperatures are to be back close to 50 by the beginning of next week.  That will bring more mud!  And yep, more days spent with my boots as my favorite fashion accessory! 

The mud and warmer temperatures have Farmer Don eager to get planting.  In the next week or so, he will fire up the new nursery greenhouse and begin planting early spring greens.  Once seeds are planted and starting to sprout, we will need to pay close attention to temperatures, as one low night time temperature can freeze out all of these new transplants.  Hopefully the woodstove will keep our greenhouse full of transplants warm and toasty!  The first transplants will be ready to be planted out towards the end of March, depending on the weather.  And we are hoping for the first harvest sometime in April or May. 

This past week was conference week for Dancing Hen Farm.  Farmer Don spent last Monday and Tuesday in Hershey at the Mid-Atlantic Fruit and Vegetable Growers Conference.  Then on Wednesday we all headed to State College for 3 days at the Pennsylvania Sustainable Agriculture Conference.  These conferences are a bit like working vacations for us.  We attend many useful workshops, but we also get to network with fellow farmers and visit with friends, some of who we only see once a year at the conference.  We always arrive home on Saturday night feeling energized and excited to start growing and putting some of our newly gained knowledge to work.
With being gone most of the week learning and socializing, there isn't much farm news to report.  But, soon, very soon, I will be reporting on filled seed trays and temperatures in our seed house!  Right now, I have a dog giving me puppy eyes, as she tries desperately to convince me to get up and take her for her pre-bed walk!

Have a great week!  Thanks again for your support!