Wednesday, March 22, 2017

March 22 News

Greetings from Dancing Hen Farm

As seems to be usual on farm, this past week has been filled with weather.  A little over a week ago, the farm was blanketed by over 2 feet of snow.  While we still dealing with the storm, we welcomed spring to the farm early Monday morning with the vernal equinox.  I am happy to say spring has brought with it nice warming sun, which is quickly melting our snow.  Even with today's very cool temperatures and high winds, the sun is still shines brightly and if you are out of the wind, the sun warms your face.

On farm we survived the latest snow storm.  Last Tuesday's heavy snow brought some worries to the farm and meant Farmer Don spent extra time bonding with the chickens as he worked to keep their coops free of snow.  Our two chicken coops are modified Chinese solar greenhouses and are constructed, partly with PVC pipes and covered with clear plastic.  The fear was that the weight from the snow would collapse the structures, trapping and most likely harming the chickens.  I can happily and proudly say Farmer Don's diligence saved the coops and the chickens.  Unfortunately, I cannot say the same for three smaller greenhouse which did collapse under the weight of the snow.  These greenhouses were also constructed using PVC pipes and by ten o'clock Tuesday morning they were already folding under the weight of the snow.  In all honesty, we were forced to sacrifice these three houses as our focus needed to remain on the chicken coops.  The collapsed houses will be rebuilt in the near future and will be used to house transplants sizing up for planting into our fields.   I can also happily report that our two main greenhouses, constructed with much stronger metal pipes, handled the snow load with little to no damage.  Yes, we were disappointed to lose our smaller houses, but in all honesty, we are happy to have weathered the storm so well.

However, this late snow and cold temperatures has slowed our early spring production.  Farmer Don likes the folklore of planting peas on St. Patrick's Day.  Obviously this year, our peas are not in the ground.  Not only do we still have snow on the ground, but where the snow is melting, the mud is unbelievable.  We will need the sun, warming temperatures and winds to continue so our fields can dry enough for Farmer Don to get plots ready for planting.  But, we are still busy getting ready for this upcoming growing season.  Seeding has begun for early field production, including, trays chard, lettuce and scallions.  We also have begun turning over our large greenhouse (thanks Jason!) for some direct seeding of greens.  Stay tuned for how our spring planting progresses!

As many of you know we sell our products to some local restaurants, including The Blind Pig Kitchen in Bloomsburg.  This spring The Blind Pig is hosting a series of meet the farmer (and fisherman) dinners on Sunday nights.  These are five course dinners featuring ingredients form different local farms and producers.  On April 23, they will be featuring us, Dancing Hen Farm!  Farmer Don and I will be there to meet everyone and talk about our farm.  Reservations are required and there is a limited number of seats, so if you are interested, please contact Sarah at the restaurant.  The Blind Pig Kitchen's website is  And their facebook site is 

A quick note on our buying club.  The buying club will be open on a very limited basis until we have some spring vegetables.  We are thinking a delivery sometime before Easter so customers can load up on eggs or ham for the holiday.  As always, if you would like to order eggs or pork, please contact us and we will do our best to get the product to you.

Time for me to check the on our supper!  Happy Spring! 

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

The Storm

Farmer Don on his way to save the chickens.

Not sure about all of this....

Cleaning off the chicken coops.

With some help from the tractor.

Collapsed greenhouses in the foreground. 

Nighttime Chores

The seed house smoking away.

The moon rising over the chickens.

Inside the germination chamber

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

March News and Buying Club open

Greetings from Dancing Hen Farm!

Buying club ordering is open for deliveries this weekend.  Ordering closes tomorrow, Thursday, morning at 5 am.  We have lots of eggs and pork available, as well as a limited supply of storage vegetables.

Each week when I get ready to write the farm newsletter, I ask Farmer Don if he want me to mention anything.  This week his comment was, the crazy weather.  So, as always, we will touch a bit on the weather.

It seems lately our weather pattern has been spring springing and then winter roaring back with a vengeance.  Our low last weekend was 5 and I see this weekend lows are to be near 10, with a possible snow storm the beginning of next week!  Perhaps this will be the "onion snow" and then we will see spring?  Wishful thinking, I am sure. But, today the sun is already shining and the breeze should help to dry some of the mud.
Yes, the weather has, once again, impacted our crops. We had several beds of greens which we overwintered under plastic.  These plants were looking really good and starting to grow.  Unfortunately, their growth was a bit too early.  This young tender growth was very vulnerable to last weekend's super cold temperatures and we lost many of these plantings.  As Farmer Don always says "Mother Nature bats last".  Although we are disappointed with these losses, these beds will be turned over quickly and replanted and we should still have greens to harvest by sometime in April.  Farmer Don is, also, starting to play in the dirt, well, the potting mix.  Flats are being filled and seeds are being planted.   By the middle of this month, we hope to be working in our fields.  We try to get peas planted in March, followed closely by potatoes.

In the kitchen we have been in soup mode.  The most memorable was, over the weekend, when Farmer Don made a really delicious French onion.  As always, he uses a Cook's Illustrated recipe, this one called for caramelizing the onions in the oven.   Onion  soup is one of Farmer Don's favorites and we have always struggled with caramelizing the onions on the stove top.  I think we never left them cook long enough to obtain the beautiful brown color or sweetness.  The oven/roasting method for the onions is so simple and produces nicely caramelized onions and delicious soup.   Here is a link to the recipe

Once again we can use help from friends and members of our farm.  This time of year, Farmer Don likes to take some time out of his schedule to connect with the communities we share our harvest with. He will be out and about this spring visiting our drop sites for some "meet the Farmer" events.  Farmer Don is, also, available to set up information tables at community events or give short presentations to groups in your community.  Please contact the farm is you know of events coming up in your community or groups looking for speakers.  Thanks in advance for your help!

I also want to, again, thank everyone who has joined and paid for a 2017 CSA share.  As I have said in the past, Farmer Don and I are always humbled by the number of people who return year after year to share the harvest with us.  We also want to welcome and thank all of our new members.  We do still have shares available for the 2017 season.  Memberships are taken in the order in which membership is received and we anticipate limiting egg and vegetable shares this season.  As always, if you have questions for us, please do not hesitate to contact us.

The sun is shining.  Farmer Don and the dogs are out and about taking advantage of today's beautiful weather.  My coffee intake is at my limit. So, I think I will end this here.  Until next week.......

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

The Farm and Farmers in February

Planting Spinach

A confused dandelion.

A quick weekend away and Farmer Don gets his feet wet.

Newport, RI