Thursday, August 24, 2017

Week 10 CSA Newsletter

Greetings from Dancing Hen Farm!  Welcome to Week 10 of our Summer season CSA.  Hopefully all our members are enjoying their week 10 boxes.  Week 10 is not an egg week.  Week 10 is a chicken week.
Did everyone get a chance to experience the eclipse this week?  Quite the media hype and such crowds of people traveling to see darkness fall during the day!  I have to admit, I would have loved to experience the darkness!  On farm, we didn't get the fancy glasses, and obviously we didn't experience darkness, but we still were able to view the event.  Thanks for farm volunteer/helper Stacy and her beautiful eclipse viewing box, we were able to watch the moon move partly over the sun.
WOW!  That is all I can say about the upcoming weather.  The humidity and, what seemed to us like daily rain showers, is being replaced by sunny mild days and cool nights.  This dry stretch will be very welcome after such a wet growing season for us.  However, the weather forecast just showed some predicted overnight temperatures in the upper 40's.  Soon we will be saying the dreaded "f" word.  Frost!  Generally, here on farm, we get some light frosts in September, and a killing frost in October. 
So, what does all this talk of frost mean to the farm and our crops.  The killing frost will generally mean our true summer crops will come to an end.  These crops include, tomatoes, summer squash and beans.  We will harvest what we can of these crops right before the frost to save what harvest we can.  However many of our crops actually improve with the cooler weather.  Greens, both salad and cooking, love cooler weather.  Their growth will slow, but with some minimal row covers greens will survive some fairly low temperatures.  As the temperatures cool, kale will become ever so sweet and chard will deepen in color.  Lettuce will also become sweeter and more tender.  And yes, the animals will also enjoy the coming cool mornings.  Cool mornings is when I really miss having cows and horses on farm.  Watching a horse or cow, run and buck through a frosted pasture, is sure to bring a smile to my face.  But, it is also fun to watch Rosie and Shady run around in the frost or watch the pigs snort and charge around their field.  The cool weather will even have the chickens more active and foraging more.
Ohhh! All this talk of frost and here it is August and we are in the middle of an explosion of summer crop harvest!  There are still lots of crops growing in our fields and lots of harvests still to be done.  It is officially tomato season on farm!  Lots and lots of tomatoes are being harvested and they should continue for quite a few weeks to come.  Farmer Don has started some tomato tastings at market and it seems everyone has a different favorite.   I think the heirlooms, obviously, have the best flavors and I am still amazed at the differences in taste from variety to variety.  And who can deny that sungolds are a universal favorite.  Looking to do some tomato tasting, stop by one of our markets and ask Farmer Don for a sample.  We should have beans available for quite a few weeks, as our plantings are finally really starting to produce.  Lettuce and salad mix should become readily available again and kale and chard will continue.  We have an arugula planting which has germinated and we are awaiting it to size up and hopefully not be devoured by bugs!  Asian greens are in the ground and will become available in the upcoming weeks.  We also have another planting of summer squash and cucumbers which are looking really good and we should be harvesting from these in the upcoming weeks.
We are busy planting and preparing for this year's Fall/Extended season CSA.  To assure crops are available, we are planting our greenhouse and building mini greenhouses in our fields to protect plants for the upcoming cool temperatures.  Storage crops; potatoes, winter squash, sweet potatoes and carrots, will be harvested and made available as well.  We already have quite a number of members signed up for this Extended Season.  Thank you to everyone who has signed up!  We do have some memberships available.  Please remember, as is always the case, we hold your membership when we receive your payment. We do anticipate limiting the number of membership for this part of our CSA.
The kitchen was busy this past weekend with tomato processing.  It was tomato sauce weekend!  50 pounds of Roma tomatoes were processed and cooked down to 20 pints of canned sauce.  Processing tomatoes can make a quick mess of the kitchen, but the ping of sealing jars somehow makes the mess seem unimportant.  And 20 pints of sauce cooling on my kitchen table is a beautiful sight, even if I am still wiping tomato splatter off my wall!  The cool, wet summer has me a bit behind in canning as crops have taken their time in ripening.  My plans for this year's preserving is to still can some tomatoes and possibly another batch of sauce.  In the upcoming weeks I will also freeze some green beans and hopefully some cooking greens.  Not sure I will get much else "put up" this year, only harvest and time will tell.  I do love preserving!  I find spending a day putting food away for the winter months extremely satisfying and it brings back such fond memories of my childhood and many summertime hours spent with my Mother, Grandmother and sisters canning, pickling and freezing.
This weekend looks like a beautiful weekend for market!  If you haven't visited one of the local farmers markets, I would encourage you to do so.  On Saturdays Farmer Don is at the Back Mountain Library Market in Dallas and on Sundays he is at the Mountain Top Farmers Market at the Crestwood High School.  If you are at one of these markets, please stop by our table and say hello and ask to sample some tomatoes.  We really love to meet and connect with our members and markets allow us that opportunity.
So, the sun is up now, the dogs are patiently, ok not patiently, waiting for their breakfast.  Time to get off the computer and get on to the chores of the day. 
Until next week......

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