Thursday, September 21, 2017

A farm visitor and Week 14 Newsletter

Greetings from Dancing Hen Farm.  Welcome to Week 14 of our Summer/Main Season CSA.  There are 4 weeks remaining in the Summer CSA.  Our new 8 week Fall/Winter CSA will begin immediately after the Summer CSA ends.  Week 14 is NOT and egg week.  Week 14 IS a Chicken Week.
The dog days of summer seem to have arrived in September this year.  Almost as if Mother Nature got her months mixed up, with cool August and now a hot September.
We are not complaining about the warm weather here on farm, as we have some late planted summer crops which are really enjoying this bit of a heat wave.  Our last planting of summer squash is looking beautiful and we should be harvesting off of these plants for several weeks, or until we get a hard frost.  We have a small planting of flat Italian green beans which also are starting to sizing up nicely.  We will have to see how the other beans recover from their deer attack.  We have our fingers crossed that our broccoli will size for harvest as well.  Lettuces are looking good, so salad mix should continue.  We should continue with small okra harvests and tomatillo harvests until a hard freeze.  Greens, including a nice planting of radicchio, are looking really good.  Our high tunnel (unheated greenhouse) is planted with fall and winter greens, including a beautiful bed of Asian greens to be harvested as a stir fry mix.
We had an unexpected visitor on farm this week.  Monday morning, just as everyone was gathering to begin harvesting, we spotted a large bald eagle perched in a lone apple tree in one of our pastures.  It sat there for quite awhile, as if it were watching over the farm.  Most likely watching over our chickens and contemplating its next meal!  We were convinced it was large enough to carry off a small child or one of our dogs.  Although eagles pose a real threat to our free range chickens, there was something quite magical about this beautiful bird perched high in a tree.  What a nice sight to start the morning with!
Several weeks ago, I had another beautiful and exciting, although maybe not quite as majestic, sighting.  We have quite a bit of wild milkweed growing on our farm and I make it point to stop and check them often for caterpillars, monarch butterfly caterpillars, to be exact.  In the ten plus years that we have owned this farm, I have rarely seen a monarch caterpillar, so I was quite excited to spot a late stage caterpillar on one my surveyed milkweed plants.   I was hopeful this year, as I have been seeing many more adult butterflies.  Maybe the monarch population is starting to rebound, just as the bald eagle population seems to be rebounding and perhaps both of these beauties will become regular visitors on our farm.
Ah, yes, from nature, to the kitchen!  We are still busy cooking on the grill.  Farmer Don is really excited to still be eating grilled zucchini -- one of his favorites.  Tonight we are having a grilled ham steak.  I like to grill pineapples alongside the ham steak.  Out of convenience, I often use canned pineapple and I like to marinate the steak in the juice the rings are packed in.  We also have been really enjoying our fall salad mix and are once again having salads nightly.  When we aren't having fall salad mix as our salad, we have been enjoying massaged mustard greens.  Very easy and really good alongside fish or grilled meats.  As with any massaged greens salad (think kale), start by placing cleaned greens in a bowl, sprinkle with some coarse salt and some olive oil.  Next, use your hands to massage the salt and oil into the mustard greens. When the mustard greens begin to wilt, they are ready to be dressed and served.  We like to dress this salad with a balsamic reduction.  And I like a sweeter dressing, so when I make balsamic reduction,  I mix one half cup of balsamic vinegar with 2 tablespoons of honey.  Bring the vinegar/honey mixture to a boil and simmer for about 10 minutes to reduce the volume.  Allow the reduction to cool and drizzle atop individual servings of greens.  Extra reduction can be stored in the refrigerator.  Note: if you are not a fan of sweetness, you can eliminate or reduce the amount of honey.
It looks like another beautiful weekend for a farmers market. If you haven't visited your favorite farmers market this season, this weekend might be a good time to get out, support your local producers and shake the hand that grows your food.  Farmer Don and Farmer Phil will be at the Back Mountain Market on Saturday.  This market is at the Dallas Elementary School.  On Sunday, you can find Farmer Don at the Mountain Top Market, held at the Crestwood High School.  If you go to either of these markets, please stop by our table and say "hello".
In closing, I want to again, thank each of you, friends and members of our farm, for your support.  As I have often said, without your support, we would not be farming and preserving this rocky hillside we call home.  We need to preserve small family farms and to preserve small family farms, we need consumers willing to support these farms.  So, thank you for doing your part!

In Farmer Don's words:  "be safe, be well and enjoy those veggies" 

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