Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Buying Club open this week!!!

Good Morning Dancing Hen Farm Winter Buying Club members!

The buying club is now open for ordering, for delivery this weekend!  Ordering will close Thursday morning at 6 am.  We deliver buying club orders to Bloomsburg on Friday nights in the parking lot at Bloom Naturally between 5:30 and 6 pm.  On Saturday we meet in Dallas (100 Lake Street), in the parking lot from 10 to 10:30 am.  We meet on Saturday from 11 to 11:30 at 900 Rutter Ave in Forty Fort.  This week only, Mountain Top orders will be available at the Mountain Farmers Market from 9 am to 1 pm.
Availability this week includes a fresh batch of Dancing Hen Farm pastured chicken, eggs, a variety of cooking greens, salad greens, winter squash, sweet potatoes, no spray apples, and limited cuts of our Apple Orchard pork.

As always, if you have questions for us or need additional information, please do not hesitate to contact us.

And as always, Thank You for your continued support of our farm and local sustainable agriculture. 

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Last Chicken Share for 2017 includes a Stew Hen

Tuesday, October 24, is the last chicken CSA share delivery of the 2017 season.  This delivery will include a stew hen.  Here is how Dancing Hen Farm cooks stew hens.

This is the last chicken share delivery of the season, so everyone is getting a bonus chicken.  A stew hen.  Stew hens real value is in the nutritious, rich broth they produce when cooked down.

There are many ways to cook a hen.   Here is Dancing Hen Farm's  rendition.
Placed  a thawed stewing hen (cut up, if you would like) in a large stock pot with enough cold water to cover the bird and 2 tablespoons of cider vinegar.  Allow the chicken to sit in the cold water for 30 mins to an hour.   Next, add to the pot, a large quartered onion, 2-3 coarsely chopped carrots, several stalks of chopped celery (include the leaves!), a few cloves of garlic, a bunch of fresh parsley (if available) and some thyme.  Note that the vinegar does not change the taste of the broth, but,  helps extract minerals from the bones, increasing the nutrient content of your broth. 

Bring the pot to a boil and carefully skim off any foam that rises to the surface of the pot.  Turn the heat down and allow pot to slowly simmer for 10 or 12 hours.   After simmering, allow pot to cool slightly and pour contents through a fine strainer or cheese cloth.   Once the bones and meat have cooled enough to handle, remove meat from the bones.  Discard the cooked vegetables and cleaned bones.  Allow broth to cool and skim off any excess fat.   Broth can be used for soups or stews or in any recipe calling for chicken broth.  Broth will keep in jars in the refrigerator for several days or in the freezer for several months.

Stewing hens tend not to be very meaty, so don't be surprised if you end up with a small amount meat.  The meat can be added back to the broth for soups or stews or saved and used for chicken salad, tacos, etc.

Fun at the game...

Farmers Don and Phil tailgating before the Penn State Michigan game.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Start of our Fall CSA

Dancing Hen Farm Fall/Winter CSA 2017 Week 1
Greetings from Dancing Hen Farm!  Welcome to Dancing Hen Farm CSA!
You are receiving this email because you are a member of our 2017 Fall/Winter CSA.  In the next few days you will receive additional emails, including one with details for your specific pick up site and another newsletter.  Sorry for all the emails!  Once the season gets rolling you can generally expect one email a week, our weekly newsletter.
It is finally time. Our first Fall CSA delivery is Tuesday, October 24.  That means ordering starts today!  Ordering for Week 1 will begin today, October 19 at 6 pm and will end Sunday, October 22 at 6 pm. You will need to log into our website using your email and password you registered with, in order to make your selections. If you are having difficulty, please contact the farm. All items are available first come first serve! Happy picking!  If you forget to order, or chose not to order, you will still receive a box, a farmer's choice box.
Please note all CSA boxes will now be available on Tuesday.  We guarantee your box will be at our drop-site after 4 pm.  On farm CSA boxes are available on Tuesday, after 9 am.
Please note, WEEK 1 IS AN EGG WEEK.  This means if you signed up for an egg share, you will receive eggs in your box this week. 
There are a multitude of reasons we do what we do, but most important to us is to be able to share our harvest of nutrient dense vegetables with our community. Thanks to each of you for your support of our farm and local agriculture.

Be safe, be well and watch your inbox for site details and farm news!

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Week 18 Newsletter

Greetings from Dancing Hen Farm.  Welcome to Week 18 of our Summer/Main Season CSA.  Week 18 is the final vegetable delivery of the summer season.  So, if you did not sign up for a fall share, the box you received yesterday, Tuesday October 17, is your last veggie of the season.  Week 18 is not an egg week.  If you purchased a chicken share this year, you will have one final chicken delivery next CSA week on Tuesday, October 24.

Fall/Winter members:  The first fall delivery will be Tuesday, October 24.  That means the window to sign onto the website and pick the items for your box will begin on Thursday, October 19 at 6pm and close on Sunday, October 22 at 6 pm.  Fall members will be receiving a number of emails in the next day or two.  Thank you for your patience, as much of the information is a repeat of our summer info emails, but, we do have new members for fall.

Big news on farm were last night's low temperatures.  We recorded 27 at our weather station up above our barn, near our production fields, and 32 on our back porch.  27 means most of our summer crops were killed or had significant frost/freeze damage.  We were able to salvage beans and peppers by harvesting, but summer squash, okra, and basil are done for the season.  We will store the beans and peppers in our cooler and make them available to our fall members.  Farmer Don just reminded me the frost also killed many of the weeds -- something to really celebrate!  Also time to celebrate greens.  Many of the greens we grow love the cooler weather and will actually become sweeter with frost.

Monday  was a flurry of activity on farm.  Mondays are our big harvest and pack day for Tuesday's deliveries, so it is always a long day in the field and in the pack house.  However, yesterday was even busier as Farmer Don and Farmer Mike scrambled to put the end walls up on our large unheated greenhouse.  We still have some sungold tomatoes in this greenhouse and we are hoping to harvest from them for a few more weeks.  The end walls combined with the lower side walls, will give protection to the tomatoes until overnight temperatures fall into the mid to low 20's.  In addition to harvesting for pack and building end walls, we also were busy getting crops harvest and covered with row cover to protect them from the frost.
Farmers Markets are quickly coming to an end, which means we will be starting our winter buying club in the next few weeks.  Our winter buying club is separate from our CSA buying club.  The winter buying club is a "pay as you go" buying club and requires you meet us at a designated location (or on farm) on Saturday morning to pick up and pay for your items.  If you are interested in this buying club, you will need to log into our website and "purchase" a free winter buying club share.  Once we activate your account and open the buying club, you will be able to order items for pick up.  Please watch your email for announcements concerning the opening of the winter buying club.
Speaking of buying clubs (both the CSA and winter buying clubs).  In the next few weeks, you can expect to see eggs and chicken returning as items for sale.  And by the end of next month our Apple Orchard Pork will also be available.  If you are interested in bulk pork to fill your freezer, please contact the farm for details.

Our kitchen is quickly moving from the grill to the oven.  Last night for dinner we had, what we consider, a very summer like meal.  Chicken, roasted zucchini and roasted potatoes.  Generally we cook this entire meal on the grill, but with the shorter day lengths and cooler temperatures, we cooked the entire meal in the oven.  Last night's chicken was a real treat for us.  We have been sold out of chicken for most of the summer.  So not only have we not had chicken for sale, we also have not had chicken for our own use.  Soon we will have stew hens available, as well, and I cannot wait to replenish my chicken stock supply. 

Boxes.  With this being the last week for delivery, we are asking everyone to return boxes to your drop site so we can pick them up next week.

We are already reflecting on this season and planning for next season.  We may be finally adding some sheep to our production system and have plans to grow some additional crop varieties.  If you have ideas on crops you would like to see us grow, please send us an email.  As always This growing season has been filled with successes and challenges.  We have been happy with our late season bean harvest, our cucumbers, and swiss chard.  Tomatoes and peppers did well, but the cool wet summer delayed ripening and caused disease to establish.  I would say the weather and deer, as always, presented our biggest challenges.  The summer months arrived cool and wet and then our traditionally cooler fall months arrived hot and dry!  However, if Mother Nature had told us this was Her plan, we would have planted our fall crops for summer harvest and our summer crops for fall harvest!  As Farmer Don likes to say "Mother Nature always bats last".  For next year we are hoping to invest in some fencing and better row covers to deter our area's growing deer population. 

Thanks again to all of you for supporting our farm.  We hope everyone has enjoyed sharing the harvest with us. 

So, the sun is rising quickly, the morning coffee has me fully awake.  Time to end this newsletter.
Please watch your email for farm announcements.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Week 16 Newletter

Greetings from Dancing Hen Farm!  

First on the agenda:  announcements and dates.  The CSA boxes delivered on Tuesday, October 3, was Week 16 of our summer CSA.  Week 16 was not an egg week.  There are 2 weeks remaining in our Summer/Main season CSA.   This coming week, Week 17, will be the last egg week.  The last week for vegetable deliveries is October 17.  Chicken Share members:  You will receive your final chicken share delivery on Tuesday, October 24.  Fall/Winter share members.  We need to receive payment for your share prior to deliveries.  Week 1 of this 8 week, extended, season will be Tuesday, October 24 and will be an egg week.  

On to the weather.  Last week brought temperatures in the low 30's to the farm.  This means we were nipped by a light frost.  Most of our plantings were unaffected by this, however our summer squash and snap beans lost a few of their top leaves.  But, we do not expect harvest to be reduced.  Hard to believe we were dealing with frost less than a week ago, with temperatures back in the upper 70's and forecast to be in the low 80's this coming week.  Crazy weather!  Summer in October!  We are even experiencing the dry weather we usually see in the summer as well.  We do need rain.  Farmer Don tends not to put irrigation tubing down in fall/winter crops.  Our irrigation system is not frost-free, so we need to shut it down in the fall to prevent frozen pipes.  Generally this lack of irrigation does not pose a threat to our late season crops.  But this year that is not the case and these crops need water.  So, we are now watering  these fields by hand with a garden hose!  Not the most efficient way to deliver water to our crops, but hopefully we will pull them through this bit of a drought.  

On farm, other than doing the best we can to keep water to our crops, we are still in a bit of a transition.  We are still harvesting summer crops, including some tomatoes, summer squash and beans.  However, our fall crops are also being harvested, including greens, root crops and winter squash.  I anticipate heavier frost in the next week or two, which will officially bring an end to our summer harvest.  We are slowly putting some fields to rest for the winter.   This involves removal of crop residues, some minimal tillage and planting cover crops.  Cover  crops build organic matter in our soil and help keep nutrients available for our crops.  In the next week or so, we will be planting garlic for next year.  Garlic is one of the few crops grown which gets planted in the fall for harvest the following summer.  We are also getting crop planted fields ready for protection.  We will be building low tunnels over many of our crops to protect them from the cold temperatures sure to come in the next month or two.  Low tunnels are mini greenhouses build using bent pipes covered with plastic over top of row crops.  These temporary structures will protect our salad and cooking greens, allowing us to extend our harvest.

In the kitchen we are also anticipating cooler temperatures.  Every fall Farmer Don and I make at least two batches of sauerkraut.  We have a beautiful German fermenting crop which holds approximately 10 pounds of fermenting cabbage.  We feel cooler temperatures are better for the fermentation process, so we wait for a cool down.  We make a very traditional cabbage kraut, without adding caraway seeds or carrots.  We do ferment some other vegetables in addition to cabbage, including carrots and turnips. I will keep you posted on how our fall ferments progress.  Watch our buying club, as some of our sauerkraut may appear there.

Speaking of the kitchen and cooler temperatures, fall and winter also means the appearance of winter squash.  This year we will have delicata, acorn and butternut squash and small pie pumpkins.  Delicatas are a smaller, thinner skinned winter squash.  It is one of the few winter squash with edible skin.  We like to roast sliced delicata squash in a hot oven, coating with a bit of butter and maple syrup right before serving.  Acorn squash are good for stuffing.  Cut in half lengthwise, scoop out the seeds, fill with your favorite filling and bake.  On farm, we stuff these squash with a mixture of sausage, onions, garlic, rice and greens.  Butternut squash is a sweet winter squash and hold up well in soups and stews.  One of our favorite recipes for butternut squash comes from the cookbook "Simply in Season".  It is a pork stew with apples and butternut squash and oh so tasty.  I found a link online http://www.geniuskitchen.com/recipe/butternut-harvest-stew-144857

Speaking of pork, come November, we will have Dancing Hen Farm Apple Orchard Pork available.  We sell our bulk pork by the half and whole and are now taking reservations.  Please contact the farm if you are interested in bulk pork.  A whole hog will yield 125 to 140 pounds of meat and will require at least a 7 cubic feet of freezer space for storage.  We will also have a limited amount of cuts available for purchase through our buying club.  

Farmers markets are starting to wind down for the season.  The last Back Mountain Market is October 14, so if you haven't made it to market yet this might be the Saturday to make a visit.  The Mountain Top Market is scheduled to go through October, depending on weather and availability of our products.

Hard to believe I started this newsletter hours ago!  I so easily get side tracked.  Now I will allow Farmer Don to proof read and hopefully get it sent out before I head to bed!

Until next week.