Greetings from Dancing Hen Farm!
CSA Members: This is Week 4 of our Fall CSA. Week 4 is not an egg week. Thank you for your patience with last week's ordering. Last Thursday was a hectic one here on farm. More on this below.
Buying Club Members: The buying club will be open for deliveries this weekend. We should have eggs, veggies, chicken and 2017 Dancing Hen Farm Apple Orchard Pork is now available. Ordering begins tomorrow, Tuesday, morning at 5 am and ends Thursday morning at 5 am.
The weather first, of course. The end of last week brought "January in November" to Pennsylvania, including our farm. The lowest temperature, for us, was Saturday morning when we awoke to a low of 12. Not bad, considering we had mentally prepared for single digit lows! I am not sure a vegetable farmer can ever physically prepare for temperatures in the single digits, but mentally we were prepared to lose most everything in our fields and even our unheated greenhouse. As we expected, we did lose our sungold tomatoes in the greenhouse, but not a bad sungold season, considering we were picking them up until the first week of November! We were able to cover some of our field grown greens and were pleasantly surprised to find that many survived. We also were able to harvest and store other greens and some celery. What this means to our members, is that greens will continue to be available in smaller quantities.
Last Thursday was a crazy day on farm! As we were scrambling to harvest and cover what was left in our fields, another annual Dancing Hen Farm was also occurring. The annual running of the pigs. Those who have followed us for years know that each summer our pigs spend their days high on a hill in an apple orchard. They have a great life, lounging under the trees, eating fallen apples, rooting for bugs and roots, and wallowing in their personal mud hole. Each fall we move (or run) the pigs from the apple orchard down to the barn. Every group of pigs has a slightly different dynamic and therefore some years the running is easier than other years. This year the pigs were not completely cooperative, but we did get them to the barn without too many issues. However the real issues were only beginning. On farm, Thursday was a day of drizzle and rain, resulting in wet grass and mud. These wet conditions caused the livestock trailer (and its truck) to become stuck in our yard. After multiple attempts involving winches, tractors and trucks, the trailer was still stuck. Finally it was decided we would try Plan B (or was that Plan D or J or maybe even M?) and the trailer was moved downhill across the yard and out onto the road. It was then backed down a firmer path and a corral was built using gates and vehicles between the barn and the trailer and the pigs were pushed onto the trailer. And the mud bogging began again! Yep, trailer stuck! One truck stuck and another truck sliding sideways towards the greenhouse. Finally trucks were used to pull other trucks, quiet returned to the farm and the pigs were on their way! I want to personally thank everyone who helped us this year -- it was muddy, wet and frustrating, but the mission was accomplished!
Most years the running of the pigs represents a slowing of farm activity. We start to slowly transition into winter mode. This year that is not the case. We are slowing down a bit, but our Fall CSA is keeping us quite busy. The Fall CSA is about half the size of our Summer CSA, but Farmer Don is doing all the harvest and pack for the Fall CSA himself. We also are experimenting with a late batch of pastured chickens, so we still have animals in the fields needing care. With the recent turn of weather to winter, we turned off our irrigation to avoid frozen pipes and now all water for the chickens (broilers and egg layers) must be hauled from the house (and chicken waters thawed when temperatures are too low). We are thinking the winter slowing will happen around the New Year!
Speaking of the New Year. We will be opening registration for our 2018 CSA soon. Watch your email for an announcement in the next few weeks. As with past years, we anticipate offering returning member discounts and early bird discount for members registering and paying for their shares before the first of the year. Again, watch for an upcoming email with discount details. Egg shares and chicken shares will also be available for 2018.
I want to take a moment for a bit of a public service announcement. I know I have talked about this in the past, but I want to revisit the topic. Please if you have a pet or animal which you do not wish to take care of, do not drop these animals at rural properties thinking they will be taken care of. Realize that most farms and country properties have all the animals and pets they need or can support. Also realize that you could be jeopardizing the animals you are dropping. Kittens, for example, are extremely vulnerable to being attacked (and yes killed) by other cats, dogs, or hawks. Most animals become territorial and introducing new animals is often not an easy or pleasant process. Please spay and neuter your pets to avoid unwanted kittens and puppies.
Ok this newsletter is getting a bit long. I type everything into Word and then cut and paste it to our website and blog. I like to keep newsletters under 2 pages in the Word document and this one is fast approaching and about to go over 2 pages! For that reason, I will end here!
Have a great week. Thanks for your continued support!