Thursday, July 26, 2018

Week 7

Greetings from a soggy Dancing Hen Farm!

CSA Week 7 ordering is now underway and will end on Sunday at 6 pm.  Week 7 is an egg week.  Hopefully everyone is enjoying their Week 6 boxes.

Wow!  What more can I say about all the rain this week?  I don't have an amount for here on farm, as our rain gauges are, as Farmer Don would say, "having opportunities right now".  But, I do know Monday was by far one of wettest ever.  We all owe Farmer Don, Stacy, Jane, Joyce, Ann and Lori a huge thank you  for bringing in the harvest and then packing boxes under a leaky roof.  Three solid days of heavy showers has left the farm (and the farmers!) a little soggy.  But, today the sun was shining and already our upper fields are drying out.  And even though the amount of rain was excessive, some of our crops did benefit from this rain.

So, our crops.  Our tomatoes are finally starting to ripen and we expect our cherry tomato (including sungolds!) to become available in larger numbers next week.  Larger tomatoes will need a few more weeks and some warm sunny days before they color up for harvest.  We continue to harvest summer squash and cucumbers although both of these plantings are slowing down a bit.  Our next planting of summer squash is looking good and we will be harvesting off of those plants soon.  Asian greens are looking good, as are our snap beans.  I anticipate greens to be available first, followed by beans.  Our winter squash plantings are looking good. 

Before I forget!  If you are looking to make some pickles, please contact us at the farm for case pricing on cucumbers.

Our kitchen is still focusing on meat and zucchini on the grill, with either a cucumber or a green salad.  Although tonight we had our first cherry tomato salad!  I mixed in some cucumber as well to stretch the tomatoes a bit, but I think the transition to tomatoes is beginning.  Soon I will be talking about sliced tomatoes and tomato sandwiches!  Last week Farmer Don did get a bit more creative in the kitchen.  He pulled out one of our Deborah Madison cookbooks and made some really delicious braised fennel over saffron rice. 

For any of our members and farm friends who are on social media, the farm has a facebook page, a pinterest page and a blog!  I post farm updates, these newsletters and pictures to our facebook page ( and to our blog (  Please follow along! 

With summer in full swing and vacation season upon us, time for some quick housekeeping notes.  If you are expecting chicken or a buying club order, please remember to check any coolers at your drop site for your items.  If you are going on vacation and won't be picking up your box, please let  know so we can donate your share.  Our drop sites are unable to store or keep items refrigerated for you. 

Yes, a bit of a short newsletter this week.  Sorry, I think spending 3 days fretting about all the rain has me tired out!  So, I will say, until next week.  And enjoy those veggies!

Thursday, July 19, 2018

CSA Week 6 Newsletter

Greetings from Dancing Hen Farm!  

Week 6 ordering is now open and will close Sunday at 6 pm.  Week 6 is not an egg week.  We hope everyone is enjoying their Week 5 box.

Sitting on the back porch enjoying a beautiful evening!  We have a wren family in our bird bottle and Jenny Wren is not happy with the dogs, cat and I hanging out near her babies.  With each trip to and from the bottle, she stops and scolds us extensively!  Growing up, we always had wrens nesting in a bird box close to our back porch, as I am so fondly remembering tonight.

After a hot start to the week and some nasty storms on Tuesday, the past few days have been beautiful.  Clear blue skies, low humidity and cool nights for good sleeping.  Our low was 51 on farm this morning!  I stand corrected, Farmer Don just told me it was 46 up in the field this morning!  It does seem the hot and muggies may be back for the beginning of next week; I am sure just in time for Monday's harvest.  This year, I think our harvest days (Mondays) have been some of the hottest ever.  And the gnats are back in full force as well!  

On farm, this is still a transition week for us.  So hang in there, lots of good things coming your way!  Cucumbers and squash continue to produce well.  Snap beans are so close, but just not quite ready for picking.  I anticipate a few more weeks, at least and then we will have beans available.  We have planting of green, yellow, dragon and purple beans.  We also have a small planting of flat Italian style green beans, but those are just starting to grow, so they will be a while yet.  We have lots of tomatoes on the vine, but we will need a few more weeks of heat and sun to ripen them.  Our sungolds and some cherry tomatoes are slowly ripening and again, we anticipate lots of these available in the near future.  Cooking and salad greens are in the ground and these cooler days and nights, combined with Tuesday's rain should have them growing nicely.  This also true for our second round of Asian greens.

Speaking of starting to produce.  Our new flock of laying hens have started to lay!  The first few weeks of eggs are quite small (pullet eggs), but soon those eggs will be in the rotation and we can again offer eggs as a choice item or on our buying club.

It seems I have been talking a lot about what will be happening "soon" in this newsletter, so let's talk a bit about the past.  Today is Farmer Don's and my wedding anniversary!  Yes, we were married in July, one of our busiest times on farm!  Of course, many moons ago, when we promised our love to each other, we were not farming.  Don was climbing the corporate ladder of the restaurant business and I was in graduate school destined, or so I thought, to become a Doctor of Entomology (bugs!).  Now our lives are much simpler and the only climbing Farmer Don does is up the side of the greenhouse when he needs to make a repair to the plastic!  I still have a strange fondness for bugs, but never did become "Dr Miller".

So, the night is moving on and Farmer Don just about has our anniversary dinner ready.  We will again be dining on most all Dancing Hen Farm produced food.  I would say not a bad way to spend our anniversary!

Thanks again to everyone for your continued support.  Have a great week and enjoy those veggies.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

2018 CSA Week 5

Greetings from Dancing Hen Farm!

Welcome to Week 5 of our CSA.  Ordering is now open for Week 5 and will close, Sunday at 6 pm.  Week 5 is an egg week and a chicken delivery week.  If you ordered a chicken share, your chicken will be at your drop site in a cooler.  Please leave the cooler at your drop site.

On farm, we are considering Week 5 a transition week.  We are transitioning from spring greens into summer fruiting crops.  Our greens were really hit hard by the recent heat waves and hence their availability is very limited this week.  We do have more heat tolerant greens coming on, including cooking and salad greens.  Summer squash and cucumbers are loving the hot weather and are really producing.  The plants look good, so we should see several more weeks of nice harvest.  One of our Amish neighbors had a few cherry tomatoes ready for harvest which we were able to offer this week.  These are certified organic.  Our tomatoes are looking good, but not quite ready for picking.  We anticipate sungold cherries will be our first tomato to ripen. We have several planting of beans which are flowering and starting to produce tiny beans, so we should be harvesting beans soon.

The saga of nuisance wildlife on farm continues.  Farmer Don is again doing battle with the raccoons.  This year we have lost some meat birds to the coon family, a first for our farm.  We are fighting back with electric!  Our meat birds are now enclosed in their own electric pen.  A hot wire, close to the ground, seems to be have stumped the coons, at least for now.  Raccoons are crafty, so I will not be surprised if they don't figure out how to get around the fence.  We also have our yearly deer with babies in our orchard.  This year we seem to have one doe and one fawn.  Soon Mommy deer will be bringing baby down to our production fields to teach it where to find nutrient dense organic veggies!  We are hoping our insect row covers will also keep the deer out!

In the kitchen, zucchini on the grill and cucumber salad is still the norm for us.  And we aren't complaining.  Summer squash and cucumbers are something we usually only eat, fresh, in season.  We are starting to harvest some larger zucchini, so I will need to get my zucchini bread recipe out.  I make the bread into muffins which I freeze.  I find these muffins really convenient for breakfast, as they allow me to defrost just the number we need for breakfast.
A quick reminder to please return the wax share boxes for us to reuse.  We also reuse egg cartons and cardboard berry boxes.  Please leave these items at your drop site.

Until next week!
As always, thank you for your continued support!

Saturday, July 7, 2018

2018 CSA Week 4

Greetings from a much cooler Dancing Hen Farm!  Welcome to Week 4 of our CSA.  Week 4 is NOT an egg delivery week.

We hope everyone enjoyed the July 4th holiday.  We enjoyed an inside picnic, due to the rain.  Farmer Don spent much of the day dodging lightening as he strung electric fence around our pastured poultry pens.  It seems our resident raccoon has found our meat chickens.  Hopefully this ankle high electric fence will convince the raccoon to move on.

Wow!  It seems like forever since I have written a weekly newsletter.  As always, Farmer Don is so busy growing and tending the farm, he has trouble finding time for newsletters.  I am not doing much in the fields these days, so I volunteered to take over newsletters again.
After a week (or more?) of temperatures in the 90's, waking this morning to 53 was quite the change.   The air conditioner is off, the windows are open and I am wearing a sweat shirt.  But, I am not complaining, near perfect weather for me today.  It looks like the lower humidity and temperatures will last at least for harvest on Monday.  Last Monday's harvest was a real challenge with hot, hot temperatures, high humidity and the return of the attack gnats! 

The recent heat wave was good for some crops, but not so good for others.  Our summer squash and zucchini have really started to produce and our tomatoes and peppers are being pushed along nicely.  Summer squash varieties should continue to produce for many more weeks.  Tomatoes  have fruit on the plants and we are waiting patiently for our first sungold to ripen.  Cucumbers are also starting to be harvested.  Our peas, however, did not do so well in the heat and  are about done for the season.  Greens also tend not to like hot weather, but Farmer Don thinks he saved most of those by pushing cool irrigation water to their roots and utilizing shade cloth to give them a slightly cooler growing environment. 

A sure sign we are in the midst of summer are farm meals.  We are now focusing on freshly harvested veggies, rather than the preserved harvest from last season.  Lots of what I like to call "kitchen sink" stir fries, featuring whatever veggies are harvested.  And right now we are eating lots of zucchini on the grill.  This is by far Farmer Don's favorite way to cook and eat zucchini.  He slices the squash thinly length wise and salts it a bit to draw out the moisture.  Next he marinates the slices in some olive oil or Italian dressing and then tosses them on the grill.  Once cooked, a bit of Parmesan cheese is added to each slice and they are ready to be eaten.  This week we enjoyed our first cucumber salad, a farm and Miller household favorite.  Thinly sliced cucumbers, onions, and peppers (if you have them) are tossed with a slightly sweet, oil and vinegar dressing.  The leftover dressing can be kept in the fridge for about a week and each day new veggies can be added. 

Ok, a quick apology to those of you who have been with our CSA for a number of years!  I am fairly certain, I have written about grilling zucchini and cucumber salad every year.  Sorry, I guess, here on farm, we are creatures of habit.  Maybe I will find some new recipes for next week?  But, grilled zukes and cucumber salad are soooo good!  And only enjoyed during this short season we call summer here in this part of Pennsylvania.

Our farmers markets are beginning.  Last week was our first Mountain Top Market.  Thank you, Jason, for filling in for Farmer Don!  The Mountain Top Market is every Sunday in the Crestwood High School parking lot from 9 to 1.  Next Saturday is our first Back Mountain Market.  This market is every  Saturday from 9 to 2 and this year market will be held at the Dallas High School.  Please note, Hildebrandt Road is closing for construction, so you will need to follow the detour to the high school.  If you go to either of these markets, please, stop by our tables and say hello to Farmer Don.

The day is getting away from me!  Farmer Don is busy harvesting for tomorrow's market and I still have wash to hang out.  Time to get moving!

Thanks once again, to each of you for your support.  It is you, our friends and community, who keep us growing.