Saturday, September 22, 2018

CSA Week 13 Newletter

Greetings from Dancing Hen Farm!

We hope everyone enjoyed their Week 13 boxes.  Ordering is now underway for Week 14 of our CSA.  After Tuesday's delivery, there are 6 weeks remaining in the CSA.  Week 14 is not an egg week.

With the fall equinox knocking on our door, today really feels like fall has arrived.  Cool and cloudy, just what the vegetable diseases ordered!  Every night the local news media seems to be interviewing another farmer who is talking about crop loss due to this year's challenging weather.  I notice the pumpkin fields near us are being harvested, but the plants are near dead from mildew.  This grower is bringing in a harvest, but from the looks of the plants and pumpkins, his harvest is most definitely smaller than he anticipated.  These are the same fields I watched being aerial sprayed with fungicides earlier in the summer.  Watching fields being sprayed by a helicopter is quite a sight and actually a bit scary!  These fields have a power line running down middle.  The pilot would swoop over the field and release the spray.  As he approached the power line, he would abruptly turn the helicopter what seemed to be straight, nose up and pop over the line, only to level it out on the other side.  Not only was this maneuver scary, but also the fact that these fields were being sprayed in the middle of the day, beside a busy road and very near houses with laundry hanging on the line and possibly even children playing in the yard!  I remember doing field work for the University of Florida, too many years ago to admit.  Our research plots were on large commercial farms and these growers utilized aerial application for most of their pesticide applications.  The pilots of these planes and helicopters would do a fly over the fields to look for workers and if they spotted anyone in the field, they would continue to circle, getting quite low over our heads, until we left the area.  It was nice to be warned, although a bit unnerving to have a plane or helicopter buzzing you so closely!  In our fields, thankfully, we don't have to worry about being chased out of the fields by aerial applicators! 

As with every year, our fields are a mix of some crops coming to an end and others growing nicely.  , Most of the summer crops have succumbed to disease and weeds.  But we have worked hard to get some plantings of greens going and they are looking good!!  Watch for these greens to become available in the next few weeks.  Mixed baby Asian greens should be available first, followed closely by some arugula.  The Asian greens will be young and tender and therefore can be eaten raw as a salad or lightly sauted or stir fried.  Winter squash varieties continue to be harvested.  Storage crops, including carrots, potatoes, sweet potatoes, and cabbage, should continue to be available through the end of the season.

In our kitchen, last night, we most likely had the last of summer time staple, BLT's.  Although we had to modify the recipe a bit and make BKT's, substituting kale for lettuce. Those of you who know Farmer Phil know that his BLTs are made with bacon, lettuce and toast, as he does not like tomatoes.  He calls the sandwiches with tomato, BLTTs.  So I am thinking, according to Farmer Phil, we had BKTT's for dinner! 

Last week's newsletter talked about counting your blessings.  I do try to spend some time each day counting my blessings and during one of these meditations, I realized I forgot a huge blessing for our farm.  That blessing, is our CSA members and farm friends.  We are so blessed to have a great group of people who support us and our farm.  As I have said in the past, it is you, our community, who keeps up growing.

The clock is telling me Farmer Don will be home from market soon so I will end here.  Have a great week, enjoy the veggies and don't forget to count your blessings.

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Week 12 CSA Newsletter

Greetings from Dancing Hen Farm!!

We hope everyone is enjoying their Week 12 boxes.  Week 12 was not an egg week.  Ordering for Week 13 is now underway and will end Sunday at 6 pm.  Week 13 will be a CHICKEN WEEK.  So, if you purchased a chicken share, please be sure to pick up your chicken with your vegetables next Tuesday.  After next Tuesday's Week 13 delivery, there are 7 weeks remaining in our CSA.

Rain!  Yep it is still raining!  But, as I have said before, time to count our blessings.  Sitting here watching the news coverage of the hurricane and my heart is breaking!  So thankful we are measuring our rain in inches and not in feet, like our friends to the south!  So thankful we are spending this evening in our home and not evacuating.  So thankful we are losing our tomatoes and not our home to the rain and storms.  I could go on...

In the fields, we are muddy!  And yes our tomatoes, unfortunately, are about done for the season, succumbing to disease brought on by this wet weather.  We still have some nice looking green cherry tomatoes on the vine and hopefully this weekend's dry sun will ripen them and keep them from splitting.  Snap beans are also a victim of the rain and are most likely done for the season, but our flat Italian beans are looking good.  Ground cherries are coming on strong.   As summer squash starts to slow a bit, we now have some winter squash available.  Our newly planted greens are up and growing and should be available soon.  We have started to harvest eggplant and hopefully, with a bit of luck, they should be available in greater numbers.

We have a few new additions on farm.  20 turkeys!  A spur of the moment decision, found Farmer Don ordering some turkey poults as an on farm experiment.  We have been raising pastured chickens for quite a while, but this is our first attempt at turkeys.  Right now the baby turkeys are in our barn under a heat lamp, but will eventually move to the field once they get a bit larger and have a few more feathers.  Stay tuned for, what I am sure will be some turkey adventures.  Let's hope the stories don't involve Rosie chasing turkeys around the farm.

The golden rod is blooming, the days are shorter and leaves are changing a bit.  Which means soup season has begun!  Farmer Don spent some time in the kitchen this week making two of my favorites, potato leek soup and a floating biscuit chili/stew.  The leeks were courtesy of Farmer Phil and the soup paired perfectly with grilled cheese and tomato sandwiches.  The chili was recipe found in Shannon Hayes' The Grassfed Gourmet.  I would recommend this book to anyone cooking/eating grassfed meats.  Shannon Hayes is a grass farmer, homemaker and homeschooler in New York State and is one of my favorite authors, bloggers and speakers.  Her website is

I need to wrap this up, as Farmer Don is ringing the dinner bell.  Tacos tonight made with Dancing Hen Farm ground pork.
Thanks, as always, for your support of our small family farm.  And remember to count your blessings.

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

2018 CSA - Halfway notes from the Farmer

2018 CSA - Halfway notes from the Farmer
Fri, 31 Aug 2018
Hi Friends,
I'm taking a few minutes out of my market harvest day to share my thoughts with you as we move into the second half of our CSA season.
Number one, I want to thank everyone for all the support, thoughts and prayers sent our way as we worked to provide you with the first half harvest of what has been easily our most challenging season to date.
Number two, I want to reassure everyone we are working hard to have a successful second half of the season. (If Mother Nature will abide) As you all know we share the risk with you when it comes to sharing our harvest. We always do our best to provide you with the freshest, most nutritious vegetables we can, as well as animals raised in a natural environment. This past Tuesday, with the heat index well above 100 degrees , we seeded fall crops for future harvest. Today, I'm excited to see the damp conditions which will really help with germination. Our tomatoes, squash, cantalope and winter squash have all been affected by mildew. I'm hoping we will be able to harvest fruit prior to the plants' demise. The fruit on the vines look good, so I'm thinking a harvest will happen and continue. Lot's of okra coming on, so get ready for that. Also, my apologies to folks last week for the over call on tomatillos. I got excited to see the fruit, but most of the tommys hadn't filled the husk. But we do have lots to come, so get those salsa verde recipes out. Beans this year have been tough with the weather, but we do have a planting of Italian pole beans which look really nice. Maybe a week or two out. I really like our slicing tomatoes this year, nice round red tomatoes, Sorry to say though that our heirloom tomatoes got wiped out before they even had a chance to get going. We lost over 500 plants over night, the day after planting, to some sort of varmit. My spirit was broken seeing that, with no chance to replant as the timing would not work. But, as we always have we move on, can't dwell on the past. Play the hand you're dealt. Unfortunately you guys are along for the ride.
This week we have been contacted by some very disappointed members. We know the first half has been a struggle and again we are working hard to have a great second half. I will put it out there that if you are unhappy with your share, contact us. We'll do all we can to make right for you. Keep in mind we have ten more weeks of deliveries. Maybe September will turn out to be a beautiful month, that's what I'm feeling as we gear up for the fall.
So, time to wrap up and continue harvest. I'll jump off my soap box with one last thought that I always go back to and that is community. We are the Dancing Hen Farm community through thick and thin. We help each other in times of need, and right now support is what we need. Many, many folks have been affected much worse than us, but we;re feeling the struggle also. Give us your patience and understanding and your support will be rewarded. After this first half of the season, there's nothing left to do but smile, smile, smile....
Be well friends,
Farmer Don