Greetings from Dancing Hen Farm!
Welcome to Week 4 of our 2019 CSA. Week 4 is not an egg week.
The weather word this last week has been humidity. Today we awoke to a morning of rain. We had not anticipated this. We knew there was a good chance of showers today, but assumed we would be dealing with those all too familiar passing summer thunder storms. Instead it seems a band of rain is stalling over us giving us what I would classify as rain, not showers. We also anticipated cooler temperatures this morning, but we awoke to temperatures still in the 70's! As Farmer Don likes to remind us, Mother Nature always bats last! I did just check the radar and it looks like the rain is slowing slipping past us, so some muddy field work will be possible a bit later today.
Our fields are looking good. We are having our usual battles with deer and groundhogs, but in general most crops are growing well. We are now planting our third plantings of chard and kale and soon will begin seeding our fall crops for planting in August. I always find it odd that we seed fall crops in the heat of summer! Cucumbers look really good and we should begin harvesting them in the next week or two. We are still harvesting peas, but they are slowing down due to the heat. Summer squash continues to produce and soon we will be harvesting eight ball zucchini, yellow squash and patty pans, with zucchini harvest continuing. Our Swiss Chard and Kale is really beautiful right now and we should continue to have these available going forward. Tomatoes are looking good, but will most likely be a later harvest for us. Our tomatoes got a late start and unfortunately one of our four legged pests now seems to have a taste for tomatoes and has been trimming them back for us with their eating. In the past certain crops, including tomatoes have been safe from deer and ground hog but I guess the new generation of wildlife has a different palate.
I want to take a bit of time to thank some of those who help us out here on farm. First, a big thank you to CSA members Alex and Maria. Alex and Maria spent the Fourth of July on farm helping Farmer Don finish up some planting and they also helped out on Sunday at the Mountain Top Market. Also a big Thank You to Farmer Phil. Farmer Phil has helped us for a number of years now and many of you know him as Farmer Don's helper at the Back Mountain Farmers Market. Phil also helps with CSA deliveries and is in charge of weighing and portioning in our pack house. Stacy is another helper on farm. Stacy has been volunteering her time for several years and can be found early in the season helping in the fields. Now that the CSA has started, Stacy spends a long day on farm harvesting and washing share items. Joyce, another volunteer, can also be found here on harvest day. Joyce not only helps with harvest, but also becomes my driver when Farmer Don cannot accompany me to doctors' appointments and therapy sessions. Ken, another farm volunteer is a bit of a jack of all trades, helping in the fields, harvesting and running a mean weed eater. And last, but not least, Lori. Lori works, as Farmer Don says, second shift. She arrives late in the afternoon and works into the evening helping Farmer Don pack CSA boxes.
As a side note, we are always looking for good volunteers or work share people. Due to weekend farm markets, hours generally need to be daytime Monday to Friday. If interested, please contact us and we will try to work something out.
In the kitchen, we are still using the grill to try and keep the heat out the house and farmer Don is still doing his specialty, grilled zucchini. Last night we had grilled eight ball. For those of you not familiar, eight ball zucchini are zucchini which grow round rather than long and they are good for grilling as they are easy to slice uniformly. We also are still eating a lot of chard and peas. I have never frozen peas, but I asked Farmer Don to pick some extras for me today, so I can experiment with freezing some. Freezing peas will be new to me, as I have always thought peas are best eaten fresh, usually right off the vine!
Market season is in full swing. Saturdays you can find Farmer Don at the Back Mountain Farmers Market in Dallas and Sundays you can find him at the Mountain Top Farmers Market. Both of these markets are growing with some great farmers and vendors selling their wares and are well worth the trip. If you are at either of these markets, please stop by and say hello.
As many one you may recall from a past newsletter, I am a bit of a bug person, having spent many, many classroom and work hours studying bugs. This has made me aware of insects and their unique behaviors. Recently, I have been watching stunning shiny black, almost blue, metallic wasps. These are spider or pompilild wasps. The other day, I was able to watch the behavior I was looking for. I saw one of these wasps nap a spider out of its web, paralyze it and carry it off. So efficient and so incredible! The wasp will use this spider as a vessel to rear its young. I will not bore you with the details, but just say - "how cool is that?!". A venomous insect attacking and paralyzing another venomous arthropod and then using it as a kind of food filled nursery for its babies. Yes, I know probably way too much science and probably way too much talk of killing and paralyzing, especially, just, as I got done talking about cooking and food! And maybe the doctors are right, now that I have retired early, maybe I do need a hobby! But, the next time you see one of those shiny black wasps, think about following it and watching it catch a spider.
Ok, time to wrap up! The rain has stopped and although it is still cloudy, the sky seems to be brightening. Have a great week!