Greetings From Dancing Hen Farm!
Welcome to Week 10 of our 2019 CSA. Week 10 is not an egg week.
The dog days of summer were definitely upon us this past week. Hot, humid and with pop up thunder storms. Fairly typical weather for August in Pennsylvania. The weather predictors are telling us a change is on the way with almost fall like temperatures arriving for the weekend. The farmers, the dogs and I are all ready for some cooler weather. As much as I enjoy the bountiful harvest we enjoy in August and September and hate to say good-bye to the beautiful fresh veggies, I am ready for some cooler weather and dare I say fall.
We are still without farm water here on farm and therefore are still carrying water to water our animals and plants. This also means we do not have irrigation in our fields, so we are actually looking for some soaking rains today. A huge thank you to Stacy for all her dedication to our farm and animals. Yesterday, she rose to the challenge. After a very hot morning of harvest, she loaded the Kubota buggy with five gallon buckets of water and hauled water to our chickens and pigs. We hate to see our plants going without water, but we cannot allow our animals to be, even a short period of time, without fresh water.
In the fields, our tomato harvest is ongoing and should continue until frost, or a major disease event. Every year we (along with most vegetable farmers) struggle with late blight of tomatoes. Late blight is very devastating and, even what appears to be a very minor infestation, will spread rapidly and kill most all untreated tomato plants. Late blight has been reported in Pennsylvania this year, so we know it is only a matter of time before it arrives on our farm. Since we do follow organic practices on our farm, we do not use synthetic fungicides to control this disease. We do try to plant some varieties of tomatoes with disease resistance and may spray some copper (organic approved) on our plants. We will keep your posted on how our tomatoes are faring. Right now our tomatoes look beautiful!
Other crops also look good. Peppers are starting to be harvested and our eggplants are very slowly sizing up. Farmer Don asked me to apologize for anyone anticipating carrot tops this week. Carrots going forward will be without the tops, as this last hot spell did not treat our carrot tops kindly. Summer squash and cucumber harvest have both slowed and we are still awaiting new greens to size up. Our leeks look good this year and are safely tucked under insect netting, so we are hoping they will continue to size up and we will get a harvest. Fall cabbage is forming heads and should be ready for harvest towards the end of our CSA.
I am slowly getting back into canning and preserving. As many of you remember, in the past, I have always been busy in the kitchen this time of year with freezing and canning. This year, I have frozen strawberries, blueberries and peppers and dried some herbs. And over the weekend I made a batch of freezer pickles. I think I may be a bit out of practice, as I anticipated a few (3 or 4) pints of pickles, but ended up with 7. I had to make more syrup twice to fill my jars! My next canning job will be tomato sauce. In the past few years, I have been making sauce with my sister, kind of an old fashioned canning party. We are not sure if we will have enough paste tomatoes to make sauce, so I had Farmer Don order some for me from a neighbor. I am thinking the cooler weather this weekend will make a hot cooking and canning job a bit more tolerable. After sauce, we will tackle canning some red slicers and hopefully applesauce this fall.
Speaking of kitchen antics. Last week, Farmer Don made a wacky cake or as one of nephews likes to say " he banged out a wacky cake". This cake was a belated birthday cake for one of our workers. Wacky cake has a lot of tradition on farm and to our family. My Mom made wacky cake often and she passed the recipe on to my sisters and I. Farmer Don has the sweet tooth around here and soon he became the official wacky cake chef. My family always puts a seven minute boiled frosting on the cake (add the egg yolks in the cake). Farmer Don continues the frosting tradition, as well, and has mastered boiled frosting. The frosting is a bit more challenging than the cake. Here on farm, wacky cake is almost always made for birthdays and Farmer Don has even been known to have his interns make their own birthday cakes! If you have never tried wacky cake, it really is a good easy cake to make. Recipes for the cake and the frosting are easy enough to find online.
Here it is already afternoon and Farmer Don will soon be back from deliveries. I need to end this babbling newsletter and move on to the kitchen. Last week Farmer Don fixed our dishwasher and I need to unload and then re-load it. Funny how the kitchen seemed cleaner when I was without the dishwasher and washing dishes by hand!
Have a great week and enjoy this upcoming beautiful weather!