Monday, September 23, 2019

2019 CSA Week 14 News

Greetings from Dancing Hen Farm!  Welcome Fall!

I hope everyone is enjoying their Week 14 boxes.  Week 14 was not an egg week.  After Week 14, there are 5 deliveries in our 2019 CSA.  Please watch your email accounts for some upcoming CSA announcements.

Attention Chicken Share Members:  This week, Week 15 will be a chicken delivery week.  On Wednesday, September 25th, please remember to look for a cooler with your chicken at your pick up site.  And please leave the cooler at the pick-up site so we can re-use it.  Week 17 will also be a chicken week.
Sorry this newsletter is so late in getting out to everyone, we have been experiencing some computer problems here on farm.

The calendar says this is the first day of fall, but the temperatures recently are more like summer.  We have been hoping for some rain here on farm.  Unfortunately today's cold front seems to be moving through our area with only a minimal shower.  "barely enough rain to wet under the trees".  I just checked the radar and there are still some storms to our west, so I will keep my fingers crossed we will get a bit more rain.

Our fields are starting to feel the effects of lack of rain.  Our fall greens are really suffering and many have stopped growing.  We will do our best to get crops to you as they become harvestable.  Winter squash and sweet potatoes are new on the harvest list right now.  Tomatoes and peppers are starting to slow down a bit.  Kale should continue to be available, as should storage crops of potatoes, onions and carrots.  We have some beautiful French breakfast radishes sizing up  and will be on the choice list soon.

On farm last week we welcomed Farmer Phil back from vacation.  Phil and his family spent a week at Ocean City Maryland.  It sounds like they had a relaxing time crabbing, eating, visiting the arcade and watching the motorcycles roll into town for bike week.  As I have said before Farmer Phil is a key member of our harvest crew.  He spends harvest day in our pack house, weighing and portioning items and getting boxes ready to be packed with shares.  He is really missed when is away, so we were all happy to him return last week.  I also know he was missed at the Back Mountain Farmer's Market as Farmer Don told me customers were asking for him during the markets he missed.  So welcome back Phil, you were missed on farm and at market!

In the kitchen, we are gradually shifting from what I call summer food to winter food.  Fall and winter for us mean roasts, casseroles, soups and stews.  Farmer Don made a really nice pork roast the other week complete with some delicious root vegetables cooked with the meat.  We also recently made eggplant lasagna using not only our own eggplant and also freshly canned sauce.  Speaking of sauce, canning season is also about wrapped up for this season.  We are hoping to can some applesauce next weekend.  And we have plans for some sauerkraut a bit later in the fall.  Then we will get busy planning meals to use all this preserved food!

We still have bulk/freezer apple orchard pork available.  We sell bulk pork by the half or whole.  All cuts come individually wrapped and frozen.  If you have questions about purchasing freezer pork or if you would like to reserve pork, please contact the farm.  Individual cuts of pork will be made available through our buying club.

Wow!  Time is getting away from me again.  I still have dishes to clean up from supper, so I will sign off until next week.  As always, thank you for your support of our small family farm.  And from Farmer Don "be safe, be well and enjoy those veggies".

Thursday, September 12, 2019

2019 CSA Week 13 News

Greetings from Dancing Hen Farm!

We hope all our CSA members are enjoying their Week 13 share boxes.  Week 13 was an egg share week.  Ordering for Week 14 is now open.

It looks like fall, the leaves are slowly turning, the golden rod is in full bloom and the days are most definitely getting shorter.  But it certainly feels like summer is still here.  Just as I was getting ready to pack away some summer clothes we get another day of "air you can wear", as the local weatherman likes to say.  We are not complaining on farm, as some warmer temperatures will help with ripening of the last of our summer crops.  Tomatoes, zucchini, peppers, beans and eggplant all like warmth.  However our fields could really use some rain.  Yesterday and today some areas very close to us received some nice rain, but here on farm we have had only a few short lived showers.  This lack of rain is really delaying the maturation of our fall greens.  And the forecast is for another dry week ahead. 

Although dry, our fields are still looking good moving into fall.  We continue to harvest tomatoes.  This week we have placed green tomatoes on the availability list, so get your fried green tomato recipes ready.  We have also made tomato seconds available.  Seconds are generally what we eat here on farm.  They are usually ripe and ready to eat, but may have a few spots or cracks on them.  If you order seconds you can expect a generous portion.  Other than tomatoes, we are harvesting a small number of beans and zucchini is also making a late summer come back.  Like tomatoes, peppers should continue to be available until we receive a killing frost.  We have some beautiful radishes starting to size up and with a bit of moisture, they should be available next week.  Hopefully in the next few weeks we will be harvesting some tender young greens as well. 

I am really happy to be doing some canning and preserving this year.  As I have said in the past, I really enjoy canning and preserving.  It brings back not only fond memories of my childhood, but also of various gardens Farmer Don and I have tended over the years.  Last year was really tough for me, as I found myself too ill to spend time extending our harvest.  So, I set a goal this year to get canning.  So yesterday, on one of the hottest days of the year, for some reason, I decided to make good on that goal and can tomatoes.  Well to be fair to myself, the tomatoes decided they needed to be canned.  After pack on Tuesday night, Farmer Don told me he had tomatoes harvested which were destined to become pig food if they were not used.  They would not hold for the weekend's markets or next week's pack.  So I dug the canner out of the closet and got busy Wednesday morning processing tomatoes.  And boy did I heat up the house!  Even the dogs couldn't stay in the kitchen!  I only got a yield of 6 quarts (one short of a canner load), but I am happy to say all 6 quarts sealed and are resting on the kitchen table, ready to be washed off and put away for winter use.  And my canning chores, hopefully,  are not over for the year. 

It seems, once again I have been writing this newsletter for a long time.  The weather has now cooled, the dogs have been fed and it is time for me to get some supper started.  On the menu tonight -- salmon on a bed of sauted kale and sungold tomatoes.  And, of course, some sliced heirloom tomatoes as a salad. 

Thank you to each of you for your continued support of our small farm and local sustainable agriculture. 

Thursday, September 5, 2019

2019 CSA Week 12 News

Greetings from Dancing Hen Farm.

We hope everyone is enjoying their Week 12 CSA boxes.  Week 12 was not an egg week.  Ordering is now open for Week 13.

The recent rains have been welcome on farm.  We are still operating without our farm well and pump and therefore have only limited irrigation for our crops.  Our farm is hilly and our soils are rocky, which means our fields drain and therefore dry out surprisingly quick.  These well drained soils are a real blessing when we get flooding rains, but during drier times, our crops often show signs of water stress.  Farmer Don has set up a gravity fed system to get water to some of our more vulnerable crops, but other plantings are only being water by rainfall. 

Despite this lack of irrigation, our crops continue to look good.  New to the harvest list this week include yellow snap/wax beans, delicata squash and an assortment of hot and sweet peppers.  Delicata is the first of the winter squash varieties to be available and should continue to be available for several weeks.  Look for other winter squash in the upcoming weeks.  Wax beans should become available in larger numbers and hopefully we will also have dragon and purple snap beans available soon.  Our fall cabbage is g sizing up and should be ready for harvest in the coming weeks.  We did not have luck with our spring radishes, but fall radishes are up and looking good.  With any luck we will have radishes in a week or two.  Kale and chard will continue to be available and fall greens plantings are close to being harvestable.  Our tomato plants are, for the most part looking good.  We have a bit of disease, but we are hoping to continue harvest until a frost kills our plants.  We are doing our best to get tomatoes to you as they ripen.  As many of you with home gardens may already know, this has been a slow year for tomato ripening. 

In the kitchen, I finally got around to making eggplant sandwiches.  Originally I was going to roast the eggplant slices on the grill, but decided on oven roasting them instead.  I also added sungold tomatoes and a few capers to the roasting pan.  The sandwiches were assembled by spreading ciabatta rolls with some pesto, adding a slice of fresh mozzarella, a slice or two of roasted eggplant topped with some roasted sungolds and the juice from the roasting pan.  The rolls I had were a bit tough, making the sandwiches hard to eat, but the flavors were really good.  Farmer Don and I both decided the sandwiches needed to make a repeat appearance.  Since I had some mozzarella cheese leftover, the next day I made a delicious caprese salad using a couple of beautiful heirloom tomatoes.  Nothing says the end of summer to me like thick slices of fresh heirloom tomatoes and basil!

As most of you know we have two farm dogs, Shady and Rosie.  Rosie is a Border Collie and has all the quirks of that breed.  Shady is a mixed breed and was a stray who decided Dancing Hen Farm would be a good place to call home.  Shady has always been a bit of a forager.  She will pick ripe berries off plants, even going as far as to test a berry's ripeness before she picks and eats it.  We have to keep harvested cucumbers and summer squash covered or she will steal and eat them.  And don't even get me started on Shady and eggs!  Recently she found another farm product to forage, sungold tomatoes.  Farmer Don came in from harvest the other night with a big grin on his face telling me how cute Shady was.  It seems as he harvested the cherry tomatoes into the bucket, Shady picked them out and ate them.  I don't think she has learned to pick them herself yet, but I am sure it is only a matter of time.  Next year we may need to plant extra tomatoes for Shady!

So, it is getting late, I am getting tired and I am already late getting this newsletter out to everyone.  I will end here.  Have a great week!  Enjoy those veggies.  And please keep our neighbors to the south dealing with the aftermath of Dorian in your thoughts and prayers.