Thursday, July 9, 2020

2020 Week 3 CSA Newsletter


Greetings from Dancing Hen Farm!
 
Welcome to Week 3 of our CSA!  Week 3 is an egg week! 

Some CSA notes to start the newsletter:  We have just purchased new boxes for our shares.  Boxes are a fairly large expenditure for us each season, so please treat them with care.  The new boxes are stiff and sometimes hard to work with.  So, rather than immediately pulling up on the top to open your box, please PUSH DOWN first to allow the tabs to release rather than tear.  The farm and our boxes thank you for your help with this!

It seems as though summer has arrived!  Lots of heat and humidity over the last week.  Yesterday brought some nice rain to the farm.  We had been missing many of the storms which popped up near us the last few days and we really needed some soaking rain.  And with Farmers Don and Phil out on deliveries, it was the perfect day for rain! 

Fields are looking good and filling up with plants.  String beans should continue to be available with numbers increasing.  Summer means zucchini and our zucchini is looking good, so get your recipes ready.  Unfortunately, lettuce does not like the heat and these hot summer days, so look for a lull in lettuce.  Harvests of beets and potatoes should continue.  Our kale is looking really good right now.

Speaking of kale, I always get a bit of a smile on my face when I think about kale.  When we first started to sell at farmer's markets, we spent a good deal of time educating our customers on kale.  Many people thought kale was simply a garnish, but the news media was telling everyone what a super food it was.  We learned quickly our customers were curious and needed to know that kale could be eaten, it was delicious, and that it was good for you.  We learned people were willing to try kale and we just needed to have some easy ways for them to prepare it.  I spent lots of time telling people about sauteing kale and making a farm favorite of roasted potatoes, kale and sausage.  What is funny is that suddenly, overnight suddenly, everyone at market wanted kale and we could not grow enough.  Customers not only were demanding kale, they were passing recipes on to us and even knew the difference between red Russian and curly kale!  About this time I was excited to learn about massaged kale salad.  I  would stand at our market table and enthusiastically tell people how to make it, how good it was and how massaging made the kale almost appear cooked.  Then I would learn most of our kale followers were already making these salads.  Now it seems kale's popularity has diminished and again quite suddenly, again almost overnight!  So my real question from all of this is "what is the next super food?".

We do try to eat in season here on farm.  Meaning we try to either eat what is being harvested or what I have been able to preserve from the previous year's harvest.  This means sometimes our winter menus are a bit limited, but summer time means lots of variety!  With lettuce in a bit of a heat lull, we will be relying on massaged kale salads now and soon tomato and cucumber salads.  The grill has been fired up and we are already eating grilled zucchini - a farm favorite.  With early beets being harvested, I have my summer jar of red beet pickled eggs in the fridge.  To me a pickled egg and some beets is a perfect afternoon snack!  I am hoping to pickle and can some beets this summer so I can make pickled eggs in the winter without relying on grocery store canned beets.  With string beans being harvested, I am hoping this weekend to make a batch of my Mother's bean salad.  Another nice dish to have marinating in the fridge for a quick snack or lunch.

This Saturday is the opening of the Back Mountain Farmers Market.  This market is held at the Dallas High School.  Market opens at 9am.  Many local farmers have lost outlets to sell their product due to the pandemic, so please come out and support the local economy by purchasing from local producers.  Farmers Don and Phil will be at market with lots of Apple Orchard Pork, Pasture raised chicken and veggies.
 
I want to take a little extra time to thank everyone for their support this season.  We are trying to get product to you, but, by far, this season has been one of our most challenging seasons yet.  Health issues are always hard to deal with, but trying to farm while healing poses an extra challenge.  Farmer Don is doing well and is slowly recuperating.  His throat is healing and he is now able to drink and eat small amounts of soft foods.  He is still fatigued and sometimes it breaks my heart to see how exhausted he is when he comes in for lunch or at the end of the day.  Farmer Don is strong and he is very committed to Dancing Hen Farm.  This commitment and his continual push forward keeps us all motivated and moving forward.  We are already planning for next year, a healthy year!

Ok, time to actually send this newsletter!

And as Farmer Don always says: "Be safe, be well and enjoy those veggies!"




Wednesday, July 1, 2020

2020 CSA Week 2 Newsletter


Greetings from Dancing  Hen Farm!  Happy Independence Day!!!

Welcome to Week 2 of our CSA.  Week 2 is not an egg week.

A few CSA logistics updates and then onto some farm news.  Delivery to central drop off sites are always guaranteed by 4 pm, but we want to give you our delivery schedule for this season in case you want to pick boxes up earlier.  Mountain Top boxes should be at the pharmacy after 10 am.  Boxes will be at the Dallas location after 11 am and to Balance Yoga, in Forty Fort after 12, noon.  We will have boxes to Bloom Naturally by 2 pm.  Remember if you are running late, please let your site host know.  Our sites are not able to hold your box for you. 

A quick word on boxes, green pint and quart boxes and egg cartons.  In an attempt to keep farm costs down, we do re-use these items.  Please leave them at your pick up site for us to collect when we deliver.

It does not seem possible that we are already celebrating July 4th!  It seems we have just recently started to get summer weather.  May and the first part of June were very cool and wet here on farm.  This delayed our planting quite a bit.  We also had a very late freeze this year.  We were lucky and although we lost some transplants in an unheated greenhouse, we did not suffer any real losses.  Other farmers in our area did not fare so well.  We have heard reports that the peaches in the area were hit very hard and some orchards are reporting close to a 100% loss.  That is a scary and hard loss for orchards to absorb! 

So the saga of my herb bed continues.  As some of you may remember, several years ago I had couple of snakes take of residence.  We even had some of members try and help us catch them!  They spent one season enjoying my herbs and had moved on by the next summer.  This summer in the same herb bed, even in the same location we have a groundhog!  Yes, a groundhog, basically right off the porch/patio!  We noticed it about a month ago and had the dogs watching the area for us and I was convinced it had moved on, tired of being harassed by the pooches.  But, just the other day, I was sitting, doing some work by the window and saw it perched on a log in that herb bed.  And this morning I saw it lumbering around in the yard not far from its herb house.  And unfortunately our dogs now seem to think this groundhog is part of the family! 

Our fields are starting to fill up and we are seeing, what we like to call some true summer crops beginning to ripen.  This week we picked our first summer squash of the season.  In the coming week, summer squash should be available for choice.  Peas are starting to slow and will be available in very limited numbers in the coming weeks.  We should continue to have greens, radishes and scallions available.  String beans, both yellow and green, are starting to reach maturity and will be available on and off for a number of weeks to come.  The tomatoes in our high tunnel are starting ripen and we should have tomatoes available, with cherries most likely being the first to ripen.  We continue to plant as weather and schedules allow.  Farmer Don is on the mend, but is still in recuperation mode, so we are happy to be working closely with some Amish friends/neighbors of ours to bring you some certified organic produce to supplement out harvest. 

Speaking of Farmer Don.  I am assuming most of you have been following along with his story this spring.  His treatments are finished I am happy to say he is getting his energy back.  I am truly amazed at how much he is already able to do on a daily basis on farm.  He still has some difficulty swallowing and speaking, but we have turned a corner and he is eating soft foods now and able to drink.  Thanks to everyone for your kind words, healing energies and prayers.  Life is good here on farm and we continue to enjoy every moment!

Ok, it is getting near suppertime and this newsletter is getting a bit wordy, so I will end things here.
As always, thanks to each of you for your continued support of our farm.  You, our farm community, make it possible to continue to farm this rocky hillside in a way which will help leave the earth a better place for future generations. 

Be safe, be well, and enjoy those veggies.


Farmer Don Rings the Bell!



Farmer Don rings the bell!  Treatments are over!  The regeneration begins!

More musings from Farmer Don

Good Morning friends!
A quick note. I couldn't sleep last night, you know (toss and turn, drool & spit), so I got up and entered all the payments the farm has received. So, accounts are updated as of today. If you have any questions please contact the farm and we'll work it out. Thank you to all who have sent in their payments! Early payment is a huge boost for the farm. As I type, our big seed orders are in the mail system and on their way to the farm.
Yesterday, we had a small work day on the farm. Nice sunshine in the afternoon after a cool start. We were able to clear out leftover plastic and drip tape out of the planting plots allowing me to get in with tractor to chisel plow. Got 4 plots chiseled as part of our start up to the season. We also worked in the seed house, filling trays with potting soil for some upcoming seeding. Probably do some more of the same today, but add some rest in as well.
Hope everyone is handling shelter in place ok. At the farm, we pretty much do this on a daily basis. Joan works on her puzzles, and farmer Don rides around on his tractor and works on small projects. Fixing and getting the high tunnel up and running is one of those small projects. As many of you know last April we had a just miss for a tornado. Lot's of damage down in Benton but a near miss for us. The plastic on our high tunnel was completely ripped apart and I chose not to replace last year. But this year we're moving forward with replacement. So, a small project on the farm. Also, irrigation, another storm related loss last season has turned into a small project this year. Our water system was hit by lightning last August, so we ran with out irrigation from that point forward. This year we'll fix the system and hope for no major weather events. Hoping to finish the water this week.
Looking to get the Peas in the ground this week! Joan and I both love fresh peas. Hopefully I can eat them fresh off the vine a little later in the year. My tongue situation may say not so quick buddy. One way or another I WILL enjoy the harvest as will many of you. We are working hard to get veggies going and out for sale. We had some members come out to the farm yesterday and pick up orders. A nice day to do that. Self service, social distancing, good food, plenty of space and fresh air. Our buying club will be open all the time now for on farm pick up orders. And email orders are also welcome anytime. Lot's of Apple Orchard Pork, Pastured Poultry, Free Range Eggs, Wild for Salmon, Raw Milk and Cheese, and what ever veggies I can share. Again, the farm is always open for self guided tours if the house and shelter in place gets cramped. We have 26 acres for you to explore.
Time to get some breakfast going.
Be well, stay safe, wash your hands and flatten the curve!
Farmer Don

Mid May Update

Hi friends!
A quick Mid May, May 16th update from the farm! Looks like we've turned the page on the early month cold weather. Finally warm, May weather! Another Saturday work day here on the farm. So far this year, Saturday has turned out to be the day for work parties (this year at social distance). Today tomatoes go in and the peeps move out. The tomatoes are screaming to go into the ground and the peeps (actually little broilers) are ready to live on grass and fresh air. Probably some tractor work today also, to set up more planting. Always trying to plant something this time of the year. Speaking of planting and such, I'm sure many of you are curious about our start up dates. As in the past, our start up is not written in stone. Mother Nature determines that, and this year she's saying have patience and good harvests will follow. So, we are following her advice. Looking at a Mid-June start up. You will be contacted thru e-mail will many more details to come. Hang in there, the harvest will be shared shortly! We're just as excited for the harvest as you are.
Hope every one is well. We're doing okay over here. Joan is Joan and enjoying the lack of work pressure. At the end, her job was very tough on her physically. Not having to do that anymore has been a big relief. And I'm just about 2/3rds of the way through my treatments. Talked to the Drs. this week and they told me what I already knew, that my therapy was some of the most aggressive treatments they give to anybody. Cool, so Farmer Don must have walked in, and they said, " here comes a live one, some farmer guy, let's jack him up real good!" But little did they know I had the farm and the farm community behind me for support!!! Couldn't do this with out the support to hold me up!
Well, time to find some breakfast and get this work day rolling. Again, look for a mid to late June start, the harvest will determine our exact date. But once we get rolling, we go for 18 weeks no stopping unless emergency.
Be well friends, stay safe, be smart, wash your hands and remember the farm is the farmacy!
Farmer Don

Tuesday, May 5, 2020

2020 CSA, May 1st update


Sunday May 3, 2020 7:51 pm
Hi Friends! Welcome to May 2020! Typing to you from the back porch! Finally able to enjoy the porch with nice weather. Gotta say the last week of April was horrible. Rain almost every day, topped by Thursday with 2 inches here on the farm. Thankfully no one floated away. Basement got a little wet, but to be expected.
The big news on the farm to report is plastic back on the high tunnel. We had a small work crew and got the tunnel covered. The tunnel hasn't seen a plastic roof since our tornado last April. A little bit of soil work out there and we'll be ready to plant. And that work will be happening early this week as the tomatoes are big and ready to move out of the seed house. A nice variety of cherries, slicers and paste. Scallions will probably also go in this week. Last Wednesday, right before the deluge, I was able to seed green beans and red potatoes. Knowing we were getting rainfall, pushed me to get those into the ground. Peas up on the top hill look real good. The brassica seedlings look strong in the seed tunnel, thinking they will go out in two weeks.
On the animal side of things, the hens are doing well. I'll curse myself and say no fox attacks in over a week. The latest predator had four wheels. Tough to run from those, usually the running is what does henny hen in. We have 50 more hens arriving on farm this Tuesday afternoon. This year I'll just put them in the coop with the older 30 hens and let them have at it. No time to build a new coop. Hoping the older girls can teach the young ones how to behave. The broiler peeps are growing up. One more week in the brooder, then out on grass for the final 4 weeks or so. They'll be out in one of our vegetable production plots and help to fertilize the soil for any upcoming plantings. Nice how that works. Last year we had the broilers out in plot five for the season. Plot 5 is where I will plant the scallions this year and when we were preparing the planting beds we noticed worms in the soil. Another great sign. Regeneration at it's best. Plot 5 took the season off last year, with cover crop and broilers covering the soil. So, we should reap the rewards this season with nice crops out of that plot!
Regeneration leads to Farmer Don and Joan's health. Gotta say we are doing well. More good days than bad. And Joan's bad days are not leading to the hospital! For me I'm through 2 weeks of a 6 week radiation and chemotherapy partnership. Didn't know you could partner with Chemo and Radi did you? Well let me tell you folks you can, I am and all a part of my regeneration. Four more weeks no big deal. Hey, I get to listen to Jimmy Buffet while they toast my throat. Doctors have me set up for success. And, hold your breath, here we go, " Food is medicine and the farm is the Farmacy." But Farmer Don, you said the partnership was with the high heat and drugs. Well as many of you know we grow vegetables here, raise pastured pork, have free range eggs, along with pastured poultry, fed organic grains, making the diet from the Farmacy really good. And 2020 CSA members, as well as our buying club friends will soon be sharing the harvest as well. I meant sharing the medicine from the Farmacy! The big medicine right now are the microgreens. Wow, just tiny little guys packed with nutrients. We'll do our best to keep the clam shells of micros going all season so everyone can enjoy.
Time to shower and get dinner going. Open face hot beef sandwiches. Forks Farm minute steaks. Yum. Before signing off gotta thanks many folks on so many levels. Number one all the members who have signed up so far. Your support allows us to run the Farmacy. And share the medicine! Number two, cards and emails offering moral support as we continue to heal. Many of you have reached out and it means alot to Joan and I . For that I thank you! Finally the physical help around the farm. From Teri in the seed house, to Jason doing bed work and help on the high tunnel ,and my Amish friend John, with his father Levi, and two of their sons putting the plastic on and growing out the tomatoes we will plant this week, I say thank you!
So, time to continue the regeneration process. To each and everyone of you, Joan and I say a very thoughtful thank you, and wish you all good health and well being. Be safe out there.
Farmer Don

Sunday, April 12, 2020

Farmer Gail

Thanks Farmer Gail for all your help!!! 

Buying Club Clarification


Just a quick note to clarify our buying club.

It seems Farmer Don's latest newsletter has caused some confusion about the buying club.  Right now we are running our winter buying club.
 
First and foremost, all orders must be picked up on farm.  We are trying our best to maintain social distancing and keep our contact with people to a minimum.  Orders can be picked up at your convenience.  All orders will be in our walk-in cooler which is behind our house, outside the walkout basement.  Pick-ups will be self service.  There will be hand sanitizer available for use.  A cash box will be inside the cooler.  We encourage people to write checks, but change will be available.  At this time we do not take credit or debit cards.

The online ordering window for the buying club is from Tuesday at 5 am to Thursday at 5am.  However, if you miss this window and would like to place an order, please feel free to email us your requests and we will do our best to fill your order.  Also please give us a day and approximate time when you would like to pick up.
Currently we have full and half pasture raised chickens available (4.75 per pound).  free range eggs (5.00 per dozen), most cuts of apple orchard pork, including bacon (9.50 per pound), chops (7.50 per pound), sausage, ham, ham steaks and more. Email us if you are looking for a certain cut of pork.  Through our buying club we also offer Wild For Salmon burgers and filets and Whitenight Family Farm Raw milk and raw milk cheese.  Veggies are limited right now to storage potatoes, onions, small heads of red and green cabbage and special harvest items.  Currently being harvested are small amounts of spinach and salad greens. 

As always, if you have questions, please do not hesitate to contact us (dancinghenfarm@epix.net or 570-925-0263).

And Thank You for your support of our small family farm and local sustainable agriculture.




2020 CSA - Happy Easter - Farm Update

Good Morning Friends!
Farmer Don checking in to "Hi", and Happy Easter! Hoping this newsletter finds everyone safe and sound, spending time at home with family. Easter for us has always been a family holiday. This year, a little different, as just Joan and I will be together for Easter, with Farmer Phil and his family being sequestered up the road at their farm. For us ham dinner is on the agenda. Maybe a little relaxing celebrating as Farmer Don was born a few moons ago on the 12th.
Around the farm, life has been busy, as the season dictates. Warming up slowly, though if you were out yesterday, as I was, the wind and cold was somewhat brutal. I know 35 degrees and 15 mph winds does not equal January but to me it was brutal. The dogs even said, " Dad, get us back in the warm house! Now!" Chickens are okay with the wind, though not quite as much free ranging. Speaking of free ranging, a lot of clean up around the coop and no real sign of the fox has emboldened the hens to wander out in search of bugs and grass! But, the threat from the sky is always present, and yesterday the dogs and I broke up the hawk's dinner. Our predator was about to enjoy chicken dinner when I can around the corner and forced a fly away. Sorry to say the hen was down, but the hawk went away hungry, Probably not a good thing, as when I do chores this morning, I thinking the hawk will be eating breakfast at my hens's expense. We'll see.
Peas, carrots and beets are in the ground. The seedhouse is a busy site and overflow seeded trays are out in the "holding seed house". Work this week will be on the high tunnel. The farm had a nice drop of composted horse manure two weeks ago, so that will be applied to our fields as well as the high tunnel ground. Tomatoes are scheduled to go into the high tunnel this season. While the farm does all it can to produce vegetable based compost, the amount needed for our fields far out reaches this. So, where we can find some good compost we bring it in. I'm working hard to generate everything here on farm, but with no four legged animals to help, we're missing a key piece of the puzzle. With help from our neighbors, the farm has been receiving a spring cleaning. I've worked hard to get a weeded pasture back in operation and looks like we are there. Now, a few horses, beef cattle, or sheep and the farm will be set. Animals are a lot of work, so have to move slow with this. I'm thinking our Amish friend may pasture his horses over here this summer. Again, we'll see. Peeps are coming to the farm next week. This is one type of fertilizer I can utilize. After 4 weeks growing up in the barn brooder, the birds move out to a field of the farmer's choice. I like to rotate the chicken tractors from plot to plot. So, here on the farm, we have ten different growing "plots". For example, last year, we ran the chickens on plot 5, and didn't use that plot for vegetable production. This year plot 5 will be vegetables, and hopefully some of the nitrogen from the chicken manure got into the soil, to be used for this season's vegetables. A form of regeneration!
So, regeneration. We'll use that to update Farmer Joan and Farmer Don's health. Joan continues to hold her own. Resting comfortably around the farm. Eating as well as she can and staying away from the hospital. Strange days these are. I gotta bet you're feeling the same way. The doctors for Joan have now become a phone call, which is fine with us. The less interaction for her the better. Things here on the farm, in regards to our health battles are very interesting. Joan's path is very convoluted, many branches, much to consider, many meds to take. Upset stomach, headaches. I'm sure many of you can relate. We do our best to get the gut bacteria up, yet the meds say "nope". Kinda sucks but that's what it is for her, she knows this, but bless her heart, she plows forward. I cook the best farm food I can find and hope that some of it makes it in and stays there. You know what I'm talking about? Again, FOOD IS MEDICINE AND THE FARM IS THE FARMACY! My situation is much more linear, in that, "here it is Farmer Don, we gotta do this and that and you'll be just fine". Yea, okay, gotta tell you, sometimes tough to believe. Last week had 8 teeth pulled to prepare for upcoming radiation treatments. I was just starting to eat WELL again, after the neck and tongue surgery. Now my mouth is a disaster area, learning to chew all over again. "The stitches will dissolve", yea okay, hope they have some protein with them, cause I just swallowed some, maybe add some honey next time. So, yea, moving into the radiation part of my regeneration. Guess you have to kill cells to regenerate. Okay, I'll deal. "Mr. Hess, we have to map your head, face and neck." Yea, okay, so what does that mean? " Just breathe, it'll be okay". Last time I heard that, I also heard, through the nitrious, my wisdom tooth crack as it came out of my head. "Just breathe". Yea, okay. So this time, I laying flat on the table, getting ready for a CAT-scan. No big deal. Except, for me, missing 8 teeth, tongue has a hole in it, saliva working overtime, Lake Jean, in my mouth, trying to swallow what I can. "Just keep breathing", Yea that's called living, I can handle this. So, here he comes, Mask time, trying to sufficate me. Full face covering. "Gotta tape it down, just breathe". I know this is important. We have to get a good mask to help pinpoint the beam. Trying to think and breathe at the same time. I'm thinking, "Guinness for Strength" when I get home! Two minutes later the mask is off and I'm still around to talk about it. Knowing many, many folks have been down the road I'm going down, so no big deal. Many of you have, I'm sure. Next up is the official mapping of my head, then the treatments. I majored in Geography at PSU, kinda know mapping, but my head, not so much. Oh well. A chance to make some new friends. Heck, 5 days a week, for 6 weeks, I'll get to know the nurses and doctors over there pretty well. And eating, well, that will become a challenge again, just as it was, post operation. So, we eat as well as we can now, pre-treatment. Can't chew to well, but I can swallow somewhat, so we move forward. All part of the regeneration. On the other side of my mess, and this virus mess, we will all be stronger, wiser and kinder. I'm excited to get to that point, but have to have patience. We'll get there. And we'll get some toilet paper.
Finally, thanks all for the support, and allowing me to share my thoughts, trials and tribulations with you. All accounts should be updated. We are still taking memberships if any family or friends are thinking about food this season. And, our buying club remains open, 24/7. I'm going to add spinach, some escarole, some frizzy endive, fresh herbs, and maybe a little salad mix to the list this week. The spinach looks great, but will go to seed shortly, so I have to harvest. And I want to share the harvest with you, our members.
Be well, friends, stay safe, wash your hands, don't touch your face. Regenerate!
Farmer Don

Friday, March 27, 2020

Planting update, March 26th, 2020

Hi Friends!
A quick update from the farm. Sometimes, many times, on the farm, when opportunities present themselves, you have to take advantage. As a grower, the weather is the defining subject. And, on this forum, I've spoken about the weather many, many times. Well, yesterday was one of those days of opportunity. The rain on Wednesday wasn't too heavy and we dried out over night. I had previously set up to have composted manure delivered, and the seed order had arrived two days before. I knew from Joe, ( WNEP), the weatherman, rain was forecast for early Friday and both Saturday and Sunday. Not good weather to plant. So, yesterday it was. As a grower for almost 15 years, probably planting peas 15 different ways, finally knowledge and equipment have come together to make the planting a somewhat simpler task. Knowing the job in front of me, away I went. The planting beds were clean from the previous year thanks to our nephew Keith and his son Jeff, and our Amish grower friend John and his son Stephan. So, tractor work was easy. Chisel plow went well. Compost arrives. Gotta spread it. Four 250 ft beds to work. Spreading by hand, out of the back of the RTV. No problem, been there, done that. As Stacy, Ken, Jason and Neil all know very well. Shovel right in the bed, shovel right in the bed. Up and down to the compost. Finally, the beds are composted. Another run with the chisel to incorporate. Next is the disk to smooth the bed. Changing equipment taking time. Keep going, gonna get this done. Okay, beds are ready for shaping. Run the special disk wheel to make the trenches for the seeds. Done, looking real well, soil not wet, not too dry, cool. Real excited this is working. Down to the house to check on Joan and the pups. 5pm. Getting a little late. Tell Joan I have to keep going, get the planting done. She voices her support, "go get it done, but don't over do it" , Okay I'm back at it. Puppies have been fed and are ready to help Dad finish the job. Peas, 1/2 lb of seed per 40 row ft. Okay, weigh the first amount, get an idea how many seeds for the 40ft. Got it and away we go. Spreading seed by hand. Again no problem, been there, done that. Shady walking around doing her own thing. Cool. Rosie though, wants attention. Needs a job. A border collie with no job, not good. Every rock thrown out of the planting bed becomes a fetch toy. Bark, bark! "what are these little white things you keep putting on the ground?" "throw them for me, I want to do something..I'll fetch them for you." So, Rosie and daddy move forward, seed, bark, seed, bark, Five lbs in, one bed done, Snow peas are in the ground. Move on to Mr. Big, our shelling peas. Got the mojo going. Feeling it. Thanking the Lord for giving me the strength to work. Sweater on, Sweater off. Don't know if I'm hot or cold. Keep planting, we're gonna finish. Finally all the seeds are in. The final two beds being the Sugar Snap peas. Two beds of just Sugar Snaps. Yea! Final step is tractor work to cover the trenches. Just have to turn the disks a different direction, move them out a little on the tool bar and away we go. Last step. Again, no problem, got this, been there done this. Lining the tractor up to run the bed. Have to be in line. Can't screw up now. Too close to finishing and finishing strong! Away I go. Keep the tractor on line. No looking back. Stay the course. Trust yourself, trust your equipment! Finish the bed, turn around for the next run. Finished bed looks great, YEA! Three more to go, no problem. Bang out the next three beds, same results. Wow, this worked, worked well and the peas are planted. Again, thanking the Lord for giving me the knowledge and strength to finish the task. Thanking the Lord for giving Joan strength and health. Clean up and down to the house for dinner, a late dinner, but a feel good dinner. Turkey Broccoli Casserole. Tired but excited. Bottom line, Peas are Planted. Looking forward to sharing the harvest!!!
So, friends, thanks for the support, continue to support small businesses and sustainable agriculture and be well out there.
Farmer Don

Thursday, March 26, 2020

Farm Update, March 24,2020

Hi Friends,
A quick update from the farm. Hope every one is holding up okay with isolation in place and much scary and sad news coming at us from all sides.
Here on the farm, Joan and I continue to feel and well appreciate the cards and well wishes coming our way. We can feel the positive energy and are doing our best to rebound it out to all of our farm friends!
Isolation on the farm, at this time of the year, is something that involves tasks lists with the push to get the season started. Last Saturday was filled with tractor work, running the chisel plow to begin the process of planting bed preparations. Sunday was and is a day of rest and the weather Monday was, well, the weather, snow , sleet and a cold rain. But, the seed order arrived and now every day can be a seed house day. As today was. The seed house train is on the tracks. Brussels Sprouts, Celery, Scallions, Leeks, Parsley and Chives are on the train and heading the station. WooWe!
And inside the farmhouse, for me, the kitchen has become a zen den! I'm sure many of you can say the same thing! Planning meals for the week, then spending quality time in the "den" getting in the groove, great music in the background, flavors and smells all around. Sunday was a Turkey day for the farm. Back around the Thanksgiving holiday, we qualified for a free turkey from the grocery store, so I said okay, we can eat some and the rest can go for dog food. (I make my own dog food for our puppies) So Sunday was Turkey Day. A great long cooking day, slow and low, nice aromas filling the house. Then Monday, boil the bones day to make a healthy stock. I mean what else is there to do. Might as well cook and make it count.
To wrap up, local, sustainable food is available all around us. For us Forks Farm London Broil is on the menu this week. Can't wait to cook that. Tammy's Superfood Kimchi is a winner for me and easy to get at the Forks Farm Market. Salmon also from Wild for Salmon with curbside service. And to take a day off from the kitchen, let the Blind Pig cook up a fantastic dinner for you! For us, our Buying Club is open for orders. Again we are doing self service, farm pick up only. And we can be flexible with pick up times and dates. Hikes around the farm during pick are also encouraged. A good source of air and exercise. Come ready for mud if you choose to hike as it is mud season here.
Finally, everyone, be safe out there, and if there's anything we can do for our community we will. Right now we have a nice selection of food for you, just order and come on out.
Thanks again for the support, be well,
farmer Don

Sunday, March 22, 2020

2020 CSA, accounts update

Good Morning friends!
A quick note. I couldn't sleep last night, you know (toss and turn, drool & spit), so I got up and entered all the payments the farm has received. So, accounts are updated as of today. If you have any questions please contact the farm and we'll work it out. Thank you to all who have sent in their payments! Early payment is a huge boost for the farm. As I type, our big seed orders are in the mail system and on their way to the farm.
Yesterday, we had a small work day on the farm. Nice sunshine in the afternoon after a cool start. We were able to clear out leftover plastic and drip tape out of the planting plots allowing me to get in with tractor to chisel plow. Got 4 plots chiseled as part of our start up to the season. We also worked in the seed house, filling trays with potting soil for some upcoming seeding. Probably do some more of the same today, but add some rest in as well.
Hope everyone is handling shelter in place ok. At the farm, we pretty much do this on a daily basis. Joan works on her puzzles, and farmer Don rides around on his tractor and works on small projects. Fixing and getting the high tunnel up and running is one of those small projects. As many of you know last April we had a just miss for a tornado. Lot's of damage down in Benton but a near miss for us. The plastic on our high tunnel was completely ripped apart and I chose not to replace last year. But this year we're moving forward with replacement. So, a small project on the farm. Also, irrigation, another storm related loss last season has turned into a small project this year. Our water system was hit by lightning last August, so we ran with out irrigation from that point forward. This year we'll fix the system and hope for no major weather events. Hoping to finish the water this week.
Looking to get the Peas in the ground this week! Joan and I both love fresh peas. Hopefully I can eat them fresh off the vine a little later in the year. My tongue situation may say not so quick buddy. One way or another I WILL enjoy the harvest as will many of you. We are working hard to get veggies going and out for sale. We had some members come out to the farm yesterday and pick up orders. A nice day to do that. Self service, social distancing, good food, plenty of space and fresh air. Our buying club will be open all the time now for on farm pick up orders. And email orders are also welcome anytime. Lot's of Apple Orchard Pork, Pastured Poultry, Free Range Eggs, Wild for Salmon, Raw Milk and Cheese, and what ever veggies I can share. Again, the farm is always open for self guided tours if the house and shelter in place gets cramped. We have 26 acres for you to explore.
Time to get some breakfast going.
Be well, stay safe, wash your hands and flatten the curve!
Farmer Don

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Buying Club, March 21st, 2020 is OPEN, Safely sharing the harvest!

Wednesday March 18, 2020 4:39 am
Hi Friends,
A couple of quick notes.
Number one - thank you for all the love, prayers, good vibes and support sent our way. Joan and I can feel the healing power! My pathology came back clear, 90 lymph nodes removed and only 1 was/had involvement. Cool! We move forward with strength and resolve toward regeneration!
Number two - I have opened the buying club for orders. The caveat is we will only be offering ON-FARM PICK-UP of all orders. With efforts in place to control this virus by trying to flatten the curve (ie less interaction between us all), on farm pick up will be a safe method for us to share the harvest with you. Our systems here on farm involve self pick up from our walk-in cooler which is located out back directly behind our farmhouse. Your orders will be packed in labeled boxes. We will have a cash box in the cooler for check or cash payment. For now the farm will be able to provide Apple Orchard Pork, Pastured Poultry, Free range Eggs, Salmon from "Wild for Salmon" and some potatoes and onions. We can wave to you from the windows, a quick "hi" from the porch, but limited interaction, safe for all of us. But - you will have the opportunity to get out and go for a nice drive, stop at our farm, walk around the farm, get some fresh air and exercise and continue to support local, sustainable agriculture. While we won't have any TP for sale we will have many other items available as well as the opportunity to see the farm, breath fresh air and feel safe doing it. House visits will be off limits, but dog play will be encouraged. We are a no stick farm, so if you do chose to come out, please do not throw sticks for the dogs, We have plastic toys all around the farm that work just fine.
Okay, to wrap up - Thanks again for the support! Joan and I go to bed at night with warm hearts knowing our community has our backs!
We are open for orders. On Farm Pick-up only. Hours for pick up will be noon to sunset. Orders can be picked up any day of the week. SELF SERVICE. Orders can be placed through the buying club, but we will also take orders through old fashioned e-mail. Feel free to email us here with any questions.
Be well, wash your hands, and flatten the curve!

Saturday, March 14, 2020

March 2020 Overdue Farm Update

Hi Friends!
Time for an overall, overdue farm update, kinda let everyone know how Joan and I are doing and some plans for the upcoming season!
First and foremost a big thank you to everyone who has signed up for our 2020-CSA season. Response has been great! Thank You!
So, we'll start with Joan first. Kinda rough stretch from Christmas right through Valentine's Day with most of the time spent in the hospital while the doctors could only scratch their heads and say well maybe we'll try this or we'll try that. Nothing was working. Complicated chronic illnesses can be very tough to manage. Finally by the 3rd week or so of February we were able to say, okay blood counts are coming up, thinking we can let you go home safely. Of course getting out of the hospital required a Medical shipment from the West Coast directly to LaGuardia in NY directly to the farm by special delivery late one night. Thankful for that one. Joan's counts have been on the positive side now for two weeks and holding good. Lot's of positive vibes there! A little concerned about COVID-19 for Joan with her compromised system. We'll keep her here on the farm, isolation (She's perfectly cool with that, as most of you already know) and when the wave rolls by we'll hold our breath, duck our heads under the nasty wave and come up healthy on the other side. We're keeping the TV off for the most part. Music right now is the priority. And it sounds good, peaceful and great therapy.
IN THE MEANTIME:
Farmer Don, new offseason job running delivery vans for Amazon out of Hazelton. Started before the holidays, around Oct 1st. All over NEPA, but mostly Pottsville and the Poconos. Need a tour guide for your Yuengling Brewery visit, I'm the guy, know Pottisville like the back of my hand. All the while I have a lump on my neck that just won't go anywhere. Joan, "get that looked at" me okay sometime...a few weeks go by ....Joan, "get that looked at" ...me sometime soon, you get the jist of what I'm saying. Fast forward to February, finally a first visit, with the Doctor saying "I can have Pathology here right away for a table side biopsy" Okay, lets roll. "Well Mr. Hess you have cancer." Yea, okay kinda thought the neck lump wasn't a mosquito bite. So, off to PET scans, a biopsy operation and plan to move forward. The only way right! Otherwise no Farmer Don. No Farmer Don = No Dancing Hen Farm, no community, nothing Joan and I live for and enjoy! "Mr. Hess, 97% survival rate". okay sounds good, I'm in! Now the plan. Gotta meet the Tumor Board. Can we do this at Turkey Hill, maybe over an IPA or 6. "sorry can't do that". I tried. "two surgeries over the course of one week" "Robot". Okay, I can handle this, let's do this as soon as possible to be ready for upcoming season. I'll get to know the hospital staff for the week. (all great folks by the way) Surgery Monday ear to ear scar, lump gone, wacked out good with sleeping gas. Gotta get ready for Friday surgery (while laying in the hospital bed totally wacked) Friday morning back down to surgery. This time going in with the robot.( Robot's name is Laverne, like laverne and shirley) Down the throat, going after the base of my tongue, gotta do what you gotta do. Wake up Friday, slobbering and spitting, totally wacked out. "Mr. Hess, breakfast, pureed french toast w/syrup and a side of puree bacon. YUM. Not Happening. Roll over and slobber. Roll over the other side slobber. Mr. Hess, lunch, puree grilled chz. Hello? Not happening. Roll over slobber some more. Finally 3 days go past and I actually tried the eggs, okay I can do this, have to if I want to leave and not with some tube down my throat. Chicken broth now. I ask for bone broth, they think I'm crazy. Broth with everything, wash the stuff down. Monday, Joe says 70 degrees, I'm up at 4:30 writing notes. Get me out today, this morning, now, need the back porch with sun, need to sit with Joan and the pups! Wow, Dr heard me! and I'm out. What a beautiful day to come home! Fast forward to today, six days out of the hospital, eating farm food, great breakfast smoothies and whatever I can mash up and force down a very painful swallowing process. Everyday getting better, not much sleep, too much slobber, but that's getting better also. Feel like I'm chewing tobacco and spitting constantly. Oh well, all part of the deal. Thankful for my sister, Gail, coming up from Florida for a couple weeks to support, thankful for Joan and her body not fighting her, letting her get well while I'm down. Thankful for the Forks Farm community for chores. Thankful for Joan's family and all their support and help. Thankful for you guys, our community for your support.
Now, we get to sit back, get healthy and REGENERATE! that is the theme of this season and going forward. I've been given the opportunity to Regenerate my body in a way a didn't expect. Wow excited by this, a reboot with healthy foods, good nutrition and such. Got rid of those 30 yrs of cheeseburgers in my former life. Lost 25 lbs. Now to build back up HEALTHY! I know you've heard this before, but man it applies now, FOOD IS MEDICINE AND THE FARM IS THE FARMACY!
So, today, we do buying club, tomorrow we order seeds, Monday we seed, move forward at a slow, safe pace, with help here and there! So excited and the warm weather is coming soon!
Finally, friends, be safe out there. Let this nasty bug blow over us and come back stronger than ever. I know I'm feeling it. If I could I would climb a mountain, get out in the woods every day, see the wonder of nature, reconnect. If you drive by I'm sure you'll see me crop walking with the pups, spitting, and moving FORWARD, planning, thinking, improving! TAKE A WALK AND DON'T LOOK BACK.....Peter Tosh and Mick Jagger...with a few words changed........
Thanks letting me share my story with you! I'm looking forward to hearing great stories from all of you as I know you all have faced the same as me with personal challenges, family stories, etc. Feel free to share with me, we can all heal together! A healing community, based around the farm, where you know, the food is the medicine and the farm is the farmacy!
Love you, friends!
Be well,
Farmer Don

Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Buying Club Open

Hi Friends!
I've been down for a little bit (more on that in a later newsletter), but now I'm up again, my legs still work, head on my shoulders (just about), body a little weak, but feeling like I need another shot of Dancing Hen Community! So, what better way than to open the buying club! We have lots of nice Apple Orchard Pork, Pastured Poultry, Free Range Eggs (when they can sneak out around the fox), a lot of the girls out yesterday in the BEAUTIFUL teasing SUN! Also, some very small red and green cabbages. And I'll put a very small amount of spinach out there (overwintered) for purchase, small amount as I need some to build the muscles back up and build up Joan's muscles as well. We're getting back in shape for the long haul of the upcoming season. I think I can do some red onions and potatoes as extras to add on.
So, time to go get some really nice breakfast smoothie!
Lastly, we've gotten a really nice return on our opening for the 2020 CSA. We've received many deposits and will be crediting your accounts shortly. A very big thank you for the early season support. That support goes a long way to get us up and going!
More news will be coming shortly.
Be well friends!
Farmer Don

Wednesday, January 8, 2020

2020 Buying Club January 11

Hi Friends of the Farm!!
Happy Holidays to all!! Here's hoping you made it through the Holidays. We survived the holidays ourselves and are ready to move on in 2020. Wow, another year sharing the harvest with our friends and local community. Year 13 for Dancing Hen Farm. Another wow!
With the hustle and bustle over, it's time to open up the buying club! I know Farmer Phil is climbing the walls waiting to get out on the road and do deliveries! So here we come! We will have lots of Apple Orchard Pork (including Bacon), our Pastured Poultry, Wild for Salmon filets and burgers, as well as storage sweet potatoes and looking at our fields some fresh spinach and salad lettuce. To me this has been (so far) the winter that hasn't happened. I covered the greens with plastic, back around two months ago and the veggies look pretty good under there. I do have to check another bed we have for turnips and radishes. If I can share these I will add them on Wednesday. The last time I harvested, the turnips were so sweet!! Really hoping I can get some out to you. They are great right now in soups and stews!
So, the news from the farm this week is "BUYING CLUB IS OPEN!"
Details are the same, we'll be out on Saturday, 1st at the library, then down 309 to Forty Fort, then down 309 and up to Mt. Top. Some of you who had previous orders, I will be updating payments on Wednesday, and I appreciate your patience.
Our next newsletter should have updates about the 2020 CSA season. We'll be pulling the website together shortly for sign ups. Right now things are looking to be the same as last year with a shorter season and a little less memberships. So, keep your eyes open for that announcement.
Be well friends, and look for Farmer Phil and I out and about in the community!
Thanks again for your support!
Farmer Don