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.
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" 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