Wednesday, September 16, 2020

2020 Week 13 Newsletter

 




Greetings from Dancing Hen Farm!

Welcome to Week 13 of our CSA.  Week 13 is an egg week.  After this week's delivery there are 5 weeks remaining in the 2020 CSA.

It seems we are getting some fall weather and may even see some frost before this week ends.  We have had a low of 37 the past two mornings, with even cooler temperatures predicted over the weekend.  Can you believe we are experiencing cloudy weather due to the fires out west? That is almost unbelievable to me!  Of course we are counting our blessings that we are only dealing with some hazy cloudy skies from these devastating fires.  Such horrible destruction!  Destruction of nature, property and unfortunately lives.  Our thoughts and prayers go out to those dealing with these seemingly never ending fires.

As the weather cools, you will also see the crops in your CSA boxes change.  Look for more greens, more winter squash, beets, hopefully some carrots and fennel.  Farmer Don has a nice stand of spinach started, unfortunately it seems to be a favorite of both the deer and groundhogs on farm.  With any luck we will get a bit of a harvest off this bed.

It is with great sadness I have to tell everyone of the loss of a true keeper of our farm.  Our beloved Border Collie, Rosemary, crossed over the rainbow bridge this week.  We knew she was sick, but we did not expect her to decline so quickly.  Rosie lived life to the fullest and we so loved having her as part of our farm family.  She came to live with us, barely 8 weeks old, a fluffy bundle of black and white with the cutest beauty mark on her nose.  Rose was determined to rule us and rule the farm and she did just that.  Such a sensitive pup, she always knew when you needed a hug and would come to you and try to crawl into your lap.  At that point you often forgot why you were sad, as now you were focused on fending off Rose!  She greeted visitors with a wormy wiggle and kiss on the face or a bop on the nose if you weren't paying attention.  As anyone who visited the farm knew, Rosie was obsessed with playing fetch and once you threw the first ball you had a playmate for life, well at least until you snuck into your car and left!  Rose loved farm crop walks, car rides, hunting frogs, her Frisbee and nightly lap time.  As I write this, so many Rosie stories are popping into my head, she really was a huge part of this farm and our family.  I had planned to share these Rosie Stories with my readers.  But, instead, I just want to say "Ro Ro you are dearly missed and "Woo Woo" until we meet again my friend!"

On this sad note, I want to, as usual, thank everyone for your kind gentle support of us and our farm. 

Be safe, be well and enjoy those veggies.

Wednesday, September 9, 2020

2020 Week 12 CSA Newsletter

 

Greetings from Dancing Hen Farm! 

Welcome to Week 12 of our CSA.  Week 12 is not an egg week.  After this week's delivery there are 6 weeks remaining in our 2020 CSA.

Even though we still are getting some warm temperatures, I can feel the change of seasons in the air.  Days are shorter, night time temperatures are getting cooler.   Hard to believe how quickly September is slipping away.  Soon I will be mentioning the "F" word - frost that is.  We generally get a light frost towards the end of September and our killing frost usually follows sometime in October.  I am anxious to see how this summer's drought affects the leaf show this fall.  We are seeing some trees already losing their leaves without ever changing color, but a few trees are already starting to show some color.

So a surprise was delivered to me the other day - a new camera!  Thanks to one of my sisters.  So does this mean I now have a hobby?  Well, I do have task - learning to use this new fancy camera.  I have not used any camera other than a point and shoot for many years.  Things are gradually coming back to me, but I am still as farmer Don would say "busy learning on the learning curve".  But, I have been having fun.  I have a zoom lens for it, so recently I have had the zoom attached and am trying to take some pictures of birds at our feeders.  Unfortunately I am finding I may not have the patience for avian photography!  But I do have a good pictures of a blue jay, of Shady, of Shady's paw and of farmer Don walking down from the barn.  So hopefully I will get some pictures I can actually post for all to see.

I am not sure if I have touched on Social Media yet this season?  But as long as I am posting "for all to see", this is a good time to let you know about some of our public pages.  We do have a facebook page where I post pictures and some farm news.   https://www.facebook.com/Dancing-Hen-Farm-111155465564952/   I also have a blog where I post our newsletters and also pictures of the farm.  http://dancinghenfarmcsa.blogspot.com/   I did have a pinterest  site, but have not been keeping it updated.  I am trying to figure out an instagram  account without a smart phone.  I have an account, but have posted nothing to it?  That is about as far as I go with Social Media, so if you are online check out our sites!

In the fields we have started to harvest winter squash.  Last week we had butternut squash available.  I like to use Butternuts to make a pork, apple and butternut stew from the Simply in Season cookbook.  This recipe was a favorite of my Mom's when she lived with us, so I am surrounded by good memories whenever I make it.  Some of the problem with butternut squash is peeling, seeding and cooking it.  These squash are hard and often hard to handle.  I usually get Farmer Don to cut the beast in quarters for me and then I scoop the seeds, peel and cube it.  If I don't need cubes or diced squash I cheat and cook the squash whole.  I poke some holes in the skin, put it in a shallow pan with a bit of water and roast it in the oven.  It will take an hour of more for the squash to soften, but once easily poked with a fork or knife, remove it from the oven and allow to cool.  Once cool enough to handle, cut the squash in half, scoop out the seeds, peel off the skin and add the flesh to your soup pot.  This week I think Farmer Don will be harvesting Spaghetti Squash, so get your recipes ready.  Spaghetti Squash is a winter squash, but not nearly as tough to handle as our friend the butternut.  I like to use a spaghetti squash recipe I have made for years, a casserole recipe from one of the older Moosewood Cookbooks.

The canning kitchen is officially open.  I canned tomatoes the other week and my sister and I froze sweet corn this week.  I also boiled some of the spent cobs to make some yummy corn stock for use in soups this winter.  We may still try to do some tomato sauce, but my sister and her family have a small vacation coming up and then with social distancing following their travels, we may run out of time for canning.  But, we will do applesauce once they are out of self imposed quarantine!

The cooking kitchen is also open.  I tend to eat a lot of eggs - eggs and potatoes, eggs and greens, etc.  Eggs are quick nutritious meal for us!  And we are also starting to move into soup season.  Last night I made a tortellini soup; a bit of a variation of a green soup we make.  Basically it was a chicken broth and tomato based soup with garlic, eggplant and tortellini.  Farmer Don ate two bowls, so I guess it passed his taste test!  Farmer Don came home from market the other week with mushrooms and made a really delicious mushroom risotto.  Life is good when the kitchen is producing nutritious and delicious food!

Ok, it is getting late, I still don't have supper started and Shady has started to bark for her dinner.  I need to print this newsletter for Farmer Don to proof and then get it posted and sent out later tonight.

As always, thank you to each of your continued support of our farm. 

Be safe, be well and enjoy those veggies!

Wednesday, September 2, 2020

2020 CSA Week 11 Newsletter

 

Greetings from Dancing Hen Farm!

Welcome to Week 11 of our 2020 CSA.  Week 11 is an egg week.

Clouds!  The farm has been in the clouds for the last few days!  The real meteorological clouds!  I have been joking with my family members that we have slipped right from summer into a winter pattern.  Think January or February when it seems to be cloudy every day!  I know we will still have warm sunny days this fall, but it has been a noticeable change in our weather.  Starting last night and continuing into today we have been getting some really nice showers.  Just what our farm and our neighboring farms need.  Probably too late for the corn and soybean growers, but we still need the rain to bring up our water table and to help get us through the winter months. 

So, I need to start this email with some additional thanks to the behind the scene people who have made the 2020 CSA season a reality.

First I want to thank all the people who volunteered early in Don's treatment to help clean up the farm, help take care of our chickens and for visiting with Don when he was in the hospital.  I especially want to thank his sister Gail.  I know I have thanked her in the past, but she seriously needs to be thanked multiple times!  Gail left a warm and sunny Florida to visit in the early spring of Pennsylvania.  We were still getting cold temperatures and snow!  Gail helped with transportation, moral support, our dogs and even did chicken chores for us.  She basically became an honorary farmer here at Dancing Hen Farm.  I don't know how we would have made it those first few weeks without her support.  Thank you Farmer Gail!

I also need to thank Lori.  Lori has been with us a number of years and works one evening a week helping to pack your CSA boxes.  This year her time with us was short, as her other job at Bloomsburg University started early this year.  Thanks Lori, what can I say other than you are now part of the family!

The other day I swore we had a chinchilla on farm!  Yes you read that right a chinchilla!  Rest assured it is not that unbelievable that we would have a chinchilla show up on farm.  Some people do keep them as pets and unfortunately our farm ( and most farms!) become the target for the disposal of unwanted pets.  We have acquired multiple animals this way, including a dog, cats, a rooster and even a cow!  So you can see why, when I saw this strange creature hanging out under our birdfeeders I thought chinchilla!  Ok, so maybe you don't see it, but bear with me.  I got the binoculars out to get a good view of the animal.  So, you guessed, it was not a chinchilla!  But, I still could not determine what it could be.  I was secretly worried it could be a giant rat!  But nope -- thankfully!  Then it climbed a tree and hung out where I could get a better view.  I was finally able to determine it was a tailless squirrel!  Just to assure you I have not lost my mind, several other people have reported seeing this squirrel.  It seems to do ok, hopping along in the grass and climbing trees even without being able to "swish his bushy tail".

Our canning kitchen officially opened the other week.  I canned some slicing tomatoes.  I can these in quart jars using a hot water bath canner to process them.  And I have to tell you many of these tomatoes came from Farmer Phil and his family's garden.  And I am proud to say all my jars sealed!!!  This week we will be freezing sweet corn.  Freezing sweet corn will bring back memories of growing up when my family and some of my relatives would gather to freeze hundreds of ears at a time!  Funny, because I do not remember eating that much corn growing up!  Later in September we will make some tomato sauce, hopefully paste tomatoes will still be available and not blighted by this cool rainy weather.  Tomato sauce will be followed by applesauce.   My sister and I have been working on perfecting a mix of apple varieties to get a really good tasting unsweetened apple sauce.  Peeling all the apples is a huge chore - but so worth it when you crack open a jar for Christmas Dinner!  Or just as a treat in January.

In the fields Farmer Don is finishing up for the 2020 growing season.  He has planted some late season greens and is planning on pulling the tomatoes from our high tunnel and replanting it with greens or carrots to overwinter.  We should begin harvesting winter squash soon.  Greens should continue to be available and hopefully tomatoes will hold on for a few more weeks.  Peppers are looking good and we are close to harvesting some tomatillos.  Thanks again for your support and understanding during this difficult and trying growing season.

So this is proving to be one of my longer newsletters, I should stop here, allow you to rest your eyes. 

Please say a thanks to the powers that be for providing us with this much needed beautiful rain! 

And always, we will be forever thankful to each of you for your support of us, our farm and local agriculture.  Buy Fresh, Buy Local!  And please remember not to drop your pet chinchillas at the local farm!

Be safe, Be well and Enjoy those veggies.