Regular readers and subscribers will know that I see Christmas and New Year as an apex allowing me to take time to look back with thankfulness and look forward with hope.
Once again, it’s been a very productive year and, whilst you are cruising through, rightly paying attention to all that’s at hand, it’s good to pause, take stock and see the bigger picture. If you are anything like me, you’ll find that there’s no better time than the fresh calendar page of January to assess what went well in 2021 and how we can make 2022 even better.
On the garden front, we log every fig, egg and spoonful of honey that we harvest and input the produce into an online Harvestometer with Good to Grow, here I can compare yields across recent years and see which items are most valuable.
The website calculates the financial value of each entry and shows how many meals it could contribute towards.
So in 2021, we harvested 158.94kg produce worth £2,095.02 which could have contributed to 1987 meals. We are delighted to confirm that most meals, throughout the year, included at least one ingredient gathered from the garden, this was significantly more than the previous year which tallied up to a mere £1,573.19
A quick look at the breakdown by crop shows the most valuable harvests to be:
- Honey £1,053.85 (2020: £62.40)
- Eggs £622.41 (2020: £827.95)
- Figs £193.13 (2020: £360.85)
- Apples £85.56 (2020: £169.51)
- Peaches £69.31 (2020: None – all eaten by squirrels!)
- Asparagus £47.63 (2020: £50.03)
Many of these variances by year can be explained by weather and or animals:
- For example, 2020 was unusually dry which meant significantly less nectar for the bees to make honey from.
- Our hens were predominately younger in 2020 so laid more eggs than the subsequent year, although recent additions to the flock should improve this year’s yield.
- I’m surprised that the fig harvest was down on the previous year as we had two flushes, but with the additional tree at the allotment, we had more than we needed.
- We failed to pick and process the apples properly last year due to going on holiday in September – probably not the best idea!
- Whilst the good old asparagus faithfully shot up it’s spears, year on year…
As we now have additional growing space at the allotment, I’ve opened up another growing space online allowing us to chart the harvests throughout the year at both places.
Other highlights of the year included:
Our ever popular Seville Orange Marmalade won Gold in the World Marmalade Awards
- Read all about it here
- Join us for our annual Introduction To Making Marmalade day on Wednesday 19th January
The Honey from our garden won Highly Commended at National Honey Show
- See our film: The Lifecycle of Honey Bees
- Our Full Day Bee Keeping courses start again on Wednesday 20th April
We were delighted that Platinum magazine published a 4 page spread all about our ‘Farm in the City’
- Check out other features on our Media Page
We celebrated 10 years of keeping honey bees here at Hen Corner
- Read all about it here
- I also completed my first season as a BBKA Swarm Collector
We love the Instagram trend of showcasing our #Best Nine posts of the year
It’s been another packed year and I’m delighted to see that our Insta followers have shown their love for the things that have brought us most joy:
*Snow at the allotment
*Extracting honey in autumn
*Sunset swoosh down the Thames
*Hens pecking at my cappuccino
*Signing my book deal
*Post lockdown haircut
*Busy bees in winter
*Busy bees in spring
*Swimming from Hammersmith to Chiswick and back with the tide
Whilst each of the chosen images brought back happy memories, the thing that surprised me most was that none of my bread photos ranked high enough to feature…
Why was this? Because there are so many bread images on my page? Because there’s nothing special about bread? Because there’s too many photos of bread on Instagram (or is that just the accounts I’m following)?
I can’t write a review of the year without crunching some bread statistics, so here you go:
- Orders from our weekly Micro Bakery: 1,108
- Loaves baked for Hounslow Foodbox: 653
- Teaching bread skills to course guests: 253
- 8 different audiences across our baking demonstrations at the Country Living Christmas Fairs
- In the next week or so, we expect to celebrate our 5,000th bakery order. The lucky customer will win an exclusive Hen Corner Apron and receive their order for free!
New Saturday Bread Classes (online)
Other news on the bread front is that we are starting new weekend online sessions that are perfect for those who are working/travelling/cooking/caring for children on Monday evenings. We’ve deliberately scheduled these Saturday sessions for mid afternoon to make them accessible for those participating from various time zones.
New Year – New Business?
Finally, whilst still in bread, are you thinking about your work/life balance, considering starting a new business working from home? Encouraged by the bakery stats above?
We are running our business start up course Become A Bread Angel – Start Your Own Micro Bakery with the in person training days on 1st & 8th February. If you are interested in this, we can arrange a zoom call to talk through the programme and opportunities.
When my children completed work at school, the teachers would encourage them to assess what they had done by asking What Went Well? Even Better If?
Above we’ve shared some of our proud achievements, so here comes the challenge to improve.
My life, work and business would be Even Better If
1. I put regular space in the week to think, pray, assess, plan
Being mindful, taking stock and thinking of others helps us to see the bigger picture and make wise decisions.
2. I commit to regular time outside every week, be that allotment, garden, swimming, walking, etc.
Fresh air and vitamin D is very good for us, as is time away from a computer or TV screen. Regular time outside is also a great way to meet friends with a bit of gentle exercise whilst catching up and caring for each other.
3. I remember that responsibilities reap rewards
Weeding the veg beds, mucking out the hens, answering emails and promoting my courses all take time, but are strategic investments that bring lots of benefits, so celebrate the results whilst putting in the preparation work.
4. I focus on being present in my activities
Whatever we are doing and whoever we’re with, remember to appreciate the value of the person we are spending time with or the task we are completing.
- The chickens are still on their lockdown to protect them from Avian Flu
- Our bees haven’t known whether they are coming or going with temperatures ranging from -5c to +16c this week
- I’m enjoying giving regular time to writing my book
Jobs for the week:
- Finish my Tax Return
- Pop to the swimming lake a couple of times
- Harvest more root veg from the allotment
Thanks for joining us on the journey through the years, I’m sure there’s loads more to come – in fact we’ve already begun!
Those pesky squirrels!