Welcome back to Hen Corner, especially to new visitors since our recent feature in The Guardian.
I know that the children went back to school last week, but I’m going back to school this week and taking some chickens with me!
It seems that now the Spring Term has opened, we are all ready for a new season and are thinking of sunny days, baby chicks and tree blossom.
With the exception of the 5 years that I spent as a city banker, I have always lived by the school terms which aptly coincide with festivals, celebrations and the farmers year. To be honest, I expect it was the farmers’ year that shaped our calendar of celebrations – The Easter story is all about new life, when do we see examples of that on the farm? By the way, let’s keep the children out of school in August as we need them in the fields to bring in the harvest, etc.
Now that we are producing food here on the urban smallholding, I’ve never been more aware of the seasons and often plan my tasks to coincide with the school terms – sometimes I want the kids around to help (jet wash the chicken houses), sometimes I don’t (extracting the honey)…
So whilst we are planning ahead, embracing the seasons, and looking forward to new opportunities, it’s great to partner with others to understand more of where our food comes from, being a link between those living in towns and cities and the food production that is often associated with the countryside.
This week, I’m taking a couple of hens to a local primary school to visit the nursery classes and explain their life-cycle, each child will, of course, have the opportunity to hug a hen! Then later in the week, I’m visiting another London school to discuss the opportunity of them keeping their own chickens on site as a permanent part of the curriculum; we can offer full support, training, consultation and a package of lessons for the students.
Next month we open our garden gates and welcome other school groups to come and explore food production in a hands on session that includes chickens, bees, fruit trees, pollination, composting and planting seeds. If you think we could help a school near you, please do get in touch – more info here.
We had a couple of weeks off from the micro bakery over Christmas, which was a great opportunity to practise some new recipes from a new book that I received as a gift. Now that all the festive treats have been taken off our bakery website, we’ve been keen to add some new products especially to help those of us that are setting goals for a more healthy lifestyle.
We’ve also been inspired by the new BBC2 series, Victorian Bakers, so new our healthy loaves include a Super Seedy Sharing Flower, a Spelt & Rye Sourdough a Beetroot Sourdough and, especially for families, a new Tic Tac Toe loaf. Each of these breads can be ordered online and collected from our West London Kitchen on a Friday evening.
My personal healthier goals include planning to spend more time working outside in the garden, choosing our new healthier bread products and along with many others am having a Dry January, a month without alcohol. In the evenings, instead of pouring a glass of wine, I’m choosing a lovely fruit tea (without caffeine that will keep me awake) from Teapigs which, whilst always a lovely treat, is nice and warming as the evenings get colder. Regular readers will know that they have very kindly given us a discount code that we can use right throughout the year. The code for our readers is HENCORNER (upper case) and will give 20% off everything except cheeky deals and gift packs. Valid until 31st December 2016. Thank you Teapigs!
We are now back in the swing again with our regular courses, we have a Bread: Sweet & Savoury course every month and are about to bring out the preserving pans again as we welcome the Seville Orange season and start making marmalade, if you’d like to join us for Toast and Marmalade on Wednesday 20th January – a day of preserving and bread making, you can find more info here.
- Country Living magazine are promoting our sessions at their Spring Fair
- Our bees have been treated for that pesky varroa mite and had their winter food store topped up
- We’ve sheltered our peach tree to try to prevent peach leaf curl which inhibits fruit production
Jobs for this week:
- Confirm our plans for Easter at Hen Corner, a special event for local families
- Join the team from Bee Craft for a Google Hangout discussing Children and Beekeeping
- Solve the problem of our bio-degrading compost bins that are falling apart and making a mess!
Join us on the Journey!