I often get asked whether we eat our own chickens, especially when they stop laying eggs, and when I explain that the chickens can continue to lay regularly for over 6 years and the average age of the chicken in the butchers shop is 6 weeks, people soon guess that an old bird won’t be that succulent.
However, it does remind me of a wonderful seasonal story that my dad told me of his childhood growing up in East London during the war. He remembers his father coming home one day with three baby chicks for him to look after. He was delighted with his new pets, oblivious to his mother’s persistence that the animals were to be well fed and cared for with the sole aim of supplying an extravagant Christmas feast to rival the neighbours in the days of food rationing.
As the chicks grew, my dad and his younger sister naturally became more fond of them, boasting to their school friends of this exciting adventure in urban farming.
As Christmas approached, and his father was preparing to do the deed, his mother went to feed the chickens and to her surprise discovered an egg in the makeshift coop. It didn’t take her long to realise that an egg a day for the foreseeable future would provide considerably more food than a single roast dinner – so the chickens were saved…
Consequently, that Christmas, instead of the steaming roasted bird that they had dreamt of, the family had humble pie of tinned corned beef with a sprig of holly spiked in the top!
I can reassure you that we won’t be eating any of our hens this Christmas, but will be delighting in lots of season treats that we’ve been making on our courses and for our bakery.
Homemade goodies and gifts at Christmas are often lower on cost to both the environment and your wallet, and whilst it does require an input of your time, the end result shows the love and care that you have invested.
Check out our top tips for a more sustainable Christmas:
1) Foodie treats…
This recipe is fabulous all year round, yet really comes into it’s own at Christmas. It can be baked in a round tin to serve as a dessert (served with mascarpone cheese and damsons from the gin), or cut into cubes to give as gifts – our children’s teachers used to love them!
Andy is busy brushing up on the skills that he learnt on the leather course that I gave him for Christmas last year, he’s already made me a leather pouch to keep my headphone cable tidy and has a little surprise that he’s working on for us to give away this year. Meanwhile, after participating in a workshop at the National Honey Show, I’m trying my hand to making bees wax food wraps utilising the wax from our honey bees and reducing plastic waste in the kitchen. Did you notice how I discretely demonstrated how courses to develop skills can help you save money, live more sustainably and enjoy life to the full? 🙂
Make your own Advent Candle to mindfully reflect on the true meaning of Christmas.
- Choose a tall dinner candle and mark down the days from 1 at the top to 24 at the bottom using a transfer, marker pen, or dots of wax in another colour.
- Secure the candle upright in a base of air dry clay.
- Decorate the base with dried fruit, foliage and ribbons, securing with florist wire.
- Place the finished piece on a heat resistant saucer before lighting – never leave a burning candle unattended.
4) Look ahead to next Summer…
Whilst we will shall be profiling this more in the new year, we are very excited to let you know about our Taste of the Good Life all inclusive holiday at Wild Oak Wood in South West France. Join us for a week in the sunshine as we discover traditional French food heroes by visiting vineyards, apiaries, farms and mills followed by hands on skills workshops that allow us to grow in both understanding and confidence as we aspire to a more self sufficient lifestyle. Open for bookings now!
- The Country Living Christmas Fair was fabulous fun, a special highlight was working with Chef Joe Hurd, who you may have seen on Saturday Kitchen. The team have also been to Glasgow and will be taking the fair to Harrogate over the coming weeks, so do join them if you can
- It was wonderful to welcome six budding bakers to make Christmas puddings on Stir Up Sunday (OK, so you steam rather than bake them!)
- We’ve been delighted to train a new Bread Angel, Sarah, who has learnt some fabulous skills over the last couple of weeks and will be baking for customers very soon
Jobs for the week:
- Get busy making hampers as both Christmas gifts and to sell
- Pack up the car for the St Dunstan’s Church Christmas Fair – we’ll have bakes, preserves and cards for sale
- Visit Syon Park to gather foliage for our Christmas Wreaths courses
Be kind to yourself in the run up to Christmas, the journey is just as important as the destination, take time to be thankful, kind and generous as we prepare to celebrate together.