Country in the City…

| 9th June 2012

Welcome back to Hen Corner!

The sunshine at the end of May was short-lived and many of us celebrated the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee under umbrellas but lots has still been happening in the world of Hen Corner….Let’s begin by watching the final film in our series ‘Ten Top Tips for Keeping Chicks’:

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The Trotters of Ealing…

Over the last month or so I’ve been helping the lovely team at Lost In London with some research for a new book that they are compiling with the theme being a year of “Living Simply in the City” and I’ve been collecting pictures of London friends at home with their farmyard animals. As keeping chickens has become more popular this has been quite straightforward, though I am envious of Charlotte’s Chickens and their adorable ducklings, however, I heard a rumour of a vicar in Ealing that had chickens and pigs! After further investigation, I was invited to St Mary’s Vicarage to meet Rev. Steve Paynter and his sons Jono & Matt who showed me their hens, new chicks and Del Boy & Rodney their Gloucester Old Spots, pictured above. These pigs settled into their London home just after being weaned and will happily eat, play and grow until they are ready for slaughter at six months old. I do hope I’ll be able to visit them regularly as they get bigger.

We are often asked how much money we save through producing our own food in the garden here at Hen Corner.  Our film above shows how keeping chickens more than pays for itself and we are currently trying to work out all our savings based on our harvest yield. But for a starter, we are cutting £55 worth of asparagus, fermenting £120 worth of cider on top of collecting £600 worth of eggs each year. That’s before the honey that is worth £5 a jar! Seeing it listed out like this encourages me to persist in planting leeks in the rain…

What do you think would be the most valuable project for the garden at Hen Corner? Honey? Saffron? Soft Fruits?

Family Feathers and Fun!

As this week has been Half Term, we were very pleased to welcome the Mitchell Family on our latest course to discover the joys of chickens and think through how they could start up with a small flock in their own garden. Here they are with our own children, complete with certificates and crafts that they made that afternoon. We love to hear how our course delegates get on with their own journey with hens and it was very exciting to see Kelly and her children from our March course in the Daily Mail this week; looking at the country life in London! This theme is very popular and it’s great to see that so many people realise that it doesn’t have to be either/or.

Michele Jameson, Chief Sub Editor at Country Living Magazine, came over for tea and cake in the garden recently and we talked about just that. Michele then wrote about how it’s always refreshing to catch glimpses of the countryside within the city on the Country Living Blog. Another champion of the cause is Rachel Bull from Live Urban Love Rural who joined us on a course last month (we hope she liked it!), it was a pleasure to be featured on the website and we wish her all the best as she continues to inspire other urbanites!

Book of the Blog Post: River Cottage Veg Every Day!

‘Have you got the new River Cottage book?’ asked my mum last year, whilst we were half way through the TV series of the same name, she knows I’m a fan and was planning to buy it as a gift for me. This contains over 200 delicious recipes with vegetables in the starring roles… and as we are now beginning to harvest here at Hen Corner, I might try the Bruschetta with Broad Beans and Asparagus (p196), I hope Hugh doesn’t mind me swapping his mild crumbly goat’s cheese for this week’s fresh homemade Feta?

This book is available with many of our other favourites books from the Hen Corner Shop!

Other News:

  • We are getting to know the fab team at Hen & Hammock, they have some great products and inspiring ideas
  • The ‘Three Sisters’ planting (Sweetcorn, Beans and Squash) have all been eaten by slugs
  • We’ve tied in some black bamboo for (the remaining) french beans to climb up from their herb garden base

Jobs for next week:

  • Put a second Super on the beehive as they have already drawn out the wax cells and begun storing nectar in the first one
  • Finish installing the watering system in the Kitchen Garden, just in case this rain stops!
  • Get ready for Wednesday’s course Urban Hens – Keeping Chickens in London

Have a good week yourself…

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