In recent weeks we’ve celebrated our four year blog birthday, delighted in a Devon holiday, and were honoured to speak at a local Women’s Institute meeting.
When deciding where to go for a spring break with the family, I contacted Gillian @FarmerDixon from South Yeo Farm East, who has been supplying us with fertile eggs to hatch under Broody Butternut and delicious rare breed lamb butchered and boxed for the freezer for several years now. How wonderful to meet the farmers and animals that we’ve known from a distance for so long. Gillian kindly recommended the holiday cottages on her neighbours small holding so we had a wonderful week at Eastcott Vineyard, complete with wine tour and tasting, and took the opportunity to explore some of the West Country’s beautiful scenery along with visits to local National Trust properties and The Eden Project.
Gillian and her husband, Ian, have been keeping rare breed sheep, cattle, pigs and chickens for many years now; the lambs pictured here with their mum are a Welsh breed Balwen. It’s a busy job, they’ve been lambing since January and are now calving, overseeing and often assisting with every single new birth. Fortunately, between a flock of fluffy Pekin hens and a large incubator, the baby poultry don’t need much help entering the world; whilst we were there, we met a some day old goslings who had been hatched by a bantam (small breed) hen. Already, they were quite large and it wouldn’t be long before they outgrow their petite mummy! If you’ve ever fancied hatching eggs and rearing chickens, do check out the breeds that Gillian stocks, and don’t forget her delicious meat that can be posted anywhere in the UK, full details are on their website.
When we usually arrive at a holiday cottage, there’s often a pint of milk in the fridge and some tea bags in the cupboard, but when we arrived at Cabernet Cottage, there was a welcome bottle of wine in the fridge, of course! Hilary & Richard Waller have 6 acres planted with 6,000 vines of 6 varieties of grapes; three English varieties: Rondo, Seyval Blanc, Solaris that like living in the UK and give a good crop most years, then the French Champagne Trio of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier. They are the hardest to grow here, especially Chardonnay, which likes a nice warm summer to flower; though harvests are less reliable, they do make very good white wines, especially their sparkling varieties. It was great to join in on the first Grand Vine to Wine Tour of 2014, and whilst learning about growing grapes and producing wine, the highlight was tasting their award-winning wines; 3 sparkling (dry, medium & rose) and 2 still wines (white & rose). My favourite was the Brut Zero Sparkling, which rivals a good champagne, and might indulge in a case to enjoy throughout the summer!
This year we have planned courses right throughout 2014 giving everyone the opportunity for ‘A little bit of country life in London’. Throughout the summer we will have three types of courses available: Introduction to Bee Keeping, a practical hands on opportunity for small groups to inspect our honey making pollinators, Urban Hens, keeping chickens in London and Pick and Pickle, an introduction to preserving.
Book of the Blog Post:
By Dr. Seuss
“UNLESS someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.” The wisdom of Dr Seuss opens our eyes to real environmental issues in his unique captivating rhyme…
This book is available with many of our other favourites books from the Hen Corner Shop!
- Sadly, Ascot our beautiful Silver Laced Wyandotte died before Easter, but we have since introduced two new big chickens to the Eglu Cube and two fluffy Lavender Pekins to the bantams in the Eglu Go
- I’ve always admired the Women’s Institute and took Butternut, our Buff Orpington, with me to speak to our local group; she was happy walking around the front of the hall whilst we joined in with the anthem, Jerusalem!
- With the mild weather, the bees have got ahead of themselves and have been set on multiplying. We had a swarm in April and are monitoring them carefully to maximise honey production
Jobs for next week:
- Plant my ‘Bee Friendly’ seeds from Friends of the Honey Bee
- Tell our course guests about the new Eglu Go Up for smaller gardens
- Spend some good time in the Kitchen Garden to ensure another good harvest this year
Join us on the Journey!