The Ease of Cheese

| 10th July 2011

Oh My Goodness…

I thought to myself whilst eating supper in the garden this evening. I had spent a couple of hours in the Kitchen Garden; transplanting the brassicas to their final beds, and we were now enjoying freshly picked steamed vegetables (runner beans, peas, little round Parmex carrots, baby onions, etc.) with cold chicken and some Hen Corner cider….

Life is good, I thought as the gentle fragrance of Jasmine wafted across the garden, with just a little wondering about the Brussel Sprouts – would we get a good crop for Christmas Day? Yes, life has been good for a while….And then Rachelle taught me how to make CHEESE! Our last post showed a picture of the Camembert getting ready to ripen, well, now that we’ve tasted it – we’re on a roll! We are knocking out a new cheese each week… Last night we had some lovely friends, Julia & Tom, over for supper and our starter of broad bean & feta pate (served with Rosemary Focaccia) was made with Hen Corner Feta, then after the main meal, we enjoyed a Hen Corner cheese board complete with a Black Pepper Boursin, a Garlic & Herb Roule and the long-awaited Camembert… Divine!

The weather has been a bit strange…

With our ‘Summer’ in April and our ‘Spring’ in June both the plants and the wildlife have got a bit confused here at Hen Corner. This has meant that some things are doing very well, like the Painted Lady runner beans, some things haven’t been too happy, like the peas and spinach that bolted before we could harvest them, and sadly, none of our melon plants survived in the cold frame (I think we’ve had an army of mice sneaking in and ransacking the place on a regular basis!) Our youngest team member, Macy, is thrilled, however, to discover our first Globe Artichoke flower – this is her favourite vegetable and as a perennial, should get stronger by the year…

Feeling Fruity?

A stroll around our fruit trees today was really encouraging. The apples are taking good shape and colour, the pear (that only produced one fruit last year) is really rather laden and it’s wonderful to see several figs, six or seven bunches of grapes, quite a lot of Victoria plums and a solidary almond maturing nicely for a late summer harvest.

I was given a lovely preserving book today (as a late birthday present from my fellow chicken friend; Sally) and I really must make the most of all the fruit so that we can enjoy it all year round…

Plan Bee?

Just to reassure you this is still on the agenda; we have decided on a location for a hive that faces the morning sun to help the girls get up and out to work each day. This position should also encourage a flight path that goes up and over the hens – quite a bonus as we didn’t want ‘rush hour traffic’ whizzing across the lawn!

So the next step is to have our home visit from Ealing & District Beekeeping Association and then, hopefully, borrow a nucleus colony. This will be easier to manage than a full colony and will help us all get a feel as to what it would be like to keep bees here at Hen Corner.

Other news from Hen Corner:

  • Our new Eglu Go is all set up! We first used it, very successfully, to break the broody cycles of Ascot & Butternut. We are now waiting for them to go broody again so that we can hatch some fertile eggs under them (hopefully they’ll be good mums?)… so watch this space for some new chicks!
  • Our asparagus season has come to an end – we’ve had loads this year (it was worth the wait), so roll on next April!!!
  • Escaping chickens have trashed our strawberry bed, but the raspberries (growing higher up) have been fantastic!

Jobs for next week:

    • Plan a preserving schedule, we need to be ready as everything ripens, so not to waste too much.
    • Continue to thin out the swedes (I was a bit heavy-handed with the seeds!) – good job the girls enjoy eating the shoots & leaves!
    • Get ready for Wednesday’s course Urban Hens – Keeping Chickens in London

Have a great week yourself now….

Corners aren’t just for squares!

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