Saturday, 19 September 2009

Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in

No, not the Sicilian mafia. The hedgerows. Miles of them, still heaving with fruit and foliage and possibilities. I gave in to my appetite and picked more blackberries (just this one last time...I swear...) as I had a new recipe idea - Blackberry, Apple & Winter Pimm's no 3 cup Jelly. Pimm's is an alcoholic mixer, in this case based on brandy infused with spices. Summer Pimm's (no 1 cup) is based on gin with spices and citrus. Of all the British gastronomic traditions, Pimm's and lemonade in summer is in the top 5.

I also gave into my creative urges and made a Fall wreath for the front door, using only what's in the hedgerow (and a bit of wire). I braided some teasel and formed it into a ring, then added rosehips, old man's beard (Clematis vitalba), and some Crocosmia seedheads. I think it looks seasonal.

I can remember my mother making Christmas wreaths for the doors and windows of our childhood home. Every year was a different style. One year she made outlandish wreaths out of white turkey feathers. Suburbia and taste be damned. As a child I thought they were pretty cool. As an adult I admire her for expressing her own creative vision.

I've been pretty productive today in general. It's the countdown to the start of our shooting season - only 2 days away now. Mike is dashing around with a pained expression on his face, and his usual mellow attitude has given way to a panic normally associated with DEFCON 2 or worse. I can just hear his truck pulling into the drive as I write this, at 8pm on Saturday evening. I've been preparing the village hall kitchen to feed the shoot workers, getting last minute supplies in and preparing the very basic menu, as all my food has to be done in a slow cooker [crockpot]. And chasing birds back home every morning. No weekends off.

We did have a few hours off the estate this afternoon to look at sheep. We've now decided on Gotlands as a good balance between fleece quality and meat. We went to White Hall Farm in Devon and met David and Lyn who breed Gotlands and run the breed society. They were so generous with their time and knowledge, and we will contact them in spring to buy 5 ewes and start our own flock. Those are some of their handsome breeding rams in the picture below. I confess I also brought home a bag of Gotland fleece to spin. It's so soft it's unreal. I'm knitting a secret project for my dear cousin Lisa who's expecting her first child. It's one of my "auntie duties". I swatched it last night and started it this morning at 6.30am - is that dedication or what!? And it's nice to have something on my needles again.

The meat chickens are growing so quickly, I've had to build them a makeshift extension, and give them some fresh grass. They showed their appreciation by doing a comical run while flapping their wings. With those breasts they have no hope of getting off the ground but it gives them a good stretch. Totally winded, they spent the rest of the morning laying in the sun and eating. Now that they're nearing their cull weight, it dawns on me that I'm not sure how I'm going to get 29 chickens in my already full freezer. Hmmmm.


Poppy Cottage said...

I know how the meat chickens feel. I too can't get off the ground!! I LOVE the wreath. Another side line......

The ever talented Jen!

I agree the Gotland were so nice down in Devon. And the fleece is ssssssssoooooooooo soft!

Take care.

Me :0)

Pomona said...

You'll just have to get eating! I think we are moving closer to getting some - the Ploughboy has been looking at the website of the people you told us about. And your talk of hedgerows makes me feel guilty - I have been driving past some wonderful blackberries all week, and still haven't got out to pick them!

Pomona x