Monthly Archives: April 2009

a walk around britain

If you’ve not come across these lads before then look out for them. All that they carry with them is their knowledge of wild foods and folk songs and with that they travel around the country, singing for their supper.

If your not lucky enough to bump into them then check out their website it’s filled with stories and useful information on wild food, songs and folklore.

a walk around britain

sod swine flu what about the bees !!!

The news is filled once again with panic inducing ratings catchers. The BBC just announced that the government is about to send a leaflet to every house in the country concerning swine flu! Which as we all know is a direct reaction to all the media attention.

Again and again we see our attentions forced in the wrong direction. 30% of Europe’s 13.6 million hives died last year and the cause is still not recognized. It’s blamed on modern farming techniques,pesticides and a parasitic mite. More alarmingly this has been going on year after year and is getting worse.

Some people may argue that a persons health is more important than an insect. Depending on which one you are might be true but the simple fact is that without the humble honey bee we would be in much greater trouble globally than any swine pandemic could cause.

It just goes to prove that our government is more concerned with keeping the chemical industries happy than farmers of a system we can ill afford to do without.

To control swine flu means that we keep our reliance and addiction to the chemical and pharmicutical industries, a cure means profit. To control the decline of the honey bee means turning our back on modern farming and the industries which dominate and reducing our reliance meaning less profit.

still no eggs

Well it’s day three and still no sign of an egg! I’m dying to find the first one, it’ll be the most satisfying breakfast ever. However there confidence is growing and I’ve decided to let them have the run of the garden today, although the doors been open for an hour and they are still not coming out I’m not sure if they realize they can.

I know that there is the issue with the fox but the run they are in has a concrete floor and they deserve the chance to scratch around in the dirt. I’ll be around all day and the dog’s here too.

I’m just considering if the rabbit proof fence we’re proposing to keep our veg safe is not going to be tall enough to keep the hens out.

first time smallholder

A cock crowing in the morning is one of the most familiar sounds of the country, thats the sound that woke me this morning but just before I could drift off on a daydream I remember that it’s mine and the chickens need letting out. We’ve got our first livestock.


At the moment it consists of

2 x Maran’s
1 x Black Rock
1 x Isa Warren
1 x Sussex ( cock )

All at point of lay, except the cock of course.

They all look as nervous as I am but I’m sure they’ll settle in soon. We bought them from Edward W Boothman in Silsden, West Yorks. For the first few days their confined to quarters but we hope soon to be letting them run riot, I mean run free, round the garden.


In true permaculture fashion we renovated an old kennel for their coop, it was ideal and only needed a door on the front for added security.

We decided on having a cockerel as it’ll give us the opportunity to have chicks and so enlarging the flock and being able to raise some meat too. At the moment however we are only interested in eggs, enough for us and hopefully some surplus to sell on to help pay for their upkeep. Thinking like a small holder already.

It’s something I’ve wanted to do for years, it brings together so much of the principals I stand by, keeping things local, ethical, sustainable and organic etc. Day by day our food miles are getting shorter and in the near future we will be responsible not only for their well being but the raising, killing and butchering of our own livestock. A commitment and an experience that I’m nervously looking forward too as well as feeling that this is something every meat eater should experience at least once in their life.

drinking the hedgerow – Nettle beer


This is the perfect time of year to get hedgerow brews on the go. The young fresh tips of the nettles are at there prime round here at the moment and with may celebrations on the way it was time to get the brew bucket out. It’s also a great way to get the first free food of our new home.

The recipe is dead simple

4 carrier bags full of nettles
9 liters of water
bag of brown sugar
3 lemons
bit of ginger

Collect the youngest tips of the nettles, be careful at the edges of crop fields, if the nettles have a yellow tinge leave well alone. Boil the nettles, lemons and ginger for twenty mins. Strain the liquid, remembering to add the nettles to the compost. Stir in the sugar and leave to cool. Once the liquid is cooled add the yeast. I use a brew bucket with a lid for this.

Leave for a few days in a warm place then transfer to a cooler one for a further few days. I’m not being exact because I always leave it normally in the same place for about four days but John Seymor says otherwise. If it looks like it’s going crazy move to a cooler place.

Then it needs to be bottled up in screw tight bottles this is really important as it can have a real fizz, I store mine as cool as possible. It’s ready in a week and won’t keep long so needs drinking, like most booze.


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