Even though we technically live on a Farm up until now there has been no actual livestock here apart from 2 hideously naughty spaniels and 2 cats that think they rule the world (sorry Beyonce). That all changed a few months ago when we took ownership of 4 hens who now reside very happily in the wood at the end of our field eating the stinging nettles and rooting around in the wood piles. We each got a chance at naming a hen and so they are now known as Hetty, Clara, Mr Beaky and Cluny – try as we might we couldn’t persuade my 3 year old that they weren’t all girls.
Looking after them has been more a process of good time keeping rather than skill. Feed them, water them and lock them away at night. The resulting eggs are a revelation – the yokes are positive florescent and baking with them produces the richest and super tasty results. I guess that’s the obvious difference between chickens allowed to roam and forage as they choose and even the best “farmed” free range eggs.
Now that we know we’re capable of keeping hens alive we’re buying more Point-of-Lay beauties with the hope that we can start selling free range goodies from an honesty box at the end of the drive. Our ambitions have also stepped up a gear and next spring will see the arrival of the Castle Farm pigs. We’re hoping to rear our own piggies in the knowledge that the bacon, sausages, black pudding and other porcine goodies are all as free range and happy as we can make them. The Blonde has visions of his own Smoked Hams (Parma style) which I’m very happy to encourage.
We’ll never be self sufficient but this is another step closer to being able to say hand on heart that we only eat sustainable and 100% happy meat.