Monthly Archives: November 2014


There’s been a lot of soup about this week. There’s been a lot of many things to be fair, but I happen to have a photograph of the soup and photographs are important for blogs.


It isn’t the greatest picture of soup: I clearly need to work on the presentation.  I had intended to take a better one today with a swirl of cream and some chopped herbs but I forgot the cream and nobody wanted any chopped herbs.

We had someone renting the main room for a couple of days and they asked if we could do lunches. Soup seemed a good idea, being warm, nourishing and within budget. What, as they say, could possibly go wrong?

Well, on the first day it turned out that three of the six attendees didn’t like soup. Unfortunately  I didn’t find out until I had made the soup for the second day.

On the second day it turned out that we had two untouched bowls and one half eaten (or drunk?) bowl. Progress indeed.

I would offer you the recipes but with that sort of success rate it probably isn’t worth your time. If you want a couple of imprecise recipes for Carrot and Parsnip soup or Pea Soup feel free to ask.


Book Review – Composting Inside and Out



Composting inside and out – Stephanie Davis

Betterway Home Books 2011 Published at $16.99 but we bought it for £3.99 from a garden centre.

This is a book about composting, rather than a book about the theory and technicalities of composting.

All you need to do is to throw some vegetable waste in a pile. That’s it. no carbon/nitrogen balance, no bin, just a pile of vegetable scraps. It’s simple advice and it’s right – better to have an imperfect compost heap no heap at all.

We currently bury thousands of tonnes of waste. We use lorries to transport it and we allow it to rot and produce greenhouse gases. It’s not efficient. It’s not good for the planet. And it’s a waste of a useful resource. Far better to keep it at home and use it to improve our garden soil. No garden? Use it in containers, or even give it away to someone who can use it.

As you would expect from someone who calls herself the Urban Worm Girl there’s quite a lot on worms. There is also plenty of information on other composting systems. Much of it is American, and for once that’s an advantage. Living in a country with some very cold parts (cold enough to freeze compost) she has a lot of information about keeping worms indoors. Yes, indoors. I always thought it made sense to keep them warm in the winter.

It’s 188 pages with pictures and plenty of space so it’s not a difficult read and it’s well worth it for the information.

Now all I need to do is have a word with my wife about bringing the worms in…



The community bread group was in today and they were attempting croissants. Considering that the group has only been going for eighteen months and some of them were not confident bakers when we started they have come a long way. We have diverged over that time and I mainly deal with school parties now – pizzas. soda bread and scones. The bread group is an altogether more sophisticated affair where they produce lovingly crafted continental breads, sourdoughs and, today, croissants.

I felt I just had to come along and record it with a few photographs. I wasn’t going to miss this, if there’s one thing I like better than warm croissants it’s people struggling with exotic bread recipes.

It was much quieter than a normal session as there was more concentrating to be done. I’d never thought of it, but there was more measuring to be done too. As you laminate the dough you have to work to certain sizes and then you have to use  atemplate. You don’t get that with the sort of things I do. I’d assumed that you made a shhet of dough and carved out a load of freehand triangles. That is not the case – there is no room for free spirits in the world of the croissant and my deplorable slack ways with triangular scones were not welcome here.



We’ve always said that the secret with bread at any level is that if it doesn’t look perfect at the end you can call it rustic or artisan – a couple of catch-all terms that cover a multitude of imperfections. That’s why they call me an artisan baker – it isn’t a statement of competence, it’s because I’m lumpy and not quite symmetrical.

In the end we had plenty of croissants to show for the day and though they may not have looked like shop bought croissants there was nothing wrong with the taste and everyone went home happy.

I you want to join the group they meet on alternate Thursdays at the farm.

Sadly, by the nature of the internet, most of you reading this won’t be close enough, but if you ever find yourself in Nottinghamshire we normally have something on every week.


Now, if you’ll excuse me I have an appointment with a warm croissant.

Awards time

The farm won two awards in the Nottingham Post Environmental awards last night – winner in the Land Use and runner-up in the Coping with Climate Change categories.

After a brief break to bask in self-satisfaction I’d better get back to work. That environmentally friendly compost isn’t going to turn itself.


Where does all the time go?

I’ve written a short blog (the one about the Peacock butterfly), answered a few emails, cleaned the fridge out, made a few sandwiches for lunch and proof read the monthly newsletter for spelling mistakes and typos. Seems a short list to say that it’s taken all day.

Oh, I’ve also – eaten lunch, sung Happy Birthday, served up 20 pieces of birthday cake, repaired the card reader I dropped, looked for a lost mobile, checked the bird table for life (still not seeing anything), taken the fridge and freezer temperatures, leafed through Farmers’ Weekly and dealt with a dozen enquiries whilst trying to concentrate. It’s all becoming clear now.

No wonder there never seems to be time to do anything.

The Last Butterfly of Summer?


We were clearing up yesterday afternoon when Julia saw a Peacock flying past. It was a damp day with a temperature around 10 degrees Celsius, not classic butterfly weather. Peacocks do hibernate so I hope it managed to find a good place to shelter. I imagine this is the last butterfly we’ll see this year, but at least it gives me a chance to use one of the summer photos.

Time to remember



That’s some of our group at the war memorial. The village war memorial is just a gravestone engraved with the names of the two men from the village who died. I believe there is also a plaque to a WW2 casualty in the church.

This one is the memorial to the air crash in April 1944.

A Lancaster from nearby RAF Syerston collided with an Airspeed Oxford from RAF Wymeswold, with eleven airmen dying.

We have a link to the crash on the farm, apart from one of the aircraft coming down on our land. (I’m not sure where the other fell – must check). Margaret Rose, the mother of farmer David Rose, was out playing when she heard the crash and saw the aircraft falling.

Flight Lieutenant Bill Reid won the Victoria Cross whilst flying from RAF Syerston – read this if you want to see what it takes to be a hero. After the war he worked in agriculture, including British Oil and Cake Mills (BOCM), where my father also worked. Just goes to show that all the best people work in farming.