“A Taste of The Good Life” with Nick & Bella – keeping hens – in May issue of Country Living

2015.04.16

 

Interview by Ruth Chandler. Photographs by Andrew Montgomery. Recipe by Alison Walker.

 

A gentle introduction to keeping hens in the May issue of Country Living magazine…

 

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Garden planning, and compost making.

2015.03.05

 

The sun is out and we’re anticipating the year ahead. Last year Andrew Montgomery and the Country Living team came to film our endeavours at Walnuts Farm. Here’s a little hint of what’s to come.

 

How to make butter with Country Living at Walnuts Farm

2015.03.03

 

 

Making butter is a really simple and satisfying kitchen craft and produces delicious results very quickly. For this short film,  we made the process of butter making even simpler by using a kitchen blender to beat the double cream until it separated out into clumps of yellow butter and liquid buttermilk.

Clothes drying in the land of fog and bog

2015.03.03

 

On those damp Winter days when the smoke from the chimney hangs around in the yard, and if it’s not actually raining then it feels like you’re walking through a cloud, getting clothes dry without resorting to the spin drier can be a chore. As children we used to have a clothes ‘horse’, over which we draped damp clothes to dry, or to warm them a little on a cold morning before putting them on. I’m not quite sure what happened to our last one, but recently Libby from Dulverton Trading kindly sent us their version – the Airy Fairy, which hooks onto the front of an Aga or Rayburn and serves a similar purpose. It uses the residual heat from the range to gently dry and air the clothes.

 

 

Unlike our old clothes ‘horse’ it has the advantage that it can be folded when off duty and lodged in some out of the way spot, and it’s become a favourite with the girls who have taken to using it as the ‘barre’ during ballet practice.

 

Nick & Bella’s “A Taste of the Good Life” – starting the kitchen garden – in April issue of Country Living

2015.02.25

 

Interview by Ruth Chandler. Photographs by Andrew Montgomery. Recipe by Alison Walker.

Bella’s dividing snowdrops and bringing Spring into the kitchen.

2015.02.23

 

This weekend, even though the wind had a cruel, bitter chill to it, I was determined to get outside amongst the snowdrops. The short flowering period of this delicately beautiful (once cultivated) now wild flower, at such a bleak time of year, makes it incredibly special. Snowdrops seem to really thrive here at Walnuts Farm, and with careful division of the bulbs and re-planting over the last few years, we have managed to populate large swathes of the front meadow and woodland area alongside the track with these uplifting little plants.  However, rather like unruly children, snowdrops don’t always grow where you want them, and on Saturday I saw that many had up sticks and migrated to fill the damp ditches along our boundary, probably spread by seed.

I decided to view this act of freewill as an opportunity to bring some of this outdoor beauty indoors and create a natural tablescape of snowdrops and moss for the kitchen. I never thought it was possible to bring snowdrops into the warmth of the home but I was inspired to see it in action at Daylesford farm during a quick visit ‘up country’ during half term. My plan is to re-plant the snowdrop bulbs outside once the little flowers have faded, and populate even more of our ‘wild’ areas with the flowers.

So, full of enthusiasm I set about filling my large creamware pan which in summer and autumn is brimming with fresh vegetables, but is currently looking less than abundant with just a few loose onion skins, garlic bulbs, dried chillies and a half-used piece of ginger rattling about at the bottom. I filled the pan with some potting compost, and divided up the clumps of snowdrop bulbs, packing them in quite closely together. In nature, they seem to enjoy this companionship and are rarely seen growing alone. I then filled the gaps with damp moss which I peeled from our clay roof tiles on the bread oven – very satisfying as the moss comes away in big slabs. I packed the moss around the flowers to help retain moisture as snowdrops like rich, damp conditions and sprayed the whole thing with water before carrying it indoors. A truly gratifying, simple pleasure…