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…

A New Year

2015.01.22

 

 

Nick and Bella have been married for 12 years and have spent the last nine years enthusiastically restoring Walnuts Farm and its surrounding five acres into a beautiful and productive model farm.

 

Nick and Bella have embraced the ‘good life’ along with their two daughters, Flora (10) and Peggy (7).  Their small family farm has an extensive kitchen garden surrounded by woven hazel fencing, a wild flower meadow, a coppice and open pasture, all of which have been created from a bare-field site by Nick and Bella.  Their aim to live off the land as much as possible means undertaking a schedule of planting fruit trees, tending to their wild flower meadow and kitchen gardens and nurturing the livestock consisting of poultry, pigs, sheep and honey bees.

 

With their simple and achievable approach of raising ‘just enough’ livestock and fruit and vegetables to happily feed a family of four throughout the year Nick and Bella adamantly believe that the good life does not have to be the hard life.

 

The family lifestyle has been serialised in Country Living magazine throughout 2014 where we were able to follow the work going on at Walnuts Farm and the food the family grow and eat.  A new series, “A Taste of the Good Life” featuring Nick and Bella, is to appear in Country Living from April 2015.

 

In addition to being the family home, Walnuts Farm is a successful film and photographic location where they regularly host fashion, interiors and advertising shoots for clients including L’Oreal, John Lewis, White Stuff, Kew, Rowan, Joules, Great Little Trading Company, Neal’s Yard, Net A Porter, Next, Lombok, Sony, Sainsbury’s, Tesco, Gardens Illustrated, Homes and Gardens, and Port magazine.

 

 




Christmas at Walnuts Farm with Nick & Bella in December Country Living

2014.12.17

 

Photographs by Brent Darby. Food and drink editor Alison Walker. Styling by Ben Kendrick. Words by Louise Elliott.

Nick & Bella in November Country Living

2014.10.03

Photographs by Brent Darby. Food and drink editor Alison Walker. Styling by Caroline Reeves. Words by Louise Elliott.

Nick & Bella in October Country Living

2014.10.03

Photographs by Brent Darby. Food and drink editor Alison Walker. Styling by Caroline Reeves. Words by Louise Elliott.

Nick & Bella in September Country Living

2014.08.12

Photographs by Brent Darby. Food and drink editor Alison Walker. Styling by Ben Kendrick. Words by Louise Elliott.

Outdoor Cooking with Nick & Bella in August Country Living

2014.07.07

 

Photographs by Brent Darby. Food and drink editor Alison Wlker. Styling by Ben Kendrick. Words by Louise Elliott.

High Summer with Nick & Bella in July Country Living

2014.06.18

 

Photographs by Brent Darby. Food and drink editor Alison Walker. Styling by Caroline Reeves. Words by Louise Elliott.

Elderflower Season with Nick & Bella in June Country Living

2014.05.23

 

Photographs by Brent Darby. Food and drink Editor Alison Walker. Styling by Ben Kendrick. Words by Louise Elliott.

Wearing the Day

2014.05.14

 

At Walnuts Farm we wear the day on our Carhartts.

 

 

Campfire Cooking with Nick & Bella in May Country Living

2014.04.07

 

 

Photographs by Brent Darby. Food and drink editor Alison Walker. Styling by Caroline Reeves. Words by Louise Elliott.

 

Weaners arrive at Walnuts Farm

2014.04.07

 

Bella picked up two Oxford Sandy and Black gilts over the weekend – progeny of The Barnsnap Herd, and they’re already settling into their arc, and tucking in at the trough.

 

Smoking Trout at Walnuts Farm

2014.04.02

 

The opening of the trout season, and a big haul from Bewl Water is always a good excuse to get out the smoker…

We smoked over oak wood chips using a smoker from Outdoor Cook. The fish were all caught ‘low and slow’ on black and green lures, as is typical for this time of year. You can see more of us smoking trout and a recipe for hot smoked trout with beetroot and apple salad in the March 2014 issue of Country Living magazine.

 

Garlic planting at Walnuts Farm

2014.03.17

 

A quick roughen up with my Father’s 1960’s issue wooden handled ‘Wolf’ cultivator – and we’re ready to plant out the garlic that has been growing steadily in modules in the cold frames.

Last of the Brussels Sprouts.

2014.03.17

 

We usually keep our brassicas going as long as possible to help us over ‘the hungry gap’ – that time between the point when the stored vegetables are used up or spoiled, and the new season’s vegetables start to produce. But these Brussels Sprouts are coming out now to make way for the garlic going in. We can’t resist one more picking of the smallest sprouts for tonight’s supper with sausages and mash. Fittingly the remainder will go to the pigs.

Easter at Walnuts Farm with Nick & Bella in April Country Living

2014.03.05