The fields, forests, and hedgerows of Europe are, as well as being full of edibles, a medicine cabinet. There are plants and fungi that have been used for hundreds of years to treat various ailments and complaints. Some are of questionable virtue (or there is certainly little evidence of their efficacy save for anecdote). Others…Read More
Wild Strawberry Cheesecake
Wild strawberries (Fragaria vesca) are a revelation. If you’ve never tried them before, imagine the very essence of strawberry. They are the real thing, with the flavour of commercially available fruit being a shade, a rumour of the true nature of this berry. This is hyperbole, of course. There are plenty of varieties of cultivated…Read More
The First To Go
There was always going to be a first to go. This new life of ours is full of firsts; first animals, first floods, first taste of homegrown aubergines. All new, all delightful or difficult or frightening. And there was always going to be a first to die. Like many fledgling smallholders, our initial foray into…Read More
I’m standing in the meadow behind the house, clutching a stack of buckets. Before venturing outside, I pulled on a pair of shorts and stepped into my wellingtons, leaving a gap for my knees to peek through so they are now wet with dew from the damp morning grass. Drops cling to my eyelashes and…Read More
The Year Ahead.
January, so far, has been unseasonably mild, with temperatures rarely dropping below zero. Whilst this has meant warmer toes and lower heating bills, I long for the beauty of a hoar frost like last year’s, when all was crystal bones. It has rained persistently and hard, though with careful clearing of ditches and waterways we…Read More
The Ruminants’ Nail Salon
We hadn’t particularly considered getting sheep, had spoken of it in passing but no more. The grass in the field grew to a metre tall, and hid monsters within the blades. We asked our old friend Maurice (he of the water-divining) to come round with his mini tractor and cut it for hay, which he did. …Read More
The Apocalypse Pantry
It’s not the end of the world. As I write this, I am listening to the radio, where sombre voices are speaking of madmen rattling their swords, about missiles, about poisoned eggs, about droughts, floods, forest fires. Stay indoors. Cover the windows, cover your eyes. Be afraid. And I am afraid. Yet, outside the open door,…Read More
The Hive, Part Three: Epilogue/Prologue.
The bees are dying. All was, or seemed, well. We had weeks where the bees were busy busy. Collecting nectar, the clover in the field surrounding the hive a-buzz with 40,000 tiny beating wings. Bringing in pollen, little globes of yellow and orange and chestnut brown attached to their legs as they arrived home from…Read More
The Hive, Part Two: Tea With the Queen.
Read part one here. Note: bees are complicated, wildly so. I am not an expert, not even close, and much of what follows is knowledge I have gleaned from books and courses, and some is still controversial in the beekeeping world. I have provided links to further reading for those that wish it. I cannot…Read More
The Hive, Part One: A Boot Full of Bees.
Note: bees are complicated, wildly so. I am not an expert, not even close, and much of what follows is knowledge I have gleaned from books and courses, and some is still controversial in the beekeeping world. I have provided links to further reading for those that wish it. I cannot take responsibility for external…Read More