Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Friesans on acid, funky sheep and a very unusual postbox.

Last Friday, we had a short visit to Upper Booth Farm, in Hope Valley in the Peak District, to learn more about raising rare breeds.


I knew that the bureaucracy for farmers was bonkers, but what I was hearing was even worse than I expected. On top of which, this particular farm gets their water from a borehole, the pipe from which had become blocked, and they were desperately trying to get the water flowing again before the arrival of a large party of campers.  It was extremely decent of them not to cancel our visit - I'm sure they could have done without having to show us around.

I was delighted to find that they had a herd of Belted Galloways - quite rare in this country, more common in the U.S., from what I can gather.  I remember my first beltie, spotted as I was driving down the A30 to Cornwall. I did that route a few times before realising that the herd actually wasn't Friesans with rather straight spots! Belties are uniquely suited to the foothills of peaks, as they're light of foot, so don't churn up the soil. One of the things that makes their meat so good is that they are very placid. Nothing like a chilled out cow on your plate.....

The cloud was very low on Friday, so you couldn't see much further than the end of your nose, which was a pity, as this farm is just below Kinder Scout and the views are fabulous.

Their main breed of sheep is Swaledales, although they also have Blue-faced Leicesters and Texels amongs their tups. Here are the tups, waiting patiently for their day to come (as it were.....)

And, a complete aside, but a virtual prize to anyone who can spot what is unusual about this postbox, built into the wall of this farm:

Monday, 7 November 2011

A game bird with a knife.

Oddly, I don't seem able to write without inspiration from the pictures I've taken. Or maybe I just have a bad memory.

Anyway, last week was excellent. Big game this time, in the form of a roe deer and a red deer. We did some seaming and I think I may just about have the hang of sharpening a knife, if nothing else. We have different teachers on Wednesday and Thursday and they like us to sharpen two different ways. When I'm back in the class later this week, I will take pictures of each way. I really think I didn't know what a sharp knife was until I started this course. We are getting our own sets of knives soon - which is good, as it's never nice to go back to a knife and find someone else has been using it. I'm sure one can tell.

We made black pudding last week, too, but I forgot to take it home with me, so I'm hoping there's some left in the chiller tomorrow, so I get to try it. We used dried blood and sifted out the pearl barley, and replaced that during the cooking process with rice. All very mud pies and messy, but not gory at all - I suspect it's much less appetising when you have to boil up real blood.

All much better than two weeks ago when we worked on game birds and a rabbit - could have done without that - fiddly, pongy, generally minging. I don't like eating game, so I don't even get a reward for all that faffing about!

Back with pictures soon.