Rabbit Pie

20130129_182909First trip into the office today sees the debris of unfinished work taunting me from various locations of the desk and floor. By and large, matters are under control. Rather than file nearly completed tasks I take pleasure in waiting until they really are finished before stashing them away.

My heart rate therefore calms as I realise that there are no real panics to deal with. I have some business events and weddings to organise which sees me tapping away at the computer in between calling various suppliers and customers. Orderliness is shortlived. Over the top of my computer screen I spot a furry creature emerging from the shrubbery just outside the office window.

Ever since planting the wildflower garden, which borders the shrubbery, I have been on rabbit watch. The seed company identified rabbit attacks as the main threat to the flowers reaching maturity. To counter this I bought an air rifle.

Throughout last season the rifle was regularly used. The rabbit population was not diminished. However, the pellets discharging did succeed in sending the hungry monsters sprinting off away from the flowers and across the fields.

For the last couple of months I have not seen any rabbits in the wildflower garden but today a very confident adult is staring contemptuously at me while munching on some seed heads.

Picking up my air rifle and the tin of pellets I head off to the utility room from where I can get a clear view of the wildflower meadow. Slowly I open the door. Unbelievably this is the precise moment that the breadmaker, sat on the counterside in the utility room, breaks into its next kneading cycle.

The rabbit hears the noise and turns towards the sound but does not bolt. Waiting a little longer for it to get accustomed to the machine noises I then slowly raise the rifle and ease it around until I have the rabbit in the sight.

At first I suspect the usual outcome after squeezing the trigger but then I realise that the rabbit has not completely disappeared. It has moved but not far. The next second it collapses and dies.

I am in shock. I am used to taking pigs to the abbatoir and preparing them afterwards but the act of killing changes the dynamic and I am confused about how I feel about what I have done.

My heart thumping I walk to the rabbit and bring it into the kitchen. Once I gutted and skinned a hare that someone else had shot but this will be the first time that I have prepared a kill of my own.

After consulting Seymour and Fearnley-Whittingstall I set about my task. Although very nervous at first I become more relaxed as the rabbit is tranformed from creature into meat. I am slow but in about 20 minutes I have a skinned and cleaned rabbit on the counter with its heart, liver and kidneys in a bowl nearby.

Looking forward to dinner.


Keeping chocolate perfectly.

The system was perfect. A cool cellar kept our distinctive home-produced chocolates in fine condition.

Then, new technology for one of our wind turbines was installed in the cellar and it generated heat. Too much heat for the chocolates!

Our chocolates are one of the most popular elements of days spent at Green Directions for our clients. We make them with fresh cream and no preservatives to maximise the quality of the taste. Ingredients such as beer, liqueurs, fresh fruit, chilli and fresh herbs create delicious and unusual flavours.

The solution to the storage problem was to invest in a wine cooler. Fantastic. I can set it to the optimum temperature to ensure that our chocolates are always in perfect condition




What can we do to tackle food availability issues?

In my parents’ lifetime – they are still alive aged 83 – the world population has risen from about 2 billion to 7 billion and it continues to rise. Malnutrition existed in 1928, tackling it is therefore an even greater challenge now.

Although instinctively anti GM, I am even more anti starvation and therefore think that projects to assess the potential of GM should be supported.

I feel most strongly that the dislocation of a high proportion of people from their food supply in ‘developed’ countries is a key problem.

It results in:

  • A lack of respect for the sources and value of food
  • Waste
  • Obesity

In my view, if more people produced some food for themselves many of these issues would be addressed and we would also increase food supplies considerably.

Silage, Haylage or Hay?

Our larger scale events such as weddings take place in our ‘hay’ field. Typically our hay is harvested between mid June and the end of July. This year we planned to cut it in June because we have a number of events in July but, of course, the weather has not been kind.

Hay making needs a run of several sunny days. First the grass has to be mown. Then it is turned several times until it becomes very dry. Only then can it be baled and moved into the barn in preparation to feed our horses and ponies during the winter. It also has to be stored for a few months to cure. Freshly cut hay is not easily digested.

Without a run of several sunny days to make hay my thoughts turned to making haylage. This is very similar to hay but slightly damper. It is made into large round bales and wrapped in polythene to keep out oxygen. The combination of the slightly damper material and oxygen causes the haylage to degrade and rot. Even though it is damper when baled, present conditions are too damp.

So, the answer this year is to make silage out of the grass from the area that we need for our events. Today one neighbour (Clive Quamby) mowed the area and tomorrow another neighbour (Alan Russell) is going to bale and wrap as silage. Silage is freshly cut grass that is immediately or almost immediately baled and wrapped (or stored in a large clamp). The moisture content is high and it makes a very rich feed that is ideal for cattle but no good for horses. Alan will therefore be taking this part of our crop for his cattle.

Hopefully we will be able to make some hay or haylage with the grass from the rest of the field later in the summer. How many of you wedding planners have the silage/haylage/hay question on your checklists?

Hay making in the sunshine – June 2011


June Evening

A hard day’s work in meetings and at the computer has to end as the pigs are squealing for their food and the ponies need taking off the rich spring grass.

Head down I set about my tasks. Pig feed is measured out into a bucket while collected rainwater is transfered to a large black bin ready to be barrowed round to the pig’s field where I keep a large water container for topping up their water supply. The pigs are pleased to see me. I like to think that they really are pleased to see me but of course really, they are really pleased to see the food bucket.

After giving them some more bedding and checking the fencing, I bid the pigs goodnight and set off to find the horses. I pass the orchard and see that the last of the apple blossom has gone. It has been abundant this year, which hopefully means that there will be a crop that reflects this in the autumn.

At the entrance to the orchard is a gate leaning on a dry stone wall with a gate post, independently, also propped up against the wall. I bought the gate post over a year ago ready to set and attach the gate to it. Unset, the gate has to be lifted into a position to provide a barrier.

Despite calling the ponies they remain munching the rich grass that, un-moderated, will draw them to their maker. In due course they are caught and returned to sparse pasture overnight. Another of threat to their welfare, ragwort, has re-appeared in a couple of places and so I do a tour of the fields with a barrow to stop its progress.

Last task is to transplant 4 pumpkin plants to their final destinations underneath the fruit trees in front of the barn.

I started the evening stressing about jobs.