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current soundtrack to my rather rural existence

3 June 2015


hair sticks

the excellent Kitchen counter-culture or Kitchen-counter culture blog where I usually find inspiration of another ilk, led me to Zoe Boekbinder, and I am grateful. Love this great song (and many more too) and also love the stop-action animation video, her world looks pretty good to me.

Sufjan Stevens, Carrie and Lowell, the whole album (a masterpiece, no less) in a loop on deezer (a great music streaming site), not every day, but most (got a nudge from canal ways for this one).

It is true that I listen to Richard Hell and the Voidoids in the car but I like my music more mellow too, like, at this minute, Sea Wolf, start perhaps with Black Leaf Falls below, which I discovered here, but also try some Bavarian Porcelain with your tea next.

and you may yet jump up and down with Marseille-based collective Chinese Man feat. Tumi, “bring on the marching band…”.

And there is also Benjamin Clementine… and Hollie Cook’s new album…

new furry lives…

2 June 2015

little kid


just born triplets


A lot has happened. The wonder of it all. Twins, twins and triplets. Lost the only single-born baby, then its mother who not so long ago had looked the strongest of them all. Questioned it all : Am I doing all right ? What can I learn ? Can the land carry the animals ? M. said : if you have livestock, you will sometimes have deadstock. Truth be told, keeping animals mean having a lot to do with death and excrements.

We named—Coconut—and buried—under a sweet chestnut tree—the little thing that did not have the strength to live. We will plant a oak tree for its departed mother.

Seven more babies came into the world, two males (to eat) and five females. The new mothers have overwintered on hay, daily-cut briars, dried nettles, garlic. There was a time when I felt that I had to feed my goats organic concentrates—with ingredients from afar—regularly, but have come to wonder if this is not actually junk-food to a degree : so I am now giving my ruminants a lot of locally grown food to ruminate on, roughage to keep them warm, green and dried plants to keep them busy chewing the cud.

This time here is circular, am also thinking of the winter that will come round : I am harvesting nettles—the tips for us now to gently fry in butter and serve with breakfast scrambled eggs, the tips to dry now for nettle tea in the future—the bulk to dry for nourishing winter fodder for my ladies.

All surviving babies are jumping around, running together, sleeping on top of each other, head-butting their mother’s udders to get the milk to flow. All mothers are pretty much eating round the clock to keep up with milk-making. I did that too for my own babies in my time, I empathise and do the best I can to make their lives as easy as can be.

I have started making a mental list of what I will not manage and need to forgivingly put off till another year, but the field that did not get fenced last year as I ran out of steam is on my to-do list now, two weeks to go before they need to be moved there in their rotation. I think I am growing more accepting of the limitations of my small frame and the slowness of my progress with this patch of land on my own. Slow progress but good happy work, will I ever yield an income from this, only time will tell. In the mean time it keeps me sane, and gives my young people and I plenty to chew on too.

Much more light, very nice.

9 April 2015

some grilled sprats Marinated (lemon zest and juice, olive oil, cayenne pepper from the Light & Easy HF-W’s River Cottage cookbook) grilled sprats. no more jam ? Caught! Have been working on a protective cushioning layer of fat during the colder days. “Dieu m’a donné des mains pour consoler mon cœur…(God gave me hands to soothe my heart)” Vianney vegetablesRoast cauliflower and lightly (deliciously earthy and sweet) pan fried (with ghee, olive oil or coconut oil) grated beetroot. Very busy time out around the soil, bare-root trees and bushes planted, clearing, cutting, feeding, pruning, planning, hitting the Spring running… but I don’t really want to run, I actually want to be moving slowly so to stop me in my tracks I get into the grips of a very good book like, most recently, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Americanah. I find myself sitting down, forgotten by some of the things clamouring for my attention, I cry a little, travel far, get excited and inspired to be even more alive. The goats will soon wave good bye to their daily profusion of hay and briars in their little winter patch and be brought to forage in their succession of fields ; just waiting for a tiny more green growth to show. Kids will be born soon and I will have to reinvent some gestures I may not actually have forgotten.

Last week started in Winter and finished in Spring

11 March 2015

second of March

spring is nigh

And the goats are very pregnant and munching hay and cud. Good. Let’s get planting and tidying.

Managing some day-time dreaming

8 February 2015

good loaf

first know food

threadLife has been busy in the cold dry air of late January and early February, a lot of doing even though I have been good at putting big jobs off (apart from the killing, butchering and merguez-ing of the black billy goat), a lot of running errands and around but today thankfully I remembered about my love of naps and I had one small perfectly formed one while the children had gone cycling in the fog.

The last bread (sourdough white spelt) leftover from my last baking on St Brigid’s day (1 February) was dampened and whacked—as we call here the short sojourn in a very hot oven—back to absolute freshness (one of the whys I absolutely love sourdough) for tomorrow’s breakfast and school sandwiches. Time to call it a day.

slow and wild fermentation

22 January 2015


ZurekWinter in the kitchen, and tonight surrounded by freezing fog : slow fermentation under a massive pebble that the children once brought me back from a seaside they had gone to without me. Chillies, garlic and salt : garlic turns bright green and I had to use my favourite search engine, namely duck duck go, to be reassured that nothing untoward was happening (from what I read fermenting or pickled garlic may also turn blue like the tip of my grey hair). This will sit around on the counter top for nine days according to L until it will be processed into a lovely spread.

Meanwhile I just used up another fermenting potion to make one of my favourite soups which, when cold, looks remarkably like dirty wallpaper paste : Zurek. Rye flour mixed with warm water (to be perfectly honest I often start with rye sourdough) with a clove of garlic added. It sits around for a while forming a rather scary-looking skin which, if allowed to come into its own, may be actually lifted in one go and turfed into the compost. A broth is made with celeriac (or Hamburg parsley root), carrots, celery, onion… while forest mushrooms are soaking in warm water. Vegetables are removed (they can be cut into chunks, mixed with mayonnaise and become a salad as is the tradition). Mushrooms and mushroom water are thrown in without the grit and cooked. The fermented flour is added, alongwith marjoram, pepper and salt, and also perhaps sausages or/and strips of cooked bacon. As most soups it likes to sit overnight and be reheated. It is then served with hard-boiled eggs halves floating in and a slice or two of generously buttered (sourdough) bread. It heals and warms my heart, hugs my body and soothes my soul. In one word I recommend it. It is a Polish soup and if you do decide to give it a go herewith (oh yes !) is the lovely song you may like to listen to while devouring it for appropriate resonance.

“the danger of a single story”

14 January 2015

Back from walking in the snow fallen overnight to bring hay to the goats I sat down and came across this wonderful (touching, thoughtful, funny) talk by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie which will work as a lovely addendum to the succinct exhortation of sorts I posted here yesterday. Just under nineteen minutes of your life I can guarantee you will be grateful to have spent listening to her good voice.

“How [stories] are told… Who tells them… When they are told… How many stories are told… are really dependent on power. Power is the ability not just to tell the story of another person but to make it the definitive story of that person.”

Stories have been used to dispossess and to malign. But stories can also be used to empower and humanize. Stories can break the dignity of a people but stories can also repair that broken dignity.                                        Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie


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