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Spring Lambs

11 Mar

by Francine

On Saturday, we took a 30 minute drive to a nearby farm that advertised they had a ‘lambing experience’ from now until mid-April. A photo of a lamb

It’s definitely not uncommon to see sheep in the fields around here, but there’s only a short period of time when you can glimpse little lambs jumping in the fields.

We didn’t find any jumping lambs in the fields at Coombes Farm, but we did find newborn lambs.

And loads of baa-ing ewes…soon to be mama sheep.

A photo of the ewes

Two big barns, with hay-covered pens, were filled with expectant ewes–some would have triplets and some would have twins.

As you walked around, it was possible to see ewes in labour. When we were there, there were no births, but we did see some very recently born little ones.A photo of a newborn lamb

Many of the lambs were sleeping (being born is hard work) or having some milk. 

There was one lamb who was very noisy, friendly and active (see below…this was the only non-blurry photo I could get of the little guy).A photo of a lamb

There were some sheep and three older lambs (can you spot them?) out in the field. They were very curious about us. A photo of curious sheep

I loved visiting this farm! 

It’s hard to believe that spring is nearly here especially because it’s snowing today!

When we visited on Saturday, the grass was green, yellow daffodils were standing tall, the sky was grey and A photo of flowersthe only snow was the dainty snowdrops announcing that spring is almost here.

Have you ever seen the birth of an animal?  Do you know any spring lambs?  I’d love to hear!

PS. Deanne once helped a ewe in labour: reaching in and re-arranging the little legs so that the ewe could deliver the lamb properly. Go Mom!

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We Break For Farm Shops

25 Nov
by DeannePhoto of Wall Quote at Farm Shop

Remember when we first heard about farm shops?   Francine wrote about the Village Greens Farm Shop in June.  My first visit to a real UK style Farm Shop and Tea Room was on day one of our 13 day trip to visit her earlier this month.

Steve and I arrived in Edinburgh on a Tuesday morning and Francine, Scott, and Luke  met us at the airport.  After a quick visit to the dramatic Arthur’s Seat in Holyrood Park, they drove us 17 miles south to Whitmuir Farm. Photo One of Whitmuir Farms

We loved eating a wholesome meal in their organic restaurant and tea room and then we bundled up for a self-guided tour of the farm. Photo of Farm Shop Produce  It didn’t take long to get a little Scotland mud on shoes.

After a wander around the farm we shopped in the store and settled back into the tea room for a pudding with another round of tea before we started our drive to our bed and breakfast. For those who live in the US, a pudding is more than just the smooth creamy stuff we eat.  It is more like a rich baked dessert.

The next farm shop we found was on day four of our trip.  We discovered  it as we were driving toward Barnard Castle just outside of the Yorkshire Dales park. 

Photo of Sheep on a Roof

Scott, being an agile driver, quickly turned the car around so we could check to see if we really did see sheep on a roof. The sheep were on the green roof of  Cross Lanes Organic Farm.  They also had a cafe but unfortunately we weren’t hungry yet.  So we just purchased a few items in the store and took lots of pictures.

Photo of Cross Lanes Organic Farm Shop

The third farm shop we visited was called Manor FarmA photo of Manor FarmSince it was Sunday we ordered roast beef dinners.  The food was outstanding and after our meal we meandered around until we found a barn.  Inside there were pigs who played a game of chase the pumpkin after an employee tossed them one.

A photo of pigs playing pumpkin

Have you ever visited a farm shop?   Each one is unique and special because they are real farms which make them even more fun to discover.   If I visit the UK again, I’d plan the whole trip around Farm Shops.

Our Pick Your Own Adventure

6 Oct
by Francine

I’m familiar with pick your own strawberries and pick your own apples, but pick your own kohlrabi and broccoli (!!?) sign me up!  Two weekends ago, we spent an entire afternoon at Garson’s PYO Farm, with 30+ crops you have to drive around to the different fields, but once we found the fields we got lost in rows of sweetcorn, jumped over pumpkins and spent a very long time in the raspberry bushes (there were SO many!!). 

Here’s some photos of what we discovered.  We plan to visit again this weekend to get some more apples and, of course, some pumpkins.  Hopefully next growing season we can rely only on pick your own for all of our produce needs.

A photo of kohlrabiMassive kohlrabi just waiting to be turning into some fresh Kohlslaw.

a photo of the applesSo many tasty English apples.

a photo of pumpkins

A patchwork of pumpkins.

a photo of cabbageThe purple cabbage was very tender.  I made some tasty slaws.  There was also broccoli for picking.  I picked a few bouquets and turned it into an American favourite…broccoli slaw!!

a photo of squashLook what I found…an ambercup squash. I wrote about this squash last fall in my series on squash.

a photo of runner beansI discovered a new bean…the runner bean.  As you can see runner beans are very long, you can eat the same way you standard green beans, cut up, steamed and tossed in butter.  But I decided to cut ours thinly and add to coleslaw for more crunch.

a photo of raspberriesI’d probably still be in the raspberry patch stuffing my face if it was up to me.

A photo of a sunflowerCute bees.

Have you picked your own everything?  Are you still harvesting from your own garden? I’d love to hear.

Photos of Scotney Castle…continued

15 Sep
by Francine

It was gloriously sunny and perfectly warm last weekend so we headed to Kent (a county over) to visit Scotney Castle. A photo of the castleThis property and its landscaper garden is a well-known example of the Picturesque style, which literally means “in the manner of a picture; fit to be made into a picture.”  The castle was first built in the 13oo’s and it may or may not have ever been completed.  Then in the late 1700’s the family decided to build a house on the hill which over looked the castle ruins.  The owners then created a magnificent garden with the moated castle ruin being the main feature (sheesh…most people use gnomes or flamingos as focal point of their garden;).

A photo of a flower and the castle

A photo of the castle

A photo of the castle

A photo of the castle's reflection

A photo of the stairsSteps for a princess?

A photo of the gardenThis part of the garden was behind the main tower you can see in the photos above.  It was ruinous, calm and overgrown.  Favourite. 

A photo of a flowerA photo of the sunA photo of the gateBye bye Picturesque garden.

A photo of sheep And one more photo of meditative sheep because I spent a long time watching them.

Photos of a Kentish Castle

13 Sep
by Francine

Hi all!  Yesterday I promised photos of our weekend visit to a Kentish castle. 

I’ve processed them, and they’re looking good (I got a new camera)!  But…my pillow is calling my name; it’s time-for-bed time for me.  Until I get the rest up tomorrow, here’s one of my favourites.  Have a good Friday!A photo of sheepPeek-a-boo sheep!

A what nut?

12 Sep
by FrancineA photo of cobnuts at the supermarket

Last week I was poking around our local supermarket when I noticed a new item.

“Cobnuts,” I said aloud to Scott (my plus one), who was on the other side of the aisle rustling through onions.

“Cobnuts!” he said excitedly. 

“What are they?” I asked.

To which he selected a handful for us to crack open at home, promising I’d enjoy them.

After turning to the internet for answers, I’ll tell you what I learned about cobnuts.  They are commercially cultivated hazelnuts, the most popular is the Kentish Cobnut which has been cultivated in the region since the 1500s.  I also discovered that you can buy  cobnut oil, grown and produced in Kent.  (Remember when we visited a Kentish tea room?  Click back tomorrow, I’ll share some photos from our weekend day trip to the prettiest castle in Kent.) A photo of cobnuts Even though cobnuts are technically grown and sold commercially, Scott recounted childhood memories of checking to see if the cobnuts on the bush-like tree in his childhood garden (yard) were ready for picking.  He told me that the nuts required frequent checking to ensure you got a handful before the squirrels started munching on them too.

A photo of a cracked open cobnutAfter my internet research, we cracked open our cobnuts.  The green frilly casing was soft and easy to remove.  We cracked open the strong shell with a pair of pliers.  The next step was to remove ALL of the skin… I was told that even a small speck of skin will turn your tasty treat bitter and vile.A photo of the skin peeled

Once all the skin was removed, it was time for my first cobnut…the taste was sweet and earthy, it reminded me of the smell of freshly shelled peas, but since then I’ve heard it described as similar to coconuts.

We quickly munched through our handful of cobnuts and purchased some more on our next visit to the store. They are only in season for a few weeks and the wild ones are probably available for an even shorter period of time due to the gastronomic preferences of grey squirrels. A photo of a ready to eat cobnut

I loved discovering them at the store.  When I was in China new food discoveries were a near daily occurrence, but it hasn’t happened as much in my new home.  But when it does it makes me as excited as squirrel discovering a cobnut tree!

Do you know, can you pick wild hazelnuts in your area?  Have you ever tried a cobnut?A photo of the cobnut stages

Look what I found!

7 Aug
by Francine

A photo of blackberriesA photo of the refernce bookI was cycling along this afternoon and I spotted some blackberries along the lane.  I ate a few ripe ones then and there!

And then I had a look in a reference book when I got home to confirm that I hadn’t just eaten poison-berries. ;)

Thankfully I had an empty container in my bag (that previously contained a eat-at-my-desk snack).  There weren’t too many ripe berries, but I did manage to pick a few.  I’ll definitely stop back in the next few days to pick some more…fingers crossed no one else spots them. A photo of my bikeBicycle and blackberries in a box.

Are there blackberries to pick where you live?

p.s…Do you like my bicycle?  I don’t go very fast, but it sure is fun to ride!