Friday, 18 February 2011

Tuesday, 24 August 2010

Time to defend our title of Jimmy's Farm UK Sausage Producer of 2009

We'll be at Jimmy's Farm this weekend for their Sausage and Beer festival, defending our title of Jimmy's Farm UK Sausage Producer of 2009. Tony Hadley and the Sausage King are judges again - and it's a blind tasting again so hopefully we'll still come out on top!

It will be a great weekend as they lay on music and activities for all the family while being able to buy cooked and fresh produce from some really great producers. And unlike last year we're getting some help in the form of my sister and her husband. So we might get a break!

In other news, my Carpentry & Joinery Course at the specialist construction training centre Able Skills in Dartford is going really well and I've already whizzed through half of the assessments in the first two weeks! I am not sure how i am quite going to stretch the rest out over another eight weeks but there you go, apparently I have a talent I never knew about!!!

Monday, 2 August 2010

Better late than never!

So, where to start.
The only and most obvious answer to that is: Sorry for not writing sooner. Although life has been more that a little topsy turvy it is of course no excuse for not spending five minutes jotting a little something down.
I am fully aware of how disastrous I have been at writing the blogs and should have realised it would go this way after my exploits trying to write a diary when i was nine. (one enthusiastic week of writing and i ran out of things to say!!!)
I was very embarrassed recently when I remembered I should be writing a blog and the last post was from my sister wishing everyone a happy new year!

I thought I might give a little short list of the relevant points in my/the farms recent history...

1. My wife and I almost emigrated to Uganda to start a large scale farm. We planned to import a rather better quality breed as the image below is an example of the native breed which, even when undernourished, seemed to put alot of its energy into growing horns!

2. We have been breeding some excellent Red Polls, particularly Ronald, who is hopefully going to be a champion Bull!

3. I have decided to take up carpentry as a secondary source of income!

4. I have trained for and completed the 3 Peaks Challange which consists of walking up Ben Nevis, Scafell Pike and Snowdonia in under 24 hours, raising £2,025 and doing it in 21 hours 38 minutes - not bad!

5. My sister has been persuaded to help and currently she and her husband are enjoying doing Linton Farmers Market on the first Saturday of every month.

We have also been battling on with the day to day routine on the farm and taking some happy snaps on the way!

I hope you are all well

Saturday, 16 January 2010

Happy New Year!

It's been a while, but we're busy as ever.

Lots from Jim soon, but in the meantime Juliet's working on a Google Map to show which Farmers' Markets we're going to be at.

Here it is:
View Spaynes Hall Farm Meats Farmers Markets in a larger map

With our lovely little icons, which we're hoping to ask our friends running the farmer's markets to use on their websites:

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Sunday, 6 December 2009

Hylands Park Farmers Market

Still playing stand-in while James completed his weekend bender to celebrate his best friend's birthday, I dragged dear husband along to Hylands Park, to sell our rare breed beef at the farmers market there.

The main house is stunning, as you can see above, but the day began with such a downpour that it was a little difficult to appreciate until later on. We struggled in a particularly comical manner with the delightful gazebo, which nearly blew away much to our neighbour's amusement. Finally though, with the help of the lovely Pauline who runs the market, we were up and running...

But where were the customers?

Unfortunately the rain had well and truly stopped play. Lots of dog-walkers popped by, and we gave them (and their bedraggled dogs!) samples of our melt-in-the-mouth cold roast rolled rib, but who takes their wallet to walk the dog? At around 2.30 it started to pick up a bit, and was busy-ish until 3.30, but sales were slow. Like at Linton, once we'd persuaded people to taste the meat they were much more likely to buy, but it just wasn't somewhere full of people buying ingredients - they were more interested in the cafe or the art galleries at the big house. So, a disappointing take, where the biggest learning was to take a thermos and thicker socks!However, the small band of eight stall-holders were an optimistic lot, and everyone stuck it out for the whole day with lots of good cheer for such a chilly day. Here they are...

The very lovely Made By Cass was right next to us, with beautiful homemade jewellery. I bought a Christmas present for someone but I can't mention it here til after Christmas! Cass and her husband enjoyed our beef tasters and they sent so many of their customers in our direction that we gave them a little thank you treat at the end of the day in the form of a pack of our lovely minced beef. You can find lots of her jewellery online to buy here:

I bought a very delicious peach muffin from the lovely man at Mrs Crumbles Cakes (no website yet - I'll post it as soon as they're up and running).

Stour Valley Smokehouse had absolutely divine tasters of their paprika smoked goat's cheese. The spice gave it a really unusual soft powdery finish on the outside which offset the creamiest goat's cheese I've ever tried - it was more like a really ripe brie! I very stupidly didn't get any before he left. His salmon mousse was pretty special too...

Mcarthy's were selling beautiful bountiful breads and warming soups, as well as naughty viennese fingers and chocolate brownies. Yes we succumbed...

The Giggly Pig knew what they were doing - with a little grill to cook samples of their myriad of flavoured sausages. My favourite though was the faggot... hhhmmmmmm meaty goodness.

The award for Most Cheerful Man of the Day has to go to Essex Larders - his optimism never failed, just like his pies which were a triumph of good traditional fare with a contemporary twist. The 'sexy' pies were truly intriguing...

The very friendly Essex Wildlife Trust were also there, selling memberships. However as the husband is in the picture I took he won't let me put it up!!

So, what we missed in custom was certainly made up for by the cheer and good feeling from everyone who was able to make it out - thanks to everyone we met. Though I won't be volunteering for another outdoor market in a big hurry as I think my feet have only just started to warm up six hours later!

Hylands Park Farmers Market is held every Sunday from 10am to 4pm, at the Stables Visitor Centre. We're not always there though - Jim's next visit is on Sunday 20th December.

Juliet D-H

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