Monday, 22 June 2009

That's the way to do it

A few weekends ago we had a visit to the local West Yeo Farm. The owners believe in farming combined with conservation and were keen to explain the working practises they had in place to support both. The land had the beautiful rolling hills that you see so much of round here in Devon, lovely on the eye, hard work on the thigh. We had a tour of their mixed organic farm and saw the Red Ruby cows, long haired shaggy sheep and Oxford, Sandy and Black pigs, as well as glimpses of their (very) free range chickens which they have for their eggs. We also visited the totally organic chickens they keep for ‘table’ living in a very bijou chalet up on a hill.

I have been a mum for the same amount of time that I have lived in the countryside, and whilst I still instinctively call these bovine beauties cows, and not cattle, like proper farmer folk, I also think ‘moo!’ when I see them. The impacts of motherhood are already ingrained on my soul, but whilst I’m loving the country life, you can see I’m still a townie at heart. Only a townie would say ‘cow’ when they meant ‘cattle’ it’s as certain a give away as shiny new wellies and a fear of mud. My wellies whilst being very jolly and patterned in bright strawberries which sets them far apart from the regulation green hunters, they are also permanently muddy, so perhaps there is hope.

Anyhoo, back to the farm. The owners were absolutely charming. They showed us around and explained how the farm, which is featured in the Domesday book, used to look hundreds of years ago. The wife was a teacher 9 years ago and packed it all in to become a farmer. They are slowly re-introducing areas of woodland and already have a fine wildflower meadow, dotted with rare orchids only found in Devon, and full of ambling butterflies.

When we arrived, the sky was thick with rain, but as soon as we started the tour, the clouds broke and the sunshine began to peek through. By the time we had finished, we were sat in the hot late afternoon sunshine. We relaxed in garden chairs looking out over the rolling hills, the emerald green of the fields contrasting pleasantly with the muted champagnes of the sheep and the deep russet of the Red Ruby cows (see, ‘cows’, there I go again) wandering about. We enjoyed a Devonshire tea of a nice cuppa and a home-made scone with lashings of clotted cream and home-made jam, whilst Darling boy had a great time rolling down the grassy hill in the garden. This made him laugh and laugh as he crawled back up the hill to roll down it again.

After we were refreshed by the tea and scones, we ventured up to their on-site butchery. The do all their own butchery and had a fine selection of beef and pork hanging. Mother in Law bought some steaks and a whole sirlon to use in a Beef Wellington in a few weekends to come (Handsome husband and I are looking forward to this hugely!)

Handsome husband and I had the steaks for our dinner after a happy and sleepy Darling boy was tucked up in his grobag, happily reunited with his teddy with much to tell him.

To start our feast, I had cooked the globe artichokes I bought at the market that morning. We tore off the pale green leaves and dipped them in a mustardy shallot vinaigrette. Handsome husband cooked the steaks to perfection- we like them rare and they were delicious, so tender and the yellow fat was scrumptious, in fact I ate almost all of it, it was so good. We talked about the farm and agreed it was just the sort of thing we would like to do. Over a glass of red wine, life, we declared, was pretty good.

Here is where we went They also supply the meat to one of the local pubs round here- we have them on our hit list.

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