The damp weather hasn’t dampened the ardour of my rams. They are working hard and the fields are dotted with red rumps. The calves have settled down into their new lifestyle, keeping dry, eating to their heart’s content, and getting used to me popping in to visit several times a day. I give them a scratch while they’re having cattle cake, still a bit nervous but I will persist.
Meanwhile, the highland beef has been collected from my butcher. I’ve had a stream of visitors, all sold out of some cuts, but plenty of joints left. The Kiwi Butcher in Dorchester hung the carcass for 28 days, so very tender beautiful beef. Enough sales pitch. Archie will be home from university in a couple of weeks for a shoot. He probably take most of it back with him, anyway!
I got the sloes out of the freezer this week and made my Sloe Gin. Sloes were picked a couple of weeks ago, then put in the freezer to split. Otherwise you need to prick every sloe. No way. Sloes grow on blackthorns often found in hedgerows. The thorns on these bushes are long and sharp. I went picking with my friend Fissle, true Dorset born and bred. Fissle know everything about the countryside, he shoots, he fishes, and he had me climbing on a shed to reach the perfect sloes.
You can find all these fancy recipes for sloe gin. Adding cinnamon, star anise, special sugars. I just dump in a load of sugar, sloes and cheap gin. The secret is letting it sit for at least a year, two is better. On a cold Shoot day it is such a treat to take a sip or two from the flask filled with sloe gin.
Apple juice bottles all labelled and ready for sale. Archie will probably take half of them back to university, too.
Jo Stover has daily adventures on her small farm, together with her Highland cattle and Portland sheep, bees, a few hens, dogs, and some two-legged family and friends.