Archive for August 2009

Fresh Trenderway Honey

The Trenderway family were all very excited this week as we embarked on our first ever honey harvest.

On Monday, as the weather cleared we set the bee escapes on the bee hives. These are designed to allow bees to go done into the hive but not to return up into the Supers which contain the frames of honeycomb which we are going to harvest.
Tuesday late afternoon we returned to inspect the hives and pick the frames that were ready to be harvested. It was a long task and the longest we have had the hive open since we got it. While Jacquie and did most of the work, Daniella , dressed only in a smock and Marigolds, bravely helped out with photography and the occasional additional hand.
The selected Supers were not quit clear of bees and we had to brush them off the frames. The advice in the UK is to use a very soft brush, however we used a method practiced by an American beekeeper and picked a handful of leaves of whatever is growing in the nearest hedge, in our case nettles. It worked a treat and eventually we got all the frames into a box in the car and it only required a short 100m drive with the windows open to clear any persistant bees out.
Extraction took place in the kitchen, uncapping the combs, centrifuging the honey out and decanting it into some large airtight containers through a sieve to catch wax fragments.
The first lot gave us 12 litres! We got another 2 1lb jars from the dripping wax.
There is nothing quite as exquisite as fresh fresh honey. It truley tastes of the summer. We cannot be sure, but the honey probably comes mainly from a combination of Hawthorn, Sycamore, Borage and Clover.

Red Arrows over Fowey

On a grey and windswept day the faithful gathered on the fields overlooking Fowey for the annual Red Arrows display. The wet summer of 2008 left this field so muddy that it became unusable and it was with great anticipation that we approached the venue this year.
A huge cloud hung loomed over the Fowey side of the estuary and though we were bathed in glorious sunshine the first strong gusts were starting to blow.

Everyone looked west and willed the clouds to head north – to no avail. At 1829 the heavens opened up and at 1830, to our sodden delight, the Red Arrows appeared from up the Fowey River.

I was blown away. The horrendous visibility should have muted their display. It didn’t. In fact the angry backdrop of dark clouds and pouring rain just made the aerobatics all that more impressive.

The display concluded, the cloud passed over us a magnificent rainbow appeared to the East and the sun started to burn away those last few drops of rain that insisted on adding to our damp enthusiasm.

With a huge roar the Red Arrows re-appeared and proceeded to play with the rainbow for another 5 minutes. Magnificent!!

We will back for more next year.

Beef in the raw

Its amazing how what 367kg of meat looks like. This is the deadweight of the cow after slaughter and removal of the parts of the carcass that are not eaten.

We went to view the carcass at the butcher’s this morning. The carcass looked superb and to be honest we are excited at the prospect of eating our own meat. Owing to the age of the cow we will hang her for at least 3 weeks before butchery.

The good news is that the grade was excellent, whats known as an R4L in the trade. This means good conformation and just about the right amount of fat. This cow would have been on a predominantly grass diet throughout her life, this shows in the colour of the fat which is a rich creamy colour. More on why this is so important later…

The line that had to be crossed

We knew that we would have to cross this bridge and yesterday we did.
Fancy, our 4 year old barren heifer was delivered to our local abattoir. This was a first twice over for Jacquie and me. First time taking one of our cows to slaughter and first visit to an abbatoir. It was a fairly clinical affair, the only indication of the buildings’ purpose being the branded articulated lorries outside.
We left the cow in the lairage in a large pen with fresh straw, ready for processing the following morning.
By now its just meat on a hook and that is how we have to think about it. Our casual urban insulation from the realities of the meat on our plate has been stripped away. For myself, rather than becoming overly sentimental this has just cemented a respect for the creature that we raised and killed in order to provide food. I expect that we will enjoy both the meat that we eat and the commercial dividend of that which we sell in a few weeks time.

In a few days time we will visit the butcher, find out what grade the carcass made and start making decisions on what cuts to produce.