I had thought I was going to write today’s blog all about battery hens as I went to pick up my new ‘girls’ today but in fact the overriding theme has been the basic underlying theme of the Transition Movement ie that through local production we build better communities.
It all started when I went to pick up some boxes (to put the hens in) from a friend: several hours later I left, with boxes-but also having tucked into local eggs and bacon, they even picked and squashed blackberries to make a hot drink for me – and with a dozen russet apples. I came back to Clevedon with my precious feathered cargo who clearly weren’t used to taking corners in a car, poor things, having spent all their lives in cages…
Waiting on my doorstep was a box of buns from my neighbour, made with local spelt flour, honey, grated apple and egg – a fantastic and novel treat to have with my mint and lemon balm tea. As another neighbour helped me in with the hens, she invited me to a party tonight. The birds were just settling in to their new home when two other friends arrived, clutching a bag of produce from their garden (cooking apples, cucumbers, butternut squash, tomatilloes and achochas + some Axbridge beef fat to render down). I’ve never cooked either tomatilloes or achochas so can’t wait: apparently tomatilloes can be cooked liked tomatoes and achochas are a climbing plant food of the Incas and are cooked like green peppers. The friends left with some spelt flour to see if they could make it into pasta. I’m sure there are still variations left to me for cooking with potatoes and bread, but pasta would be a welcome change.
There was just time to speak to one of my nieces about names for the chickens – so far the list consists of Beatrice, Mavis, Hermione, Babs, Bunty and Ginger, and other names are welcome – before going to my neighbours for their party. I can vouch for the beef, pork and cider but, as I’m finding, everything else was out of bounds. I’m rapidly discovering that most of the food we eat is far from local, and that unless you consciously choose to search out and eat local food it’s not that easy to find it…. unless of course you have great friends and neighbours.