Sunday, 22 February 2009

The Chicken and the Egg



I have always had a soft spot for chickens, which is surprising really as my Mother was terrified of them, and every other feathered creature on earth. When I was little I used to frighten her witless as I trotted off to the local Farm twice a day to collect fresh milk in my billycan and would be found several hours later sitting in the barn full of brown hens and listening whilst Clive the dairyman played his guitar to them. We used to call them his bedtime chickens. I suspect he played to them as they were the only living creatures who didn’t complain about his pronounced musical ability or rather lack of it. I adored Clive and his chickens as only a 4 year old can. I have been enamoured ever since, of chickens, not Clive, I went off him when he threw a bucket of fresh milk over me but that is another story entirely.

Anyway back to chickens. When we lived in the rolling hills of southern England we had a fine large hen house and a terribly grand assortment of rare breed fowl thanks to a friend who was a national feather and fur judge at all the county shows, he would rescue the “also rans” who didn’t get prizes and turn up at the kitchen doorstep at strange hours, with cardboard boxes bound with baling twine for me, on the understanding that I'd give stray hens a home rather than let them go to the pot. Showing birds is very competitive and there is no room for sentiment, if your chook isn’t a winner it gets the chop.

When we moved to France my friend Grouse gave me a lot of sound advice on going into egg elevage ( or whatever the technical term is in English) but our research showed this area ofBrittany has more than enough of them already, every farmer we know has a shed with layers as a side line so economically it wasn’t worth it. I was sorely tempted and we do sometimes get a call to go out and help unload boxes of small chicks when they arrive in friends barns, youngest adores that as a way to spend the afternoon, he and his best friend get all the straw down in the house then tip toe about the yellow cheeping fluffy things about their feet. It’s all I can do to stop him bringing them home in his pockets. As a precaution we frisk him on the way out. Meanwhile our own fine chicken house stands empty waiting for Spring and the next flock to arrive and I look forward to the day I can start collecting my own eggs again.

Anyway back to my friend Grouse. Grouse is a woman to envy in many ways. She has lived the dream of the environmentally conscious who, of eco sound thinking, would love to move to somewhere self sustaining surrounded by England’s green and pleasant land without a blot on the landscape and a means of earning a loaf, and a fine dream it is too. You note, I do not say crust here as we are talking a jolly decent living even in these economically tough times, or possibly because of them, eggs are becoming more and more popular as a cheap healthy food and easy to cook for the more culinary challenged. Omelettes were the first thing my lot learnt to cook and there is nothing better than cooking your own omelette, made from eggs from your own hens.

Grouse and her family built their farm up from nothing on the edge of the moors that is a National park and close to the Chatsworth Park Estate, and those of you who know her blogs of old will vouch that it is a veritable haven for wildlife, not a thing to spoil the view, nor ever will be, and a thriving business to boot with ecologically sound and very splendid home attached, with its own reed beds and a kitchen to kill for.

Since the death of her husband she has been running the farm single handed with a part time helper two days a week. She sent me her house details as she is moving on now and if it was not for the fact that I love living here too much I would be sorely tempted to put in a bid on her fantastic place. I have her kind permission to ooze over it here and share it with you just on the off chance you might be looking for a change of direction yourself. And you know you don’t have to be a dyed in the wool farmer to run this business, when we looked at the possibility of starting from scratch here, she talked me through the whole thing and it is something that you could swiftly learn especially as she would be happy to be on hand to advise if you wanted a guiding hand on your first steps into farming. Anyone could do it, except my mother of course, although to be fair to her I did manage to cure her of her phobia of birds at least sufficiently to allow her to experience of the joy of egg collecting with her grandchildren in her later years!

So here we have it, an ideal business opportunity, a chance to escape the rat race and breathe the fresh air, to raise your family surrounded by beauty that is forever England and to earn your living comfortably whilst you do it. Think on, stop dreaming and take that step toward the self sufficient life you always promised yourself. Live your dream but hurry, bids have to be in by 16th April and you do not want to miss your chance. Sometimes you just have to stop saying I wish and take a chance in order to live that dream.

And think of it you need never run out of things for supper again, there is, after all, more than one way to crack an egg.

If you want to see the farm and are tempted to stop dreaming and start living then the details are here at http://www.bagshaws.com/prop_det.asp?htm=B90006&pdf=&postcode=DE4%202NN

14 comments:

jackofall said...

I agree it would be a great opportunity, just a shame the kids are too established here.

And the farm side also has its own website, at www.mistlehallfarm.co.uk.

ChrisH said...

Not in the market for a farm, alas, but I do wish Grouse all the best for the future.

LittleBrownDog said...

It does look gorgeous - even in the snow; I'm sure she'll get a lot of interest. Loved your story about Clive and the chooks - you'll have to let us know what happened to cause the milk episode.

Exmoorjane said...

Yes, the details are already winging (groan) their way to all my chicken-minded friends and a fair few others besides. very tempting indeed - though not for me as I'm with your mother on the chicken question! Maybe not terrified, but certainly not enamoured.

snailbeachshepherdess said...

Drooling well here -would love it but not a hope.
Good luck Grouse.

CAMILLA said...

It looks gorgeous, sadly HL will think it is not moving time here, but wishing Grouse the best of luck.

xx

seashell cosmos said...

Here I go again, dreaming of a place like this. Oh that kitchen, just all of it. I wish her all the best of luck and what a kind friend she has in you. My Mum was afraid of chickens too so she tells me. xxx seashell

liz fenwick said...

looks glorious but alas not the life for me! Good luck to grouse!
lx

liz fenwick said...

looks glorious but alas not the life for me! Good luck to grouse!
lx

muddyboots said...

husband visited the farm last year and says that the views are totally stunning, a real treasure just waiting for the right family to invest!

Millionaire Maker Free DVD said...

All I can really think of is that if the chicken and the hen story wouldn't have been there then all then there wouldn't be such huge interest in the poultry farm business and the world would have lost a source income that is today the staple business of many small families all over the world.

Suffolkmum said...

I'm a recent convert to chickens but couldn't make the leap from half a dozen to a whole farm. It looks like a fantastic place though and I wish Grouse all the luck in the world.

Calico Kate said...

Oh how I love chickens. Ours used to hide in the flower borders next to the bench & I loved to sit in the sun listening to them chuckling and clucking and gossiping. And of course a home laid egg is the best tasting egg.

Do hope Grouse sells well and happily.

Blu said...

Lovely blog, and thanks for visiting mine!