THE FARM RE – VISITED. ENTRY NO.3.
As this became my early retreat and holiday, I quickly got used to farm life in some form or another. I’ll disclose, I did cry when I first stayed with them from homesick but that soon faded.
Now I don’t think I could run a farm but I’d still give it a go regardless of the hard work just because it reminds me of helping my grandparents. There was sometimes nothing better than putting on my wellies or stout shoes and some clothes I could do chores in.
However, despite my own mothers upbringing on the farm, she had packed quite ‘girlie’ clothes. One such item was a red coat which I’m not going to lie, the bull did not like. The truth probably was that it had nothing to do with the coat but me being very small and quite frightened of him due to his size. He was one of the first animals to be put onto my avoid list!
The second animals to be selected for the avoid list were the geese. Not quite the Beatrix Potter experience you’d imagine because they used to hiss at me and chase me with their wings open. They were in fact taller than me when stood upright! You may see a picture starting to build here? Annie-May quickly passed some useful tips my way so with my red coat, wellies and new strategy the geese eventually made their way off the avoid list.
Thinking back to one chore I loved was going up the fields on the tractor with my grandfather to feed the sheep, because sheep are quite stupid creatures. Please see exhibit A below.
However, once we had fed the sheep, we would normally go to my grandads vegetable plot to deposit the sheep droppings we would have collected into a large water vat. This was used as a fertiliser to help the veg grow and I have to be honest to this day he grew the best fresh peas, beans and potatoes I have ever tasted.
These people were very stoic and I loved them very much. For me it was fun – I was a child and I would only be there for 6 weeks but this was their life! Our way of life regardless of its challenges still seems like an easier walk than theirs. At least 1 and a half miles easier.
The thing about the farm, it was very rural so the nearest shops were in Brecon. So when we needed other provisions my Gran and I would have to walk to catch the bus in and on the way back we would have to walk back carrying the shopping bags. In those days if we were lucky we got a lift from the local postie in his van, only if he was passing, otherwise from the bus-stop back it was at least a 1 mile walk some of it uphill!! As my gran didn’t drive and mobiles and ubers weren’t a very popular thing then there was no knight in shining armour or husband on a tractor to rescue us if you know what I mean!!
I think back to how self sufficient they were and remember that my Nan killed and dressed her own birds and they also killed their own pigs, lambs / sheep. I remember the joints of ham hanging from the ceiling in the living room having been freshly cured. So you might have guessed why I had to quickly adapt to farm life, even if it was for 6 weeks a year.
Yes, you guessed it, I was in fact a ‘towny’ which is probably why I would receive a ‘treat’ parcel from home. My mum knew being in the middle of no-where and my routine trips to Lil’s sweet shop would mean I’d be confused without a daily dose of sugar, especially since I was already renowned for being a fussy eater. The treat parcel contained sherbet pips, liquorice, cola cubes, pineapple chunks, rhubarb and custard, sport mixtures, cherry lips, rainbow sherbet and lollipops to dip into this. Heaven
I enjoyed my little treat parcel, probably as much as the lady in exhibit B.
Because my grandparents were so self sufficient their life on the farm was very different. This meant that their main meal of the day was lunch time. So for this weeks recipe, the inspiration comes from my Nans cured meat and their own grown cabbage, Cig Moch a bresych. (Pigs Meat and Cabbage).
The recipe as follows.
Cig Moch and Cabbage
My grandmother would have cured her own ham in the larder on 2 granite work surfaces with copious amounts of salt over several days until the salt disappeared then the meat would be hung up. The supermarket or local butcher makes life much easier! The recipe I have included would not have been one cooked by my nan hers would have just been a boiled ham. Hope you enjoy this version
Joint of uncooked ham
Crushed whole black pepper garlic / salt
1/4 cider and some honey
Potatoes as required
Butter / milk seasoning
Place the ham on a piece of foil. Spread with butter, mustard, some garlic and seasoning spread the honey over the top of the ham. Lift the foil up both sides and before sealing it add the cider. Seal and bake at gas mark 4, 180c for about 2 hours for a 4 lb joint so 30 mins per pound. You will need to rest-the meat for about 20 mins.
So while you ham is cooking you can prep your veg I like to serve it with mash potato enough to feed your family you decide but make sure you add a decent amount of butter to the mash and some seasoning after cooking. If your James Martin the ratio would be 1 to 1 so a pound of butter to a pound of potato but we need to be sensible and look after our arteries so I would try about 2oz’s to start with about 20mls of milk.
Please don’t attempt to cook the cabbage for days on ends, we don’t need any more flashbacks! My Gran’s usually contained more water than was left in the saucepan 😳
I like to use a small sweetheart cabbage or spring greens and almost shred it or cut it into inch wide slices and pull it apart. I also chop an onion and add a little bit of oil to a pan, adding the onion until it has browned slightly and then adding the cabbage. This needs to cook down – wilted if you like, so you can caramelise slightly.
2oz 56gms margarine or butter
2 tablespoons plain flour
1/2 pint (284mls)
Liquid from the ham
Pinch of mustard powder
1 teaspoon brown sugar
2 tablespoons fresh cream
Melt the butter or margarine and add the flour mix well. Heat and stir until it is slightly puffed up – do not brown. Take off the heat and add the milk a little at a time. Stir well to prevent lumps and add the water from the ham a little at a time as the sauce needs to coat the back of a spoon. When happy with the consistency add the chopped parsley to the mustard powder and brown sugar. Stir. Remove from the heat and then add the cream.
And finally, slice the meat add the veg and sauce and hopefully enjoy!