Frosty mornings . . . . .

Ice on the buckets and frozen fingers. The outside tap frozen yesterday.  This all a bit of a shock to the system  after a very warm autumn.  GOS is splitting our daily supply of logs as we have the wood burning stove alight every night now.  He also thinks he is starting a cold; he must feel a bit rough as he is foregoing golf tomorrow morning!

A friend helped me with the sheep on Friday morning and arrived clutching a brace of pheasant and partridge as a gift. He does some “beating” on a local shoot and very kindly passes on some of the “bag” to very appreciative friends and neighbours.  Real winter food – pheasant casserole or roast partridge.  I have dealt with the partridge and they are in the freezer.  I have left the pheasants to himself to do.

Talking about winter food; yesterday we took ourselves off for a woodland walk.  A beautiful deciduous wood skirting a steep valley attached to a stately home. A place we had not walked previously.   It was full of a  wide variety of trees including sweet chestnut.  We rootled around in the thick covering of dead leaves on our path and managed to find a fair few sizable chestnuts.  There were masses of empty prickly shells all over the ground, but the majority of fruits had already vanished; eaten by animals I guess.  We returned home with our pockets stuffed.  Enough chestnuts to bake, split and mix with veg to accompany our “sunday dinner” later that evening.  I had forgotten how delicious they were.  We only usual get around to having them ( and those are  usually prepacked ones not fresh)  with Christmas lunch or occasionally in something like a venison casserole.

Castanea sativa – sweet chestnut

These were smaller than the commercial ones but really sweet and creamy.  Another species we must thank the Romans for introducing to Britain.

As is the “Common pheasant”;  that mostly seen round and about are countryside are really natives of Asia.  They can  now be found across the globe due to their readiness to breed in captivity and the fact they can naturalise in many climates.  Pheasants were known to be  hunted in their natural range by Stone Age humans in Europe.  Their range extended with the Roman Empire and they became part of the natural fauna in Britain.  Now a days millions are released by shooting estates for sport and are a big part of the rural economy.

I looked up a recent report which states that shooting contributes £2 billion to the UK economy and provides the equivalent of 74,000 full time jobs.  It also contributes 2 million hectares of actively managed conservation land with in the UK.  Interesting . . . . .

common pheasant

We have a little family of them here on our ground.  Mr. Cock Pheasant scrounges round the yard after the hens have been fed very often.  He has been known to jump on the bird table as well.!  His (or his successors – who knows how long they live??) number of wives seems to vary from year to year this year there seems to be about four hens seen on the lane or in the fields. I just love to see them.  (More than the visiting peacock!)  But I do enjoy a good game pie or a pheasant casserole.  Needles to say our resident pheasants are left well alone. . . . .

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