once bittern

The first of our homegrown sprouts are in the boxes this week; they are looking and tasting fantastic. Most of them will come on the stalk, with a few loose. Like last year, they have come quite early; the first variety is about three weeks ahead of what we’d expect. It has been a good growing season, with pretty warm temperatures and just the right amount of rain. The romanesco, cauliflower, cabbage and kale are all showing steady, even growth. Our parsnips are just starting too; we had the first frost a few weeks ago so they are tasting great (the cold weather converts some of the starch to sugar and improves the flavour).

I am still reeling from a flirtation with a (feathered) bird last week. I was driving down the road on my way to Maunby when a bird flew out of the hedge and straight into my Landrover. The impact stunned the bird so I backed up to have a good look at it. The bird was unfamiliar looking and quite a fair size. It wasn’t in a good way so I called Mark back at the farm and asked him to come down with two large boxes as quick as he could. Mark turned up five minutes later with two large vegboxes (turns out he thought I had run somebody over and wanted to give them some veg to say sorry – not that I wanted something to put the bird in). We took a photo of the bird, looked it up and discovered that it was a bittern, one of the most threatened species in the UK – apparently there are only 50 males left. Gradually the bird got his senses back and crawled into the hedge. I went back an hour or so later to check on him and he launched at me – he seemed to be improving. Then I walked back to the farm to get my dad to come and have a look, but by the time we got back the bird had flown away. Glad to see a happy ending. We’ve put a picture of the bird on our Facebook page if you want to see it.

In other news, we’ve been shortlisted in the Best Food Producer category of the Flavours of Hambleton Awards, so it’s time to dust off my finery again. Wish us luck; we’ll let you know how we get on.

Peter Richardson