How often do you get to see the sunrise? Many Midlanders rise early to start countryside chores at hours that would make city folk gasp. Sharon Barnsley considers it a privilege to share the early morning with her cows, rising at 4.30am to spend time in quiet contemplation as she milks Buttercup and Clover, always sharing generously with the new calf, Speckles. Fresh, frothy milk is a breakfast treat her family take for granted along with homemade yoghurt served with seasonal fruit picked in the garden. It’s gooseberry time right now, but before you know it Spring will be here and there will be an abundance of plums to enjoy.
After delivering happy milk to a few customers, the excess it turned into cheese. Creamy feta is really easy and Sharon makes mozzarella too. Lunchtime salads are just picked and during winter, home-grown potatoes, roasted fennel or lima beans liven them up. June provides a feast of produce for delicious dinners – broccoli, cauliflower, leeks and cabbage with plump pumpkins stored in the sun waiting to become stews and pumpkin bread too!
Harvest time can be daunting when courgettes turn into marrows almost overnight and orange trees are absolutely dripping with fruit. Sharon enjoys the challenge of finding creative new ways to serve the seasonal abundance, believing that her family deserve nothing less than wholesome, organically grown food for their personal wellbeing. They adopt unwanted lambs, name them, bottle-feed and gently rear them to become delicious roasts in time for Christmas celebrations.
Right now, after saving seeds from lettuce, beans and butternut, Sharon is planting peas, broad beans and beetroot in her garden. Mulching as much as possible to keep everything snug in the cold weather and feeling pleased that the comfrey border she planted last year is doing a good job of keeping the kikuyu grass in the cow pasture next door, out of her garden.
It is easy to feel frustrated with the huge challenges of our time. However, we can start putting things in order by making conscious choices at our tables, in our gardens and when shopping. As Satish Kumar says “The first step towards preserving the integrity, sustainability and beauty of the biotic community is to eat only good, fresh, local, organic and delicious food every day, every week, every month and every year.” Sharon agrees.