On Saturday I spent a couple of hours at Whitmuir Organics (see also the link on the right) learning how to graft. I’m sure you know already (because I did) that grafting is a way of propagating shrubs and trees by taking a ‘twig’ of one variety and splicing it on to the rooted stem of another. The rooted stem is a rootstock selected for its special properties, in particular its overall height. For example, if you plant a seed from a variety of apple you particularly like, then one day (if you are lucky, in so many ways), you will be able to pick your favourite apple from the tree that grows from the seed. The problem is that the tree may be forty feet (12m) tall and you will probably need help from your local fire service (ladders rather than hoses) when you come to pick your fruit. By grafting a twig (scion) from the tree that produces your favourite apple on to a rootstock with a shorter maximum growth height, you will be able to pick your apples without using a turntable ladder.
Anyway, it was good fun and we learned a lot. The knives were sharp and nobody cut themselves, which has to be a good thing.
Here endeth, etc.
(Oh – what I meant to mention, but got carried away, is that we were taught by Andrew Lear, a man who really knows his stuff).
If you have been told that all pigs are pink (as in storybooks and model farms), then think again. These ginger porkers are at Whitmuir Organics at Lamancha, not far south of Edinburgh (here). If you want your kids to see real pigs – organically raised pigs – (or if you want to see them yourself) then visit Whitmuir.
Just be sure to wear wellies…
Also at Whitmuir… I’ve heard of free range hens, but this is ridiculous:
But the eggs they lay make AMAZING soufflés (if you are into that kind of thing)… and if I can make soufflés, then anyone can.
Two of the Whitmuir Free Range chickens will make history this Friday as the first farm animals to be allowed into the Scottish Parliament building. They will be attending the Scottish Eco-schools Conference. No doubt Lily will wonder where they have gone (I mentioned some time ago that she attempted to round up several piglets. She also has a go at the chickens occasionally, but rounding them up isn’t easy because she can’t fly).
The event is, appropriately, being held in the Members’ Restaurant.
*It’s who they would vote for
I won’t get into discussions as to whether or not the Ark story (Noah’s, not Raiders of the Lost…) is true, but this wooden set is the bee’s knees (and bees DO have knees, as the highly magnified picture here clearly shows). Pricey, yes. But if you haven’t yet bought a pressie for the child you love most (and if you really can afford it), then surely it must be worth it.
You have 18 minutes to get to Whitmuir Organics before they close for Christmas. If you own a jump-jet then you might just do it. If not, then birthdays…? A belated Christmas present, perhaps?
The big suppliers might not be delivering to Scotland but our local firms are. Just up the road from me is Whitmuir Organics, a farm shop on a farm that despite the weather, and unlike the big boys, is managing to deliver food and supplies to all surrounding parts. If they can do it, why have the big retailers chickened out?
Perhaps I shouldn’t have said ‘chickened’. Whitmuir has turkeys for sale, the chickens are for the fresh eggs. So if you want a fresh, local, Christmas turkey that has been allowed to run around in the big world, or if you want to buy a lot of other interesting things in the shop (or eat in the licensed restaurant) it really is the place to go.
Photo copyright (C) 2010 Whitmuir the Organic Place
In training for next year’s Edinburgh Military Tattoo. The third and fourth ducks need more practice, they’re not in step. It gives a whole new meaning to getting your ducks in a row. Taken at Whitmuir Organics after a tasty meal in the restaurant. Us, not the ducks.
Note: You are heading for the kitchen, guys. The pond is the other way.
I am a lucky man. Not only do I live in a beautiful part of Britain (right now I am looking at a stunning sunset), I am also only a couple of miles from an organic farm that has a shop, a restaurant, things to see and walks to go on. There is nothing pretentious about Whitmuir (for more, click on their link) and they are so good, and all work so hard, that they seem to be winning all kinds of awards for their produce, their food, and for the farm itself as a visitor attraction. There are signposted walks that I have yet to go on. They also run little events (see here).
Tomorrow, being Halloween, there is something for children, including (amongst several other things) throwing apples to the pigs. When I first saw the list of events I misread it and thought it said ‘throwing apples at the pigs’. This, from my previous observations of these creatures, would not be a wise thing to do.
No, the zebras aren’t on the farm at Whitmuir Organics, they are at Edinburgh Zoo. I can’t say I’m a great believer in zoos, but they do have their uses when you want to entertain the TYO (still not quite four, he keeps telling me) for four hours on a chilly October day. We were walking past the zebras when I was asked if we could go to see the ogres. I reminded him that we were in a zoo, not a movie. It was only when I got home that I realised he probably meant gorillas.
Oh, and beech nuts (he waded through fallen leaves and beech nut husks) are called beech nuts because you find them on beaches, apparently. Not a lot of people know that.
He was impressed by the flamingos. Years ago I was told in all seriousness by a work colleague that flamingos were pink because they ate prawns. Presumably they had found a way of cooking them.
I am reliably informed that the Whitmuir Organics’ farm dog is Lily, not Millie. I must get my ear trumpet fixed.
Well, not exactly. Dances with pigs, possibly, as this tipi (teepee, if you are a cowboy or from Hollywood) has been erected not far from us at Whitmuir Organics at Lamancha. Nearby, on the other side of the hedge, are families of a dozen or so piglets and a couple of sows so big that you really would not want to get into an argument with them. The Whitmuir Organics sheepdog (Millie, so not exactly a dog) decided to round up all the piglets but was spotted by one of the mothers. Have you ever seen a pig chasing a dog? It’s a sight to behold, especially when the pig is faster… hard to believe, but true. The dog jumped the gate. The pig didn’t.