Friday, April 29, 2011

The Royal Wedding and Farming

Prince William and Catherine Middleton were married today amid much Pomp & Splendor at Westminster Abbey.
This morning, leaving my muck boots at the door I

followed the events transpiring halfway across the world online from the comfort of my own dining room.I listened with great amusement as Diane Sawyer and Barbara Walters fell all over themselves in their commentary, tossing off comments like "oh! We voted all this out hundreds of years ago when we declined to make George Washington King." and "Look how orderly the crowd is!". There was this enormous desire to distance themselves from all the aristocratic "to do" of the day, and yet gawk in embarrassed admiration and self deprecation from "across the pond". Royal carriages, dukedoms, mounted guards, quails eggs with celery salt, and formal ceremony seem so distant from the American mindset, and certainly from the pasture studded with cow pies. But today they remind us that all that is in the past is not antiquated...but valuable. Valuable in that they remind us of our human dignity and courtesy. Important because the past has the most to teach us.

As Farmers we are constantly learning that modern science is helpful largely because it is constantly providing us with the reasons why the old ways of our Great Grandfathers worked in the fields and in the barn. In Britain there has been a longstanding tradition of embracing manure in cottage gardens and on small holdings. They have long viewed the vegetable garden as going hand in hand with the livestock production on a farm...and a return to this holistic approach is needed desperately in our American agriculture.

The hedegrows of the U.K. countryside were part of a natural approach to the cultivation of the land...utilizing natural native resources for fencing is both sustainable and enduring.

This is an approach which views one's farm as part of a generational experience, to last for one's children and grandchildren, as they weave their own work into the upkeep of the hedge.

"Once the hedge is established, it is there, if you take care of it, for centuries."

John Seymour "The Self Sufficient Life and How to Live it"

It is this talk of "centuries" that is the language of the farmer. Generations and Traditions, Feasts, and Ceremony. He builds up his herds for future generations. He plants trees for his Grandchildren to climb, and windbreaks for his children's gardens and crops. He views his own plot of land not as his own, but as part of a community, with responsibilities towards it's future tenants.

At Eden farm, Farmer Nate is making plans to make use of the regions native mulberry trees, by coppicing woodlots and harvesting the new shoots that grow from each bole. Using native growing shrubs as hedges to from windbreaks for the CSA garden is part of the long term plan for the burgeoning farmstead.

I remember reading in an Architectural journal about how the American tradition of lawns unbroken by fences or stonewalls was part of an early reaction against the distinctly British cottage gardens of "the mother country". We have spent the better part of 250 years distancing ourselves from afternoon teas, curtsies, and white gloves.

But the American Dream has never escaped the notion that each man's home is his Kingdom. And without this farm- as- one entity notion of agriculture our modern production model falls flat.
So at dawn this morning, as the Little Flower Farm guard of the Royal Plumed Roosters made their morning salutes,

I tied a white ribbon to the teapot, whipped up some chocolate scones (a nod to Prince William's reported preference for chocolate cake...) and fixed a Royal Wedding Day Farm breakfast. While the newly named Duke and Duchess of Cambridge feasted on cornish crab salad on lemon blini, roulade of Goat's cheese with caramelized walnuts, and a wedding cake that has been 5 weeks in the making resplendent with 900 sugar paste flowers, we toasted their good health with a nice hot pot of tea, scones, and scrambled eggs laid by our fine laying ladies. A most stately Rhode Island Red Rooster attended on the balcony rail just outside the window, sporting a brilliant red comb and dramatically festive wattles. He trumpeted his Congratulations for all the world to hear all during this most auspicious and ceremonial feast.

“Be who God meant you to be and you will set the world on fire.”

The Bishop of London, quoting Catherine of Sienna, today during his Royal Nuptials' sermon

Royal Wedding Chocolate Scones

*2 1/4 C all-purpose flour

*3 Tbsp cocoa powder

* 1/2 C sugar

*1,1/2 tsp baking powder

*1/2 tsp baking soda

*1/4 tsp salt

*10 Tbsp butter cut into small pieces

*1 C semisweet chocolate pieces

*1 large whole egg, plus one egg yolk

*1/2 C plus 2 Tbsp heavy cream

Line baking sheet with parchment, set aside. Combine dry ingredients. Cut in cold butter and mix in the chocolate. Obtain a specially laid royal egg from a Free-range thoroughly pampered hen. Wisk the egg and 1/2 C plus 1 Tbsp cream together. Make sure your cream is from a jersey cow that has spent the morning grazing to an orchestral version of "Hail Britannia". Mix the wet and dry ingredients together gently, and pat into a rectangle on a lightly floured surface. Cut scones into 10 rectangles. Refrigerate for 1 hour on parchment lined sheet. Preheat oven to 375 degrees, brush tops of scones with egg yolk and 1 tbsp cream mixture. Sprinkle with sugar and bake for 25 to 30 minutes while you brew a pot of tea. Absolutely Ripping!

1 comment:

  1. I can attest to the pomp and splendor of the chocolate scones, which I consumed before I knew of their royal beginnings. Delish! Or, should I rather say, bloody good.