Menacingly cute.

Four slightly sinister ducklings are splashing around in the Airstream's bathtub.  Bathtubs make for excellent temporary poultry housing.  I once housed chickens in the communal bathroom of my uni flat - only overnight, but needless to say, Tim and Chay were very patient housemates.  Looking forward to glorious Aylesbury duck egg cakes this summer.

Nice but dim

On Thursday, we retrieved this lovely, but dim calf from a water tank.  After climbing out, he peed on me, demonstrating his Blue Flag-esque clean water credentials, and making me a pollution hazard in the catchment zone of a watercourse.

Which brings me to a request from @FarmerCharles on Twitter this week:  "What was that cake with apostles all over it that I was going to try?"  I had intended to start said cake with apostles all over it, a Simnel Cake, that night but, well, hygiene first.

Simnel Cake - as styled by Marguerite Patten

In the matter of the Taylor-Nicholson Simnel Cake, we use our Christmas cake recipe; a great excuse to eat Christmas cake more than once a year.  Choose your favourite fruit or Dundee cake recipe, and sandwich a layer of marzipan in the middle of the batter.  When cool, brush the top with jam and add a circle of marzipan and twelve balls to represent the apostles, minus Judas.  Brown the marzipan under the grill or using a blowtorch (perhaps not the one that lives on the farm, and no, the dehorner won't do).

The thing to remember, is that twelve balls are insufficient; '70s decorations are compulsory.  If it's good enough for Marguerite, then it's good enough for your Easter table.  And be warned: Don't melt the apostles (grilling in the Aga can be hit and miss)!  Marguerite will know.

LDF Mini Eggs

Easter is a very exciting time at Lower Dairy Farm.  The cows cannot help but get into the spirit of Easter, Humbug's joined in trying to eat the Easter decorations in the house and I seem to be rewarding myself with one Cadbury's Easter Egg for every word of my thesis I write.

But that's okay because Dolly our special (full-size, not bantam) Easter chick has started laying again, doing her bit to keep you supplied with eggs.

Well, trying at least.  Introducing LDF's very own miniature, yolk-free eggs...Mini Eggs if you will.

Happy Easter!

Roll up, roll up!

For the past week the valley has roared with tractors rushing to cultivate, drill and do whatever it takes to keep some moisture in the soil. To celebrate the end of drilling and another week of arrivals (not forgetting my updated list of future calvings in, get this, date order), it's time to feed those tired, hungry farmers!

Today, we're honouring our very own Easter chicks with a family favourite,  Cheesy Yorkshire.

Forget toad-in-the-hole, this is far superior!   And don't worry Marmite-haters, you cannot taste it (trust me), so unless you are allergic to or have a genuine phobia of Marmite, you are not allowed to leave it out.  No excuses!

Cheesy Yorkshire

6oz plain flour, 3 of Lower Dairy Farm's finest eggs*, ~1/4 - 1/2pt milk, 1 onion - diced, 2 tsps chopped sage (mixed herbs if easier), 1/2 tbsp Marmite, cubed cheese - Cheddar is best (British of course)

Dice the onion and brown in a little oil in a cake or roasting pan/ovenproof dish.  Make the batter as for a Yorkshire pudding - combine eggs, flour, milk and beat until the batter "whoops".  Beat in the herbs and Marmite.  Sprinkle cubes of cheddar over the onion and pour over the batter.

Cook at 220oC (G.M.7) until well-risen, cracked and golden.  Don't panic if it doesn't rise or falls flat, some (me) say the denser version is the best!

Delicious hot or cold (excellent picnic food) and particularly good for breakfast - if it lasts that long!

WARNING: Batter may have mesmeric qualities.  People have been found staring at batter - or cooking it with the power of their mind?


* Multiply quantities up or down with 1 egg for every 2oz flour.

Wake up!

It's 6:05 and it's breakfast time!  Why?  Well, a)  because it's Farmhouse Breakfast Week! and b) because without breakfast, life is very grim indeed.

And so to make sure you "shake up your wake up", our shelves are stocked with jams, jellys and marmalades, and the hens are powering through and laying eggs for you in these cold, dark days.  To mark the occasion, I've also expanded my flock with some lovely Columbian Blacktails to make sure you can go to work on an egg.

This week, I'm lucky enough to be in Dorset and I'm shaking up my wake up with fresh unpasteurised milk on my cereal.  My favourite!  I'm the last one up - Stuart is milking and Helen has just arrived at the Stanley's for a routine (vet, not dance - even with breakfast, it's far too early to bust a move), so before I tuck in to breakfast (and drink the bulk tank dry) all that remains is to wish you an equally happy week of breakfasting.

For inspiration, scrumptious recipes and to take the Breakfast Week Challenge with Melinda Messenger, head to the Shake Up Your Wake Up website.