The morning dawned with a somewhat shockingly humorous incident:
as usual whilst waking up with my morning cuppa I had a quick, curious glance at our ‘Blog Stats’ to see what people might be searching for that happened to lead them to our particular site. One line entry was entitled ‘Dairy Ffarm Girls’ so I innocently pressed the ‘Google’ link to locate its’ origin – but imagine my embarrassed amusement to discover that the link was related to an adult site selling pornographic films! I’m no prude; & admittedly I have seen a couple of great tits, today; also, there was a beautifully-breasted robin; a couple of colourful nuthatches; & a particularly fine lesser spotted male woodpecker. However, as I’d never wish to inadvertently disappoint a potential ‘fan’ of our Blog, I’ve attached the above photograph: which does indeed show one of our Dairy Ffarm Girls cheekily displaying a little nipple – if only because she’s proudly feeding her newborn daughter, Aerona. Enjoy!!
And have you seen the photo I’ve added to yesterday’s ‘Food for Thought’? If so, do have a quick scroll down – although the photo doesn’t do the beauty of the scene, justice.
Thus, to the business of the day: kind messages of sympathy & support regarding the anniversary of Melissa’s death continued to pour in from the OMD website; & after gratefully reading them, I hummed my way through the chores & indeed spent the majority of the day catching up on those little but essential tasks which can all-too-easily get forgotten & prove more problematic later on, if they’re left unattended. The unrelenting rain ensured that I got nicely soaked in the process; but it was strangely vivifying & refreshing to be lashed by the elements whilst gritting my teeth to improve our Ffarm. I briefly retired to the sanctuary of the snug cottage in a vain attempt to dry my cold, soggy clothing before starting the evening milking; & was delighted when Tony unexpectedly arrived home much earlier than I’d anticipated as the poor aircraft captain’s unpleasant bout of gastroenteritis yesterday, had caused an unforeseen delay. However, as it thankfully transpired a replacement captain had been promptly despatched to Aleppo; so the flight was only slightly late returning to Heathrow after all.
Tony helped me with the chores as a feeble sun apologetically emerged, the rain replaced by a brisk breeze until the cloud was whisked away & a passably sunny evening graced the valley. For supper I cooked us a simple Saxon dish of young local sewin (sea trout), dotted with tasty little knobs of homemade, herbed wild garlic butter & infusing an extra depth & complexity to the fish’s flavour by laying a couple of freshly aromatic bayleaves inside each cavity. I served the fish on a dish of lightly-cooked autumn cabbage & crispy bacon with crushed Pembroke potatoes, the delicious earthiness of their skins permeating the smoky saltiness of the meat. Trout served with bacon – ‘Brithyll mewn Cig Moch‘ – is a particularly traditional Welsh dish; although variations include wrapping each fish with a couple of rashers of the bacon & cooking under a hot grill after brushing it with melted butter & packing the cavity with a sprig of parsley, twist of black pepper, slice of lemon & a further knob of butter; or by placing the cleaned & gutted trout on a dish of thin slices of fatty bacon, sprinkling it with seasoning & chopped parsely, then covering & cooking it for around 20 minutes until the flesh of the fish is firm & pale pink in colour. Both dishes would be served with parsley potatoes, carrots & minted peas although I personally prefer the cabbage for its more subtle flavour, which enhances the deliciously savoury juiciness of the trout.
We are especially lucky that in this little corner of Wales there is such an abundance of goodies in the wild larder – & the rivers’ bounties – fish – are no exception. The wild, watery cataracts at Cenarth are famous for their spectacular autumnal show of magnificent great salmon, dramatically leaping up the falls to return to their natal spawning grounds whilst the warm glow of the year’s twilight filters through the golden shiver of falling beech leaves in their final, whirling dance between smoothly-silvered trunks & down into the foaming river below.
Tonight’s supper dish – the graceful, glistening sea trout – is biologically the same species as the rich, clay-mottled brown trout; but it would appear that the former, requiring richer feeding, head out to sea after a year or two upriver. The majority of Welsh sea trout are females or ‘hens’, whilst most of the resident brown trout in the rivers are cock fish. In fact, both types can – & indeed do – interbreed (& in truth we tucked into a couple of said hybrids this evening – & quite delicious they were, too!). After around two years as alevins, fry & then parr (the developing stages of the young trout) the juvenile fish transform their modest, motley colouring into subaquan flashes of stunning, sunlit silver; & head off on their challenging journey out to sea. These ‘smolts’, as the young sea-faring sewin are known, grow remarkably rapidly & normally retun within a year to run upriver again to spawn, at which stage they are called ‘whitling’. They generally spawn each year of their adult lives (& can live a fair few years, if they don’t succumb to the fisherman’s fly!) & may return to the same stretch of river many times. On each return migration they will have typically increased in size by 2lb/1kg or even more, with the fastest-growing fish being found in our local Towy & Teifi Rivers. These shy trout are often fished for at night, when they will more readily take the angler’s bait. For many years they have graced the pools & plashing eddies of the Afon Bowi river which runs with eternal echo of water on rock, through our valley; & oft are farmers startled by a brilliant flash of sewin silver, darting between their boots, as they straddle the streaming water to fence a field’s edge, or rescue a hapless lamb.
And so, satisfied with our warming supper dish, we curled up on the sofa; whilst the wind whispered promises across the darkening valley of sunnier skies tomorrow…..