Just a regular Monday morning. Cuddling goslings and goats, chasing piglets, avoiding chickens, climbing over barbed wire fences and squelching in the mud. Not sure if my friend M quite knew what she was letting herself in for when I asked if she fancied coming with me on a trip to Sunnyside Home Farm.
Situated in Maryculter, Aberdeenshire only 6 miles from me is a small farm where Sharon and Kevin are living 'The Good Life'. With a background in IT and no experience of farming they have set out with the bold aim of raising high quality, high welfare food products. Their bookshelf bears testament to the steep learning curve they've been through.
First surprise was exactly how free range all their livestock is. There are no gates to keep in the chickens, ducks, geese and Mangalitza piglets. They are completely free to roam wherever they like. Everyone is well behaved and comes back for food and bedtime.
The chickens at Sunnyside are a mixture of ex battery hens (ex batts) and rare and traditional breeds. Ducks, geese, pigs and chickens all appeared to get on well side by side with no one in particular ruling the roost however some were certainly louder than others.
I've always been a fan of piglets and the Mangalitza's are real cuties. They are woolly pigs which originate in Hungary. Blackie, Eric, Womble and Mummy Pig are the 4 adults. The current litter of piglets were born 22nd April and initially they are very stripey but the stripes fade as they get bigger.
The six Golden Guernsey dairy goats were a cheeky but endearing bunch. We'd already sampled their raw unpasturised milk in our coffee and now got the chance to watch Kevin milking the two does. Experiments are currently taking place at Sunnyside using the goats milk to make cheese.
At the moment goods from the farm are sold via farmers markets and the farmhouse itself. Plans are afoot for a more formal onsite farm shop in due course which will sell sausages, bacon, pork, gammon and eggs. I came away with a rolled shoulder of Mangalitza pork and a dozen duck eggs. The duck eggs can also be bought from Kelly of Cults, Andrew Gordon Butchers, Mains of Drum, Mellis Cheese and Newton Dee.
Sharon also gave me some pork rind when I expressed my love of crackling. I wasted no time in making some Pork Scratchings with it using a down scaled recipe from Tom Kerridge's Proper Pub Food. They were amazingly good - proper lush - and so simple to make. Give them a try. The Sunnyside rind worked particularly well as its such good quality free range with no water injected.
The ducks eggs got put through their paces in various forms. Scrambled, poached, fried, omelette and kedgeree. My friend M who has Great British Bake Off ambitions made Spiced Apple Muffins with hers. With their fantastically rich yolks they work well for all egg dishes and are great for baking.
I left Foodie Loon in charge of roasting the shoulder of Mangalitza pork whilst I was hunting garlic bears. He made a great job and it tasted absolutely wonderful. Fab crackling and succulent meat. Seconds were had and further picking of the remains meant no leftovers for the next day. This little piggie tasted great. Will be back to visit Sunnyside Home Farm again soon as boy and girl are desperate to cuddle goslings and goats, chase piglets, avoid chickens, climb over barbed wire fences and squelch in the mud.
I'm linking this post up to Elizabeth's Kitchen Diary #ShopLocal blogging challenge which was developed to promote local food producers where you live, wherever you live.
Disclosure : Thanks to Sunnyside Home Farm for inviting me to visit and supplying pork and eggs. I was not obliged to review positively in return. All views expressed are my own.