Jacob's Ladder Farms
open for direct sale to London public
of organic and biodynamic meat, eggs,
flour and bread from Kent and Sussex

Saturdays - 9am - 2pm
104 Druid Street, SE1 2HQ (map)
and other locations here.
This week's butchery here.

As you’ll remember from previous years’ feasting, Edwina Le May of Ladymead’s Farm in Wadhurst, Sussex is the supplier of our Christmas geese. Throughout the year, she keeps us in eggs from her rare breed hens which she’s been rearing organically for the 27 years she’s had her farm.

This year, Edwina has elected to take a slightly different tack with her Christmas birds. Last year, when preparing to hatch her own eggs on the farm, 2 of her brooding mothers inexplicably lost interest in their nests, just a couple of weeks before the eggs were due to hatch, losing all the birds and almost jeopardising her Christmas supply. Because the process of hatching birds is ever treacherous, this year Edwina has opted to buy in day old chicks from a highly respected organic supplier in Essex and rear them on from there.

35 birds were brought onto the farm earlier in the year. Since their arrival, they’ve been feed on on an organic starter crumb, then grower pellets for about 6 weeks and thereafter on to whole wheat and grass.

Initially and until their feathers fully developed, the birds were kept in Edwina’s barn under lamps where they were fed grass and green vegetables from her organic vegetable garden. Once the chicks grew large enough to be safe from predation of crows and magpies, they were moved to the outdoor hen houses where they roost at night and during the day, they walk and graze out on grass within a spacious poultry pen.

Eventually the young goslings graze freely across 12 acres of grass which they share with the milking goats and Edwina’s small number of cattle. Edwina keeps her grass carefully managed at the correct length that enables the geese to graze most effectively. At night, in order to fend off attack from the numerous local foxes, the birds are brought into the pens where an electric fence keeps them in and the predatory foxes out. Whilst indoors of an evening, they are fed about 4 ounces of whole wheat each to encourage a lovely, rich, golden fat on the birds along with windfall apples which they scrabble over enthusiastically.

This year the birds will be taken to a goose processor, just twenty minutes away from the farm. Stewart Williamson is an extremely experienced goose dresser and the birds will be hand plucked with their down waxed. The birds will hang for at least 10 days before being drawn and made ready for the oven.

The only part of the whole goose preparation that isn’t certified organic is when the birds are taken to the processor. This is because the nearest registered organic processor is based in Oxfordshire and the birds would have a stressful two hour journey which Edwina felt was unacceptable. Stewart will dedicate one day to Edwina’s geese and her birds will be kept quite separate from any other geese. Edwina is confident that his practices are as good as any organic processor - the only difference is that he hasn’t paid for the certification.

We have reserved 30 of the 35 birds for sale to our customers and this year the cost will be £16.95 per kg. On average the birds weighed 3.5 kgs last year. Edwina is hoping that this years’ will be heavier. To this end, she’s chosen Legbars, a different breed from her previous home bred birds, which generally grow to slightly grander proportions. But there are no guarantees and Nature will make the ultimate decision! They certainly are feeding well at the moment so we’re quietly confident to receive more generous birds than last year.

Cooking Guide:
3 - 3.5kg bird feeds 4-5
4 - 4.5kg bird feeds 6-7
Telephone: 07565303559
Email: jayne at jacobsladderfarms.co.uk
Jacob's Ladder Farms © 2017