Top Tips for Lighting a Fire

2 Nov 2019 | 0 comments

Fires are one of our favourite things about winter. Whether it's to warm up against inside after a blustery walk, or to gather around outside in the dark evenings, with a glass of mulled wine and a hot pot of stew. The flickering flames are meditative, and it truly heats your bones.

We have wood burners in the guest house, in the Old Dairy Kitchen and in our course workshops on the farm to keep us all warm. Maybe you have fires at home and are already fire lighting wizards, but it is a skill that many of us have lost, so here are a few tips to help you on your way.

1) Find a safe space for your fire.

This is simple if it's inside: in a fire place or a wood burner. But having fires outside can be riskier. Make sure you have the land owner's permission before lighting a fire. Find an open, flat area, where your fire is unlikely to spread to nearby bushes or trees. Clear the ground of leaf litter, or even better, use a fire bowl so that you don't leave any scorch marks on the ground.

2) Collect your materials.

Wherever you are lighting a fire, you will need three types of fuel: tinder (no, not the app, the very first thing you light, for example newspaper or cotton wool), kindling (small, dry sticks) and small or split logs. You will also need something to provide the initial spark; you could use matches, a lighter, or a fire steel (we particularly like these ones by the Friendly Swede). It's a good idea to have a pair of thick gloves available, for adding more fuel when the fire gets going.

3) Prepare your fire.

There are many ways to lay a fire. We like to use a 'waffle lay'. This means laying three bits of kindling out parallel to each other, then another three on top perpendicular, as if you are going to play a big game of noughts and crosses. You can then put your tinder (in this case, scrunched up balls of newspaper) on top of the waffle, and build a pyramid up around it. The waffle helps the air to flow in under the fire and allow it to breathe while it gets established.

4) Light your tinder.

Light the newspaper or other tinder, and carefully add more kindling onto the flames, taking care not to smother them.

5) Add larger fuel as the fire grows.

As the flames grow bigger and hotter, then can consume larger fuel. If you have a wood burner, make sure you close the door. It can seem counter-intuitive, seeming like your cutting off the air supply and locking the heat away, but the open vents actually draw the air in at the bottom where it is most needed, and the doors will radiate the heat out in to the room.

6) Stay safe, and enjoy!

Shut the vents down once the fire has got going, and especially if you are leaving the room. If you have a fire outside, have a bucket of water nearby, ready to extinguish the fire with if needed, or to provide cool water for accidental burns. If you have a fire outside, try to leave no trace. Make sure your fire is fully out and well dowsed with water. If you lit a fire on the ground, re-cover the area with leaf litter.

Winter Market - 30th November 2019

2 Nov 2019 | 0 comments

Trill Farm's popular Winter Market returns on Saturday 30th November 2019.

Open from 11am - 4pm, we will have a selection of products available from all of our farm enterprises, plus mulled apple juice and mince pies hot from the Old Dairy Kitchen.

Stalls will include:

The perfect opportunity to do your Christmas shopping. The Old Dairy Kitchen will be open for Farm Lunch at 1pm (booking essential) so why not make a day of it?

We look forward to seeing you soon!

Autumn Reflections

2 Oct 2019 | 0 comments

Summer passed in a speedy haze and with autumn’s palate well on its way, our attention in the herb garden has already turned to preparing the beds for winter. 

Working on the land, we are confronted with the cycle of the seasons, the growth and decay of life in its raw state, and medicinal herbs can especially attune our minds and bodies to that which nature provides. 

The arduous spring preparation in the herb garden thankfully paid off. New beds were sown, planted and mulched. Some beds were under sown with green manures to suppress weeds, protect soil from the summer sun, improve soil structure and increase organic matter. Any unused beds were sown similarly with buckwheat, phacelia, clovers and radish which gave the garden an added buzz of vitality and colour much to the delight of our insects.

The effect of the green manure meant that we were not delayed in peak summer by weeding; the herbs wanted nothing else but to grow and flourish so all our energy could be put into harvesting and drying. And harvest we did! As I write we are on our 127th herb harvest, all being used in our tea blends, natural beauty products and medicinal remedies, tinctures, and glycerites.

This year has been one of the Hawthorn. Spring’s blossom was exceptionally beautiful and abundant. As we harvested blossom and leaf, a powerful remedy of the heart and circulation, I was reminded to take care and show myself some love over the coming busy months. Indeed, when the chamomile harvest came, it was a time to recall this. Labour intensive, fiddly and with so much to pick, I dreamt I could become a Hindu deity with a multiplicity of arms to get the job done speedily. Thankfully with a constant stream of helpful wwoofers and attendees on Anne McIntyre’s Herbal Medicine course, the pressure was lifted and the job became lighthearted; a reminder that herbs are a great way of slowing down and connecting with others.

Now we have captured the sun’s energy in the summer herbs, we are collecting all the nourishing and strengthening autumn herbs and berries. Just as we prepare the garden for winter, so too must we prepare our internal bodies for the darker light and change of season. With a mass of hips and berries we will be in good stead. Again, the Hawthorn has been a star. The plump haws dot the landscape and are a joy to pick. With all our political uncertainty and unsettling climate worries, this year’s landscape seems to be telling us through the Hawthorn to keep attuned to our heart and connect with others; with nature as our guide I find some hope in this. I have felt extremely fortunate to participate in this land’s abundance and I’m reminded that whatever we seek, nature can truly provide.

Fiona has been nurturing the herb garden and building enviable compost heaps at Trill Farm since March. A woman of many talents, she previously ran a successful organic veg box scheme on her native Guernsey, is an award-winning scyther and occasional spoon carver.