River Cottage star Paul West was eclipsed by a cheeky bantam ‘Frizzle’ at Saturdays Back to Basics spring gardening day at Oaklands in Pambula, proving the old adage, never work with pets or children.
The Frizzle, a type of chicken with feathers that curl outwards, was being used by Candelo poultry breeder Tabitha Bilaniwskyj-Zarins to demonstrate how to wash a chook – a live one that is.
Lowered into cold water that was thought to be warm, the chilled Frizzle tried to flap his way out of there.
With water everywhere and a shivering chook, Tabitha called on River Cottage Australia star Paul West – who arrived just in time -to dry the bird off and keep it warm.
Paul made some cheeky asides about a chook for the pot, causing the poor little clucker to shiver even harder, and the audience to erupt in fits of laughter.
All jokes aside, it was a wonderful sold-out day that showcased sustainability, composting, work farms, poultry rearing, seed raising, and Paul West’s journey to become the River Cottage Australia host.
Back to Basics grew from an idea of Nethercote’s Rachel Anderson, the much-loved Magnet columnist who shares her pearls of wisdom on chooks and gardening every month with Magnet readers.
Sisters Alice and Emma Moffitt of Oaklands organised the event and were very pleased with the day, already making preliminary plans for future events.
“We were really happy with it - it went really well,” Alice said.
“We got good feedback about the range of speakers. Tabitha was probably the highlight with Paul a close second. He was really interesting – you could listen to him all day.
“It was actually Rachel’s (Rachel Anderson from Nethercote) idea.
We were talking to one of the suppliers here, Tumbleweed suppliers, who wanted to do a demo and it grew “from there. We would like to do one a year, probably in the spring but change the focus a little bit from year to year,” she said.
Sherene Green was one of a contingent from Nethercote hoping to learn more about organic fertiliser to enhance pasture for her beef cattle herd.
“I just went for an all over understanding of organic farming. We’re trying our hardest to farm that way and we’ve had such a battle trying to get hold of organic fertilisers because down this way we are so far away you just can’t get it,” she said.
While Sherene is still hunting for a solution to her organic fertiliser needs, her day was made when she won the raffle.
Sitting with Sherene was Karen Lott also from Nethercote. Karen is responsible for the hugely popular Nethercote Seasonal Produce markets and was keen to connect with Paul West, and hopefully tempt him to come to the markets in early 2014.
“Paul was quite interested in the Nethercote markets,” Karen said.
“I was very cheeky and asked if he would like to do the cooking demo at the markets. But he said the production is too involved, too large scale to do it. But he is really thinking they will get out there to do some production in January. I think they will come,” she said.
Eden’s Sandra Symonds loved Tabitha’s talk about poultry.
“I’ve got chooks so I found it very interesting. Hearing all about Paul West and his life was also really interesting,” she said.
Sandra went with friends Adele Chomatek and Elizabeth Hall, also of Eden.
“We’ll go to anything like this anywhere together. It just gives you a broader idea of what’s going on locally,” Sandra said.
For more photos from the day go to edenmagnet.com.au