December

December feels like the end of days.

God gave us our memories so that we might have roses in December.

J.M.Barrie
Woodland

December is the end of the year and the start of the new. We may regard the 1st of January as the new year, however logically the Solstice is the end of one year and the start of the next. A month for reflection, but also a month of planning ready for rejuvenation the next year.

The land lies flat and dormant, many creatures hibernating. Birds visiting for the winter give a different feel to fields, lakes and coastal areas. Farms are quiet, the crops waiting for warmer weather and the animals close to the farm or warm in the barn. Farming activities revolve around repair and maintenance and planning.

If the weather is from the east, Ice and snow can start. Changing the landscape into a picture of crystal white. Softground becomes hard and the chill bites. Fieldfares strip trees of berries whilst Blackbirds fossick in hedge bottom for grubs and insects. Robins round and fluffy a splash of colour, and starlings startle and amaze with their twilight murmurations. Whilst cold and hard the landscape can be at its most beautiful, but beware of the easterly wind bringing Siberian temperatures. If the wind is from the West then it will be damp and wet and mud will be the theme.

At the end of the month, days begin, imperceptibly, to lengthen. The cold deepens still not knowing that spring is on the way, with January being colder still. The new year is afoot.

Dates, events, holidays and festivals.

December 2021

26 November 2021 – 2 January 2022 – Christmas at Stourhead

4th December – New Moon

11th December – The Great Christmas Pudding Race

19th December – Full Moon

21st December – Winter Solstice

24th December – Christmas Eve

25th December – Christmas Day

26th December – Boxing Day

26th & 27th December – Kempton Park Christmas Festival (King George VI Chase)

27th December – Bank Holiday (Christmas Day substitute).

28th December – Bank Holiday (Boxing Day substitute).

31st December – Hogmanay / New years Eve

31st December – Stonehaven Fireball Festival

Find more events and notable dates throughout the year


December seasonal Foods

What foods are seasonal in December.

Greens and leaves: Brussels sprouts, Cabbage, Cauliflower, Kale, Lettuce, Pak choi, Radicchio, Salsify.

Roots and other veg: Beetroot, Celery, Celeriac, Jerusalem artichoke, Leek, Onion, Parsnip, Pumpkin, Quince, Spring onion, Swede, Sweet potato, Turnip.

Meat: Beef, Chicken, Duck, Grouse, Goose, Lamb, Pork, Venison.

Fruit: Bramley Apple, Chestnut, Cranberry, Pear.

Seafood: Mussels, Oyster.

Exotics: Banana, Clementine, Date, Grapefruit, Pomegranate.

Find out more about seasonal foods throughout the year with a guide to Seasonal foods.


In nature


On the Farm in December

Ploughing.

Feeding of livestock. Continued daily livestock work.

A time general farm maintenance such as hedging, tree planting, ditch and drainage clearance and fencing. Other ongoing repairs.

Spray cereals.

Find out more about what is happening in the Year on the farm


Mossy post

Things to do in December

Out and about

Also see the Out and about Blogs

The end of the year.

The Jurassic Coast is a hugely diverse and beautiful landscape underpinned by incredible geology of global importance.
The jurassic coast, Dorset

Recipe of the month.

Venison Casserole

Venison, Rich, lean and sustainable. Traditionally that food of nobles, now an accessible treat.

Entirely seasonal for the winter, a rich tasty caserole to warm as winter sets in.

Ingredients

1 tbsp oil plus 25g/1oz butter or equivalent of lard or dripping.

2 onions, diced

2 carrots, roughly chopped

4 garlic cloves, crushed

4 rashers smoked bacon, chopped

500g/1Ib 2oz mushrooms, halved

2.5kg/5½lb haunch or shoulder of venison, diced

½ bottle red wine

400ml/14fl oz water beef stock

3 tbsp seasonal condiment ( redcurrant jelly, cranberry or similar)

salt and freshly ground black pepper

50g/2oz cornflour

Rosemary or thyme

Equipment.

Large lidded casserole dish

Preparation

Get venison to room temperature (defrost if required – 24 hours in the fridge is best, then leave at room temp away from heat for a few hours). Dice.

Prep veg. Slice bacon.

Make the stock if using Power, cubes or concentrate.

Cooking

On the hob, heat the oil and butter (or other fats) in a large lidded casserole dish. Add the onions and cook until softened, but not browned.

Scoop out into a bowl for the next stage.

Brown the venison a handful at a time in the casserole. You may need to batch this. Then add the garlic, bacon, and mushrooms and cook for a further minute. Reintroduce the onions.

Add the red wine, stock, a sprig or two or Rosemary and/or thyme, the seasonal condiment, the salt, and the pepper.

Bring to the boil and stir well. Put the lid on the casserole and place in the middle of the oven – cook for 90 minutes.

Remove from the oven. Make a paste with the cornflour and two tablespoons of water. Add as much of the paste to the casserole as is needed to thicken the sauce – add a little at a time if you are not sure how much you will need.

Transfer the casserole to the hob, and, on a low heat, cook until the gravy has thickened.

Serve with Potato or root mash, leafy greens like kale, or Brussels sprouts.

For more inspiration see the Food Blogs

December Jobs in the vegetable garden or allotment

General Jobs

Clear old vegetation and compost. Cut down old blackberries. Remove plant supports and store.

Digging. Spreading compost and manure. Lime soil where needed.

Net brassicas (stop pigeons).

Remove rotten fruit and destroy (burn). Start winter pruning of fruits and trees. Shred and compost healthy, burn any diseased items.

Clean seed trays, pots and tools.

General repairs to fencing and structures.

Sowing and Planting

outdoors: Sow – Broad Beans.

Plant: Garlic, Fruit trees and bushes.

Harvest

Brussels sprouts, Cabbages, Carrots, Cauliflowers, Celeriac, Celery, Endive, Jerusalem artichokes, Kale, Kohl rabi, Leeks, Oriental leaves, Parsnips, Swede, Swiss chard, Turnips, Winter radishes.

Find out more about what is happening in the allotment or vegetable garden

A gate on a footpath with views across fields to a wood.

Activities, things to see and do in December

With lengthening days arise more opportunities to get out and about. To see what is happening in nature and the countryside. There is also a lot more to see as they year really starts to get going.

Thinking about getting out and about, then perhaps Buy OS Landranger maps direct from Ordnance Survey to discover new places or see the latest handheld GPS devices with bundled mapping from Ordnance Survey.

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December in pictures

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