I am Claire, a cheese-maker, organic gardener, beekeeper, shepherd, goat-herder and cook with big, slightly crazy and rather chaotic dreams. The Blue Rabbit Cafe serves home-made, home-grown food from my smallholding in Shottisham. All the meat, eggs, honey, fruit and vegetables I serve in the cafe are grown here – food metres not miles. I am aiming for small-scale, sustainable, environmentally-friendly food production.
I always wanted a cafe, but I accidentally became an Ottoman historian instead which meant I spent a lot of time reading very very old manuscripts written in a now-dead language and then writing about them. I am still a part-time (epistemologically-reluctant) historian, but I have finally opened my cafe. I now juggle teaching at a university and writing books about the radical use of past-talk by artists and activists with growing food and cooking for the cafe. The best revolutions start in the classroom and the garden. And yes, the cafe does sometimes get political – go on, just ask me about statues and how our urban spaces have been shaped by imperialist injustice and oppression and how this politicised use of the past might not be such a good idea …..
I spend quite a lot of time in the summer and winter wild swimming in the sea near here and training my sheep dogs Kainaat and Zephi.
Come and visit the animals, see where the vegetables are grown and maybe have a cup of coffee and a slice of cake.
Here on the Blue Rabbit smallholding we have free-range, rare-breed pigs, sheep, goats, and chickens – as well as alpacas and bees.
While we are not certified organic, we run our smallholding in accordance with organic principles and the welfare of our animals is our greatest concern.
Our chickens completely free-range around the smallholding and campsite. We hatch out many of our own chickens from our breeding stock – the cockerels live a happy life until the end of the summer when we kill and eat them.
Our pigs free-range and enjoy a long, natural life – the reason they taste so good is because they are not slaughtered at 4 months old.
I keep my bees basically in accordance with Rose hive principles – I don’t use queen excluders and I don’t clip the wings of the queen (and not just because I can’t ever find her) – this means the bees are completely free to leave whenever they want. I always leave them enough honey for the winter so I don’t really have to feed sugar (except in emergency situations where the survival of the hive depends on it). The honey is not heat-treated or pasturised, it is raw honey that is simply filtered and is delicious
You’re probably wondering what the alpacas are for, well they protect the chickens from predictors (usually) and we collect their poo as fertiliser for the fruit and vegetables we grow.
For more information on the smallholding see my blog Smallholding Dreams