Sara Ward has been running her ‘country’ dwelling – Hen Corner – in Brentford for more than 10 years. As well as raising hens, she runs a weekly micro bakery, keeps bees and runs foodie courses on everything from preserving to fruit wines
Nestled in among the tower blocks of Brentford is a beautiful little square and in a corner plot, sits Hen Corner. Home to Sara Ward and her family, but also to 19 hens, 1 cat, two bee hives, 12 fruit trees plus a grape vine and numerous fruit bushes.
As we sit in Sara’s lovely conservatory, which also doubles as her demo space for her courses – we’re watching the hens peck around in the dirt while her cat walks nonchalantly past, ignoring them.
‘Years ago I was really keen to be self-sufficient, but quickly realised a few tomatoes and strawberries weren’t going to feed a family, so decided on one self-sufficient meal a week. We needed protein and obviously couldn’t fit in a cow or pig, so we got Pepsi and Shirley – our first two hens.
‘I let the hens out of the coop in the morning and collect the eggs. They lay an egg a day, and even though the pure breeds stop laying between October and February, we still have plenty. We’ve got fluffy Pekin Bantams, Majestic Orpingtons and Light Sussexes as well as hybrids, all laying different sizes and colours.
‘Now at Hen Corner we have 19 hens – we let them roam about during the day and although we do get foxes, we’ve only ever lost three. We have two coops and each hen has a preferred spot in her coop. As they can’t see in the dark, they tend to make their way back as the daylight fades.’ Hens can bully each other, so Sara makes sure the younger ones are in together.
From the first couple of chickens, Sara’s corner plot developed into something bigger. She grew vegetables and planted fruit trees and a grape vine, which produces enough grapes to make dessert wine. Then there followed a couple of bee hives.
‘One Christmas I made chutney to give as Christmas presents and people wanted more so asked me to sell them.’
The micro bakery started almost by accident: ‘I did a big bake with a friend and because we had a lot of break spare, plus some chutneys, eggs and jam, we posted it on FB to family and friends. Thirty people turned up and we made £380!’ People then wanted bread every week, so they now bake to order and any spares are posted on Facebook. ‘If there are any left, I take them round to the local pub to sell!’
She started blogging on her website (hencorner.com) about her days of growing, cooking and sharing and now has a dedicated following on social media. Her courses on how to keep chickens and bees, bake bread or make preserves and homemade wine are with both adults and children.
Amazingly, Sara has only been running Hen Corner full time for the last three years. ‘I have to pinch myself that people want to join my day. I live a country life in a suburban London garden and I just love sharing that.’
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