8 January 1999

Lady who had touch to restore a frozen herd

ON A BITTERLY cold morning a dairy farmer got up to find his herd of cows had been frozen solid. He tried everything he could think of to restore them to life but without success.

The farmer sat down in despair, his head in his hands. First BSE. Now this. He was ruined!

As he sat wondering what to do, an elderly lady approached him and asked what was the matter. After he had explained, the lady went up to one of the cows and rubbed its nose. Within a few minutes the animal was back to normal. The lady repeated this process with the other cows and soon the whole herd had recovered and was grazing happily.

The farmer was overjoyed and asked the lady how she had done it. She just smiled and said: "We theatre people know a thing or two about animals." Then she left.

Soon afterwards, the farmers neighbour arrived. The farmer explained what had happened and said: "She didnt tell me her name. She just said she was something to do with the theatre".

The neighbour looked at the farmer. "Dyou mean to say you dont know who that was?" he said. "That was Thora Hird."

Enthusiastic gardeners

wanted for telly series

CHANNEL 4s Real Gardens show with Monty Don and Carol Klein returns in the spring with another series featuring passionate amateur gardeners.

The producers are looking for enthusiasts with interesting ideas who would like to take part. Gardeners do not have to be experts but should be people who spend a lot of time in their gardens. This is not a makeover programme.

Inquiries to Ark Productions (01494-870940).

Philip Hicks is exhibiting sheep in London next month – his latest collection of paintings which includes Survivors featured here. Mr Hicks approaches his animal subjects as a formal portrait artist would approach human ones, expressing their individual characters. His exhibition is at the David Messum Gallery, Cork Street, from Jan 27 to Feb 13.

Down-to-earth cookbook celebrates joys of delicious home-grown food

THEY may not have had much to laugh about lately, but Women in Agriculture, the mid Wales group of women farmers and farmers wives who strive to support farming, encourage the consumption of home grown food, and dub themselves "country women fighting for their livelihoods," have packed plenty of humour into their latest promotional effort.

This is a cook book* which is very down to earth and seasonal, as Wales TV cook Gilli Davies points out in her enthusiastic introduction. Spiral bound and clearly presented, it has one recipe to a page plus a few words of wisdom, a sketch or a joke as a footnote. Recipes have been contributed by members and friends. They include the Hon Mrs Shân Legge-Bourke, whose many claims to fame include the presidency of the National Federation of Young Farmers Clubs.

Mrs Legge-Bourke explains how to make tempting Glanusk beef as well as a clever sweet called flower pots which is served with a quick-to-make hot-chocolate sauce. "All generations love a surprise," she says, so we wont spoil it for you by revealing details of the recipe here.

However, we will share one of the many lamb recipes instead. "Honey, its lamb" is a refreshing change to the average Sunday roast, says contributor Lynda Richards who with her husband Huw grazes flocks on the peaks of the Brecon Beacons. Beacons lamb is the best you can buy, they claim

*Food for Thought – a book of recipes compiled by Women in Agriculture is available from Mrs Janet Jones, Great Porthamel, Talgarth, Brecon, Powys LD3 ODL (£6.50 including post and packing).

Honey, its lamb

1 leg Welsh lamb

seasoning to taste

1 teaspoon ground ginger

1 tablespoon ground rosemary

2 tablespoons honey (clear)

Approx 250ml (0.5 pt) cider

Score meat and rub seasoning and ginger into the joint. Put joint in foil and into an ovenproof dish, sprinkle with rosemary and drizzle honey on top. Pour cider around joint inside foil. Wrap foil around the joint and place in a hot oven for first half hour, then reduce heat and cook according to individual taste and size of joint.

Among the contributors are

Helen Morris (left) and Janet Jones who also edited the cook book. Anona Lewis provided

the illustrations and Julie Pugh and Rosemary Kent are

credited with " donkey work".