Festive goose revival sees South Lakes bird business flying high

The Westmorland Gazette: Katherine Patterson feeds the geese Katherine Patterson feeds the geese

SOUTH Lakes geese farmers Hamish and Katherine Patterson have seen a major boost to their fledgling enterprise as the once-traditional festive bird makes a comeback.

With less than two weeks to go until Christmas, the Pattersons say they are rushed off their feet getting ready to deliver 250 free range geese as centrepieces for the area’s festive tables.

The couple, who founded Hawkshead Free Range Geese in 2008 with just 30 geese, are currently preparing birds for local farm shops, such as Sizergh Barn Shop and Plumgarths, and to an on-line food emporium.

The slaughtering of the geese on the farm, in compliance with animal welfare regulations, has already begun, says Katherine.

“Slaughtering them on site lowers the stress levels of the birds,” she said. “Our geese have had a happy life; we want them to have as little stress as possible and the best way to ensure this is to slaughter them at home — out of sight and sound of one another."

The birds are then plucked while warm and left to to hang for just over a week in cold storage.

“This process helps the flavour of the goose develop while ensuring the birds remain fresh,” said Katherine. “In the week before Christmas, when the hanging time has passed, we dress and box the geese in our clean processing area. We will then be rushed off our feet with deliveries and collections up to December 24.”

Since the Pattersons transferred their goose enterprise to High Ickenthwaite Farm in the Rusland Valley in 2010, they have seen an increased interest in the bird as families turn away from turkey.

Katherine said: “There is nothing better than roast goose stuffed with homemade sage and onion stuffing, served with hedgerow jelly or apple sauce, not to mention the delicious crispy potatoes roasted in goose fat.”

Although a bit more expensive than turkey, Katherine says the meat is ‘beautiful, rich and gamey’, making a wonderful treat for a big celebration.

Hamish added: "People are beginning to see how great goose is. This has been a very busy year for us as goose has returned to Christmas menus. We are nearly sold out. “The humble goose is back and is here to stay.”


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