Thursday, 12 January 2017


The lambs have started arriving, these two first,

.....then these two,....

... with Mum keeping a close eye on them.
The lambs look fragile, but they are tough little beings.
I can remember the first lambs born here and how panicky we were about keeping  them warm.
I can remember the look on the French builders faces as we carried the lambs across the courtyard in from of them, taking them in to the Half Barn, where we made a pen for them and their mum.
I think they thought we were off our heads!
This was in December 2010:
We were still living in the caravans  then, so the ewe and lambs were actually warmer than we were!
Eventually we let this little family out onto the paddock because by then other lambs had started arriving and we realised that we could not house all of them in the Half Barn!
A year later, and we were able to start unpacking the caravans:

... and move in to the Half Barn:

....which was now clear of all clutter, including straw, sheep, and builder's things.
A year further on, and the Half Barn had become a cosy space for us to live in while the rest of the house was sorted out. The caravans had gone, and no more sheep came and visited us indoors!
Meanwhile, we had become more experienced with raising sheep,
and did not fuss any more if a ewe decided to have her lambs in the middle of inclement weather.
Orphan lambs, which are lambs rejected by their mums for one reason or another, well this was another steep learning curve, because there is always the urge to pick them up and give them a cuddle because they are so damn cute, but we resist this urge now because it can confuse the lambs  as to what species of animal they belong to, human or sheep, because they will bond to whoever is feeding them and looking after them.
So we do not bring young lambs in to the house anymore, but keep them with the flock, bottle feeding them amongst the other sheep and lambs so they do not attach too much to human beings, which they still do a little bit, but this soon goes once the lamb starts growing up.
As I say, lambs are much tougher than what they look!
..... and the only orphan lamb of 2015, after having had his bottle of milk,
and being taken back to the other youngsters of the flock....
I am off out to the sheep paddock to see if we have had any more lambs born,
so bye for now,

Monday, 9 January 2017

A bit of a relief.....

I don't complain and rant about things on this blog,
because I don't believe in passing on bad humour to my readers...
....with relief the temperatures are up a few degrees this morning!
For weeks we have had very cold and frosty mornings together with freezing fog.
The house has stayed reasonable with temperatures,
and we have not been lighting the wood burning Rayburn until after 5pm,
because the sunshine, which we have had most days, has heated everything up  a little bit.
However, the last two weeks we have had temperatures to minus 5C,
which I know is not that cold in comparison to other parts of the world,
but it is cold to us, spoilt as we are being, on a parallel to the Mediterranean.
And we have found ourselves getting irritable, tired, and generally miserable.
The Rayburn is just about coping with keeping the house off chill,
but we could keep it running for longer,
but we still have the wet season to get through,
so we need to conserve wood for that.
And yesterday morning it was freezing again.
But hooray!
By mid morning the weather started changing, and the freezing cold was lifted away.
I cannot tell you what a relief that was.
Simple things really.
A lift of a couple of degrees created quite a mood swing in us.
Living with the changing seasons makes life very interesting,
but really, this very long spell of freezing weather has been a bit much,
the sleep of hibernation being the driving need,
which means that things which ought to be done don't get done.
On the subject of the Market Garden Project:
Lester is collecting the wood, for the raised beds in the courtyard, from the local wood mill this afternoon. Six beds to be made and filled with camel and cow manure.
And to stop our heads from going round in a spin, we are taking each step at a time.
The seeds have been ordered for the back veg plots. These are the 'normal' vegetables, nothing fancy.
The raised beds are going to have the more unusual salad vegetables grown in them, with the emphasis being on baby veg, no F1 seeds, just heritage and heirloom seeds.
How we are going to make the step between growing for ourselves and growing for the public is still a mystery to us. How are we going to actually sell the salads and vegetables, ......well, that step will arrive when it is meant to.
We were having a 'this is too big a project for us' moment the other day, and arriving in my head came 'Le Jardin de Salad', (the Salad Garden) which is now the name of the project, and will have 'vegetables in season, fresh herbs, range of salads, all ancient varieties and bio, (or something like that)' tagged on to the title.
The arrival of the name was sufficient to lift our spirits, and push us on again.
I have no doubt that further inspiration will come when it needs to come.
Such trust in the Universe bailed me out of many pot holes in my life,
got us here to France, walked us through the renovation of the house, and the setting up of the smallholding, and lots of other things too numerous to mention, so I am holding fast to the trust that we shall get Le Jardin de Salad off the ground.
I hope.
...... and a snippet from the blog I wrote on Friday January 4th 2013:
'So it came to our afternoon 'stretching of our backs' in the bedroom caravan, which some people may call a 'siesta' but I think a siesta is a state of being whereby one drops the eyes shut for a space of time. 'Stretching of our backs' is just that: giving our spines a rest from the hours of sitting working at our PC's. Our eyes remain open, although may have a momentary droop, but definitely do not shut completely. Lester will be listening to his Ipod, and I will be drifting about in my thoughts, or reading French, or we will be having a family pow-wow. 

As soon as I was lying prone on the bed, straightway into my mind came 'HOPE' again. And this time the letters of the word became split up: 
H is Happiness: that living in hope will bring long term happiness. 
O is for Opportunities: that living in hope will not allow for any opportunities to pass you by. 
P is for Prosperity: not necessarily with copious amounts of money, but a richness of self. 
E is for Excitement: which is how you are going to feel if you live in HOPE because you will be living your life, not sitting on the sidelines and watching the days of your life pass you on by. 

But like all things, being Hopeful requires effort. No gain without pain, as the saying goes. What I mean is, that it is hard at first to learn to be Hopeful. But with practice, it becomes easier. 

I have been thinking of these words often over the two days. When I push them out, they pop back into my head. So I pass them on to you as well. I have definitely become filled with more optimism, something which had become drizzled away with the effort of making a fresh start in somebody else's country, and I feel my feet stepping lighter as a result. What I have been doing to achieve this state of being, is every time I have a worrisome or negative thought drift into my mind, I turn it around on itself by Hoping for a good outcome. 

I have found that the HOPE word is a very powerful assistance in lifting one's spirits. As I put on my Facebook page yesterday: to HOPE is to be a travelling-forward-in-life person. But to be without hope, and therefore HOPELESS, is to be a going no-where person.'

That's all for now,
off to get some lunch.

Wednesday, 4 January 2017

Seeing to the sheep......

Lester and Helper John,
on a mission to worm the sheep which should have been done a while ago,
but time has a habit of galloping by so it hasn't.
In the past I have been The Helper,
but Lester worries about the sheep barging in to me, bless him.
I don't think he has ever quite got over the time when a sheep took a flying leap,
and landed straight in the middle of my chest,
knocking me to the ground like a felled oak.
It was a miracle I did not break anything,
although I lay on the ground for ages waiting for my body to tell me what had got damaged.
Not to worry,
just a touch of concussion for a day or two,
then all was well.
So Helper John was going to do the task of filling the syringe with wormer today,
while I did a photo shoot.
I was supposed to be making cheese,
but I have learnt that when the recipe says 'leave for thirty minutes',
that that can be stretched to longer if necessary,
so each cheese I make does not have the same timings applied,
because I am always doing other things at the same time as making the cheese,
therefore each cheese wheel does not taste the same.
Artisan cheese, that's what I make.
Anyway, the cheese was in its 'waiting' stage in its pot in the kitchen,
giving me time to be outside for a while.

...... and instructions on how to measure the dosages....

... and all set to go...

Jakey Boy, our ram, was first because he was the biggest,
Lester sat him back on his haunches
which relaxed him,
Helper John handed the filled syringe over,
and apart from a little dribble of escaped wormer,
all went down into the tummy of Jakey.
He did not appreciate the manhandling though.
He did not like his dignity being away out of the window.

While I was waiting I had an opportunity to have a close look at the girls.
All have put on weight, so lambs due in the next few weeks,
but their coats are carrying a lovely range of colours,
which made me feel a pang of longing to get spinning again,
an activity I have pushed to one side of late,
mostly because the Loom Project has been put on hold because of the Market Garden Project,
(funds are likely to get quite stretched this year)
Looking at those fleeces which will be coming my way in June,
I must admit to getting the spinning and weaving hunger on me again.
But I shall try to squash it because there are plant pots and seed trays to buy, not to mention a raft load of seeds to get, and then there is the subject of the poly tunnel and the shed for the shop.
At this point I nipped back to the kitchen to stir the curds in the cheese pot.
They were slightly matted, but not to worry, they will do.
All done, and saying thank you to John for helping out.
Such friends are priceless.
Trying to avoid looking at the Internet shop which carries Looms,
I must now go and do something somewhere else.
Saying bye for now,