Tuesday, 3 July 2018

Cooking nicely.......

This was not supposed to look like this. OK, the river water was held away from the house by this heap, but it is not going to do anything towards keeping us warm this winter. 
This heap? It is supposed to be our wood pile, delivered a few months ago, and which should have been stacked properly, and it would have been if it had not been for the inclement weather which went on and on and on for several months.

Anyway, let's not dwell on that, let's be glad that the weather has changed, let's be happy that we have lovely sunny weather, let's feel glad, yippydoodoooo.....

And the wood pile is now being sorted, but only bit by bit, and only by Lester because I have been banned from helping because he thinks that snakes, adders in particularly, might be living in the heap and he does not want me bitten. He, bold fellow, seems not to worry that he might be the one to get bitten, but he is now on a mission to get that wood pile sorted out. 
This means that the 'Making a Mini Milking Shed Project' is now put on hold, so for the moment I shall keep dusting the mini milka which is keeping company with my spinning wheel in our hallway.

Still a long way to go, but there is something about seeing a pile of neatly stacked wood which is pleasantly reassuring. 

And there is also something equally pleasant going on in the courtyard, because I have taken over half of the arbre to make a 'Me Zone'. This was the half which housed the hay and straw for several winters until we got fed up with the mess it made, so now the the bales stay out on the front drive. To stop this space being used for Lester's stuff I moved in toute suite. After all, he does have the other half, which houses his mini tractor and its implements, so it is only fair that I should have the other side. 

So.... first of all I put my sunbed in the space, then I hung some washing line from beam to beam and back again. OK, so this does mean that I shall have washing festooned over my head when I am in there but not to worry, at least I have somewhere to hang the washing.
And then I found a home for a garden table, which did not have a proper use. It is now my work table, for putting things on ...... like seedlings, spinning equipment, cup of coffee, etc......, and then I made my first mini garden comprising of a few pots of this and that. 
It is a start. I have somewhere to sit, where I can fuss over and talk to the seeds as they sprout into seedlings, where I can connect with the growing of plants which are not weeds.

It feels like a cosy hut, and I love it. 

,,,,, and swinging around.....

..... to the raised beds.....


Celery, a few bush beans, and lettuce.

Lettuce, beetroot, a self sown tomato, chives, and thyme. 
The other three beds are not planted, but I shall potter on with doing so as time progresses.
Meanwhile Veg Plots 1, 2, and 3, remain fallow.
We shall not be having any harvests this year of produce we can store for winter use, but at least the raised beds are keeping my love of growing things satisfied for the time being. At least I have somewhere to potter around in the cool of the early morning, have somewhere to sit when I am spinning this year's wool from our sheep, and a place to laze should the mood come upon me to do so. Meanwhile we continue to cook nicely as the high temperatures are maintained day after day. 

..... and trying not to be concerned for the dentist who I am going to visit this afternoon, who has to deal with an English woman who will not mind sitting in his chair and letting him do what he has to do, but whose French is sometimes alright and sometimes isn't, and his English language which has the same off and on quality to it. 
It was the same in the local market I went to a few days ago. I could not seem to access my French vocabulary at all, which had several French people amused, in particular a French man who teased me on and on as I tried to explain to him what I wanted. In fact, so ticked off was I at my ineptness, that I took myself along to a local Brocante run by an English lady, and partook of a cup of a coffee and a good long conversation with her, and all in English.

Blame the heat for seemingly robbing me of being able to access my minimal French vocabulary. You would think that my French would have improved better than what during the ten years we have been here, but unfortunately lack of practice is the problem. Our life  is quiet here, and most contact is with English people...........

Four hours later: I'm back!
The dentist is not far away, about five minutes. I could have driven the car myself to get me there, but I didn't know how I would feel after the visit, so Lester drove me there, and said he would pick me up again, all I had to do was use his mobile phone to ring him at home to let him know I was ready.
I don't have a mobile phone, so after lengthy instructions from Lester about how to make a phone call, which I wrote down so I would not forget them, off we went. 
The dentist was a lovely man. Very charmingly French, and insisted on  speaking English to me, bless him. Anyway, one crown to be replaced in two weeks time, and a specialist extraction to be done in Tarbes as soon as possible. 
Time to phone home, but mobile would not work as given by Lester's instructions. Oh. So walked down the road into Plaisance, ......no public call boxes around that I could remember, so put up a thought to the Universe for someone to come along who I knew. And they did! Another lovely Frenchman who bought two of our sheep a few years ago, and who sings in a French choir I was thinking of joining, that's who I met. 

Home now. 
Need to sign off,
so bye for now,


PS. Still cooking nicely. Storm coming. 

Tuesday, 19 June 2018

Fish, milker, garlic......

The river water came from the far line of those trees, and covered our main field to a depth and force sufficient to push the fence wire away from the posts...

...the water line can be seen by the dark line on the first post. 
Lots of things got caught up in the wire and left on the field, 
leaves, branches, plastic water bottles, etc.... and these....

A fish. already found by birds, crows probably who were partaking of its flesh.
I put my boot near it so you could get an idea of its size.

and then we found another one in the gully.
Lester had to remove it because the sheep and cows will be back on the field soon.

.... and away into the woods he took it....
And then he came back for another one, 
which was so heavy that he had trouble getting it moved to the woods.

......which was so heavy that he had trouble getting it moved to the woods.

These were big fish, and I am sad that they died in such a way, not in their natural environment, and quite a slow death I would have thought. But at least it shows that if the river can support such good size fish, then it is a healthy river, which is nice to know. 

I also will think twice about paddling in the river. Sometimes on hot summer days we have paddled up aways, wading through water which is above our knees, which has a wonderful therapeutic effect on our legs. Not sure I am likely to do that again, I would not like to bump into such big fish. So they are not flesh eating sharks, but my imagination says they are!

To change the subject..... the mini milking machine has arrived, and is not so 'mini' as we thought it would be. 

It is going here..... in the smaller of the two cow pens. Lester took many wheelbarrow loads of manure out to Veg Plot Two so the the pen is now clear. All that has to be done is to get that floor scrubbed clean which is going to take a lot of effort to do, but it is a necessary job to turn this space into a mini milking parlour.  

At the moment this job is not being done because we need to get the fence wire cleaned up so we can get it attached to the fence posts again, so the cows and sheep can get back on to the field. 

But, oh joy of joys, although we have still not had a full day of sunshine this year, at least we have had no rain for five days, which is a relief to us all, the animals included. 

.... and a surprise harvest of garlic from out of the raised beds.

So the fishes have become without life, and are now in the woods being recycled by other 'still in life' creatures, the Cow Project has moved a step forward, Bonny has been artificially inseminated so hopefully will be in calf again, and we have a supply of garlic which we ourselves are going to recycle by using them in our own food, but keeping a few bulbs to plant again, and we are catching up on jobs that should have been done a few weeks ago now that the rain has stopped. 

Bye for now,


Thursday, 14 June 2018

The visit of the water......

..... the river water is on its way down, which is a good thing. A few hours ago the water almost reached our back gates. It was alarming to see how fast the water rose. It has never done that before, but we have had the wettest June on record so there is a lot of water about.

The Main Field and our woodland became one with the river yesterday afternoon, the field becoming totally covered in water which stretched across its width to the lane, shutting off access to the next village. 

We could hear the river roaring, and could hear it all night too, even when indoors. We can't hear it so much now, which means that the worst of the flood is now done with. 

Although the water came within a metre of the side of the house, our log pile and its blanket of weeds acted as a barrier to the water. It is a good job that we had not gone forward with the Sorting out the Wood Pile Project, otherwise the water would have closer to us that what it actually did. 

We live by the river, so of course we will have floods occasionally, we know that. And our house is on a rise so if our house did become flooded then everyone else would be in dire trouble. It is just that watching the brown water marching its way towards the house does imprint itself in the head, and it will take a while to get that picture out of the head.

So the house remains undamaged, but the Main Field has taken a battering. It cannot be grazed for a couple of weeks at least, which means that the cows and sheep will have to stay on the Side Field. The temperatures are on the rise, and there is no shade on that field, plus the grazing is not enough to  keep the sheep and cows fed for more that a day or two. Fortunately we might have some hay left over from the winter, although that might be soaked through by the rain. Hay is going to be expensive this year because of the wet weather, and most farmers seem to have cut for silage rather than hay because of the lack of dry weather to dry the cut grass. 

...... and the fences in the Main Field look like they have been damaged by the force of the river as it came across the field, with the fence posts having been pushed over, and the fencing wire scrumpled up.  That will take a time to fix, but will have to be done before the cows and sheep can use that field again. 

A friend stood on the bridge over the river yesterday, and said that he saw a large tree hurtling along in the torrent. It is most likely that it is one of our trees. We anticipate a lot of erosion of the woodland. Not to worry, it is as it is. 

Feeling tired, so best to start again fresh tomorrow. Lester is out milking the cows and I must attend to the washing up in the back kitchen, which seems to procreate itself..... it does not make babies but it does seem to make more of itself.

Singing tunelessly to myself.......'it's good to be a smallholder, it is, it is, it is.......' I put my pinny on and go fight the good fight with the washing up.