Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Gosh, and how time flies!

Just a quick note: I am going to tidy up the look of the blog so it is highly likely that it is going to look messy while I do that.....if it actually loads properly at all!

Gosh, and how time flies! It didn't seem such a long time ago when I was in the thick of bringing in the harvest produce from the over-run-with-weeds veg plot, and here I am in the middle of October wondering where the year has gone. And we still do not have our Rayburn wood burning stove installed because we are still making the gates for the Back Paddocks so that the four month old piglets can have the experience of a good sized space to run around in, digging up roots and making lovely big holes in the process. So why do they need to do that? Because they are for the freezer, and we can't go through the slaughtering and eating process unless we know that they have had a good life, and so far they have been confined to the much smaller pig pens, which they don't seem to mind, but we do. They haven't dug one hole yet, and that is just not the way of little pigs.

Anyway, getting the pigs sorted out remains our priority at the moment, so while Lester does the necessary work on the gates I now have taken over the job of painting the kitchen. I would have preferred to have light cream as the colour for the walls, but paint here in France is expensive, so we have opted for white. One more coat of paint on the walls should do it.

Things I have learnt: That it is not a good idea for a buxom lady to try and climb through the rather small trap door of the scaffolding tower so that she can get to its first stage so she can paint round the edges of the ceiling. She will get stuck. This I have found out. I was so stuck that I could not budge for quite a few moments. It was not a nice experience.


And this is us lot, the Maubourget choir, waiting for the coach.
We were off to Lourdes, to sing in a regional concert there.
The concert hall was huge,
the stage the same.
I was playing the piano for one of the choir songs.
I had to play a D major chord to begin with.
But quite clearly I played a C major chord instead.
Not to worry,
a quick glance from Juliette, the choir master,
soon had me corrected.
It was just as well that the chord was played in advance of the choir starting to sing.
otherwise it would have been a disaster.
But we all smiled,
and I didn't go into a fluster,
and I managed the rest of the song quite well.
I think my Mum and Dad in heaven would have been proud of me.

And then the next day it was us lot again, but fund raising in Maubourget town square.

I am the one in the red blouse and cream skirt, standing behind others.
It was not a busy day,
but it was fun.

...and John, reduced to playing his whistle to earn a drop of money to pay for the coffee set that Kathy wanted to buy. Just kidding around, that is what we were doing.
Lester is standing behind the three seated ladies.

It was good to get away from farm life for an hour or so.

Things I have learnt:
That good friends are a treasure to have around.
That taking time out is a great energizer.

.... and then it was back to making the gates,

......and Boolie looking ticked off because he was bored.
He is a Springer Spaniel,
and a diva.

Monday, 6 October 2014

Will it fall?

This is the oak tree by the house.
It is leaning.
Should we lop off the right hand side branches,
which has already been done several times over the ages,
or should we let nature do whatever it intends to do with the tree,
which is probably to fall it over
slap bang onto the fence of the home field,
thereby rendering both tree and fence most thoroughly broken down.
Nature is to decide the fate of the oak tree,
that is what we have decided.

Meanwhile, things trundle along here.
I have finished harvesting the veg now,
mostly because I am done with the job, rather than having got all the ripe produce stored away for winter.
But nothing is wasted,
and the pigs are enjoying the provender.
They are also enjoying the milk from Lissie.
I still have no proper cheese storage area in the house,
so am not going to make any cheese until we get that sorted out.
Not to worry,
the pigs absolutely drool when they smell the bucket of milk coming their way.

Still have open doors here, but it is getting cooler.
Still have no wood burning Rayburn stove installed yet,
but we shall have sometime this winter.
It is our last winter without heating,
of that I am sure,
so I can remain patient,
and savour the anticipation of having a woodburning range sometime soon.

I am off to bed.
It would seem that winter hibernation is fast coming upon me,
and as the days grow shorter,
so, too, does my energy seem to be diminishing.
ZZzzzzzzzzzzing along,
I go!

Thursday, 2 October 2014

Passing through

One of the magical events of the year is the passing to and fro overhead of the migratory birds, 
which never ceases to move my heart.
Such tiny beings,
such a long way to go,
such danger to go through to survive,
and twice a year it happens.
We are lucky,
our telephone and electric wires seem to be an overnight stop,
for a particular flock of swifts on their way down to Africa.

Thousands of them.....

...... far too many to get on a photo....

.... all the overhead cables have swifts on them,
restless, fidgety, waiting for the signal to start the day,
lifting off,
setting down,
waiting for the collective signal to leave.

And as I watched the magic of these birds
I thought of the months ahead until they come back up to Europe again,
six months of winter for us,
which I don't mind,
because we have lots to do which the busyness of the summer stops us from doing. 
They will go fast, those months.
They are not to be wasted. 
Being on the migratory pathway for several breeds of birds
always makes me conscious of time passing,
and that I should not put off things which I want to do.


Flip me, but I have been asked to play the piano to accompany the Maubourguet choir I used to sing with,
but left because they chatted too much during the rehearsal time,
and since it is a French choir,
they chatted away in French,
which is alright for half an hour or so,
but then my head used to seize up with the effort of having interpret what they were saying,
although each week I was able to pick out more and more words,
but at that time we had builders in,
and everything just got too much to cope with,
so I left.

But now it would seem that I am to return,
and I find myself hoping that they will keep up their habit of chatting,
because I really would like to be able to speak better French, and accompanying the choir will put me right in the thick of the talking,
because they will be talking to me as well,
which will make me have to talk in French,
which is good,
but a challenge,
because 1) first I have to manage to play the music,
some of which is difficult to say the least,
and 2) I have to listen, and talk, French.
I will be stretched on both counts. 
Not to worry,
I'll have a go,
after all, I don't have to spread my wings and fly for thousands of miles across Europe and Africa,
I can stay put on the farm.

We have made a purchase of a tenor banjo for Lester.
He already has a violin, an electric violin (thanks Dad),
a guitar (thanks John), and a mandolin.
He can play all these instruments quite well,
without the need to do much practice.
I, on the other hand, am still spending at least an hour a day learning how to play the piano accordion I bought earlier on in the year,
and can now play a tune or two.
I shall persevere,
although often feel like throwing the accordion out of the window,
but it is an enjoyable challenge,
and I would like to be able to play it in public,
just to see if I can.


The kitchen is coming along, but I have taken over painting the walls because Lester needs to get the gates for the pig paddocks finished before winter sets in.
He has made two,
eight more to go.
Why so many?
Because we have put in several passageways so that the pigs can be easily moved between the paddocks,
and also will make capture of the pigs easier,
and then there are the blood tests we have to now have done,
and how one sticks a needle into a pig the size of Max, well we don't have the foggiest clue as to how we can do this,
but capturing him in one of the passageways is an idea which we hope will work.
We still have the seven piglets,
and we are keeping them this time,
six for the freezer,
one female possibly to be kept for breeding.


Things I have learnt:
- that watching little birds getting ready to do a very long migration makes one encouraged to continue on with the day to day journey through one's life...
- that sitting amongst French people, no matter that one cannot understand much of what they are saying, must be viewed as a blessing. Better to be here than where we used to be, back our old UK lifestyle, which was slowing killing the spirit of Lester and myself.
- that watching one's partner learn new things is a blessing to one's soul.
- that one must not worry about the possibility of the river rising up over the fields again, as it has done several times these last two winters past, because if it does it does, if it doesn't it doesn't. Things can't be changed by filling one's mind up with worry, all it does is spoil the day.


Maz and Blue having a tussle over a stick.