Sunday, 8 February 2009

Oh, just about things in general!

We can't have pigs yet because we don't know how much of our woodland will be flooded as the Spring melt water comes down off the snow in the Pyrenees. We can't do ducks yet for the same reason. We can't do chickens for the same reason, although we were going to put a little family in beside the bedroom caravan only that area has now become a dump ground for grotty and torn tarpaulins and the roofers stuff is in the way as well. The only other place is out on the front field, but that is planted with crops at the moment. Oil Seed Rape actually. Just found that out. Farmer Foch popped in to ask us if he could plant grass on the back field which has been left unplanted after the harvest last year. In other words, we took back control of it after he finished harvesting.

So nothing has been done and it is full of weeds apart from a small plot which Lester has dug for veg. At the moment it is full of onions. It did have cabbages, some of which we ate, most of which the deer took a mouthful out of and leaving the insect population to finish off the rest. In percentage terms we had about 25% of the crop: well, it was our first planting experience.

Anyway, Farmer Foch mentioned that he could grass it over, but we are not sure about whether it was a neighbourly gesture to help us, or he was looking to take back the field for making hay and / or silage. Lester is up in arms about that. He defends the right to his land with vigour. Another farmer has been making pushy comments about buying a strip off the side field so he can sell a chicken shed-cum-gite which is at the end of it. Possibly to one of our English friends. Lester looked like he was going to chin him the last time he came calling. Lester is smaller than he is, but will fiercely defend every inch of Labartere. After all, he says, he slaved away for years in the UK to buy the farm and no-one is going to have an inch of it. I am sometimes surprised at how he is so fiercely protective of his home. I could see him in days of long ago, standing in the gateway with a blunderbuss on his shoulder to ward off all wrong-doers! Which is a fanciful notion, but then you haven't seen him patrolling the perimeter of his fields, bless him.

As for les animaux: they will have to wait. I am still trying to become a purveyor of goods and a published writer and with a roof to pay for, Lester has to carry the financial burden for the time being. Farmer Foch is being paid for the grass seed so it is our crop rather than his, and in two years time the fields should be ready for the cows and sheep. Meanwhile, I will keep battling with the brambles in Duck Pond Wood so hopefully we might at least get chickens this year, but the ducks and pigs will also have to wait. That leaves the bees: we might manage to get them.

And one of the ironies of living here is that we have the land, but we neither have the time or finances to invest in self-sufficiency properly. Lester has a large number of various seeds sourced globally, most of which probably won't be planted this year because we haven't had time to do a proper dig, and we can't afford a tractor to get it ploughed to make that job easier. But we do have the rotovator - Hooray! It has been to the rotovator-doctor and been duly checked out, but is still in the car because the weather has been too wet to use it, and Lester has had to work on the computer so he wouldn't have the time anyway. We need duplicate copies of ourselves; one set to work, the other set to get out onto the land.

So: Plan A. Do A Bit Each Day.Focus on little steps forward, then hopefully the bigger picture will fall into place. Thirteen acres is an awfully big chunk of land, and even the little bit we can get on to seems daunting, the tendency being to panic and not do anything at all. So: Late New Years Resolution: Put Plan A into force.

This week's tasks: Look at finding some bees who would like to come and live with us, listen patiently to Lester when he does his daily enthusing about his plans for the farm, look for a source of bee-houses, be patient with Fleur when she tries to elope Boolie away, find time to read up on what to do with a load of newly-arrived bees, try to learn at least one more word in French, try not to burn myself on the gas cooker, try to be patient when I explain to Lester for the umpteenth ime that the reason why he is running out of clothes to wear is because the washing machine needs the hosepipe connected to it after the roofers used it last week, look in the mirror and say to myself: I CAN DO THIS. Oh, and I must keep slogging away with learning how to self-publish, and how to set up an internet shop.... and mmmmmm, what was Plan B? Maybe that one is less intimidating!