Sunday, 1 March 2009

Sharing a sunny dawn, poles, and other miscellenia

An early morning shot of our front field. I was having a wander around, having a look at this and that, and the morning was so lovely that I wanted to share it with you.

The dark green field belongs to us, the houses you can see are our nearest neighbours down the lane.

Same morning, and swinging right towards the house. This is the path between the field and the house.

And swinging right again towards the back field. In the background is the bridge over the Adour, and the road to Prechac and Plaisance.

Lester has been tree planting this week,(and here is one of them) having 'rescued' 6 fruit trees from a friends garden, bought several more from a man who was retiring from running his plant-selling business, and yet more from a nursery at Aire sur l'Adour. The donkey manure has come in very useful for this enterprise, and Lester is building muscles in abundance as he is also digging in loads of poles which resemble a mini-Colditz, but he assures me that it will look less like a prison when the wire is up (?), but I think it will look even better when the plants are growing on it and covering it up.

Five kiwi's are to be put there - we fell in love with kiwi fruit after having been given a bag full by Claudine of the Chambre d'hote (which you can see in the background. She had a load of them in the bottom of her fridge, which she had harvested in November last year. And they were gorgeous - nothing like the ones I've had from the UK supermarkets. Upon instruction from Claudine, we had to buy three females to one male kiwi plant, and much merriment was had by all as she tried to put across this message in her perfect-French and nil-English, to me and Lester who have partially-nil-French. In case we got it wrong we bought a mutli-sexed plant as well. So five in total are going in on the Colditz fence.

In the before-time of the Labartere experience, I had a garden which backed onto woods. For long summer days, through a time of water shortage, I had to water that garden by hand. Up and down those steps I went with my bucket, managing to survive the plants by my efforts.

Come the winter, on a garden reconnaisance trip, I noticed the plants eaten down, some almost to the ground. With horror I saw my efforts of the summer go down the drain, or rather down the throats of the muntjak deer who were jumping the low fence to partake of the nourishment that I had so kindly grown for them during the previous months. With hilarity did Lester enjoy my efforts at deer defence: recyled Christmas decorations, silver foil, knitting wool, old CDs. None worked, and since the new owners of the house thought it really cool that the garden was visited by deer, I gave up. There weren't that many plants left by the time we vacated the house.

Voila! Les Poles. And so I get my own back! Because we have deer here as well. HUGE deer, not little ones, who have eaten our cabbages already, which were the only crop we managed to get in last autumn.
But they didn't eat all of the plant, they just took a munch out of the top of it which is such a waste...after all, if one is hungry then one should take the lot, but they don't...just a mouthful of each one, that's all they take.

And Lester fumed with outrage at this theft, even threatening to join the chaisse (local hunting group) to kill them off. Only he won't do that, because I think he secretly enjoys having them around: on the first morning we arrived, after a humungous few days of effort, he saw a big male deer in the cornfield, and yesterday one bounded across our field into our woods. So I don't think he will shoot them, but he is becoming very guarded about our veggie plot: hence the Colditz fence. We also have wild boar around, although we haven't seen them on Labartere, but I did pass two road-killed boars the other day out on the D935, so they are definitely around. Normally the local people will retrieve the dead animal and cook it, but I suppose they couldn't do that with these two - they were splattered all over the road, so I presume the crows, magpies and eagles will have a feast. One had already tried and also ended up splattered.

So in this protected veggie plot we have onions already: loads of onions! Plus some soft fruit bushes which I keep meaning to put a net over to keep the birds off. Apparently they, too, like to partake of things we are growing, including the little buds on our fruit bushes. It would seem that being self-sufficient also means increasing the food table for the wild life. Ah well, c'est la vie!

Couldn't let you leave without showing you how we are getting on with the house. It has been a lovely week here, with the temperatures getting up to 25 degrees C here during the afternoons. So the builders are Somewhere Else. Being French, bless them, probably off somewhere enjoying the sun. But not to matter. With the roof project taking so long, it does give us a chance to consolidate our finances. If it had been done by now, which it was supposed to have been when we accepted the divi (quote) then we would be very near the margin financially. As it is, at least we have time for Lester to change course with work, and for me to get Labartere Publishing and the Holistic Therapy Shop going on my web site. So there is always a silver lining to be had when things don't progress at quite the pace one would like them to when they first start.

But at least the eaves are all up now, and my washing is getting dried - we did a swop recently: Lester's old computer for a French top loading washing machine. So the portable camp gadget which my Bruv kindly donated, and which has been used loads of times to get our washing done is now in partial retirement. It has done a grand job, but the plod of lugging buckets of water from the cold water tap to fill it up, and then warm water out onto the fields was getting a bit much in the really cold weather. Also standing outside to the washing was making bits of me go into complaining mode which even I could not eventually ignore! So, this load of drying washing is a bonus for me.

The mound of green tarp you see in the front is covering our leather settee, freezer and other stuff. When the builders started work everything had to come out of the half barn which was OK when the tarps were up on the tall barn. But along came that tempest in late January (re blog:A Big Wind) and off the tarps did come, so we have no dry space left in the house or barns. Does that matter? At first it did, and I doubt that any of our furniture will survive. But it doesn't matter. We can always replace what doesn't survive. But what we do have, which are more important, are the memories which we are laying down here, which are priceless.

And here is a sign of Spring, with frostiness icing this little plant which has decided it simply has to herald the arrival of warmer weather by putting on a growth spurt.

I think it is significant for us nearly having survived our first winter, camping out in our caravans, here at Labartere.

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