Monday, 6 July 2009

On a busy Monday

At a late night pow-wow last night, it was decided that we ought to go and investigate a Farmer's Market we had heard about a few weeks, at Rabastan.
'Get there early because they sell out' was the information given to us, so up at 7-ish this morning, Hubs as well, off on the road at 7.30 ish, thirty minutes later and we arrive at Rabastan.

Yes, there was a market today. We could see that. Because the traders had only just arrived and were setting up. It felt slow, laid back, 'everything in good time', 'maybe sometime today we'll get everything unloaded so you can buy something', which is French-style attitude. No animals.

'Back of the church' we are told.

So we go to the back of the church. Nope. No-one there.

Un homme is asked: 'ou est the marchè pour les animaux?
'Huit heurre et demi'. (Half past eight)
We are too early.

Coffee then. Back to other market place. Purchase meat and cheese, then coffee stop sitting on bistro type chairs on the pavement. It was a nice moment. I still have reflective moments about the fact that we are actually living in France, especially when I stop and observe the French living out their lives.

8.40: Back to autre marchè. Still no-one. Sit on bench and watch the world go by for a while. I went on a recce round the back of the market and found a patisserie. Two pain au beurre, and a baguette bought.

9.00: Back at market, see one large white van which is unloading grates of chirpy, squeaky things. Chickens, it looks like.

That looks interesting! Approach with interest. Loads of crates of chickens. Some white. Some brown. Some bare-necked. Ducks. Some yellow. Some brown. All babies.

We feel keen.

"I think we'll have half a dozen" Hubs says.

Watch as one of the crates is opened, and the seller scoops up a bunch as if they are flowers, dangling them by their legs: a bunch of little chickens, mabe a dozen or so, all held in one hand. They are tumbled into the back of another van. Into another box.

We feel ever so slightly less keen.

We ask if these are laying chickens. No they are not. They are meat chickens. Laying chickens next February, March. We watch as another bunch of chickens are scooped up out of another crate. Another handful of upside down chicks, all squealing their dislike about having their world suddenly turned upside down.

We walk off, our keen-ness down in our boots. So we remain chickenless, but even more strong in thought that we want to know where our chickens are coming from, and after seeing Sara's egg incubator, Hubs is even more fired up about hatching our own. Then from start to end we will know that never have they been waved about in the air upside down, and so have never been unduly stressed. We will give them as much dedication as they will give us during their lives.

The pain au beurre's were nice though.

9.30: Back home. Builders here. Door to house shut. Try to open it, but can't. Noise coming from inside house. Want to know what it is. Try door again. Young builder opens it by a few inches as if he doesn't want us to come in. It was a funny moment, being barred from one's own roofless house!

But they are digging out the floors today. It is a warm day. Shirts off then.

Johnathen here as well, together with his young son of 12 who was fishing by the bridge. Son comes back. Has lost his hook. Dad stops work and assists. Son and me decide a project is a good idea, which is to open up the path down to the river after it has become overgrown again so he can fish off our beach.

That we do. I end up stung by the nettles and scratched by the brambles. He ends up with nothing: no scratches and no stings. But the path is cut. Boolie immediately went into the river to cool down, and I look forward to long summer afternoons by the river. Payment for J's son is a life-long promise that he can fish off our river bank whenever he needs to.

"Heelllloooo" I hear being yelled through the air. It's Dee and her son, Liam, come for a visit.
"You look well: all glowing" she says.
"Its sweat" I say. It's been hot work breaking a way through to the river.

It's lunch time. Nothing is prepped. Hubs is working. An hour later he must have realised that it was not looking good for getting fed anytime soon, because we are still chatting. "How about going out to lunch" he says.

We had our best lunch out ever. Not particularly any cheaper than in the UK, but all home cooked and delish. Liam did not go much on the shark steak he was given in place of the steak we had (he is a vegetarian which is not really something that the French do, being all meat eaters), but otherwise all was eaten. Three courses, including two carafes of wine and coffee to end, worked out about £12 per head. And all was fresh cooked.

Lester back to work. Dee and Liam off home. Me into the black dustbins out back to get one large container of nettle soup mix to dilute and use as fertiliser for my plants out front. Into black water bins out front. Ooops. One gecko floating upside down and very dead in one of them. Have already rescued one which was swimming in a water container by the water tap, and also a young frog splashing about in a container by the cold frame. I was too late to save this one. So have tipped it out onto the ground to be recycled by whatever wants to come and along and eat it. Such is the way of life: everything eats everything else. Nothing is wasted.

5 to 1 nettle mix into squirty bottle to see if the aphids can be discouraged from eating the leaves of the broccoli, kohl rabi, and brussel sprouts.
10 to 1 nettle mix as fertiliser for plants.

Hands smell very earthy. The nettle-mix is very strongly aromatic. Ah. Johnathen calls. He has blood oozing down his face. Grab clean tea towel and go mop him up. Nothing much. Just a half inch gash in his head from a piece of steel. His son asks if I can see J's brains. "No" I say. "Didn't think he had any anyway" was his son's remark.

Off back down to the beach he goes to do some more fishing.

Things I have learnt today: That each day has a flexibility to it if one can go with the flow and enjoy.
That nettle stings can last for hours and hours but don't really hurt than much, only sort of throb. That it is nice to share time with a youngster by doing a task together. That there are two ways of thinking about animals: either as commodities designed to be made use of by us human beings, or beings in their own right who need respect for the part they play in our lives.

And to finish off: I visited Rabastan a couple of weeks ago, to a Vide Jardin. Here is the market place as it was on that day.

And the horse needing to go to the loo!

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