Friday, 2 July 2010

65130 592

65130 592: 65 is our region of the Haute Pyrenees. 130 is the number of our commune (Castelnau Riviere Basse). 592 is us. Add all this up together and you get 65130592. And that is our Cheptel number, individual to us, got at Tarbes yesterday after filling in some forms with the help of a young lady who had a fetching cream bra on which we could see everytime she leaned over to explain certain aspects of the form. Bless him, but Hubs managed to stay concentrated on his French nevertheless. 

And what it means is that we now have to put ear tags into the ears of our sheep, and our goats when we get them (chevre du noir are favourite at the moment). We don't know about the pigs because the young lady all of a sudden got into a hurry, scribbled an address for us to go to where people would apparently explain to us certain things. Not sure what those 'certain things' were, as couldn't understand her all of a sudden speeded up French. What we didn't realise was that it was 5 o'clock and time to shut the offices, so we are none the wiser as to what to do about legalising Max.
So why do we have to have ear tags? Because that makes us legal, and that if we sell any of our animals then they can go to the purchaser with the appropriate paper work, the paper work which no one else seems to bother with, because the animals we have already bought have not come with any paper work. But ours will. And our sheep will have pretty ear tags in their ears as well. Which will come in the post. Together with the necessary implement to put the tags in the ears.  I guess a bit like putting ear rings in us really. Hope the sheep don't yelp, only I remember doing a bit of a moan when I had my ears pierced a few years ago.

On the subject of Gussy:

 Gussy has found a new role for himself, and that is Guardian of the Door Mat. This means he can monitor all activity in and around the Courtyard as well as in the house itself, meanwhile he can avail himself of the comfort of a bit of carpet and have a bit of a snooze when things are quiet. 

Bools is usually to be found either underneath the Bedroom Caravan when it is hot, or hanging around the kitchen if I am busy cooking. His new role, now that he no longer has to use his energies up making sure Gussy does not step out of line, is Chaser of the Lizards. For some reason, this year he has become keen to guard us from these little creatures, who scamper up and down, round and about. And I am sure they tease him. In the above photo one has just shot past his feet, and in the underneath photo Bools is on the Chase while Hubs encourages him. They would both been in trouble if they had knocked over my plant pots.
Anyway, back to Gus. He has got to be trimmed. He is OK about his top half being done, but not his under-carriage. If I go anywhere near that area, then his lips sort of lift up a bit, thus exposing his gleaming sharp white teeth. 

Now it is of paramount importance that this area is sorted out, him liking to get wet either by romping in the ditches, or swimming in the river and then finishing off with a sleep on the ground, normally where the builders have been working, the ground therefore carrying a mixture of gravel, sand and cement, which mix really well with the moisture still in Gus's coat, the mix then drying nice and hard in the warmth of the sun. Ipso Facto. A mess. 

Not to worry. A visit to the vets has provided a solution for the trimming out of the mess: 1 cloth muzzle. 4 tranquillizers. The tablets take two hours to work, so care must be taken to keep him in the house, only a dozy Gussy is likely to slide away for a sleep under the ex-Kitchen Caravan, or behind the very heavy leather settees in the house. To get him out from either sleeping position will not be easy. 

But as far as Guardian of the Door Mat, he is ace. As shown recently when the young girl-builder who works for Danny (our builder man), did a peremptory knock at the open door above Gus's head. His response was to bite her. Not hard. And she did have jeans on. And his aim did collide with her phone in her pocket, and not flesh. And if she had only 'hallooed' in a lady like fashion I am sure he would not have been inspired to do Guard Dog Duty, only her knock was most unlady-like and quite threatening, after all everyone else just walks over his head and most times he ignores the people traffic, although if it is near lunch time then maybe he might do a bit of voice work just to remind us that he on the job and not slacking, and therefore worthy of his dinner should there be any coming his way. 

He is a sweet soul though. Normally. But it is nice to know that he will do guard duty if necessary. And him and the builder-girl are friends, as indeed everyone is with him, because he really is the cutest dog and very brave. 

And a lovely surprise:

On cleaning out the one and only cupboard in my temporary kitchen, eveything else being kept in plastic boxes, I did a general sort out of pots. Having been in a super duper chutney making mode last year, I made loads of Tomato Chutney of which there were still a few pots left all of which were going to be donated to Max the Pig to recycle. 

And there, right at the back of the stack of pots, was the last pot of Plum Jam. Gone un-opened because it was thought to be  Elderberry Jam which was not liked at all by Hubs because he said it was too pippy. Fair enough. I didn't pick the elderberries early enough, so they had manufactured some stirlingly strong pip seeds inside themselves, such that the jam pot only really comprised sugar and pips. 

Anyway, opened the jar of jam, dipped my finger into it to see if it was still pippily awful, and no! No pips! Just pieces of gorgeous plum. Now forgive me if I am going on, but after finishing off the last of the homemade jam several weeks ago, this was a divine delight. So: a cup of tea, a slice of toast (note: homemade bread) with homemade Plum Jam. Wahooo!!!

Re: The Sheep Scrum:
And here is a small example of the scrum I mentioned. This time the sheep are in a line, with their heads all down rather than being in a proper rubgy-type scrum, but I  wanted to show you what I was talking about. This scrum seemed to be more about putting their head together rather than up each others rear end, although the ewe on the right is in that position. 

Also, on the subject of docking (cutting the tails off at birth). None of ours have been done, and I was worrying lest this be something we ought to address. Docking is supposed to keep the rear end of the sheep clean, do that when they poo it does not get stuck to their tales. But on observing our sheep, I have noticed that they use their tails as flyswats, flicking them to and fro to ward off the flies. Therefore, in my opinion, they do need their tails. And I don't mind that this means extra work for me when it comes to cleaning their fleece prior to spinning it after they have been sheared. A bit of poo is no problem. After all, it is only recycled grass. 

And a thought: Is this why they put their faces beneath each other rears: To have a free and effortless flyswatting service? 
Things to do before the day is done: Go and have a lie down to think about life. It is, after all, very hot here. Go and pat Max, to let him know he is going to have a friend soon. Explain to Gus that having his undercarriage sorted out will be good for his Jock Rash. And to say thanks for visiting.


Food, Fun and Life in the Charente said...

Vera I just love your posts, they are so interesting. I love hearing about the sheep, the goats to be, the pig/s and your dog. I have had animals all my life and now I have none. With living in two countries it is just not practical, and the 2 up 2 down over winter in the UK, is not even big enough for me, let alone an animal. Meanwhile I fall in love with your animals and follow closely what they are up to. I used to work for a vet for many years, I am sure all will work fine for Gus and the end result will be a happy dog. Just count all your fingers at the end:) Diane

Vera said...

Diane:) I am glad you enjoy the posts, and perhaps when you live in France all the time you will be able to have animals again. For me, life would be quite dull without our animals around, even though they do need a lot of looking after. And I will count my fingers before I start Operation Gussy, and at the end, as you suggest!

DUTA said...

"..legalising Max" - Wow , that sounds important. And you have some tomato chutney for him "to recycle", which is also important.

I like it that your dogs are not just dogs, they have roles to play : Bools - chaser of lizzards, Guss - guardian of the door mat - LOL.

The sheep are also not passive. They are warding off the flies with their tails.

Never a dull moment with your animals, Vera.

Vera said...

Duta:) Indeed, never a dull moment! Busy, too much to do, but never dull. I used to have 'dull' back in the UK, but I continually count my blessings that my life has been 'un-dulled'!

Anonymous said...

Hello Vera,
When you are putting the ear tags in your sheep YOU will have to be very brave to encourage the sheep ~ absolutely no moaning allowed.
I can imagine that your sheep will take out each others tags so that they cannot be sold! Why would they want to leave such a lovely place? After all, they are not silly.
Did you know that there is a word for the matted droppings and dirt on a sheep's bottom? In Australia and NZ it is "dag".


PS I have unearthed my old Dolmetsch and a book of Christmas carols to start my daily task, so I hope you are working on your French. Soon I will be asking questions about the difference between the "imparfait" and the "plus que parfait"!!

Vera said...

Ondine:) How perceptive of you to know that I am most likely to be the one flinching when those ear tags go on! And I didn't know that 'dag' is a word used for messy bums. I will think of that word when I am sorting out the fleeces for spinning!
And crikey!!! 'imparfait' and 'plus que parfait': what the hell are those? I am only at easy conversation French, and even that is creaky. But: since you are going to have a go with your Dolmetsch so you can get an early start for the Cristmas season, I will make a real effort at my French books. Blessings to you for inspiring me to do so.

kitchenguy said...

Feeding tomato chutney to a pig! Agghhh! Please post to Kitchenguy, Sheffield, England.

Vera said...

Kitchenguy: Would willingly post a pot over to you in Sheffield, but the chutney is nearly one year old, so perhaps a tad on the ancient side, don't you think! Thanks for stopping by, and sending you blessings from France.

kitchen guy said...

Hi Vera, I think chutney gets better with age (just like Yorkshiremen) My wife made some green tomato chutney which was terrible; 2 years later it tasted like a cross between Branston Pickle and HP sauce. Yummy!