Monday, 24 January 2011

Jigging about

Been busy here as per usual. Builders not here this week, so can catch up. Floor in the Tall Barn was laid, no chickens got stuck in it concrete because they were banned. By Jean Pierre they were banned, especially after one of the hens stoically refused to move again when he was laying the plastic lining. Lester had to pick her up, and shut her in the wood shed. Then he forgot about her for the rest of the day. But she forgave him, and delivered an egg for us on the windowsill while she was waiting for release.

The baby chicks are now growing fast. Too fast. Because two of the male cockerel babies have now started to practice crowing which makes the White Cockerel crow all the more. We don't mind that. But it does make the rest of the girls restless, and the general bon hommie of the girls suffers. Not to worry, though, because we are getting five eggs per day at the moment, but it has got cold again so they may go on egg-laying strike until it gets warmer.

Tess has just had another 'time of the month', so still not preggers. But we are hoping to acquire two Tamworth piglets in a few weeks time, so at least we are moving forward on the piggy front, even if our two Tams do not seem to be able to make babies.

The fencing for the new pig pen is done, and Tess and Max are joyfully romping around on firm ground. But they have already dug up one corner so this will not last long. Once some rain falls, then they will sloshing round in mud again. Tess hates mud. Stays inside. Sleeps the day through. Can't blame her. I would do the same if I were her.

Sheep are doing well. Lambs are growing fast. They are a joy, our sheep. Feel peace oozing into me when I watch them. That is unless they see me. Then they have taken to yelling at me for I know not what. So I peep at them through the gate. And I can see the culprit who is trying to pull the tarpaulin off the hay bales. And the way the lambs hooliganize the others. Who said sheep were 'thick' and 'dumb'! Ours aren't!

The bee keeping project has raised it head again. Trying to find a swarm of bees here is hard work, mostly because of my lack of French. Might order some by post. Not sure how one gets those bees out of the parcel and into the hives, but YouTube will provide the answer no doubt. Someone would have posted up a vid, I am sure!

Quite some time ago, Lester woke up one morning and said, out of the blue, that if he had a band he would call it The Bollards. Meanwhile, he disposed of his damaged violin (done unto death during the hurricane of January 2009) in one of his cleaning-up bonfires, so no instrument did he have. No more, he decided, was he going to play music. It was done. Forever.

And then we went to a music evening at Isotges, a village nearby. His appetite for music became wetted again. Yesterday a violin was bought. Last night we jigged and played together, him on the violin and me on the electric keyboard which is a substitute for a piano at the moment. I have much to learn. He plays a real cool fiddle. I play classical. I have to learn to jig. Maybe 'The Bollards' have been born, maybe not!

Meanwhile, I continue to play the piano in accompaniment to a French lady who plays the flute. She does the classics. I hope to losen her up a bit, sort of 'unstarch her'. Got her to play some celtic fiddle music the other day, and she did some foot tapping while she did so. 'Looking good for loseness' is what I thought.

Meanwhile I have joined a French choir, my first evening giving me the feeling of drowing in a sea of foreigness as everyone chitter-chattered around me, including receiving instruction from the lovely young lady who is the conductor. I do have English friends there. Which did not stop me from having that drowning feeling. I am in France, am I not? Therefore there will be a huge amount of people speaking French, will there not? Oh so why am I surprised when I am surrounded by lots of people speaking French. Ah well, so anyway: I will continue with the choir. I will not stop going. And the lady beside me threw me a life jacket by speaking slowly to me so I could understand the odd word here or there, and she kept smiling at me. A smile, I find, is an encouraging thing to have sent your way when you are in a situation  which is difficult.

Off to into Plaisance today to get the glass on the door of our wood burning stove replaced, it having decided to make a crack, which quickly migrated into a hole, when then further grew into a broken piece of glass. All this on Saturday. Well, actually, the crack had started last week, and we kept looking at it thinking that we ought to sort it out, but other things got in the way. Then the hole appeared, but we put the shovel of the fire cleaning equipment against the hole which blocked the bits of red hot embers from shooting out like fireworks through the hole. And continued to let other things get in the way of having the glass replaced. 

But then the glass became unsafe on Saturday. It having got very cold here the last couple of days, being without a fire yesterday was not nice. But we jigged about with our instruments which lent a happy air to the end of Sunday.

So sending a smile your way.......


Wylye Girl said...

Vera, what a lovely catch up post. I had a white cockerel in France, a Charentaise. He crowed every 40 seconds of every day just about. My daily workout was chasing him round the garden shouting at him to shut up. In the end my neighbour took him for her hens. Hers were kept behind her barn and she couldn't hear him from the house fortunately. He's a very happy cockerel now with his 30 odd hens. I'm joining a choir tonight, a Rock Choir (you can google them). Can't wait. I've only ever sung classical so this is a huge chance for me. Keep singing, keep writing. Did I send you a message about your award over at mine? If not, it's there.

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

Nigel said about bees but as I am allergic I did not think it was a very good idea! There was a 'thing' on the TV yesterday about bees in the post but I am non the wiser how they got them out on arrival!!
Yikes I hope we do not get a cracked glass in our wood burner!! The guy who installed it has run away, and the company which is English is also impossible to contact. The inner board at the back cracked which is why we discovered all of this!!! It has only been in for two years so......... Diane

Roz said...

It's a shame Tess isnt preggers - they really need to sort their act out don't they?!!! I love it when the cockerells start attempting to crow - they sound strangulated don't they!! I hope you are in much finer voice with the choir Vera lol!!!! Keep warm down there xxxx

Vera said...

Wow! A rock choir, Wylyie Girl! How marvelous! Just Googled it to have a look-see, and was most impressed. Our choir sings a bit of everything and we are doing a bit of Mozart and Soul at the moment. What a mix! Anyway, good for you, and nice to connect with you again.

Diane: Our wood burner glass has been easy to fix - just took it down to a local shop and they cut a new one. There being so many wood burning fires about, I wouldn't think you would have trouble getting yours fixed should it break. But your fire is probably a better quality than ours. We bought a cheepo, so expect less durability from it. Cost 50 euros for the replacement.

Roz: They do sound strangulated, and my voice sounded almost as croaky when I started singing again! But I went on Youtube and found some singing exercises which seemed to work, and my voice seems to have woken up.
We are not warm at all down here, because we can't use our wood burning stove, which is bad luck since we are in the coldest spat of weather since the winter began! Not to worry, should have a fire later on today, so can warm up. Hope you are keeping warm and toasty, Roz.

DUTA said...

I'm delighted to read about your musical life: your husband playing the violin, you playing the piano and singing in the choir.

This music is more pleasant than the 'music' performed by the pigs, the dogs, the sheep, the hens, and all the other 'musicians' on the farm.

Anonymous said...

Hello Vera,
What fun you and Lester are having with your music, sounds as though The Bollards might soon have some bookings, so do you fancy a musical career Vera?
Hope your woodburner is back in action now, and you are both safe and warm.

DUTA said...

I'm delighted to learn about your musical life: your husband playing the violin, you playing the piano and singing in the choir.

I believe your music is more pleasant to the years than the music performed by the pigs, the sheep, the hens, the dogs on your farm.

Vera said...

Hello Duta: Well, the voices of most of the animals are gentle. That is until they see us, then they become more strident and demanding. The less agreable voices, though, are the young cockerels, mostly because they have a challenging tone. Anyway, choir went alright last night, and my voice held out reasonably well.

Ondine: If The Bollards ever get booked anywhere, it will be the biggest surprise of my life! Still at the stage of learning how to pulse out a beat on the keyboard. Been classically trained, so not something I know how to do. Hubs goes off at a whizz though - he has played in a band before and plays a hot fiddle!

The Cottage Garden Farmer said...

Making music with other people is great fun whatever standard or style, there's just something about live music, I've tried various instuments over the years but always come back to my piano, - wish I could do some "looser" too though.

Vera said...

Garden Farmer: 'Looser' is so hard when you have played by sheet music, isn't it! I'm having a go at Irish jigs and reels, but still with sheet music. Just getting used to keeping the rhythm going with left hand while the right does a different rhythm. Nearly does my head in after five minutes! Lots of practice, therefore, needed before The Bollards will ever see the light of day.

Anonymous said...

Hello there Vera,
I really love those bands that all French villages produce for 'Le Bal', with their super enthusiastic two - step; and the wonderful mix of partners, grannies and playboys, grandpas and goths, Monsieur le Maire and the girl from la Croix Rouge. Who would want to be a gooseberry when the music calls? Have fun with your music Vera, and hear those feet tapping!!
Ondine XX

John Gray said...

vera do you cull your excess cockerels?
I hate doing it,, but have learnt to sort them ( I try manically to re home them!)

Vera said...

Ondine: I have never been to 'Le Bal', but it sounds fun and something not to be missed when one comes round again. But I have always had the urge to jig about on the dance floor. Can remember with fondness my nights of going out to the clubs. Give me an reasonably empty dancefloor and the driving beat of the music and I am 'gone'! Must be something to do with my gypsy ancestry!

John: Yes, we do cull the cockerels. We managed to give one away, but the others end up in the freezer. The first one was the worst. We ate him within hours of culling him, and both me and Lester found it hard to see him in bits on the plate. So now I put them in the freezer, leave them for a while, then when they come out it feels less personal. Probably the worst thing though, is Lester's insistence that all the other bits, like head, feet, etc, goes into the pot straight away and cooked up for our spaniels. I leave him to do that. I do the cooking of the frozen bird. Coq au vin is the recipe I use. Turns out a treat. Sometimes, when one is running a smallholding, one has to grit one's teeth about certain elements associated with providing one's own food. We also are eating our own lambs as well, and that was another huge learning curve!

Land of shimp said...

Oh Vera!! Good for you, you said you would get out there and put yourself forward and you are. I'm so glad for you. It will get easier as immersion is the best way to become proficient in a language. I like the sound of your slow speaking, smiling (soon to be) friend, by the way. I love people like that. Ones who take a moment or two to encourage someone else.

Oh my, can you imagine the post person's reaction to a buzzing package? You're going to need brush up on the French for, "The package is not going to explode, good sir. I promise you some honey if you stop crying."

Vera said...

Lof S: Nice to have you visit, and you did make me laugh with your comment about the bee package arriving in the post. Our post lady won't get out of her van because Gussy (our Cocker spaniel) was a bit too enthusiastic a while ago and gave her a fright. She sounds her hooter and we have to go to her to collect the mail. So bees! Goodness only knows what panic she will get into with them!