Thursday, 19 May 2011

Onions, onions, and more onions! Oh and more hens.

They were alright, tied up as they were by the lady's stockings. Two together, making foor feet bound round. Two bundles. Four chickens. Hens. 

They didn't look too shocked when untied, considering that they must have been bound up for several hours, plus they had fallen out of the bottom of the box twice while Hubs was trying to get them to the car. In the middle of a zebra crossing this happened, the evidence being seen by the pile of feathers which were left as witness to this event.

So why would did we have those tied-up chickens? Because Hubs had decided that it was necessary to build up our flock again, after having lost three hens somewhere, possibly down the throat of a fox, and the other three (the hens sitting in a cluster underneath the rabbit hutches sitting on one egg between them) were now off-broodiness but not laying again yet. For all of our flock, we are managing to get two eggs a day, and that only if they can be found before the magpies nesting in the nearby tree don't get to the eggs first. A continual patrol is therefore needed, done by moi. The chickens watch me. They watch the magpies and crows. They skulk, finding corners to lay eggs where none of the egg robbers, me included, can find them. I watch the hens. I watch the magpies and crows. The magpies and crows watch me. And they watch the hens. But at least they have given up with trying to eat the two remaining chicks, preferring the less difficult task of eating the eggs.

Anyway, the four hens, with stocking- tied feet, where sitting on the floor of the market. A huge place it is, and very French. We only wanted one hen really, but the lady was elderly and desperate. Just a country farmer, trying to get by. We  felt sorry for her. She needed the money. So we said we would have two. Then somehow we found ourselves with all four. Didn't know that they were bound up with her stockings. Didn't know how we were going to transport them back home. But got a box from a nearby commercial chicken seller, and into the box they went. Only to come back out again, but from the bottom of the box rather than the top, mid way across the main road. Apparently, so Hubs said, the women nearby gasped with surprise. 'Oopps' they said but in French, with hands flying to their mouths in shock.

But Hubs managed to scoop the chickens back into the box, only to have the same thing happen a few yards on, the situation not being helped much by Hubs' insistence on also carrying back to the car two five kilogram bags of apples, one in each hand. I, meanwhile, was oblivious to his dilemma, and remained waiting for him in the market.

So there I was, standing in the middle of a huge under-cover French market, and I thought of our first visit to this market over a couple of years ago, and of how 'green' we were at that time. Could hardly speak French, tried to avoid doing so if possible and were very hesitant at striking up a conversation. Bold now we have become. With sureness we ask our questions and make conversations. Our French may still not be all that good, but we have more confidence to have a go. We have come a long way.

It was decided last winter that we would not grow many veggies for ourselves this year, and that we would focus on getting crops in to feed the pigs, which are our biggest financial outlay in regards to the animal feed bill. With that task as a focus, Hubs managed to rotovate some land, into which went fodder beet. And then along came the family for a visit, the plough was fixed onto the tractor, and off Hubs went, plouging up another small parcel of land into which has gone zillions of squash and bean seeds, some for us, some for the pigs.

Anyway, to cut a long story short, Sunday saw us planting out onions and leeks bought from the market. Four packets. Supposed to be one hundred in each, but were nearly double in quantity. So: over three hundred young onion plants and over one hundred young leek plants have all been planted.

And suddenly our veg plot looks up to small holder standards. And so I had better do a quick sign-off because I can hear thunder nearby and we have to switch off the PC's here so they don't get fried by the lightening should it strike. I think it is something to do with the fact that none of the electricity cables are underground, but are gaily looped across poles so are open to any visits from lightening strikes.

But the hens are doing well. They couldn't walk for the first day, but are now stepping delicately about the place having integrated well. And I am glad that we rescued them, because they will have a good life here, being totally free range. However, we have bought an egg incubator, having decided that trying to source hens from elsewhere is just too much like hard work. And expensive!

So, with loads of onions planted, loads of leeks planted, and sundry other crops all planted, we are feeling quite virtuous. Now all we have to do is weed, thin, water, etc! Singing gaily as I sign off......'I luv weeding, I lurv thinning, I lurve watering, I do, I do, I do!!!!'...Oops, and another thunder clap! BYYYyyyyyyeeeeeeEEE!


Nancy said...

Chickens tied an bound for your farm. I know they will love it by you. Never been to a market such as that but sounds fun. Be safe from the storm now. I will be dehydrating most my onions this year. Have fun!

Vera said...

Good morning Nancy: Dehydrating onions! Now that sounds like a project worth looking in to, so will have a browse on the Internet to see how it is done!

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

I had to laugh at the vision of the chickens falling out of boxes and apples in each hand as well, but I am sure at the time it was not so funny. I have onions and leeks planted but our garden is quite small so we do not have the quantities that you have. Take care Diane

DUTA said...

The only sentence I remember from an article by a doctor was "Go heavily on onions and garlic". I like them both in my food. I put onions in every salad I make; as for garlic I used to take a supplement but stopped because it was a blood thinner and I was rather afraid of that.

Jean said...

My word, what a busy life you lead. I feel sorry for the chickens, being bound up by the ankles - is this the usual way to treat chickens? - it sounds pretty unpleasant to me. But probably not half as bad as they are treated in factory egg farms.

I hope you survived the storm ok.

Vera said...

Diane: ...but at least you have something planted, so well done you. And I bet your hands and fingernails are nowhere near the state mine are in with having had to plant so many!

Duta: We sure will have to go 'heavy' on those onions to get them all eaten up! But we have forgotten to plant garlic this year, which is an oversight we will not repeat next year!