I am still here, trying to be a smallholder, trying to be a writer, trying to manage the changeover from UK to France.
It has been a manic three months, but now the seasons are shifting towards winter, everything is slowing down, quietening. We need the rest.
So what I have been doing is concentrating on the writing of my books. I am self publishing, which is a task and a half, I can tell you! Not only does one have to find the words to write the book, one has also got to edit, format, and find some graphics to go on the front covers. It takes an age, but does keep me out of mischief!
Everyone is doing alright here. We have not had any mishaps with the eight young chickens we hatched a few weeks ago. This has been a surprise, only I thought that something from either the sky or land would have wanted to munch on them, but they haven't.
The two Tamworth piggy girls are doing well. They have discovered their new little cabin and tuck up sweetly inside it. They are good humoured, friendly, and very lovable. Max, the Tamworth boar, is still his same self. Miserable. Not good humoured. Wee's on his food when he has only eaten half of it. Tips over his water container just for the fun. And yet his eyes look jolly. Since the two girls moved in beside him he has a sort of smirk in his eyes. He is a happy piggy. But he is a male, so does not show his happiness, only in his eyes does it show.
The sheep are OK. No more mishaps. The lamb died, by the way. Quickly. Otherwise, the rest of the flock are calm, content, and growing into woolly balls as their fleeces start to thicken up for the winter.
The chickens are themselves. The hens have evolved a new way of trying to get food, which is by doing a slow and drawling, moan whenever they get the chance to get near to us. Orpy, the cockerel, seems to have gone on strike with his crowing but seems to feel the need to stick close by us when we venture forth from the house. The other day I sat under the oak tree out back, with Bools and Gus as per normal, sat beside me. Also in attendance was most of the flock of chickens, plus the three geese. Rarely do I sit outside without any of the animals being nearby. It is nice.
People have often said to us that they couldn't be bothered with taking on the responsibility of looking after animals. The life and death cycle of life. Of every day feeds. Of every day watchfulness. Sometimes we feel the same as we continue to learn how to manage a petite ferme. Sometimes we feel the effort is too much. Combined with the veggie growing, it is shear hard work.
But the effort we put in is rewarded in equal measure by the pleasure we receive back. Of having two piggy girls romp with glee towards you. Of a piggy male smiling with his eyes at you even though he is pretending to be horrid. Of sheep who stand and watch you as you stand and watch them. Of the lovely sweet smell of them. Of the pleasure of giving ear rubs to those who want them. Of cleaning up the paddock of their poo, thinking about the exercise it is giving to the underarm flab. Of little chicks who romp and frolic around the place, all in a gang. Of the hens who park up outside the door. Who sometimes love sometimes hate each other. Of the geese, whose gracefulness is beautiful, even though they can look as awkward as anything sometimes.
Meanwhile, as I have said, I have been concentrating on my self publishing work. Three books now. None selling. But they might. Travel in hope, that is my motto!