Wednesday, 21 November 2018

Catching up......

It has been a lovely autumn here in SW France, with the turning of the year being done at a dignified pace that has been a pleasure to see. My mood, which can be on the grouchy side as the cold starts invading my bones, has been lightened and my energy has remained on the upside instead of the slothful slowness of winter hibernation that comes upon me as daylight hours are reduced. Not to worry though, the shortest day is not so far off now, autumn is still just about hanging on, and there are enough leaves still on the trees to make a goodly glow when the sunlight shines through them.

We have lost a sheep. We did have eight, but now there are seven. The ewe has been searched for, but remains unfound. It could be that she fell off the bank into the river. The river is quite shallow. Lester thinks that she might have swum her way across to the large island in the middle of the river. I think not. I think she tucked herself into the bramble bushes and went into the long sleep. Or perhaps she was abducted by someone and taken away from here. Lester favours the first and third possibilities. I favour the second, either way our flock numbers have been again reduced. Six are now residing in the freezer, it being the time of year when we do the unwelcome job of culling the flock. It is part of farm life. It has to be done.

Lissie and Bonny, our two housecows, are getting very plump. We thought that Bonny had finally come into season a couple of weeks ago,  so called the artificial insemination man out. A quick insertion of his complete arm into her rear end, and the verdict was that she was not in season. Oh dear, neither cow has been in season for months, so it looks like its going to be long time before our new milking machine will be used. But that it is not so, because the AI man then inserted an appliance into Bonny which showed her positive for being in calf. And then he did the same to Lissie, and she proved to be positive as well.

I have been invited to be the conductor of a small Christmas choir, to go round to three Maison de Retraites (Carehomes) in our local area to give afternoon concerts to the elderly residents. I waved my arms about in a business like manner, ordered everyone about as one does when one is in charge, and got everyone to sing their socks off. I even did a 'Wahoo' in the middle of one of the songs because I was so enthused with the large sound they were making. I shall not, of course, do that in the middle of any of the concerts, but then we are singing to old folk, who will most likely be tending towards afternoon napping while we are singing to them, so perhaps I shall put the 'Wahoo' in to keep them awake, bless them.

Laughing Yoga. Have you heard of it? I hadn't until last week when a friend mentioned that she had been to a Laughing Yoga class. She was not impressed. Said she wouldn't go again because she thought it was silly. Me being me, I had to have an investigation so I went on to YouTube and had a look at some vids, and have been lighter in spirit ever since. Have a look yourself. I don't think I shall go to Laughing Yoga classes because I have other commitments on the night the class is held, but I do follow some of the teachings, and have found myself smiling more, especially indoors, and I also tend to jog and dance around the house when I am moving to and fro through the rooms, especially during energy gap times.

A new acquisition to the farm is a Flymo lawnmower. It is for me. We already have a big tractor, a smaller tractor, a hefty petrol driven lawnmower, and an equally hefty petrol driven strimmer, none of which I can use because they are man tools and not of suitable use for us of the opposite sex. And it is sad to watch the farm start to lose its way because Lester is working long hours and so cannot tend to its needs. So I bought myself a Flymo. It is electric and is supposed to hover while it cuts the grass, which might apply to proper lawns, but not to my overgrown field grass which has mole hills hidden in it.

I have just come in from half an hour mowing. I am using muscles which have been asleep for a while, and my legs are shaky, but not to worry, this first cut should be the worst, and after the purchase of a new cutting blade, because the one the Flymo came with is already battered and blunt, plus the honing of my muscles (!) as I mow, time I should find the job easier. The spare part for my damaged scythe should also be arriving soon, and that should take care of the longer grass, and give some exercise to my back. I have missed early morning scything. The swish of the blade across the dewy grass keeps me warm, while the cold morning air wakes me up very efficiently.

I am sewing a lot at the moment, although I have to keep machining time to the evenings because I am sharing the same space as Lester is while he is working on his computer. Since his work is more important because it is providing us with extra finances at the moment, I have decided to move the machine onto the kitchen table during the day. It is light for me to lift, but it does mean that I shall have to keep the kitchen table uncluttered, and we shall have to be careful not to trip over the extension lead, but not to worry, at least I can start working on my fabric stash. The use of the huge garden table I used for seedlings last year is now inside the Half Barn, has been given a thorough wash so that it can enjoy its temporary change of use to that of cutting table. It is a joy to be able to sew again. Since we came here ten years ago, my sewing activities have been confined to small spaces which is not ideal. For the moment I have the hugest of spaces, so onwards then with working my way through my sewing stash!

I have kept you long enough, so wishing you love and light,
......bye for now


Thursday, 11 October 2018

...and then the hay arrived.......

Down they came, with one bale spinning its way towards me ...

........ fortunately it bounced against the letterbox, spun round, and came to rest in the flower bed which is now no more. 

Both me and Maz watched it gallop towards us. Neither thought to move. We could have become quite squashed if the letter box had not saved us. 
Lester was more alert though, ...... he quickly reversed (top photo)
But the letter box will never be the same again and the flowers in the flowerbed are definitely now no more.

And here are the bales before they took their tumble....

..... fifteen in total, stacked high, as you can see. 
In the past farmers have delivered the hay bales on a flat backed trailer pulled by a huge monster of a tractor, then they unload the bales one by one using the tractor's equipment, but they were local farmers. This farmer came from a distance away, did have a big tractor (he said) but preferred to use the lorry for speed.

Anyway, time to off load....
lorry backed into the space between house and sheep paddock, 
up we go...

.... off they all came.....

...... job done!

So then all we had to do was get the jumble of bales into their winter positions and covered.
Thought we had a few days of dry weather so we could take our time. 
We didn't.
After weeks of hot, dry, weather rain clouds suddenly appeared out of nowhere mid afternoon, so we raced the rain to get the job finished. It was dark by the time we dried off indoors. 

Doing such jobs on the farm always feels satisfying, and this one was done with good humour even though the wind was blowing and the rain was pouring down, but saving the hay from getting soaked,  and therefore spoilt, was the priority. 


And two day later I was lying in a dentist's chair having two teeth extracted, which was another job which needed doing. (abcess brewing). I can't say it was the best of experience to have, especially since my ability to speak French seems to evaporate in certain circumstances, but not to worry, I sort of got the gist of what the dentist was saying, especially the part about raising my hand should I feel any pain, which I didn't have to do despite the pulls and pushes and the sound of breaking teeth and the grumps the dentist showed because the teeth did not want to leave the home they have had for many a long year so he did have a struggle on his hands. 

It did take a long time, or so it seemed to do, but it was probably quicker than I thought it to be. 
Trying to stay calm was the key, thinking good and happy thoughts was the key, but this I found difficult to do with the 'goings on' which was happening in my mouth, so I took to singing, not in a proper 'open mouthed' style because my mouth was already occupied, but in a sort of hummy way which kept my mind occupied sufficient to get through the experience without creating a fuss. 

I did have to lift my hand up once though. It was when I opened my eyes and saw a white piece of what looked like string stretching betwixt my mouth and the dentist's hand. 
'Crikey' I thought, 'he's going to pull the tooth out with  that string', which put me into a bit of a panic mode, but not much of one because I shut my eyes and went into humming mode again, and continued to concentrate on that rather than what the dentist was doing.  
But the tooth was now gone away forever, and he was stitching up the hole with the string, that's all he was doing,

I was prepared for pain afterwards, but two days later and it still has yet to arrive. 
I was wondering if the fact that I have learnt several ways to sustain a relaxed mind during times of possible dreadfulness being done to me has helped my body cope better and heal faster. And I do ask the Universe (God) for help as well, being mindful that there is a greater force looking after us, and that all we have to do is ask, and then be willing to accept the help in whichever way it comes. 

So now I have a huge gap where once resided two back teeth. Apparently I can have two new teeth planted in the jaw, but I shall leave thoughts of having that done until another time. 

Smiling through, that is what is best done when things are going beyond your control,  and keeping the head occupied by thinking of something else rather than focussing on what is happening in the now, I have found this helps as well when I find myself in a difficult position especially in regards to my health.

Off to cook lunch now, so saying bye for now,


Saturday, 29 September 2018

A thought about the word 'Freedom'.......

It came into my mind early this morning, the word 'Freedom', which seemed a strange word to have become planted in my head, but yet it stayed quite fixed and would not budge.

Being Saturday, it meant that neither Lester or myself were in the Monday to Friday work routine, a routine which became instated in our lives when last year he started working for a UK / USA employer.  It sometimes seems quite strange to see him involved in on line conferences, with those other folk in their offices and Lester sitting beside me, with Maz (our Rottweiller) somewhere close by, the sheep, cows, chickens, or cockerels occasionally voicing their  complaints about this or that, or sometimes just giving voice to joyfulness, especially when a hen lays an egg, or a cockerel is trying to impress his ladies. And then there is the sound of cars on the road, not many, just a few. Or the chugg chugg chugg of tractors, or maybe the French RAF  pilots who sometimes practice landing their helicopters on the small  airfield nearby. All of this we take for granted, immersed as we are on the needs of the day....Lester, to wrestle with the complicated work required of him, and me to try and do as much as I can to keep the farm and the house on track.

It is easy to get mentally bogged down, but it is the same for all of us, for all those folk on the internet conferences, who live in various parts of the globe, all of who are governed by the need to work and to play, none of them really doing what they would like to do, all ruled by the need to earn money, and then when the money is earned, the driving need to spend it. Such a cycle. Of going round and round. Of time marching on meanwhile.

And so, being Saturday, Lester and I had free time, so off to get the broken but now repaired lawnmower from the mechanical repair shop down the road, and then on to Plaisance to get replacement gas bottles. I, meanwhile, trundled myself and the old wheelbarrow along the river path to the fallen down oak tree which blocked the River Path last winter, and needs to be shifted. Lester managed to cut up the entire tree into portions so the fence could be repaired. With Lester working all the days long, it has been one of my chosen tasks to collect one barrow full of logs and bring them back to the Courtyard, the bigger logs to be kept under cover for the moment, but the smaller branches to be cut up and saved for kindling. We have quite a stash of kindling now, nine boxes in fact, plus a two cardboard boxes full. It is satisfying to look at those boxes and know that we shall not run out of kindling, which we did last year so had to buy commercial kindling, which is not the same as using our own bits of twigs and mini branches, because it is all neatly cut to size and is expensive.

Meanwhile, 'Freedom' kept rolling around in my head as I diddled away in the infant flower beds, feeling apologetic to the newly planted pansies, and the three trays of seedlings for my neglect of them yesterday when I retreated from the heat of the sun and had a couple of hours sleep instead, when I should have been keeping them watered. Seeing them desperately bent over with thirst later on in the day made me feel dreadfully guilty, and then seeing the pile of washing up and the unswept floors indoors trebled the guilt, so I ended the day feeling vaguely cross with myself..... not full on cross though, just niggles in the back of my mind that I had left things undone which I should have done, a state of mind which is often my companion of late.

Lester back with lawnmower and new gas bottles, so off we went to our local supermarket. It was lunch time, but no 'paid for' lunch for us today, just a cup of coffee and a bun each, and then off round the shop we went. Normal things bought, no fancy goods, just basics, plus a bigger wood saw (with spare blades) for me, and an 'on offer' trolley so Lester can have help hauling the large bags of animal grain to the storage bins in the Tall Barn.

On the way back home, thinking about 'Freedom' again, and I came to realise that Lester and I do have freedom despite his working hours, and my efforts to look after the farm as well as the house, because we are free souls. We live in a quiet part of France, are both working quietly at home without having to deal with offices full of people who we may or may not get on with, that Lester's daily commute to and fro work is from bedroom to Half Barn via the Main Field to give the sheep and cows their breakfast, that I do not have a commute at all but am free to choose what I spend my time doing and where I do it, that we make our own amusement and do not rely on others to amuse us, that to have lots of money would not make us happier, but would instead curtail our freedom because then we would get lazy, and that would confine us rather than make life the stimulating place that it is.

To count our blessings, that is what having the word 'Freedom' posted into my head early this morning has helped us do today. We can all feel trapped one way or another, but by looking at what we do have in our lives releases that trapped feeling, unchaining the chains that bind us away from our hopes and dreams, making us free to look forward to all our tomorrows.

I am now off to see if my new wood saw will magically cut the logs I brought up from the River Path this morning without hardly effort from myself. Of course it won't! I know that! But I can smile at myself for thinking so! Sort of being my own best friend by giving myself a smile!

Bye for now,