Saturday 27 February 2010

8 Plus 4 Plus 1

Heads down, Hubs and me are tapping industriously away on our PC's, Bools in prime position infront of the fire, Gussy in secondary position behind him but comfortably reclined upon his bed.

Bedlam. Crashing out of the door go Bools and Gus. A commotion at the front gate ensues. 
Hubs goes to investigate. I follow more slowly, having become tangled up in my headphone wire. 

A man stands at the gate. Monsiour T. Firm hand shake. Seems OK. Conversation ensues. Hubs rattling off some French. Me not so ept. 
A date is set for the next day, at 7. 

7 the next day arrives. So does our neighbour Mr B. Plus his sister in law. Plus his daughter. Cake is requested, and small slices given out. me not having baked today and not wanting to tomorrow either, so the need for frugality in the donation of cake is a necessity.
Mr T arrives. Me busy entertaining, so off goes Hubs with Mr T. 
Makes a return, brim-full of enthusiasm. A date is set for the next day at 2. 

11 the next day sees us in the local Brico in search of clips and other fencey things, and espy a log burning fire.  End of season now and fires being shoved over to make room for gardening stuff like sit on mowers. Hubs looks at one sit-on with loving longing in his eyes remembering the huff and puff of last year's efforts at turning a lumpy field into a flat lawn which subsequently did unto death our ancient lawnmower although Hubs is hoping that it can be resurrected by the tender touch of a mender of lawnmowers. I think not. I remember Hubs stoicism in pushing that lawnmover over hillocks and dips which no lawnmower should ever have to deal with. 

So while he gazes at one bright red sit-on, I look in the opposite direction and espy the fire. It is a pretty thing. Just right for the office. It was cold the previous night, so winter is still hanging on. Hubs has also espied the fire. He is captured by the thought of the warmth it could ooze into us. 
It is bought.

1.30 arrives together with buckets of rain. 'Cancel' Hubs says. I say 'No, let's do it'.
2 arrives, as we are heading down country lanes.... 'I think it's this way' Hubs says, then reverses the car as he remembers it was t'other way. 

We arrive. Mr T welcomes us with a warm handshake. Leads us through his veg plot, all muddied and forlorn waiting to be tended after the recent weeks of neglect as most veggie plots are at this time of the year. Round to the right, and there are some empty rabbit cages which Hubs does a mental jig over. Money is mentioned. 'We've got some rabbit hutches' he says. 'Oh strooth', I think. Eating rabbit is not one of my 'must-do's in life. 

Then Hubs espies the pigeon pen. Inwardly I groan as I see his enthusiasm for another possible food table item. But Mr T is walking on, into the orchard, and pointing at this tree and that tree and the other tree over there. I feel smug because I had said to Hubs / Head Gardener that I wanted more plum trees when he decided to buy yet more apple trees 'Because the picture on the label looks interesting' he said. Quietly he issued instructions to buy more plums from the man in the market next week.  So, thankyou Mr T. I love plums.

Walking on. Round the corner of the hedge. Down aways past a pollytunnel, clambering up a large mound of soggy earth, and spend a few moments observing Mr T's new project which at this moment in time is  the hugest of square holes half filled with water which is going to be his carp pond beside which he can 'sit in the summer and watch the ducks while he and his friends fish for the carp', he said. Ah bless. 

We reverse our steps, slithering down the muddy slope, and now into the polly. And there they are. 8. Plus 4. Plus 1. 

Mr T instructs us to go back outside. And then they come. Past us they go. Into the field. 

Eight white sheep ladies, four baby sheeplings, and one manly sheep only I didn't get to see his manliness but Hubs said he had quite a big one. 

Back into the house. Coffee. Black. French. Could stand a spoon  in it. Delish. Cheque done. Bees mentioned in passing. Back outside we go. Into shed out front. Full of bee hives and other stuff. Mr T said not to worry about getting bees, just get a hive, put beeswax in it, citronella out front of it, and bees will come live there. Wow! Just like that! 

Handshakes all round. 

Projects to do: 
Keep digging up the docks in the side field. That's my job. 
Make a little house in middle of the field. That's the job of Hubs.
Keep talking to the grass in the side field, encouraging it to grow nice and high. Thats my job.
Because: when it has grown high enough, coming to live with us will be 8 lady sheep, 4 baby sheep plus possibly some more, and the dad of the baby sheep, and they will sleep in the little house which Hubs is going to build in the middle of the side field.

 And this is our new flock of sheep, purchased from Mr T, a retired policeman who used to gallop over the roads on his police motorcycle but is now the mayor of his village, who is going to spend his time not tending his sheep but gazing at the carp swimming in his pond. Well he will do when the mud settles in the pond and he sorts out the little stream running into it which provides the water from the bigger stream which he has to dam first. Bless. 

Things I have learnt: that you can go careful or you can leap when opportunities arise. 

We have sheep! 

And bless Mr T because he is going to look after them until we can feed them ourselves.

PS. Under orange alert for high winds with massive gusts. Possibly no sleep tonight!

Loads of hours later: Yep! No sleep while waiting for the worst, which didn't arrive! All of France had a horrendous time, but we must have been in the only relatively quiet place in the country! 



Saturday 20 February 2010

Been a while

We have been struggling a bit here. The weather has been very cold which seems to encourage a comotose state of being such that any effort is kept to the minimal, and long sleeps in a warm bed are the major requirement. Ho Hum! 

Temperatures are now climbing up, so hopefully some energy will arrive from somewhere and did have a tiny smidgeon of thought about going out into the front garden yesterday, but it just as quickly evaporated! But at least a tiny seed of thought is sprouting. 

But Head Gardener/ Hubs is more enthused. Off to the local market we went 'to have a look at trees' he said. Trying to get six trees, two with pots attached, four barerooted, into the car took quite a bit of juggling. The car looked like it had grown horns. And we had to tiptoe our way home via the back roads. But the four bare-roots are now planted, so now we have the back field ringed with fruit trees. 

Otherwise, we have an absence of builders but need respite from them to catch up with our finances anyway. But the cement mixer has arrived, which means that they will be back to working here soon. I have continued to sort myself out a kitchen in the house, and now feel more and more needy to go live in it properly. 'Patience' I keep telling myself! But I think we will forgo the fourth roof and get the half barn finished. I think caravan life is starting to be a bit wearing, although once we are into summer it is highly possible that we will change our minds and go for that last roof. It is surprising how quickly one forgets the hardships of winter when the sun shines. 

Have also managed to get the second book done, and am waiting for a copy to come from Lulu. More on that over on The Writing Pathway if you are interested. Now immersed in having a go at writing a short book using the ebook format. Only another 18, 500 words to go!

Things I have learnt: That keeping going is the optimum requirement when most of one's thoughts are connected with finding a warm place to go to sleep in.


Monday 8 February 2010

TamWood Project arrivee

Manfully hitching up his trousers, slinging a saw in gungho fashion over one shoulder,  a mallet hanging limply from his other hand, and secateurs (mine!) securely poked into his pocket but yet leaving the handles showing sufficient for me to know that he had been on the 'borrow' again, and me not minding that he had thought he had need of them, but nevertheless feeling a little irritated for was this not  the day when I had indeed decided to go out into the front garden and do deadheading stuff and other trimmings of winter-sleep shrubs before they wake up and complain that I am hurting them by doing unto them a prune! 

Ah so! Putting this ever so slight draft of annoyance out of my head, with pride I watched Hubs, with saw, with mallet, and with secateurs bouncing jauntily from out of his pocket, stride manfully down to the lower part of our woods for Stage One.  His second in command, Gussy-boy, trotted equally as manfully behind him: what a grand team they looked.

Meanwhile, with no secateurs to mess about in the garden with, what else could I do except sit on the front door step in my rocking chair and do some knitting, with my second in command, Bools, guarding the homestead, and me. 
And here's a curious thing: for a while, sitting in the warm sunshine, I felt connected with all those other women who, for generations, would also have sat and done something or other on the porch infront of these self-same doors while their individual Hubs would have been out doing their man-things. Treasured moment indeed. I felt the span of the generations, of the many families who would have shared this space, and I felt connected with these families as if they were my blood-kin. Oh wow!

Just off to make Hubs a sarnie... be back in a moment. 

One hour plus later: sarnie's in tums, Internet been browsed as we munched, and, ...ah 'Tamwood Project' still awaits my attention. So, what is the 'Tamwood Project' all about? 

Well, aways across the front field is a patch of woodland which is suitably quiet enough to be able to keep piggies in. The photo above is of the house taken from the start of this certain section. 


Et voila! The woodland itself. This, then is The Project. Phase One: clearing of the fallen wood and general other natural detritus. Hubs has been busily engaging himself with said task. Manfully he has hauled logs hither and thither, snipped away at 'in the way' branches, found out that his chainsaw is useless because the portable generator is not meaty enough to drive it, hence the saw he carried with him. His arms are beginning to get quite muscley. Bless.

Phase Two: With saw in case more sawing needs to be done, and several green metal poles slung over his shoulder as well, plus mallet now in pocket, off Hubs goes down to the wood, with Gussy-boy galloping along as company providing it is not anywhere near dinner time in which case Gussy-boy's preference is to linger with me and Bools in the kitchen, in hopeful anticipation that some food might be coming his way and if he sits ever so sweetly and keeps looking at me I might forgive him for taking a nip out of Robin's hand, although Robin was poking and flapping his hand through the gate at the time of his being nipped. And anyway, it was more a case of sharp teeth colliding with the knuckles on the back of Robin's hand which made the blood run so effusively. I mean, Gussy-boy did not actually get a grip on R's hand. He could of, but he didn't. 

But what, I might ask, is a grown man of some considerable height doing in regards to flapping his hand like he was trying to emulate a flying bird in the very face of a dog on guard dog duty, and wanting to make sure the 'guard dog duty' task was in excellent order so he could be fed as part of his reward. Gussy-boy, that is, not R.

Not to worry, though. R took it all in good part, and allowed me to mop up the rivulet of blood with a clean teatowel, although went a bit monosybalitic for a while, 'from shock' he said after he had been given a cup of tea and a piece of cake to recover. Bless. 

Now were was I! Oh yes. Tamwood Project. Phase Two now in operation:

Et ici the green poles, some now in place.

And on they march, close to the river on the left, before they swing to the right and then come round again to make a large contained area. Well, it will be a closed area only Hubs has run out of metal poles. Not to worry, all will come in time. 

It is in the Grand Plan of Hubs, that we keep Tamworth pigs here. He says they don't grow too big, and three should keep us going in meat. When they have their babies, that is. I think little piglets are the darlingest creatures, so I guess I shall be on yet another steep learning curve when it comes to despatch time. 

We have been offered Vietnamese pot bellies, but Hubs is not enthused about them. Says they carry too much fat. So, tamworths it is. Or we might try the local black pigs, which I think look a bit on the wild side. Erring, then, on the side of the tamworths, I named this section of wood 'Tamwood' hence the 'Tamwood Project'. 

Hubs is now nearing Phase Three: which is drilling holes in the metal stakes so that upwards of five rows of fencing wire can be run through the stakes, to which the wire will then be attached. Apparently piggies can be holy terrors about escaping.

The Station Field Project is now nearing completion. This is the site of the skirmish between me and the docks. The docks have won, I am sorry to say. Mostly because it has been so cold and wet here since Christmas, that it has been difficult to get onto the field to get the docks into a deceased state. Then all effort expired in me! Yes it did! Must be the end of the winter settling into my bones, because I have felt positively ancient recently. Have been aching all over, been creaking like old bed springs, and have now got the sneezing snuffles. Not to worry. Took myself in hand today, having got fed up with feeling elderly (well I am over 60), did some positive thinking, gave myself an hour of self healing, looked at myself in the mirror and told myself to stop being a wuz. Job done!

But re the Station Field Project: the field is now fenced, and the gate post has just been inserted. All by a delightful family of French people, the son of which is someone who we would give employment to if we could. This will be the field for the sheep. On the subject of lambs prancing all about the place - another steep learning curve I think, when it comes time for despatching them as well. But Val up in the Charente says that it gets easier as time goes on. Hope so. And I am looking forward to having a go at spinning, after Sara down at the House of the Camels, showed me her newly purchased spinning wheel. I made a right muck-up of having a go at spinning, but am sure that I will be able to master that skill in time.  

And I think that's about it. Nearly time for bed, so I bid you a fond farewell for the moment, and hope that whatever challenges your life is laying down before you, that you don't give up but keep on having a go. x

Thursday 4 February 2010

Just to say...

Just to say that I have fallen out of the saddle in regards to blogging. Not for any reason really, although not having any words in one's head is a contributing factor! 

Hubs and me have been nesting today. We both feel tired, the end of the winter much welcomed by both of us. Someone came by yesterday and was eyeing up our huge woodpile. Was almost slathering with desire for us to offload some of it their way they were. Hubs and me had pow-wow afterwards. The subject: what are we going to do if they come begging for some wood. The outcome: not to give them any. Our humungous wood pile is insurance against at least the next two winters of feeling cold. While we have managed to live the open air life in caravans for two winters, said person has been roasty-toasty indoors. If they can't manage to maintain responsibility for their fuel supply, then it is up to them to find someone else to cadge the wood from. There! Got that off my chest!

And so anyway, today was nesting day. Me in the house making a temporary kitchen, and Hubs out front planting some bulbs which had been donated a while back. December 2008, actually. They were being kept safe, ready for spring 2009, when bang! In came the hurricane of January 2009, and in the ensuing chaos, the bag of bulbs went missing. Last week they were found. Right under the last bit of tarpaulin in the tall barn. 

Hubs had the nesting urge which manifested itself in the planting of those bulbs out by the front gates. I took myself off to the market this morning and purchased some bright plastic table cloth to festoon the tables in the temporary kitchen. A quick sweep of the broom on the walls to remove the flaking paint, then out came the scissors, and a happily joyous hour then ensued as I covered the tables, and every other flat surface with blue and white checks and/ or yellow and green flowers. Mmmmm. Luverly! Actually it looks OK. 

And today we had our first sit down in our house. At our blue checked camping table, we partook of cheese sarnies, with homemade bread, followed by homemade cake. And we mused on how many meals we would have in the house during the years ahead. And in my heart there is a warm place, because I feel as if I am now home. And the house is starting to come alive, and a peacefulness is starting to grow here. 

That's all I wanted to say really. We have been nesting.

However, it would seem that little flying creatures would also like to nest with us. The robins, for instance, who are frequently to be seen sitting in the kitchen partaking of anything which is not covered over, there not being any windows in the house as yet so they have established flight paths in and out. And then there are the bats in the half barn. Not to mention the wag tails that go to sleep on the roof beams.

And sending blessings out to my Mum, who is not well in the UK. I wish she could be nesting with all of us here....but at least I can send a portion of peacefulness out to her, as I also do to you.