Monday 26 April 2010

And yes! They got here!

Timid they stood, surveying us with watchful eyes. They were the first to arrive: two mums, three youngsters. 

It had been a fretful morning. Both Hubs and myself were both aware of the enormity of this step. Of bringing bigger animals onto Labartere. Of the responsibility of care. Of the step into being a proper mini-farm.

And then the first ones arrived. We watched them unloaded. Watched them as they tried to go back into the trailer, asking 'Take us home, please?' Even Mr T was moved, I think, by their requests. 

And this is the trailer they were shipped in. Now in the proud ownership of Hubs/Flock Owner. Offered by Mr T to Hubs for 200 euros. Knocked down to 50. A good deal, seeing as how it is ancient and in need of lights and number plate, and according to Mr T, is 'Illegal'. Funny that, seeing as how he is a retired member of the local Gendarmerie! And Hubs is so enthused over his 'new' trailer, and full of plans to 'do it up'. Bless. Helped him get over the fright of his foot, which now has a hole it it. A small hole. But a hurty hole. Made by a nail which wanted to become an attachment to his foot, but which Hubs promptly yanked out. 

 And the girls found the Sheep House, temporarily covered in a tarpaulin, and had a quick nap before trundling out into the Paddock and having a munch. 

This is half of the flock. And as they arrived our previous concerns about taking on the responsibility of having a flock evaporated. Because it felt right that they be here. And so while Hubs sallied forth with Mr T to get the rest, including the male who proved reluctant to go into the trailer him being the last one to be loaded and him thinking "At long last I am free of all those females and I can have a rest and stop making babies, and I can retire". Chased round Mr T's garden he was, by Mr T and Hubs. All of them got huffed and puffed out. But Mr Sheep was loaded. Red faced he arrived. Hope he manages to recover. Bless. 


The other Mr T, the one who is helping us with the Sheep House and fencing, well his son made an artistic contribution to the Sheep Project, and out by the front gates of the Paddock put '2010' in the wet cement. I felt very moved when I saw it. Felt as if we were stamping our own history on this place.

And so off to bed. Checking on the sheep, and wanting to tuck them up but couldn't because we don't have a proper barn to bed them in for the night. But we do have a partially finished Sheep House, only they seemed to prefer clustering up by the lane for some reason. Standing in the moonlight they were. But quietly. Probably pondering on their new home. Good food. Plenty of lovely grass, flowers, and other meadow plants to eat. Can't complain about that. Accommodation not so good. Will do. But not great. Noisy, though. Not sure about those other creatures. Especially that little one.(Gus) The one that keeps racing up and down the other side of the fence. Don't like him. The other one is OK, the bigger one.(Bools) He doesn't make a noise. But that little one. Not good. The two legged creatures look possibly OK. Will wait judgement on them, and see if they are going to increase our food table and be kind. (Hubs and me)

Things I have learned: That 'learning curves' are great for keeping one on one's toes! That the smell of sheep is lovely: all sweet and animally. That it feels calm having animals. That it stops one from having time to be bored.

Helpful Hint: If one has a minor accident to one's finger when cutting a loaf of newly made bread with a newly sharpened knife, it might be useful to wrap said digit in a plaster. However, since hands are made to do things, like washing up, cooking, planting seeds, cutting dock weeds, etc, the plaster may become soaked, sticky, messy, and gungy.
To stop this from happening, why not cut the finger off a washing-up glove, and place that over the plastered digit. Sort of like a condom. 

By the way: here is a photo of that Humungous Insect I mentioned in the last blog. Doesn't look so ferocious here because it is busy wriggling about on its back, but when it has it's
wings out it becomes double in size. Anyway, it was rescued.

And now I am off into my day. Have just checked on the flock, and some of them seem to have taken up residence in the Sheep House. Hopefully the rest of them are in the lower part of the Paddock and not out on the lane somewhere, or carried off by one of those creatures I mentioned in the previous blog, or the crow which perched on the fence and watched the new arrivals with intense interest yesterday. 

Au revoir from Labartere.....

Saturday 24 April 2010

Fouines, belettes and blood sucking cats.

The busyness continues as Hubs endeavours to get the Sheep Project up on its feet. Mr T is helping him, but can only spare the evenings because he is busy planting his many hectares of fields with maize and haricot. I leave them to it. Get on with the background work of keeping this ship afloat and doing those sundry tasks which seem to go on and on and on. Like weeding, cooking, supplying endless cups of tea, mopping Hubs's brow when he gets into a panic about how much money is being spent. 

So: in bed last night. Dozing. Hubs clambers over me (the bed has only one way in and that is on my side, the other three sides being the walls of the caravan), flops down, and then goes on a mission to offload his woes. I try to keep on dozing. Couldn't. The alert button has been pressed, the phrase "......and Mr T says that there are blood sucking cats who attack at night" was the awakener. That, added to the other general worries which also  decided to bubble themselves to the surface, and which I had been successfully squashing down until the 'blood sucking cat' conversation, all combined to a not very good night's sleep. 

Not to worry. Got Mr T to write down the name of these 'cats' (gennettes) when next I saw him, and he also wrote down other dire creatures which are 'killers' as well: fouines and belettes. "Oh dear", I thought, this all sounds a bit worrying, especially since a humungous  flying creature had ejected itself from the walls of the office (once the home of pigs and chickens) last night, presumably after having laid dormant in one of the holes of which there are still several despite my best efforts to fill all the empty spaces between the stones. It was huge. The size of my thumb. Oh all right then: three quarters the size of my thumb. But it was still huge and made the most loudest of whirring noises. Man oh man but it gave me a fright. It seemed to launch itself at me in a frenzy, although in hindsight it probably was not going to eat me. But Hubs / Family Protector to the rescue, and I became saved. So was the creature. Out came the fly swot, but used as a scoop upon which it was put out into the night. 

An Internet search for these other dire creatures: 



None of these look like they 'suck blood', do they! Apparently the Fourine is a Stone Martin, lives in close proximity to humans, and eats mice, fruit and eggs.The Genet is carnivorous, doesn't approach homes, and attacks farmyard animals rarely. It is a protected species, lives in Spain, SW France, and Italy, and is was hunted for its fur in the past. 

So: Mr T's 'blood sucking cat' does not seem to be one of these! But I couldn't find 'Belette'  but that could be a Weasel. The mystery continues. But I am starting to think that it could be one of those folk-lore type animals, like the Loch Ness monster in Scotland, or the Yeti of the Himalayas. But smaller. 

Meanwhile work continues on with the tall barn. On close inspection yesterday we realised that the width of the support walls between the double door openings is variable. Not to worry. It all adds to the quirkiness of Labartere. 

I think that the best way to bring a home together is not to plan in advance and then stick to that plan, but to let the space tell you what it wants, and let the plans become altered along the way to accommodate the space's wishes. Obviously the tall barn told Danny (our French builder) to build the walls like this, because it did not want to be regimented in appearance. Danny listened, and thus the four support walls are all different in width. Not to worry, though, because the wall does look easy on the eye. 

Re: The Sheep Project: The other Mr T came by yesterday, with the news that he is delivering the sheep tomorrow. 

Project for today: Recyle the tarpaulins to use as a temporary roof on the Sheep House in the Paddock. Fix up some temporary gates to the Paddock. Try not to panic.

Things I have learnt: When sitting on the loo: if the toilet roll escapes one's hands and bounces over the floor, unravelling as it does so, it is better to riseth up from the loo and retrieve the body of the escapee. It is not a good idea to reach for the tail end of the paper trail with the intent to reel it in, like reeling in a fish at the end of the fishing line. Because it doesn't work. All that happens is that the toilet roll will stay where it is,  and one ends up with a pile of unravelled loo paper on one's lap, far too much to mop up with. 
So even if one is sitting on a porta-potti, which is not the most comfortable of loos because of its minimal height, one must haul oneself up and go get that roll. This I have learnt. And such wisdom I pass on to you....

Friday 16 April 2010

Part Two

And here is how far Danny, our French builder, has got on with sorting out the tall barn. 

And this how far the Sheep House has got. Actually, more than we expected given that Mr T was accidentalised and out of action.
Or so we thought. 

So: Hubs in a lather. What to do. Sheep arriving soon. Nowhere to put them. Only dry space on the property is the half barn or the house. Half barn not do-able because it is on its way to being our living accomadation. Only other place is the house, which is yonks away from being finished, the 'lounge' area being the possible temporary home. That's do-able. Do the fencing ourselves. No probs. 

Danny arrives. With Brandon, his young apprentice. Start work on the tall barn. Hubs has a chat. Sheep House project re-erected. Danny has offered Jean-Pierre, his roofer, to come and help, with Brandon to start the ground work now. Hubs beaming. Good solution. Mr T can come and find us when he is OK to do so, meanwhile sheep will have their house, we will have ours, and the fencing will be done. We have to proceed. So all we have to do is the fencing. After lunch. Good start to the day.

Lunchtime: dozing on the settees in the temporary kitchen with the window open, and vehicle noises wake us up. "Oh, ********," says Hubs, "It's Mr T". then, "No, its not, its Danny", then "Yes it is, it is Mr T."

So: Danny out back, Mr T out front. Danny had young Brandon with him, Mr T had his young sons. One of which had been decked by Brandon a while ago and rendered unconscious for quite some days as a result. Mmmmmmmmm. 
And you know when you have arrived in a bit of a picklish situation. When you thought you were doing the right thing, but somehow it has turned itself into a tangle. And you don't know what to do, because you don't want to upset anybody, but all you need is for the work to be done, because you don't have the time to linger, because the sheep have to  get here because the grass is growing, because if it grows too high then they won't be able to eat it, because sheep can only eat grass up to a certain height, because they need a shelter from humungous weather conditions, because we must look after our animals, because we must not disregard their needs.

So I did the washing up. And heard Hubs unravelling the tangle. He is a bon homme. 

Anyway, what was Mr T doing up on his feet! His son had informed Hubs that his father and grandfather were both in hospital, one for three months the other with a heart attack. Oh well, this was said in French. Misinterpreted more than somewhat by Hubs. In English then: Mr T had damaged his finger badly. Had had an operation. Was out of action for three months but was continuing to work because he was self employed and couldn't afford not to, and that grandfather had a check up at the hospital to see if his heart was still going along OK. It is. 

Which is all good news. However: that still left Brandon and Mr T's two sons prowling around each other, Brandon still out front working on the ground work for the Sheep House, the other two young men sort of drifting about.

So I sat in the central zone, which is under the gate porch, and did my knitting. Keeping an eye on the boys. Making sure no further aggro took place. It didn't.

Hubs continued to soothe the tangle, and all remained calm. And I am well impressed by his skills at peacekeeping. I meanwhile sort of kept smiling at everyone, doing my bit towards keeping harmony. I thought we did a good job, Hubs and I. 

And we said thankyou to everyone who was patient enough to cope with two English people trying to get a smallholding going in SW France who can't speak much French but who are nevertheless having a go, and who get themselves into tangles as a result and then somehow manage to get themselves out of the tangles again. Somehow. 

And Hubs, worn out with the effort of it all, thinking about his Sheep House Project. It was the end of a long day. 

But the good news is that Mr T is up on his feet despite having a couple of fingers strapped together which means the Sheep House Project is on its feet again, Danny is busy getting the tall barn up and onto its feet, Hubs only temporarily  sat down and is up on his feet organising the various projects on the go at the moment, Brandon is up on his feet helping Danny again, Mr T's two sons are up on their feet and out the front doing the fencing. I am not on my feet because I am writing this at my PC! But will be up and running around soon, helping to do my bit with keeping this ship afloat. 

Sometimes it feels like an unwieldy ship. With the wind out of the sails, and wallowing. And then a great gust of wind comes along, the sails billow out, and the ship lifts up and plunges forward. And that is what it feels like at the moment! As if we are plunging forward. 

So with the wind in our sails, we go on. Hope you have the wind in your sails and that you are moving forward as well. But if you are windless, and wallowing, then never mind. Keep hope in your heart that the wind will arrive and it will. And soon you will be gasping at the speed at which you are travelling forward. And don't mind if it is only a little breeze which comes along and doesn't seem to be doing much to your sails. It is indicative that a big blow is on its way. 

Wednesday 14 April 2010

House sharing (Part One)

 Mr T's had an accident. Not only that but his father has had a heart attack, so all the family are at the hospital. 

Mr T is the same Mr T who is doing our fencing. And our Sheep House. Out front this is happening. In the poles have gone, wammed in by a magic machine which got them into the earth. All 360 of them, because we have also poled up the remaining two fields. Expenseeev it has been. But necessary.

And Hubs developed a Grand Plan for the Sheep House. To be in oak. Strong. To last. Bolted through, so no wind will dare to knock it askew. It's placement in the front paddock was duly discussed at great length, then undiscussed as decisions were reversed, then discussed again and agreement eventually made. 

Countdown to sheep arrival time: two weeks now. Hubs has taken a week off work. Thank goodness the sun is shining. Spent weekend doing things, like dock-wars, ( the dock being a fearsomely invasive plant which none of the animals will eat except the rabbits and they are little and the docks are many so will not be threatened by the rabbs). We also went and met the new dad to our Tamworth Project. (Will tell you about that in a future blog), and did a jolly over at our neighbour's place where our other neighbour got herself cross-eyed on alcohol and insisted we all romped round the garden, jigging and dancing to tunes heretofore unknown to me and Hubs. But said jiggy-neighbour probably needed a perking up because all her chickens, ducks, and Indian Runners are now deceased, done unto death by an unknown foe which came and swiped them away during the night.

Anyway, Mr T: Monday saw us searching for the necessary wire, steel plates, and other bits and bobs necessary for the Sheep House and Front Paddock Projects, Hubs meanwhile wilting from the dents to the household finances that were being incurred. Then hooray!!!
A visit to the woodmill brought a cheery moment as the wood for the Sheep House was seen to be ready for collection by Mr T and his tractor later on. Which also gave rise to splendid 'man pow-wows' as Mr T, his son, and Hubs, discussed the various options of house building. I meanwhile carried on with the dock wars. The plant is now seeding. This cannot be allowed to happen, so I am patrolling the fields and decapatating all seedheads of which there are many. 

Anyway, that was Monday. Tuesday saw us off to Pau to see if we can get our campervan French registered. We might be able to, but it is going to cost over a thousand euros to get the next step sorted out, and then it is not a sure thing that we will be able to be registered. A family pow-wow that evening, and it was decided that it has to go, probably for spare parts. Ah well, shame, but there are not other options. Time is marching on, though. Hubs's week is racing by, and still no Sheep House, nor Paddock fencing done, although Mr T had come along when we were out and dug some holes. Looking good for getting finished this week, we thought. Sun still shining, so weather holding. 

So no Mr T today. Hubs doing Head Gardener stuff, mowing and tidying up the fruit trees. I am doing Under Gardener stuff, which is primarily cutting off dock seed heads. Four large black dustbin bags I filled. It took me three hours. I did about one eight of the side field. Man oh man but these wretched docks are a nightmare. 
And then the son of Mr T came by, and told us the news about his father and his grandfather. And so Mr T is out of action for three months. No Sheep House then. No fencing of the Paddock done. But the sheep arrive in two weeks.

Nothing for it. Cancel all other activities. (Ahha! which means no cooking!!!!) Hubs and me will have to do the fencing. And rig up a house over one corner of the Paddock with a tarpaulin. The sheep will have to get used to tenting until their proper house is done. Mr T has the wood, you see. Took it away on his tractor to prepare it. 

So, tomorrow I start my apprenticeship as Under Assistant to Head Fencer Hubs. We have four days in which to get the Paddock done. And also, hopefully, the back field. 

The sheep arrive in two weeks. So does the dad to our Tamworth Project. It is all go here. 

And it is all go at Mr T's place, so sending him the very best of wishes for a healthy recovery, and also to his father. It is hard for this family to have a double knock like this, and I wish them well. Hubs and me can fix up what is needed to be urgently done, and I am sure the sheep will not mind camping out. 

Update on this: Another pow-wow has rearranged the sleeping accomodation for the sheep. The half barn. Yes, the very same half barn which we are supposed to be moving into at some point in the future. Not to worry. The sheep need to be kept dry in case of summer storms, that's what Hubs says. 

Update Two: Yet another pow-wow. It was decided that the half barn was not do-able. That perhaps the future lounge room would be better. Inside the house, that is. And here's a funny thing: I had a dream the other night about the sheep being in the hallway area, sleeping there for the night. So: I would have the 'kitchen' on one side of the hallway, and the sheep would have the room opposite. 

Let's hope Mr T gets well soon!

Oh and by the way, Boy Bunny was piggy-backying Girl Bunny today. Methinks the patter of tiny bunny feet might be an eventuality. 

Thursday 8 April 2010

Today I birthed a duck

Well I didn't actually 'birth' as in 'give birth'. It was more a case of cooing and clucking to encourage the little duck to get out of it's shell. Have you ever seen a baby bird come out of it's shell? Wow, but it is magical. First a lot of tweating goes on, then a tiny hole appears. The tweating continues. The hole gets bigger until it becomes like an open window and you can see the little bird inside, still chirruping away. And then its head comes out, then another bit, then the shell breaks and more comes out, the little body covered in dried up spikes of feathers. It is making a hell of a racket meanwhile. Doesn't stop. Apparently the twittering is necessary to get air into the lungs. Ah, that's why I chat so much when given the chance - to air my internal passageways!

The little duck baby laid in the palms of my cupped hands for aging deliberating on whether or not to make the final push and get out of the shell altogether. "Come on, push" me and Sara said in unison. (I was down the road at Sara's farm on an errand of mercy. Will let you know what that was in a min). 
The little duck responded and with a lurch entered our world and became entirely hatched, followed by a spoonful of gloopy mess which was quite a surprise seeing as how the little duck was absolutely dry in itself. 

And so today I birthed my first duckling. Then I went to look at Claudia's leg, which was not behaving as a leg should, and was unwilling to do its job of getting the rest of Claudia mobile. With huge fringed lashes she defied me to tangle with her, her mouth being full of food at that precise minute. 

So I went and had a cup of coffee, and watched the newly born duckling meet its new friends in Sara's baby-bird nursery. Time to go chat with Claudia. She was more approachable now she had a full tum, and let me fondle her. My hands roamed over her face. Up came her head, open did come her mouth, and with naughtiness gleaming in her eyes, she did a sharp nibble with her rather large teeth. Not a hard nibble, just a "You be careful where you put your hands" type of nibble.

And so I did my job, which was to do what I could to help her knee. Like all knees which have had a kick, it was not well. Over her neck I roamed my hands, plunging them through the deep fur, soothing, cajoling, "please don't get up and kick me" being definitely in the firmness of my hands. 

Me and Sara, we did the work on Claudia's knee. Last I saw, Claudia was sitting on a pile  of straw, surrounded by loads of plump chickens intent on finding a morsel of food for their lunch. And it came to me to say to Sara, "If Claudia is eating then she is alright. If she is letting the chickens partake of her space, then she is alright. If she looks you straight in the eyes, then she is alright. If she spits at the chickens then she is not alright. If she keeps her gaze lowered, then she is not alright. If she does not eat, then she is not alright". 

Mr T came along and fenced our posts today. Not all the posts are totally upright. Some are leaning thisaways and thataways. "It's to do with the stones in the ground" he said, but in French because he is a Frenchman. Of the 360 posts that got hammered into the ground today, at least a quarter have a drunken air about them. Unfortunately they are the ones which are going to be seen the most. Ah well. Mr T said he would come and straighten them up with his tractor. Can't see how he is going to do this seeing as how a straightened post will leave a wider hole and is therefore likely to fall back into its original position when left a while. 

Oh so anyway, the rabbs are OK. Hubs / Head Animal Keeper is alarmed at how much grass they get through. Seems like we are forever having to feed them. Bools and Gussy continue to regard them with interest and are often seen going nose to nose with them through the cage door. 

The robin seems to have gone elsewhere, but now in residence, much to Hubs / Protector of the Coe Household's annoyance, we now seem to have become a prospective hotel for other local birds who seem to think they can build a nest in our brand new roof, but inside. Often there is a near mishap as I go through the front door, only to have a bird try to squeeze through the opening at the same time flying in from the opposite direction. 

Today I birthed a duckling. I also did some work on Claudia's rather large hairy leg. Claudia is a camel.  A big camel. Bools and Gus were overcome with emotion when I made a return home carrying the aroma of camel all over me. "Divine smell" was painted all over their faces, especially Gussy's. He almost had his eyes closed with the ectasy of it all. 
So God bless ducklings, God bless camels, God bless Bools and Gus, God bless Hubs, and God bless you.

Saturday 3 April 2010

A cup of tea and a chat

As can be seen by the clock, it is 6.30 in the morning, and I am the only one up and doing. The rest of the Coe contingent are still tucked up: Hubs in bed, and Bools, Gussy and me are in the office. The rabbits are in the house. 
"Rabbits? What rabbits! You've never mentioned rabbits before!" 
Ah, but I have. I have said that I wasn't fussed about keeping them, that they were to stay outside of our living accommodation, and that I was going to have difficulty with not lovey-doveying them. 

Anyway. Bools is zizzing away on the carpet, sort of all twisted up. Can't be comfortable for him. Gussy, is tucked up on his bed by my chair. He is zizzing as well. That leaves me with my tea and toast, so thought I would have a chat with you. 

Crikey, but its been manic here. No builders, thank goodness. There was a time not so long ago when we were not happy when the builders were absent, but its OK now. Gives us time to catch up with ourselves. Most of the busyness is going on out in the fields. Sheep arriving soon. Dock weeds are still growing with vigour, but so too is the grass now we have had some rain. Given up digging up the docks. Ground went too hard, then the docks put down deeper roots so not a hope in hell's chance of getting the ***** things up. Sorry about that bit of swearing - it was only a mild swear-type word, but docks make you do that. Swear. Cuss. They drive you to want to do anything at all to get rid of them. 

It's been so manic here that I caught myself looking forward to next year's winter shut down. But only for a moment. It is surprising how much one can forget the chilled bones, the loss of feeling in one's toes, and the fingers so cold that it is hard to get them to do things. But it is a slower time. Now, everything is working fine, fingers, toes, and everything in between. Just as well. Spring is springing into life. Loads to do.

It's been manic here because we are living a farm-type life. Growing things. Seeds. Potting. Soil shifting. 'Where the **** did all those weeds come from. They weren't there last time I looked" being a frequent thought in one's head. Sorry about the itty bitty word of naughtiness again. The thing is, that things have a thrust on them when spring arrives. Everything must grow. It has a force. It is unstoppable. Where once there was clear earth, turn around, and goodness me, it is covered with plants all hoping to park themselves up on this nice clear patch. The very same patch of earth which was earmarked for planting those seedlings which are threatening to over-run the potting 'shed'.

It's been manic here because we are being fenced. Back field, front field, and front paddock-which-was-supposed-to-be-my-nice-lawn. Can't afford the grillage ( wire) to go with the fence posts, but at least the posts will be in place so that Hubs and me can finish the job when money permits. We have been pushed on. With the sheep arriving, and being so heavily infested with docks in the Station Field where they were supposed to graze, this has pushed us into having to get the other fields fenced. Which means that we will probably spent another winter sleeping in the caravan. Not to worry. The fencing needed to be done. 

It's been manic here because Tam Wood needs to be finished, Hubs having ordered the Tamworth pigs for mid summer. Fencing nearly finished, grillage left to be put on. 

It's been manic here because Hubs has got to get the rabbit hutches sorted out. Rabbits? What rabbits! These rabbits:

So, Sarah, bless her, screeched up in her car late evening last night. "Here are your rabbits" she said with gleefulness. (Sara lives in the House of the Camels, down the road, and has animals of various sorts. She opens to the public from Easter to September)
"Rabbits?" I said.
"Yes, the ones I was speaking to Lester about the other day".
Oh those rabbits. From the mum of the boyfriend of the young lady who exercises Sarah's horses. The same mum who purchased a boy rabbit and a girl rabbit a while back, with the intent to have rabbits to eat. The very same mum who fell in love with her rabbits, and couldn't do the dastardly deed of recycling them. So she now has ten. With the number rising as we speak. Rabbits are keen to make progeny. 

So two have been donated to us. They are in the dog kennel. On my kitchen table. Because Bools and Gus who do wake up occasionally would simply love to have a go at recycling the rabbits themselves. And Hubs's cooing over them, and " Aren't they sweet, and oh look they look so pretty," and other besotted comments he has made, does not bode well for him being able to recycle them either. Time will tell. Funnily enough, I seem to have the more sterner attitude, the 'We are living on a smallholding, and this is the rythm of life. We look after our animals, give them a good life, and then they enter the cycle of life' type of thinking. But that is probably only the case for the moment. Hubs is already talking about extending the 'flock' to make a breeding 'herd'. (What do you call loads of rabbits. Any ideas?)

But: Bestest of all: They eat docks. Yes they do! They eat docks!

And this is the boy rabbit and the girl rabbit, in their newly decorated temporary home, and the boy rabbit, bless him, is eating a dock leaf, of which there is an unlimited supply out in the fields. They are four months old. And so they become our first farm animals. 

Also contributing to the general state of manic busyness: Hubs is still working all day at his PC for a company in the UK, doing a job which is intensely stressful to his head but pays the bills. And I am still working at writing, self publishing, and sorting out a shop for my Internet website. Meanwhile, the mini-farm is demanding more of our energies and seems to have taken on a life of its own.

Life is good down here in South West France, just north of Tarbes, east of Plaisance, by the River Adour. Life is good.