Monday 24 January 2011

Jigging about

Been busy here as per usual. Builders not here this week, so can catch up. Floor in the Tall Barn was laid, no chickens got stuck in it concrete because they were banned. By Jean Pierre they were banned, especially after one of the hens stoically refused to move again when he was laying the plastic lining. Lester had to pick her up, and shut her in the wood shed. Then he forgot about her for the rest of the day. But she forgave him, and delivered an egg for us on the windowsill while she was waiting for release.

The baby chicks are now growing fast. Too fast. Because two of the male cockerel babies have now started to practice crowing which makes the White Cockerel crow all the more. We don't mind that. But it does make the rest of the girls restless, and the general bon hommie of the girls suffers. Not to worry, though, because we are getting five eggs per day at the moment, but it has got cold again so they may go on egg-laying strike until it gets warmer.

Tess has just had another 'time of the month', so still not preggers. But we are hoping to acquire two Tamworth piglets in a few weeks time, so at least we are moving forward on the piggy front, even if our two Tams do not seem to be able to make babies.

The fencing for the new pig pen is done, and Tess and Max are joyfully romping around on firm ground. But they have already dug up one corner so this will not last long. Once some rain falls, then they will sloshing round in mud again. Tess hates mud. Stays inside. Sleeps the day through. Can't blame her. I would do the same if I were her.

Sheep are doing well. Lambs are growing fast. They are a joy, our sheep. Feel peace oozing into me when I watch them. That is unless they see me. Then they have taken to yelling at me for I know not what. So I peep at them through the gate. And I can see the culprit who is trying to pull the tarpaulin off the hay bales. And the way the lambs hooliganize the others. Who said sheep were 'thick' and 'dumb'! Ours aren't!

The bee keeping project has raised it head again. Trying to find a swarm of bees here is hard work, mostly because of my lack of French. Might order some by post. Not sure how one gets those bees out of the parcel and into the hives, but YouTube will provide the answer no doubt. Someone would have posted up a vid, I am sure!

Quite some time ago, Lester woke up one morning and said, out of the blue, that if he had a band he would call it The Bollards. Meanwhile, he disposed of his damaged violin (done unto death during the hurricane of January 2009) in one of his cleaning-up bonfires, so no instrument did he have. No more, he decided, was he going to play music. It was done. Forever.

And then we went to a music evening at Isotges, a village nearby. His appetite for music became wetted again. Yesterday a violin was bought. Last night we jigged and played together, him on the violin and me on the electric keyboard which is a substitute for a piano at the moment. I have much to learn. He plays a real cool fiddle. I play classical. I have to learn to jig. Maybe 'The Bollards' have been born, maybe not!

Meanwhile, I continue to play the piano in accompaniment to a French lady who plays the flute. She does the classics. I hope to losen her up a bit, sort of 'unstarch her'. Got her to play some celtic fiddle music the other day, and she did some foot tapping while she did so. 'Looking good for loseness' is what I thought.

Meanwhile I have joined a French choir, my first evening giving me the feeling of drowing in a sea of foreigness as everyone chitter-chattered around me, including receiving instruction from the lovely young lady who is the conductor. I do have English friends there. Which did not stop me from having that drowning feeling. I am in France, am I not? Therefore there will be a huge amount of people speaking French, will there not? Oh so why am I surprised when I am surrounded by lots of people speaking French. Ah well, so anyway: I will continue with the choir. I will not stop going. And the lady beside me threw me a life jacket by speaking slowly to me so I could understand the odd word here or there, and she kept smiling at me. A smile, I find, is an encouraging thing to have sent your way when you are in a situation  which is difficult.

Off to into Plaisance today to get the glass on the door of our wood burning stove replaced, it having decided to make a crack, which quickly migrated into a hole, when then further grew into a broken piece of glass. All this on Saturday. Well, actually, the crack had started last week, and we kept looking at it thinking that we ought to sort it out, but other things got in the way. Then the hole appeared, but we put the shovel of the fire cleaning equipment against the hole which blocked the bits of red hot embers from shooting out like fireworks through the hole. And continued to let other things get in the way of having the glass replaced. 

But then the glass became unsafe on Saturday. It having got very cold here the last couple of days, being without a fire yesterday was not nice. But we jigged about with our instruments which lent a happy air to the end of Sunday.

So sending a smile your way.......

Sunday 16 January 2011

Dawn, Part 2 & Chicken sit-in

And so the time of the egg-lay did come upon this hen, and she did sit upon the ordained egg-lay spot as chosen by White Cockerel, the King of all hens at Labartere. The urge to do her allotted task lay heavily within her, fixing her to the saucer of earth as if glued. She was not to be shifted.

Meanwhile, into this hallowed space, the Frenchman came on his red chariot. And he did do his work, and did it well, for his task this day was to smooth the floor of this space, laying down this pile of stones from outside to inside.

He did not see the hen intent on her egg-laying task, for she had been about her busyness and he had been about his.

But then he did have cause to swivel the arm of his chariot, and he did espy the hen, and he knew upset. For was not the time of the food soon to arrive, and was not his intent to complete his allotted task before he went to his nourishment.

And so he did approach the hen. Spoke words the equivalent of 'Off you go' but said in French man-speak.

She did not move.

And so he waved the arm of his chariot in the air above her head. No. That hen did stay fixed in her position.

And French man spoke to Him, expressing his concern lest his job remained unfinished and the day be lost.

So Him made him a cup of tea.

Soothed, the Frenchman did leave. To his food he went.

The hen continued on with her allotted task. The chariot slumbered in lunch time repose. All became quiet in this hallowed place.

And that precious bearer of life was laid, and great rejoicing was had by all of the inhabitants in the Land of the Chicken Hut. For had not a battle been won? For had not the chariot been made to stop? For had not the hallowed egg-space been preserved?

Actually no.

For it is in the nature of the hens of the flock to go about their daily lives once the new egg has been laid. There is other work to do: clean out the sheep barn, recycle morsels from the compost heap, rummage in the veg plot, keep Him occupied by asking for food, keep Her occupied by going to the loo right in front of the door, etc...... And so the busyness of their days lead them away from the hallowed egg-lay space.

French Man did a return. Long food-time he had had. With energy he mounted his chariot.

Alas, the hallowed egg-lay space is no more. The egg was saved though. Which is good.

And so the battle was lost by the flock. And today a new task lays ahead of the White Cockerel, for he has to choose a new hallowed space, and it has to be somewhere else because in a few days time the floor will be cemented over. It is a hard task being King of such a changing land. But not to worry. He will win through.

However: It came to be a good day, a sunny day, a day not to be dismissed in the general busyness of the life that is led by all here at Labartere, or so Her thought. 

And it came into her head that perhaps it was time to take a few minutes of rest. Or an hour. Flowing on with this thought, Her did a rummage in the Half Barn stuff, and came upon this:

And much was the dismay of Her. For what was this mess upon this well treasured item. How came this abomination. For this bed, this sunbed, was festooned with the leavings from the rear-ends of the inhabitants from The Land of the Chicken Hut.

And she thought, with happy thoughts, about the many hours of pleasure spent upon this bed. Her felt the sun outside calling. Yet she dithered. A rest was needed, for was not The Back of Her being difficult, it having been given the task of late to help Her render onto the earth outside of the house, in the part of Labartere known as The Front Garden, a tidyness, Her having been inspired to pursue such an activity by an unfortunate espying on the Internet of plants. Yes, plants. Those living beings which create such a surge of activity in the bodies of those who feel the urge to go plant those plants, and to which The Back of Her was in disagreement with after having been made to do such a task.

So the sun outside and The Back of Her inside did bind together in another urge. With determination did Her take up that bed which had suffered at the hands of the occupants of The Land.

And she did lay down upon that bed. Outside she lay. And had a glorious roasting for all of the afternoon, until the sun laid itself low in the sky, and the shadows did fall, and the goosebumps arose upon the skin of Her, giving a reminder that it was still the middle of January, and therefore Winter time.

And she forgave The Land flock for the soiling of the bed, for she had had a roasting, a precious roasting, and that put her in a good humour, which was good for all at Labartere.

Monday 10 January 2011

Chickens: Sorted!

A marinade. This is what is in the bowl above. But for why would I be posting such a photo? Ah, well...........

And so it came to pass that in the Land of the Chicken Hut much bother arose. The two Princelings of the the Kingdom were marching into adulthood. Their struttings were increasing and they felt the need to practice their cock songs. At all times of the day they practiced. And for a while their voices were husky and quiet. But over time, well quite quickly actually, their voices were becoming brighter, sharper, louder.

And so White Cockerel, the King of the Land of the Chicken Hut, became anxious lest these usurpers to this throne took away his rightful place as Head of the Girls. For was it not his right to father the future generation, or try to? Even if the job of doing so was rather strenuous when it came to the big girls? Stoically he hangs on when doing his repopulating job. All of the egg laying girls are bigger than him. But his stoicism remains. Hanging on with his beak to the head of the girl seems to do the trick.

So all was not well in the Kingdom. White Cockerel was feeling the need to sing more and more through the hours of the day. In competition with those Princelings was this King.

And Head Man said "No more! My ears are full of cock songs!" With stealth, when all slept, he did take the Princelings from their chosen perch on the roof of the Land of the Chicken Hut, and did bed them down for the night in confined quarters. It was to be their last sleep before the big sleep came upon them.

And still King Whitey did voice his rage at the would be usurpers, even though they were hanging upside down being plucked.

With reverence and respect did Her lay the bodies of the Princelings in their freezer tomb, giving them a blessing for the life they had shared with her. She thought fondly of them, and the place they had in her history, for were they not the first born of the small farm.

And so it came to pass that it was time for the recyling to begin. Her searched for a suitable, and fitting, end to one of the Princelings. On the Internet she did search.

Et voila!

One marinade: some veggies (garlic, carrots, onions). Half a jar of  homemade apricot jam. And, best of all, a bottle of red wine!

Into that vino soup put one of the Princelings, now separated into eight pieces, bless him.

All into slow oven for hours. Too long really, as Her was heavily involved with the allotted task of the day, as given to her by Him, which was moving the electric fencing poles to give the sheep flock new grazing, them all having decided to make a break-out the previous day in disgust at the lack of effort on Him and Her's part in regards to the quality of the food they were expected to eat, after all they were either with child or had newborns, so felt more deserving of better food, even though there were hay bales in abundance to do a raid on, even though they were fed grain in the evening, even so they had done a walk-out, and through the low fence across the drive they had barged their way out, through the lush and verdant would-be lawn out front of the house they had gone, and out onto the even more lush and verdant kerbside offerings of the lane, their walk-out being espied by the lady in the house at the top of the lane, who hot footed it down the lane to shoo them back to home and call urgently out to Him and Her, whereupon Him did a growl at the them and shooed them over to the Side Field, where the grazing is very low because they had spent the last six months eating the once lush field all up, so they were not best pleased, and they did moan and moan for the rest of the day, but Him and Her deaf-headed them. "We are doing our best" they thought, "so they will have to be patient".

So that's what took up the hours of the day during which the recycled Princeling was being cooked.

Eventually out of the oven he came. With trepidation Her investigated. A morsel tasted.

And with full tums Her and Him smiled at each other as they roasted themselved in front of the wood burning stove. Him had spent the day on the new pig paddock. Her had spent the day shifting the electric fencing for the sheep. The day had been warm, the sun coming out often. It was good way to spend a Sunday.

Ending up in a bath of red wine was a fitting end to a member of the Land of the Chicken Hut.

Cock au vin was the name of the dish. Fitting, don't you think!

Peace reigns. The chickens have started laying again. Five eggs yesterday. One of the virgin layers gave us this:

No, not the egg on the left, but the tiny one on the right! Well, we all have to start somewhere!

Wishing you a belated Happy New Year, from all of us here at Labartere in South West France, where humans and animals are all learning to live as a family.