Wednesday 30 May 2012
I have a theory that the items needing washing up have frolics when no one is around, that the cups, plates, saucepans, cutlery, and everything else needing a wash, mate with each other and make more of themselves. I had a pile to do. There must have been lots of frolics going on.
The washing up is done on a table in my temporary kitchen, which is out back of the house. It is done in a bowl. There is no water out back, so the bowl has to be filled at the front of the house, in the sink there which has cold water and hot water from a little boiler. The bowl of hot sudsy water, which is quite heavy, I then carry down the hall, hopefully not tripping over the tarpaulins on the floor which I sometimes do even when not carrying anything, and so back round to the kitchen. I use a tray to put the washing up on so it can drain. I get splashed and dripped on and frequently end up with a soggy front of me including damp feet. But I manage. However, the washing up is never, ever, all finished. Normally the water in the bowl gets too mucky so the bowl has to be carried back along the hallway to the front door, where it gets thrown out much to the delight of the chickens who have taken it upon themselves to act as cleaners of the washing up water. They are very keen on this task. They always hurry to help.
The water for the loo is also got from the tap in the front of the house. We use a watering can for this. Yesterday we didn't have to. For two visits to the loo I flushed. Yes I did! I had one opportunity to use the little button, and one to use the big button. Wow!!!! Quelle magnifique!!! Four years without a 'proper' loo, starting off with porta potties, then graduating towards a sit on loo but with watering can. Gosh!!! Wow!!! Not only that, but I washed my hands in a sink. Yes, a proper sink!! In the bathroom!! Oh joyful did I feel as I gathered my choir music and headed out towards the car to go to a rehearsal. And joyful did I feel as I walked past the hay piled high in the Porch Gate waiting for me to make into mini DIY hay bales. And joyful did I feel when I got in to the car, knowing that there was nothing wrong with it, the garage man having said that there wasn't. So what was that loud cracking sound, followed by that frightening rattle. No one knows, but I am feeling joyful that we don't have to pay out a lot of money to get it fixed.
Lester, meanwhile, got on with finishing up for the day. And I am sorry that I was not there to help you when the male piglet escaped and you had to chase him round and round and round because he did not want to go back through the electric fence and I am sorry that I was not there to share your concern in case all of them made an escape because you had to switch off the electric fence to encourage that little rascal to go back through it and I am sorry that it made you all hot and bothered and that your ears got hurt by the din that all the piggies were making and I sorry that I forgot to put the pig food on to cook earlier on in the day because I was cleaning up the top of the cooker from the days of spills from the boiled over pig food pot which had accumulated into a thick wadge of blackness and I am sorry that I moaned at you for giving the pigs a hosing down to cool them off earlier on only the hosepipe from the new water tap at the back of the house was unfurling the rolls of hay I had, with much effort, just made (all eight of them) as you moved from pig paddock to pig paddock. And I am sorry for not sharing with you the new little pond for the geese, which they were being thoroughly joyful in, but which brought a furrow to your brow, for where there should not have been a mini pond there was.
And so I made a return.
"There's no water in the house at all" Hubs said, "I've had to switch it all off. There's a hole in the mains water pipe. I rang the plumber. He didn't say anything. I paid him today. Anyway, there's no water".
Not to worry. There is water in the big pond out by the Pig Paddocks so we can join up several electric leads together so that the pump Hubs has already taken down to the pond can pump water in to the pig wallows, and veggie plot. We have a well out front. I can take the extension lead from my sewing machine and connect it to the pump in the well and fill up some spare black dustbins with water from which the watering can for the loo can be filled as well as possible water for the sheep and pigs and geese and chickens.
All is well.
Can't wash, can't flush the loo, can't wash up, can't do the clothes washing.
But for one magic hour the bathroom was functional, although only with cold running water.....................and we even had a squirt of the shower.
Hopefully Veolia, the water company, will not take too long to mend the hole.
Hopefully Veolia, the water company, will not charge us.
Hopefully Lester's job will pick up. When one door closes and another door will always open, that is what I keep saying to him to keep his spirits up.
Hopefully it will not rain today until I get the hay bales in under cover.
Hopefully the chickens will resist the new urge they have formulated, which is to undo the mini hay bales I have made by scratching and pecking at the dried grass held within these fragile bundles.
Hopefully it will rain this evening so the plants can have a good watering.
Hopefully Hubs' back will not be so stiff this morning after having spent ages over the last few days scything the grass so we can make hay.
And hopefully we shall have water in the house sometime before next Christmas, and also, maybe, hot water as well, only the plumber men have now dismantled the pipes connecting the water to the front of the house cold water tap and the small hot water boiler. So no more going to and fro the hallway with a bowl of washing up water. Hot water will come from a temporary sink in the proper kitchen which is but an empty space at the moment. It will not be such a commute between there and the temporary kitchen. But there is no water in the house, so that is for the future.
But an idea has just popped into my head. In our caravan days I used to use water which the sun had heated up. Could use such a system again to keep the washing up done. Water from the well into a container. Let the sun heat it. Carry container into house, or take bowl to container, fill it, carry it back to the kitchen.
Hopefully Veolia will be here soon!
Sunday 27 May 2012
Haymaking, that is what we were doing today. In baking hot sun, Lester was scything, and I was walking around with a huge pile of cut grass over my head looking like a proper-type of farm girl, the pile of grass being hefted on my shoulder by a garden fork.
Then it got too hot.
Then we went indoors (early afternoon). Then a friend came round to collect his rabbit who had been having a jolly with one of our boy rabbits, the friend’s rabbit being a female. Then our friend got under our car because on the way home from a rehearsal on Friday afternoon the car had done an almighty cracking sound followed by humungous rattles so I had to drive at ten miles an hour through winding country roads with the hazard warming lights on hoping I would not get bumped into by a faster travelling car, anyway our friend had a look under the car and said to get the car to his place later on that afternoon so he could have a look at it.
Then we had a quick lunch.
Then we lay on the bed (me and Lester, our friend having left) and had a pow wow about the car and decided that we would put it into the garage because we needed it fixed pronto. Then Lester rang our friend to let him know this. Then he came back to bed for a nap, but I got up without a nap because I had to go outside and turn the hay in the Side Field, the Front Garden, and the Kitchen Field so that its under sides would dry. The I went back to join Lester. Then we had a sleep for an hour.
Then I put the hay to bed for the night by raking it up into piles. Then I picked up the sheep’s poo in the Sheep Paddock. Then I brought the dry hay in. Then I made a couple of DIY hay bales. Then I gave up and went inside because the midges were fearsome in their need to have a drop of my blood.
Things I learnt today:
That lying in the hay is a very frolicsome thing to do. At least I think it would be a frolicsome activity, but I had to make do with lying across the hay piled high in my wheelbarrow. It did have an odd effect on me though and I fetched up with feeling like I wanted to get into the wheelbarrow and have a proper lie down on it. Must be my age. Or too much sun. Or both.
That applying vinegar to the mozzie bites seems to calm the itching.
That it is nice to have friends who write to you about what they are doing on Sunday afternoons.
That hay making is very good for the soul.
That it would be nice to have a helping hand with the haymaking task though. Any offers?
Friday 25 May 2012
The mosquitoes have not kept their distance. The air is thick with them. In the morning I have taken to wearing my straw hat sprinkled with citronella oil. I am also am wrapped up with fleece, scarf, and long trousers tucked in to socks. It gets hot with all these clothes on, so I end up drenched in perspiration, but I am not complaining.
So what am I doing? Scything. A thought has just popped in to my head that I could perhaps wear my beekeeping outfit to keep the mozzies away from my skin. I might look a bit odd, standing with bee hat, bee suit, all in white, whilst honing the curved edge of my scythe, but probably no odder than being wrapped up as if for winter on a gloriously warm early morning in May.
I am doing well with the art of scything. Am managing to not lift the blade so much off the ground when I am doing the scything strokes, and even get into a nifty rhythm occasionally. I generally wheelbarrow the cut grass over to the Side Field where I can spread it out to dry, and when it is dry, wheelbarrow it into the Porch gateway there to be stacked up because I didn't know what I was supposed to do with it next. Anyway, an idea ventured forth in to my head last night, and that was to make some DIY hay bales. Now last year I had a go at making these using big plastic boxes and string, and they did work despite Hubs nearly falling over with laughter at my hay bale attempts. I didn't make many, just three.
.....well this was my first attempt!
I have made four so far, these two being the first. I think you will agree that they do look a bit better than my first attempt this time last year! And the hay is DIY as well, scythed and dried by moi, not like last year when I used the left over hay that a farmer had cut from our fields. So why are the bales perched up on things? Because I caught the chickens pecking at them when I left them on the ground.
I had a bit of a disaster yesterday. Upon examining the top tray of seedlings in the Tardis, to see how much growth had been done since the morning, there was no growth because there were no seedlings to be seen. Gone. All gone. I couldn't believe my eyes. Just pots with compost in, that is all that I could see.
I had changed the cover that morning, taking off the tinted one and replacing it with a clear plastic cover. I thought it would encourage the seedlings to grow less stretched, become more bushy, give them the light that I thought they needed. I had reckoned without the force of the sun, for it had fried those seedlings into nothingness. This morning I put a towel over the roof, but a couple of pots still became fried, so I covered the whole lot in a sheet. Tomorrow I am going to rig up swimming pools in the trays that the pots are kept in so that the compost remains damp. Either that, or I go buy some young veggie plants from the plant sellers!
Our builders turned up today. Did a bit, then went off early, today being Friday when they always work for half a day. But the plumber came this afternoon. We have a shower. We can play with the knobs of the shower. We can stand underneath the shower. But we stay dry because it is not plumbed in to the water system yet. They also did some work to the loo. We can now sit on the loo and it remain firmly in place rather than tilting ever so slightly if we sit down on the seat with too much of a thump. It has been screwed to the floor, that is what has happened to the loo, plus it has its cistern now in place although, like the shower, there is no water in it, only in the bowl of the toilet, which we still have to flush by watering can. Still, it is soooooo much better than the porta potti we had to use back when we were living in the caravans.
Counting our blessings.... we can stand in the shower and make believe that we are having a shower, and we can most definitely sit on the toilet with more confidence. Plus the sun is shining so I can keep my DIY hay bale activities on the move.
Hope you have a good weekend, and bye for now.
Thursday 17 May 2012
My other new implement also has a long handle. In fact it has two handles, one up top, one half ways down the haft. But it doesn't have lots of prongs, it has one. Made of metal, quite wide, wider than one of the prongs, and slightly curved. It is sharp as well, or is supposed to be. When I am standing with it, it is tall enough for me to lean on. When I am standing with it I look like the Grim Reaper. Yes folks, it is a scythe. Not a 'proper' scythe with a mile long blade, but nevertheless a blade long enough to give me a poke if I don't carry it right.
"Oh so pray tell me," you might be asking, "For why do you think you need a scythe?"
"For to cut my mile high grass" would be my reply.
"Would it not be better to use modern technology in the form of a mechanical machine, one that runs along on wheels, uses petrol, makes a noise, smells, may or may not start, is heavy to push despite supposed to be having front wheel drive...."
"Because our modern technology mechanical machine has broken, never to be mended ever again because, for one, it costs too much, and for two, Hubs is ticked off with having to keep mending the string which has to be pulled so that the motor can turn with sufficient energy to make the machine move."
"A strimmer then?"
"Because they are just as much of a nuisance to operate, plus they get tangled up with things and jam, plus it is difficult to aim it with any accuracy which can be disastrous if one is trying to trim around the bottom of one of Hubs' precious fruit trees and one accidentally slices off a chunk of the tree trunk, and, like the mowing machine, they are noisy, smelly, heavy and a nuisance to start as well."
For ages it has been on our minds that we would like to have a go at using a scythe, then the mower broke, and to replace it is very expensive because we don't have a lawn as such, we have a field which we are trying to convert in to a lawn, so we need a heavy duty lawnmower. So the Scythe Project has been revisited, and a purchase of one has been made.
It is a fearsome looking thing, even in the shop we bought it from I was getting some odd looks as I leaned on it in the queue at the till, but then Lester was also leaning on another equally menacing implement which had a semicircular blade, and which he thought would be ideal for hacking away at the brambles.
Eagerly we tried our new implements out, Lester first of course, because he is The Man, me afterwards, when he got tired. Now a scythe looks simple to use, even if it has a deadly appearance. It is not simple. Not much grass could we cut. But we were not defeated. On to the University of the Internet, Youtube, not Lester, but me. Eagerly I sat and absorbed the elegant techniques of scything as given by several Youtubers: how to stand, how to hone, how to make hay.
Up at six the next morning, because it is 'best to cut the grass when the dew is still upon it'. Up and down the blade I honed. Out into the front garden I went. And swish went the scythe, and swish again, and again, and again. And yes! There before me were few bits of cut grass. I honed again. Tried a different technique when swinging the scythe and was more successful with the amount of grass that was cut on each swing. Half an hour, that is all I allowed myself on that first trial run, only I did not want to do myself a damage.
Back to Youtube to receive more instruction. Back outside the following morning with increased skill, but not much in all honesty. Trial and error, that is what there has to be when one is learning new things, and this most certainly applied to me.
But........I have managed to cut sufficent grass to make quite a pile out front, so wheelbarrowed it over to the Side Field where there was more room to spread it out to dry. As per instructions from a Youtuber, I spread the grass out, left it, raked it, rolled it, spread it, left it, raked it (again), turned it (again), left it (again), then rolled it up to form a mound so the morning dew can only wet the outside of the pile. Tomorrow I have to rake it, spread it, leave it, rake it, leave it, turn it, leave it, and finally roll into large piles for taking away. And that is all we have to do to make some hay to feed our sheep during the winter.
I am a trainee hay maker and scyther of grass. Scything is addictive. I am a scything addict. Now all I have to do is keep watching those Youtube vids so I can see where I am going wrong. Perhaps tomorrow, or eventually, I might be able to cut with a smooth motion accompanied by a swishing sound. It can be done because I have seen it on Youtube..........
Hubs having his first go at being a scyther
Wednesday 9 May 2012
And there was the other lady who turned up today and asked if she could buy a lamb, so we said probably yes, and she is going to come back at the end of the week.
And then there was news from our roofer, Jean Pierre, to say that Danny, our builder, had met with an unfortunate accident whereby he fell three metres through a ceiling as it collapsed beneath him. The bad news is that our bathroom is now not going to be completed although it is probably half a day off finishing, but the good news is that Danny will live to see another day despite having a wound in the side wall of his chest from the wood floor boards tearing away at him. Ah well. Have managed with a flannel and bowl to wash in for nearly four years so can manage a few more weeks.
And then there was almost an accident at the airport. Having booked my flight to go back to the UK for a few days I had decided that there were things I needed to get a move on with before I left, one of them being to open a French bank account for myself. So was in the middle of doing that, bank account was no probs according to the nice French bank manager, but as he handed me back my passport after taking a photocopy of it a voice in my head said 'Have a look at the expiry date' and horror of horrors it was almost a year to the day out of date. Ooops. Can you imagine how awkward that would have been if I had been stood in a queue waiting to board the plane to the UK only to be denied being able to board because of the out of date passport. Worse still, the airport authorities in France not noticing, so off I would go to the UK, only to be refused exit from the UK when I wanted to return home. Crikey, but that would have been horrendous, so God bless that voice in my head for nudging me into looking at that passport. Have to delay the flight now, but no probs, just cost me an extra few euros, sixty to be exact.
And then there are the hens in the Middle Barn who have hatched out three chicks, one hen having one, the other hen having two. But somewhere in the night one of those chicks vanished, eaten by something or other, so that left two chicks. Because the hens are together those chicks have become confused by which is their right mum, and the hens have become equally confused. So the upshot of this is that the hens are sharing mum-duties and the chicks sort of hang about both of them. But those chicks are not going to survive. It is only a question of time before something gets to them. It is madness here at the moment. I think the wet weather has made hunting for food difficult for those creatures who are raising young. Never, in our four years of living here, has the pressure from local predators for food been so strong. Even Gussy, one of our spaniels, launched himself at a chicken for no apparent reason yesterday. Feathers flew everywhere so he must have got a mouthful of the hen. Now he is not a predator, but Bools, our other spaniel, and him seem to be unsettled, possibly because of the amount of scent trails they are finding about the place. Or perhaps they are feeling the surge of spring in their bones and they just feel like being naughty. Either way, Gus got a spanking for attacking the hen.
And then there was the deer who got herself trapped in the Main Field. Saw her running up and down, round and about, not able to find the way out. Couldn't help her so assumed she would eventually escape the same way she got in, wherever that was. Two days later and she was still trapped. Thought I ought to help her get out. Thought that if I took Bools and Gus into the field with me, that that might encourage her to get into such a panic that she would then take a leap over the fence, although it is very tall. With enthusiasm did Bools and Gus join me as we jumped the ditch to get into the field. Unfortunately the sheep were in the field as well.
As soon as they say me and the dogs they took it upon themselves to do a panic which then panicked the deer which then had the dogs joining in thinking it all a good game, which then had me yelling at them to come back because I didn't want the sheep overheated because it was a hot day and they have got very thick wool coats now because of the very cold February temperatures, even when walking about they are huffing and panting with the stress of the heat and they still have a few weeks to go before they are sheared. Anyway, Bools and Gus did not take any notice of me at all, so the deer darted off in front of the sheep, and the sheep darted off after the deer thinking that the deer was one of their gang rather than being of a different species. Fortunately, though, Gus did a right hand turn which separated the sheep from the deer, which encouraged the sheep to turn right, and then they all disappeared into the hedge copse, no doubt to cool down.
By this time the deer was totally freaked out, took a sharp left turn, raced towards the fence, going to jump....but no, she didn't. What she did was jumped in to the fence head first. Through her head went. The rest of her stayed in the field. With legs going this away and thataway she set up a fierce struggle with that fence. The fence stayed put and did not give way. By now Gussy was yards away from her. I, fearing that he would bite her, was yelling at him to come back to me. Gussy, being Gussy, deaf headed me. Carried on. Strooth. All I could do was try to pick up my pace so I could get to the fence to help the deer. Not sure how I was going to do that. Those legs of hers were kicking about all over the place. Gussy was nearly on her. I yelled even louder at him the word 'NO'. And then....wow....she was through, and bouncing through our neighbours field at great speed, wanting to get as far away from us as possible. By now I had almost reached the fence. The hole she got her body through was no bigger than a dinner plate. Having a Gussy dog up your bum must have done the trick, gave her enough of a spurt to push the wire open enough to squeeze through.
And then there is Lester trying to get another pig pen made because Max, our Tamworth boar, needs to be moved so that the two paddocks which are side by side can be the domain of the two girls and the two piglets. He is doing well, has cemented in umpteen poles, with umpteen left to go. Max, meanwhile, has taken to roaring his displeasure at not being able to bully anyone now he is on his own. Meanwhile, I am trying to get the veg seeds planted. Now here is a funny thing. When the seeds were not planted I raged against the unending rain which prevented me from getting outside. This has reversed now I have got some of the seeds in the ground. Now I search the skies in the hope that we will have a shower or two!
So no, there is not much happening here in SW France at the moment.
Blessings to little Eva, born to my son Shaun and his wife Christina. Love you both. xx Will try to get my passport sorted out assap. Looking forward to seeing you soon.
Tuesday 1 May 2012
All go to bed indoors now. Well, not our indoors. What I mean is, that they go to bed in their in their own bedrooms, except two hens who park themselves high up in the fig tree. Even the two geese are put indoors, their ‘indoors’ being the wood shed, which is now almost empty because the various items of wood have been used up. Two geese? Yes, two. The males. Where is the female? In a fox’s tummy, that’s where.
Half dressed I zoomed through the house to the front door, clumping rather than zooming, but speedily did I clump, shouting my head off as well, only the words were all sort of jargled, it being not easy to do a clumpy speediness plus breathe at the same time. To the door. Outside, Lester following, not sure of what manner of berserkness I was suffering from. I saw the hen. Thought her a goner. At the same time I saw that the wire which serves as the back gate was still open. The geese! Where were the geese! Always they are in the Courtyard, tucked in by the chickens. It was pouring hard with rain. Had been for hours. We had been complacent, kept indoors by the ongoing downpour. Ah, but that fox had chosen its time well. Must have watched. Saw an opening.
Lester, Bools and Gus go on a hunt. No sign of her.
Everyone is in bed. In the morning not one peep from anyone. It is raining hard again, but normally the geese are chatting, Orpy is crowing, the pigs are making piggy type noises, and the sheep are starting to rev up. Today, silence. I suppose this is what would happen if we did not have animals here, this silence.
And tonight, they walked themselves back into the Hut without hardly any shepherding efforts on our part. I did feel tearful as I watched them go up the ramp. I don’t think those two boys are ever going to go in the freezer.