Wednesday 30 October 2013

Saying goodbye to the river beach

Off to the river for a splash,
the last one for a while, maybe for a year or two,
because the man came in his machine....

....and took the beach away,
plus chunks of our land as well,
so that the river can flow fast,
through the bridge.

For all the day long the grinding and crashing continued
as the machine lifted all that had been laid down
during the four floods of last winter.
It felt like toothache to my soul,
that is what it felt like
as I heard machine.

"But why", you might say,
"why would you feel in such a way."
Because of the amount of our bank
that the man in the machine,
also took away.

We lost a chunk of field last winter,
as the river flowed up and over our land,
and now a slice of woodland has also gone,
done away with by the man in the machine,
as he straightened up the bank,
so that the river might flow.

And of course it needs to,
otherwise it will fetch up on our land again,
which is not ideal,
given that we are a small farm
and not a water park with lakes.
Rationally I know this needed to be done,
but I still found the awesome noise of destruction,

Still green here,
with just a touch of gold here and there,

...and lookee here at what I found in the veg plot,
as I brought the last of the aubergines in,
Which proves that one must never give up,
when things are not going very well with one's veg,
because there can be a surge of growth,
and a surprise harvest can be had.
Bit like life really,
keep on going when things aren't so good,
and a surge forward will come.

Sunday 27 October 2013

Saying goodbye to the summer

It is with a modicum of relief that we have arrived at the time for putting the clocks back one hour, one lovely hour. But I have not actually done our clocks and watches yet although it is now 7 in the evening of the first day of the time change, because I am saving up that spare hour to use productively, although sitting out under the stars at a neighbours house last night, or rather early this morning, (actually it was half past one), I almost took that spare hour then, which meant that  we could have stayed a further hour or so enjoying the excellent company, but I decided against it and saved that hour. 

Neither did I feel the need to take an extra hour in bed this morning, the day grabbing hold of me and getting me up promptly at 6.30. Neither did I feel a need to take that precious hour during the day. But now I have arrived at the evening I am tired, and I do not feel like prolonging this day by taking that hour now, so I am saving it up for tomorrow, meanwhile the time on our small farm in SW France remains the same as it was yesterday. 

I have been a good girl in regards to the food stored in the larder, and have not done a raid on any of the produce waiting to be eaten, although the jars of new potatoes have been raided, and some of the jars of meat, but that was because there was an urgent need to fill our tummies fast because we were busy doing other things, not because I was being lazy and did not want to cook. 

Anyway, to stop myself from using the produce in the jars I made a promise to myself that I would not open any jar until the clocks went back, that the stored food was for those cold times when teeth are rattling, toes are numb, and fingers and all are frozen. To open a jar which was processed when the sun was shining will bring back the warmth of the summer, and raise up the spirits. I hope. 

So it is the time of the long evenings. Time to get on with writing and craft projects. Oh, and then there is work to do on the house. We have ordered a Rayburn wood burning stove from the UK, and it is being shipped out early next week. The Rayburn is for cooking, heating, and warming the cold buttocks on. I do not think that it will be installed in time to keep us warm this winter, but at least it will be here, and when I look at it I can visualise the heat which will be coming from it next winter, sort of borrowing the warmth ahead to heat the now albeit that it will be in my head. 

I do not mind saying goodbye to the summer this year. It has been a year of change on many fronts, and it is nice to be going into a slow down time for a while. Better enjoy it before 2014 arrives!

So, hugging my spare hour to my chest, bye for now, and hope you have had a good day.

Wednesday 23 October 2013

Muckiness, and a shocked little piggy

Today was a mucky day,
because it was time to clear out the Half Barn,
made into a mess,
by Billy Goat and his young girls.
The barn was tidy, 
in the before time,
when the goats were elsewhere,
actually in their mum's tums, 
because the residents of the barn
have been this year's youngsters,
put there to keep them away from their mothers teat,
so we could have the milk
instead of them,
so to pay us back,
they made mischief and mayhem
in the barn.

Fortunately the barn opens out onto the back field,
which made the task of picking up the muck,
not quite so bad.
But all done now,
and tomorrow we have Serge coming in
to help Lester
make some proper animal pens,
so that mayhem will never happen again,
although mischief probably will.

The two rottweiller girls continue on with their season,
driving poor old Bools,
quite nuts. 

And a two new donations,
for the pot actually, 
but time has not permitted,
so these two boys,
day by day,
are snuggling themselves into the animal landscape here.
It is likely that,
unless they cause a ruckus
that they will remain around the place.

And our two little boy piggies,
hoping for some milk,
and not very pleased 
that they had to do a photo shoot instead.

And here is their sister,
still with their mum.
And it was of this day that she had a fright,
it was actually a big shock of a fright,
because she did think to test the electric wire,
and caught the wire on one of its pulses,
fair and square, 
on her nose.
She keeled over,
just like an axed tree would,
over she went.
I thought her a gonner,
so did she for a moment or two,
then she sort of got two legs under her,
and hauled herself up,
then was taken with the shakes,
shock I suppose,
then she did a wee,
ah, that's better,
and off she trotted.

Half Barn now tidy. 
And the joys of opening two jars for lunch,
one was spiced lamb,
the other this season's new potatoes.
Simmered lamb for twenty minutes
to heat it through,
potatoes went into a hot frying pan
to roast off,
et voila,
within half an hour,
a good hearty meal,
rather than the egg on toast
we would have had
if I had not learnt
to can.

Am off to have a shower,
as feel ever so messy,
it having been a very mucky day.
Bye for now,

Monday 21 October 2013

She' s been seen to!

We waited all morning, and part of the afternoon,
and then the man arrived,
in gum boots,
one hand and arm enclosed in a bright pink plastic glove,
the other hand 
holding an equally long bit of tube thingy.
The pink plastic glove and tube thingy
then disappeared up Lissie's botty.

One would think that this insertion
would have made her yelp,
but no,
she stood,
obligingly quiet,
just with ears laid back,
maybe in astonishment.

First the scooping out of the poo.
Ah, so the glove was like a manual enema.
Then the insertion of the tube thing.
Ah, temperature taken.
New glove, new tube,
now going into the next door part of her botty,
a second later,
job done.

21 days time,
that is when we shall know,
if we are with calf.

Lissie remains quiet,
although has a slightly befuddled look in her eyes.
And so the cycle of life hopefully continues,
helped along by the nice AI man.

A lovely day

It has been a busy year,
almost non stop since the arrival of it on January 1st,
hardly any time to stop, think, and observe,
but today we did.
Pottered around with a few jobs,
but slowly.
Saw golden bits on the trees,
winter is on its way,
felt  a bit down about that,
until I wandered around our overgrown front garden
and saw the new growth of buds
on the shrubs and trees, 
all getting ready for spring 2014,
and felt quite uplifted,
making winter seem a mere blip.
It is not about wishing life to pass quickly,
it is about knowing that when the temperatures drop,
and the weather turns in on itself,
that I can remember those snapshots of young buds,
which will warm my heart.

Lissie had been yelling her head off,
indignant that there is no bull around,
trying to make do with the small black goat,
who hardly comes up to her udders.
But she continues to milk well,
giving us enough milk to cope with.
Artificial insemination today, hopefully.

And today I had the time to re-connect with our small farm,
having been in danger of becoming bogged down,
by the busyness of it all.
One has to stop and count one's blessings sometimes,
and that I did today.

Saturday 19 October 2013

Waiting on Lissie

We are waiting for the arrival of 'the time of the month' for Lissie so that the vet and his accomplice can come and get her with calf. It will have to be a bottle and tube job though, because there is no way we can either get her to a bull or have a bull live here, rams, boars, cockerels, and billy goats, being just about all we can manage. It is a shame that she will not be able to enjoy the proper route of getting to be with calf, but no doubt she will get her own back on us one way or another. 

So everything organised for the AI event. Except that Lissie, having been on time the previous couple of months, is not on time this month. We continue to closely observe her rear end. A tickle under the chin is also significant for triggering the need to rise up and mount. There seems to be a sort of erogenous zone just under the chin. This was proved with Bonny (her six month old calf) when, during a cosy up session, a tickling under the chin ended up with her rearing up at me. Upon observation of her rear end, it was to be seen that she was having her first season. 

Now this is a useful indication of time of the month, however one has to be careful around those two sensitive days lest one is reared up on, as it is quite possible that one would be rendered squashed upon the floor should this happen. Delicate tickles then, that is the rule, just to see if she is ready for action. But at other times she can have a full on tickle under the chin, plus any other tickles she would like to have, but only round the head area. 

So, watching and waiting. 

Saturday 12 October 2013

Oh this made my toes curl

Try this link if you can't get to the vid via the above link:

It is always nice to share toe-curling experiences!

Friday 11 October 2013

Breakfast in bed? I wish!

I have been up since 3am this morning.
Because the Universe has got me writing again,
which means early mornings,
before the day hits on me.

Its all right for some, though...
...she has breakfast in bed,
parks herself on top of the hay for the night,
then has nibbles of the hay she has been lying on,
for breakfast.
(Sorry about the poor quality of photo - dropped camera)

I have to get everyone up soon,
it's now 6.30 am,
Lester first,
cup of tea and toast in bed to get him up and going,
so he can go milking Lissie...

.... meanwhile, Bonny talks to me...

....and Ice Cream watches the two girls ...

.... who are going to start aggravating her at any minute now,

....because they are puppies, and can.
Ah, but one of these puppy girls has come of age,
and is having her first season.
We know this,
because Boolie has said that she is,
Bools being a male springer spaniel,
and willing,
but we say he can't,
so he has to stay with me all the time,
which he loves to do anyway,
because it was just him and me for years,
when Lester was working in the UK,
when his days were twelve hours long and more,
before we came here
to be smallholders
in France.

Breakfast for all then, 
that is what I am off to do.
Hope you have a good day,
we are plucking cockerels today,
did two yesterday,
two the day before,
we have about twelve to do,
we shall be plucking for a few days yet.
Why so many? 
Because we were donated a flock of chickens,
many of whom were cockerels,
and we have our own home grown cockerels
from our last batch of hatching eggs
to do as well.
Oops, need to get a move on!
Bye for now.

Wednesday 9 October 2013

Milking, cream, hornets & goat repreive

This madam is not supposed to be up there, she is supposed to be outside with her mates. She is new to the petite ferme and thought that she would do a bit of investigation of chez nous. It did not turn out too well for her. After being chased by three dogs I think she will change her mind about indoor visits. She left quite a few feathers behind in her charge back outside. 

Our onions did not do too well, with only these long ones surviving. Because of their shape I thought they might do as an experiment for dehydrating onions, which are supposed to smell dreadfully during the drying time. 

So into the dehydrator..... voila! All dried up, and with hardly any smell wafting about, but this might have been because the dehydrator is in the food storage area which is next to the dog's sleeping quarters which is were there tends to be a lingering aroma of wee sometimes because the rottweiller girls are still puppies although are huge in size and therefore do huge sized wees when they have the need upon them. Citronella does the trick of de-fuming though, and the puddles are getting less and less. Now the figs are finished for this year we are also minus figgy induced dog poos.

So those onions made three jars for winter use....

....more jars for the shelves, which are gradually filling up. 

Four days worth of cream, waiting to be made into butter.....

Lissie is continuing to be a perisher about being milked, but the three of us (me, Lester, Lissie) somehow manage, with me up the front end of her and Lester down below. Apparently milking cows calm down when in calf. We are urgently looking into artificial insemination. Asked the vet who said he knew the man who did this. Said to give him a call when next she is in season. Will do. 

Meanwhile, the goat who was going into the pot has been reprieved. She wagged her tail enticingly at the male goat this morning and kicked up a hell of a voice asking for his favours. Lester relented. Said that she should have the experience of having a youngster before she goes into the freezer. Asked if he was getting to be softy. No, I said. We are smallholders so can do as we like, and if that means being indulgent to a goat who wanted ever so much to have some moments with the male goat before her life is done, then so be it. Of course that does mean that we will have an extra two mouths to feed next year, but heyho, it will be worth it for the joy of seeing her prance across the field to get herself sorted out. But she can't be kept in the long term because she is not a milking goat, so her days are numbered, even though she has had this reprieve. 

Sarah down the lane has a chimney. In that chimney there was a nest. Hornets were in that nest. We have not seen any hornets at the beehive during the last two days. Sarah down the lane lit her fire so the hornets in her chimney would die. Well done Sarah! Looks like you cured our problem with hornets at the same time as you sorted out your 'under siege from hornets' dilemma. 

Lester is plucking a chicken, a cockerel actually. He has another five to go. Cockerels are lovely looking birds but have an unfortunate habit of causing mischief and mayhem amongst the girls, who need to be cosseted and not harassed by numerous randy cockerels. It is a long job plucking a chicken. I think I had best go and help him. But the disembowelling job I leave to him. Singing merrily as I go "Heyho and its a farmgal's life for me......"

Tuesday 1 October 2013

Howzatttt!!!! Thwack!!!!

So there I was,
under our fig tree,
stretching, bending, and "oh can I reach that one",

.... "and these two"...

....and "oops, that one squelched a bit",
.... and "wow this bowl is getting heavy".

But I can't put the bowl down,
because the dogs are also fig hunting,
and they will have those figs away from the bowl tout suite, 
and down into their tums
they will go,
to then make a return from the other end,
in the form
of poo,
this current situation having been going on
for weeks,
with little poo-ey piles dotted everywhere,
house included.

So there I was, 
deep in the essence of the fig tree.
What 'essence' is that?
I don't know,
it just is.

And as I was being thus moved,
I espied a difficulty
at the bee hive. 

This is the 'difficulty'...

just in front of the grill,
that humungous orange thing,
an Asian Hornet,

waiting to pounce,
and take away up into the air,
one of our honey worker girls
to dismember
and eat.

With loud voice did I yell "Lester",
and that mighty hunter of flies,
strode manfully to the hive
and did smite that Asian Hornet
stone cold dead,
with his fly swat,
which he have been practising all summer with,
on every single fly
which had dared to enter the house.

And I found myself being regretful for the bad humour,
which oft I had fallen into,
especially if I got inadvertently swotted as well,
as the fly cull went on and on,
It having been a very long hot summer,
and flies tend to land on me,
it is my pinny you see,
carrying the aroma of all that cooking I do,
that is what attracts them to me,
and Lester will thwack them,
so I get thwacked as well.
Not to worry,
the sting soon goes,
and it is all done with good humour,
sort of.

Four dead Asian Hornets,
that is the count so far,
we shall continue to fight the fight.