Thursday 28 May 2015

Been out........

Been out....
chopping and pulling up the thistles,
which have sprinkled themselves over our fields.
Not to worry,
most are now done,
well I think they are,
only they have a tendency to  magic more of themselves
whenever I look over my shoulder
to check that all are cut,
as I walk away from the field.
Been out....
scything patches of wilderness,
mostly along the back of the house,
where, if left, the wild growth will grow head high,
which it did last year.
Trouble is,
that it then makes for a stupendous hideout
for the rats.
So what I do is,
five hundred swings of the scythe,
some of which make efficient contact with the wilderness plants,
such that they fall down dead,
so, for the moment,
I am winning the battle.
didn't do the five hundred yesterday,
as I saved a portion of swipes
for the mini wilderness of bramble and nettle,
which were blocking the path to the river.
'Twas a good job done,
and as a reward,
I sat
on a fallen tree
(from our woodland, and torn down by the force of the full river)
and watched the dogs play,
and the water flow.
It was very nice.
Been out.....
watering the veg plot,
with watering cans,
because the pump has deceased itself,
so the hosepipe remains in its tangled heap,
un-used until the pump problem is solved,
while I plod around doing the watering
by hand.
Not to worry,
although the weight of the cans is heavy,
I soothe myself,
by thinking of the muscles I am building up,
which might perhaps be useful
for when I have to lift my piano accordion from off the floor
so that I can play it.
It is heavy.
But.....Veg plot?
Veg plot.
We have done an about turn
on our decision not to have DIY veg this year.
It was Lester's fault.
He had a tractor urge in the middle of May,
decided to plough the veg plot,
then rotovate it,
then sent me in to get the seeds planted.
Ah well,
keeps me fit and healthy,
I think.
(However, my back thinks not)
Been out....
cutting the brambles,
which is a task which I can never win,
but I have to try,
otherwise the brambles will suffocate all of Labartere,
including the house,
which they were doing when we came here.
Wrapped in a cocoon of brambles, and ivy,
that is how the house and immediate land was.
As I say,
I shall never win this war,
but I can fight a good battle,
for the rest of my time here,
no matter how long that might be.
Been out.....
went to Plaisance today,
which is our local small town.
It was market day.
Thought it a good idea to make a purchase:
a huge bunch of seedling leeks,
a huge bunch of  seedling onions,
and a smaller bunch of seedling onions.
It was one of those ideas which was 'must do',
and as with all such marvellous ideas,
the actual reality was far away.
Not to worry.
Went into the chemist,
and purchased some muscle rub,
which should hopefully let my back plant all those leeks and onions.
As I say,
seemed like a plan
when I stood in the plant queue in the market.
Shame I didn't ask my back if it agreed.
Also investigated a newly opened brocante,
(second hand shop)
will visit again.
Went for a plod down the road,
over the bridge,
then turned left to the bullring,
hoping to find a recommended carpenter,
which I did,
but no,
he did not make front doors,
just inside things,
so the search continues to find:
1) someone to make heavy oak front doors,
2) someone to sort out the plumbing for the Rayburn wood burning stove.
Been out....and now I am indoors again.
Need to get some lunch on the go,
as we have another band rehearsal this afternoon.
Concert on the 6th June.
Message to self:
Do not panic,
everything will be alright on the night!
Repeating this endlessly to myself,
I bid you farewell,

Sunday 17 May 2015

A jolly good thump

Thought you might like to come with me out into the far field......

.........I was standing at the furthest point of our land to take this photo because I was helping Lester out with the fencing. We have finished putting up the fencing wire now, but still need a long line of temporary poles put in before the animals can graze here. The poles can only be temporary because the proper poles we had put in a couple of years fell into the river when heavy water in the river tore away the bank.

This is the temporary fencing line, half of the poles are now in, but over half  are still waiting to be hammered in to the now hard ground. It is a tough job.

..... and standing closer to the edge of the bank, which is now suffering from serious erosion. This is looking down towards the Pyrenees, which is where most of this water is coming from at this time of year.

...... and looking in the other direction, and  you can see where the river is chomping away at our woodland. Mixed feelings, that is what I have when I stand on this spot, mixed feelings because of the sorrow I have for the loss of the land and trees, but still feeling blessed for being brought to this lovely place by the Universe.

So it came to the mid morning break of coffee and cake. All outside morning chores were done, and now it was the patch of time between the break and lunch. It can be quite a small patch of time which can easily be wasted especially if tiredness is hanging heavily upon one. On looking at Lester I could see that his eyes were getting a glazed sleepy look, so to perk him up I suggested that I help him with
getting Bonny's pen cleaned out. It was in a muck, and he had got half of it done already, but had sort of run out of steam, and I was needing a break from the house so I thought that the two of us might get the job finished.

Under instruction now.....
" see this wheel it through there (the middle barn) and out into the middle veg paddock........then you bring it back here and take this one (the other wheelbarrow now full of straw and poo and wetness and aroma) and empty that while I fill this one up for you...."
The wheelbarrow was fully loaded. It was heavy. I could hardly lift the handles to get it moving. Lester had already half filled the other wheelbarrow. I had to get moving.

Things I have learnt:

- that steering a loaded wheelbarrow round tight corners must be done with care, and not to tip it sideways even slightly to help steer it round the corner because the weight of the load will increase the tipping sideways movement and that lady arms really have to struggle to stop the wheelbarrow from dumping its load, so best to wiggle the wheelbarrow to and fro to negotiate any tight corners.

- that when presented with a plank of wood which has been balanced on a couple of bricks down which the wheelbarrow has to be pushed, that it is best to go at speed down this plank, narrow and wobbly that it might be, and not to fear that one might fall off and do a harm to one's self because this will make one take care and slow down which might prove disastrous as the slowing down will make the plank wobble even more which will then encourage one to fall off the plank anyway, plus of course the wheelbarrow which has been placed in one's care for the duration of the trip out to the veg plot. Be mindful then of the responsibility to this fully loaded barrow, and go swiftly down the plank.

- that it is wise to give an extra push to the wheelbarrow as the bottom of the plank is reached to avoid the moment when the wheel of the wheelbarrow connects with the dip where the plank meets the ground.

If being in a 'careful in case I fall off the plank' mindset then one is likely to have a very unhappy experience as the wheelbarrow suddenly comes to a jerking halt similar to that of having the breaks applied to the wheels of a moving car. This will cause a very unhappy experience as the back of the wheelbarrow collides with one's tummy, and one's arms go into overdrive as they try to stop the entire wheelbarrow from falling sideways.

Therefore, as mentioned previously, it is better to go at speed down the plank so that a momentum can be gained to get one's self and the wheelbarrow across the possibly disastrous dip.

- that one might think that one is fitter than one actually is. this being highlighted when the loaded wheelbarrow finally arrives at the site where the load is to be deposited, and there being no energy left in one's lady arms to lift the handles of the wheelbarrow sufficiently high enough so that the load can be tipped out.

that pushing a wheelbarrow over uneven ground can be quite uncomfortable on the feet. That is therefore best to where the stoutest shoes / boots that one owns, and not slipper type shoes / crocs which will only end up making one's feet very sore. 

- that the first time one takes the trip out to the veg plot is a novelty because one is so pleased to have made the trip, but beware that by the second, third, fourth, trip, that the novelty can wear thin.

Best to then put your mind on other things while one continues to work. Best not to get diverted and stop a while to look at the pigs in their paddock nearby. Best not to notice that one of the young female pigs has the hots for the male pig in the pen beside her. Best not to see that she has pushed her rump firmly against the fence in between them so he can get to her. Best not to realise that she has pushed the fence away from the board which is supposed to stop her from doing just that. 
Best not to go do a rescue on that fence. Better even more is not to pick up the wet three pronged gardening implement which is handily placed nearby and prod the frustrated female pig away. 
Ouch! Yes, Ouch! Better to have switched off the electric fencing before one used the implement. 

Not to worry, the thud across one's chest only lasts a moment, but one's head will let one know that one is receiving of an electric shock only after the event has passed, so then one has the curious sensation of thinking 'I'm having an electric shock oh crikey' when one is not actually having an electric shock because the moment of having the electric shock has passed. That one's world might feel that it has stopped, but the good news is that everything will be back to normal shortly.

- that one might have a soppy moment after such an event. That one might just let the wheelbarrow drop and possibly fall on to its side as the magnificent thought dawns upon one that one has just been receiving of one's first real live electric shock. That it is very nice to be 'rescued' by one's partner and told to go inside the house and do something else, like cook dinner. Which I did.

- that it is alright to find one's self yelling at the top of one's voice "I don't want to be a farm girl!" Not to worry, this particular mood will also pass after a cup of tea, a slice of cake, and a change into dry clothes. (It had been raining all the while I had been to and fro with the wheelbarrow)

Bonny's pen is done, now we have the larger pen of Lissie to do, and then on to the sheep barn which is an even bigger might take a while......

Saying bye for now,


Thursday 7 May 2015

One fence up, one fence down

Been out in the far field, well it isn't really that far because we are only a small farm, but it is our furthest field which is why we call it the far field. It is a lovely tranquil space, and has mostly been left unvisited by us except for haymaking time and the occasional dog walks, but it has a high bank on one corner and we are worried in case the dogs fall off it into the river so we tend not to take them down there too often. As for haymaking, we have decided not to take any more hay from the field because of the time and effort it takes and we now buy hay bales from a local farmer. We also need more grazing now we have two cows so the far field is needed to help support the grazing on our other fields.

This field has been fenced, but not all the way round, but it does have the fencing poles all in place except for the line of fencing poles which fell into the river after the heavy floods of last year when we lost a chunk of bank to the river plus the poles which were on that section. This is the where I worry about the dogs taking a dive into the river. As I said, the bank is high.

So the immediate project is to get the rest of the poles in, but using temporary metal poles which can then be moved should more of the bank take a tumble into the river. We have put fencing wire of about half the remainder of the fencing line, and that is what we were doing yesterday.

And wow, but it was a truly lovely morning out there. But the grass is now romping away and if we don't get the fencing done tout suite, so we can get the cows and sheep onto the field, then we risk the grass getting too high and then we will have to cut it, and then we will have to make hay again and although we love haymaking we really do not have the time to give to that task this year.

But we were pleased with the progress we have made, and another week should just about finish the fencing. Well.....that was the plan, and then this happened yesterday afternoon......

.....a Frenchman lost the road and instead pointed his car in the direction of our back field via our fence, which was not good, although he did not decease himself, neither did he get even a bump nor even a scratch, although the odd angle of the front left wheel on his car would suggest that the car was wounded, but all in all he came off quite lightly. Not sure why he let the car come off the road, neither was he. 

I suppose our fence got away lightly as well, although four posts are now broken, and a long run of fencing wire is permanently damaged, all of which will need replacing. What cannot be replaced is the damaged line of trees and shrubs, which had been growing quite happily after being planted last year. 

So what to do first....... repair this fence so the dogs can't get out on to the main road, neither will the pigs should they get out of their paddocks, or continue on with the fencing in the far field so that the cows and sheep can save us the job of making hay. Not to worry, we'll get them both done. 

And saying thank you to our neighbours, Claudine and Bruno,  who took the time to help us with the translation needed to sort out yesterday's minor, but repairable, difficulty.

Bye for now


Tuesday 5 May 2015

A quick catch-up

Not much happening on our small farm at the moment, apart from Spring growth romping away everywhere, but not out on the veg plot which is still being ploughed up by the pigs. The soil here is nearly empty of all plants, except the mint and thistles which are being left, but even those are gradually getting trampled down.

We are missing growing veg though. It does not seem right not to be bent over planting seeds, weeding, and trying to remember to water the seeds in pots in the mini greenhouse which can get fried to nothing if we don't remember to put the shade cover over them. Most of all we are missing the rush of pleasure which comes from seeing a row of seeds pop up through the soil. Not to worry, we must stay firm in our resolve to try and get the house sorted out, plus getting the gates and fencing finished, not to mention the bramble patches which need tackling. An effort on these fronts should free us up next year to start smallholding properly. But I can honestly say that not getting things growing in the veg plot is leaving a big hole in us, as if we are not doing right by ourselves by not growing our own veg, and already I am missing the harvest which will not be coming into the kitchen later on this year. But we must stand firm.

I have almost got the first coat of paint on the walls of the sitting room / music room, and have just got the bottom of the walls to do. This requires laying down on the floor so I can get a better straight edge so I only do a bit at a time because it is so fiddly. But after nearly seven years of living in chaos we are so relieved to have some orderliness around us. Being clean and tidy is something we have never been since we arrived here.

And on a family daughter and her partner have just left after having had an overnight stop here en route to their new life in Spain. With caravan in tow, with dog and cat on board as well, the last message we had from them was: "Just hit the Spanish border. Bit of a white knuckle ride with the caravan - snow still about and roads closed making it a bit of a challenge but I have an excellent pilot at the helm! Had lovely stop over at chez Mum and Lester and only disgraced ourselves a couple of times with Tilly chasing the geese and chickens" And it is true. Little Tilly did indeed learn that chasing chickens and geese is the best fun ever, that it is best to bark at big things like cows and pigs from the other side of the fences, and that sheep poo is divine. But the animals withstood her antics very well. They have, after all, been chased and / or barked at by our two rottweiller girls, after which a little beagle dog is not going to be too much of a scare to them.

It was nice to see Karen and Darren, and we wish them well in their future life. I am sure that they will do well. They are both on the same page, so that should see them through the steep learning curve which will most surely be ahead of them as they move into the next chapter of their lives.

Meanwhile.....nothing much else happening, just coasting along for the moment....

So saying bye for now,