Wednesday 21 November 2018

Catching up......

It has been a lovely autumn here in SW France, with the turning of the year being done at a dignified pace that has been a pleasure to see. My mood, which can be on the grouchy side as the cold starts invading my bones, has been lightened and my energy has remained on the upside instead of the slothful slowness of winter hibernation that comes upon me as daylight hours are reduced. Not to worry though, the shortest day is not so far off now, autumn is still just about hanging on, and there are enough leaves still on the trees to make a goodly glow when the sunlight shines through them.

We have lost a sheep. We did have eight, but now there are seven. The ewe has been searched for, but remains unfound. It could be that she fell off the bank into the river. The river is quite shallow. Lester thinks that she might have swum her way across to the large island in the middle of the river. I think not. I think she tucked herself into the bramble bushes and went into the long sleep. Or perhaps she was abducted by someone and taken away from here. Lester favours the first and third possibilities. I favour the second, either way our flock numbers have been again reduced. Six are now residing in the freezer, it being the time of year when we do the unwelcome job of culling the flock. It is part of farm life. It has to be done.

Lissie and Bonny, our two housecows, are getting very plump. We thought that Bonny had finally come into season a couple of weeks ago,  so called the artificial insemination man out. A quick insertion of his complete arm into her rear end, and the verdict was that she was not in season. Oh dear, neither cow has been in season for months, so it looks like its going to be long time before our new milking machine will be used. But that it is not so, because the AI man then inserted an appliance into Bonny which showed her positive for being in calf. And then he did the same to Lissie, and she proved to be positive as well.

I have been invited to be the conductor of a small Christmas choir, to go round to three Maison de Retraites (Carehomes) in our local area to give afternoon concerts to the elderly residents. I waved my arms about in a business like manner, ordered everyone about as one does when one is in charge, and got everyone to sing their socks off. I even did a 'Wahoo' in the middle of one of the songs because I was so enthused with the large sound they were making. I shall not, of course, do that in the middle of any of the concerts, but then we are singing to old folk, who will most likely be tending towards afternoon napping while we are singing to them, so perhaps I shall put the 'Wahoo' in to keep them awake, bless them.

Laughing Yoga. Have you heard of it? I hadn't until last week when a friend mentioned that she had been to a Laughing Yoga class. She was not impressed. Said she wouldn't go again because she thought it was silly. Me being me, I had to have an investigation so I went on to YouTube and had a look at some vids, and have been lighter in spirit ever since. Have a look yourself. I don't think I shall go to Laughing Yoga classes because I have other commitments on the night the class is held, but I do follow some of the teachings, and have found myself smiling more, especially indoors, and I also tend to jog and dance around the house when I am moving to and fro through the rooms, especially during energy gap times.

A new acquisition to the farm is a Flymo lawnmower. It is for me. We already have a big tractor, a smaller tractor, a hefty petrol driven lawnmower, and an equally hefty petrol driven strimmer, none of which I can use because they are man tools and not of suitable use for us of the opposite sex. And it is sad to watch the farm start to lose its way because Lester is working long hours and so cannot tend to its needs. So I bought myself a Flymo. It is electric and is supposed to hover while it cuts the grass, which might apply to proper lawns, but not to my overgrown field grass which has mole hills hidden in it.

I have just come in from half an hour mowing. I am using muscles which have been asleep for a while, and my legs are shaky, but not to worry, this first cut should be the worst, and after the purchase of a new cutting blade, because the one the Flymo came with is already battered and blunt, plus the honing of my muscles (!) as I mow, time I should find the job easier. The spare part for my damaged scythe should also be arriving soon, and that should take care of the longer grass, and give some exercise to my back. I have missed early morning scything. The swish of the blade across the dewy grass keeps me warm, while the cold morning air wakes me up very efficiently.

I am sewing a lot at the moment, although I have to keep machining time to the evenings because I am sharing the same space as Lester is while he is working on his computer. Since his work is more important because it is providing us with extra finances at the moment, I have decided to move the machine onto the kitchen table during the day. It is light for me to lift, but it does mean that I shall have to keep the kitchen table uncluttered, and we shall have to be careful not to trip over the extension lead, but not to worry, at least I can start working on my fabric stash. The use of the huge garden table I used for seedlings last year is now inside the Half Barn, has been given a thorough wash so that it can enjoy its temporary change of use to that of cutting table. It is a joy to be able to sew again. Since we came here ten years ago, my sewing activities have been confined to small spaces which is not ideal. For the moment I have the hugest of spaces, so onwards then with working my way through my sewing stash!

I have kept you long enough, so wishing you love and light,
......bye for now


Thursday 11 October 2018

...and then the hay arrived.......

Down they came, with one bale spinning its way towards me ...

........ fortunately it bounced against the letterbox, spun round, and came to rest in the flower bed which is now no more. 

Both me and Maz watched it gallop towards us. Neither thought to move. We could have become quite squashed if the letter box had not saved us. 
Lester was more alert though, ...... he quickly reversed (top photo)
But the letter box will never be the same again and the flowers in the flowerbed are definitely now no more.

And here are the bales before they took their tumble....

..... fifteen in total, stacked high, as you can see. 
In the past farmers have delivered the hay bales on a flat backed trailer pulled by a huge monster of a tractor, then they unload the bales one by one using the tractor's equipment, but they were local farmers. This farmer came from a distance away, did have a big tractor (he said) but preferred to use the lorry for speed.

Anyway, time to off load....
lorry backed into the space between house and sheep paddock, 
up we go...

.... off they all came.....

...... job done!

So then all we had to do was get the jumble of bales into their winter positions and covered.
Thought we had a few days of dry weather so we could take our time. 
We didn't.
After weeks of hot, dry, weather rain clouds suddenly appeared out of nowhere mid afternoon, so we raced the rain to get the job finished. It was dark by the time we dried off indoors. 

Doing such jobs on the farm always feels satisfying, and this one was done with good humour even though the wind was blowing and the rain was pouring down, but saving the hay from getting soaked,  and therefore spoilt, was the priority. 


And two day later I was lying in a dentist's chair having two teeth extracted, which was another job which needed doing. (abcess brewing). I can't say it was the best of experience to have, especially since my ability to speak French seems to evaporate in certain circumstances, but not to worry, I sort of got the gist of what the dentist was saying, especially the part about raising my hand should I feel any pain, which I didn't have to do despite the pulls and pushes and the sound of breaking teeth and the grumps the dentist showed because the teeth did not want to leave the home they have had for many a long year so he did have a struggle on his hands. 

It did take a long time, or so it seemed to do, but it was probably quicker than I thought it to be. 
Trying to stay calm was the key, thinking good and happy thoughts was the key, but this I found difficult to do with the 'goings on' which was happening in my mouth, so I took to singing, not in a proper 'open mouthed' style because my mouth was already occupied, but in a sort of hummy way which kept my mind occupied sufficient to get through the experience without creating a fuss. 

I did have to lift my hand up once though. It was when I opened my eyes and saw a white piece of what looked like string stretching betwixt my mouth and the dentist's hand. 
'Crikey' I thought, 'he's going to pull the tooth out with  that string', which put me into a bit of a panic mode, but not much of one because I shut my eyes and went into humming mode again, and continued to concentrate on that rather than what the dentist was doing.  
But the tooth was now gone away forever, and he was stitching up the hole with the string, that's all he was doing,

I was prepared for pain afterwards, but two days later and it still has yet to arrive. 
I was wondering if the fact that I have learnt several ways to sustain a relaxed mind during times of possible dreadfulness being done to me has helped my body cope better and heal faster. And I do ask the Universe (God) for help as well, being mindful that there is a greater force looking after us, and that all we have to do is ask, and then be willing to accept the help in whichever way it comes. 

So now I have a huge gap where once resided two back teeth. Apparently I can have two new teeth planted in the jaw, but I shall leave thoughts of having that done until another time. 

Smiling through, that is what is best done when things are going beyond your control,  and keeping the head occupied by thinking of something else rather than focussing on what is happening in the now, I have found this helps as well when I find myself in a difficult position especially in regards to my health.

Off to cook lunch now, so saying bye for now,


Saturday 29 September 2018

A thought about the word 'Freedom'.......

It came into my mind early this morning, the word 'Freedom', which seemed a strange word to have become planted in my head, but yet it stayed quite fixed and would not budge.

Being Saturday, it meant that neither Lester or myself were in the Monday to Friday work routine, a routine which became instated in our lives when last year he started working for a UK / USA employer.  It sometimes seems quite strange to see him involved in on line conferences, with those other folk in their offices and Lester sitting beside me, with Maz (our Rottweiller) somewhere close by, the sheep, cows, chickens, or cockerels occasionally voicing their  complaints about this or that, or sometimes just giving voice to joyfulness, especially when a hen lays an egg, or a cockerel is trying to impress his ladies. And then there is the sound of cars on the road, not many, just a few. Or the chugg chugg chugg of tractors, or maybe the French RAF  pilots who sometimes practice landing their helicopters on the small  airfield nearby. All of this we take for granted, immersed as we are on the needs of the day....Lester, to wrestle with the complicated work required of him, and me to try and do as much as I can to keep the farm and the house on track.

It is easy to get mentally bogged down, but it is the same for all of us, for all those folk on the internet conferences, who live in various parts of the globe, all of who are governed by the need to work and to play, none of them really doing what they would like to do, all ruled by the need to earn money, and then when the money is earned, the driving need to spend it. Such a cycle. Of going round and round. Of time marching on meanwhile.

And so, being Saturday, Lester and I had free time, so off to get the broken but now repaired lawnmower from the mechanical repair shop down the road, and then on to Plaisance to get replacement gas bottles. I, meanwhile, trundled myself and the old wheelbarrow along the river path to the fallen down oak tree which blocked the River Path last winter, and needs to be shifted. Lester managed to cut up the entire tree into portions so the fence could be repaired. With Lester working all the days long, it has been one of my chosen tasks to collect one barrow full of logs and bring them back to the Courtyard, the bigger logs to be kept under cover for the moment, but the smaller branches to be cut up and saved for kindling. We have quite a stash of kindling now, nine boxes in fact, plus a two cardboard boxes full. It is satisfying to look at those boxes and know that we shall not run out of kindling, which we did last year so had to buy commercial kindling, which is not the same as using our own bits of twigs and mini branches, because it is all neatly cut to size and is expensive.

Meanwhile, 'Freedom' kept rolling around in my head as I diddled away in the infant flower beds, feeling apologetic to the newly planted pansies, and the three trays of seedlings for my neglect of them yesterday when I retreated from the heat of the sun and had a couple of hours sleep instead, when I should have been keeping them watered. Seeing them desperately bent over with thirst later on in the day made me feel dreadfully guilty, and then seeing the pile of washing up and the unswept floors indoors trebled the guilt, so I ended the day feeling vaguely cross with myself..... not full on cross though, just niggles in the back of my mind that I had left things undone which I should have done, a state of mind which is often my companion of late.

Lester back with lawnmower and new gas bottles, so off we went to our local supermarket. It was lunch time, but no 'paid for' lunch for us today, just a cup of coffee and a bun each, and then off round the shop we went. Normal things bought, no fancy goods, just basics, plus a bigger wood saw (with spare blades) for me, and an 'on offer' trolley so Lester can have help hauling the large bags of animal grain to the storage bins in the Tall Barn.

On the way back home, thinking about 'Freedom' again, and I came to realise that Lester and I do have freedom despite his working hours, and my efforts to look after the farm as well as the house, because we are free souls. We live in a quiet part of France, are both working quietly at home without having to deal with offices full of people who we may or may not get on with, that Lester's daily commute to and fro work is from bedroom to Half Barn via the Main Field to give the sheep and cows their breakfast, that I do not have a commute at all but am free to choose what I spend my time doing and where I do it, that we make our own amusement and do not rely on others to amuse us, that to have lots of money would not make us happier, but would instead curtail our freedom because then we would get lazy, and that would confine us rather than make life the stimulating place that it is.

To count our blessings, that is what having the word 'Freedom' posted into my head early this morning has helped us do today. We can all feel trapped one way or another, but by looking at what we do have in our lives releases that trapped feeling, unchaining the chains that bind us away from our hopes and dreams, making us free to look forward to all our tomorrows.

I am now off to see if my new wood saw will magically cut the logs I brought up from the River Path this morning without hardly effort from myself. Of course it won't! I know that! But I can smile at myself for thinking so! Sort of being my own best friend by giving myself a smile!

Bye for now,

Wednesday 19 September 2018

Wood cutting and crochet......

Having breakfast, (porridge), and out of puff after having brought up this pile of logs from the river path, the logs having once belonged to an oak tree which fell across that path last winter and been left unattended to ever since, allowing the fallen wood to act as a platform for an energetic bunch of brambles to grow across the path and latch themselves on to field fence thus producing a barrier through which we cannot pass. Nooooooo! They shall not win this war, so with clippers, saw, and wheelbarrow, we (Maz and me) trundle our way to the broken tree to rescue the wood, bringing it back to the Courtyard where it will be cut up into smaller logs for the Rayburn stove.

This is my project, Lester is glued to his PC all day and has no time available to get jobs done other than looking after the animals each side of his working day. It is fierce for him at the moment, and he gets very tired. It is not forever, though, just for now. Meanwhile I do what I can out on the farm, which is good for me because it is building my fitness levels up after my health crash in September 2017. It is also building up my confidence in myself, which is good. It would have been so easy to have used my age (71) as an excuse not to do things. But that will not do. I love this farm and the lifestyle that goes with it, even if it is hard at times. Living life as a human being has many facets of difficulties and if we expect to coast through life without ever having had battles to fight, then we are foolish indeed. Overcoming these battles, whatever they are, strengthens the fibre of our being and keeps our spirit running high. 

Anyway, back to the logs.......... with a degree of surprise I have learnt that I can cut quite a thick branch into the right size to fit the Rayburn's firebox but there is a point at which I become stuck, as illustrated in the photo below...... the saw can't go any further through the log because the engine to drive that saw (me) is in 'run out of puff ' mode because the log is too thick and I have reached my limit. 

So what do I do? Carry on perhaps, which is not wise as my body is telling me that it has had enough of being involved with this particular task, or go do something else which will use other muscles, allowing the ones I have been using to rest.  What do I do? I go sit in my little arbre........

...... and do some crocheting........

....... but only four rows maximum otherwise I get sucked into the rhythm of crocheting and will find it hard to get up and carry on with the day. 

And thus it is that I go through my day, going from active task to creative task in small parcels of time, often about 30 minutes duration. I find big chunks of active tasks will make me too physically tired, so better to do thirty minutes per day for as long as that task takes to complete, is a more sensible strategy. I am fortunate in that I am not constrained by having to do certain things at certain times, apart from producing lunch somewhere around 12am-1pm each day. 
As for the creative tasks, these I do have to limit the time to thirty minutes, because if I go over this time then I shall probably fall asleep because I have been sitting too long!

Anyway, that is how the fabric of my day is loosely woven. And now I need to go get some lunch so I must be away, so......

Bye for now, 

Sunday 16 September 2018

...and another snake episode.......

So on a frantic skip and a hop to the loo the other day, with trousers already at half mast in readiness for the joyful moment of collapse on to the toilet seat, my OH was put into a state of high panic which sent him spinning away in the opposite direction,  complete with arms flailing wildly about his person, in haste to get away from the  snake which, just at the very moment he was going to position himself on the loo, had come out from behind that same loo and was heading  straight towards him on a collision course. To see such a thing at such a delicate moment of loo requirement would send anyone into a state of panic, as I am sure you will agree, and so Lester was receiving of  quite a big panic and was not particularly impressed by  the mirth which cascaded from me when he told me what had happened.

Well, that snake was captured and deceased, the same as was the snake that was lolling about by the doors in the Half Barn workroom but that was only a small one and could be held underneath a bottling jar until my OH could decease that too. But the snake which fell on my head as I walked through the front doors a few weeks ago still lives on, and did not give me a fright because I happened to be half asleep when this episode occurred.

As for the snake in the bathroom episode, we do not know how it got so far in to the house. Snakes around doors, we can understand that, although I did not know that they could climb up walls to sunbathe on ledges over doors, but I do now, so I always look upwards when going through the front door...... just in case. But the bathroom is at the back of the house so goodness knows how it managed to get there. Often times ever since, especially during loo trips at night, thoughts about snakes popping up from somewhere or other will come into the mind, the worst one being one wiggling its way from out of the toilet bowl when I am sitting doing my loo job. This is a time when common sense is hidden behind the fug of sleep.

And we seem to be having a lot of sightings of mice at the moment, who seem to be are quite brazen about being seen, even refusing to budge if we are nearby. Actually, I must correct that..... the mice are being seen by my OH when he is walking between the Tall Barn and the Middle Barn  and normally during the evening milking, when he is carrying the milk pail back to the kitchen, the door of which is at the end of Middle Barn. It is a dark space, make darker by the going to sleep of the day, so I tend to avoid this space at this time of day preferring to use the front door, but if I do feel bold enough to take this short cut to the house I will make much noise with my voice to let any creatures that might be lingering about know that I am coming and would they scamper away somewhere else and not give me a fright. I have made the suggestion to my OH that he also do this, but he doesn't, so that is why he is seeing the mice, and also got a fright the other night when a 'very huge rat'' (his words) crossed his path.

I think the recent appearance of these 'tame' mice, is because my OH has spent the recent weeks getting the old bedding straw  cleared out from the cow pens in the Tall Barn so the cows can start coming in at night. The mice would have had their homes in that bedding, and would have also been used to seeing Lester when he sat on the milking stool milking the cows.

The Tall Barn......all clean and tidy, waiting for the new bedding to be put down, and having a peacefulness which is magical. 

It will take lots of wheelbarrows of straw to fill this space, just as it has taken loads of wheelbarrow trips to dump the old bedding out on to Veg Plots 1, 2, & 3, but the work of doing so has improved the soil in the soil in these areas over the years, which has made this work worthwhile. 

Must be  off to cook some food for my hardworking husband, 
so bye for now. 


Wednesday 22 August 2018

The hedge,,,,,,,,,

Sitting over my bowl of porridge, thinking I ought to let the family and you know that I am still here and carrying on in my normal way, although my hands are a bit stiff due to the cutting of the overgrown hedge out front. They also have been stabbed in several places by thorns. They are also feeling the strain of regular practices on the accordion. We have been invited to play for a Sunday afternoon lunch, whose hosts will have  guests from Ireland staying with them so they thought it would be a good idea to have an Irish based singalong. So that is what I have been doing during this spell of continuing hot weather.....practicing and sorting out our music, which is a job which had long needed doing. 

As for the front hedge, this again  has been an ongoing project, which has been frequently started but then left as I was diverted away to other projects, or we hit a patch of monsoon type weather which kept me indoors. But the hedge has got too big and scruffy, so I am on a mission to carry on getting it cut down. It will be a slow job, because it is a very big hedge now, and I only allow myself thirty minutes, (or one full wheelbarrow load of clippings) per day because I have several other projects on the go which I have to share myself with. 

The Hedge

........ and I have nearly made a break through from one side to the other.

And then I went round the other side of the Chicken Pen and clipped the blackberry shoots which had regrown since last I cut them back, which was in June. And that was me done for the day in regards to outside work because by then the sun was out in its full force,  and I needed to retreat indoors.

 But the chickens were happy because I lobbed some of last year's butternuts over the fence at them, although at first they thought they were being bombed by unknown forces so went into a bit of a panic. I shouldn't have put them into a fright, but it was too much of a bother to have to wrestle with the tangle of weeds and nettles to get to their gate so over the fence the butternuts went. 

Missed cooling off by paddling in the river this year, but after I saw the size of fish which swim in the river when several were washed up on our land in the recent floods, I feel a fear about putting my toes at risk of being eaten. And I can be silly and eccentric about this because I am of a respectable age to be so. I suppose I could wear old shoes, but this thought has only just occurred to me, ........ meanwhile, ..... if we have another hot summer next year, global warming and all that, I am of a mind to buy a plunge pool so I can cool off. Not sure where I would put it though as all available space where it could be placed would put me in full view of anyone passing. So perhaps, shoes in the river might be a better solution for cooling down next year!

 Off to attack my washing up, which seems to grow at the same rate as does those damn blackberries out on the smallholding!

Bye for now,


Sunday 5 August 2018

The blackbird, the fox, the snake.......


A while ago I mentioned that we were not going to plant a full crop of vegetables in Veg Gardens One, Two, and Three this year, the reason being that I was still recovering from the hospital experience of September 2017, Lester was working full time so did not have the time to prep the soil for planting, and the weather was abysmal with did not allow for much outside work to be done for quite a few weeks.

At first I enjoyed the slowness of my life, with no seeds to sow and look after, I had time to catch up with myself. After ten years of building the smallholding, and renovating our house, then being ill, I needed the space in which to dawdle through my days, which I did.

But me being me, I started getting itchy footed about getting out into the garden. Meanwhile the weather had calmed down, but was now producing very high temperatures which made working outside after ten in the morning impossible to do. 
This cancelled out work in the veg gardens, but I did keep the weeds cut so the gardens stayed tidy,
and I did find a small weed free space in which to plant a few courgette seeds. Although late in the season, I did think they might produce a few courgettes before the cooler weather hit them. 
Alack and alas, they did not survive. It was not the weather which saw them unto death, but Lester with his tractor.
I took this as a sign from Heaven that I really was not supposed to expend my energies in the veg gardens this year. 
Looking on the good side, having a rest from the work of veg growing and harvesting is  renewing my energies for the 2019 season. I am already missing seeing the larder full of homegrown produce. It would seem that I am addicted to DIY food.

But then there was the raised beds in the courtyard, and these I tended. Although they needed refilling with compost, I was able to get lettuce, beetroot, beans, onions and tomatoes planted. 
I felt quite proud of myself, feeling that my small effort would encourage me to not entirely give up on growing our own veg. 
And then the blackbird came. 
And I started having to replant the plants already planted because it would scratch around, and dig holes here and there. Some plants could be replanted, but then be dug up again, then replanted again, and then dug up again. The blackbird was persistent. 
I tried numerous methods to deter it, but did not resort to using a plastic eagle because I did not want to scare off all the birds, especially those using the tall barn as a nursery to raise their young, their chattering giving a happy air to the place. 

In the end I used cardboard, covering the soil where I could, but leaving the onions to their fate. 
I tried to think good thoughts about the blackbird. 
I am still trying to do so.......

We shall think up an anti blackbird strategy for next year.........

Looking on the good side, at least we have birds here now. When we came here there were not many, the feral cats and the commercial farming, with its use of chemical sprays, having decimated the bird population. Now the air is full of their chirrups and chatter.


We had a good number of chickens in the flock, now we don't after the fox came to play with them, choosing to chase and kill the younger chickens who were just coming into maturity, the ones we had hand raised. At least we still have the mature hens left, so I think the fox must have been disturbed before it could carry on with doing its mischief. 

We have two cockerels left. Both have stopped crowing. We think they must have been silenced by the trauma of being attacked by a being which was far larger than themselves. 

We are thinking up a strategy to prevent this from happening again. 
The chickens are in a fenced paddock, but we need to build a smaller enclosure within it. 

The flock is back to normal now. It has taken six days for them to recover. Bless them, but it was not nice to see them so shocked, or for Lester to have to pick up the dead bodies and carry them down in the woods. 

Looking on the good side, at least we still have chickens. 


And so it came to be a very hot afternoon, with sleep falling heavily upon me as I sat at my computer trying to work, such that I felt myself tipping forward on to the computer keyboard. Time to have a lie down on the settee. Just drifting off, when a thought bounced into my head that perhaps I ought to check the mail box to see if a package had been delivered. I was expecting a small parcel from America, which contained the cultures to make cheese and yoghurt with, and it would not do those live cultures any good at all to be left to roast in the sun when they should be kept inside the coldness of a freezer. 
Up I got, still half asleep, and wow, but that sun was sooooo hot as I walked through the front door, and, 'What was that which just tumbled down on me, .........oh a snake' I thought as I watched it wriggling away from my feet, and 'I must get in from this heat'  my thoughts continued as I hurried across the courtyard with,  ' .....was that a snake which just fell on my head.......' mixing in with the need to get back inside the coolness of the house, and the blissfulness of sleep. 

I think it was a good thing that I was sleep drugged when the snake and I momentarily engaged with each other, because the actual reality of such a thing happening would have ordinarily had me going into a wonderfully rampant state of panic if I all my mental faculties had been at their usual optimum level. What I mean is, that the combination of heat and my sleep filled state of being saved me from having a major scare sit itself in my brain as a memory to be revisited when occasion permits of those sneaky memories which pop up to the surface of one's consciousness when one least expects, reawakening the initial force of fright. 

Looking on the good side, which I must do if I am not to get  a phobia about snakes, especially falling down on me, it was only about twenty inches long, and quite thin, very energetic but then it was probably frightened, ......... but what the hell it was doing on top of the door remains an unanswered question!  ..... And I was only half awake, which was also good, and neither of us was harmed. 

Working hard to get the positive uppermost in my mind, I shall now close the subject!

Bye for now,


Wednesday 25 July 2018

Wheelbarrows,.... the wheeling of,

I have been working my way through my blogs, of which there are over 800, copying them from Google and putting them into a website so I can save them in case Google blows up, or something .......  This is what has been occupying me during this hot weather we have been having.

So I came to the 17th May 2015 blog, and this made me laugh, so I thought I might share it part of it with you......Bonny and Lissie are our house cows, ........

'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 from Lester..........
" 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 it 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...... '


Saturday 21 July 2018

Thoughts being posted in,........

Several times I have tried to write a blog but end up deleting it because all I do is lapse into moans, which will not do. One must be resilient and keep on persevering whatever one is doing in life. One must not give up, change direction if you must, but never give up the immediate project.

And I shall not complain about the weather because I cannot change what it is doing this year. From weeks of rain and winds and chill for the first few months to immediately high temperature which has encouraged high humidity and storms. My body does not like heat and humidity, and wants to go into hibernation until it gets cooler, so things do not get done because there is no energy to do them with, which then makes my head go all of a grumble because of the list of things it wants me to do. So then body and mind start arguing with each other, and I end up being fed up with both of them.  

Not to worry, keep going, that is what one must do, and not allow the mouth to take a downward tilt signalling the grumblings of a depression on the horizon. One must keep the mouth up tilted, encouraging a positive state of mind. I must admit, however, that keeping the mouth in the upward slope is an effort, especially when I see the state of the farm. All of it is gradually becoming overgrown. Brambles are rampant, and they are the worst, and have even started growing into the house wherever they can find a hole big enough to shove a bit of themselves through. 

But I have cut a way through to the river, the path having become overgrown with nettles and new growing bramble shoots, all of which were easy to scythe down. I had to use Lester's bush scythe though because I had broken my own scythe....... too much hacking away at weeds and brambles broke the blade, but it has been stoical in its efforts to cut down anything which I put in its way. I think it was the collision with a big lump of wood which finally fractured the metal. It was hidden in a clump of nettles. I was in a really good rhythm, swish, ......swish..... swish......down the nettles were falling, and onwards we were going through the nettle patch........very satisfying.......then all became at a stop as the log was scythed into, the blade sinking in quite deep into the half rotten wood. Oh dear, I was stopped mid flow, and the blade became a dead one. A new blade is ordered. It is much needed. I miss scything because it loosens up my back and arm muscles, and there is lots of vegetation to cut down on the farm. 

The other day, as I was out and about, a thought arrived in my head to 'Go get some courgette and butternut squash seeds'. 
'Where would I plant them?' I ask the thought......
'In the Veg Plot One, in the patch which has not grown any weeds yet because of the manure Lester put there a few weeks ago.'
'Oh that patch, ' I said, signalling the car to go left so I could go to the necessary shop to buy the seeds, which I thought was a good idea because I love acquiring seeds. 
And then my own thoughts fired themselves at me....... 'Wait a minute, don't want to do that.... ....I though you weren't going to grow anything in the Veg Plots this year.....'
So signalling to go right, I drove the car past the shop, intending to continue on home. But no, that was not to be, because the original 'posted into my head' thought took hold of me, and I found myself in the shop, buying the seeds, by will having been overwhelmed by the thought. 

This happens sometimes. I am used to it. I am carrying on in my usual manner, and then a thought will get posted into my head. I would not have been thinking of the subject that the thought is connected with, is as if an email has arrived, but not in the inbox of my computer, but in the inbox in my head. And they are strong thoughts which are not to be ignored, and they are always right. To leave the UK and come to live in France arrived in my head like that. 

Sometimes the thought requires a lot of effort to follow through with, and has me either dismissing it or even arguing with it, so then the thought goes to sleep. I might think it is finished with, but it never will either come alive again or another ongoing thought will be posted in relevant to the original thought. This is what happened with coming to France to live. I have free will of course, but I have asked for guidance in life, and these 'postings in' are that guidance, even if they seem irrelevant or minor, rather than answers to major questions.

It is like having a strong guidance system set up out in the Universe somewhere, which sends 'thought signals' through to me at certain points in my life's pathway, helping me keep going forward. Well that's alright for the big things in life, but  buying seeds....I think I was being reminded that I am not on my own, that I am being helped every step of the way.....but seeds?

And here's the thing about a 'posted in' thought....... there often does not seem to be any reason to follow through with it..... like buying those seeds....

Anyway, I bought the seeds, and today I have planted them in a tiny patch of weed free soil in Veg Plot One, and I felt that it was a sign not to give up, to allow ourselves to be overwhelmed, but only temporarily. 

I have just read the start of the blog, and was going to delete the last section about 'having a thought emailed into my head', when quite clearly a voice said, 'Don't you dare', so I didn't. 

Bye for now,



Tuesday 3 July 2018

Cooking nicely.......

This was not supposed to look like this. OK, the river water was held away from the house by this heap, but it is not going to do anything towards keeping us warm this winter. 
This heap? It is supposed to be our wood pile, delivered a few months ago, and which should have been stacked properly, and it would have been if it had not been for the inclement weather which went on and on and on for several months.

Anyway, let's not dwell on that, let's be glad that the weather has changed, let's be happy that we have lovely sunny weather, let's feel glad, yippydoodoooo.....

And the wood pile is now being sorted, but only bit by bit, and only by Lester because I have been banned from helping because he thinks that snakes, adders in particularly, might be living in the heap and he does not want me bitten. He, bold fellow, seems not to worry that he might be the one to get bitten, but he is now on a mission to get that wood pile sorted out. 
This means that the 'Making a Mini Milking Shed Project' is now put on hold, so for the moment I shall keep dusting the mini milka which is keeping company with my spinning wheel in our hallway.

Still a long way to go, but there is something about seeing a pile of neatly stacked wood which is pleasantly reassuring. 

And there is also something equally pleasant going on in the courtyard, because I have taken over half of the arbre to make a 'Me Zone'. This was the half which housed the hay and straw for several winters until we got fed up with the mess it made, so now the the bales stay out on the front drive. To stop this space being used for Lester's stuff I moved in toute suite. After all, he does have the other half, which houses his mini tractor and its implements, so it is only fair that I should have the other side. 

So.... first of all I put my sunbed in the space, then I hung some washing line from beam to beam and back again. OK, so this does mean that I shall have washing festooned over my head when I am in there but not to worry, at least I have somewhere to hang the washing.
And then I found a home for a garden table, which did not have a proper use. It is now my work table, for putting things on ...... like seedlings, spinning equipment, cup of coffee, etc......, and then I made my first mini garden comprising of a few pots of this and that. 
It is a start. I have somewhere to sit, where I can fuss over and talk to the seeds as they sprout into seedlings, where I can connect with the growing of plants which are not weeds.

It feels like a cosy hut, and I love it. 

,,,,, and swinging around.....

..... to the raised beds.....


Celery, a few bush beans, and lettuce.

Lettuce, beetroot, a self sown tomato, chives, and thyme. 
The other three beds are not planted, but I shall potter on with doing so as time progresses.
Meanwhile Veg Plots 1, 2, and 3, remain fallow.
We shall not be having any harvests this year of produce we can store for winter use, but at least the raised beds are keeping my love of growing things satisfied for the time being. At least I have somewhere to potter around in the cool of the early morning, have somewhere to sit when I am spinning this year's wool from our sheep, and a place to laze should the mood come upon me to do so. Meanwhile we continue to cook nicely as the high temperatures are maintained day after day. 

..... and trying not to be concerned for the dentist who I am going to visit this afternoon, who has to deal with an English woman who will not mind sitting in his chair and letting him do what he has to do, but whose French is sometimes alright and sometimes isn't, and his English language which has the same off and on quality to it. 
It was the same in the local market I went to a few days ago. I could not seem to access my French vocabulary at all, which had several French people amused, in particular a French man who teased me on and on as I tried to explain to him what I wanted. In fact, so ticked off was I at my ineptness, that I took myself along to a local Brocante run by an English lady, and partook of a cup of a coffee and a good long conversation with her, and all in English.

Blame the heat for seemingly robbing me of being able to access my minimal French vocabulary. You would think that my French would have improved better than what during the ten years we have been here, but unfortunately lack of practice is the problem. Our life  is quiet here, and most contact is with English people...........

Four hours later: I'm back!
The dentist is not far away, about five minutes. I could have driven the car myself to get me there, but I didn't know how I would feel after the visit, so Lester drove me there, and said he would pick me up again, all I had to do was use his mobile phone to ring him at home to let him know I was ready.
I don't have a mobile phone, so after lengthy instructions from Lester about how to make a phone call, which I wrote down so I would not forget them, off we went. 
The dentist was a lovely man. Very charmingly French, and insisted on  speaking English to me, bless him. Anyway, one crown to be replaced in two weeks time, and a specialist extraction to be done in Tarbes as soon as possible. 
Time to phone home, but mobile would not work as given by Lester's instructions. Oh. So walked down the road into Plaisance, public call boxes around that I could remember, so put up a thought to the Universe for someone to come along who I knew. And they did! Another lovely Frenchman who bought two of our sheep a few years ago, and who sings in a French choir I was thinking of joining, that's who I met. 

Home now. 
Need to sign off,
so bye for now,


PS. Still cooking nicely. Storm coming. 

Tuesday 19 June 2018

Fish, milker, garlic......

The river water came from the far line of those trees, and covered our main field to a depth and force sufficient to push the fence wire away from the posts...

...the water line can be seen by the dark line on the first post. 
Lots of things got caught up in the wire and left on the field, 
leaves, branches, plastic water bottles, etc.... and these....

A fish. already found by birds, crows probably who were partaking of its flesh.
I put my boot near it so you could get an idea of its size.

and then we found another one in the gully.
Lester had to remove it because the sheep and cows will be back on the field soon.

.... and away into the woods he took it....
And then he came back for another one, 
which was so heavy that he had trouble getting it moved to the woods.

......which was so heavy that he had trouble getting it moved to the woods.

These were big fish, and I am sad that they died in such a way, not in their natural environment, and quite a slow death I would have thought. But at least it shows that if the river can support such good size fish, then it is a healthy river, which is nice to know. 

I also will think twice about paddling in the river. Sometimes on hot summer days we have paddled up aways, wading through water which is above our knees, which has a wonderful therapeutic effect on our legs. Not sure I am likely to do that again, I would not like to bump into such big fish. So they are not flesh eating sharks, but my imagination says they are!

To change the subject..... the mini milking machine has arrived, and is not so 'mini' as we thought it would be. 

It is going here..... in the smaller of the two cow pens. Lester took many wheelbarrow loads of manure out to Veg Plot Two so the the pen is now clear. All that has to be done is to get that floor scrubbed clean which is going to take a lot of effort to do, but it is a necessary job to turn this space into a mini milking parlour.  

At the moment this job is not being done because we need to get the fence wire cleaned up so we can get it attached to the fence posts again, so the cows and sheep can get back on to the field. 

But, oh joy of joys, although we have still not had a full day of sunshine this year, at least we have had no rain for five days, which is a relief to us all, the animals included. 

.... and a surprise harvest of garlic from out of the raised beds.

So the fishes have become without life, and are now in the woods being recycled by other 'still in life' creatures, the Cow Project has moved a step forward, Bonny has been artificially inseminated so hopefully will be in calf again, and we have a supply of garlic which we ourselves are going to recycle by using them in our own food, but keeping a few bulbs to plant again, and we are catching up on jobs that should have been done a few weeks ago now that the rain has stopped. 

Bye for now,


Thursday 14 June 2018

The visit of the water......

..... the river water is on its way down, which is a good thing. A few hours ago the water almost reached our back gates. It was alarming to see how fast the water rose. It has never done that before, but we have had the wettest June on record so there is a lot of water about.

The Main Field and our woodland became one with the river yesterday afternoon, the field becoming totally covered in water which stretched across its width to the lane, shutting off access to the next village. 

We could hear the river roaring, and could hear it all night too, even when indoors. We can't hear it so much now, which means that the worst of the flood is now done with. 

Although the water came within a metre of the side of the house, our log pile and its blanket of weeds acted as a barrier to the water. It is a good job that we had not gone forward with the Sorting out the Wood Pile Project, otherwise the water would have closer to us that what it actually did. 

We live by the river, so of course we will have floods occasionally, we know that. And our house is on a rise so if our house did become flooded then everyone else would be in dire trouble. It is just that watching the brown water marching its way towards the house does imprint itself in the head, and it will take a while to get that picture out of the head.

So the house remains undamaged, but the Main Field has taken a battering. It cannot be grazed for a couple of weeks at least, which means that the cows and sheep will have to stay on the Side Field. The temperatures are on the rise, and there is no shade on that field, plus the grazing is not enough to  keep the sheep and cows fed for more that a day or two. Fortunately we might have some hay left over from the winter, although that might be soaked through by the rain. Hay is going to be expensive this year because of the wet weather, and most farmers seem to have cut for silage rather than hay because of the lack of dry weather to dry the cut grass. 

...... and the fences in the Main Field look like they have been damaged by the force of the river as it came across the field, with the fence posts having been pushed over, and the fencing wire scrumpled up.  That will take a time to fix, but will have to be done before the cows and sheep can use that field again. 

A friend stood on the bridge over the river yesterday, and said that he saw a large tree hurtling along in the torrent. It is most likely that it is one of our trees. We anticipate a lot of erosion of the woodland. Not to worry, it is as it is. 

Feeling tired, so best to start again fresh tomorrow. Lester is out milking the cows and I must attend to the washing up in the back kitchen, which seems to procreate itself..... it does not make babies but it does seem to make more of itself.

Singing tunelessly to myself.......'it's good to be a smallholder, it is, it is, it is.......' I put my pinny on and go fight the good fight with the washing up.