Wednesday, October 28, 2009

winter preperations



I have started digging over the vegetable plots in the hopes of clearing them of some of the weeds and grasses which have plagued our vegetable growing efforts this year. There is simply never enough time. In the course of this, I've been harvesting the last of our veg. This is only a fraction of the sprouts we have. I have a recipe for brussel sprout curry somewhere. i can only imagine what the effect of that would be on M's wind production. When it showers, the remaining brussel sprout plants act like umbrellas for the chickens who can then enjoy continued pecking in comfort underneath. Yesterday, I had the immense privilege of being present at the actual laying of an egg-Joan being a bit later with her laying than usual meaning I accidentally disturbed her whilst checking the egg boxes. She fixed me with with an intense chicken gaze, puffed herself up to twice her usual size like a large white feathery balloon, and laid her egg. Meantime, M has been enthusiastically going online to check out the various mushrooms springing up in the garden to see which might be good to eat. So far, he hasn't eaten any of them which is probably just as well since some of the ones which are very good to eat look very similar to some of the highly poisonous ones. There are risks and risks...

Thursday, October 22, 2009

A Ramble







M departed today for the UK in a flurry of forms, papers, maps, pianos, lawn mowers, sandwiches and clean pants. To regain some equilibrium and because we were missing him, Franck and I went for a long walk along the chemin. It was utterly quiet and peaceful. We stopped to admire the view, and say "Comment Maintenant" to this brown cow who was gazing in this puddle in hopes of seeing the face of her future suitor (This is cow folk-lore). On his return home, Franck has now crashed out in his bed and I'm about to polish many pairs of shoes. Such a satisfying task.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

To Catch A Thief



First, the good news. Over the last few days, it's finally grown colder with some properly chilly nights. So M has lit the fire and. since it also warms the water for all the radiators, the whole house is snug and cosy. The dogs love it, and so do we. Unfortunately, things are a little less peaceable up in the chicken shed since we have had an egg thief stealing, smashing and eating the contents of our chicken's beautiful eggs. I have had everyone under suspicion and launched the No 1 Chickens Detective Agency in Normandy. Investigations so far have revealed that the dogs are not prime instigators although they may be guilty of a fortuitous sharing of the spoils from time to time. My primary suspect is Jennifer, one of the ducks, since she had been noted to have a yellow eggy coloured streak on her chest. Since the chickens are still laying full blast despite having moulted, the odd loss hasn't caused us much of an issue so far - we still have eggs to give away when we want. But it's annoying-and could catch on...so today I had a minor brainwave following which M installed, at my request, this sort of guttering system (the silver coloured strip is a spare piece of gutter) which should catch the eggs and prevent them being rolled out of the egg boxes and smashed and eaten. How good is that??? Here's hoping it works. Today, M also finished the fence off round the side of the garden since the maize in the field next door was harvested yesterday. he nearly finished the fence off with the chickens still on the wrong side of it! They had a fantastic few hours pecking the remains of the stubble left behind.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Visitors






This is how much the ducks have grown over the past three months. I think it's incredible. hard to believe it's the same birds. Today, I got pretty absorbed digging in the vegetable patch-I've got one third of it free of weeds now. God knows what it will do to my back which has been hurting lately but I don't care-it's so satisfying. in the meantime, the ducks decided to pay a visit since I'd left the door open. I had to chivvy them out, explaining the only way they'll be entering the house is on a roasting tray. They each left a little memento of their visit on the floor in the hall.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Chickens Are Stupid




I don't really like to generalise in such a negative way about a whole species of animal-but the fact is, that chickens really are stupid. They are a little like the Borg in that they don't really think as such as individuals, but they merely react. When in a group, as they usually are, the effect of such a reaction becomes amplified. In these photos, one of the chickens (Bianca) has wondered off a little from the rest of the group, happily pecking. In the meantime Mackerel the cat (who seemed fully recovered from having his nuts off after 24 hours) is doing what cats do. Shortly before the photo was taken, Bianca had actually been happily pecking whilst facing the cat. Shortly after the photo, Mackerel received a well aimed apple thrown straight at his bonce. These photos also give an opportunity to admire how well the chooks are doing now that they get to stroll freely around the place. their feathers are so fluffed up that, when they bend down to peck, I think they look like those old-fashioned female tennis players (I think this was confined to the females) who used to wear frilly knickers. Over the past couple of day, its finally started raining-we haven't had any rain for ages. So far, it seems that the old truism of ducks loving the rain is actually pretty accurate in our case-the chickens are often taking shelter during the showers whilst the ducks happily waddle around, or sit in their new favourite place by the back door-one on each doormat-so that they can monitor all the comings and goings here. I just wish that they weren't so enthusiastically incontinent.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Harvest Home




More veg pictures, I'm afraid-but I get so excited about the fact that I've grown them. I've always thought red cabbages are beautiful when you first cut into them. However, I never really knew how to cook them properly before. It's very different to cooking white cabbage-as everyone else in the world apart from me already knew anyway. So i ended up cooking this cabbage 'a la Delia'-by braising it for a couple of hours with spices and dark sugar and wine vinegar. It was very tasty and smelt scrummy whilst cooking. Then to the gorgeous pumpkin-which has got me considering the virtues of a vivid yellow and orange colour scheme. This is one of two pumpkins I've grown from seed . (well, I merely facilitated the right conditions of course-they managed their growth for themselves. I must not forget my social worker origins). The other is still green and currently enjoying the rain which finally started today. This pumpkin actually had a big manky patch which you can just see starting on the left hand bottom side. however, there was still enough to make a pumpkin pie today. Since I've never made or even eaten one of these before, I've nothing to judge it against-but it's currently cooling on the side and looks fairly edible. M is usually a pretty enthusiastic guinea pig so it can await his return.

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I've lived with my partner in Normandy, France, for about four years now. There's lots I love about our lives here-including our beautiful surroundings-but I also miss my wonderful children and grandchildren who are back in the UK. I trained as a hypnotherapist originally in the UK and am now registered for this in France, I also like making (and hopefully selling) some jewellery.