26 March 2007

We got a new Brahma cockerel on Saturday

He's been closed in for a few days in a big cage inside the girls' henhouse, so he's got to know them a little bit from afar.

Today was his first day outside, but he spent a lot of time in and around the henhouse before finally going out into the garden. Like most Brahmas, he's docile and very gentle and I hope things go well with the girls and he does a good job of providing us with healthy chicks.

25 March 2007

White Oxalis (Wood Sorrel) from Fabrice

Fabrice went out into the woods very early this morning with the dogs and brought me back this little parcel of Wood Sorrel complete with roots to plant in the woods next to the house.

He found a patch with hundreds of plants, all in full bloom. I wish I'd gone with him.

I gardened like mad all day in the drizzle.

One of the things I did was clear all the bloomin' mint that's escaped and rooted around a plant pot of it I'd buried in the ground (to stop it spreading) and trying to lever the pot out has done my back in.

We spent the late afternoon with a neighbour, again in the woods and picked up a load of lightbulbs somebody had dumped and collected bits of black plastic which dogs, foxes or badgers had strewn all over the place. People are just so uncaring sometimes.

The high point of the walk was seeing our neighbour's new palombier. He's still working on it - a really impressive 14 metre high structure which makes me giddy just looking up at it. I should have taken my camera!

16 March 2007

The foundations for the Russian stove (poele de masse) and the uprights are done

The weather's been great.

We've been getting on with the extension and I'm doing my best to tackle the garden between major jobs;

We've done the foundations for the stove and shuttered and poured the uprights for the supporting walls for the upper two bedrooms.

The stove will go between the two uprights in the photograph.

We've coated the bottom of the walls a fine cement mix then with bitumen up to ground level to keep out the damp. The drainage pipes are in place too and we'll connect them up tomorrow.

15 March 2007

The hams have been 44 days in salt.

Yesterday evening, we took our hams out to clean and pepper them and wait yet another couple of weeks for them to air dry before we can finally taste the ham.

The Copa is still out of bounds too.

Ho hum...

This is an update to show you the ham opened after about a month of air drying outside on the West side (where the wind comes from mostly) of our covered terrace.

Starting the new ham

It's less fatty than our last ham and a lovely colour and should last a good few months if we don't go too mad. We keep checking the other one to make sure it's OK. It's been very wet here and we had to put a bit more pepper around the area where the meat joins the bone. The gauze wrapper is still intact and keeping the flies out. All being well we'll start to cut it just in time for Christmas.

A cheap, quick and easy way to get my seeds coming up.

I'm really late this year because my greenhouse is a bit smashed up.

First the roof got hit by huge hailstones and is full of holes. Then a storm pushed in three of the windows and smashed the glass. I was really shocked when I saw it - it looked so sad.

I've been waiting for Fabrice (or anybody!) to give me a hand to lift the panels back into place, but nobody's been visiting the garden recently because of the non-stop rain.

So, to get things going I put this together and today it's nearly full of little pots with grains of magic in them. The most exciting are the ones I've found in my pockets three weeks after coming home from somewhere...

9 March 2007

A walk in the woods

We've finished shearing the goats and we've had a day in the forest.

We walked down to the cabin with the dogs, cleared the lake, looked at the soaking wet garden down there, decided we could do nothing there, so we cleared the leaves out of the pond and cleaned the stream.

We found yet another deer which had probably been hit by a car. It had a front leg and a back leg broken and thigh injuries. A female, two years old and pregnant, she had dragged herself up towards the woods at Boutet where she died.

This year we've seen a record number of animals die in this way. Fabrice does not mind being called out to track injured animals (Bonnie is an excellent tracker) and if he is not available then another gamekeeper will come out. This is a free service and the identity of the caller need not be revealed.

The smell of freshness in the forest is wonderful and the colours are really very special.

Wild Cherry with fungi
Originally uploaded by hardworkinghippy.

8 March 2007

Bedcover not finished yet ... with eggs from the past few days

The cover has to be finished for the 12th March, so we've get plenty of time to muck about taking photographs.

(I wish I knew how to do guilty-looking smileys in a blog - any ideas anyone ?)

Shearing time again...

Shearing our Angora goats takes us about a week. We take our time and check the teeth and clean them if it's needed and cut the goats' toenails too.

This year we've had to keep the goats inside almost all the time because of the bloomin' rain, and they get bored and bash each other and get up to all sorts of tricks. We've almost finished, only four more to do. We should have finished them tonight, but our backs are just on the very edge...

5 March 2007

We"re not having kids this year, but this is Nadia giving birth to twins in 2006.

Winter solstice light in the kitchen.

The light in the house has been amazing over the past few weeks with the winter sun coming right in and bathing the floors with colour and warmth. The winter solstice sun was a real treat.
I'm really pleased with the new cover on the terrace. The angle of the shaded part and the clear covering are doing what they're designed to do - allow the sun into the house to warm the floor and furniture in winter and keep it out in the summer.

We cut the Acacia tree at the back of the house right back to let in more light, I'm so pleased we didn't destroy it when we were digging out the site. It gives a lot of shade in summer and it smells lovely when it's in flower.

After the wonderful sunny spell, we've had some much-needed rain. So, for the past week or so, we've been planning the extension. We've designed the back kitchen, which I'll use to dye my wool and where we can cook the pigs' and dogs' food and we've made a few decisions about seating and working areas. We've changed two windows (We'll change the plans once we've chosen the windows) and completed the design for the layout of water, heating and staircases.

We're still working out how to get the maximum of natural light into the extension. The solar orientation isn't as good as the original part of the house. We need a lot of light for working with the yarn and it's so cheerful when the house is light and warm in the middle of winter.