A week ago we signed for our farmhouse just north of the barn, in a lovely forested area full of lakes and rocky outcrops.Typically when you move in, the remnants of the previous owners lives are left unloved in cupboards, under beds, chucked in garages and garden outbuildings. This house is no exception.The van is heaving with “stuff” pulled from the house over the last two days. Tony tackled the garage, workshop and cellar area and I, as usual headed off into the garden.We have taken on two hectares in our madness. The farmhouse was love at first site but came with an orchard full of neglected apple, walnut and cherry trees and pasture. Luckily the local farmer grazed most of it, so we have a relatively flat and lush grassed area to turn into chicken runs, garden and pond for the gozzies.The French are systematically cutting down the ancient oaks for firewood. A short sited policy but the norm here. All day the sad whizz of the chain saw could be heard. We hate it and plan to plant timber on our other pasture to balance the little wood we use in winter. There are about a dozen huge oaks on our perimeter. These will be protected and hopefully have a long life ahead of them still.Our geese, Bonnie (now known as nuclear as she chases everyone like a heat seeking missile), Bumble and Barley need grass. The barn garden is bare of anything green. Time to move them. But the large pond is a huge undertaking so a small stream under the garden bridge is being dug out to give them water enough for snorkling and sploshing about.The trees provide great shade for them, but the grass was in a sorry state, full of thatch, weeds and broken branches from the fruit trees.Time to tackle! Rake, gloves, pitch fork and shrunken brain cells because this job is just madness without a machine.For five hours I slog away and slowly what looks like enormous mole hills of debris appear. The grass is clogged and matted. Pulling all this dry dead thatch out will allow the ground to breath and the grass to recover.Before raking:After raking:Much better!I need to save my back from breaking, so call it a day. Next job will be another rake to even out the lumps and bumps, then a reseed.The poor apple trees are in a sorry state. Many branches have snapped in the high winds we have and there is too much dead wood. Ordering an orchard renovation guide off good old Amazon last night, I am hoping with green fingers and a saw to get the fruit production back on track. It’s a big learning curve for me, but a Labour of love. Being self sufficient in veg and fruit is a priority. We have our eggs from our flock and our milk comes from the local goats farm about 10 minutes from the barn. There is a pork farm too with free range pigs, that produces delicious meat. So all in all we will hardly need to visit a supermarket. Bread making and cheesemaking will follow and probably some home brewing. Well you do have to celebrate sometimes and maybe my bad back will need something too..for medicinal purposes of course!The stream has long since been covered except for this pond and bridge. I hated the bridge at first but think with some work it can be redeemed. Ideas welcome.Quick update…here is the pond cleaned up. Water to be added once thdcstream is dug out.And I bought a ride on mower. Wow this is so much easier and I am leaving large swathes of long grass to encourage the bugs too so this will be a breeze. The mower can have a scarrifier and airiating tool attached. I can get the meadow grass into better shape and save my back at the same time.