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Brushes and baby birds

Living here in France throws up two almost daily situations in the ever increasing heat and passing weeks into summer.

One is renovating. The other is wildlife.

We are in a crazy few months of being out all hours trying to make an impact on the to-do list. With a few properties on the go we have notebooks with lists. Post it notes find their way onto doors, tables and tucked into bags as we head out the door.

We shout at each other alot. Tony with his Latin temper and me with my English obstinacy make for interesting analysis I expect. The you said, I said in the end becomes a drag and we calm down. Honestly we have too much to do and arguing is really a waste of our planets deminishing oxygen.

Much of our renovating depends on:

  • The weather. It’s either blindingly 38 degrees and it’s just June. So you have a window between 8am and say 11am and then from a silly late 5.30pm to when it gets dark or the midges get you. In between you get heat stroke, sweaty armpits, nervous, restless and end up just going for a nap because of second point – French lunches.
  • The French lunchtime. Two hours of we don’t work as we are a socialist country! Well I call it lazy and unhelpful. Can’t build an empire or in our case a chicken coop, water system, septic installation and rear extension, conveniently round a baguette! So we sit like vultures watching out for a live dinner to wander past, in various retail car parks until 2pm. Luckily Crescendo the food restaurant is open, so often it’s lunch there and then we can calmly finish the shopping on a full stomach.
  • French time keeping. Absolute rubbish. That’s if they turn up at all! No email or phone call. The contractors just vaporize. Another job? Another planet? Who knows. The roofers came when it poured with rain. This week it’s hot and it’s a no show. When they do turn up, they yell, smoke (err we are a hay barn) and yes have the lunch break bit and then go home early. 30 hour week I believe. My goodness I was on a 60 hour week for years. No wonder Macron gets aggitated!
  • French labels. The French make up prices and rules ‘re refundi g as they go along. EU regulations go out the window. Do as we say not as we do. Today the paint was advertised at Brico Depot at €10. We queried as charged us €30. Immediately we asked for refund and they refused as the tin was on discount and no refunds! Essex temper got into play as little Frenchman smirked and did the French sort of I don’t care sound. Not on my planet matey! After me asking for all my €800 spend to be refunded and he could stick that paint tin where the French sunshine will not reach…we got our money back. Cheeky beggars! The French do not understand capitalism, customer service or contract law. I am not anti-French but this country really has some ridiculous attitudes. Macro has his work cut out.
  • Burn-out. No it’s not just those 35 hour a week, off the pay scale, City bankers and IT contractors who get this. We do after 3 days of pushing ourselves for 12 hours. Sometimes jobs have to be finished or they drag on, like putting up fencing to keep cow’s out and chickens in. Or preparing the ground for the septic tank. Weather in our area is erratic and can turn from sunny to hurricane winds. The volcanoes South contribute to our mountainous weather and we have to paint or dig faster.
  • Ducks. No I haven’t posted thus one yet. It’s a surprise. Simply these mucky but cute individuals with webbed feet seem to take up at least two hours a day of my time. Before any work poultry has to de-pooped and with the heat, water distributed. One big plan is to build a huge barn at the farmhouse. Keeping everything in one place, accessible and cool. The battle to deal with silly tiny food and water barrels has to end. It’s exhausting running hoses everywhere, lugging 25kilo pellet sacks about and having everyone so far from each other. I think I clock up 10,000 steps in no time, but the cellulite aint budging! No it’s all changing and it involves a tractor too. Updates in a month on progress.

So brushes? They needed cleaning.

This is the variety of work currently on the list. Exterior and interior, big fence painting and tiny awkward corners.

Wash brushes thoroughly with water, alcohol or white spirit as it suggests on the label. Then with water and washing up liquid give a good clean and then rinse. Shake excess water off and smooth hairs to a neat point. If the paint or varnish has gone sticky or hard, or you accidentally used the wrong cleaner and left the brush to dry don’t despair. Soak again overnight and then with cleaner and a wire brush carefully tease the paint etc from the hairs. Finally give the ends a slight trim if the brushing has effectively given your brush split ends!

Hang your brushes upside down if you can or as I have, on a slope to drain. This stops water penetrating the shaft of the brush, loosening glue and hairs and rusting the metal band if the brush has this structure.

Leave to dry and before putting away just give the hairs a quick flick to loosen and ensure dry. They should be springy and all hairs separating easily.

Sometimes I will sand off the paint on the handles and renovate if the brushes have value. If not, I just clean and trim off broken hairs. Very tatty brushes get their handles cut short and can then be used for hard to access jobs which destroy your brushes anyway. I often trim brush hairs to different angles to allow neat edges when cutting in paint. Some of my brushes are now over sixty years old, handed down by my family or rescued from brocantes.

The other distraction.

Baby sparrows. Oh dear. Learning to fly is perilous. The birch trees are full of virgin baby flyers and nearly 50 percent don’t make it. The predators are circling. Or they land in the goose pond or an accidentally left bucket that we have forgotten to turn over. They drown or starve. It’s awful and we try to move water buckets away from trees and keep an eye open for fallen babies.

You mustn’t handle too much. It’s not easy with those cute big yellow mouths tweeping away. Try to quickly put back where you think they fell from or near enough. Mum will call and locate. No water or food. Never seringe water into a baby. It will end up with water in it’s lungs. It’s a skilled job looking after fledglings.

These little guys have plumage/feathers and have a chance to survive. It will be a tough journey to adulthood when your on the menu for the local wildlife. If the baby is featherless, it really needs to go back to the nest for continued feeding and supervising. Otherwise it should be left in a safe spot as the flying attempt was a planned necessity. Putting it back in the nest may just end in another jump again and a not so happy ending.

The chickens alerted us. The carnivore instinct cut in and a mass of eagle eyed chooks pushed and shoved to reach the flaying chick as it desperately attempted to hide. We lost it in the mele, hiding under our water barrel. Where it went afterwards, who knows. The other two Tony scooped up quick enough to save from a horrible death by pecking. Can’t blame my girls. Veggie diets can be a drag.

We put them back near the nest in our workshop roof along with a plastic tray to sit on as they had slipped through the chicken wire while trying to edge to the opening and hit a solar light that was below and got stuck. That solar light had to go. Too risky for achieving a clean flight. One is still balacing precariously. I think I will go and check it’s ok and make sure those Veloceraptor chickens are not circling!

5 thoughts on “Brushes and baby birds

  1. Gosh, I’m worn out just reading the first part, what busy people but hopefully. with some fun along the way. There is nothing worse than chickens and baby birds. I’ve seen the horrors! It all happens so quick it’s hard to rescue the poor little baby birds. Hope you save a few lives along the way.


    1. The one that landed moved so fast and what with 8 chickens trying to grab it, I just couldn’t get near. Such a shame. Luckily the other two flew successfully today. It’s boiling hot here and so many babies trying to fly, everyone aggitated.


    2. Ah ‘re fun, yes. I will be repairing my Citroen 2CV and I also love my sewing lessons. I have friends visiting in August and October and French lessons Fridays with a really lovely gay guy. He makes a mean sponge cake too!


  2. Judi, an easy way to dry paintbrushes: get a laundry dryer, don’t know what they are officially called, the kind you hang up with multiple pegs attached. I attach either string, or elastic bands to the handles and hang! Simple and effective

    Liked by 1 person

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