The geese don’t like Tony for some reason. I think it’s his orange jumper actually. And the bright blue trainers. And the….you get the picture! So I have to chase them away when he walks past. Lots of arm waving and chatting to boss goose Bonnie about the weather. Mumma Barley is broody and sitting on eggs and trying to teach her daughter Peacan the same. No luck. More fun playing poolside with brother Cashew. Sibling geese can mate no problem. The only issue is you get a whole family, as we have, with tufts on their heads! Apparently there is a strain of geese with tufts. White geese and sort after. My poor Tolouse geese are not recognized. Sorry chaps. But in the wind you do look sort of dashing!
The puppies are ultra naughty especially Bella. She understands No as yes and Yes as be naughty! Every week they need a bath. Somehow they like this routine. I thought dogs hate baths but often Bella will launch herself into ours without a moments hesitation. The combination of dog and bath soap do not mix and its an Olympic effort to remove 7 kilos of wiggly podge while negotiating a slippery tiled floor! The cats are doing great although worried about little Charlie. She is very light and not eating much. But she is out and about and in love with Archie. Perhaps she is love sick?The cats are raiding the house for warmth, giving us a neverending battle opening and shutting doors to stop muddy paws and we have created labyrinth of hiding places for naughty puppies as we try to unpack more boxes from our move to the Farmhouse. The morning is chaotic and we haven’t even managed to slurp a second cuppa down.
Penquin argues alot with Heff. We need more ducks as he shadows her all day and I think she needs some personal space. She hurries out of the duck pen like a bullet on a mission and quacks away when Heff catches up. In the goose pen she shouts at the geese as she has no time for them either. Very funny to see her throw a strop. Heff just wants a bit of pool fun but he hasn’t got much of a clue about anything. An over amorous duck balancing on a reluctant female can be funny, but mostly he fails, falls off and ends up standing with his little pink twisty noodle flopped on the grass, unresponsive and deflated! Ducks are well endowed, but sometimes a girl doesn’t really care. Penquin prefers peas and meal worms.
Bumble goose has wet feather. It’s a mite problem we are solving. She got too muddy at the barn and the pools were small and the chickens had destroyed the last remnants of grass, so everything was like a quagmire. But she doesn’t like being caught and cleaned. For fifteen minutes you sometime circumnavigate the whole goose pen…three times. You get caught in overhanging branches, trip on logs and seem to be using far more energy than the goose your pursuing. Cashew the young male goose is also chasing me. Hot on my heals and hissing and trying to nip at my legs with that naughty twisting action that hurts like hell, we three are on our forth circle. Eventually I manoeuvre Bumble into the small holding pen and slam the gate shut on Cashew. Phew, Geese grabbed and a lovely cuddly big goosie duvet to hug for a moment. Funnily once caught, the hissing stops. That goosie head drops and just the flappy feet wiggle around a bit. Next a lot of puffing powdered mite treatment into the base of feathers and quickly pop her back into the goose pen. All done. Wasn’t so bad was it? For geese this means a reunion of the whole family. Lots of shouting and tales of extreme bravery. Heads are stretched high and little circles made with flappy wings and a trotting action. Obviously Bumble wanted to be caught and obviously she let me. At no time did anyone run away or even contemplate being difficult! .We have also expanded our chicken flock. There is a term called “chicken math”. You want six, but you buy eight, then a week later you get four more. We had twelve. Then we bought the Cou Nou’s for our big burley cockerel, Mr Chicken, A Cou Nou too and that meant six more. We lot one through a respiratory infection. Stressful and heartbreaking when you love these guys. Then we rehomed Billy and Ronnie the two cockerels and finally last month, we also rehomed Napoleon a Maran cockerel. A bullied boy, he needed girls. We drove for three hours south, through the hilly forests of Creuse to a lady who breeds organic chickens. That means free range. We booked six but one wouldn’t leave her perch up in the barn. Back home and one hen was obviously missing her friend. Back again, another three hours to collect the now captured missy! Plus somehow we got an extra one. So adding it all up, its four boys and I think twenty three girls. That’s potentially 23 eggs a day! We usually get fifteen but that’s enough for anyone. Blogging has been erratic and we decided to downsize the internet contracts as in France not cheap. This means I can really only blog when I visit the factory in town. We have just completed a new studio there, pictures later, but also the Coronavirus has kept us in too. In France you fill in a form to show the policy why you are out and about. A selection of options like working, shopping, visiting old relatives are provided. For us its renovation and because all the properties are homes, the police gave us the go ahead, This is great as we have so many projects on the go. I am also planning big changes to this site and hoping to get my writing space set up this coming week. Building the atelier studio at the factory unearthed two writing desks and these can now go to the farmhouse where I can use the late summer evenings to research and write. Writing on the mobile is very slow with the apps interrupting and picture loading slow. I feel I have lost my way. No structure. No useful links. No deep down thoughts that I really need to communicate. I put more on Facebook to an audience of friends that really do not understand what this is all about. We have big plans and my little dribbles of posting are annoying me. But then this year has been like that. Buying property and not being able to renovate whilst you wait for the legal stuff to churn through; and medical operations to my stressed out body after last year’s family trauma have taken their toll. I had a week of migraines and two trips to hospital to simply be left waiting for 4 hours with no treatment. No staff and no communication at 6am. In France it’s ok to be vague with information. Now treatment is good here but sometimes you have to wait. In UK you just don’t get to be treated without a fight and often by the time you get it, it’s too late. But I digress. With a new medication from the doctor yesterday the head stopped exploding. Tony was away in town so I tackled cleaning my van. The weeks of moving poultry and clearing rubbish had left a non-identifiable funk of aromas and a nasty sludge. After a few good hours moping and scrubbing and moving cats from the cabin (So annoying and time wasting), it looked revived. Another deep clean in a week including jet washing underneath and it’s ready for conversion to a campa. I bought a bunk bed, deck chairs and a kitchenette. A cool retro mobile trip taking, fry-up cooking, snoozing space I have always dreamed of.
I had bought a Renault. French driving side. Absolutely hated it. Couldn’t get used to using my left hand for everything, changing gear, steering. You couldn’t attempt to scoff a sarnie. So back to my Brit Peugeot. A safe bet. Drive with right hand, gear change with left. Control. I can see the ditches as I dive out of the way of an up and coming fag in fingers and coffee laden French driver and if they hit me, I can always leap into the hedge!
Our next project is installing stoves. The Farmhouse had a monstrous wood burner that smoked. You could literally put your hand on the cast iron and feel nothing more than a slight warm sensation. Pointless. Ugly and heavy. Out it came. We dismantled it with copious WD40 and ratchet screwdrivers, wrestled it onto an old rug and dragged it out at midnight like a suspicious dead body. “The French love these” our friend commented. Well they can bloody well have it. It’s going on the local market sites and hopefully we make a few hundred euros.
The new ones are better made and smaller. They pump out a good level of heat even if only 70% efficient. With the odd strike going on in France and Paris riots as usual, we decided a pellet burner with very useful electric timer to allow the heat to be controlled as and when was not going to be practical when we hit minus 18 degrees. No electric, no heat basically. Same as cookers. We use bottled gas. Independent of the corrupt utilities companies. So log burners installed as well as the pellet. The pellet burners run at 90% efficiency. Very clean and no logs to hump or chop. The pellets are continuously fed into a burn hopper and it means you can wrestle dogs and cats and wailing chickens all day and return to a warm home when the riots are over!
So the sun is up at last. The mist is clearing and it’s 10.54am and time to don wellies and a raincoat. The geese want lettace, the ducks peas and the chickens will be complaining about lack of meal worms for breakfast. I adore being outside, once I am outside. It’s the getting there. Scrambled eggs on toast help and whilst Tony has a strong black coffee, I need two cups of tea to prize my sleepy eyes open. We have a leisurely morning. We like to work late. With the sun setting at 4pm we save the indoor jobs for evening. It’s a long standing habit. I used to work in tax and run my own company alongside. I would finish work at 6pm and then work on my contracts till 2am or even later. It took it’s toll on my health and eventually I went self employed and left the rat race. The hours were still long but I wouldn’t lift a calculator till almost lunch time and mornings would be filled with less stressful client meetings or research time at the library. It worked and if needed I could sustain late hours to meet deadlines without feeling wrung out. Even now I don’t know why we insist hauling workers out of bed at 6am to make an 8am start. By 5pm everyone is slow and making errors. Two extra hours in bed are proven to mean an efficient day ahead. It worked for me and I could sail through the late afternoon and still be energized.I picked up my van today. The windows have now been installed. Its bright and ready for the planned conversion. I also took Amelie the Citroen 2CV for a drive. Maxed her out at 60 kilometres per hour. You could feel her almost lift of the ground at that speed!
Well enjoy your misty mornings and make your lock-in hours count for your health and happiness. It takes some juggling but actually March was a lovely month and a precursor for a great start to my 2020 blogging and homesteading resolutions. I really feel angry about the Coronavirus and feel China should recompense somehow. We are too in bed with that country re financial and manufacturing contracts. But that’s for another post.