Sunday, 31 August 2008


Charlie was first spotted on our farm one early morning in February, lurking at the back of the house and buildings close to the lambing shed. He was seen from our "loo with a view". He is a beagle dog of indeterminate age, but has obviously been mistreated by a man.

How do I know that? Because to this day he is very unsure of any man that comes to our place.

We think he was dumped by the Chasse people (hunters). I phoned the Gendarms, Mairies in three communes, spoke to local Chasse people, local farmers and the vet. But no-one new Charlie.

He started off by disappearing during the day, hiding somewhere and only being seen in the evening and morning. Gradually he stayed around a bit in the daytime, I even bought some biscuits as a snack to entice him near. But the circle got wider and wider until I couldn't chuck that far, so the others had the snacks. They didn't mind, of course.

I gave him the name Charlie - it's amazing how quickly these names stick, and even OH starts to refer to him as Charlie. He ran off everytime the van started up, and would run a mile if he was on the road to get away from a vehicle. So we assumed he had been chucked into a van or car boot (we have seen this done) and the lid slammed on him.

During the winter when I got bales of hay he would follow for miles, even when two or three bales were needed he would follow the tractor.

Gradually I got him to come and smell at my hand before dashing off, then he would stay long enough for a quick pat on the head. Now, after 6 months, he will actually let me stroke and pet him, if he is in the mood. OH can also stroke him on occasions.

Until he was threatened with "you wont come when we move if you don't get in the Van", he gave it a wide berth, then one day he got in the back with the others up the road. It was a hot day, and I think he was brassed off with running behind. Since then he has got in when we have been away from the yard, after moving sheep or checking the cows.

But this weekend he has jumped in the van in the yard on his own!! I think we are getting there at last.

So, Charlie will be going with us to our new place along with the other 3 dogs, various cats, chickens, sheep, oh and OH, of course.

Saturday, 23 August 2008

A new Olympic sport?

As the Olympics draw to a close, I wonder if it is good or bad for me. Good - because for the whole time I've done nothing (except put on weight because of doing nothing) but watch the Games. As I set off to do something we have another "Medal moment". So that's another hour or so, because you just have to watch the flag go up (have they got hot air positioned up the flag pole in the Bird's Nest?), feel the lump in the throat and say "aah, wasn't that good?".
Bad - because now I'll have no excuse to get on with some work. I really will have to start sorting out the house in preparation for the move, even though we will not be moving until early 2009. I know what will happen, nothing will be done and then panic will set in and bang goes the orderly and organised packing. I was going to make a start with a visit to the Dechetterie (local recycling place) this afternoon but OH and Thomas, my son, have cleared off in the van - so after this blog looks like it is back to the Olympics one last time.

We have, though, devised our own Olympic sport - Chucking the Coaster at the Chicken as it enters the House! At the moment I think I'm in gold medal position. My sister came recently and put a pile of coasters on the table, OH had a coffee and actually took a coaster for his mug. Sister indignantly told him they were not for use under a coffee cup. However, as they say in the films, no chicken has been hurt in the pursuit of this sport, they just know it is dangerous to enter the house now. I'm definitely in gold medal position for cleaning up most of the hen s..t as they come in looking for crumbs and dead flies.

Perhaps as the sun is shining I'll mow the lawn, and pop in now and then to catch another Medal moment.

Friday, 8 August 2008

We finally finished haymaking on Wednesday. The last field at our new place. Yes, it was a bit late, and yes, it was crap hay as it was left too late, but it will be something for the sheep to eat in winter. Wednesday was, perhaps, the hottest day we have had so far. I forgot to take water with us, the stringing on the baler was crap as the hay was so dry and fine. Tempers were frayed, but we got there.

We went to the Producer's Market in our local village, but as it was the first attempt (and our village do's are not too well supported) we met some friends and went for a meal at a local restaurant. I know, not the right attitude, but a good night was had by us all.

We had a night of continual storm on Wednesday night/Thursday morning. It knocked out the phone/fax - my ears are attuned so I got up unplugged the computer at the phone and power points, let the dogs in (otherwise they ruin my plants at the windows), and returned to bed. Didn't get a wink of sleep, but had to get up at 7.00a.m. to sort out lambs that were being picked up Thursday morning. The day was wet, the cricket started, so we just lolled about and caught up with sleep. Just practicing for retirement, you know.

Until you have weeks of continual sunshine you never think you will miss the rain. You even sit out in it, pray for it even. It's good when it comes, and good when it stops.

Saturday, 2 August 2008

Donna or Donna Kebab?

My sister Mandy has been here for a few days. It's always lovely to see her as we both have a similar sense of humour. My ex-husband could not cope with the pair of us together - he had sense of humour failure. When we talk on the phone we generally find something (mundane) to laugh at, but when mum speaks to Mandy she often thinks she (Mandy) is down.

I did think Mandy may be bored this time as usually we are quite busy with lambing, or I take the opportunity of some help and do some much needed decorating. As we have sold, it is not worth doing anything in the house, and cannot do anything at the new place, we had some time on our hands. I did have to do some baling at the new place, but we pulled in some sightseeing.

We went farm-hunting in Brittany (not for us), and had my first experience of SatNav - they get quite aggressive when you over-ride them. We got to Brittany and the Agent sent a text saying the meeting was not possible that day. Time of the message was 1.30p.m., time of the meeting was 2.00p.m., and we'd had a 6 hour drive! Managed to view a farm though after several phone calls.

We also took her to a village fete on the Saturday evening. You know the ones - food ok, entertainment crap but fireworks not so bad. She seemed to enjoy it, at least she knows what she is in for if she moves here.

As usual a calf was born whilst she was here. Last time one of the Normands gave birth to a heifer, so she was christened Mandy. Well, she would be, wouldn't she? OH and I went to look at the cows, and sure enough the same cow had calved. Now, you have to be pretty smart on the tagging of new born calves, give them a few hours and you can't get near the damn things, especially if they are born outside, as this one was. I nipped back to the house for a tag for the calf and a bucket of food for the cow, and told Mandy to come along to see it. "What it is (sex)?" she asked. "I don't know yet" I replied. This year it is the year of the "D's" - all registered calves names begin with the letter D. I said "Perhaps we should call it Thunder". Thunder and lightening in German is Donna and Blitzen, so Mandy suggested if it was a girl call it Donna. "What if it's a boy? " I asked. "Donna Kebab" she suggested, and we both fell about laughing.
We duly arrived at cow, calf and OH, gave the cow the bucket of food and tagged the calf. Picked up it's leg and saw tits not bits and said to Mandy "Donna". So Donna came into the world during my sister's holiday.

I don't think the French sense of humour would have stretched to Donna Kebab had it been a bull calf.