Sunday, 3 December 2017

A Winters's Harvest

 
Winter is now with us.
I know this to be a fact because most mornings our fields have been white with frost
and, even though I wear home made knitted socks, my toes have started feeling chilly, a sure sign that winter has come. So I have had to start wearing my 'best' boots indoors instead of my summer sandals. Sandals and thick socks look a bit silly. Sort of neither summer gear or winter gear, but a mixture of both. Anyway, my feet now look appropriate for this time of year and can cope better with walking over cold,  hard, tiled floors which are so lovely and cool on baking hot summer days but not so comfy when winter's chill is with us. Walking bare footed on freezing cold tiles is not something one wants to do too often at the moment.  
 
 
These photos of this morning's dawn. The faint grey line on the horizon between sky and land are the Pyrenees mountains. Snow has now fallen on them. I know this because the chill of snow is in the air. Fortunately we live close enough to enjoy the mountains but not so close that we get any mountain type weather.
 
And when it is cold and frosty we are guaranteed to get a good dose of warmish sunshine, not enough to sit outside today, but warm enough to go raid Veg Plot 1 for some salad greens.
 


I wore my gardening boots. I think they might need renewing. Five minutes walking over the ground in VP1, and my feet were as cold as ice, even colder than when walking over the floors in the house wearing just socks and sandals.
But it was nice being outside for a quick check up of what is surviving the low temperatures, and to marvel at the strength of endurance that some of the plants have.
 
The Market Garden Project:
This has gone on 'hold' for the moment, which it would have done anyway because of winter conditions making it difficult to work outside, but now that he is working full time Lester does not have the time to make this project go forward. He thinks we shall have to get someone in to build the greenhouse and tractor shed, and do other building work which is needed.
Not to worry, although this project is slowing down, it has not stopped completely.
What could be seen as a set back, but which I have refused to get worried about, is the emergence of a huge commercial 'bio' market garden just up the road to us. It has the most enormous polytunnels, and lots of them too. They are growing 'ordinary' seasonal veg, and will squash all other veg producers in this area by the sheer size of the operation.
We remain undefeated by this 'set back'. We shall find a niche market, of that I am sure. 
 
iPhone Update:
Lester remains fascinated by the phone and is often to be found with it, (on the loo, in bed, etc...)
Meanwhile, I remain unfascinated by it, although I have heard tell that it takes good photos, which would be handy when I am out and about, and the other day I met a friend in the local supermarket who was using her iPhone to translate the words of a product she wanted to buy. I thought this was very handy and would be tremendously useful for saving time when out shopping. Dithering in front of the shelves because I don't understand what is written on the tin / jar/ box, etc., is a frequent occupation of mine.
 
The Rayburn is continuing to chug away for us. It is starting to look sooty. I did wash it the other day, but that did not seem to clean it up much, just made it look like it had a sooty face.
I am not cooking with the Rayburn very much as we are conserving our wood supplies; We are aware that we need to get through to the end of March next year, so keep the firebox tended but not over loaded, so the oven does not get hot enough to bake in, but occasionally it does.....
 
 
 ..... one pear tart, and one chocolate swirl tray bake. Simple recipes, quick to do, and shallow enough to bake on the floor of the Rayburn's oven.
Meanwhile, the Rayburn continues to heat all of our rooms downstairs, and for that I bless it.
 
Hope your fingers and toes are keeping warm,
Bye for now,
Vx 
 


Saturday, 18 November 2017

A new gadget....

Lester is out hunting, but not for something which is of flesh and blood, oh no.
 
 
A big day in our household this morning.... our first mobile phone thingy arrived.
Never had one before, never wanted one, never interested.
However, Lester needs it for work, something to do with being able to download things relevant to the 'virtual office' in which he is working. Something to do with 'cloud' stuff. Dunno. Not got a clue.
 
Anyway, after days and days spent in researching phones, one was finally ordered.
It is a weird thing..... flat and thin.... an iphone. You all probably have one, and now we do too!
 
So it being the end of the working week, Lester has had time to have a look at it.
The words 'Boys Toys' springs to mind as I watch him explore the ins and outs of it. I am reminded of Christmas Day mornings and the magic of opening a box of Lego.
 
Meanwhile I carry on with writing music on the computer using Noteworthy. It is not music I have composed, but copies of certain Christmas carols sent to me from a friend via email. I am supposed to be playing these carols for a small choir, and apparently also conducting the little choir at the same time, a fearsome task even when one can actually read the music, which I can't because the print on these copies is too faint. This music is separate to the other choir I am rehearsing with. That one is going quite well, although the singers are now drowning out the sound of my keyboard even though I have the volume maxed out, so I am going to take an amplifier with me in future.
I am thinking that I need a roady.
 
The music I am working on at the moment is for another choir, one which has been created quickly, the intention being to sing carols for the elderly folk in three local Maison de retraites (care homes).
I will mention that the music is easy enough to write, but most of the words are in French, (which is not a surprise seeing as how we are living in France), and fitting those words into the rhythm of an English carol is fiddly, but interesting, and takes a lot of time up.
 
So why is Lester out hunting?
He is hunting for a phone signal because the signal is too weak where we live, he says, so he has taken himself out in the car to see if he can find one. Bless him.
 
It is an English phone we have bought because we thought it would be easier to understand how to use it because the instructions would be in English, and this was so up until the purchase of something called a 'sim card' which then made the phone go into French working mode.
.....
 
And he has tracked down a signal!
And I have had my first phone call from him away out in the world,
while I sit and chat with you.
Actually, he is only just down the road, in Plaisance. If we had been in the UK I would have instructed him to bring some chips back from a chip shop. I've been having a fancy for a plate of chips (plus vinegar, egg, tomato ketchup) for the last hour.
Something with being on the computer too long I think.
 
Off to switch the electric blanket on in our bed, and on the way I shall raid the kitchen. Meanwhile Lester continues to discover all that there is to be discovered on the iphone, and promises to train me in the use of it soon. I feel a fierce reluctance to get involved with that phone though. I don't want it to seduce me into messing about on it when I could be sitting and watching the flowers grow.
 
 
Bye for now,
 
Vx
 
 

Thursday, 16 November 2017

A frosty morning scything....

So, if you were me, what would you do when the frost is laying heavily on the ground but the sun is shining hot enough to melt it.  You would get outside and start scything as quick as you can while  the vegetation is still stiff with frosty coldness which makes it easier to cut with the scythe, that is what you do........boots on, fingerless gloves found and put on, big thick scarf draped round my neck, dogs collected up, and off out I go.
 
------
 
11am: what a glorious way to spent a couple hours of my life, that is what I thought as I dragged a couple of branches from the recently fallen oak tree from where it lay half way along the river path towards the far field. They were only the smaller branches. The heavier ones Lester will have to sort out at the weekend. He is not available to do farm work during the week (office hours 9 - 5.30) because he is working on his computer. Don't ask me what he does, he did tell me but it is beyond my comprehension. Not to worry, he still has time to look after the animals, and there is not much else to do on the farm during the cooler months except tidy up the place.
 
I want to continue cutting the front hedge down, which has been ongoing since we got here ten  years ago. I mentioned to Lester that I could do with an electric chainsaw for ladies which would make the job quicker and easier. He has his own chainsaw but it is a very hefty and fierce machine, entirely not suitable for a lady to use.
He said that we do have an electric chainsaw but he didn't know where it was.
Ah ha, I thought, a 'search and rescue' mission on the way to find it, meanwhile visions of chainsawing my way through that hedge and the oak coppice which is starting to grow in a corner of the front garden, floated across my mind.
But of course this all depends on whether or not I can actually lift the chainsaw when it is found, which will be a lot heavier that my wooden handled scythe. I shall try, though.
 
Two trips I made to the fallen oak, and four branches I dragged back.
On the last trip I started fantasizing about having a cup of milky coffee and a piece of cake.
Oh ho! Time to stop.
 
Earlier on, scything went well, and I scooped up the cut grass / vegetation and gave it to the chickens, putting it in a heap so they could have the pleasure of rummaging through it.
They were not impressed with my offering though, and didn't know what to do with it. Not to worry, they will soon learn. It is a new chicken flock so are still on their own learning curve.
Lester has been looking after the chickens so they know his ways. They don't know mine.
Last night Lester had a conference call so I was the one to round them up. I am now training them to respond to me calling out 'chook, chook, chook' while tapping their food container.
As I say, they are on a learning curve. They need to know that when I call and tap their bowl they should to come towards me and not rush off in the opposite direction.
It might take a while.

Off into the hours of my day now,
which will hopefully include a portion of time spent knitting outside in the sun,
so bye for now,
Vx