mercredi 23 mai 2018


Last week my dad and his partner Jane came to stay. We went for a few walks and visited Foix. The weather was a bit poor but fortunately they got to the mountain view.

On the last night of their stay, Susie and I were awoken at a quarter to five in the morning by the chickens squawking. Susie was first on the scene and found a badger in the hen house! We had forgotten to close it before bed. The badger made a break for the hole in the fence it had made, but got stuck allowing Susie to give it a bit of a kick up the arse!! The cockerel was crowing but the hens had scattered. I quickly found Shelley in the grass but we feared the worst for Nutmeg and Zsa-zsa. Fortunately an hour so later they returned and all was well.

This week we have had hot weather in the mornings and storms in the late afternoon. Two sheep have been sheared but one of Susie's dancers is an ex-sheep shearer, so professional help maybe at hand for the others.

dimanche 13 mai 2018


There was snow almost down to the level of the house this morning. Although it snowed a few times here, it only settled above 950m, so fortunately it wasn't a repeat of the catastrophic snows of May 2010.

I managed to protect some of the less hardy plants so no damage was done.

It remained cold all day but I ventured out to photograph some of the orchids in the meadow.

Tongue Orchid

Green veined orchid

Loose flowered orchid

Birdsnest orchid (a parasitic plant)

jeudi 10 mai 2018

Oyster mushrooms

The weather remains unseasonably cold, but a "find" today to cheer things up - 2 kgs of oyster mushrooms!
I'll cook them in wine, vinegar and herbs then store them in olive oil.

mardi 8 mai 2018

last lamb

Hopi gives birth to lamb no.8

jeudi 3 mai 2018

Cascade d'Ars

After some fresh snow in the mountains the day before yesterday, Susie and I decided to venture out. The cascade was in full flow and the fresh snow on the pines made for some pictures.

Near the falls in the early morning the rocks were still verglassed and I took a little fall - no damage done.

The snow on the ground started just below the head of the falls but we found a sunny place to lunch surrounded by wild daffodils and with views to Pic Puntussan.

The onward path towards the Etang de Guzet required crossing some névés, steep in places, with traces of old avalanches.

An easy descent through fields and woods.

Back home the eggs Shelley has been sitting on didn't hatch - either they weren't fertilised or she let them go cold. We may have to get some new hens from another source!

samedi 28 avril 2018

mercredi 25 avril 2018

The Pyrenees Contemporary Dance Residential is now over and everyone has returned home. The Show (Spectacle) was a great success with about 100 people attending and over 200 euros raised for the MJC in Oust who provided the dance space and kitchen for the whole event. Big thanks to Kate at the MJC, Taeko who cooked amazing food for us all, our teachers Anders, Joelle, Lewis and Matt and those who attended the show. Two days of cleaning up after the residential and Susie and I are exhausted - time for a sauna in St Girons!

Today we finished the pond in our symbiotic garden.

samedi 21 avril 2018

Pyrenees Contemporary Dance Residential

Its been a very hectic few weeks preparing and running the dance residential. 4 teachers, 18-20 dancers from France, England, Finland, Germany, Norway and New Zealand and 6 days of workshops culminating this evening with an evening performance which we hope will be well attended.

Tomorrow a walk up Joubac, before they catch their flights in the evening from Toulouse.

A few days ago another surprise arrival - a lamb for Nanouk!

mercredi 11 avril 2018

Sheep pulling faces

Typical spring weather with sunshine and showers and the old hail and thunderstorm. The lambs are growing up quickly, though they don't like having their pictures taken!

The new field is now fenced and linked to the amphitheatre field through a cleared passage under the trees. Still have a bit of the amphitheatre field to finish fencing next week, then I can get the sheep in there to start nibbling the brambles that are starting to shoot. Put the camera trap in there last night and the new link between the fields has already been visited by our resident badgers and fox.

 new field

 the link

 the amphitheatre field

In the woods the flowers have started - violets, spurge, helibore, wood anenomes, cuckoo flowers, early purple and common orchids and bluebells.

lundi 2 avril 2018


The old pergola made from some tree branches (amazingly 5 years old already), gave up the ghost during the winter and started to disintegrate as the wood rotted. So time to make a new one. Easy to build but not so easy to re-thread though the kiwi and climbing rose that had wrapped themselves around the old structure! I made another picnic table too (the one I made last year was destined for the gite).

All in the nick of time, as winter seems to have ended after a long 5 months and temperatures are back in the high teens with a South wind too. 22 degress predicted for later in the week - bliss!

jeudi 29 mars 2018

Who's eaten all the chicken food?

Someone has been breaking into the chicken run and eating all the chicken food, we set a trap to find out if it was a martin, a badger or something else.


Finally after another 30 minutes of eating he leaves. An electric fence at snout level seems to be keeping him away.

mardi 27 mars 2018

Twins for Faith

Faith our last pregnant Ewe has given birth to twins (a black female and a white male). Heavy rain and cold has made the conditions difficult for their start in life and Faith is a bit bonkers - not taking them into the shelter in awful conditions, so we're having to step in and take them there ourselves and she follows.

Nanouk has also been difficult - she's jumping through the fence to try and get to greener grass we causes havok in the flock. Some extra strands of fence wire we hope will keep her under control.

jeudi 22 mars 2018

Cold snap for the lambs

24 hours after the lambs were born, 6-7 inches of snow and sub-zero temperatures, but the lambs were indifferent to it, staying close to their mums or nestling down in the bottom of the hay feeder.

One more lamb still to be born and a return to warmer temperatures has already begun.

Overall it's been a hard winter: long, frequent - though not generally heavy - snowfall and unusually cloudy. The lack of sun has meant that this year we have burnt a huge amount of firewood, twice as much and usual and three times what we burnt last winter (which was a short and mild winter). There's over 3m of snow on the ground at 2000m. We are still having regular snow flurries and I daresay winter is not over yet.

The last few weeks have been busy, I've been building a new bathroom for Sheri and Michiel, and Susie and I had a short trip away to Venice for my 50th birthday. We've also been planting potatoes, leeks, onions, cabbages, peas, mangetout and other assorted early vegetables and flowers.

Sheri and Michiel's new shower room

samedi 17 mars 2018

Lamb number 2

We watched lamb no.2 being born this morning to Louise (another female lamb not yet named). A few hours later and we have 4 inches of snow! Mum seems to be taking good care of baby and keeping her (mostly) in the shelter. Hopefully the 3 rams in the flock and the electric fence will keep any predators away.

lundi 5 mars 2018

Forthcoming event

Spring is coming!

First hepatica

 More field clearance before the growth starts

Aplen glow

mardi 27 février 2018

More badgers below the house.

Latest footage from badger cam.

Very cold and clear here today....minus 9 degrees at 9.00 this morning, despite the sun.

mercredi 14 février 2018

vendredi 9 février 2018

Latest neighbour on the camera trap

Mr Fox from Lee Sharp on Vimeo.


This morning dawned clear and sunny, but at about 8.30 I spotted something shiny in the sky, too big to be a star, closer inspection with binoculars revealed a balloon at about 20,000ft. Soon I spotted 7 others at various distances and altitudes. 

All pretty much the same design of ballon except for one which was darker, but too far away to see clearly - was it a race, a club or just many balloonists taking advantage of perfect conditions to cross the mountains?

After setting the camera trap (more later) I went for walk up Joubac returning by the Quer d'Aleu, arriving home before the next snow arrived.