vendredi 31 octobre 2008
A fruitless trip to St G to get a new oil and fuel filter for the tractor (I'll have to take the old ones with me and match them tomorrow). Back home to move the sheep and tinker with the electrics on the tractor - all lights, indicators, etc now working.
Fruit cake, blackberry and apple crumble and a rack of pork with roast potatoes cooked in the rayburn and I can relax. Storm outside with gale force winds - first wind in a long time and a test for the garage as it's from the south!
jeudi 30 octobre 2008
mercredi 29 octobre 2008
mardi 28 octobre 2008
Once finished and after stacking the wood I can use for joinery, I headed for St G in search of a tractor-carrying trailer to hire. Soon discovered that in France one needs a special driving licence to tow a trailer heavier than 550kgs - the idea went down the pan! Went to a garage to see if they would collect the tractor with their breakdown truck, but apparently that too is against the law. Eventually ended up at a vehicle breakers who were happy to put any vehicle on a trailer and move it. Fingers crossed delivery is Friday.
The rain continued and by late afternoon was turning to snow. I moved the sheep to the barn before Jean-Pierre arrived. A 'chasser' from Soulan (the neighbouring commune) he'd found my blog and arranged to meet up. After several whiskies he invited me to dinner with his wife and his brother who's birthday it was. After all the rain and snow I couldn't get the car out of the garage so he gave me a lift. A fun evening in good company and nice to realise that my french comprehension and language skills have come a long way.
About an inch of snow here so far tonight and still snowing.
lundi 27 octobre 2008
I've written them a stinking letter of complaint but given that they are employed by the seller and not by me, I have no contract with them so no route for legal action. Right now I just want my tractor. I'll have to find someone who can hire me a suitable trailer or alternatively I could drive the tractor the 100km - but that's about 6-7 hrs driving and I don't know if I need to service the tractor first - Lynch's film "The Straight Story" springs to mind.
If you ever have the misfortune of coming across Euro.Tra.Ma my advice is give them a wide berth - if you ever want to receive your goods.
Then at 2.00 across to see the contractor installing the septic tank. Having emptied the barn of fertilizer we've discovered it's built on solid rock, so the discharge from the tank can't filter into the soil and will probably just run across the surface onto my neighbours patio! An alternative solution was required and having rejected a cess pit we arrived at a solution which will pump the discharge from the tank up the hill beside the house to filter down through the garden. Only problem is getting a digger up onto this land which involves climbing two 2.5m high walls. We met a man with a special digger. After much chin scratching he decided he could help - tomorrow at 8.00! Only problem is he needed a dozen trees removed. So home I rushed, grabbed the chainsaw and by sunset had managed to take down the offending trees. There are two more big trees to come down but they're not essential for access so they can wait till tomorrow.
dimanche 26 octobre 2008
The 7 or 8 trees that I had left in field 2 were taken down and logged, repairs were made to the fences and hedges to keep them stock proof and one of the two remaining haycocks was moved to the barn (by hand).
Then some gunsmithing. I stripped the rifle, adjusted the trigger down to a more friendly 3 1/2 pound pull weight, sealed the inside of the wooden stock and made some adjustments to the stock so that the bolt and safety catch didn't bind on it.
Sandrine and Natasha stopped by this evening for a glass a wine (orange juice for 5 year old Natasha!) and to watch the sunset.
vendredi 24 octobre 2008
Firstly the gun is not quite what I ordered or thought I ordered. Remington only has an American website/catalogue which illustrates models available in the USA. Try to order any of these in Europe and you're told they are unavailable outside North America. Looking in the Rivolier catalogue (Rivolier seem to function as the french importer) I ordered the Model Seven 'as pictured in your catalogue' - a Model Seven CDL in fact.
Now mine has arrived it appears that Remington Model Sevens for the European market are different.
Different stock altogether - Hogback not straight comb.
Different checkering pattern (very poorly done).
Longer in the forestock, no rosewood end.
No swivel studs fitted ( though the shop supplied and fitted some for free).
The barrel has iron sights already fitted.
The trigger is the older style remington trigger, not the new x-mark pro.
The bolt, receiver and barrel however appear the same.
The trigger breaks at 6 1/2 pounds! but actually it is crisp (with no creep or overtravel) so it feels much much less and I might leave it as it is.
Having said all that, it's still a nice rifle for the money - very light, comfortable and manoeuvrable - I just hate not getting what I asked for. The tikka was better finished but it was much more expensive. Anyhow, the proof of the pudding is how it shoots and I'll only find that out when the scope and mounts arrive, I go down the range, zero them in and fire some rounds.
But why do a company as huge as Remington Arms not publish a catalogue or set up a website to tell european customers what they're getting?
You might be interested in what I did to my model seven over the next few years...see here and here.
jeudi 23 octobre 2008
mardi 21 octobre 2008
Hurriedly, I've enlarged the vegetable patch by the house to recieve all this fertile waste.
In the afternoon I pressed on with some more mining in the house at Pont de la Taule.
For dinner tonight another 99% home produced meal - lamb chops, cooked with onions, a giant parasol mushroom, a chilli and some apple/mint jelly, served with potatoes and carrots (olive oil wasn't home produced - hence missing 1%).
lundi 20 octobre 2008
Loaded up the trailer with all the none combustibles then remembered the tip isn't open on Mondays! Drinks with the old mayor and various other assorted locals at Chez Rogalles before home.
My 'Permis de Chasser' arrived today, but now I need to validate it. You can do it on-line ... anywhere in France apart from in the Ariege! Another trip to Foix. Still no sign of the tractor.
dimanche 19 octobre 2008
samedi 18 octobre 2008
jeudi 16 octobre 2008
Autumn colours on one of the big beech trees between fields 1 and 2.
More rifle research and the bureaucracy of firearm importing is making me look again at the Tikka T3 laminated stainless. Can probably order one in St Girons. Unbelievably (given the tiny size of the UK rifle market compared to France) they are about 3/4 the french price in the UK.
mercredi 15 octobre 2008
Having passed my hunting exams, the question of which rifle to purchase comes to the for. I've been researching for a quite a while but am still undecided. Biggest problem is rifle availability in Europe. Winchester and Browning are both owned by the FN Group in Belgium but the range of rifles offered in Europe is a tiny fraction of that offered in the US. As for Remington I don't know what the availability is.
I'm decided on 7mm-08 calibre, a bolt action rifle with wooden stock (not a fan of synthetics despite the practicality). I like the Browning A-bolt stainless hunter (but is it available here in France?), the Remington model 7 anniversary edition with its' 22" barrel and also the Remington 700 mountain LSS (but I've heard nasty things about the Remington standard trigger which is non-adjustable). Sako's and Tikka seem a bit heavy and big for me ( I'm 5' 7") and most the european manufactured guns I find very 'fussy'. Take Verney Carron for example...very popular in France but to my eye truly ugly. Steyr and Blaser are a bit of an unknown quantity.
Not sure about Ruger M77 either and whilst I hear good things about the 'new' Winchester model 70 I think the new trigger system is only available in the US and the european offerings are all with rear blade and front sight and only in WSM/WSSM calibres.
Thinking about importing...any feedback/advice welcome!
A lot of to'ing and fro'ing and carrying with sack trucks and wheel barrows. It's one of the many tasks I hope will be made easier with a small tractor. I've been looking for one for about 18 months and finally settled on a secondhand Antonio Carraro Tigre 2700. 10 years old but only 1000 hrs or so on the clock. It's coming from Italy where secondhand mountain tractors like this seem to be about half the price they are here in France and the UK. So even with transport costs it was still much cheaper than a local purchase.
Dealing with the Italian company selling the tractor was complex (as I don't speak Italian) but thanks to 'babelfish' on-line translator and a local Italian lady who helped with the bank transfer - all has gone smoothly (if not quickly).
The tractor is now in Perpignan awaiting final delivery to me by a french company. This is where the problems start. In my experience the french have not heard of 'customer service'. Evidently the tractor has been in Perpignan for a few days but the company only rang me yesterday to say they were delivering it that afternoon (no warning) and by the way it's coming on an articulated transporter (which won't get through the village) and we expect you to be ready with a crane or unloading platform to lift the tractor off the back of the lorry as our vehicle has no unloading ramps! When I told them I could not take delivery as I would be in Foix taking an exam and in any case I didn't have a crane, they were most annoyed. After some ranting they gave me the dreaded "We'll call you back". In France this means probably next week, unlike in the UK where it means probably in 30 minutes. No call today, their phone number is irretrievable, and they didn't give me the company name - so I must wait.
mardi 14 octobre 2008
lundi 13 octobre 2008
Despite vigourous handwashing, I have smelt rather 'sheepy' today! Thankfully, a shower and change of clothes seems to have sorted the problem.
dimanche 12 octobre 2008
samedi 11 octobre 2008
vendredi 10 octobre 2008
mercredi 8 octobre 2008
mardi 7 octobre 2008
Tomorrow, I need to trim the sheep's hooves then I might put them down in field 4 for a few days.
lundi 6 octobre 2008
The summit views were impressive with the crystal clear atmosphere.
The leaves are just beginning to turn here, but the light in the birch woods was fantastic - like a Klimt painting.
This evening the lamb was butchered and is now in the freezer, just some scraps to make into mince tomorrow.
dimanche 5 octobre 2008
After a moments silence and wishing here 'bon voyage' to sheepy heaven, I got to work saving the carcass. Fortunately blue tongue doesn't render the carcass inedible. It was the first time I've done a sheep so it took a bit longer than I had expected, but tonight I have two sides of lamb hanging in the kitchen and liver for tea.
Tomorrow, a day in the mountains and in the evening I will butcher the lamb and get it in the freezer. There was a frost last night and tonight it is clear - I'd like to hang the meat outside but I think there are too many predators. Still without a fire I think the house will be cool enough for the meat to set.
samedi 4 octobre 2008
Though many locals are bemoaning the 'cep' shortage this year, there are many other mushrooms to eat. Tonight some more gypsy mushrooms and cauliflower fungus (actually the very similar sparassis brevipes) with my lamb, and home produced vegetables and mint jelly.
mercredi 1 octobre 2008
A final part of the test involves a simulated 'chasse en battue'. Where hunters with rifles stand in a line and game is driven past them. Using a bolt action rifle is a new experience for me. More difficult, throughout the test I have to give a commentary of my actions in french - which involves some new vocabulary.
Two weeks of practice coming up!