mardi 19 juin 2018

Tuc de la Messe

With a day of good weather forecast Susie and I headed off to Col de la Core this morning to climb Tuc de la Messe. the weather was warm and we made steady progress to l'etang d'eychelle...spotting a ringed ouzel and a vulture as ell as some new wild flowers en route.




After the etang the snow started to quickly appear on the ground, there are still some significant depths in the mountains (locally 2-3m). We spotted an isard from the cabane d'eychelle then followed some huge footprints all the way to the col de la crouzette. We thought a bear - but there were only 4 forward facing toes so perhaps a patou?





Onward through the snow, until finally summit, by which time the clouds had risen and we were looking across a sea of clouds.



 Still alot of snow above Milouga



 The descent was hot in soft snow and we got burnt. Eventually we entered the cloud layer but it was only a few hundred meter thick and we were soon in the clear again;


 Two vultures eyed our descent

6 hours and about 1200m of ascent.

lundi 18 juin 2018

Montgalas


After the longest period of awful weather in the Couserans anyone can remember, things are starting to improve. Susie was beginning to lose the plot and I was definitely getting cabin fever.

The vegetable gardens and poly tunnel are starting to produce food, but everything is behind and desperately needs sun.



A free afternoon on Sunday was an opportunity to stretch our legs and we decided to climb Montgalas (1326m) from the house. Our friend and neighbour Anne-Marie in Biech had recommended it. A 14km round trip with 6-700m of ascent. There was a lot of forestry tracks and alas no view, even from the summit...disappointing. 

 The summit

  One of many wood ants nests

 
Back at Quélébu we've been topping the fields which aren't for hay - there's so much grass after all the rain that the sheep can't keep up and can't even find each other!




samedi 16 juin 2018

More orchids

 Green woodpecker

 Common twayblade

 A rare wild white columbine

 Scented orchid

Greater butterfly orchid

dimanche 10 juin 2018

Pond life and carding

more vintage machines from Lee Sharp on Vimeo.

We borrowed an old carding machine from Patrick and Michelle to make lighter work of carding all the fleeces; They still need a hand card to make rollags before spinning but the machine saves a lot of work.

Despite only being 5 weeks since we filled the pond it's already full of life - frogs and insects as well as some snails and fish we bought.

 common blue damselfly

 pond skater

 libellula depressa

 water boatman

The symbiotic garden is doing well and at last we have some sun, though the storms and rain are ever present.



lundi 4 juin 2018

Sheep shearing

We found out a few weeks ago that Transito who comes to Susie's dance classes used to be a sheep shearer, and she agreed to come and shear our sheep. I have some sheep electric shears but they always seemed to just get stuck and I assumed I lacked technique or the shears were poor. In flat it turned out they were blunt and after some honing on the diamond stone they worked fine. Transito hadn't sheared for 10 years but her technique hadn't been lost and she made light work of the sheep.

 

Rupert was also on his annual visit and got to see all the action which might come in handy as he's just bought a 100 acre farm in Australia!




Just before the shearing we noticed that one of the lambs, "tiny dancer" was very lame after some inspection we think he fractured his front leg below the knee. Some bandages, a splint made from half a piece of bamboo of the appropriate diameter and hopefully it'll heal in a couple of weeks.


Another new orchid discovery at Quélébu - a bee orchid




mercredi 23 mai 2018

Update

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

Orchids

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)