jeudi 28 mai 2009

Sweet smells

Hot dry weather for the foreseeable future so this morning I started cutting hay. More to cut tomorrow. Cutting it now, rather than late June, means that it is easier to cut, I'm not plagued by flies and I can get another cut in August. The smell of drying hay is lovely. More tung/linseed oil mix is going on the rifle stock and that smells lovely too.
The vegetable garden is also doing well - potatoes, onions, spinach, courgettes, strawberries, tomatoes, cauliflower and cabbage all doing well. Carrots go in tomorrow.

mercredi 27 mai 2009

First coat of oil

After a day of sanding and then raising the grain, the stock got it first coat of oil today - 2 weeks of finishing still to do but the grain and colour look very promising.

Après poncant toute la journée, je l'ai donné une première couche de huile - deux semaines de travaux de finition a faire mais le grain et le coleur sont joli déja.

mardi 26 mai 2009

Remington Model Seven

The new shaped stock awaiting finishing

I was never very satisfied with the stock on my Remington Model Seven rifle. It was too long in the forestock for a carbine length barrel, it lacked a heel on the grip, the checkering was poor and the inletting atrocious. The stock creaked because it was stressed against the action. So the plan has always been to build a new stock, I have some very nice local walnut seasoning at the moment but I can't wait until 2012 when it will be ready. So I have ordered a laminated wood blank (the stability of laminate being good for the tough conditions here). Meantime I thought I should practice my gunsmithing techniques on the old stock.

Je n'aime jamais la crosse de mon carabine Remington Model Seven. Trop longue pour le canon et la fabrication mauvaise. Je plan à remplacer avec une faire de moi avec le noyer de Quélébu qui secher en planches, mais il sera prêt d'utiliser en 2012 - je ne veut pas attender. Alors, j'ai commander une piece de bois laminée (bien pour les conditiones de chasse dur et les mauvais temps d'hiver), et quand j'attend pour le livraison j'ai décidé de practiser des techniques sur ma vieille crosse.

So over the past week I've been spending the evenings, reshaping the stock. I've shortened the forestock by 3 inches (which also meant removing the checkering), free floated the barrel, reshaped around the tang, introduced a heel, redone some of the checkering on the grip and last night I glass bedded the action (the plan is to pillar bed the action in the new stock).

Pendant ces derniers jours, j'ai passé les soirs, travailler sur la crosse - Plus court, nouvelle form, canon flotant, la mécanisme coucher sur epoxy.
Epoxy bedding around the recoil lug and tang

Still have the finishing to do on the stock and under the brown stain Remington seem to have sprayed on it (now removed), there is some lovely grain emerging. The project is coming together nicely and I'm very pleased so far. Maybe I don't need a new stock afterall?

To see the completed project click here and for a second remington model 7 project click here

Encore la finition de faire, mais ca me plait. Peut-être je n'ai pas besoin une nouvelle crosse?

samedi 23 mai 2009

Building Works

At last the scaffolding is down at Justin's so here are some pictures of the balcony and roof I've been building.

Enfin l'échafaudages à chez Justin est demonter, donc voila - la galerie et tôit que j'ai fais.

Works at Pont de la Taule are also progressing, the kitchen is taking shape and much of the first fix electrics are in.

Pont de la Taule avance aussi, la cuisine et la distribution electrique.

Tonight a cheese fondue with Justin, Emily, Amanda, Benji, Ian and Nina.

mardi 19 mai 2009

Tuc de Bignau (ski)

After Sunday's trip to Tuc de Bignau, I decided to do it again, on skis. Clear skies last night but the snow wasn't frozen this morning. About 40 mins of carrying before I hit the snow (Refuge Forestiere d'Areau) then continous to the col below the summit (right hand skyline in photo above). Spring snow and a fun easy descent. Arriving at the sign post at 1998m I ascended Cour Vic (on foot) for another descent (on skis) back to the Cabane d'Areau. Back at the col de Pause in time for lunch. 1000m ascent/descent 3hr 30min.

Après ma sortie en raquettes Dimanche dernière à Tuc de Bignau, j'ai decidé de repeter aujourd'hui en ski de rando. Eclaircies dans la nuit, mais pas de regel nocturne. Quarante minutes de portage entre col de Pause et la Refuge Forestière d'Areau, mais puis neige continu jusqu'au col en dessous le sommet. Belle descente facile sur neige printaniere. De point 1998m ascent de Cour Vic (à pied) pour une deuxième belle descente à la Cabane d'Areau. 1000m denivilée, 3hr 30 min Aller/Retour - beau temps.

dimanche 17 mai 2009

Tuc de Bignau

Mont Valier and Petit Valier

View from the summit - mostly Spain

It's been far too long since I've been in the mountains so today I set off for a short excusion to find my 'hill-feet'.  I parked at the last hairpin before Col de Pause (1500m), where the road is still blocked by an avalanche, and set off for Tuc de Bignau (2395m). Met some local ski tourers who despite the long carry found some good descents today (from the col below Tuc de Bignau and then Cour Vic). My ascent was straightforward apart from having to descend and then reascend about 200m to retrieve my camera which I dropped (no harm done thanks to the padded case). Plenty of snow and my new walking boots got their first outing - they seem reasonably comfortable.

Il est longtemps depuis j'ai visité les montagnes, donc aujourd'hui j'ai fait une petite sortie. J'ai garé la voiture à la dernière virage avant le Col de Pause (1500m) cause d'avalanche. En route de Tuc de Bignau (2395m) j'ai rencontré des skiers qui malgré la portage ont trouvé des belles descentes. Rando facile sauf en dessous du sommet j'ai laissé tomber mon photo appareil - 200m de denivilée de plus du chercher. Encore beaucoup de neige, et mes nouvelles chaussures de randonnée sont trés comfortable.

Only three hours for the round trip, so time for some scything, mucking out, shed cleaning, weeding and planting back home in the afternoon.

Trois heures aller/retour, donc temps à faucher, défumier, nettoyer l'atelier, désherber et semencer des legumes a chez moi.

jeudi 14 mai 2009

Still no sheep

The works at Justin's are pretty much finished for me now - oak balcony and roof structure complete. Today I recommenced the work at Pont de la Taule and am aiming to get the kitchen done in the next week or so.

Still no sign of Una, I search most evenings. There are some rough dogs staying in the woods with Mariesa (who lives in a tent in the woods below my house) one is the biggest dog I have probably ever seen in my life - Pitbull/Great Dane cross? I am noticing it's enormous paw prints everywhere in the woods now.  A farmer in the next valley lost 22 sheep last autumn before the culprit was finally identified (and shot I presume) - it turned out to be a dog from the next village (Soulan) which got a taste for lamb.

This evening I have put up little posters asking for everyone to keep an eye out for her...only as I pinned up the last one I noticed a typing mistake.  Instead of typing "Si vous la voyez, appelez moi" (if you see her, call me) I have typed "Si vous la volez appelez moi" (if you stole her, call me).  I'll have to alter them tomorrow.

samedi 9 mai 2009

Missing Sheep

Since Thursday Una has been missing. When I left in the morning for Justin's I had 7 sheep when I got back in the evening 6. It is very unusual for one sheep to go missing - usually if one sheep escapes they all escape, and if they can't all escape the that did escape will hang around on the other side of the fence. The last two days I have walked miles searching in vain. She has a bell, one horn and was sheared a few days ago but no-one has seen or heard her. No sign of an exit point from the field, no sign of a struggle, no tracks in the mud.

Depuis Jeudi j'ai manqué une brebis (Una). Quand je suis parti à chez Justin j'ai eu sept brebis mais quand j'ai rentré j'ai eu six. C'est bizarre de manquer une brebis parce que normalement elles restent toujours ensemble, si une échappe toutes échappent. Les derniers jours J'ai marché des kilometers, cherchant sans success. Elle a une cloche, une corne, les boucles et je l'ai tendu semaine dernier, mais ne personne a la vu ou entendu. Pas de evidence de sortie, pas des traces.

mardi 5 mai 2009

Sheep shearing over

All the sheep are now sheared - what a job! Wool was very waxy and very dense and fine - couldn't push the electrics shears through it (think I need to get a different comb for next year), so did most of it with hand shears - difficult when engaged in 'hand to hand combat' with a sheep. Two sacks of wool to be washed and carded.

Toutes mes brebis ont été tendues - quel travail! La laine etait très grasse et dense - il etait impossible de pousser la tendeuse dedans (je pense que j'ai besoin une peigne especiale), donc j'ai coupé avec des ciseaux - difficile quand en bataille avec une brebis.  Deux sac de la laine prêt de laver et peigner.
Beautiful weather today and time for some fence rebuilding and scything - a break from building at Justins and Pont de la Taule.

Beau temps aujourd'hui, pour rebattir des clôtures et faucher les prairies - un pause du charpente à chez Justin et Pont de la Taule.

dimanche 3 mai 2009

Sheep shearing

Before and after

After working most of the day at Justin and Emily's, I returned home and decided to shear some of the sheep. I started with Mini (the largest) and although it's much, much harder than the professionals make it look, all went well. Next I tried India (difficult to catch) and about a third of the way through a battle commenced and somehow I managed to cut the tip off my finger...ouch! It's hard work trying to restrain the sheep and accurately wield a heavy and razor sharp set of sheep shears. Tired, I decided to wait until I had someone to help me...much easier with two or three people. 

Après travailler la pluspart de la journée à chez Justin et Emily, je rentre et décide de tends les brebis. j'ai commencé avec mini (la plus grande) et malgré c'etait beaucoup plus difficile que apparent, ca va bien. Prochaine essaye India (toujours difficile d'attrapper) et après 30% la battaille a commencé et pendant le chaos j'ai coupé un petit morceau de mon doigt - oi! C'etait difficile de tenir la brebis et tendre a le même temps avec une tendeuse lourd et bien aiguisé. Fatiger, j'ai décidé d'attendre pour un coup de main - ce sera plus facile avec deux ou trois personnes.
Mini looks much smaller but she soon reminded Una that she was top-dog after a fairly ferocious head to head butting session.

Mini a l'air d'être plus petite mais elle a rappelé Una que elle est la patrone après elles ont cassé leurs têtes.

samedi 2 mai 2009

It's a sheepy stand-off

"Come on, if you think you're hard enough." The new lambs are getting bullied.

vendredi 1 mai 2009


More heavy rain arrived yesterday evening (at the same time as my two new lambs). It continued throughout the night and by morning the barn was flooded (again). The sheep stayed outside in the downpour all day - not surprising as the barn had been turned into a slurry pit and all the straw was sodden.

After removing all the bedding, I set to work digging trenches around the barn to try and relieve the flood waters - hard work with a pickaxe trying to get through stiff clay and assorted rocks. By lunchtime I was soaked to the skin and hadn't made much difference to the flooding situation. I was out of straw and today is the May holiday in France so everywhere was closed. Concerned that the new arrivals who have never been outside before and have little wool to speak of, might get chilled without any straw, especially as they'd been out in the monsoon all day - straw had to be found. Alban the farmer in the next valley saved my bacon (or lamb) and gave me half a round bale. The rain eventually stopped in the early evening and after some more trenching I eventually unearthed two drainage holes in the exterior wall and the much of the water in the barn was released.

Sadly Claude, my dear friend and neighbour, has passed away. He had heart surgery about 3 weeks ago following a heart attack and never regained consciousness. I will miss him greatly.