jeudi 27 juillet 2017

Pic de la Calabasse

Mr Quincy

With the return of good weather and plenty of hay safely in the barn, I've cut the rest of the big field. We'll put the sheep in it in the autumn. Celine our neighbour who is a beekeeper, volunteered to eradicate the asiatic hornets (they kill her bees), which she did very effectively!

It's been too long since we were in the mountains, so today after a not very early start, we set off to Pic de la Calabasse. The ascent from the mines at Rouech to the Peak via the Col de l'herbe Soulette and the north ridge is quite steep and unrelenting and Susie found it a tough slog. We eventually made the summit after 2 1/2 hours but quickly descended to have lunch at the Roche des Gours because the summit had a lot of flies and people.

The ridge is a splendid view point for the peaks from the Neouvielle to Valier

We completed the ridge crossing Pic Paumaude, the twin tops of Tuc des Pans and finally the narrow ridge leading to Tuc de Loubech. From here we descended to the humorously named Col des Quims before descending to the barns at the Pres de Paris - a horrible cattle trail with plenty of juniper bashing. We then gained the descent trail, but there is a lot of forestry work going on at present the track which returns to the mines is a horrific mudbath gauged out by the forestry machines. 6 1/2 hours for the circuit including stops, 9 miles and 4350ft of ascent.

Aneto and the Maladetta

Looking back to Pic Paumaude and Pic de la Calabasse


Last peak of the day Tuc de Loubech

A sly old fox spotted on the descent

mardi 25 juillet 2017

New Sheep

Four more ewes to join our little flock of ouessants - 10 in all now, although we'll try to sell the black ram as we already have a white ram. Our sheep are now Moe-chee (black ram), William (white ram), Thelma, Louise and Faith (ewes), Comfrey (male lamb), Apache, Hopi, Sioux and Nanook (female lambs).

Scything the top field I managed to stumble upon a asiatic hornets nest on the ground, famous for their aggression and powerful sting I got stung on the head above my ear. Incredibly painful for 24 hours. The pompiers used to remove nests free of charge as they are considered dangerous (several attacks have lead to deaths in the past in France) but apparently this is no longer the case. I'll have to buy a special product if I want to go in the field again this year.

jeudi 20 juillet 2017

Animals and vegetables

Very changeable weather at the moment, either incredibly hot and humid, or stormy or drizzly. Susie rescued a field vole from a weasel - having saved him, he then bit her to say thank-you!

The onion harvest is in.

Plenty more produce to come in the polytunnel and vegetable garden.

Sheep are still doing well and will soon be joined by another 4 ewes.

Emily (Susie's niece) is staying for a few days. Yesterday we did the Cascade d'Ars / Etang de Guzet circuit in the morning as a big storm was forecast for the afternoon but it never really arrived. Today we'll probably head to the swimming pool/spa in St Girons.

One of chickens has had a respiratory problem - wheezing and coughing - which is always cause for concern. We isolated him from the other chickens and have been keeping a close eye on him. There are no other symptoms (like inflamed comb, running eyes or nose) so we're hoping its nothing too serious. None of the other birds are showing any signs either, so we'll keep them apart for 3 days as a precaution.

dimanche 16 juillet 2017

Old Man of Woods

A lovely meal and catch up with Alun and Breezy last night - and wicked fruit gin!
Today a rare find - old man of woods - delicious.

L'auberge des poules was originally built for 4 hens and a cockerell, now there are 7 hens and 3 cockerells - so an extension was urgently needed. The 2 hen houses are joined internally and share the original 2 nesting boxes in the auberge.

lundi 10 juillet 2017

Mixed weather for the last few days, sometimes hot, often overcast or misty, a few storms at night. As always been keeping busy!

New photos of the gite for the website (last ones were in spring before the leaves came out). A visit to get the gite its "classement". We got 3 stars - "hébergement de très bon confort". There's a national rating system and (alas) to get the 3 stars we had to install a T.V. I suppose it useful for guests with small children when the weathers bad and in winter, but I have to say I did it somewhat grudgingly. TF1 and a couple of other minor channels have poor/no reception - but no-one checks that!

The field opposite the gite got completely topped, the "regaine" will please the sheep. They're currently in the two terrace field which scythed last week. All the sheep have now had their final F.C.O (blue tongue) inoculations. More sheep arrive in 3 weeks time.

The big field in front of the house had all the bracken scythed out of it this morning and the trees felled in the amphitheatre field have at last started to be split and stacked - better late than never. 

This afternoon I lost my trusty opinel which I've had for over 35 years (pictured below). I thought I'd lost it about 3 years ago, but miraculously it turned up a month later under the sofa. This time I realised I'd lost it in almost the exact same place I thought I'd lost it last time, only this time I know I DID have it with me. I retraced my steps to the last known place I had it, then retraced them again. The chances of finding a wooden opinel in a forest deep in leaf litter and branches under undergrowth, when you've not been following a path and it's been 1/2 km since you last knew you had it, are remote....but amazingly I found it!! Hurrah!

I also found a new path leading to an intact charcoal maker from the 1940's and eventually to the monster badger set I discovered maybe 3 years ago - Susie and I are going to go watch the badgers when she's back.

Plenty of mushrooms at the moment, having them at least once a day.

mercredi 5 juillet 2017


After a week of temperatures in the high thirties, we had a week of rain and storms and even lit a fire in the house a couple of nights running! But the heat has now returned. I've finished off the South East end of the house with a roof to protect the back door (slates coming sometime soon). Susie is in the UK for a week visiting friends, sisters, Jasper and Ruby.

 A baby red deer in the field

 Clouds after one of many storms

The new rear porch