Sunday, 7 December 2008

New fire fitted

Photos to follow.
In France a fire that fits into a fire place so the main body is in the chimney itself is called an Insert, that's what we had, but this meant the only heat that came into the room was from the front, we felt that we lost most of our heat up the chimney and with wood at €200 a cord (1m x 1m x 3m of stacked wood) heating our commune was expensive. I was fortunate therefore to get my hands on a Supra hearth fire for €70, now remember that when we lived in England changing a plug was major DIY we had fitted our insert incorrectly. Paul decided to employ someone to fit the new (second hand) one for us.
Paul spoke to the man who fitted our Velux windows and cleaned our chimney, a reliable punctual person, agreed a price and arranged a date with him,
The work went like this, arrived on time, and accepted his first glass of rosé, he then started to pull the old insert out, thus began my education in a selection of new French words, "Merdé" ( I knew that one), "Putain" the sleeve running the full length of the chimney had started to slide down, if it hadn't been for the Chapeau (hat, the cover on the top of the sleeve) it would have slid down to the floor, now it was wedged on the back off the fire, first blood, he had to hold the sleeve up while Paul pulled out the insert and went in search of a breeze block to hold the pipe in place. OK sleeve supported on block he can let go of sleeve and put on a plaster, off he went to his van, he came back with a clamp, the type we should have fitted in the first place and ducked into the chimney, not ducking enough, more swearing but at least no blood, more swearing as he realised the only clamp he had was the wrong size, back to the van he "adapted" the clamp to fit, I think if had concentrated on the job in hand and less on increasing my vocabulary he wouldn't have hit his thumb with the hammer, still that's a new word, not sure when I will ever use that one though. I had bought up the geese from the bottom field to lock them up, this coincided with him coming through the gate, the geese attacked. 2nd glass of Rosé to settle his nerves, and back into the chimney, you would have thought he would have remembered how low to duck, but still no blood, this is the man who cleaned the chimney, he moved something, more swear words out he came covered in dust, rubbing his eyes, he had bought his goggles, maybe he should have worn them. OK clamp in place, sleeve locked in place, shame it wasn't the right place, he had misunderstood, when we said we wanted to change the fires he assumed in the same place, no, forward a bit, the fact that we had asked him to block off the chimney (except for a hole for the sleeve to go through had, unlike the chimney place its self, gone over his head. He examined the pieces he had bought and decided a large Pastis was in order, a look at the clock revealed that "it was the hour" and Pastis was served all round, "the hour" by the way is when you need to justify drinking the Pastis, it doesn't actually have to be "the hour" any hour will do, but seems to work well as a system. Alan (did I mention his name? Sorry, yes Alan), looked horrified as I poured lemonade it my Pastis, well I like it they way.
About time I added a new paragraph, the reducing sleeves added because the hole in the old fire was larger than the new, pink plasterboard, fire resistant blocking the fire place up and Alan made a pipe out of flexible material (cutting a deep gash in his finger), the type we should have used up the chimney, and made a hole in the board and slid the new fire in to test drive, grab some wood, and, ah, the old fire took 50cm lengths, the size I have plenty of, the new fire 36cm. Pastis time, light the Kerosene heater, and relax. The bill, 4 hours of swearing, adapting, swearing, injuring and more swearing, all the reducers and a promise to pay next week €140 + alcohol, bargain.

Sunday, 30 November 2008

Well its a bit of a tradition.

Every year we seem to have problems with the septic tank, every year Paul has spent time on his birthday doing something to the system, our first year here was the worst, (we have two tanks, one is for the toilet and the other is for "grey" water ) in 2005 our toilet Fosse was blocked, many hours spent with a plunger or plumbers rods trying to clear the toilet out, we hadn't got a clue about septic tanks, our neighbour told us it must be there somewhere and to search for it, our garden looked like we had a plague of moles, then we hit on a clever idea, why not dig along the pipe coming out of the house, within a half an hour we had found it, and did it stink, obviously we being law abiding upstanding citizens we did not get the local farmer out to empty it for us, and after he didn't empty it, Paul did not go to see if he could see a blockage, and the farmer who wasn't there did not blast everything back in to see if he could clear the problem; Paul was not covered from head to foot in the contents and the house did not stink for days after. Fortunately what didnt happen worked. Since then the problem has been the "grey" water tank, either getting greased up or when the surrounding land gets to wet, has no where to drain into, so today Paul has been digging a trench, the plan is to fit a pipe to the drain hole, Paul thinks it should have one anyway, then send the pipe onto what we call the other field into a gravel and sand filter bed.

To be continued further on.

Friday, 28 November 2008

Lots of mice, or the same one coming back?

Daniel decided he had enough of Veronique (and the dog) standing on the coffee table screaming (Veronique, not the dog), and bought a humane mouse trap, so far he has caught eleven, so now he's marking the tails with nail varnish, he's so thoughtful though, and releases the mice outside an English holiday home in the early hours of the morning, at least if they get in they are safe till the summer, I reckon he only had one, but when that mouse told the others where the free cheese was they all wanted some.

Free to good home

Not for eating, I can do that myself, we breed our own chickens at Half Acre Farm as well as buy them, the problem with breeding your own is you get cockerals, they usually go into the pot as soon as they start fighting with number one Coq, Norman. This one (back of picture) is such a magnificent creature that if anyone want a Coq to keep their girls in order he can be had for free. The only conditions are, his not for eating and he must free range.

Down on the farm

Poor George, he's not been well, every morning he and his twin brother Charlie are waiting outside the door for there breakfast, Thursday Charlie was alone, I went down to the goat field and poor George was in his house looking very sorry for himself, I thought he was ill so telephoned Val the Woolly Shepard I explained what was happening and told her that his parents were ignoring him and that I had seen George and Charlie rearing and butting each other, I assumed it was there normal playing, but Val thinks at there age they are now trying to get dominance over the other, more expense now, off to the vets for castration.
The chicken in this picture is now in the fridge and is Sunday lunch, we bought her at La Gacilly market and in just 5 months had grown very large, she's the only chicken we had that couldn't get out of this run, when the chicken van returns next year we will buy a few more of these but will breed some of our own from them.

Saturday, 22 November 2008


I've been offered a pig house for €30, so even though I haven't got the electric fence or even the pigs, we will buy it. I think our first pigs are going to be standard white pigs, giving the type of pork you buy in the super markets, cheap to buy and I can give a couple of pigs a better life than they would get normally, once I have a little more experience I will buy one of the English breeds either the the Tamworth or the Gloucestershire. There's a few set ups here in Brittany dealing in rare English breeds, I've joined this, The l'association was having a bad time, but now has a new commitee so hopefully will start to go places, from here I will be able to source my weaners and get advice on pig keeping.
The pig in this photo is called Squeaky, he had a very narrow escape read his story here you will need to copy and paste the address into your browser.

Some pics

Sixt sur Aff farmers Fete, as usual the busiest place was one of the bars dotted around.

Christmas is coming.

We've put our tree up, a bit early I know, but the trees were on promo so I bought one, then couldn't resist putting it up. Tree and all the baubles €30, bargain.

22 November 2008

Been a couple of weeks since I've posted, so what's new? Look below, Violaine's had another scan, we had hoped to see if it was boy or girl, but no, the next scan is in January we hope we can find out then.
Two of the Geese are now in the freezer, Paul and Mike did the deed, but I had to pick up the ones that were for the chop and hand them to them, I have my favourites. Paul and Mike would have killed the first one they caught, the Geese don't like Mike (wonder why). Franck our neighbour came to choose his Goose, they attacked him, but he now has his in his freezer, the Dutch people next door are given the feathers Olaf and Joker are making pillows, even though Paul and Mike tried to put all the feathers in a black bag it still looked like it had been snowing when they had finished.

New baby scans

We've no idea yet if its a boy or girl.

Sunday, 2 November 2008

More Family Photos

Round the table from left to right, Violaine, Michael, Enric, Nadette, Franck, Paul, Dan, Me and Veronique.

Saturday, 1 November 2008

The day the vet visited, poor Justin, not for the squeamish

While asleep, wash, nail trim, and cut.

Vet wanted to know if I wanted to eat these, I said, no thanks, but if he wanted them he was welcome. Then I had to grab them as the chickens decided they looked tasty, they were still warm, yack.

More Photos and video

The long and not so windy road

Our guard dogs, only 4 left now.

The neighbours

Larry, miss him.

Our first home produced chucks

Noisey Video. Ugly Bettys first egg.

Thursday, 30 October 2008

Time for a second cup of tea.

Sitting at the computer with Lucy (puppy) on my knee, first port of call Brittany friends, a Brittany expats forum, very friendly place to visit and catch up on the gossip, snow in north Brittany and Normandy. A look on Angloinfo, an over moderated expats website, but useful for information.
Next any new postings on Paul's sites his Half Acre farm website see if there's any updates, onto his forums he has two connected to Half Acre Farm, to many pop ups on the old one, so has changed to another, he needs to get some more members before he closes the old one, and his Young people in France forum that's getting popular
Time to start the house work, start upstairs and work my way down, bedrooms, I really should keep the doors shut, I make the bed and the dogs un-make it for me. Wash up from last night, I leave the washing up after dinner, we prefer to sit and chat and have a bottle (or two) of wine. Time to go and check on the animals, six eggs today, seems that talk Paul had with the chickens about the cooking pot has sunk in and are back in lay again, the new chickens need to decide soon if they are egg or meat chooks.

A quick look in the duck "pond" make sure no chicks have fallen in, I picked one out the other day, I decided to throw it away, annoyed Paul he said that if I didn't want to eat it the dogs could have done, but as it wasn't killed for the pot I just didn't want to keep it, I put it in the bin, last time I buried one the dogs dug it up.
Another cuppa its time for a bit of "me" time, telly on, The Gilmore Girls, girlie TV, all five dogs try to sit on my lap, once were all comfortable we can enjoy the programme and share a biscuit.
Oops, time getting on, Paul home soon, light the fire and think about dinner, lamb chops I think, home produced,

Although so sad to see them go, they were so tame, Larry always came up to me if I called him and loved to follow me around, although he had many a fight with my dominant goat, day of dispatch was a sad day, I wanted to be out on that day but was here, I locked myself in the house and cried, I'm not sure if I could keep sheep again, I've no problems seeing off the chicks and ducks, and some geese go this weekend, but I got attached to the sheep, so cute and friendly. But the intention was always to eat the sheep, they were quickly and professionally dispatched and I'm not having a problem eating them, Larry and Clover were full grown and it would have been daft to let them go through the winter, with the expense of buying feed, and the meat getting older.

My blog, starting now.

The alarm clock goes off, yes, its 3am, time for Paul to get up for work, except he clicks the snooze button while I ease one foot out of bed, its cold, I put my feet down where my slippers should be, they've gone, Jake (one of our five Jack Russels) loves pinching clothes, he doesn't damage them, just likes to sleep with them. After finding my slippers, easy, they were on the bed, on with my dressing gown and the dog race begins to get down stairs, I'm not rushing, I'm just careful I don't get knocked down, did I mention its cold. Put the dogs out to do there business and then I put the kettle on, and feed the cats. Paul's just getting up and I make his coffee, as soon as he's up and the dogs are back in I can go back to bed, myself and the five dogs all cuddled up back under the duvet.
Paul gives me a kiss ( I have to cover our eldest JR, Cassie, because she snaps at Paul if he kisses me) and leaves the house at 3.40am, I stay in bed till the goats wake me up, calling for their breakfast.
I have a few jobs to do before I have a cup of tea. First, let the geese out, since the fox paid us a visit and took 3 geese and 2 ducks they are all locked up at night. The geese as usual kick up a racket, as soon as I speak to them they calm down then I let the ducks out, by now the goats have broken out of their field and demanding breakfast, I open the feed buckets and the fight begins, as soon as the lids are off the goats are trying to climb in the buckets. After winning the fight, I am now holding a large bucket of bread and a 2 buckets of feed. I also have a small bowl of goat feed to keep them occupied while I get the corn for the geese. Before I let 20 chickens out I throw some bread and feed on the floor, Then let the eldest ones out first, then release the youngsters, by now one of the cats has jumped down from the top of the chicken house and is sitting on my shoulder demanding her breakfast. Just a few jobs to do know, get the goats back into there own field, that's the easy one, I just put the bread down in there field and they soon follow. Time to break up the first fight between the geese and the ducks, then herd the geese into their field. As I walk back to the house I look out for dead rodents on the lawn so the dogs don't eat them, feed the dogs, then its time for a cup of tea and Sky news.

Photos and Video

Charlie and George

Comfortable by the fire


My ducks, the two we have left have become pets, getting more soon.

Norman, handsome fellow.

View from the bedroom, Half Acre Farm

And another

Clover, miss her too.

Me and my family

Paul and myself, this year celebrating our silver wedding anniversary, as well as my hubby he's my bestest friend and soul mate. He would be perfect except he snores and farts in his sleep.

My boys Daniel and Michael. Dan lives just over the valley, I can see his place from here, he lives there with his lovely girlfriend Veronique, I will put some pictures of the two of them later. Mike lives in Messiac with our gorgeous daughter in-law Violaine. Vivi is pregnant so we are expecting our first Grandchild in May 2009. Ive added some pictures below, as soon as she has had her first scan I will post the picture.

Violaine and me at the football

My Mom and Dad

Pauls parents