Monthly Archives: October 2012

24/10/2012

Some progress has been made since my last post; the front door (double-glazed) has finally been installed. I’ve also fabricated a panel to go above the door using some scrap pieces of oak; it contains two adjustable vents so at least we’ll be able to regulate the airflow. Unlike the previous panel, which had an unregulated airflow because one of the panes of glass had a massive hole in it.

The continually-growing mould in the house finally became too much, so I’ve installed a ventilation system upstairs. It consists of an airvent in the pantry, and two in the bedroom ceiling. These are linked by means of flexible pipes to an extractor fan, which runs continually. Only time will tell whether this cures the mould or not, but at least we’re now getting some ventilation to these rooms.

Yesterday was LSS’s birthday, so we decided to celebrate by going to a restaurant. Oh dear, finding a restaurant open on a Tuesday in France is not an easy task. All those we visited in Lamotte Beuvron were closed. We ended up going to the “Au Coin du Feu” in Salbris. And very nice it was too.

Work on the workshop outbuilding is also progressing nicely; I’ve run plastic conduit through the roof space in the barn into the workshop, and the next job is to feed the electrical wiring through the conduit. Once that is done, I’ll be installing an overhead fluorescent light and a couple of plug points. Power tools will soon be available without having to use a 30-metre extension lead!

I also used up our stock of old car tyres in the pond. Two of the banks are eroding, and if we didn’t do anything the pond would soon encompass the garden. I’d known about using tyres as erosion control, but I hadn’t made the connection between the enlarging pond and erosion; it was my sister who suggested the idea! The local agricultural garage is only too happy to give us their old tyres (as they can’t get rid of them!) and also to supply us with old wooden pallets. We’ll need to pay them another visit to get some more. I’m using the pallets to construct a wood shed. The base and lower walls have been completed – I just need to get another nine pallets to finish the walls. The roof will consist of corrugated iron – there are sundry sheets of the stuff lying around on the farm.

Hence the lack of posts recently – I’ve been busy!

But I must end by mentioning the wild boar hunt which took place on the property last weekend – the hunters ended up getting two wild boar, one of which weighed in at a hefty 110kg. We went to see them butchered at a neighbouring farm, and LSS was presented with both boar heads. Undeterred, she made brawn out of them (I don’t particularly like brawn, but there was sufficient meat in the neck area to make several stews. THAT I do like!)

12/10/2012

Blooming cat! She had been missing for over 48 hours, and it was very unlike her to miss a meal.

The only thing we could think of was that she’d been taken by a fox.

We had wandered around the property but did not see as much as a whisker. LSS and I were obviously quite upset about it.

But this evening, lo and behold, she turns up, asking for dinner. No sooner had she wolfed it down, when she was off out again. I don’t think we have a cat anymore. We just happen to feed one.

07/10/2012

A very grey day today, weatherwise. So we took the opportunity to have a haircut. I cut LSS’s hair, and she cut mine.

We then took a stroll down one of the field paths she’d cleared with the tractor/brushcutter on Friday. We’ve nicknamed it “Sloe Alley” because there are several heavily-laden Prunus spinosa trees all in a row. We had taken a bucket with us, and about 40 minutes of picking resulted in 3.3kg of fruit. The next batch of sloe wine is under way…

After lunch we visited the chestnut trees which grow opposite the house and gathered a bowlful of chestnuts. I’ve started peeling them in order to make chestnut flour. It’s a very labour-intensive process!

For dinner we had pot-roasted pheasant (the bird was donated to us by M&O as a thank-you present for clearing the alleyways around the fields to improve hunting access for M&O’s group of hunters). This was served with fried mushrooms which we gathered yesterday afternoon. We collected a whole basketful, and LSS has cooked and frozen some for later use. They’re the Macrolepiota procera (parasol) which seem to like the grassy areas which were cut short by the tractor/brushcutter. Dinner was very tasty indeed.

03/10/2012

Goodness gracious, October already! Doesn’t time fly when you’re having fun?

We’ve been exceedingly busy at La Darnoire Towers recently. Yesterday I bottled our home brewed 7.5% beer, and today was the turn of this year’s batch of 15.3% elderberry wine. This pleasant task was unfortunately interrupted by having to cut some more wood for the wood stove; we’re still going through all the scrap wood we put to one side when we first moved in, and I suspect there’s still enough there to see us through the winter. Still, the advantage is we can heat our bathwater on the kitchen stove without it costing us anything!

On the home renovation front, the new double-glazed windows have now been installed in the bedroom and lounge, and the walls around the windows have been re-plastered using lime render.

Today was also a major milestone. Last Saturday LSS and I lowered the new borehole pump into the borehole, having first of all carefully attached it to a long piece of nylon rope. As you do. To supply power to the pump, we re-used some rigid cables which the aged FIL had lying around. Rigid cables are not the easiest electrical wiring with which to work, but they fitted in the end.

The pump is situated at a depth of 40 metres, and feeding the 32mm water pipe down the borehole tube was not the easiest task in the world either!

Today we fed the remaining 25m of 32mm water pipe through the corrugated tubing which had been buried to a depth of 80cm (for frost protection). It links the borehole itself to the house. I then jury-rigged a piece of 3-core cable to the borehole electric switch to test. I also connected up a length of garden hose to the borehole pipe to lead the water away. We are highly pleased to report that the pump is working very well, and the sight of our own borehole water gushing out of the hosepipe led me to dance a jig. Which is, for those of you that know me well, a very unusual occurrence indeed.

Our neighbours in the next county (just down the road from us, but the county border lies at one edge of the property!) had kindly donated an old 500 litre pressure vessel (ballon) which they no longer required. Well, I suppose we did invite them around for a wild boar barbecue, together with a springbok biltong apéritif! We’ve decided to use this ballon as our thermal store for the hot water. This will involve cutting the top off, cleaning it out thoroughly, and then drilling lots of holes for the various water pipe connections.

But obviously, a cold water supply is the first priority, hence the excitement at getting the borehole pump working!

On the kitchen front, LSS has made several pots of tomato sauce, several pots of tomato ketchup, lots of tomato soup, stuffed tomatoes… (spot a trend here?)
The garden has also produced lots of courgettes, carrots, beans, peas, beetroot, turnips, and – my personal favourite – gala melons and watermelons! Not to mention the strawberries, blueberries and raspberries, of course.
Unfortunately we had to throw away our new batch of blackberry wine. Because I only have one brewing belt, I had to wait for the beer to finish fermenting before I could add the yeast to the blackberry wort. And even though I had sterilized it with some campden tablets, it had started fermenting on its own and smelled rather rank. Maybe next year!

Wildlife diary: Wasps. In early summer, I noticed a few wasps flying in and out of a small opening next to the chimney, and decided to leave them alone. They appear to have built their nest between the kitchen ceiling and the floor of the roof space. They haven’t really bothered us, but one or two have started dropping in for a visit through the aperture between the kitchen ceiling and the wall. I’ll be glad when they die out this winter and I can fill up their entrance hole. It has however been fascinating to watch them from the safety of the kitchen window. They are the first insects stirring in the morning, even with temperatures as low as 2 degrees Centigrade; and they are the last insects flying about when it gets dark. They appear to work even harder than bees.