Monthly Archives: February 2015

26/02/2015

So, where was I, before I was so rudely interrupted by the ‘flu? It’s the first time in my life I’ve caught it, so it’s not bad going I suppose. One of the companies at which LSS teaches English has had lots of staff who have it, so that’s probably where it came from.

Anyway, it turns out we have EIGHT bunnies. Now that they’re all out of the nest they’re a lot easier to count. They are all the same colour, and eating their little heads off. Due to the enforced inactivity, we did quite a bit of bird-watching from the kitchen window, and saw three new species: long-tailed tits (Aegithalos caudatus), Eurasian nuthatch (Sitta europaea), and a tree sparrow (Passer montanus). The goldfinches have also returned; they’re really colourful.

I also did some planning work for the barn, figuring out where we’re going to install new windows and doors. I’ve been thinking about heating as well; the barn is going to be a fairly large open-plan area (apart from the bathroom of course!) so I may consider building a rocket mass heater. These appear to be very efficient heaters and very economical on wood.

The mead has been bottled, but the next batch of beer has not yet been started.

An additional roost has been installed in the chicken coop ready for the new hens which we’ll probably get next week. It’s at a slightly lower height than the existing one, so the pecking order should be easily enforced. We’ve also ordered some more plastic fencing for the chicken run; this will be needed to increase its size for the four additional hens. The current occupants have eaten pretty much everything there is to eat within reach of their existing run, no matter how we reconfigure the shape. “My name is Chicken. Destroyer of Worlds…”

The insurance expert was scheduled to visit the aged FIL’s property to discuss the rebuilding of the burnt-down garage; however, he had caught the ‘flu as well, so instead they’ve just sent some documents. I think rebuilding can probably begin within the next couple of weeks.

On one of the days when I was feeling not quite so under the weather, I cleared the brush from around some of the wild apple and pear trees near Borehole Field. I also cut some more wood. The centre woodshed is now empty, ready for the next batch! Now I’m just waiting for the weather to improve slightly (it’s been grey and damp for ages now) and then I can fell the other dead tree near the pond. That will probably fill up all the space in the woodshed. Well, I hope so anyway!

14/02/2015

LSS is thinking of getting four more hens. The list of persons requiring our free-range eggs is now such that the poor things can’t keep up with demand. We have four eggs left for breakfast tomorrow, but no reserves for sale. Egg production is currently averaging five per day.

Now, you may recall some time ago the Aged FIL’s garage burnt down: (http://la-darnoire.com/blog/2014/05/17052014.html)

Well, a few weeks ago LSS realized that nothing had been heard from the insurance company for some considerable time. She rang the local offices, and the following day their “Expert” rang back. I don’t know if I mentioned this before, but during his visit to the burnt-out building, he examined the wiring. “Ah-ha!” He said. (In French of course). “This,” (pointing at a burnt length of cable) “is the cause of the fire.”

Now I’m not an “Expert” in fires and the causes thereof. However, I do know that a welding machine’s earth electrode cable is highly unlikely to be the cause of a fire, especially when said machine is unplugged. Ho hum. As they had said they were going to pay out, I wasn’t going to rock the boat.

Anyway, it transpired that this “Expert” had completed the requisite forms, and sent them off together with all the photographs which he took during his visit. However… the entire lot had been lost.

He rather forlornly asked LSS if she happened to have any photographs of the burnt building. Well, as a matter of fact, we did. These were emailed to him and he was delighted.

A meeting has been scheduled for next week; the Aged FIL needs to sign some documents and he will be presented with the first of two large cheques. Then rebuilding can start. Of course, as more than six months has passed, the initial (accepted) quote for the work is no longer valid, so LSS will have to contact the builder to check a) if he’s still in business and b) if so, whether prices have gone up. Most likely they have; so the second cheque from the insurance company will jolly well have to reflect this – after all, they’ve been responsible for the delay!

09/02/2015

We saw the little bunnies today. At least, we had brief glimpses of them as they frolicked in and out of the hay. There are at least five, and the ones we saw are all the same colour as Mrs Bunny. They’ve even started nibbling grass – and they’re only two weeks old.

bunnies2015

08/02/2015

Haircut day. We were up early as usual, and as the hunters were scheduled to be here this morning, the hens were not released into their external pen. We took advantage of this incarceration to move their plastic fencing to a new area. Now hopefully they won’t be quite so keen to try and escape for a while. The hunters arrived bright and early i.e. 10 a.m.

LSS had gone to the aged FIL to switch on the freezer and sort out his medicines for the week. I observed the hunters from the kitchen window. Six of them were stationed in a line at the edge of the field leading down to Soggy Bottom. Each had a shooting stick – or rather, a three-legged chair – and these were, as usual, heavily utilized. As I watched, the second gun stood up, leaned his rifle against a nearby bush, and adopted a rather strange posture with one hand to his head. I picked up the binoculars for a better look. Ah, that indispensable piece of equipment for a day’s shooting. The mobile phone. No wonder they never shoot anything.

Another spot of adjustment was carried out on the reedbed. The “T-piece” greywater distributor had become entirely clogged with reed roots, so I cut it off just before the “T”. I don’t think it’s really required. Some of the thickly-growing reeds near this entrance pipe were also moved to the other end of the reedbed. If the entrance pipe becomes clogged with reed roots in future, I may just route the hose from the sump pump straight into the top of the reedbed and dispense with the pvc entry pipe altogether. It’s all a learning curve.

07/02/2015

Once again it was a very windy day. Looking out of the kitchen window, I saw a flash of something bluey-green in one of the trees near the pond. Initially I thought it was one of the numbered cards which the chap in charge of the local hunt attaches to marker posts. These posts are carefully-spaced to maximize the chances of the hunters shooting each other. But it wasn’t a piece of card. No, it was our resident kingfisher. No luck for him today; the pond is still frozen over!

Following the LSS-blowing-a-gasket-with-the-aged-FIL yesterday, she has decided to plug in the unused freezer at the other house. Up until now, she has been going to the aged FIL’s house every other day, taking fresh food. However, the aged FIL’s attitude has been having such an adverse affect on her health, and causing such stress, that from now on she will only visit the other house once a week. Sundays will be the day she sorts out his sundry medicines for the week ahead, and stocks the freezer with ready-meals type food. There is a microwave oven in the house – we gave it to the in-laws as a present several years ago. This new-fangled invention was treated with deep mistrust; and it has only been used since the carers started feeding the aged FIL.

The blackberry wine has been bottled (24 bottles). All these brews are being stored upstairs in the barn. As I insulated the roof last year, it’s the best spot we have for keeping wine etc. We can’t have a wine cellar here due to the high water table.

Whilst I was putting the wine upstairs, the hens forced their way through a small gap in the end of the portable fencing, and were scratching away happily underneath the chestnut tree near the well. I managed to chivvy them back into their pen without too much fuss. I think they’re trying to make a point. “Look, we’ve eaten everything in sight. We want more stuff to eat. And the grass is greener on the other side.”

06/02/2015

The weather has taken a turn for the worse recently. It’s not the sub-zero temperature which is the problem; it’s the blasting wind. So working outside doing things like dismantling pallets has been temporarily suspended as it’s just too unpleasant. Mind you, there are still a lot of indoor tasks which can be done. I’ve bottled the barley wine, and sloe wine. I’ve racked the blackberry wine ready for bottling tomorrow. Once that’s out of the way, the mead needs to be racked as it’s not quite clear enough yet.

We have not yet seen any baby bunnies. There is warmth and movement in the nest, but it’s best not to disturb them. Last week one of the kits died; LSS discovered its half-eaten body in a corner of the hutch.

The electronic cat-flap has now been locked; Cat brought one too many mice into the house. The final straw was when LSS opened the plastic bag of porridge oats to discover that a mouse had taken up residence therein. The chickens were delighted to eat the oats. Of course this means that we now need to open the kitchen door to let the cat in and out; but the advantage is that when the cat meows to be let in, it’s obvious that she doesn’t have a mouse in her mouth.

This afternoon was the scheduled visit of the aged FIL to the retirement home. When he was told of this visit a couple of weeks ago, his response was “Fine, whatever. I don’t care.” According to one of the carers, apparently he has recently said that spending his life in bed is not as brilliant as he thought it would be; it’s somewhat lonely. Now please bear that in mind for the next paragraph.

After lunch, LSS went to the other house to await the ambulance. Of course, as soon as it arrived, the aged FIL decided he didn’t want to go. The ambulance staff were unable to force him to go to the appointment. They did try reasoning with him – but without success. LSS returned home and telephoned the manager of the local branch of Social Services (the one who advised her to apply for the retirement home in the first place) for advice. Unfortunately there was no answer, so LSS left a message. Stay tuned for the next exciting episode.

01/02/2015

A more visual-type post today. Here’s the result of the tree felling carried out last week:

woodLots of further cutting and splitting to do!

And yesterday our neighbour gave us a truckload of pallets for future construction projects. A double-purpose photo this time; showing the stack of pallets and the current weather conditions: snow.

palletsnow