Monday, October 29, 2012

mothers and rain

What do rain and mothers have in common? Simple: whatever either does, someone, somewhere will say it is wrong.

A deluge came last week. It was mostly very welcome after the summer drought. But, of course, some of the rain got into the wrong places. Only a little tweak of the imagination and it is my fault.

Grass grew at the speed of day-light and fungi rose even faster during the night. The agarics were on steroids – caps of 8” across and more - much to the annoyance of the sheep, who seemed to enjoy kicking them over. Perhaps the wet, thin grass is not good for sheep digestions and so their temper. Especially since they had just got used to finding nice, dry chestnuts and acorns. Despite our many years of experience, we were dubious about eating the mega mushrooms as they no longer bore any relation to our habitual rosé des prés .

                                  Sheep one, mushrooms nil

One good result of the rain is that the last of the walnuts have fallen to the ground, ready for harvesting with the magic 'rugby ball' walnut sweeper. This is an amazing device, reportedly invented in California. It is made up of fine wires in the shape and size of a rugby ball, attached at either end to round discs. These are at the ends of a downturned V shaped shank which is fastened to a long handle. (Think of the old fashioned carpet sweeper.) This sweeper is rolled over the nuts which pop between the wires, then it is opened over a bucket by a cunningly placed hook on the bucket side. Now any elderly person can harvest fallen walnuts without bending down, which brings a whole additional harvest of nuts to market. Given that the size of walnut orchards is steadily shrinking, the price of walnuts consequently rising, this is a good thing. I claim credit for being one of the earliest to buy the walnut sweeper, even if not for me but for Arnold.

One bad result of the rain was a flood on the dining room floor in the Farmhouse. Heart in boots (actually boots on door-step so as not to dirty floor) I went upstairs to see where the problem lay. The wall behind the bath was sodden. Fortunately the new plaster board ceiling appeared dry. And then the probable cause occurred to me.
The wall at the back of the bath encases the tuyau d'evacuation des odeurs which is a much nicer way of saying 'stink pipe'. This is the pipe that carries the odours of fermentation from the septic tank, into the skies. (Theory, only occasionally fact.) It goes through a gulley in the roof. So it is highly probable that the seal round the pipe was destroyed by heavy rain.. Perhaps not properly sealed by Ahmed, he of the forked tongue and pointy shoes, self declared roofer, the last man up there.

My fault for not having it (or Ahmed) checked. There had always been a few patches of black mould on the plaster board when the rain had just come down gently. I had, apparently wrongly, always assumed it was due to careless use of the douche in the bath, or a poor seal between bath and wall, so that water would run down to the floor below. But this was the first time I had seen the bathroom wall absolutely drenched. Damp to that degree is not good for the bio-degradable walls of the standard Dordogne farmhouse. My bad. Waiting for M. Doly to come fix.

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