Thursday, August 22, 2013

Plastic Tiffanys down the farm.

The three A's have had a hard time of it at La Chaise these last few days – and so have the lambs. It was ear-tag time which is no fun for lambs or people. We always leave it to the very last possible moment for Clun lambs, being skittish, are likely to tear them out of their ears, especially when they stick heads through the fencing.

The tags are difficult to place for there is only a narrow space between two large veins and the implement used for piercing is clumsy, not very easy to handle. All the tags, and the piercer, have to be thoroughly disinfected as the numbering goes on. The lambs do not co-operate. Cluns notoriously suffer from la bougeotte as any shearer will tell you.

Arnold gets a lamb firmly wedged between his knees, holds its head whilst Alexandre, having loaded the – how to call it, piercer? - with its coloured tags, quickly punches them in place, two in each ear.

Of course, following la loi de l'emmerdement maximum which is French for sod's law, the tags themselves are not simple. Inside the left ear, the shepherd has to place the electronic button and its matching flag on the outside. The right ear carries two flag tags in different colours. All carry the flock number as well as an individual numero de travail
which the flock owner uses to record – whatever. 

Pretty Me? Pity Me - I died

The afternoon team was Audrey and Alexandre and it seemed to me that the lambs were more tranquil. Perhaps it was because she did not loom over them in the way that the taller Arnold does. Her face was closer to the lamb's face, there was eye contact. Either that, or they were all somewhat dopey from having eaten too much hay and luzerne.

The tags have to be ordered long before one has any idea how many lambs there will be. Last year, annoyed and reckless, I ordered 50 – we had 44 lambs. I always have difficulty with this order, and the accompanying sheet of instructions. There are things one does not want to know.

The last of this winter's lambs leave on Friday...we shall just keep a few of the smallest for – dare I say it – our own eventual consumption.The great sadness this year is that we lost one of the lambs very shortly after the ear-tagging, blood poisoning said the vet without saying how it could have originated. Unnecessary, really.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Defying the gods

The gods expressed their extreme displeasure the night of the afternoon that I delivered little black kitten to the animal shelter.
Rain, hail, thunder and lightning was thrown at the Dordogne, not at La Chaise particularly – but it felt like it. We sat (safely) on the benches by the front door, privileged spectators, safe in the knowledge that we had few crops in danger of damage. In total, 22mm of water.

The storm clears

But I felt virtuous and defied the gods because I had learned that there was a new policy at the SPA (Societe Protectrice des Animaux to be correct – I think). No healthy animal with a chance of being re-homed would be put down. This rule was apparently due to the new Presidente of the SPA whom, as luck would have it, I met whilst filling in papers about kitten. Disconcertingly, she was carrying two round tins which, she explained, contained the ashes of cats, one of them her favourite.

Right, so I gulped and asked where she was going to scatter the ashes, over their favourite places? She said, if I heard correctly, that this was pas permis. I had recently learned – by a diatribe from a local mushroom expert - that human cremains cannot be scattered anywhere but have to be confined to urns in formal cemeteries. The mushroom lover said he is going to die in Belgium and get scattered in the sea. May the gods be with him – and may he get his paperwork in time.

Apparently one cannot just turn up at a sanctuary with a stray and ask for it to be taken into care. One needs a paper from the Mairie formally stating that the Maire acknowledges that the – carrier of the cat? - says it is a stray. Then the SPA gives one a paper to return to the Mairie. All square and correct. That's what bureaucracy is all about.

To cheer me up, a couple of people arrived at the SPA in the hope of adopting dogs. More paperwork but at least happiness in prospect for animal and new owner. I decided to leave a 'dowry' with kitten to pay a little towards her upkeep. It was gratefully received and, in due course, we shall receive a tax deductible receipt. All square and correct.

Sun on the Farmhouse wall after the storm

Wednesday another storm, all day long and totally about a centimetre of water. Memo to self: telephone roof tiler to say new roof has been sufficiently tested, he can cancel order for further storms.