Saturday, June 7, 2014

The only reality is sheep

All in all, with only a leetle number stretching, we - John and I - have been away from La Chaise for the first five months of this year.   We took  three months in Spain, then a brief visit home end March, followed by nearly two months in London.

The city was its usual hot, sticky, busy self.  Drivers have lost their manners, are nowhere near as polite to pedestrians as their Sant Feliu equals. London's drivers have re-discovered the horn. Even taxis hoot at white vans attempting an U turn across three lanes of traffic.   Only suicidal pedestrians would cross streets with moving traffic. 
Street art knitting in London.

The noise levels were horrendous but the shops were wonderful (early in the morning) and the Londoners - many of whom are French - very friendly.

We returned to France, to the fields, lawns and trees of La Chaise that were lushly, greasily green.  The grass in the now horse-less horse fields is higher than my knees. All types of purple orchids are lurking amongst the pink clover and a single Billy Goat orchid is behind the empty stables.
spot the orchid.....

The swallows are back!  They are nesting, in new nests, in what is now Alexandre's atelier, flying quietly in and out.   The nestlings peer out over the rim but are silent.  The golden oriole has returned to the fields but the wild ducks that visited around the turn of the year have not settled.   Obviously gypsy ducks.

Arnold and Alexandre have struggled manfully to keep the golf course playable, with a little help from the sheep.   Now that Arnold is away getting his knee fixed, Alex is on his own - except for the sheep, of course.   This is the time of year when one wishes some enterprising person had set up a 'Rent-a-Flock' business.   We need at least three times as many sheep as we have but only for the very short grass growing season.

The problem with sheep is that they are relatively picky eate rs - they will eat all orchids but eschew daisies and buttercups.  They are partial to the sprouting tops of newly planted trees, such as cypresses. Roses also apparently please the ovine palate, but only the flowers.   This is why sheep are not good lawn mower substitutes.  There are some grasses that they disdain, in particular one tufty, dense grass with broad bladed leaves which may be good for whistling with but also tend to cut tender fingers.

The current centre of my universe does not approve of daisies either.

The hot, wet weather has encouraged the early appearance of various wild fungi - the fairy circle a.k.a
la ronde des sorciers - of the basic field mushroom can be seen from afar.  Just look for the darker grass. A few early parasol fungi are growing along the sheep fencing.  Deceptively dangerous fungi, those that are not rare are likely to be poisonous, to be avoided.   Sadly, despite much enthusiasm in the rural press, especially the current issue of Le Chasseur Francais, we appear to have no spring burst of chanterelles, one of the finest fungi of all.

There has been a sudden flush (? perhaps the best collective noun) of fruit flies in the house and  I have killed my first hornet of the year.  Monday the ewes will be shorn, the lambs will receive ear-tags - and so farm life goes on.

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