Sunday, June 28, 2015

Drunk on clean air and silence

Nearly three weeks now that Country Mouse has been back in her habitat after a two month stay in London. Return timed with the onset of long delayed, long wanted rain, missed the May heat-wave that grilled the spring plants. Modestly declined any responsibility.

La Chaise was looking gloriously green.  The forests were just coming into full life, the fields had not yet suffered from the prolonged heat of May. The sheep, gobbling green grass, were still enjoying their release from the barn in March, lambs bounding and getting into trouble - e.g heads stuck in fencing - everywhere.

off to eat grass we go....
The sudden burst of heavy rain produced an equally sudden swelling of our earliest fruit, the Morello cherries. There is a virtual avenue of these cherry trees leading from the road down to the Farmhouse, a glorious start to Spring.

Cherry Avenue!

Harvesting the Morellos is practically impossible.   The trees have grown too high, the fruiting branches more accessible to birds.  It is a delicious cherry, though more pip than pulp, too tedious to conserve, best eaten straight from the tree. It is a favourite with the Pine Marten as that nuisible waits for figs to ripen 
whilst eating bird's eggs - not least those of our once and former ducks.

Luscious but more pip than flesh

Do children still hang double cherries on their ears, compete to see who can eat the most cherries whilst still leaving the stone attached to the stalk?   I am still quite good at that...(end of sentimental moment).

The eight golf greens were just that: green.  This was due to hard work mowing, moss killing and watering, by Alexandre on his favourite John Deere tractor. There was a dangerous moment when the pond at the top of our land, on the roadside, was very low. There was a little more water in the valley pond which had to be pumped up to the top pond to keep the siphon watering system going. 

There has been a certain amount of what I learned in London to call 're-wilding' at La Chaise.   This is partly due to the fact that Alexandre is determined to make a clear difference between fairway surfaces and the light rough of the fields. Also he has made a determined effort to stop the sheep eating orchids, at least those species that are not too plentiful, even here.  Also Audrey and he are firmly convinced that 'weeds' are entitled to live - unless they get in the way.

The chickens are now totally wild, get through or over every fence, are heard all over the place.   It is only greed that brings them in at night.  Audrey feeds them inside the chicken house between six and seven of an evening.  Most of them come in - given such a charming chicken house, what fowl would stay on a wobbly, unroofed, exposed, tree branch?

chicken house de-luxe
The one broody hen has finally conceded that she was sitting on a golf ball and has joined her friends outside again.  She might even start laying eggs again.  Her wilder sisters are laying any old where - it's back to the game of Follow that Hen.  Fortunately the fuss that is made when an egg is laid guides the skilled hen stalker, aka Audrey.

Now it is back to country work.   There is a haunch of venison to be processed, also some ribs of wild boar and an unidentified lump of game generously provided by a neighbour.  Christian the butcher has boned, minced and seasoned it all.   The whole is marinating in best Bergerac red, with herbs, and will be potted on Monday.

To end on a small note of triumph:   Alexandre put the coypu trap in the overflow of the valley pond, not thinking about it very much, no bait.  Coypu seemed to have vanished.  Then one day he found two - yes, TWO - Pine Martens in the trap.  Cocky little things must have thought it a passage way...