Saturday, 26 January 2008

Still No Water!

As much as I love the laid back pace of France I still find it hard to accept the length of time it takes to get anything done. My pump wasn’t repaired yet and needed stripping down further so it will be next week before that is ready. I decided to buy the replacement pump anyway; since I’m dependent on it, having a spare if the other is fixed is no bad thing. I then purchased new connectors as the old ones were still attached to the old pump, and set off home.

OK, I did call in at the supermarket to pick up some goats milk for me but then came on home with the plan of feeding the alpacas and then installing the new pump. It was while I was pulling out the hay for the alpacas that I realised that the guy in the shop and I, while remembering all the mechanical bits needed for the pump had both forgotten the electric cable to power it.

It was now just coming up to 4 pm. I jumped back into the car and headed to the electrical shop in the next town, 4 kilometres away. No he didn’t have 3-phase cable and the only other shop in the town likely to have it closed for the weekend at lunchtime. So it was back down to Villeneuve to the supermarket hardware store, the only place likely to have the cable that would still be open. They sold me something that they say is right but I am having doubts. The cable I took off was 3-core and each core was solid copper. The cable I’ve been sold is 4 core and the cores are stranded copper. I don’t know much about 3-phase and have never had to work with it since a theory lesson in university around 30 years ago. I was hoping for identical cable since I photographed the connections before dismantling them. It would have been a doddle to put it back if the cable was the same.

By the time I got back from this second trip to Villeneuve the sun was setting and I decided that I didn’t really fancy wiring it back up in the dark so I’ll wait until tomorrow. The paraffin fire will just have to suffice for another night.

Today turned into a beautiful day, at one point the external thermometer registered 23 C. I did a double take at that reading but the sensor is out of the wind and in front of a south facing wall. The sun had just swung round and was striking it directly. I decided to make a start on marking out the planting sites for the woodland. Picture is kit to be carried up to the planting site, yellow markers for the end of the rows, tape measure because my stride is only 70 cm and it’s easier than guessing the 2 metres spacing and bamboo cane markers for the planting positions. In the background are some of the trees waiting to go in. These are the trees with the truffle fungus.

This red outline is roughly the area to be planted. I’m aiming to plant about 190 trees this year and then the same for each of the next 7 to 8 years. It depends on two things really, when I can start coppicing and when I run out of space/cash. I’m still trying to source the ordinary trees. I keep being told that I should be able to get them locally but no one knows where. The Yellow Pages is useless. It does have lots of nurseries listed but that all they are listed as, nurseries, it fails to mention anything about what type of plants they hold and France is full of specialists. It seems advertising is done on word of mouth. If I don’t find someone next week I’ll have to order off the Internet but that incurs a 10% cost of order delivery charge. So a local supplier would be preferable.

While up at this far edge of my property I realised that the view back gave a reasonable overview of the rest of the place. The area outlined in blue is a marsh, mainly due to there being a breach in the bottom wall of the pond there. I want to close the breach but don’t want to loose the habitat completely. The field outlined in red is the one planted with winter wheat. Because of the field in the foreground being a small hill, only about half the field is visible in this picture. The area outlined in white is the field sown with grass that will be the paddocks for the alpacas.

Between the horizontal white line and the far side of the house there is another small field that is to be the vegetable growing area. This side of the house is the area for herbs, medicinal plants and fruit, including the newly planted orchard. There is also another long thin field continuing to the left of the blue one that is completely hidden by the hill. That field has a very bad drainage problem and the current plan is to use it for hay.

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