Thursday, 24 April 2008

Kitchen Nil, Weather Won.

Not strictly true but why waste a good title – I find it hard enough to come up with subjects for e-mails, let alone a title for each blog.

Today it was dry, today it was warm, today the sun shone and today everything seemed possible.

Today started with the usual animal husbandry and I then went for a quick coffee with Ann to go over the MSA form that needs to be in by the end of the month. MSA is the body that covers the health insurance for me. The form was this years version of the one I filled out earlier showing what I was growing and on what area. It’s nothing to do with subsidies, the Common Agricultural Policy or PAC as it is here, this is just to assess what level of health insurance you pay. In the end, we decided that a trip to the office in Villeneuve would probably be the best bet.

I came home and got on with sowing some more seeds. Here the folklore says don’t plant things out before the 15th of May to avoid the risk of a late frost. In fact, in the town by me, some plum growers have lost 80% of their crop due to one frost on the 11/12th April. It is really quite a disaster coming on top of the harvest last year when hot dry weather was followed by a couple of weeks of rain, followed by sun again. The fruit split and rotted on the trees. Many growers lost half their harvest that way and then had a quarter of what they did harvest rejected during the drying process. So if you like your Agen prunes, (and believe me they taste nothing like the prunes in the UK, they are gorgeous), then stock up now, there could be a shortage.

Back to the planting, I reckon that by the time most of the things I’ve planted germinate I should have ground ready and the risk of frost will be gone so they can be transplanted out really quickly.

After lunch I made the trip down to Villeneuve and filed my form, one down, just the DPU, the form that will give me any subsidies due, to do. I think that’s about a weeks worth of work on it’s own as there is an accompanying booklet saying what our esteemed commissioners in Brussels have decided should be grown this year. There’s no way I’m going to understand all of it so I think I will be off to Agen to the Agriculture department there and see if they will help me. Last year they were wonderful and walked me round all the offices and date stamped all my forms as I had been sent down there on the afternoon of the last day for registration (I’d only agreed to plant the field with sunflowers that morning when the local co-operative rep came round to suggest it). I don’t intend to cut it that fine this year.

I did do a bit for the kitchen today; I was feeling so good that I decided to cut the work surface substrates. Measure, check, double check and then again for good luck. Then check measurements against those I’d got the other day, yes they matched so out to the garage to cut. Once I’ve posted this I will put the pieces in place. The one long piece will have to wait till Ann or someone comes round as there is no way I can lift the 2 metre 40 piece myself.

I finished off the outside work with a walk around the seeded pasture field. I was planning on running the topper over it tomorrow but the surface is still sodden in places and caked my boots. I wasn’t really expecting that as it’s southwest facing and slopes. I did however spring a hare and a bit further on I found the hollow where it had rested and another hollow next to that with droppings. No photograph though, I took my cup of tea (and Cid) for the walk and completely forgot to take the camera.


Georgina said...

Hi Deborah, It's been topping weather me thinks. I to have planted things out in the hope of no frost. Everything is growing so much at the moment. I think you are doing really well keeping yourself motivated. Well done you.

aims said...

I don't understand half of what you are talking about - so I guess you aren't alone.

I didn't know they grow plums in France. Now I have a different image in my head. Of course with all the great weather everyone talks about in France - I guess you can pretty much grow almost anything!

Stew said...

aims - here in the Charente most gardens have plum and greengage trees. The fruit ends up in tarts and a lot of it gets distilled into hooch "eau de vie". There are travelling stills, you call the chap up and he comes round with his alembic and turns your plum wine into clear firewater.
Still legal because of the small quantities involved, not for re-sale and intended for culinary use.