Friday, 20 March 2009

A Little Maintenance

I’ve come to the conclusion that plans are never meant to run smoothly; take today for instance, it was marked as the day to break up the soil in the five-hectare field. To do this I have what I believe the French call a ‘herse a peigne de vibro’ – a vibrating comb harrow.

The problems started yesterday. I decided that as I was unlikely to use the plough for a while, I’d clean it and than put it back in the storage area and hitch up the harrow. Sounds pretty easy and usually it is; however this time I managed to put it somewhere uneven and it twisted as I tried to unhitch it. It twisted so much that I couldn’t re-hitch it; everything I tried just made matters worse.

Thankfully Regis was at his place and he agreed to come round after he’d finished work and help me sort it out. This he did; it’s amazing how more useful it is to be in two places at once. Between me moving the tractor and raising and lowering the linkage and Regis pushing and placing the props for the plough we got it straight and unhitched.

Regis then took the harrow out to check the ground was ready to work, which after the wonderful weather we’ve had for the last few weeks, it was. He then checked over the harrow and pointed out that a lot of the tines were worn and needed replacing. All my farming equipment is second (at least) hand.

I thought I would have to replace the whole of the spring tine totally forgetting that farming can be quite green in many ways. Replace, reuse, repair, they are the bye words in farming, at least with older equipment. Each of the tines is fitted with a shoe that can be replaced when worn and even better, these shoes are reversible.

So instead of being out on the field today I’m reversing or changing shoes. I thought that it wouldn’t take too long but…

I do think I was a bit naive setting about this with only a spanner. After an hour and quite a few bruises I gave up and set off for the local farm suppliers where I finally bought
that decent socket set I’ve been promising myself and while I was there, a decent pipe wrench too. Oh what a difference, a little leverage goes a long way.

P.S. I’m covered in grease, I ache, I’m bruised and cut and over 100€ poorer after buying tools and parts, but all 30 shoes have either been reversed or replaced and I feel really chuffed with myself. Time for a sog in front of the TV :-)

Monday, 16 March 2009

Writers Block

I’m really glad I don’t make my living from writing as it seems to be getting longer and longer between posts, so much so that C and S telephoned to check I was OK – many thanks for that you two :-) As ever, lots of reasons and the only one not true is that there is being nothing to do.

Losing the alpacas knocked my confidence rather hard, triggering a couple of panic attacks and a couple of other stress related things, one of the symptoms being finding it very difficult to concentrate and therefore work out what to write but that all seems under control now.

Other than that I’ve embarked on French lessons. I have two 3-hour lessons a week with half an hour travelling time each way so I effectively ‘lose’ a day from the week. These lessons are provided by the French government to help me integrate and set up my business. I’m only on the scheme very tentatively and expect to be asked to leave every week but until then I’m making the most of them. They are really good. One lesson covers French life, such as the intricacies of the French health system and which health department you register with depending on what type of work you are doing that month. The other lesson covers French language – this is the one I find really difficult as I moved schools frequently in my youth and was never taught English grammar so trying to get my head round French grammar is nigh on impossible.

I’ve also been working on the vegetable patch and been starting some seeds. The house looks more like a greenhouse at the moment so I hope the weather doesn’t take a turn for the worse, as I will need to get the seedlings outside soon, but I’m really hoping that I’ll be able to get the guy back to check out the vegetable plot and therefore be able to finally get my health insurance.

So that’s a quick update and I do hope to expand on some of the things I’ve been doing over the rest of the month.