Thursday, 23 February 2012

An Early Start


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Today I was up early, I’d ordered a delivery of fuel and previously I’d been first on the delivery schedule and the tanker was outside my door at 8am.  No tanker today but I was greeted with an amazing sunrise. 

Actually there was no delivery at all today, somehow my order had been forgotten so it will be an early start again for me tomorrow.

While there was a frost this morning it’s nowhere near the –18C we got down to during the cold spell.  That day is being described as the coldest for around 50 years so it looks like 2012 will be another of those years that are not usual.

During the coldest bit I noticed my oldest cockerel, Mr L was looking a bit dejected and hiding in the corner of the chicken shed.  I didn’t think too much about it as he’s at least 5 years old and I though he might be feeling his age.  The following day he was on the floor where I could get to him and that’s when I could see that something was very wrong.  Up until that point I didn’t realise that wattles could freeze but it turns out they can and Mr L’s large wattle was swollen and frozen solid, so much so he couldn't lift his head properly.

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Once I realised the problem I brought him inside  in front of the range and hand fed him as the frozen wattle stopped him from being able to pick up food himself.  Once he had started to warm up we transferred him to the shower cubical – the only place big enough to contain him that was in the warm.  He remained there, or on the patio if it was warm and sunny, for a few days until the wattle had defrosted.  I then put him back in the chicken house as the really cold weather was over and he was missing his Lacey Ladies.  It’s taken about 5 days for him to settle back in but he’s now reclaiming his dominant place in the pecking order. 

The lower half of the wattle has withered but apart from that he’s better than he was before the cold spell.  I think Mr L had the problem because he had a magnificently large wattle and he probably got it covered in snow and then we had the deep freeze, but I now know that wattles can freeze, although hopefully I won’t need to worry about that for another 50 years.

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

5 Years and Counting


I’ve just celebrated 5 years of owning my farm; I’m not really sure if the time has passed quickly or slowly but one thing is certain, I don’t regret any of it.

There have been ups and downs, the birth of crias being one of the highs and the deaths of alpacas and my lovely cat Snowy being the main lows but as I generally say, “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger”.

So what about the next 5 years?  That is actually a really difficult question.  Earning a living in France can be a challenge well it is certainly one for me.  My plans are constantly evolving; what is easy to do in the UK, (where my initial plans were formulated), can be nigh on impossible to do in France without enormous expense.  For instance if I were to give up my farming status to just raise the alpacas for fleece, by law I wouldn’t be able to sell one bale of hay from my land, – to sell anything harvested you need to be a farmer and hay is classified as a harvest.  The auto-entrepreneur classification, (similar to self-employed) doesn’t cover anything that the farming departments regard as their domain.  The result of this is my plans are in a continuing stat of flux while I try to work out what I can do under which regulations and whether it will generate enough income.

All that said, and having passed the 5 year residency barrier, I’m off to the Marie today to get the forms to start my citizenship application.  Although even that is now in doubt; up until Christmas you only had to display a working knowledge of French but then the law was changed so you now have to pass an exam to demonstrate you are at the level of a 15 year old native speaker.  So anyone know what the French is for ‘What ever’?

Merry Christmas Everyone!

Well this is what I started writing on the 23rd December…. so no change here!

Well so much for trying to post more often,; in my defence I’ve had a busy year, but I think the phrase, “must try harder” applies Smile.

I think a review of the missing bits of the year is called for – who knows, I might even get round to writing it too!

I hope everyone has a very Merry Christmas.

Deborah x