Archive for the ‘gardening’ Category

I am starting to wonder if one or more of my ancestors were hanged from tree’s as cattle rustlers, as the combination of tree and rope seems to be very dangerous for me.


Last year Martin and I set about chopping down a rotten fruit tree in the garden. All was well till I tied a rope round a branch that needed to fall in a particular direction.

As soon as I turned my back to pull the rope the branch, which was only a third sawn through, fell. The impact on my head was so hard it knocked me to my knees.


The curse is not finished with me yet however.

Yesterday was a good day in the Limousin for cutting wood. Sunshine no wind to speak of and fairly dry under foot. An excellent day to tackle the cutting of dead coppice for the fire. It was just for experimental purposes; to see if the standing dead wood can be burnt on the stove straight away, without storing it for the usual length of time.

The plot is only about a quarter of an acre but it is good coppice and densely planted; producing long straight tree trunks. The dead wood left standing is probably because deer have chewed on the bark of the young shoots and killed the odd trunk here and there.


So there I am in the woods with my chainsaw.

I am already scared because I read a book called The Ax last year and am aware how many things can go wrong when cutting tree’s.


Unfortunately I have to cut the wood to fall into the other tree’s as I have no clearing before my neighbours  land. I know this is going to make the fall of the tree slightly unpredictable. When you have cut through the trunk and the tree start’s to fall you put down the chainsaw and walk away; which in itself is tricky;  because of the dense growth.


What I saw after my first cut was spectacular. The tree trunk released from its base by my cut started to spin, lifted in the air, and sat back down 6 feet away. It stood perfectly upright, held in place by the slender top branches of the other trees.


Five minutes later I am back from my car with a rope, which I tied on to the base.

I heaved on the rope for a good while, not realising that my rope had a knot in it that suddenly released. This was at the point where my tugging was at its most reckless.

I flew backwards and landed flat on my back with a fallen tree trunk just at the base of my spine.

I am laid up now on the settee and furious; nowhere in that book did it say Warning you may be an unobservant silly old git, or check for family curses.

In these days of rampant Health and Safety warnings, where chainsaw’s come with scary labels such as;  




 Where was the label on the rope?

I think I shall buy one of those label gun thingy’s and start producing my own warning stickers.



Read Full Post »

Its been quite a few days now since returning home and finding Mimo dead in the road. I have only just been able to write anything at all about her. Yet I have now reached the point were I can celebrate her life and be greatful it was spent with us.

When she was given to us , she was quite ferrel and there was lots of spitting involved, but slowly we gained her trust.

I have never known a cat enjoy play fighting as much as she did, and everyday was a new adventure for her and us.

Everywhere we went in the house or garden she would leap out at us from some hiding place. Her mock attack with ears back and tail fluffed out was pure fun, and now that has gone the house and garden feels empty of fun and adventure. I am sure we will have other cats maybe not here as the road is too dangerous, but we will never meet another Mimo, thats for sure.


Read Full Post »

It’s too wet here in Limousin France and it’s a real downer as I hoped for a flaming June to start providing sweet fruits etc from the garden. Slugs are mustering. I think they have detected the aroma of naive gardeners coming from our plot and every time we throw them over the hedge into the woods they come back days later bigger and stronger looking; like there’s a Worlds Gym down there selling body bulk drinks for slugs. I started out believing that the red slugs eat other slugs so I didn’t see the need to murder them in some way. Then one day I caught one of the blighter’s scoffing my seedlings. Of course it’s too late by then he’s on the mobile ringing his mates. My neighbour has a veg plot next door with no grass areas or planks between beds at all and when we moved in we thought it looked barren and in-hospitable. Now we know however that there is nowhere for the slugs to hide in their garden, and we have created an all you can eat slug buffet. In conclusion I have decided to turn Catholic in my garden; if it’s good enough for Tony Blair its good enough for me. I shall henceforth follow the advice from a Catholic Bishop during the Albigensian Crusades. When he was told by his commanders that they could not distinguish between Catholic’s and heretics He is reported to have said “Kill them all God will Know his own”. So there will be no wishy washy treatment of slugs, no Camp Deltas or interrogations to discover whether they eat other slugs or plants they are enemy combatants with no legal status whatsoever and without trail or fair hearing will be sentenced to drown in beer. Thats that sorted then, now I’m on a downer about America ,and how I love the fruit and hate the tree, aaaaah well such is the melancholy of rainy day’s.

Read Full Post »

Well we finally moved the chicken coop today to free up that part of the garden for more planting. Our self sufficiency drive means we need more space, and especially the rich well fertilised patch where the chickens have been. A curious consequence however is that every-time I go to the toilet the chickens can see me at the upstairs window and start calling to me.You expect some kind of recognition as Head chicken but waving at my Dinnerladies whilst peeing is far too French for me. My instinct is put some kind of net curtain up  but I will have to keep an eye out for the chicken predators, which have increased by one. Yes it turns out my wife is quite the carnivore, and has been staring at my Dinnerladies from the comfort of a garden chair. She was commenting on what fine legs they had to me today and being the gullible fool I thought her observations merely aesthetic compliments, till I noticed the drool on her chin. So Head chicken will continue waving to his flock from the privy window for now, and counting chicken legs with one eye, and watching Head gardener with the other; forget the curtains I’d better get a mop instead.

Read Full Post »

When we started out on our adventure to France to live a self sufficient lifestyle in the Limousin I was envisioning many sacrifices along the way. Having my wife eaten by a bug was not one of them. Women that will stay married to me don’t grow on trees, so it wont do…… it wont do at all.

I came home a few days ago to find her with  arms in the air; fingers pointing at her bust wailing and going eeeergh, eeergh gesturing for me to do something.Now this is something different say’s I to myself, this is a standard chest offering every male likes to see when he comes home,but the body language and sounds are all wrong, unless she’s added a Clingon to the repertoire, and I’m sure she knows I have never taken star trek that seriously. Then I saw the black spot in the middle of her chest, yes it was a TICK. I rushed down to our kind neighbours who having lived here for years already owned a tick removing device. Its a kind of weird fork that you trap its neck in and twist then pull.But get this! the poor blighter was already dead. He’d bit the wrong woman you see. Now could it be that we both smoke forty cig’s a day, had the nicotine killed the little blighter or is it our diet. It remains a bit of a mystery but our first job the next day was to go purchase our very own tick remover. Thats how shocked she was by the whole incident, she paid out 4 euros for a piece of plastic. To put that into perspective for you, they designed fifty pence pieces with corners on; so they could get one out of her hand with a spanner .We have learned since that the ticks are in the grass round here and it is quite common when out in the garden to get these ticks on you and my wife had been in the garden for hours . I think she will have to change her weeding method.

Read Full Post »

I’m afraid one of my fellow bloggers has got me all in a lather over Dolly and her Dinnerladies again. My chicken flock is at risk not just from foxes but Buzzards as well. Now even pictures of Mikes gorgeous house in Correzze(see below) can,t calm my nerves.

As head chicken it falls to me to come up with a solution. Looking through my DVD collection the answer struck me:

Kung-Fu lessons for the Dinnerladies.

 Yes I know what your thinking; even a highly skilled Kung-Fu chicken can’t take on a Buzzard. But there is four of them’ there must be some combo of eye gouging from the front and ball pecking from the rear movement. I’m not good with Cantonese I may even have a film actually called that.The fact remains however being as I am head chicken and the only one in the flock who has worn Kung-Fu pajamas I will start their training at once. There will be no fence painting induction as it is pointless whitewashing chicken wire,but splits between raised poles and chicken legs thrust into hot sand will be compulsory. Buzzards and Foxes beware!


Read Full Post »

A few set backs on the old self sufficiency front this week. The first and worst was to discover that the cat is not just fat. We thought we had neglected his health and failed to notice his large waist. After noticing him panting and a quick trip to the vets it turns out he has a heart condition and it is fluid rather like when Gran or Grandad get puffy ankles.His front legs are still swollen even though he has a prescription for diuretics.

He seemed to be drinking a lot of water so we looked up the drug he is prescribed on the old tinterweb and we received our second self sufficiency set back this week. It turns out that according to the manufacturer of this drug while the cat is taking the pills we cannot eat him, let me repeat that ‘we cannot eat him. Blast and damnation I’m going to have a word with that vet next week; all my culinary plans for the cat we have been grooming for fourteen years dashed by his clumsy ministrations. So there is only the chickens left and as I have already become rather fond of Dolly and her Dinnerladies I can’t see me cramming them in the pot.

Talking to a friend the day before I am aware of another up and coming problem we will have with this French vet. Thinking ahead I asked what the situation is regarding my hens if they get sick, as in veterinary treatment etc. “O! the vet would just laugh came his reply” you are expected to cure them in the oven basically. That’s the other setback no vets for sick hens. Unless!! a cunning plan comes to mind. Now the wife is a dab hand with the old water colour paints. We could mix a sharp palette of orange, green and red then paint the girls up as parrots.I can do the ” who’s a pretty boy then ” imitations behind my hand whilst my wife keeps the vet talking. Trouble is I know what the vets going to be saying “bloody big feet for a parrot I think Polly is turning into a chicken”

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »