Archive for the ‘permaculture’ Category

Dolly , a very happy Warren henToday whilst aimlessly browsing the internet I came across a snippet of information that shocked me.

Looking up Warren hens initially I inevitably ended up looking up rescue hens and felt guilty that when in France our language skills were not up to acquiring Factory birds.

It’s a lot easier in the market to buy, as they are there to sell, and its obvious you are there to buy, yes; the international language of money.

Now the fact that shocked on this website was a warning not to give a perch to rescue birds as the jump down from a perch of just a foot high can sometimes break legs as one poor owner discovered. Turns out poor diet in these factory farms gives some of the old bird’s osteoporosis.

It makes me so angry, that we allow creatures to be treated that way, but it also made me angry with my self.

You see a few years back some animal activist’s stole a woman’s dead body, there was a great deal made of it in the press, and I thought something at the time that I never said

In a nut shell it was this, cruelty to animals is offensive to me, it sickens me, angers me,

And I put more value in a living animal than a dead human being. I would like to think most people would agree with me.

What these activists attempted however, was to make peoples beliefs clash almost in a display of performance art.

How naive!

They said by this act ‘if you ignore my most profound beliefs, we will ignore yours’

But what a strange set of beliefs people seem to have, these days.

The papers are up in arms if little dead Johnny comes home from hospital with an organ missing, but does society believe we must go to the grave whole to be ready for resurrection.

Some do have this belief I am sure but not the majority, so who is the media being indignant for.

I think the answer lies in the fact that papers are just advertising space for hire at the end of the day, and the company they keep are all about telling you how special you are.

Yes YOU go on treat yourself, after all your special and it doesn’t stop when you’re dead.

So stop sucking up newspapers and remind us what we believe in just once and a while.

Just to be clear, I am quite prepared to put my dead carcase to good use.

I sometimes joke with my wife that a shallow grave will do in the back garden, but leave my bum sticking out the top so visitors have got somewhere to park their bikes.

Perhaps a little plaque that simply states

Arnold the end.


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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.


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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!


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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”

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I think I was destined to be a self sufficient type, by that I mean it explains my total lack of fear when it comes to muck.  Washing and bathing is good but so is getting mucky. So I cannot understand other peoples phobias about germs. Don’t they see adverts for toilet cleaners that clean right round the bend and think why would I want to clean somewhere I hope never to go.

Animals lick their own arses for heavens sake. When did you last take an animal to the vets and they said has he been licking his arse arrrgh that would explain it then little Fido has a disease from licking his own arse. Now I am not saying its not possible but very unlikely.So stop pouring bleach into the environment Yes the toilet is connected to the environment everything is!! There seems to be a lot of confusion about bacteria advertisers give the impression that they are all deadly and out to get  you and your vulnerable offspring.

 I have the non bleach answer to this threat , Yes you heard it here first from arnold the methodical. Do not by bleach, go down to your supermarket and buy a loaf of bread ; not the good stuff mind but one of those cheap ones in the plastic bag, you know the ones; with added vitamins in because they have so many E-numbers in there is  no room left for anything nourishing whatsoever. Now its my observation that this bread when left out over the period of a week will stay moist but no fungus or bacteria will grow on it at all. In the past I have said If the bacteria will not eat it why the hell would I want to. Then came the revelation simply smear little Timy and Samantha with it before sending them to school, Oh! and clean the toilet with the crust. Remember a no bleach family doesn’t have to be dirty, but politely refuse their sandwiches.

I occassionaly taste the cat food, (most taste of absolutly nothing by the way)

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On my previous blogs I have toyed with the idea of using an alternate identity to dispatch my chickens. `This was a work around to deal with the guilt of murdering the animals because I like meat, chicken in particular. Well all I can say now is’ Lord Vader these are not the chickens you are looking for.

I have bought 4 warrens built them a chicken coup and we fenced of a section of the garden and they are adorable creatures. The gang are collectively called the Dinner-Ladies after the sitcom. and one in particular who came and sat on my knee on the first day is called Dolly. After tucking them in for the night in their new accommodation I laid there all night worrying about the Reynard that the next door neighbour warned me about. Now I know  that Reynard is French for fox’ but it gave me an image of a crafty French fox watching me all the while from a clever vantage point in the bushes at the bottom of the garden.. A half smoked galiose hanging from his lips as he snickers “Les Anglais”. And my sleep was disturbed by images of my poor Dinner-Ladies murdered in the night.

 Me Dolly ‘N’ The Dinner-Ladies

It seems we made a good choice of birds anyway and Dolly produced an egg on the very first day. It was very runny with a thin shell but I think we can improve on that with a good diet. I have told the dogs their status has been re-assessed. The hens are cute and produce food and the dogs roll in shit and consume food, hmmm I may swap dog and chicken accommodation round, it would certainly give Reynard a big surprise if he jemmies open the coup.

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Its ironic really, our predominately middle aged family (him+her+2dogs+cat) is of to live a self sufficient lifestyle. ‘What’s ironic about that? I hear you ask. Well we will be living a Middle Ages type lifestyle in the French countryside. We will eat what we grow, cut our own wood for the fire and toil in the fields. We’ll start out with blisters and develop pustulant sores as we go along. We will not be seen on TV because we are not a fractous bunch, who have sobbing sessions. ‘Boo Hoo the radishes just don’t respect me as a person’

We have a good start with the clothing already,we have never had good fashion sense. Unfortunately we can’t go round talking like they did in Hammer Horror’s Witchfinder General.  Now my only concern is my virtuous good Lady Karen of Yorkshire. She wants animals.  I shall have to put my foot down with a firm hand. As it stands I can just about get a seat next to the fireplace on the long winter nights. Now this could change as there’s definitely a fancy in the air for some goats, chickens and bees. Being a pair of the softest buggers on the planet when it comes to animals it won’t be long before they’re all indoors when it’s a chilly minus 10 outside. If you call round to see me I’ll be the  Alpha male,  yes the one sat directly in front of the roaring log fire .

With his feet up on a goat, a chicken under each arm and a beard of bee’s

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