See you all very soon
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It is the last day of March the clocks have gone forward an hour so everyone is grumpy, and the sun thankfully, is shinning to endeavour to conteract the disturbed sleep pattern. I am looking forward to tomorrow morning when I have to persuade Number 3 to get out of bed at what would have been 5.30am last week. I very much dislike this change of hour and am extremely happy that the European parliament has voted to stop this during 2021. I also sincerely hope that we get to stay with the winter time clock as it seems a better fit for my own body clock.
We will soon be starting our big lambing session so I guess I had better cut Gavins hair. Usually by the end of lambing he looks like a mad professor but on observation he is already at that stage so by the end of April it will be more like the wild man of Borneo! Seeing as a hat his favourite accessory I doubt anyone else has noticed though.
The month ahead is looking to be fairly crammed with activity as the orders are already coming in for Easter lamb. Patrick will be winging his way home at the begining of May and I have discovered that communicating over a 9 hour time zone does not allow for fluidity in keeping up with gossip so on his return home there will be a talking fest at our house I imagine. It looks like my big girl will not be able to come home until the summer holidays as she has too many exams to work for. On the up side of having so few children at home for the up and coming Easter holidays is that I will be able to eat a lot more chocolate eggs myself.
We finally got our 2 kittens sterilised at the vet and we now have a stable population of 8 cats. The 2 little ones, Ghost and Spectre, have settled back into shed life after their traumatic trip to the vet and are back to their safe no touchy distance of 2 meters. Between all 8 cats they manage to consume 3 lamb and 1 large pig fifth quarter every week. It is a good job we are butcher-farmers otherwise we could never afford to sustain them all.
The markets are busying up with the sunshine and people I have not seen for a couple of months are returning from sunnier climes in Spain, and I note bringing the Swallows with them. It was a very happy smiley market weekend. In fact on the whole the beginning of this year has been fairly up beat despite worldwide politics. I put it down to good food, good company, making the effort to get out and about and meet some new people and positive thinking.
See you all very soon
What an extremely warm week it is proving to be and what a delight for the sheep to have a few days to sunbathe before the inevitable and needed break for rain and cooler days again. I am currently sitting with the window open in an effort to boost my vitamin "D" levels so I am strong and healthy for the year of change or not change to come. Honestly talk about living in limbo land.
I have decided action is the cure for over thinking and depression. And having sourced an excellent new translator we are powering through the tardy paperwork hoping to keep Le Préfet happy with The Franklin Family. We have received some ominous lists of paper required and after reading them I usually put the paper down for a day, and then read it again the following day. It is quite amazing how a little reflection can make things seem less challenging.Then calmly (I can hear my children laughing at my use of the word calmly ;) ) I proceed with the most dificult longwinded item, then an easy one to make me feel better. Thus we are nearly prepared for the first interview in the family on Monday. Yay or not yay, depending on which member of the family you are.
My Dad was "a thinker", or that's what he used to call himself when he fell asleep on his garden chair. "Are you asleep Dad?" "No, I am just thinking". When you tried to rescue his glass of beer or red wine from his hand his fist would clench around the glass to signal his thinking state. I always thought thinking was a waste of time making you prone to inaction and blue days, and frequently warn my sister against its dangers. However, in recent years with the degradation of the environment, the politics or maybe my age,?, I find myself chopping meat in the butchery having a thinking session. Whoa! Fortunately I have managed to not sever any arteries in the process as the mind wandering off could cause a knife to wander too.
Many people have challenged me environmentally, intellectually, politically and spiritually and occassionally I have had to bite my tongue to avoid a difficult situation, but after some gentle reflection I return to the same conclusions with regard to my opinions on my time on this planet. If you can live your life and leave it environmentally, intellectually, politically and spiritually better than you started then you are doing allright.
I am reading a book at the moment which I did not initially enjoy. It is full of people who have broadened their minds through discussion, sharing and reading, and more discussion, sharing, changing and reading. These characters are from all walks of life and are together under trying circumstances and make it through to the other side as whole people with good energy to bring to life.
It is a pity that the bulk of power currently is held by people who appear to be unwilling to learn through sharing and discussion and do not appear to be people who are remotely interested in leaving anything behind of any lasting value for anyone.
This is not meant to be a miserable blog it is meant to uplift you, to think, and then do, preferably with other people to bring about change big or small to help leave something behind of which you are proud.
Big smiles to everyone
P.S Below our latest catch ;) What a cutie!
Our most fluffy cat has been very unimpressed with current climatic events and takes her punishment of being captured and dried in a towel with the usual amount of cat enthusiasm. This is what my face really looks likes when I have to fold up my market umbrella after a wet market day, which have been decidedly frequent since the beginning of the year, but we have persevered and on the whole people turn out to make their purchases come rain or.... well, in fact..... rain ;) It is however a beautiful sunny day today, and although Sunday does not include any selling product time for me, I have successfully dried some washing outside on the line. All is good.
There has been a bit of an explosion of animals on our little farm and Gavin has a lot of running around to do after all of our new young stock. Our early lambs of which there are a number of twins, are continuing to arrive, not thick and fast more a slow trickle, which actually suits us at this time of year when so many hours in already short days are being consumed by wood carting and fire tending. We have had some goat kids as well to swell the numbers, and we are now waiting to see if the grass will start to grow. There is some evidence of its arrival. With more to come as there will be a slight increase in temperature which after all the rain is often a good sign for grass growth. We could certainly do with some early grazing as the season last year was really not good.
Talking of population explosions, 10 days ago we had 35 pigs and this week I think we have 56. Hmmm I think pigs are actually just rabbits in disguise. Who knew!
As you can imagine all the big children have returned to their various study locations and we 3 are back in the swing of term time and general day to day stuff again, however I am trying to inspire myself to make some progress with organising our home environment so that we can put things away and then find them again, which would be a novelty for us. Anyone who knows where we live and how much Gavin is a collector of anything that looks like it might be useful will be laughing hysterically, and I can feel it all the way down the internet fibres. I may need to let Gavin in on my secret plan for him and me, although he may start to come out in hives at the thought of throwing something away ;) wish me luck.
So for all you European readers here is a photo of my mother-in-laws vegetable garden in Zimbabwe this week with her 14 feet ish or 4.2metre ish tall maize....The rake in the foreground is a standard garden rake. :o
Now it is February we can all start listening out for the returning cranes and also the returning delivery runs that we do around and about.
See you all soon come rain or shine.
Good morning everyone and a Happy New Year to all.
We are nearly ready to face 2019 and all it has to throw at us. Funny that because as it is already upon us we don't actually get a choice in the matter so onward and upward...
To begin with the most important things in life. Food. We cooked our ham just before Christmas and having a suspicion about how the food menu would deteriorate into a lusciously delectable menu of full flavoured food items, I decided to opt for a lighter Christmas Eve lunch. The ham, cooked finnish style, not sure if it was what the Finns intended, but it was delicious. So Berkshire ham roasted in the oven. It was soft and succulent more like a cross between pulled pork and corned beef I suppose. I made a ham and leek pie a few days later with the remaining meat, which I forgot to photograph, which was also epic according to the rest of the family. Btw there are a lot of leeks in a ham and leek pie. My frying pan was nearly not large enough.
The down side for me was that during Christmas I had a rather nasty cold so my taste buds were a little under the weather for much of our eating spree. So I figure that if I could taste anything, then the flavour really must have been wonderful.
The children have been catching up with hugs and licks from the dogs, and our new cat, "Tiggy" brought in from the barn, finally, and spayed is slowly becoming a more friendly house cat. Only another three to go and we should be in control of our feral cat population. The other three are not coming inside though, the barn is plenty big enough and the 5 we already have inside will probably get a little grumpy with the lack of seating.
So what have we been up to since Christmas other than eating more delicious food, sleeping rather alot and squeezing as many minutes into the day of being with the children before they all disappear off again to pursue their own studies ..... as little as possible would be the response. However, as you can imagine some jobs are unavoidable, like the end of year books that have to be made ready for the accountant who needs to start us on our data inputting towards the end of January. And the yearly clean down of the butchery which always takes longer than I think it should. I have completed, to the best of my ability, the books. The butchery takes a little more enthusiasm as it is jolly cold in there and also quite dark as one of the lights has decided to cease to function. I await the arrival of the person that fixes stuff, unfortunately I have only just reminded said person, who is a little preoccupied with sheep and fencing. The latter is always a challenge in the freezing weather. Our bedroom was seven degrees when I woke up this morning and I think my sinuses had/have frozen as I had/have the most abominable headache. So I am currently hiding in front of the fire pretending to be busy blogging. It is however a beautiful day outside and I will have to go and fill the barrow with wood eventually.
We have had a few lambs chez nous enough to keep Gavin entertained, and yesterday we were outside collecting wood and generally tidying the field edge for the next sheep move. The dogs as always in attendance, looking for an excuse to run and make a lot of noise...just like children really ;) Trying to take a selfie with an over enthusiatic, licky dog is always a challenge. I was lucky enough to avoid a full facial though.
The big news is that I have finally sent off my dossier for "une demande de naturalisation" and we are in the throws of adding more paperwork to the childrens dosiers. We met some lovely local Gendarmes who came to see if the children were who they said they were and are likely to see them again in the near future as they like to acquaint themselves with local businesses and asisst with security. Nice to know. The upside of a gret deal of paperwork is coming into contact with more people within the community the downside is that Canon are making a fortune out of us with regard to ink cartridges, not to mention the trees donation to our endeavours.
We will be back at the markets next weekend the 18th and 19th January and normal service for delivery runs will resume in February.
The Franklin Family wishes you all a happy and trouble free 2019
for friends, family, clients. a big thankyou
So here I am on Christmas Eve morning trying to catch up on a little paperwork, very scary stuff and feeling slightly irritated that Gavin had forgotten to turn off his radio alarm that goes off at 6.30am during the week because that is when Alice has to be up for school. And as usual it was imposible for me to go back to sleep, so I got up accompanied by Alices gift to me for Christmas this a year, a snotty nose, sore throat and a headache, to search for some rehydration in the form of copious quantities of tea. As usual not a soul is stirring in the house and I am wondering if I can cure my cold with some good old fashioned over indulgence later....?.....
The sky is just starting to pinken up in the East and I am hoping for a glimmer of sunlight today. I cooked our ham last night in I am what is hoping is a Finnish style. My friend could only give me guidelines (she is an English speaker) as the actual recipe was written in Finnish...a challenge for most brains I think. ;)
All the children are home at the moment. I will make the most of the atmosphere whilst they take over the house with noise, laughter and general sibling bickering. Supply me with mountains of washing, and tie me once again to the cooker and the kitchen sink a change and therefore a rest from the life of a butcher just before Christmas. :) :) ;)
The end of this year has been extraordinarily busy for us and without the family and friends who pitch in when they do to plough through the mountains of meat, salt and spice I would be a very sad and weary person. I thank them hugely for putting up with my grumpiness, lack of communication,short and sometimes curt texting and also for too much emoji-ising (new word) and not enough words with my writing. That probably goes for friends and clients too who get the slightly more dark-eyed bedraggled look during December than I aim for at other times of year.
So we have passed the shortest day and the only way is up now to longer days and warmer weather again; As one of my lovely neighbours , who is 88, is so fond of telling me "that is the worst of it over, January to March is a very short part of the year".
The whole family wishes everyone a very Happy Christmas and a New Year full of new adventures and the company of friends and family.
Helen Gavin, Patrick, Emily and Alice....The dogs and cats. Nougat the donkey, the chickens, the pigs and some sheep.
It is an interesting thing " The peoples right to demontstrate". It is correct that people should have the freedom to speak, although one always has to be mindful whan doing it in someone elses country that you behave in the appropriate fashion. Those who are speaking freely asume and say they are doing it in the best interest of everyone. But sometimes is it only for themselves?
Gavin was challenged at the road block on his way home from dropping our youngest at her ballet classes, whilst driving our electric car and told that he should be standing with the protestors because they were there for everyone. He suggested that if they had an electric car then the fuel price would not be a problem for them. Which received some blank and less than amused faces. To diffuse the situation he explained that he had 500 animals to feed, fences to move and wood to chop, and if anyone was willing to help him then he would gladly come and stand with them. Funnily enough no one stepped forward and I think they got a little fed up with his African brain and let him proceed. Ours was not the only car that was stopped and Gavin was in the queue for half an hour.... Irritating when you have things to do.
His irritation was compounded when on my arrival home from the market I informed him that we were 2 and a half tank fulls of fuel short of money this market as so many people stayed away, and I was not the only disappointed market trader..... Hmm very helpful and supportive all those blockaders.
I have to admit to being a little on the fence with the fuel price increase. On the one hand our running costs are increased on the other, burning fossil fuel is not good for the planet. Maybe the problem really is lack of forward planning by governments worldwide. If you want people to stop using their cars then you have to give them viable alternatives with regard to public transport.
Living where we are there is a bus from our village 6 km away that can take you all the way to Bordeaux, or to Libourne our closest larger shopping town. I have just been on the Transgironde website and am finding it incredibly difficult to use even though the fare is only 3 euros to Libourne. There are 29 stops on the way to Libourne and it take 44 minutes plus my 9 min car travel time, 20 min by bicycle or 1 hour 10 minute walk to the village. At the beginning it tells me there are 4 buses a day and then I cannot find out when they are.
Or in Montpon there is a railway line that can take you to Bordeaux or Perigueux. There are about 9 trains a day that go to Libourne not bad, however the cost is extortionate as soon as you are more than one person. And the car is once again the cheaper option.
There are also the logistics of carrying all your shopping from A to B. So the obssesion of town planners creating out of town shopping facilities (not sure if anyone read last weeks blog) so that now all the town folk and all the country folk have to drive to get to the points of shopping because the centres no longer have everything people need. Town planners and also discount stores, and in that term I include all major supermarket chains, have successfully managed to increase the quantity of cars on the road, I don't know tenfold, more, in what 50 years?
Not sure what the solution is really. But I think taking responsibility for your own actions is a starting point, and allowing people to earn a living when and where they need to is another.
Change is a difficult one for people to grasp and to act upon. Maybe rather than attacking and forcing people through financial disincentives (not sure if that is a word), one needs to gently cajole and persuade them into it.
Have a lovely day today wherever you are, and however you are travelling.
I wonder if children in general, of this generation, have a different way of looking around themselves, or whether it is just that my children who are so countryfied they don't know any other way of looking at their environment. Alice asked me on the way home tonight what used to be in the field next to Lidl in Montpon. I said, "it was just a field and once a year they grew tulips for everyone to buy to raise money for charity". "Oh" said Alice "that's sad, that it is not a field anymore and that Montpon centre is empty". "Indeed it is", I said.
And we then had a chat about why planning committees don't seem to learn anything about town planning, and still persist in allowing large companies to build on green field sites and then wonder why everyone has to use a car to go shopping. And then are flabbergasted when the city centres become dull and lifeless because nothing happens there anymore, so drugs and crime and angry people become the norm. Remarkable that all that training of supposedly intellectual people to endeavour to improve the lives of ordinary folk turns out to be something that is controlled by money and who know who best.
In other news Gavin took some pictures of tiny mushrooms....
...And yes these are sheep poos and the mushrooms were growing there less than 24 hours after they were pooped! Amazing!
Here is our cat whisperer hard at work taming one wild kitten so we can get her spayed. And then lo and behold Mummy cat who had disappeared before we could spay her has turned up with another 2. (Pictures will follow eventually.) I hasten to add that none of these cats were ours and all of ours are spayed, but all you cat whisperers out there will know that it can be a long-winded process cat training. I do wish more people would get their cats fixed. It is looking like this will be an expensive Christmas, knowing my luck the 2 new ones will be girls as well. Below is a more trained of the species. Although I am sure Peaches would deny that vehemently ;)
Looks like my husband has been angling for a holiday again. Though he did not quite manage to injure himself enough this time to get a hospital stay. Next time he will have to prime the pig first so it swings its head much harder towards his foot then maybe he can get a few broken bones thrown in for good measure and do a proper job rather than just a bit of blood a swollen foot and some antibiotics. The doctor, who is getting accustomed to Gavins 10 yearly attempt at removing limbs, said "well seeing as it is you we will give you a tetanus jab early just incase". 10 years early no less! Gavin really knows how to celebrate his up and coming zero birthdays, having attacked his own foot with a chainsaw 10 years ago. Piercing by pig tusk is a very creative change from chainsaw massacre, which is soooo very 70's.
I hasten to add that pig was playing and not at fault.
Today it rained which is great news for us and the animals. Not sure how much yet and I think the rain gauge is cracked as we always seem to have 9mm in the meauring cylinder. I think the grass has already started to green up a little so this storm should really hurry it along if the temperatures don't drop too much.
The market is an interesting place to meet people from all walks of life and countries, sadly I don't always have time to complete a fully rewarding conversation as I am working but I always hope that everyone leaves the stand a little happier and a little more positive about life. My fellow standholders are truly wonderful people always ready to chat and give you some moral support when you're feeling a little down with administration and the weather and a multitude of other things. They are such a happy uplifting crowd. On the other side of this very small world the other day my nephew bought some sausages from a fellow market trader/farmer who spent 3 weeks with us about 2 years ago and is now in Chicago with his young business, growing and selling his own products. Go Hayden!
Gavin has just come in and told us about his encounter with about 25 sanglier in a field by our old house may be he was trying for a real hospital stay. He said he heard them grunting in the dark and as the clouds moved away from the moon he saw them all standing around him. Quite Conan-Doyle I thought. So being the savvy dood that he is, he kept on walking and they all minded their own business. Man at one with nature ;)
See you all soon
Is there a slight dip in the temperature and has the sun moved a little in the sky so that vaguely autumnal feeling is descending upon us? So I will do a bit of preserving whilst I have a small amount of time.
A little rain to encourage the grass to grow would be a really good thing right now as by golly it is very brown outside in the fields still, and we have winter to get through with all the animals yet.
I suspect it will be a tight winter as far as outdoor grazing is concerned. Funny isn't it how the year can begin soooo wet, that you have to feed hay longer because the animals are not able to go on all the parts of the farm, as some fields are unable to sustain livestock when it is too wet and boggy and because the ground stays colder, the grass takes longer to come through. Once everything warms up and dries out a bit then grass production is just mad. Then at the other end of the year you have to start thinking about feeding hay earlier because the ground is so hard and dry that the grass is not growng at all. When Gavin went out to move fences the other day he had to take his drill with him to make little holes for the metal posts to go into.
I know I should not complain and to be honest I am not really complaining about the weather just stating the facts. It has made our entertaining-full summer easier having a long hot dry summer and it has been delightful to properly bake in the sun and not worry about where to dry 4 loads of washing every day . And to be honest there is not a lot anyone can do about what the weather does anyway, so there is no point in compaining about it in the first place.
I can feel the year changing as we get back into the rhythm of real life rather than holiday life. Nougat the donkeys winter hair is starting to grow and the cats are suddenly inside the house more curled up on the sofa looking to snuggle up and be warm making more vacuuming work as they leave their hair everywhere. The birds this year are likely to be short of food, in fact they are already really as the brambles and other wild berries did not produce significantly this year. So if are a feed the birds person..."tuppence a bag".... hang some food out early, and if you are not then maybe this is a good year to start.
We had a birthday this past week, the big step into teenager-hood again for Gavin and me. I made a cake and was reminded that our cooker needs its thermostat testing....And then I had to be creative.Tasted good though. Other creations were the slow-cooked pork hock dish I made. Very yummy. Very easy. Very filling.
Happy cooking, see you all soon,
So September comes and with it the dispersal of children to their various educational destinations, the change in the feel of the sunshine on your back and the different colours start to appear in the landscape. The rhythmn of farm lfe changes slightly from the manic checking to see if lambs and Mummys are well and together, to the slow ruminating of ewes that no longer have anything to worry about but eating and lazing in the sun. The lambs are now big and off being teenagers.....need I say more ;)
As some of you may have noticed I have been away and yes I do mean properly away just not for very long. Gavin's mum and sister, number 3 and I swanned our way over and wined and dined ourselves around the capital of Austria. No we didn't, don't be daft. We took ye olde Easyjet, cheapest flight available for the amount of changes and hours we were willing to spend in the air. Found a jolly cheap but amazing arbnb flat not far from the centre and then proceeded to pound the pavement and escalators and try out all the local forms of transport. The biggest spot of luck is that if you travel during school holiday time with a school aged child they are free anywhere within the Vienna city boundary!!!!! I know incredible. And then to buy a ticket for all 4 of us back to the airport which is half an hour, cost......7.70euros. I know if you live in for example Tallinin, Estonia, this is not news and is still too much. But for us it was amazing! So come on Bordeaux if you want to close all the bridges which I know is what you really want to do, how about some free if not super cheap public transport.
In a few brief words Vienna was amazing. Brimming full with years and years and years and years of money, history, art, music and culture, and the buildings were quite frankly superb. The Hapsbergs certainly knew how to embellish. The food, well to be honest eating out was quite pricey for us but we did have cake in a coffee house a couple of times. Yum yum yum. I will bore you with some holiday pics now.
It is true that in a capital city with so many tourists it is not possible for it all to be moonlight and roses. So if they would like some advice from a visitor ( which I am sure they would love) they need to brush up on their cleanliness around Schonbrunn Palace. And it would be really cool if smoking in some of their bars was a little more delineated or even forbidden as I read that by law it is banned but the law is not strictly adhered to. However maybe I am just spoiled in my smoke free environment surrounded by the fresh country smell of.......... manure ;)
We started the summer with 11 people oscilated through the months with 7,8 or 9 people, with one day of 50 something. Today we are 5. Tomorrow we will be 3 again. It has been a happy time for all of us and a little bit sad so see everyone leaving. So all I can say is thank goodness for Strictly Come Dancing then at least Saturday night will be raucous again.:) :)
See you all soon
I am farming sheep and goats on the Dordogne/Gironde border with my husband and our 3 children. We have an on farm butchery and sell our meat direct to the public via the markets and delivery points in our local area