We arrived here on the 1st August 2010, and believe it or not, August is winding down time. Everything that has been growing is beginning to bear fruit, and there’s plenty to harvest, but it’s not the same. We’d managed to get some potatoes and tomatoes in, which made it through the drought when we weren’t here to tend them, and that was pretty much it. We had plenty of fruit, apples and peaches, quince and pears, but by and large, the only things still giving through the winter were the chickens.
Having just made a batch of scrambled eggs with 10 – count ’em – 10 eggs – the chickens are very under-appreciated. Most days we get three or four eggs, and they’re very happy to wander, peck, cluck, harass and chase Molly. If I made the scrambled eggs at home with free-range organic eggs (as I always did, no matter how poor I was… some things are not worth skimping on, and chicken care is one of them!) that would have set me back about a fiver. I know there’s the upstart costs and feed, but to get a fiver’s worth of breakfast in a couple of days is quite marvellous. Home-made bread rolls, bright yellow scrambled eggs, coffee and juice – I love this simple life!
It finally feels as if Winter is on its way out. The trees are beginning to blossom, the rotavator hasn’t had a quiet moment since it arrived, the lawn has been mowed, I’ve wrestled with a spiky plant/tree thing, and the poly-tunnel has been fixed by the marvellous Mr Stephen. We had a minor accident in that Fox got shut in the lean-to last night and knocked the tomatoes off the shelf and trampled on the leeks, but it’s no big deal. I salvaged what I could of the leeks and tomatoes and my newly fixed poly tunnel has taken them in.
With the back door of the poly tunnel fixed, it’s humid and hot in there. I’m now on my third batch of peas popping up. My broad beans are coming on great guns. I’ve planted out about 50 tomato plants in rows to be picked out later, and every thing else is still sitting in little plugs waiting for the soil to be warm enough to go outside.
Winter has been hard in many ways – waiting for warmth, nursing sick animals, shut indoors with long nights and not much by way of warmth. The worst feels like it’s over. I might – might! – be finally warming up a bit. My bedroom was a balmy 12 degrees last night and I managed to let Moll out at 7:30 without putting my slippers on. I even needed to come inside just now to cool down.
Now I know there will be more cold weather, but the cold periods are shorter than the warm now, and it’s coming up to being 12 hours of daylight. All this lovely warmth is what we were really waiting for since August. Even though it was hot, there was little we could do, and a lot of it was just acclimatising to life in France.
We might be poor as church mice, but it’s a good life. I feel like it was what I was waiting for all this time. The country is definitely for me! Driving through Limoges to pick up the rotavator on Friday, I felt terrified of town life. It was so big, so unwelcoming, so confusing. The traffic lights and the contraflows, the one way systems and the incomprehensible signs, the multitude of directions to take… it was just overwhelming. And this is a small city.
So I’ll stick to our 14-house hamlet with the trees and the chickens, the cats and the dogs. And I feel like I can exhale a bit after the winter.