lundi 25 janvier 2010

I have some daffodils up in a the end of the cold weather in sight?

This has to be the most boring photo I have put on this blog so far!  It did make me feel good, however to see this little daffodil shoot, after all that snow.  I have not blogged lately due maily to sore hands from the cold and snow, I could not spin either with all the little cuts and chilblains on my hands, but they are nearly better now.  This has been the longest cold snap in France for a long time, not only that,  it has been so grey and now wet, normally the winters here are very mild and when it is cold the days are sunny and warm and only the nights are cold, this year is has been really hard, but there are some signs of spring now.

I did manage to knit something and finished a hat in the purple spinning from merino wool and silk, photopgraphed in an earlier posting.  I did not use a pattern and the hat was a little too short, so I picked up stitches all around the bottom and knitted a few moe rows in the opposite direction !!  LOL :o)  it does not show at all, but the hat was too big for me so it has been passed on to my husband.  I have a photo but it is to scarry to post.....I will make some adjustments in Photoshop and post later.

We have had a hectic weekend of eating and drinking.......all the New Year celebrations and 'aperos' had been cancelled due to the bad weather and this weekend they all seem to be on together, from Friday through Sunday, so Sunday evening was spent asleep on the sofa, after lurching from one drinks party and lunch to another.

I found another good spinning website and blog : and have put a link and a feed on here.  Spin in Public is an event in September 2010 worldwide, mainly publicised on US webs but I hope to be able to get something going around here for that date. 

Our mill is also on the Route des Moulins, on the FFAM website (Federation Francaise des Amis des Moulins)  even though it is still very much a ruin, and will be open to the public for the weekend of 19/20 June, the French national Journee des Moulins (National mill open day).  As our mill is now known by its original name, the Moulin de St Jean, and the fete of st Jean is the 24th June, and our first village fete of the 'season' is around this date, we will be having a celebration here probably a barbeque and a 'bring-your-own picnic and tent'  type of event, so watch here for details - it might even turn into a 70's style arty, spinning 'Happening'.

jeudi 14 janvier 2010

Sitting in the sun today - such a difference!!

The snow was shrinking fast yesterday and it poured with rain.  The ground is sodden and the mud is horrible again - oh the joys of living in the country.

Very sunny and 'tropical' temperatures of 13 degrees C, so we have just come in from eating our soup out in the sun.

The chickens made it up to the front door again for the first time in a week.  We were able to go out and have dinner with friends last night, after I made sure all the snow had been cleared from the stone stairways.  The village is built on the rock in the name and all the houses are perched on this rock, so it is not easy getting up and down for me, but the are little alley ways and steps hidden all over the 'rock'.

After the snow, the floods.......we have another weather warning about rain, the forecasters were warning about us having a month's rain in 24 hours......It takes about 12 hours of stair rod rain for our bridge to be compromised.  As the bridge is already damaged and sitting at an angle we do not go out, not for fear of the bridge giving way, but for fear of not being able to get back on to our property.  It has sometimes been over 5 foot high of water above the bridge.  If there is lots of driftwood brought down from upstream the bridge looks like an enormouse beaver dam, then the rushing water digs out big holes under the dam to continue on its way.  So after a storm it is always interesting to go out and see the new paths and shapes created by the water.  So again, we are on a warning and will stay in the dry, the house is on a high spot but we have a small stream opposite the house which only runs in extreme conditions and if this overflows the water level can creep up near the front door......we shall see.......

What can get damaged by these flood waters are all the fences, the fence to the llama paddock was demolished once and we woke to find two llamas and two goats looking in at the kitchen door, but there is plenty of high ground for them to climb up to, and they never go far, they always want to see what we are doing.

Hopefully now all this is calming down I can get back to doing some spinning, I have been unable to do so because of little cuts on my thumbs which catch on the threads, and my hands have been cold.

I also hope that the flood waters, if any, reduce before tomorrow evening as I have a council meeting to attend.  This meeting is probably going to be contentious as it needs to address the ongoing problem of famers, lack of fences, lack of electrification, and cows everywhere, so we need all the non-agriculteurs on the council to attend.

dimanche 10 janvier 2010

The Mayor walked over to see if we were OK !!!

We had visitors at 6pm last night, the mayor and one of the deputies walked half a mile from the main road to make sure we were OK.  I was impressed, they had trudged through snow up past their knees.  The track to the main road is still blocked by a five foot snow drift, a farmer on a tractor tried to get through it earlier yesterday and tipped his tractor over the edge.  Another farmer succeeded to get in and out in a v ery large tractor, but it is impossible to get the snowplough down the road, so we are still great problem for us as we have plenty of stocks of food and animal feed and while the electricity is on we still have news  on the TV.  At least our village is on a main avex road in the department and the snowploughs go up and down continuously, other small villages are worse off than us, and nothing is getting through.  This weather is all over France and down to sea level, the UK is also very bad in places. 

We now have the phone back on which is a relief.  We also have beautiful sunshine and clear skies, we had a cup of coffee outside, it was like being in a ski resort cafe, lovely.  However the temperature is due to drop and then there is more snow forecast for Tuesday, so if I disappear from here and Facebook you will know why.

A bientot!!

Quelques flocons - A Few Flakes !!!!

Saturday 9 January

Quelques flocons is the phrase the French use for just a little snow 'A Few Flakes' - a dramatic understatement today, read on……

I was abrupty cut off on Facebook yesterday as I started a ‘conversation’ with an old friend, I apologise for that, we lost all types of phone connection.

We still have no telephone, nor mobile network which is a little disturbing as we would find it extremely hard to walk out of here to get help if one of us had an accident.  So we are conscientiously being careful, I suffer from chronic arthritis and walk with difficulty anyway, add to that the fact that I am prone to falling over and dislocating shoulders, and you will understand why we are being careful.  Dave is doing all the animal care at the moment.

Our neighbour is on her own at the moment and her husband is in hospital some 60Km away on icy road, thi been bad enough for the last couple of days but this has been compounded by the lack of phones of any sort, so she cannot even ring the hospital and the hospital cannot contact her.  Yesterday this department, the Aude, was on an orange alert for snow and ice, this morning they lifted this alert, why?  I have not a clue, conditions out there are dangerous.

Minus 4 degrees last night and at mid day it has only risen one degree.  We have gale force winds with gusts up to 120Kph, so we have snow going up, down and horizontal at high speeds.  I have tried to photograph the tornados of snow that are whisking around us.

 We are in a valley so all the snow is blowing from the tops of the hills around us down onto us.  It is four foot deep outside the door to the chicken shed and hip deep along the track to the llama and goat shelter, the goats had difficulty running out to get their granules just now.  The llama is, as usual, not bothered, when I spoke before about him sitting out in the snow and frost and leaving a dry bare patch underneath him, I forgot to say that when he got up and we heard the ripping noise, we looked at his imprint and he had left an oval of fleece behind.
The chickens we fed inside and fortunately thrit water pots had not frozen inside, so they seem to be happy.

The ducks are loving it, trying to ‘swim’ around in the very deep snow, slip sliding down the snow drifts quacking all the time, they then make little indentations in the snow and sit there quite happily.  We have not broken the ice in their bath as we felt it dangerous if they happened to not be able to get out on the ice and slippery bath sides.  We also have a stupid  Araucana chicken who thinks she is a duck and I would hate to think she might go into the icy water, so we have put a basin of water in the pen as they are dabbling ducks and take their food with water.

Add to all this an invasion of desperately hungry cows yesterday afternoon.  I felt so sorry for them, they headed straight for part of our stock of hay and tucked in, we left them a while before chasing them down towards the river.  The farmer was taken into hospital with a kidney stone on Thursday, he came out of hospital yesterday afternoon, but he could ask one of the other farmers to take a bale or two of hay to them by tractor,no excuse really and the snow is so deep for the calves, even under the trees
so there is nothing for them to eat at all.  We have had a 16 year battle with this farmer.

At least for the moment we still have electricity, there are about 50 thousand homes in France with no power, and they have been like this for over a week now.  I was amazed this morning that the first item on the news was only indirectly connected to the weather.  The sales started on January 6th and the news item was about the lack of customers in the shops!!!!! 

It is nearly 13:00 and the temperature has not risen more than 1 degree so far, and is due to get even colder tonight for the foreseeable future.

jeudi 7 janvier 2010

I found this amazing video on another blog

Putting chickens to bed

We don't look elegant, but then chasing chickens in a blizzardis not conducive to looking good.

The chickens that had passed the day on the doorstep refused to walk in the snow back to the coop so we had to chase them and pick them up to take them home.  One white hen ( would be white???) was missing and we eventually found her trying to hide under some brambles in a 'snow cave' in the mill race, so Dave had to fish for her with the net.  We still have Fanny in the house with us as she chose the last month to moult and has hardly any feathers, so she is in a cat box by the fire.  The three baby chicks are in another cat of them tweets all the time (clever thing) she is called Tweety Pie, another constantly does four quick tweets followed by some tapping on the floor, so she is called Morse.....there's a connection in there somewhere ..........

Next job was to knock some of the snow from the netting on the peacock pen and the duck and Araucana flight.  Dave had the big pen to do and I had the camera, which was lucky for me as I attempted to knock the snow from the netting with my umbrella only to break the umbrella and be covered in snow.  It was nearly dark when we finished.

It is still snowing heavily, we have no picture on French or english satellite tv systems, and power cuts are forecast for tonight.  The weather forecast is for snow, snow and more snow, all night and all day tomorrow, then a big freeze, maximum minus 5 in the day, and if that is based on Perpignan that means it will be minus 8 for us up here at altittude.

Just a reminder for me as well as anyone else........this is the South of France, and it has snowed right down to the mediterranean coast all day today.

Must send this quickly and get some candles out for imminent power cuts, they always seem to come when most of France sits down to eat and watch the news at 8pm.

Even the chickens want to come inside..........

It has been snowing heavily all day here, so another corner of France grinds to a halt.  We had an orange warning this morning for heavy snow, and the weather girl on FR2 said the snow would start between 11 and midi - and for once she was right.  It started slowly at first with tiny little icy round balls of snow, then the temperature went up a degree to 1 degree !! and it started to snow in massive big flakes.  It had been minus 9 degrees Celsius last night so the ground was hard and has formed a good base.

It took us ages to sort out the animals this morning as all the drinking bowls were frozen solid.  No point in breaking the ice on the duck's pink bath as it would just have refrozen quickly so we filled pans with luke warm water for them, Jemima duck tried to get in the bowl but she didn't fit.  The Araucana chickens who are house with the ducks came out, made a lot of fuss and then went back in, I fed them in their house.  The ducks were sitting quite happily out in the heavy snow.

Larry llama is sitting out in the snow, chewing the cud and the snow is mounting up on is back, we usually have to brush it off him if it gets too thick, so will be going down to check him again soon.  Another snowy day he sat out for ages and it started to freeze, we went down to put the chickens away and he was sparkling in the torchlight, then he tried with a little difficulty to get up and we heard a ripping noise, it appeared he had melted some of the snow around him and it had frozen his long fleece into the snow....!!  He came over for a kiss and left an oval shaped clear patch of grass, he returned to it after we left.

Most of the chickens followed us up to the house as usual but headed straight for the doorstep and they have sat there all day looking in, scattering occasionally if we let dogs or cats in and out.  Frida our hunting dog, a Bruno de Jura, refuses to go out at all, this morning we pushed her out and she turned round immediately and barked at the door.  Shiro of sourse being a snow dog, loved it and turned into a puppy again and tried to jump about biting snow flakes.

The snow is quite light now as the temperatures are dropping again, we are on an orange alert until tomorrow evening, so we could have quite a bit of snow by then, we have 5 inches now, but there are 110Kmp gales forecast for tomorrow as well.

So I am off to check Larry's snow level and brush him off, I hope the chickens follow me, but as the snow is quite deep I have visions of us having to pick them all up and take them to the coop.  I will let you know how we get on.....

samedi 2 janvier 2010

Mad cows.....and I cannot even spin them..........

A whole herd of cows in my vegetable plot this morning.........I awoke to see them out of the bedroom window, they were so quiet, these do not have bells on and can sneak up on us.....Dave had to chase then back into their own field, the first picture was taken about half an hour after the others when this really skitty cow was back in the garden, she did not appreciate being chase down into the river, but that is the direction she came from.  This has been a problem ever since we moved here.  The farmer does not have adequate fences, usually only a single electric wire that never has power running through it.  Our land is in the middle of the pastures used by two farmers and the 'fences' criss cross the river and the communal roads, which is against the law.  Neither the mayor nor the gendarmes will get involved, they say it is a 'neighbour problem' unless of course there is an accident.  I suppose the farmer knows this and never makes any effort to put up more substantial fencing.  However, at the moment there is a big argument between the town hall and another farmer for exactly the same reason, but the town hall can deal with it as the land being invaded by the animals (in this case sheep), is owned by the commune.  This has had a good effect on my neighbour who is frightenes he is going to get the same treatment and have his rental agreements revoked, so he is grovelling around fixing fences, and tells me a friend is coming to erect better fences with him this month......we will see if this happens.

Meanwhile I do love these cows and there are calves at all times of the year and at least they have a reasonable life here, free range in the mountains and are not crated up cruely for veal, I just wish they were not SO free range and did not have a liking for my vegetables.......

Spinning - my first 'Art Yarn'

Pic. 1  The two finished singles on my old Haldand castle wheel, single treadle, double drive.
Pic. 2  The two bobbins close up, the purple is a mix of purple, pink and turquoise merino, combed with silk.
The turquoise bobbin is again a mix of merino and silk.
Pic. 3  Good planning, more by luck than judgement......The purple yarn is more slubby and I tried to estimate the amount of turquoise, in the end I just spun what I had carded and hoped for the best.  I had a yard left, which I used to tie the skein on the kniddy knoddy.
Pic. 4  The very full bobbin. Just had enough space on he bobbin after I plied the singles together....!!  Only just.

The skein is still on the kinddy knoddy at the moment, I will wash it and beat it before I go to bed and it will dry on the Rayburn - these was 100 yards in total plied, not as much as I had hoped for but as a beginner it is really difficult to estimate how much yarn I will make.  I have checked on ravelry for patterns for 100 yards of bulky and I have seen a neckwarmer I could adapt a little.  The purple and silk I have blogged about previously on here (see archives), was a similar amount but it was not enough to even make a hat, so I compromised and used up some scrap fluffy acrylic in a toning purple, now I have a pixie hat with ear flaps - photo to follow.

Have you had a look at the You Tube video in the right column of links yet?  It seems such an easy way to put beads into yarn that I am going to try this, probably my next project.  In fact I am unfortunately on my own at the moment as we had an urgent call from our new neighbours about an hour ago, her husband had been taken to Narbonne hospital by the pompiers (firemen and emergency service) this morning, with complete kidney failure and has since been transferred to Perpignan, so my husband has taken her to Perpignan, about an hour and a half from here.  So I will be sitting up waiting for them to get back, I have made up a bed for the neighbour in case she does not want to be on her own in her own house.  So while I am waiting I will be threading beads on to little pieces of wool roving.

vendredi 1 janvier 2010


Dave and Josie would like to wish all their family and friends a very Happy New Year and welcome to the 'Tens', the new decade........

We were at quite a bizzare New Year Party last this space later for some photos of our Christmas and New Year.

A BIENTOT........