It was time for a spot of food processing this morning i.e. time to get the chickens out of the field and into the freezer. The three very pretty, light brown labelles have been living on borrowed time for several  months since we kept giving them a reprieve. We can’t really do any poultry despatching when gite guests are around and our last guests only went a few weeks ago. A lot of people still don’t like to think that their meat comes from what was once a living thing, and which had to be rendered unliving somewhere along the line. It’s not particularly nice, but it has to be done and there’s no point being soppy about it. We don’t wake up in the morning thinking whoopee, today’s the day we do for our chickens. It’s a job that needs doing from time to time. We bought the chickens to eat and they really do taste extremely nice!

We only succeeded in dealing with two of them. Number three took off at a run when Chris came after her, and is probably still running! There’s a chance she may potter back tonight to the hen house from force of habit, but I’m not betting on it. She’s definitely smarter than your average chicken. And Chris has come to terms with being outwitted by her!

Roly the cat was very keen to help with the plucking when the time came.

That’s my job. I’m a left-handed plucker. I’m actually right-handed in everyday life but can be heavy-handed with that hand when pulling out feathers. The result is torn skin. Very unprofessional.

Anyway, one chicken is now in the freezer and the other is in the fridge for Friday night’s tea.

Friday is also carol service night. I’m doing one of the readings, and in  French! It seemed a good idea at the time when I volunteered but I’m starting to feel nervous now. Caiti has run through the pronunciation with me but there are a couple of words that keep tripping me up. Grrr. Fingers crossed I’ll get it right on the night. It’s the reading about the three kings (les roi mages) arriving in Jerusalem and asking Herod where the new king is. Hardly subtle were they!

'The Three Wise Men' by the brilliant Roger Fereday www.rogerferedayillustrator.co.uk

Back to food, it’s fish feeding season. The carp in our three lakes need extra noms (you have to know what noms means! – if not, go and look up lolcats) over winter. For most of the year they get well fed by anglers, and that’s on top of the naturally occurring food for them in their environment. All our lakes are stream fed which means edible microscopic goodies are constantly being washed into them. But the carp need a top up at this time of year to keep them in good condition. Since the lakes freeze for at least several weeks each winter, we need to get plenty of food – but not too much – in for them before that happens. So every couple of days, Chris and I lob in a carefully measured amount of carp pellets into each lake to meet the demands of its population. It’s a surprisingly fun job. The pellets make a lovely ploppy sound as they hit the water and it’s refreshingly mindless to chuck them about. The four-legged animals enjoy the occasion too. There’s a line of one dog and several cats behind us every time we head off. They snaffle up all the pellets that get dropped or misthrown (mainly by me) or otherwise don’t make it into the lakes. Even the goats like the pellets, which have a very strong fishy smell, but then goats like anything!

Our carp get through a tonne of pellets each winter