Autumn on the Farm
Is there any such thing as a typical autumn day here at Les Fragnes? Definitely not. Everything depends on the weather and what has suddenly cropped up as being unputoffable. We have a ‘to do’ list to keep us vaguely on track but that rarely gets stuck to for long since life is unpredictable. Yesterday we had to postpone all plans and do some llama fencing repairs since Vicki had taken to jumping over a low section of it. It was only low because other llamas had squashed it down by leaning over to eat grass from the other side. And the polytunnel had annoyingly developed a hole by the door which we had to fix.
We weren’t impressed with the way you had to pleat the plastic around the doorways when we constructed the tunnel, something I mentioned here, and it’s proving to be the tunnel’s Achilles’ Heel. Chris has rebattened everything so we hope it will hold this time.
I found time to a bit of indoor seed planting once the repairs were finished, and before the polytunnel got too warm to comfortably work in. It’s quite incredible how efficient it is. It’s hot inside in November. I’ve put in a load of medlar stones and woad seeds, some honey locust seeds and some as yet unknown seeds I picked up in Limoges on Sunday. They came from a small yellow pod from a tree with ash-like leaves but thorns. Any ideas what it might be? I’ve also shoved a whole honey locust pod into a seed tray (ex-croissant box!) to see if that works better for germinating purposes, rather than depodded seeds. Time will tell.
I also planted some gingko fruit. Gingko take over as the trees lining the Avenue Albert Thomas in Limoges at its end closest to Benjy’s University residence. These are beautiful trees with fan-shaped leaves. However, the fruit stinks. It smells like vomit, due to a high butearic acid content. Benj was horrifed as I scooped some of the small golden plum-like fruit into a plastic bag to bring home and try and get to germinate.
Back to today. We opened up the hangar to put Sea Blue, the little tractor away. The llamas staged a mass break-in which made us suspect they’re a bit peckish.
There’s still plenty of grass in their fields, but llamas don’t eat near where they poo – and they poo everywhere. Male llamas are generally fastidious and have one neat and tidy pile. But not the girls. They crap everywhere. This means there’s a good proportion of their field that they won’t graze in. So, we decided we’d better move a bale of straw out into the shelter for them. This takes time. We have to move stuff out of the way, keep driving the llamas and alpacas out (they always come straight in), encourage chickens to get from underfoot and undertyre.
We had to evict Roly Poly from what’s left of Rusty II’s tractor seat – he’s our big bale-moving tractor – and then do the actual physical moving of the straw.
Chris is one mean tractor driver now! Driving these antique machines isn’t easy. Each one has its own very distinct foibles and you never know what’s going to suddenly stop working or drop off! I’m talking tractor here, not Chris.
The llamas will soon spread the straw everywhere so the next job on the list is to tie pallets around it as a no-budget bale holder, or mangeoire. We looked into buying one but they’re a good few hundred euros each. That would keep Benj in pasta for several years, so we’re going the DIY route.
The rest of the day will be indoors since strong winds and rain are on the way. I have half a sack of windfall apples and pears to process and then I must get some work and admin done at the computer. But to finish a pic of our black male turkery who is permanently displaying and gobbling at the moment. Even the sheep is impressed!