Wednesday, 16 March 2011
Raven and Rook at the wood shed.
It was a really splendid spring day yesterday but this morning it's thick with fog. The forecast is for more sunshine later so this is my excuse to huddle in front of the fire and write a blog entry until it improves.
We've been here for a few days now. At least we have a list of some of the more pressing tasks.
Paul made a start on dismantling the fallen oak tree. It's often more dangerous to tackle a fallen tree than to cut a standing one as it can be hard to judge which branches are taking the most weight. Cut the wrong support and the whole thing could tumble over onto you. However, with care and starting at the top he's managed to chainsaw quite a lot into manageable chunks that I'm carrying away to the woodshed to be split with an axe for firewood. There are also a number of larger sections, too heavy to move that will have to be split with wedges and sledge hammers before further processing. They are almost too large for the chainsaw.
We're still not sure what to do with main trunk. It's a very usefully sized piece of hardwood that would make several much needed replacement gate posts or even a beam for renovating the cider house but it's so heavy that it's beyond ordinary person power to manage it and we have nothing powerful enough to help. It may yet end up being reduced to firewood. At least it would keep us warm for a long time.
These are just some of the brambles that are threatening to take over the whole farm. I have a trusty bramble scythe with a lethal blade but it doesn't wield itself and the work is very tiring. My hands are blistered and I'm covered in holes made by vicious bramble spines. The scythe is a little better at the job than the powered brush cutter and much quieter so I prefer it to the more modern method. At the moment all I can do is try to keep the patches from spreading, I dream of the day when we have a tractor with a suitable cutter to reduce the whole lot to a pile of shreddings.
The box hedge is flowering and in the sunshine one can smell its potent, almost offensively musky, scent all over the garden. Yesterday I saw the first butterfly of the year, a small tortoiseshell. There were also quite a lot of bumblebees searching out the dandelion flowers. The birds are nesting, we have sparrows again this year after a couple of years of their absence and many Polly Dishwashers, known here as the naughty birds for their habit of posing on just the wrong side of the roof ridge when we're trying to take their pictures. I've linked to the RSPB and they show the British subspecies as default but of course here in France we have the European sort; picture 3, race Alba.
The cats haven't found the move entirely to their liking. Rook in particular is missing central heating and the compact terrain of the back garden but he's coming around to it and Crow and Raven seem happy enough now they've found the mice again. The exercise will do them all good.