Monday, May 30, 2011

bagneres de bigorre

Ferme de la Coume.
Home made cheeses, vegetables and plants for the garden.
All grown the biodynamic way.

Patience is the mother of all virtues

Bread always tastes better when you know the baker

I would love one, but I have left so many behind in the past, I think that
I'll just keep my beenie for the time beeing.

This could be my next local town,
if I keep thinking the way I am thinking at the moment.
Will have to see what happens..........

or is it all a dream?

Une serre fait maison A homemade greenhouse

C’est un serre fait maison. Seul le polyéthylène a été acheté. Ils ont utilisé le bois de la ferme, les piquets en châtaignier et les branches longues des noisetier, la ficelle est la ficelle des bottes de paille qu’ils ont utilisé pour la maison. Elle marche comme une serre qui a coûté beaucoup d'argent.

It’s a home made greenhouse. Only the polythene was specifically purchased. They used wood from the farm, chestnut fence posts, long stems of hazel, the same string that is used to the bind bales of straw that have been used for the house.

Même la porte et la fenêtre ont été construites avec les matériaux trouvés sur place. Deux ou trois vis et une longeur de fil, plus du bois et du polyéthylène, et c'est tout.

Even the door and window were made from things found on the building site. Two or three screws another length of string, some wood and an offcut of polythene, that’s all.

J’apprend la méthode pour le faire en ce moment, parce que la famille a besoin d’une deuxieme serre. Je la construis avec les autres qui restent ici pour aider la famille et pour apprendre les méthodes d'une vie eco.

I am learning how to do it at the moment as the family needs a second greenhouse. I am constructing it with some of the other helpers who are here to help the family and learn ecological methods.

Nous avons ramassé les tiges de noisetier dans la fôret à la main. C’est important de chosir les branches qui sont bien droites et très longues parce que chaque joint utilise plus de ficelle et beaucoup de temps pour le faire. On doit faire attention aussi de bien nettoyer les tiges de toutes les petites branches et choses pour bien protéger la polyéthylène, sa prend beaucoup de temps aussi.

We harvested the hazel branches from the forest by hand. It is important to choose very straight and long branches as each joint needs more string and takes time. Attention must be paid to ensure that the branches are cleaned of all pretruberances as they will damage the polythene, that is very time consuming too.

C’est bon de trouver les nouvelles utilisations pour les vieilles choses. On a utilisé les vieilles chambres à air, coupé en bandes pour attacher les tiges ensemble. Le caoutchouc ne glisse pas, il se tire bien et les noeuds sont très facile à faire.

It’s good to find new uses for old things. We are using old inner tubes cut into strips to bind the branches. The knots are easy to tie, they don’t slip and the rubber stretches to hold things good and tight.

Après trois jours de travail, la grande structure est presque complète. Il reste encore des tiges horizontales, les branches diagonales et les portes avec leurs encadrements: toutes les choses compliquées qui demandent beaucoup de réflexion. C’est bon de travailler sur l’autre chantier pour quelques jours. Le temps de penser.

Three days into the project the main structure is complete, just a few horizontal lengths, diagonal braces, then the doors and their frames to add. All the complicated parts that take time to think about. I’m glad that we are working at the other building site for the next few days.

Sunday, May 15, 2011


endless discussions

trying out ideas

polytunnel challenge

polytunnel challenge two

challenge two at the end of the day

The car boot sale was great, just the same as in the UK, although more commercial sellers, the biggest surprise was the amount of money they expected for everything. Items that I would have paid 50p or a pound for back home had tags of four or five pounds. I guess that the french just like the thought of doing car boot sales more than selling off their junk. Needless to say I bought nothing for myself and only a couple of pie dishes to ensure that the desserts keep coming every evening. There have been a few breakages since I got here and ovenware suitable for pies and cakes had become a bit thin in the ground.

A varied week in almost every respect. The weather has been from blue skies and sweltering sunburningly hot to thick “Devon” mist, the cold and damp sort that doesn’t feel too bad but after half an hour outside you are soaked to the skin and freezing cold, torrential rain, blustery winds that shook the caravan all through the night and dispersed well weighed down polythene sheeting across several fields, now it is cold and crisp, I am sitting with four layers on and a wooly hat and my fingers are still cold, the sun is up and it will certainly warm well for the day.

Work wise, two very frustrating days trying to work out how to fit the very expensive, brand new, wooden framed, double glazed windows into the support frames that will hold them in place whilst the straw bale walls on the other house are built. They arrived with detailing that differed to what was expected so they wouldn’t fit flush into their housing. Plenty of discussions and trials and abandonments and more discussions and adjustments...... they have to fit as airtight as possible to keep out the draughts, ideally removable during construction so that they don’t get damaged, using as eco friendly materials (that are cheap and readily available here in the back of beyond) finished quickly before the straw arrives and all in french.

A much better day helping a neighbour erect a large steel frame polytunnel in a field, that, thankfully was a hot sunny day, so hot in fact that the steel bars became too hot to handle without gloves on during the afternoon. We got the majority constructed between six of us and managed several beer breaks and a slap up four course barbecue meal at lunchtime too. New french voices and another dose of the thick accent of the region, not to mention all those new words to figure out without a dictionary.

Here, a varied couple of days mass weeding in the potager, its amazing how much gets done when there are suddenly eight people going for it for an hour or so. Tomato seedling planting, seed watering and general garden guidance. Another greenhouse challenge, sorting out a newly started wooden frame polytunnel that had been started a week or so ago and will soon be needed for pepper, aubergine and the rest of the tomato plants. A challenge for team UK, Simon, another english guy and I eventually took the whole thing apart and started again which probably wasn’t what Pierlo wonted to see. I think he would have preferred a finished product although the structure we are now in the midst of construction should eventually be sturdier and longer lasting than the original. Another first for me, going into the woods to harvest enough sticks to build a polytunnel, cleaning them so that there are no pointy bits to damage the plastic outer, then tying them all together in a uniform shape just like a shop bought one. There is always a way to do these things and we’ve found an excellent use for the box of old innertubes that has been hanging around for ages. Then an urgent reutilisation of our skills to help the plastering team finish their task before the week came to an end, the last afternoon inside, damp and covered in clay again, I thought that I might have escaped mud for a week but then again, that is what I came here to experience.

Sunday, May 08, 2011

summer is here

A whirlwind week with helpers changing coming and going, the last week fo school holidays, lots of explaining and new accents to get used to, halfway through the weekend now and a full day ahead of me, think I will leave this blog writing lark till I am in a frame of mind.

I talked about Love Apple Farm last night and it has disturbed my calmness rather more than I had expected. I would so love to go live and work there so very much, but the longer I wait the less possible it seems. The other possibilities/alternatives keep waving at me and wanting decisions too, I am hanging on a thread between one and the others waiting for an answer. Only then can I head off to California or really start searching in earnest for that elusive piece of paradise that is not that far from here. A south facing plot of land with a barn or ruin to be worked on, view of the mountains, Toulouse not that far away, plenty of space for fruit and veggies, some chooks, rabbits and maybe a goat or sheep to keep the grass down. Beautiful weather in a country not that far from home where they properly stop for lunch and don’t go shopping on Sundays.

I could go on but there is a boot sale to look round and mountains to climb before the day is out. The sun is shining and not a cloud in the sky. Welcome to summer everyone.