Total Pageviews

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

New Addition

Monday was a very exciting day - we went to an alpaca farm up in the Dordogne with our next-door (well, half a kilometre away!) neighbours Rob and Tammy who wanted to buy some alpaca for breeding and fibre production.  I think I've just cost Rob a lot of money. If I hadn't taught Tammy to spin they probably wouldn't have bothered with alpaca.

Some of the females with crias
They'd phoned up a few days before and asked if I would like to buy an alpaca or two to keep on their land alongside their animals.  Would I?!!!!  What a silly question.  Just try and keep me away!

Another field of females
Anyway, off we trotted; it was a three-hour journey each way and the farm owners had very kindly offered to give us lunch.

Quite a range of colours 
Rob and Tammy bought three pregnant females, a white, a fawn and a black, and had a 5-month old male thrown in (a rose-grey - beautiful).  I decided to buy a male (he's about 18 months old) so won't be ready to use for breeding until next year at the earliest. There's only one of their females that he can't mate with because they have the same sire.

This one really wanted to see what I was up to 
I was really impressed with the fleece quality of all of the animals on the farm.  They are a really low micron count and don't seem to become too coarse with age.  The micron count is a measure of how fine the fibres are - a micron is a thousandth of a millimetre - so the lower the count, the better the fleece.  My boy has only had one shearing so far, but his fleece was measured at 15.4 microns, which is amazingly fine.

Really, really wanted to see what I was doing 
The males were all in a field together, away from the females.  Here's my boy (well he will be in about a month) :-

Beauvautrait Impala 
His name is Impala.  The rose-grey standing behind him is called Indigo and was born the same year.  They use a system at the farm where each year the offsprings' names begin with the same letter of the alphabet.  This year was J.

Can't wait for him to arrive - but Rob has to fix the fencing first, so it won't be for another month.

Sunday, 25 November 2012

Sock Logic!

A few days ago I was pegging out the washing on the washing line in the garden when I finally got really fed up of turning Eric's socks the right side out.  He just happened to walk down the path, so I asked him why his socks were always inside out.  The reply?  "They're not all inside out, only about half of them are".  The reason is very simple (apparently).  When he takes his socks off at night, he peels them off from the top so they end up inside out.  Then if he wears them for a second day, he wears them inside out, so when he takes them off that night they then become right side out again.  And if he wears them for a third day (God forbid!), they're inside out.  You get the drift?

OK Mr Clever Clogs, answer me this then : how do you explain it when one sock is right side out and the other inside out?  What happens to your male logic then, hey?

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

(Almost) Free Food

About three weeks ago I bought a bunch of watercress for making soup.  I cut off the stems (some of which had roots growing) and pushed them into some compost in a tub in the greenhouse.  Yesterday I was able to harvest enough for another batch of soup.

The nice thing is, the plants should produce at least another batch as they're still growing quite strongly.  The soup was delicious and had far more flavour than the original watercress I'd bought, probably because there was only about 15 minutes from plant to pan.

Anyway, thought you might like the recipe; it's very easy and doesn't take long to make.

Watercress Soup

This amount serves four generous helpings.  I only did half of this as I didn't have enough watercress to do the complete recipe.

9 oz watercress, chopped
4 oz butter
Approx 14 oz leeks, chopped
4 potatoes, peeled and chopped
3 pts hot stock
4 heaped tablespoons creme fraiche
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Melt butter in a large pan, then add chopped leeks, potatoes and watercress and stir so they are well coated in butter.  Sprinkle in some salt, then cover and sweat over a very gentle heat for about 20 minutes, giving mixture a good stir halfway through.

Add stock, bringing everything to a simmering point, and simmer, covered, for 10-15 minutes.

Remove from heat, cool slightly and blend in a food processor until smooth.  Return to pan and add 3 tablespoons of creme fraiche, season to taste with salt and pepper, then reheat gently without letting it boil.

Serve with an extra swirl of creme fraiche or cool and serve chilled in the same way.

I topped ours with a parasol mushroom (flash fried in butter until slightly crispy on the outside, but tender in the middle) that we found, and an extra sprig of watercress. Delicious!

Saturday, 17 November 2012

In the Greenhouse

Lots of green stuff to feed us over the winter :-

Lettuce, watercress, rocket, salad leaves, pak choi, oregano,

More lettuce, round carrots, baby leeks,

Yet more lettuce and pak choi,

and look who's taking care of things for me while I'm not there :-

Hope he manages to find plenty of bugs!

Happy Day!


WE GOT . . .


We got it dirty too!

The salesman obviously needed to sell a car - he called at the house five times (we were out the first time) trying to sell us this.  He finally caved in on the last visit and agreed to all our ridiculous terms, i.e. extras we wanted with it, and the price we wanted to pay! Nice one Yeti!!  Now we need a name - hhhmmmm . . .

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Sad Day

Today was the end of an era, today was a sad day for us.  Our good old "pink bus" has left us.  We'd had our Seat Alhambra for over 11 years and it gradually faded from a deep red colour to a sort of pink, hence the "pink bus".  This car held lots of memories for us, and we had to think long and hard before selling it.  The fact that we'd only driven 500 miles in it since February (it had really become just a work vehicle for collecting building materials and ferrying tools around the garden to the current worksite) finally decided us.

This afternoon, as the new owner proudly drove it away from the house, we both felt like running after her saying "Stop!  We didn't mean it, we've changed our minds".  But we didn't.

Goodbye old friend!  A new era now begins for both of us.

Thursday, 1 November 2012

Leftie Continues

Got to about 85% through this project about a week ago and had to stop.  Ran out of white yarn.  Luckily, Tammy had brought me her share of the white just in case I didn't have enough.  So I spun up some more.  I only needed to spin one of the plies because I had some of the other left on a bobbin.  No problem then . . . except I mixed up the bobbins with the leftover ply and plied with the wrong one.  I didn't realise until after I'd washed and dried the new wool, but it's turned out too white.  Think I must have used some Falkland instead of floor sweepings.

Oh well, back to the spinning wheel.  Actually, today's a perfect day for spinning as it's just started raining, and it's Toussaint (All Saints Day) so we have a holiday here in France and we can't work on a religious holiday, can we?