Spring, Spring, Spring

[vc_row][vc_column][postgallery_grid id=”grid_20170225″ data_source=”data-4″ null=”” slidesetid=”SG_G6_20170224_01″ content_type=”image” columns=”6″ height=”200px” align=”aligncenter” lightbox=”yes”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Everything is bursting with vernal energy here. Despite some quite chilly nights spring flowers are suddenly everywhere. The hazel catkins are almost over but primroses, cowslips, frittilaries, lungwort, celandines and purple toothwort are just starting to emerge. It is amazing to see flowers that we pay good money for, and think of as garden flowers in the UK growing wild in abundance here.

Our fields have not been well managed in recent years and only seem to have huge amounts of moss and weeds with little grass and no spring flowers. Fortunately we have made some local friends who have several fields with spring grass and so this week we moved Caudi and Sunny to their new grazing, They could hardly believe it and they also have a lovely fresh stream to drink from. Margie now bicycles up the road in the mornings and evenings to check them and ‘poo pick’ . ‘Poo picking’ is a strange ritual that all conscientious horse owners do these days; the horse droppings are collected and put on a muck heap to prevent the pasture becoming horse-sick. It doesn’t seem to be practiced much here but Margie is a fervent believer in it and she is watched with curiosity by the locals. The first time she rode after they had moved fields Liz stayed to keep an eye on Sunny. He gets a bit anxious when Caudi goes out and as his second name is Houdini we didn’t want him escaping in his excitement. He galloped up and down and got in quite a muck sweat but eventually calmed down. Now he knows that this new field is home he has settled and although he calls for a bit he soon forgets to worry especially as there is so much lovely grass.

One of the things we now need to do is clear the banks of our fields of brambles and self-seeded, unwanted trees and weeds. This will be quite an undertaking and we considered whether we get someone to do it for us. In the end we decided that it needed doing with care because there are wild flowers we want to keep therefore it would be better to do it ourselves. So last Saturday we combined a visit to a local market with a shopping trip for a ‘débrousailleuse’.The market at Montaigu-de-Quercy is lovely with organic produce good local butchers and bakers. Typically this time of year it is smaller than high season, even so it had everything we wanted. After lunch (very important here) we found the agricultural suppliers, Pole Vert, which had a lot of good equipment including strimmers. A very knowledgeable young man advised us and, although initially surprised at our requirement, helped us select a ‘semi-professional’ petrol strimmer with a metal blade rather than a nylon reel . He also gave us ‘ un petit cadeau’ of very fetching protective visor and gloves. Too late to try out on our return home we were keen to get going the next day. Margie looked the part with her bright orange harness and visor, it has proved a marvellous buy We have done a test on the overgrown patch behind the barn and now we have freed up two to three metres of ground, the strimmer managing to cut through some pretty large brambles – up to an inch thick – and small saplings.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][postgallery_grid id=”grid_20170226_02″ data_source=”data-4″ null=”” slidesetid=”SG_G6_20170224_02″ content_type=”image” columns=”6″ height=”200px” align=”aligncenter” lightbox=”yes”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Bonfires! We have raked all out strimmings up and added to the prunings, tree lopings and bamboo debris, this is the beginnings of a rather large bonfire. To our surprise they are forbidden here all the year round. One is supposed to take all rubbish and debris to the ‘déchetterie’, which is a very well organised tip, but this is ridiculously impractical when we have the amount of waste that our clearing up is producing. Despite the prohibition of bonfires we have seen several burning locally, and the agricultural suppliers still sell garden incinerators; however we will not risk this ourselves as it can incur a fine, instead we will apply to the Mairie who can grant exceptional permission.

Jean-Luc, our maitre-d’oeuvre visited this week with more detailed plans including the elevations. This is very exciting and is extending our vocabulary to include many new building terms. We had invited him to stay of lunch which, as the weather was slightly cool, was a version of coq-au-vin followed by a pear flan glazed with quince jelly made last year from the fruit from our friends’ tree in London, and complemented by some rather good quince liqueur made from the same source.. When preparing lunch we had decided to find some local wine both to cook with and to drink. It seems one no longer takes containers to the local vintner, they supply the wine in boxes and we found one just down the road; M. Fabbro produces a very quaffable red wine in 5 litre boxes – it has the charming name of ‘Les Perles du Printemps’ – and it sells for the amazing price of 9 euros which is less than 40p a glass. À votre santé![/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][postgallery_grid id=”grid_20170225_03″ data_source=”data-4″ null=”” slidesetid=”SG_G6_20170224_03″ content_type=”image” columns=”6″ height=”200px” align=”aligncenter” lightbox=”yes”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_btn title=”How it all started” style=”custom” custom_background=”#deead0″ custom_text=”#666666″ link=”url:http%3A%2F%2Fwww.tormantil.com%2F2017%2F01%2F10%2Fhow-it-all-started%2F|title:read%20how%20it%20all%20began…|”][/vc_column][/vc_row]