Puy d’Arnac

A spring poulain!

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Spring is supposed to have arrived, but on some days? I wonder if I made a mistake with the seasons..maybe we are moving into winter? Noo..n..it is spring, surely. In spite of icy weather, we have lilacs blooming profusely, wisterias drooping low with heavy blooms, tulips swaying their hips and young ones grazing in the fields..like our adorable poulette who arrived this weekend.

On Friday night we saw that Gubi was getting restless, walking up and down, snorting, and we knew the hour would not be far. At 3:00 on Saturday morning it started. She lay herself down in the écurie and those first two feet appeared. It was cold out, raining, wet and we piled on the hay so Gubi’s new poulain could enter the world soft and warm.

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After an hour of hard work, the process was over and Gubi could take a break, while the poulain found its strength, its breath and while we could also take a breather!

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Of course the first thing we searched for…a girl or a boy..and yippeeee..a little poulette…a little girl! We called her Duméla, which is “hello” in Sotho, one of south Africa’s 11 official languages.

As tired as she was, on shaky legs, Gubi raised and took on her role as mother. From that moment on, we hear the sound we haven’t heard before..a gentle, soft  throat whinny, which is of course her mothering voice.

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Duméla just went from strength to strength and she is already taking a run on those cute long legs.

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Mon chéri is of course blooming too! He is surrounded by girls here on Coin Perdu, but does he complain..non..how can he, when he he has only excitement and challenges and happiness around him!

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Duméla is today 2 days and a few hours old and cute as a button!

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Sleeping, brushing against Maman and drinking that delicious milk freely, is her biggest happiness at the moment. And what can I say, watching them happy and healthy, is our biggest happiness!

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à bientôt!

Ronelle

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A garden in the making

I love a garden. I love gardening, no question about that. But starting a new garden from scratch…on raw farmland, on slopes, on rocksolid ground makes me re ask the question…do I really…I mean reaallly love gardening. To my own detriment…sigh…unfortunately, yes I do. I do love a garden and I do love gardening. With all its backaches and dirt and broken nails and sunburnt skin. I’m so crazy, I love even that too! and while I complain with utter self pity at night about my aching back and aching elbow, I think of the smell of fresh earth, of the fragrance of fennel and lavenders, the beauty of white Iceberg roses against the dark soil, the chickens digging just as hard as me to reach the abundance of earth worms in the fertile soil. I think of the infusion of camomile tea directly from the garden, the succulent veggies from our potager…and I complain even harder but wit a wide smile, because tomorrow I’ll be out there again, seeking again the sun, the soil, the fragrances and this pain for all the indescribable pleasure it gives me.

..stairs lading to future water feature with potager at the left and garden to the right – 2012..

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1..view on the “four à pain” – 2010..

The garden is far from finished and it will change completely again next season. But this is what happens to a garden, at least to mine..all of my gardens I first have to live in it for a while, before I really know what it asks for.

1..view on the “four à pain” – 2012..

2..view on the house2010..

2..view on the house -2012..

3..the very first diggings of the potager – 2010..

3..changing the potager  – 2011..

3..potager – 2012..

..view on the garden from the potager – 2012..

..white dahlias in the garden – 2012..

..star dahlia among the echinops..

..dahlias, echinops and Gubi..

..white marguerites around the cherry tree..

..whites, greens and greys for the garden, with touches of blue – 2012..

..the work horse for mowing the lawns  on our difficult terrain..

..the work horse for making new beds on farm land..

It will probably..no, not probably, definitely still take some time before we can move into our home and before we will be done with mud and stones and dust, but in the meantime, I can at least pick a rose or two for the house and get my daily dose of exercise by daily digging up the magnitude of weeds that takes over the garden the minute I turn my back. I suppose it is just a normal part of this garden in the making at Coin Perdu.


An impossible balcony, ancient Egyptian way.

We have a come quite a way since we started restoring 3 years ago.But unfortunately, we still have a way to go too. everything happens in its own time. Mon cheri believes patience will finally finish our house. I believe him, but every now and then I let my impatience kick him in the butt a little …just enough to speed up his patience a bit! I am careful not to push too hard though… he is the one doing all the work after all!

Up to now, we have knocked down walls, inside and out. We have opened up large windows and doors. We have put in a second floor for our bedroom. We  have put in a temporary plastic pool for cooling down during the hot Correzien summers. We have had the real pool dug out. We started building terraces. All this was of course mostly done by mon cheri. He is a Camel man. With patience. And a hat. But I have done my share too. The garden is taking shape nicely.  .By my hand. As is the potager with all those healthy vegetables.  The tomatoes are sweet, the salads bountiful. Bulbs are flowering, shrubs are blooming… except for twelve!! 2-year old lavender bushes which were carelessly dug out by a poor soul named William.. I wasn’t angry. I was only foaming a little at the mouth with boiling rage…

And now we have built a balcony.

…before…

We had Phillippe’s help, or rather “Fif” as everybody knows him.Aa tall,  willowy shoot of a man. He can swing a hammer just as well as rigging a chain saw. And he’s funny. He of course thinks we are funny too…the way we do things and the off beat ideas we have for our farm house. But he does them anyway, shrugging the shoulders, while a limp cigarette is hanging from a quirky smile.

So the day arrived to get those rustic solid oak beams into place. Fifi lifted one end of a beam and shook his head. “Comment on va arriver..c’est pas possible..on est que deux? He couldn’t’ see only two men lifting these heavy beams up straight into place…it is just not possible. The French love the expression: “C’est pas possible”. It is not possible.

But in the end, it got done with a little heaving and hooing. ancient Egytian style with ropes and pulleys, counterweights and muscle. Add my muscle to that too.

..and the first pillar goes up..

..it stands steadfast..

..and the second pillars stand straight up..

..and the third pillar stands..

If the Egyptians could build pyramids this way, surely we can build a simple balcony…using the same physics…n’est pas Fifi? He lookedat his handiwork with an even more quirky smile. “C’est pas possible”!, he exclaimed with proud disbelief…

..c’est pas possible..!


A sunny 15 January

Smack in the middle of January, gorgeous sunshine exploded on us and being here at Coin Perdu, in the barn, for the winter, it was a gift from heaven. We were outside all day whole day, even though the low temperatures of -3 degr. C( about 26.6 degr F).

By the afternoon, we were still out, and doing all the things (almost) we(and all our animals)would do on a normal summers day..

..wheeling around the bed..

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…rolling in the fields…

…lighting a barbie fire at 16h30…

…while sipping a red wine and munching on a sauccisson

…and the chickens were following the sun…

…a smoke trail is a good sign…

… silhouetted against a perfect day at 18h30…


Autumn at coin Perdu

A spectacular show awaited us when we arrived at Coin Perdu to lock up for the winter. Autumn in all its splendour. Our woods next to the house were blazing with colour and the far off hills were winking to be gazed at.

We have locked up for the rest of 2010 and will start work again in spring 2011. In the near future, some posts will appear on our work done in 2010. We have done a lot of work, but not enough to have our house finished and lived in yet…it will probably take us another season to get to that point.

..à la prochaine..

Ronelle


Restoration – opening up for windows to the south.

 

The restoration process is back in full swing here at Coin Perdu. We have actually become quite the pro’s  now in the rhythm and routine of logically  advancing the process. Well, to be completely honest, I’ve stepped aside more and more and leaving my poor husband more and more to himself in the grit and grout of restoration. But he doesn’t mind, he tells me every time that I express my guilt….that comes down to almost every day. “This is just not me, I hate this dirt and dust and bruises and scrapes…after all, I am a lady…a least, I’m trying my best  to be a lady!”, is my most uttered phrase. I can see Hartman’s lips shaping each word as I say it.  But I still say it every day. And he still tells me it is OK every day. so from now on, when I say “we” , it actually means “he”. I do other stuff. A lot of other stuff.. But I’ll be sure to use “I” when I talk about that. It is important  stuff too after all.

After ripping up some floor planks, which was before we got into the rhythm of logical restoration thinking, we now started knocking out the south facing wall for large future windows to allow for plenty of light streaming in.

As Hartman knocekd out the south facing wall, taking out the stones one by one, he constructed horizontal wooden beams and pillars to hold it all up temporarily, preventing the whole lot from tumbling down at some time. The permanent beams and pillars will be constructed from concrete later on, which will be hidden by wooden lintels, beams and pillars and enduit.

Almost the whole of the southern wall will become full length windows with wooden outdoor blinds which will swivel to let in light but cut out the direct sun.

The future door of the top floor(bedroom) to the balcony outside.

In the meantime there is also a lot of going back to the plans, reconsidering, changing, rechecking.

And somewhere in between all this breaking down and dust and building beams which Hartman does, I feature also. I provide the coffee en cookies, food,  the cold water and of course, I take the pictures!


Missing the country

With winter at its worst in January and February, I find myself thinking of and longing for Coin Perdu more often than is good for me. Winters in Touraine are very grey, dark and sombre. On the odd weekend,  when  taking the drive to Coin Perdu to check that everything is still in order, we arrive at Puy d’Arnac in bright sunlight. Cold, but bright. Misty in the early morning,turing brighter during the day.  Maybe it won’t be too many years, or perhaps even months more before I can wake up on  cold January mornings with sun streaking over my bedroom floor at Coin Perdu.

I love Montlouis and our house  here by the Loire. I love our beautiful town of Tours, a mini Paris with it’s incredible architecture. I love the Loire with its wild unpredictability.

…la loire et ses oiseaux..

But the depth of my love lies at Coin Perdu, where the sunsets and clear stars  keep me outdoors early until late… Where I love the roaming cattle with their undisturbed manner, the bells clinging even somewhere at night. Where I love the buses roaming the skies, where I love listening to the the complaints of the owls in the dark of night, crying their dissatisfaction with us taking their barn…I’ve said all these things before. I will say it many more times. They are important things in my life;  the simplicity and honesty of the country side, where life isn’t always easy, but where the  comfort lies in knowing and acknowledging it. There aren’t short cuts in honesty, no shifting of boundaries. There is no playing around with honesty. Taking on a day can’t be played around with…animals can’t wait for their food, hay will be wet tomorrow if not cut today, the birth of a new calf cares not for convenience,  rain boots wait by the door for a good reason…nature dictates and man dances. It gives life its equilibrium. Keeps man humble, with his ear to the ground, his instinct awake. It keeps him alive. It gives him life.

So,  while I am waiting for March and spring to break through so we can pack and take off to Coin Perdu for the spring and summer months to resume working and restoring our mountain home, I have last year’s photos and many memories to keep me going these next two months.

But still, I can’t wait to…

…start working…

…fiddle in our barn kitchen…


…delighting in simple, delicious food…


…go for long walks…

…revel in rediscovering nature and animal life…


…paint, paint and paint…


…enjoying evening barbeques…


…enjoying breath taking sunsets…