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Prealpes sheep

Posted in Farming, Landscapes | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Our highest field

The drought and heat of the summer are finally having repercussions on the land here. Apart from a couple of storms, we haven’t really had any rain since the beginning of June.

The lack of water means that the grass has dried and disappaeared a month earlier than usual this year, so this was the last time that the sheep were left to graze in the hills behind the farm. And when we went to fetch them we found them awaiting the dessert.

There’s a field that we stop off at on our way back home which has the remnants of alfalfa growing it. The sheep love it with the passion of a 3 star Michelin restaurant.

I love it because it has the most amazing views, especially early in the evening.

And whilst some of us feast with our eyes, others, just….


Posted in Counting Sheep, Landscapes, Photography | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 11 Comments

WordPress weekly photo challenge – Near and Far

I took this whilst out hiking in Le Valgaudemar in the French Hautes-Alpes.

Posted in Landscapes, Nature, the Alps | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Who’d go hiking in the northern Alps?

As far as tourism in the French Alps goes, the north wins the battle hands down. Everybody goes there.

And that suits me just fine.

Because unlike the more famous regions in higher parts of the Alps, Le Queyras, hidden in the Hautes-Alpes in the southern Alps, remains completely unspoilt by any sort of development or environmental destruction.

When you go hiking here, you don’t have to navigate through huge ski resorts with their labyrinths of pylons and chair-lifts sprawling across the mountainside.

And you can walk all day without finding cable cars regurgitating tourists onto tarmac covered mountain tops.

All the souvenir shops and restaurants remain firmly in the villages in the valleys. And if you’re looking for a bite to eat, the only place you’ll find it is in your rucksack. Maybe on the edge of a lake.

And call me anti-social, but one of the best things about being here is that you can walk all day without meeting another soul. It is truly 100% solitude, sunshine and steep slopes.

It’s just (wo)man and the great outdoors – and isn’t that what hiking is all about?

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Just before the storm

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Sheep by night

The days are already a lot shorter and now when we bring the sheep back down to the barn at 8pm it is almost dusk.

It’s very dusty, very hot and the sheep, like us want to get home as quickly as possible.

Which means scrabbling down steep slopes in the near dark, trying to stay a step ahead of a lot of impatient hooves.

1,120 to be exact!

Posted in Counting Sheep, Farming, Photography | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Rent a mountain

One of the things I love about hiking is that you never know what you’re going to see. We were expecting this view over Le Lac de Serreponçon, Europe’s second biggest artificiel lake:

But we didn’t think we’d find such an enormous flock of sheep just the other side of the mountain. We hazarded a guess that there were about two thousand.

The sheep probably belong to several farmers who have grouped their flocks together to employ a shepherd and “rent” a mountain for the summer months. This transhumance allows the sheep to graze in higher pastures whilst the farmers cut and store the hay on their fams for the winter months.

We’re lucky enough to have sufficient land behind our farm to allow the sheep to graze all summer without sending them into the higher Alps.

But our flock sure looks small in comparison!

Posted in Counting Sheep, Landscapes, Photography, the Alps | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments