The hired help

Nobody loves the sheep as much as our two sheepdogs, Flossy and Elfie.

And nobody enjoys going to work as much as they do.

The highlight of their day is when the doors to the sheep barn open and the sheep tumble out, headed into pastures around the farm.

They run round them, through them and even under them and once they get there, they await orders with impatience.

As far as workers go, they’re one of a kind!

Posted in Dogs, Farming, Photography | Tagged , , , , , , | 13 Comments

Five generations of shepherds

Sometimes I bring the sheep back to the barn, but most days I just leave it to the expert.

He somehow manages to send the dogs half-way up a mountain and then have them bring the sheep down at a trot. The only thing that moves is his mouth.

I, on the other hand, need to trudge up to within 10 yards of the ewes before I get their attention (the dogs just tend to stroll up with me enjoying the view).

I like to think that he has an easier time of it because he can shout louder than I can.

But then again it’s probably genetically ingrained. He can count on the experience of five generations of sheep breeders.

Whereas my family tree shows that my ancestors were already living in London in the 17th century.

What hope have I got?!

Posted in Counting Sheep, Farming, Photography | Tagged , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

Morning cereal

There’s not many days that I get up at 7 am on a Sunday morning, but this was the exception.

Once the combine has finished harvesting the cereals, the straw that is left is baled and stored for the winter. Baling is very time-critical, or so I’m told.

Bale too early in the morning and the straw will still be damp with dew.  This is to be avoided if you don’t want to finish up with a barn full of steaming, rotting bales.

Bale too late and the straw will be so dry that all the nutritious bits will simply drop onto the ground leaving nothing but the stalks. Not really recommended considering that we use it to feed the sheep from time to time.

Hence my early start. And as you can see, I only just got there in time. Lucky the farmer has less difficulty getting out of bed than I do!

Posted in Farming, the Alps | Tagged , , , , , , | 9 Comments

The problem with hiking

I love hiking, but when we go walking in the mountains it’s usually a fairly solitary experience. The day I managed to get this shot of my husband, I was quite pleased with myself. I don’t usually manage to get that close.

It’s not that I’m particularly slow, but I just never seem to catch up. I’ve got hundreds of photos of his rucksack.

A few thousand of him already half-way down to the valley.

And probably a million where he’s nothing more than a speck on the horizon.

And no, before you ask. He hasn’t managed to lose me yet!

Posted in Family Stuff, the Alps | Tagged , , , , , , | 19 Comments

Harvest time (at last)

The wet and cold weather we had throughout the spring meant that all our crops were late this year. But all that water is certainly paying off now.

My husband dusted off the communal combine harvester yesterday and started on the oats.  Surprisingly, it looks like we’re going to have a record year.

We’re having to look for solutions to stock the surplus.

And that certainly makes a nice change!

Posted in Farming, Nature | Tagged , , , , , | 13 Comments

Bastille Day

Yesterday was the 14th July which I think is one of France’s better bank holidays.

Better because it falls during the holiday period and we usually have good weather for it. This year there was also the added bonus of fireworks.

One of the local villages, home to all of 90 people, put on a firework display they can be proud of.

So for once we were lucky enough to have some great fireworks almost on our doorstep. Even if they didn’t last very long…

Posted in Family Stuff, Photography, Village Life | Tagged , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Anyone for a swim?

I apologise for the title of this post if it’s a bit misleading.

Because even on the hottest days, I never get any further than dipping my feet into most of these lakes.

I’d love to swim, but the problem is I have issues with cold water and…

… as the temperature hovers somewhere between 5 – 12°C, I’m too much of a wuss.

In fact, I’ve never managed to go in higher than my knees.

So all things considered, a title such as “My favourite mountain lakes” would probably have been more appropriate.

Posted in Landscapes, Photography, the Alps | Tagged , , , , , , | 5 Comments