Week 2 on the farm……horse coiffure


Vianne, Twiggy and Bertie await the grooming....

Vianne, Twiggy and Bertie await their grooming….

These 3 are getting a groom today, manes, coats and hooves. Checking for ticks is also on the agenda…..oooo lovely! The sun came out for us today too….

Twiggy being led by Stellla

Twiggy being led by Stellla

Stella came along form a neighbouring farm to handle the equines. If anyone is going to get a good grooming then Stella is the one to do it. I really admired her handling of these large animals, very calm, very skilful and very kind.

Searching for tics

Searching for ticks on Twiggy

Last week Stella applied the tick medicine, a bit like applying frontline on dogs, it had to be applied along the spine of the horse and on the bottom part of its legs (fetlocks?). Last week before the medicine was applied, she found loads of ticks, this week – not too many. Stella also gave Twiggy a bathe of her eye which seemed a bit runny, cleaned her other eye being careful not to reinfect, and nostrils too. Twiggy really loved that part and was almost falling asleep.

Detangling and brushing Twiggy's mane

Detangling and brushing Twiggy’s mane

It was getting quite warm by now. Stella is using a special brush and a spray to help detangle the mane. After this the mane and tail were lovely and luxurious. ‘Losty’ the Billy Goat kept trying to get in on the act – so he’s getting a brush too.

Still searching for ticks

Still searching for ticks

The ticks seem to congregate under the chin and in the armpits. Stella uses a special piece of equipment to remove them and then drops the engorged ticks into water to die. They have to be killed otherwise they’ll jump back on the animals and yes you’ve guessed it – cause all sorts of bad things…….

Bertie the donkey showing his teeth

Bertie the donkey showing his teeth

Bertie giving Stellla a big kiss! She deserved it after all the brushing, de-ticking and general grooming she gave Bertie – he loved it!

There he is looking gorgeous

There he is looking gorgeous

Next up was Vianne – she really enjoyed the brushing and hoof clean up

Stella cleaning Viannne's hoof

Stella cleaning Viannne’s hoof

Stella uses a special hoof cleaning tool to dig out the mud around the ‘frog’ . There is a little brush attached to brush mud off the hoof.  Apparently you don’t do this when it’s muddy in case you brush mud into a cut which could cause an infection. She did a fantastic job – All the animals say “Thanks Stella we’re looking forward to your next visit!”


What I bought at the market today….

Ingredients for leek vinaigrette with poached egg and bacon

Ingredients for Leeks in vinaigrette with poached egg and Jambon de Bayonne – use whole grain mustard in the vinaigrette

We went to the big local market on Saturday at Sante Foy Le Grande on the banks of the River Dordogne in the Gironde Department. It’s a really good local market, we were told it was the best in the area. It was a bit chilly that day, luckily there were a number of second hand clothing stalls so we were both able to buy a few jumpers for a couple of euros each!  At a second hand book stall I found Rachel Khoo’s ‘Little Paris Kitchen’ – so I was set up for the day and knew what to cook.

I found ‘Poireaux vinaigrette avec oeuf poché et jambon de Bayonne‘ and was able to get all the ingredients at the market. Jambon de Bayonne is named after the city in SW France. It goes through a number of processes of salting and spice rubbing and air drying to bring out the sweetness. You could use Parma ham or Serrano ham too. Unfortunately I asked for ham ‘épais’ (thick) cut and not ‘mince’ (thin) cut. Never mind, it turned out fine in the end, apart from the poached egg being overcooked that is! But hey, I’m not on Masterchef!

Washed down with some lovely local white wine Cotes de Duras.

The Llamas……

One of the female llamas

One of the female llamas

Nikki has five llamas on her farm. A family unit of parents and children. All the males have been castrated. They haven’t spat at us either! When we said we were going to be looking after Llamas many people asked us that question. They only seem to spit very occasionally and at each other – as a kind of discipling system in their pack order. The horribleness of the spit depends on which part of the stomach they decide to use. They rarely have any spats but on one occasion two of the males had a little spitting and running spat. Jon was in the way – but they stopped abruptly very near him – so that was lucky!

One of the male llamas

One of the male llamas

Llamas are used nowadays quite often for trekking and I suppose that figures if they were bred as a pack animal. They all like to stay together. Apparently llamas are intelligent animals and they can learn simple tasks after a few repetitions. This is born out by them being able to open the lids off their own food bins and know exactly where to stand in order to get their hay. They love dust baths!

Grazing llamas

Grazing llamas in France, east of Bordeaux

We think they are very like camels and I’ve just read on Wikipedia that they are from the camel family. Theses llamas are very quiet and gentle and don’t make much noise apart from a kind of muted ‘mwah’ like sound on occasion, normally when we are a bit slow in getting their food ready. They’re eating mainly fresh hay.

Another llama

llama and goat grazing together

Nikki doesn’t shear her llamas, so they are kept quite cool in summer and warm in winter as their coats act as great insulation. Llamas are originally from South America and were bred for meat and as pack animals by Andean cultures. Llamas typically live for 15-25 years. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Llama. The wool produced by the llamas is very soft and lanolin-free. DSC_0068

Everyone says ‘How do you do…”

Sengwa - the taupe coloured Vyrama dog

Sengwa – the beautiful, sensitive, taupe coloured Weimaraner dog

This is Nikki’s favourite! He is so gentle and so big and thus named after a great river in Zimbabwe. Powerful and intelligent, originally bred by royalty for hunting large game such as boar, bear and deer. Not the top dog though – that status is reserved for this little creature:

Little Gwaai - one of the females in the household

Little Gwaai – one of the females in the household

Gwaai, a cross jack russell, is only a quarter the size of Sengwa but is able to dominate him. She is named after a little river in Zimbabwe.

The ginger tom - 'Whiskas'

The ginger tom – ‘Whiskas’

Whiskas is the most adorable tomcat. He is so affectionate and loves having his tummy tickled!

Standing guard

Standing guard

Gwaai and Sengwa taking the sun

Gwaai and Sengwa taking the sun

Meet the animals…..

The friendly goat

The friendly Billy goat

We really didn’t know what to expect when we said we’d look after Nikki’s animals, on her farm, east of Bordeaux – here’s a pic of one of the friendliest goats we’ve ever met! He follows you around everywhere and likes a cuddle. But oh so disruptive! Nikki said you have to get the feeding routine in the proper order and “Don’t forget to lock up the goats or they’ll eat everyone else’s food” – well yes they did and chaos reigned, but only for one day I hasten to say, now we’ve got it sorted!

Braying Bertie

Braying Bertie

Now we’ve got to know Bertie a bit better, he likes a really good brush. At first he ignored me but now he’s got to know us. He makes an incredible noise – a very loud and very insistent braying takes place as soon as he hears food is on its way.

The pony

The pony called ‘Vianne’

This lovely natured pony also likes being brushed. She can only graze outside during the day and has to be brought in off the prairie at night into a stable because she suffers from ‘Laminitus’ which is a serious disease of the  hooves, causing tenderness and inflammation.

'Lostie' with Jon

‘Lostie’ with Jon, he follows him around

Nikki said the two goats just appeared on her farm – somebody just dumped them there. They must have known she would look after them, she thinks they were from a petting farm as one of them is very used to being handled. I must admit when he first came running over to us we were a bit scared – because of the horns! But he’s okay.

One of the big guys!

One of the big guys!

Here’s one of the Llamas – also a bit scary at a first because they’re so big! They’re more like camels than anything else, but very quiet and gentle. They don’t like any sudden movements or noises and don’t make much noise themselves. We’re not sure which one t this is and if Nikki is reading this blog “What’s this one called?” Is it Carlos or Pedro?

More about the animals on another post – the internet connection is very slow!

Clive Ponting at Parisot Literary Festival

An alternative view of the causes of World War I

A controversial and alternative view of the causes of the First World War

Parisot, the village near us, in SW France, commemorated the centenary of the First World War by inviting writer and historian and ex MOD man, Clive Ponting to the annual Literary Festival to talk about his book ‘Thirteen Days: The Countdown to the Great War’.  10 million military personnel and 7 million civilians died in this war and many were horribly wounded. Could this war have been avoided? Clive Ponting puts forward a controversial analysis of the causes of the First World War suggesting that bad decisions,  bad communication and railway timetables were influential in causing the war.

Coming from an ex MOD senior civil servant, you get the impression that Ponting really understands the war machine, war plans and how nations end up declaring war.

Ponting demolishes a number of long held views about the causes of the First World War. He rejects the demonisation of Germany as held out in the Treaty of Versailles where the blame for the war was pinned on Germany. He rejects that Europe was politically at loggerheads so war was inevitable, and he rejects the arms race argument – all these reasons usually held up as meaning that a world war in Europe was inevitable.

Ponting points to what was happening in the Balkans as the real causes of the First World War – outlining Austro-Hungray’s desire to cripple Serbia instead of negotiating, and to Russia stepping up its military expansion.

Clive Ponting outside the old Bailey 1984

Clive Ponting outside the old Bailey 1984 after being acquitted

Clive Ponting is a writer, historian and former senior civill servant with the MOD, best known for leaking documents about the sinking of the Argentine warship the Belgrano during the Falklands War in 1982.  The documents revealed that the Belgrano was retreating and not attacking when it was sunk by the British navy. He went to trial under the Official Secrets Act but was acquitted by the jury. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clive_Ponting