A French country party

It rained and rained for a fortnight, or it nearly did on my birthday! At last the sun came out and the day began….. Continue reading


New Year’s day lunch at Jollity farm…

Pears with black pudding

Pears with black pudding

It was minus 5 degrees here in the shade of the stable this morning and we had to break the ice in the water troughs for the horses. We gave all the animals extra hay to eat as the fields were frozen.

For lunch we’re having black pudding and pears. The French often pair black pudding with apple, but here’s something a bit different. When our friends (and what great cooks they are) Stuart and Sonya were staying here recently, Stuart cooked spiced pears with the black pudding. He fried the pear quarters in butter and chilli and served them with the fried black pudding. He removed the skin of the black pudding before frying so it’s extra crispy. I shall always cook my black pudding that way now – delicious!

H A P P Y    N E W     Y E A R!

Week 3 on the farm…….

Foundy and Twiggy

‘Foundy’ and ‘Twiggy’

It’s suddenly turned very chilly here now, overnight almost it’s dropped by 10 degrees. All the animals need extra straw bedding in their stables to keep them warm and plenty of hay. It’s very cold in the morning when you start mucking out and feeding but by the time you’ve lugged bales of straw and hay around you soon warm up.

Losty, Twiggy and Bertie the donkey's ears

Foundy the goat, Twiggy – and Bertie the donkey’s  – ears

This is one of the stable areas that Twiggy (the chestnut horse) and Bertie (the donkey) share along with the goats and sheep. The horse and donkey are together all the time, although Twiggy bulllies Bertie a bit at feeding time and tries to eat Bertie’s food. Twiggy is a really large horse about 1.5 metres. They measure horses in metres in France and not hands.

'Losty' the Billy Goat

‘Losty’ the Billy Goat

This is one of the goats that just ‘turned up’ on Nikki’s land. Someone left him there because they know Nikki would look after him. He’s a Billy goat and Nikki said he stank so much you couldn’t go near him, apparently he drank his own urine – I must ask her how he did that? He’s been castrated now and doesn’t smell thank god! In fact he likes nothing more than a good scratch on his neck.

Gwaai and Sengwa

Gwaai and Sengwa

Here they are – little Gwaai and big Sengwa, the best of friends and enjoying the sun. This is what it was like last week. Amazing how suddenly it can change. It was so warm that we’ve had the doors and windows open – a little bat flew in the other night and was flying around the living room for ages…and Jon found a tick on my bottom – aaah the joys of sharing your life with animals…….

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