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10 years of living with animals

After living with, caring for, feeding and breeding an array of animals here at La Singlarie it has been a steep learning curve. The cycle of life with births and deaths, trips to and visits from the vets it has never been a dull moment a few memories that come to mind of positive and negative things are:

* Don't trust the inherited German Shepherd (she came with the farm) with three pet guinea pigs that have been placed high up in their cage. Two days after we moved in we found out Bella was a prolific ratter and mole catcher and couldn't tell the difference between vermin and pets.

* When buying 6 bantam hens (for sitting on eggs) and a cockerel check that it was you have not 6 cockerels and 1 hen and don't let them out of the box in daylight in a field - they will run.

* Don't buy bantam's when you want eggs, unless you want small eggs and don't buy cockerels they are vicious little blighters and there is no meat on them.

* When you take a old, cancer ridden pet rat to the vets to be put down font feed it along the way with tasty treats - it takes a long time after being given anaesthetic to then put it to sleep.

Robsewe still alive after the rescue remedy incident
* If you give rescue remedy to a sheep- it will pretend to die on you, you will then panic thinking you have killed the sheep, spending the next five minutes given heart massage until it comes round.

* If you farmer tells you not to feed the kitten in the wall listen to him otherwise you get stuck with a cat.

* You have to make quick decisions do you leave your neoprene, fit you like a glove agile wellie in the mud when filling up the cattle feeder (with cattle coming for their hay) or do you lift your foot out of them tugging away as the cattle get nearer. They say mud is good for the skin, my feet have never smelt the same.

* Never turn your back on a ram - they don't like you and will but you till you probably die or they will but you over the electric fence, which in one way is good as you didn't see it coming and are relaxed. You will still hurt and have bruises though. Try and have a sheep bu your side that you can hide behind - or learn to run very fast - or then refuse to go into the sheep field on your own, you may need a farmer for that.

* Get over your queasiness of injections, blood, puss and inside bits and poo. If you don't sort it out it will cost a lot in visiting the vet.

* Always have a stick with you when in a cow field. Cows are very protective of their calves especially when the calf needs to have ear tags and if male a rubber band fitted - if you see a cow looking at you be prepared to move quick for not only will mum come running the whole herd will.

* Part of the birthing process is an animal eating the afterbirth, at first this was a little strange seeing a cow munching on the placenta, not strange at all for  pig as they would eat your right leg (or left ) given the chance.

*All animals like a routine, creatures of habit the cows have their own feeder to come into.

* If you loose your herd of cattle in the woods when you farmer is away run to the entrance of the woods and shout very loudly with a panicky voice their names - and then run really fast when you realise they are coming to you. A stamped of cattle are large beasts and you need to hold the gate open to get them back in the field.

* Donkeys don't like chicken or ducks or dogs come to that a sign being ears back and a charging donkey.

* When moving pigs do it in the morning then you have all day to do so. If you move them of an evening you may not see them move through the electric fence.

* All animals respond to food have a bucket with you when moving pigs, sheep, donkeys even chickens will follow.

* Hunting dogs when at the top of a field following a scent will not respond to food - or shouting - or running after them. Where as a sheep dog is so loyal thus not having to be on  a lead.

*Hunting dogs also cannot be trusted with chicks or chickens, we have had a few deaths due to Milo.

* Beware of cars with said sheep dog, he has no sense of cars and will walk to them rather than getting out of the way.

* You can give your neighbours an evening of entertainment and something to talk about when walking a pig home.

* Piglets are very cute but they grow up. Thankfully we have only had to bottle feed 4 when our sow gave birth to 16 which was too  much for her, the four we did feed were the casualties from here treading on them, once stitched up they had their own pen by the house being fed every four hours morning and night. Little snouts would greet your legs for their bottle as they grew those snouts got very hard and legs got very bruised.

* French pet rabbits are ungrateful when you re home them, after taking in madame noisette, treating her ear canker, feeding her and giving her her own run all she did is escape on a daily basis. Did as in Mr Fox found her one night when I couldn't.

* Don't mess with a broody chicken - they are vicious, you may be able to get away with putting a few extra eggs under her to hatch out but the odds of her not squashing them are very high.

* Don't show a young gite guest and his dad the hatching ducklings under the pampas grass unless you know the mum is not going to eat one of them. Yes I couldn't believe it either,  there  must of been something wrong with it.

* Ducks are noisy, dirty and bonkers but are highly amusing.

* Chickens are not nice, that pecking order is true, if free range the chicken at the bottom can get away but the lizards, mice, small birds, worms and snails that supplement their diet can't.

* All our animals have character, some are in your face, some like to be own their own, some lazy, some noisy or greedy, some are cute.With others being head of the heard and some not giving a care in the world and some only a mother could say were good looking.


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Laguepie chestnut fair

Yesturday was he annual chestnut fair at Laguepie, a small village in the Tarn et Garonne. The sun shone which made for an enjoyable time amberling round the market stalls, drinking coffee and eating hot chestnuts. Traditional dances and muscicians put on a display. In previous years there has been a mushroom display showing edible, toxic and fatal fungi in appropriate coloured boxes of green , red and black (leathel ones). I imagine no mushrooms could be found as it has been dry here for a while.

The many varieties of apples grown locally along with walnuts and chestnuts were laid out on tressel tables, so many different types of apples were displayed. As well as chestnuts for sale there was apple juice being made, which at this time of year many villages and organisations invite you to take your non treated apples along to have them pressed into juice for a small fee. We didn't stay for the set menu lunch, each course is chestnut based so you really have to love your chestnuts.