Looking back over 2017

Looking back over 2017

We have achieved a lot, which gave us a good feeling. We had planned to do more but, as with all plans, they get modified as you move forward and problems occur which need to be addressed and solved or, as I have found, time supplies the solutions and it’s just how you adapt yourself.
I had started to convert the downstairs bathroom, study & W/C into a bedroom and en suite in 2016, then as the new year 2017 started I got back into it and spent the next 3 months finishing it off. I had planned to finish the steps and pathway that I had been building in the summer/autumn of 2016 but, as I said, plans change. Mrs K decided she would like to get some chickens, “just four little chicks” … Chicken Paradise. … Well four turned into seven: one adult Coucou de Rennes, two Faverolles and four Blue and Gold Marans. The plan was that as I had too much work planned, the best option would be to buy a ready made chicken coop, so we scanned the internet and found what we thought would be perfect. We had not acquired the chickens at this stage, just preparing to buying the coop.
Hen House
Chicken Coop to house 6
The description said the coop was big enough for six chickens. Well, when it arrived and we assembled it, yes big enough for six small chickens, so my planned work suddenly changed with a chicken coop being made the priority.
Mrs K had arranged to adopt an adult Coucou de Rennes that was being bullied by a cock and was in a bad way with both shoulders plucked of all it’s feathers. We collected the coucou chicken, and at this point I need to say “we have never had any chickens before”. We placed her in the coop, gave her some food and was just about to put some water in when she made a quick escape and into the cow field that’s next to our house. After 45 minutes we had managed to catch her. We had only owned the chicken 30 second before she got free and was running around in a cow field with freshly dumped soggy cow pats. Not my idea of fun, but we had a good laugh about it after we caught her.
The Coucou de Rennes are a fairly large chicken and this is when we decided that the coop would not be large enough. As I mentioned we had arranged to buy 4 Marans and would be picking them up when they would be 7 weeks old, in around 5 weeks time. Mrs K found out as much as she could about keeping chickens, we just want the chickens for the eggs they produce. I had seen images of a coop that I considered a good way of protecting them from Mr Raynard at night. It did not take too long before I had the skeleton constructed
Bones to the Chicken Shack
The bare bones to the Chicken Shack
with a roosting area that has a ladder that you pull up at night to make it secure, so even if Mr Raynard manages to get into the coop he cannot get to the chickens. After another 2 weeks work I had the coop finished. I just needed to make a walled base to sit it on. A few concrete blocks and some concrete washing post that I had removed from the garden earlier made the perfect base. I had constructed the coop on a relatively flat part of our garden; the problem I had would be to move it into its final position. Two friends from Gouarec Ruthy baby and Barry came over to help us move it. I had planned to move it using four sack trucks, one on each corner, but when it came to it, this was just not going to work. Barry came to my rescue. He had two four-wheeled flat bed movers and thought that they would solve the problem. A scaffold plank under each end and the flat bed movers had the coop moved and in position within an hour – job complete. A very big thank you to Ruth & Barry.

Mrs K had decided that her favourite breed of chickens was the Faverolle. Having contacted a breeder asking if he had 4 that she could buy, he said that sorry but no. We then arranged to buy 4 Blue & Gold Marans, but would have to wait. Mrs K was then contacted to say that 2 Faverolles were available, so off we went to pick up the Faverolles. This is how the original 4 grew into 7 chickens. We had been told that when you get new chickens before integrating them with other chickens you keep them separate for a while, so they become used to one another. The Coucou (now named Mavis) had the website coop and the Faverolles the new coop. We then found out that larger chickens pick on the smaller ones, so until they are about the same size you have to keep them separate. So, 2 weeks later when we picked up the Marans, we would have to keep all three breeds apart until they reached adulthood (20/26 weeks) or similar stature. We had concerns about Mavis, as having been picked on we wondered if she was too traumatised ever to lay again. We waited 2 weeks for her to settle in her new environment with no egg arriving. Mrs K read about Cayenne pepper and how it encourages laying. “It works!” After a little added pepper to her food egg production started and has continued. We kept the chicks apart for best part of the summer and then integrated them all in the main coop and now we have egg-laying chickens. We have put a wire fence around the two coops which has become their … Chicken Paradise.

A French Potager

I had been asked by a very good friend in the village, as we are both keen gardeners, if I would be interested in working a piece of land that another friend had on the outskirts of the village. He suggested maybe we could use it to grow some extra vegetables…..to read more click…..A French potage

Next Job the Plateau


When we had the Fosse installed we were left with a mess. I will not go into it, suffice to say, when you want Still a lot to dosomething done and you can do it yourself, just get on and do it. After we levelled off the area we now call “the plateau”, we attempted to lay a lawn from seed without success, so I had a look on the internet and after a few inquires foundNantes Gazon and a guy called Benjamin Grossel. I can highly recommend him if you want grass turf. The quality and delivery service is exceptional. It comes at a price but, in my opinion, a very reasonable price and top quality turf. I needed around 100 sq mtrs. With the ground prepared (I only just finished it on the morning of delivery) I started to lay the turf. The turf comes in 1 sq mtr rolls 40 cm x 2500 cm; it took me 3 days to lay the whole area. It has now transformed the view from our patio and turned what was a mess into what will become a lovely seating area for 2018.

Le vieux chaval dessiner charrue

The plough in need of restoration

Our two friends from Gouarec Ruthy baby and Barry were very lucky on a trip to their local dechetterie: they noticed a chaval dessiner charrue (an old horse drawn plough). They asked the attendant if it was for sale and was told they could have it at no charge.
The plough from Le Forge
They quickly loaded it into their trailer and home they went. They restored it and have it as a garden feature. I took a liking to it and thought if ever I came across one, I would see if I could get it. Having laid the lawn I wanted to try and keep the moles away. Looking on the internet we saw an advert for “sonic mole deterrents” at a reasonable price and not too far away. When we pulled up outside we saw an old plough in a bit of a state but, with a bit of hard work, it could be restored. We bought the mole deterrents and I mentioned that if they ever wanted to sell the plough I would be interested at a sensible price.The couple then said they were off to Spain at the end of the month and would have a talk about how much they thought it was worth and contact us soon, which they did, and we eventually agreed a price. The plough was in a need of repair, and even one of the wheels had a section completely corroded away.
The restored plough in the garden
I was told about a scrapyard not far from Herve, called Le Forge. We found a badly damaged plough, parts of which I could make use of for restoration. I managed to spend a few hours here and there removing all the rust and damaged parts of the plough, and renewing the wheels and wheel caps. A few new coats of paint and I had it restored and it is now in our garden. Another job sorted.
Garlic, Onions and Jersey Royals
I have planted my Autumn garlic ready for next year. The garlic and onions that I grew in my raised beds this year were very good. The red and white onions grew to a fair size; the spring sown garlic were on the small size but very strong and juicy. I had a lovely crop of around 100. It was the first time I have grown garlic and I have now read that they are better sown in the autumn, which allows for root growth, which is supposed to be reflected in the size that the cloves grow to, but time will tell. The french gardeners that I have spoken to only plant in the spring, I am going to plant some spring garlic as well.
We have had a very good and productive 2017 and we are looking forward to 2018 and finishing off the steps, pathway and plateau walls.

The harvest from the raised bed..Garlic and Red & White Onions

Au revoir for now.


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One Reply to “Looking back over 2017”

  1. Hi.
    I hope you are both well and everything is going really well over there? Sorry I haven’t been in touch.
    I hope you had a lovely Christmas and wishing you a very Healthy Happy 2018.
    Love Julie (Brighton) xxx

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