Monday, April 25, 2011

What didn't we do last week?

It's 7am and another beautiful day is beginning and before it completely gets away from me, I wanted to give a brief update.
First of all, my Mom and Gary arrived a little over a week ago and were put to work immediately clearing old vine roots, gardening, setting tile, hanging cabinets, prepping paint, you name it. I still cannot believe how they barely let the 9-hour jet lag (not-to-mention, 7-hour drive from Paris immediately following their 13-hr flight) slow them down. I'm calling them "super seniors" from now on as they wake up ready and willing to take any and all tasks we throw at them and I'm sure they are going to need a vacation from their "vacation" soon. Fortunately, they do plan to go to Italy for a week or so and can hopefully relax and get their strength for Phase II.

Phase I having been just completed last Saturday when Hank was finally able to hook up the kitchen sink.  We still have plaster and paint touch ups to finish, as well as hanging curtains, decorating, etc., but we have a kitchen for the first time in 4 1/2 months! There's new electrical, plumbing, cabinetry, a sweet oeil de beouf window, and cathedral ceilings with exposed wood beams. Not only is it beautiful, looking almost exactly the way Hank envisioned it, it is surprisingly functional for it's size.  I still have to stop myself from schlepping the dinner dishes down the hallway into the laundry room sink out of habit or looking for plates and utensils in the living room, but given time, I'm sure I will eventually adjust.

We also began our kitchen garden after having hand "plowed" the the fields with the help of Patrick's rototiller. We have been fortunate to have him here to share information and give advise with just about everything pertaining to the maintenance of Petit Clos. He is the kind man who keeps his two horses and a donkey on our property in exchange for helping maintain some of it. But he does so much more really. When I voiced interest in having a garden, I'm pretty sure he tried hiding his disbelief that this city girl could do it so he generously offered his assistance that I readily took when he unexpectedly arrived the same afternoon that my mom was due to arrive. As I have learned by now, you must grab situations as they present themselves and in this case, he was offering his time and expertise so I jumped on it knowing that I would be a muddy mess by the time my mom arrived.

He measured and lined up our rows of tomatoes, green beans, pommes de terre (potatoes), eschalots, (shallots) framboise (raspberries), strawberries and radis (radish) with the precision of a professional surveyor. If I would place a seed barely outside of the line, he would be sure to relocate it to the proper place. My only regret about our method of planting was that it was nearly impossible to communicate to him that I also desired an aesthetically pleasing garden layout so this year it looks like I'm going to have to settle for a more industrial looking garden which is actually probably a lot more practical since we may seriously have to consider being self-sufficient on this farm if I don't get some work soon.

The week was also incredibly rewarding because Patrick also assisted us in setting our large burning pile on fire which in turn allowed us to enhance the view and roughly set up our "Sunset Plaza" dining area where we have enjoyed a few bbq's overlooking the grape vines and admire the incredible coucher de soleil.

We let the workers off on Wednesday and took them to La Roque Gageac, Beynac and Dome and after lunch, rented canoes on the Dordogne.

Lastly, we acquired our lovely brown laying hens. As usual, Hank and I found ourselves in a sort of surreal french farm situation when again, Patrick dropped by out of the blue and offered to take us to the property where he resides and the owner, a woman named Christine, assisted us in picking out chickens. First of all, while walking by rows and rows of caged pigeons, rabbits and chickens, I'm pretty sure that I complicated the transaction after attempting to converse with Patrick's girlfriend by telling her how I much I enjoyed preparing lapin (this being one of the few french sentences I was confident enough to sputter out since I had recently learned how to cook rabbit). She then tried translating what I said to Christine, telling her that we were looking for chickens to eat rather than laying eggs, which I then attempted to correct in French. By the time we left, all I sort of knew was that we had just purchased 5 chickens (for eating or laying, I wasn't quite sure), and that we had no idea of the cost (they would be charged based on weight and we would not know until the following week). Oh, but we knew they were brown chickens.

A few days later, Patrick came by with the hens and all I can say is they are not the cutest chickens in the world (having long, stringy and featherless necks), but they do lay some beautiful and tasty brown eggs. Of course, since acquiring them, I cannot help but notice everyone else's beautiful and brightly colored chickens roaming in their yards so the jury is still out on whether these will be laying chickens or eatin' ones.

So, today we are scheduled to go to our third vide grenier (garage sale) and hopefully meet up with some new acquaintances who run a B&B down the road. Tomorrow it's off to the big city (Bordeaux) to buy lots of paint at Brico Depot. I'm feeling like there is definitely a end in sight and looking forward to having some of our first clients who have kindly offered to be our first guinea pigs when they make their honeymoon journey from Paris to Spain sometime near the end of May.


  1. The Kitchen Looks Great! I love that you gave mom a break from work with some canoeing. Add some spices to that garden. Europe could use a Petterson brand salsa and for that matter a good taco stand. Hope all is well, and hope to see ya soon.


  2. What a great post! loved the pictures, the kitchen is beautiful and the garden is going to be perfect (put some lavender and rosemary for some charm). Enjoy your chickens. Cannot wait to visit. Arlette