Out in the sticks

Hello and welcome to the latest blog in the Olivia Rose Diaries on 3rd December 2021.

Autumn reflections on the pond.

We arrived at our latest housesit in sleeting rain and strong winds under a leaden sky. As we turned off the lane and down the rough track which we hoped led to the farmhouse that we would be looking after for the next two and a half weeks it turned to snow. Winter had finally arrived.

Our new home is situated on the foothills of the Montagne Noire, a forty minute drive east of Toulouse, and in the middle of nowhere even by our standards. We have quite a menagerie to care for: two geese, a turkey, two seperate enclosures of chickens. Then we have a goat, two miniature sheep, ten breeding rabbits, a host of feral cats who slink into the barn at night for the cat food we leave for them, and last, but by no means least, is Layla, a Pyrenean guarding dog, a gentle giant of a dog who mostly stays outside but is allowed into the house for a few hours in the evenings.

She’s the size of a St Bernard and when she leans against you she almost knocks you over.

We hadn’t expected a turkey and I found myself quite mesmerised by him. Male turkeys are called ‘gobblers’ due to the distinctive sound they make to announce themselves to females or to compete with other males. Our turkey makes this sound when we go into the enclosure so I’m not sure which catagory we fall into. They also puff up their impressive tail feathers for the same reason.

The latin name of our boy is ‘Meleagris gallopavo’ but I decided to call him Terence. I have a thing about alliteration when naming animals. I don’t know why and I can’t seem to stop myself doing it.

Apart from gobbling turkeys have over twenty distinct vocalisations and are both intelligent and highly sociable, creating lasting bonds. He is an impressive bird, not just because of his size, but also because of the depth of colour and sheen of his plumage. And then parts of him are just weird, which lends to the fascination. The dangly apendage on his face is called a ‘snood’ (remember Doctor Who and the Snoods?) whilst the red wobbly bits under his chin are called the wattle. Apparently females are attracted to males with the longest snoods. Size matters if you are a turkey.

We had sunshine on one day of our first week here, otherwise it has been been grey, cold, wet and miserable. The animals and birds need to be fed twice a day and so we have been getting wet on a regular basis. It brings back memories of our eight years on our smallholding in Wales. Now, as then, the animals would always do something to make braving the weather worthwhile, even if it is just a gobble.

I’ll leave you with some pictures of our new family and see you next week. Hope all is well.

Goat enjoying the sunshine.
Not been given a name….yet.
Very tame sheep. This one likes to chew trousers. When she gets bored of that she climbs up your leg and has a go at the toggles on your jacket.
Guess what this is?
And here is your answer. Some sort of bracket fungi. I’d give it the name of ‘Velvet lips’ after a Botox session.
One of the wild cats.

And that is it for this week.

Take care. MJ

8 thoughts on “Out in the sticks

  1. Good luck with your latest housesit. The weather is truly awful although a bit warmer today. From our wood we can just see the Montagne Noire on a clear day. I presume Terence isn’t destined for Christmas lunch. He is rather splendid.

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  2. Loving the blog, missing being out in France as weather in Anglesey not too good, wet and cold.
    Still better than spending winter in the crane slings.
    Love your photos.
    Best wishes
    Sandra & Bryan

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