The hens are up to something! Every morning this week, just after they have been let out of the hen house, they have been seen in a conspiratorial huddle in the courtyard. Normally they go for likely food options, usually they head for the bird feeders. This morning their huddle became just a bit more sinister as it was misty.

It could be because they are moulting and losing feathers at a rate. Emmeline has not been flying over gates in the past week. So, it may be that idle wings make the devil’s work!  All week they have been huddled in a group clearly in deep discussion. I am sure they are planning an escape bid or a break in to the corn store. It reminded me of a quote from Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar:

“Let me have hens about me that are fat,
Sleek-headed hens and such as sleep a-nights.
Yond Emmeline has a lean and hungry look,
She thinks too much; such hens are dangerous”

Conspiratorial hens

The wet weather has also got to the cats who clearly believe that we are now into winter contractual rules. This of course entitles them to longer stays indoors. Usually they are not allowed in until their supper at 9pm. In the colder weather, they get an early entry at least an hour before 9 (earlier if they can convince us it is too cold outside). This can be dangerous as the cats think that once they are inside it must be supper time and so they start their intimidation tactics. These include raking the backs of the sofas with their claws, threatening to knock ornaments to the floor or sitting on the computer/TV router.

It can be a long hour till supper time!

In the week, we had a special offer from one of our garden/DIY stores where we got a 15% discount and so as we always need DIY stuff we went for a morning and bought up loads of things we regularly use. Wood stain. Paint brushes, screws, loads of stuff and with the money we saved we decided to buy a new cat. This time we would select with great care and get a cat that behaved itself and made no demands on us. A cat that didn’t exploit loopholes in the contract. We got one which was a blue colour and with a nodding head. It is now sat on the steps to the cat palace and is no trouble at all. Maybe we should replace the other cats but of course the one thing the new cat doesn’t do is to catch mice! So, Moggie and Archie are safe for now.

The new cat on the block

The weather has taken a turn for the worse and it has been a lot colder and certainly a lot wetter as we have had rain almost every day for the past week. This has meant that the grass is now growing quite fast but we cannot get out to cut it as it is too wet. Having had a brown lawn all summer we now have a lush green lawn but where the grass is far too long. Very frustrating as it means I can’t get out on the tractor mower. Although when it stopped raining for an hour or so I did manage to drive the tractor and trailer down to the big field to get rid a load of hedge clippings on our burning pile.

So, boredom forced me into the idea of tidying up the wine cave and the cat palace. Tidying the wine cave was an essential task as next week is the start of the ^Foire aux vins” (wine fair) at the local supermarkets and this is a chance to buy wine in bulk and to get some good deals. Next Friday we have been invited to the gourmet wine tasting evening at HyperU in Mayenne. Lots of nice food and the chance to taste the wine before you buy!! It was also a chance to box up and store loads of cooking apples from our orchard. The wine rack has now been extended and repositioned, so we are now ready to buy.

We also have extensive lists of wines for the family in the UK. Mrs. Parish is travelling to the UK in November and she will have a car full of wine for all the family. Last year she had to explain to the customs that the wine was for family and she was not in the import/export trade! 

The cat palace is in the old barn that we have between the house and the gite. The upstairs was an old hay loft and every time we go in there we still manage to find bits of hay. It is a magnificent old building with amazing wooden structures put together with wooden joints rather than with screws or nails. A couple of years ago we had the doorway lowered and some stone steps built so we could access it. It became the cat palace as we put in various cat beds so the cats have somewhere sheltered when the weather is bad. It was also a large dumping ground for all sorts of rubbish. With my tidying zeal, all that has been sorted and I have put in some shelving so that stuff we want to store can be organised.

Tidy barn aka the cat palace

We also have a place for our outdoor furniture to over winter and new arrangements for the cats to sleep. As is only right with our odd cats that are ignoring the beds and sleeping on cardboard boxes! But they have a carpeted area with boxes with cushions and their very own duvet. Never in France have outside cats had such luxury. Probably, at least Mrs. Parish says so, never in my life have I been so well organised and tidy!

Mind you we now have a great pile of stuff for the local refuse tip and an equally big pile of stuff to donate to a charity for their next car boot sale.

All this tidying has made me thirsty, so I had better go over to my beautifully organised wine cave and choose something suitable and celebrate tidiness.

Bon weekend