Well, I left you on New Year’s Eve just as I was about to brave the violent storm and go across the courtyard to select some wine. I managed to successfully make the cave and get the wine. We had a lovely meal and full of steak and wine Mrs. Parish and I settled in front of the fire ready to watch “Le Plus Grande Cabaret du Monde” our crazy French cabaret show. However, the wind was so violent that it disrupted the signal to our satellite dish and so all we could see was a mass of wavy lines and messages telling us what we already knew, that there was a problem with accessing the channel. Even English TV accessed through a different satellite was disrupted and so we gave up and turned to the whisky!

So, a violent start to the year and to this blog which I have been writing weekly since we moved to France in August 2012. This is now volume 6 for 2018. I had a look at the previous 5 volumes and found that I have written some 388,539 words and as well as reporting on the animals that live with us and make our lives more challenging, I have also covered French history, food and culture as well as touching on politics, philosophy and quantum physics. An eclectic mix all of which makes living in France such a great experience. Hopefully 2018 will bring more excitement and craziness. I am sure the hens and cats will do their bit to help fill the columns.

As such, the start of the year put the animals centre stage. The storms continued over the first week of the New Year and we feared that the chickens might be vulnerable and we might get a repeat of last year when the hen house was blown over. We decided to put the hens into the old hen house that we now use as a wood store. This is where the hens sometimes go to lay their eggs so it was not so much of a problem encouraging them to go there as it got dark. Normally, the hens make their way down the garden to the orchard and take themselves to bed. We just cut them off and bribed them with some mashed potato and it was fine. As it happened we had acted just at the right time as on New Year’s Day we found that the hen house had indeed blown over.

With weather set to continue and with the likelihood of it getting colder we decided to move the hen house up to the courtyard next to the gite, where it would get some shelter. The problem is that the hen house is now in a position that the hens don’t recognise and where they do not want to go, even with bribes. Last evening, Mrs. Parish came in to tell me that the hens were having none of it and would keep running away down the garden to the orchard. Once there they got quite confused as there was no hen house in the usual position.

Hen wrangling

So, the two of us attempted to round up the hens and to drive them back up the garden to the courtyard. The hens did not want to go that way and kept doubling back with a lot of squawking and indignant moaning. We would drive them up and almost to the hen house and then one would break away and all three would run in different directions. After about 20 minutes the cats alerted by all the noise came to see what was going on and decided that they should join in the fun. Of course, them running at the hens did not help and more running around and swearing was not succeeding. One of the hens ran under the hedge and stayed there out of sight.

We then noticed that all the cows in the next field had turned up and were looking over the fence and I think laughing at the crazy English people and their hens. By this time, it was starting to get dark and we feared that we may lose the hens in the darkness and have to conduct a torch light chase. After bribery and all out rushing techniques had dismally failed Mrs. Parish turned to subtlety and we crept up on the hens and managed to grab them one by one and put them into the hen’s house. After half and hour of running and diving at hens we were exhausted and had to come in for a sit down and a large drink!

Tonight, thankfully, has been a little easier and bribery worked. Probably, the hens now recognise that it is their hen house but in a different position. At least they should be safe now from any high winds.

At least the game gave Mrs. Parish and I some exercise. The weather has been so awful that we have been virtually housebound and not able to do much outside or even go for a walk. After a Christmas period of excess with loads of food and wine we are in desperate need of a fitness regime to get the weight off.

The cats too need a regime as they have been doing rather well, with lots of treats and eating left overs. This included, lamb, chicken, beef and sausages. They were very pleased although we were worried it may inhibit their mice hunting activities. Moggie seems ok as I saw him run up our hedge after a bird and managed to hang onto the hedge half way up. Unfortunately, I was too slow with the camera!

Hens and Cats await treats

Mind you, the hens have now cottoned onto the cats’ ideas of intimidation to gain food. Either they start to attack the flowers in the window boxes outside the house or they turn up and wait at cat feeding time and threaten the cats’ food. We have to give them something to distract them while the cats are eating. Who knew that Hens could adopt a protection racket approach!

Anyway, our New Year was complete when we had a visit from Emile and Yvette who came around on New Year’s Eve to wish us a bonne annee and to deliver a bottle of Emile’s homemade calva. We promised not to drink it until next year!!

It has been a bit of a quiet week and not much chance to get out and take photographs or to experience life here at La Godefrere. Hopefully the weather will improve and we can emerge from our shelter.

Time for a little supper and some French bread and cheese, with perhaps a small glass of wine.

Bon weekend