Thursday, December 03, 2009


It’s all green lights, this job ! Some years back, when I had a “proper” job, I remember a colleague who used to stride meaningfully along the corridors, a couple of A4 files clamped tightly under his elbow, giving the impression of being busily efficient. If you caught his eye, he’d smile broadly and say, “it’s all green lights, this job,” as he disappeared quickly into the distance. I often pondered what he meant. Did he mean that he was perpetually busy, with ne’er a moment to take breath? or was he suggesting that it was all plain sailing, that wonderful feeling when cruising along in town at 30 mph, seemingly synchronised with the traffic lights, so gliding through each successive set on green?


Perhaps it was both. It seemed that way last week when we had the kind and industrious help of a couple of volunteers, Stuart and Debbie. They arrived Sunday evening, all the way from Holland. Monday morning Stuart and I took the pigs to the abattoir and when we got back, Gabrielle and Debbie joined us for a first look at the woods, getting down to work after lunch.


Apart from an afternoon off for good behaviour, we all worked solidly for the week, both in the wood and processing the sides of pork once we’d collected them on the Wednesday morning: slicing, sawing and parcelling up of chops and joints, making pâté, eating devilled kidneys for lunch and chilli liver for tea and making no less than 260 sausages.


There is a tremendous change to the hectare of pines that we have to clear before the end of January to qualify for our subsidy. The branches of the trees we’re keeping need to be cut off to a height of 6 metres and then several trees felled. Our next helper arrives next Tuesday, for a week. Graham is qualified to use a chainsaw and we’ll concentrate on felling. Then we have Paul and Liam (also chainsaw chappies) coming in January, who’ll hopefully mop up what’s left.


We worked so hard, I forgot to take any photos of Debbie and Stuart. These photos, taken today, show the effects of their and our efforts. The traffic light photo is of three of our chillies, taken during the summer.


We're not the only ones working hard. The last photo shows Henri (carpenter by trade) and Sébastien (electrician) perched in the loading bucket, with Irick (retired mason) behind the wheel. They're hanging up the Christmas lights in the village. Irick parks by a lamppost and lifts Henri and Séb to light-hanging height. They're all doing it for the commune in their spare time, using a Manuscope borrowed from a local farmer and with apparently no concern for health and safety considerations!

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