Thursday, November 12, 2020

Lockdown diaries, two weeks and counting

French Village lockdown diaries shopping local chickens
Shopping for leeks and onions on my bike

Day fourteen, Thursday 12th November 2020

Shopping local

Today’s local shop by bike was one of two parts, moules from the Ile de Ré delivered fresh to the village and vegetables from Espoir Nature, an association based in one of our local hamlets. All we needed today were some onions and leeks, but one look at the produce on offer, and I’m sure we will buy more next time. 

French Village lockdown diaries shopping local chickens
Fresh vegetables from Espoir Nature

Their prices are comparable to the supermarkets and they have just started a weekly basket scheme where they have teamed up with other local producers. For 12.90€ they offer two options. The first is to select six items for your basket from a list that includes vegetables, herbs, fruits, eggs and cheese. The second option is for a recipe basket, where you get all the veggie ingredients and the recipe for a particular dish, and you just need to add the meat. Adrian couldn’t resist trying a jar of a locally produced pate as a treat this week, but next week I think I will be adding a local goat cheese to the order for my treat. If you are local, you can find more information on their website here.

Mixed basket

Recipe basket


French Village lockdown diaries shopping local chickens
The last three chickens enjoying the orchard in April

Au revoir to the last chicken

I have a bit of sad news. Yesterday we lost the last of the chickens to old age and although we do still have one old goose and one ancient duck, this is the first time in almost fifteen years that there hasn’t been at least one chicken roaming in our orchard. Keeping birds came about rather by accident when a male Muscovy duck took up residence in the orchard. We named him Yum Yum and bought him a hareem of six white females who he happily bonded with and they spent many happy years together. We sadly lost him at a great old age, to a broken heart, just days after the last of his white ladies died. 


Adrian had been reluctant at first to add chickens, but once we’d got used to having ducks, they seemed the obvious next step. Over the years many birds have come and gone, some naturally, some we lost to predators and some we were brave enough to serve at our table. This phase didn’t last long, but as meat eaters who were becoming increasingly concerned about where our meat was coming from, it felt right at the time. 


The chickens especially have always been great fun to sit and watch as they scratched and pecked around, with their heads down and bottoms in the air as they diligently searched the ground for any morsal. A quick call in the evenings and they would come running to me, and in the early days before we fenced off the potager, they would happily spend all day with me when I was out there weeding. Cherry picking was another of their favourite occupations, not just content to clear the windfalls, they would flap up to the lower branches and pick the tastiest of fruits from the tree, leaving their faces and combs stained an alarming deep purple. 


These last few years we have let their numbers dwindle naturally. As we went into the first lockdown in March, we still had three chickens, the duck and the goose, and although I will miss their antics and their eggs, it feels right not to replace them. Our lives have changed, and we have realised the more animals you have to look after, the more difficult it is to get away on the bikes.

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