Several visitors to the farm have asked me what the ‘Fragnes’ in its name, ‘Les Fragnes’, stands for? And these visitors have been French! If they don’t know, then there’s not much hope for me. We had a theory that it might mean ‘hovel’ since there were two of them when we bought the place. (I’m glad to say they are hovels no more.) Not so very far away, across the border in Indre, is Le Fragne. I took the kids there for a look around, but I didn’t spot one of anything that we have two or more of here. So I conclude that ‘Fragnes’ is just a name.
There are other mystifying names on our farm. These belong to the animals which the children are usually responsible for naming. There has been The Big Cheese (a rabbit), Panic Attack (a duck), Dreadnought (another duck), Evil Twin (a cat) and Leopard (a bantam). The currently best-named animals are Nestlé Moschops the dog and Majority the hen.
Since The Big Cheese we’ve given up naming the rabbits. They’re not pets, shall we tactfully say? I originally had a very organised plan of naming each litter with a particular letter of the alphabet, working our way through systematically. Letter A went well, as the buns all looked different from each other. However, next came a litter of clones which made it trickier. Then we sadly lost a couple of litters. Should we count those in the alphabetical run through? The system crumbled. So these days the latest female to have babies is always Momma Bun and if we give names at all to the offspring, they’re pragmatic ones like ‘And Gravy’, ‘Curried’ or ‘Tagliatelle’. (Do try Gordon Ramsay’s rabbit tagliatelle, by the way. Excellent.) We’re currently running down our stock of bunnies as we’re not especially fond of rabbit, apart from the tagliatelle dish, and they’re a lot of work.
Our first two turkeys were suitably and purposefully called ‘Cranberry Sauce’ and ‘Stuffing’. But since then we haven’t named them beyond temporary nicknames. At the moment we have White Turkey and Black Turkey. Black Turkey should really be Grey Turkey as she’s a dinde grise, but compared to our other turkey, she’s black! Both have been laying eggs for us, so they’re no longer oven-bound. Black Turkey is broody at the moment, sitting on three duck’s eggs which may be fertile. We had two batches of bantlings last year i.e. ducklings hatched and brought up by bantams. Will this year see turklings?
Our guinea pigs began with a gem theme, with Amber, Ruby and Jasper. We diverged slightly into fossils, Ammonite, and then an astromonical theme took over – Supernova, Stardust. Since then it’s become a free for all. We have Poorly Pig who was attacked by a cat when she was tiny and was very poorly for a while: there’s Archer, Mario, Blackberry and Scratchy – the latter because she is. Amongst the poultry we have Sham, Puma, Matilda, Hotel (he’s a duck and his mate was Tokio – but she flew away! If you don’t get that reference, then ask any tweens or teens in your household.)
The llamas and alpacas mostly have sensible names – Katrina, Ciara, Oscar and Bernard, for example. More unusual is Windermere Lady Coulemelle – but we didn’t come up with that one. She was prenamed by llama breeder Bernard Morestin. He called her Windermere after the lake and Coulemelle because she was an October baby and there were coulemelles (a type of mushroom) growing in the fields. She was also a similar colour. I think he added Lady because it sounded nice. We also have Lulin, named after the comet that was in orbit over the earth when she was born. It’s a cool name for a llama.
So what’s in a name? Quite a lot on our farm!