A Bad, Sad Bastille Day

I’m writing this at 3 am. Can’t sleep. Yesterday was a Bad Day. It started off OK in the morning. We went for a family bike ride. We headed into Tercillat, and then took a road we’d never been along before. Along it we came across the steepest hill we’ve met in France in five years … and this, at a place called St Paul.

From the front it looks like a church doesn’t it?

But from the side – barn. So what is it?

It’s both. It’s a barn, and it’s a chapel. Mass is held there every year on St Paul’s day (25th January). I got the information from this website.

Slightly further up the road is a tiny baroque chapel too.

We came across sunflowers. Some looked at us –

some turned their backs!

The rest of the morning was fine too. I had a chilly swim (it’s been a cool July on the whole), and everyone else pottered, and then we had dinner. So when did things go wrong?

The farmer turned up to harvest his crops in the big field. He brought a large entourage with him and one chum parked his car in our garden. Literally. This was ridiculous given that we have a large parking area in front of the houses which was empty apart from our two cars. Chris dealt with that, but our backs were up. Then came a procession of other cars for no clear purpose, hurtling down our drive way too fast. We’ll be putting in speed bumps asap. Axel, the farmer’s son, came to play with Ruadhri, but my youngest son decided to choose then to have a monster tantrum and be remarkably unpleasant. He can be a real handful at times. He ended up being sent to bed. That was exhausting and stressful, so much so that I even did some spring cleaning in the kitchen. I don’t usually voluntarily tidy up. I was clearly in a state.

But the worst was in the evening. The farmers had driven the combine and tractors up from the big field, past the houses and up to another field behind the top lake. But then an hour later they all rumbled back. Not expecting this I’d put the cats back outside. We’d had them indoors with us during the afternoon. Very sadly Mr Smith, the male white kitten out of the four strays Caiti found a month or so ago, was hit and killed. We don’t know exactly when, but we know by whom. One of our anglers had come up for a shower and saw him on the driveway, after the farmers had gone. The kids were distraught, as were Chris and I too. We’re not soppy about animals. You can’t be when you keep livestock.  But this was rotten and unnecessary. Mr Smith was a harmless, happy little animal who hadn’t deserved that.

The only reason the farmers drove their wretched machines back was to park them in the big field overnight, close to the houses for security. I mean, seriously, how likely is a combine to be stolen?

Anyway, we’ve had enough. It’s our farm, our land. The farmers don’t have to turn it into a motorway at harvest time and they can darned well respect our property and our animals. We won’t let Edouard grow any more cereals in that field. It was a favour, but not any more. We’re not having the combine close to the houses again. It can hardly get along the drive or round the corner between our house and the barn anyway.

Live and learn.

How appropriate that I’d taken this photo of one of the tractors before the incident occurred. See the name on the white label?

Goodbye Mr Smith.

Mr Smith with his brother and sisters sitting on Chris in happier times


0 Replies to “A Bad, Sad Bastille Day”

    1. Thank you. We buried Mr Smith this morning and Caiti and are about to go and buy a nice shrub to plant over his grave. When Caiti finally gets out of the shower …

  1. That’s so sad! At least you gave Mr. Smith some love and care when he was with you, which will have made his life better after being dumped..xx

  2. Oh how sad, really sorry especially as you say so needless. Sometimes I do dislike human beings so much and their seemingly disregard for others. Think the farmer will be surprised at your decision, you know the French, but I’m with you in your decision.

    1. Yeah, we’re severely misanthropic at the mo! Farmer has been starting to push it and get a bit contemptuous of what we let him have. I laced into the combine driver this morning, but he wasn’t here last night so not the perpetrator, and I think word has got back to Edouard from him. His dad came to collect the last tractor this morning while I was out with Caiti. By the time Chris had climbed out of our tractor to go and talk to him, the old guy was a cloud of dust!!

    1. Thank you Dorothy. Time to draw some lines in the sand. Sadly this is something you need to do with French people from time to time, so bear it in mind when you come here! It can take a head-on clash to win a bit of respect. X

  3. Oh no, poor Mr Smith and poor you. I think a SERIOUS tongue lashing may be in order. You can’t knock a cat down without knowing about it and the rotten b****** could have at least had the decency to come and tell you. You’re quite right to refuse to let them onto the land again. I would do worse….

    1. Mr Smith was white and easily spottable. It’s horrid. Buried him today with some rosemary. My cousin put that in with my aunt’s ashes. I’m not quite sure of the significance, but I think it’s to do with remembrance. Farmer will prob avoid us for a while, but I’ll be waiting … He’ll learn to be scared of redhaired women!

  4. Oh dear, what a dreadful finish to the day! So sorry about your pussycat. I just have to say that I ran over my neighbours cat a month ago (a favourite cat for me too) … as I was going up the drive, the cat leapt straight under my front wheel, I instantly braked, but that was it. This is to say that cats do sometimes move the wrong way when startled and your farmer might just not have noticed high up on a combine. It’s rather awful to think he might have done it on purpose.

    1. I don’t believe it was anything other than an accident, but it was a totally avoidable and unnecessary one. The farmer had no business bringing the machinery back down in front of the house and should have been a lot more careful.
      I hit a dog once that literally ran into my car from between two parked ones. It’s horrid.

  5. What a pity; you must all be terribly upset. And what a rotten finish to what should have been a happy day. French farmers can be very cavalier and just take one’s goodwill for granted. Being foreign, one over-accommodates them. We have a similar situation with issues about crossing our land. You have to be very careful that what started as a favour doesn’t turn into an inalienable right.

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