Easter Morning – Treasure, Lambs (Chocolate) And Seeds

I was up at the crack of dawn – well, OK, 7 o’clock but it felt like the crack of dawn – laying out the clues for the Ruadhri’s Easter Egg treasure hunt and Caiti’s Easter geocache trail. It’s our Easter tradition to make the kids work for their chocolate.

One of Ruadhri's clues

A cuckoo was calling and I caught a glimpse of it flying between trees.

A geocache for Caiti

There were some deer in Dog Leg Field which I saw and the cats saw, but Nessie the dog didn’t!

Unobservant dog in foreground, deer in background

Dog Leg is a huge field, currently with cereals in but we’re thinking of grassing it for next year.

Wendy and Voltaire tagged along too in case food was involved somewhere. They went on strike part of the way round.

Can has rest pliz? (I'm speaking Lolcat here btw)

Rors was soon up and completed his trail successfully, without any help at all. He demanded harder clues for next year! They weren’t that easy, but I learnt not to be too cryptic with our Benj. He’d get into such a sulk if he couldn’t work out a clue. So, Rors got his reward – possibly the only lamb we will see today. No. 27 is still holding out but her belly is practically dragging along the ground so surely it can’t be much longer now!

Easter chocolate lamb

I did Easter boxes for everyone this year, including Chris. He got a garden gnome for the polytunnel and coriander seeds in his.

Talking of seeds, we’ve found a good way to get seeds germinating. One lot of tomatoes and my anis (aniseed) and pepper seeds were staying soundly asleep, so we sprinkled some more onto damp tissue which we rolled up and put in a plastic bag in a warm spot – on top of the fridge just above the heat displacement thingy. Lo and behold, they’ve sprung into life.

Sprouting anis seeds

I’ve also been making some recycled seed pots out of toilet roll inners. Very easy. Cut five slits  a couple of cms long at roughly even intervals around one end and then tuck those in and you have a little pot. They tend to be a bit wobbly so you’ll need to put them in a container of some sort or tie them together with string for stability in the greenhouse. But once the seedling is growing well, dig a hole and shove them out as they are into the garden. The cardboard will soon rot away and you’re left with your healthy plant.

That's my homemade egg rack in the background, courtesy of Rors and Chris

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All that remains is to say is Happy Easter!

Rors and his Easter box of surprises





Deer Me – No Place for Snares

We set out for a brisk walk on Christmas morning since a) it was sunny and bright, and b) the likelihood of me being able to round everyone up for exercise after dinner was extremely low. So we set off on one of our usual strolls through the woods into neighbouring Indre, down by the old mill and up along green lanes back to Les Fragnes.

We were close to home and Benj and Caits had gone on ahead with the key since Rors was getting a bit whiney and starting to dawdle and they were getting impatient. Caits wanted to get back to her Kindle and Benj needed to be back in touch with his petite amie (girlfriend). Suddenly Caiti reappeared round a hurriedcorner, saying there was a dead deer that seemed to be caught on the fence. We  to investigate. Sadly it looked like she was right. But then, as Nessie the dog came up for a sniff, the deer gave a cry and moved, and we saw that it was caught in a snare and struggling to breathe.

Well, we couldn’t leave it there. Chris tried to free its neck, but the chevreuil became very lively and noisy at this point. So Benj held the animal as still as he could while Chris battled with the metal loop. He finally got it off. The chevreuil collapsed in a heap. It must have been caught there for a long while, possibly more than a day, since it was totally exhausted. Even with five people and a dog so close to it, it couldn’t move any more.

We watched anxiously for a moment, worrying that we’d been too late in our rescue attempt, but after a few minutes the deer wobbled to its feet and lurched drunkenly off into the undergrowth.

We examined the snare. It was attached to the barbed wire fencing at the side of the lane.

Some research when we got home revealed that it was a stop snare (collet muni d’un arrêtoir) and, incredibly, these things are legal. Well, all I can say is that whoever passed the law legalising them has never seen an animal trapped in one. It was horrific. OK, so we deprived someone of their dinner but who cares. There’s no need in this day and age to use barbaric, medieval methods of trapping a living creature. What’s more, chevreuil aren’t even on the list of nuisance animals that can be trapped (per L’arrêté du 30 septembre 1988, complété par l’arrêté du 6 novembre 2006). Also, the law says that tous les pièges doivent être visités tous les matins (article 13 de l’arrêté du 29 janvier 2007) – a snare must be checked every morning. It was nearly midday when we found our deer, and as I say, there was every indication it had been there a long time. A snare is totally indiscriminate in what it catches. It could be your cat or dog that strays and ends up in one.

I’m also pretty sure the snares (there was another close by) shouldn’t have been put alongside a public path. My understanding regarding traps of any kind is that you can only put them on your own land. Snares have to be declared at the mairie, so I may just call by and check up that these ones are registered.

I’m not anti-hunting and I’m not soppy about animals, but snares are going too far.

Anyway, our wrongly trapped deer lived to enjoy Christmas day. As did we – too much dinner and too much telly, perfect. Caiti and I set off for a bike ride in the afternoon to go and take photos of eolienne 3 from as close by as we could, but Caits got a puncture and I realised I wasn’t up to a big ride when I started wheezing. We’ve all had rotten coughs which are still bugging us. So we turned round and went home and consoled ourselves with chocolate! Well, it’s Christmas.