Thursday, February 25, 2010

The Creuse - where we are

Creuse is one of the most central and rural departments in France, one of the three departments of the Limousin region of which the capital is Limoges. It's situated on the edge of the ancient volcanic region of the Massif Central, bordered on the west by the lower lying Haute Vienne department, and on the east by the generally higher altitude Auvergne region.

It's a very wooded (mainly deciduous), hilly area, with a large amount of granite rock, hot summers and cold winters - rather reminiscent of Wales except for the heat. It can get up to about 38°C in summer and down to –20C or less in winter, with quite a large amount of rainfall and small lakes around every corner (it's not called "vert et bleu" – green and blue, for nothing!). The Creuse is the first patch of high land you reach coming from the centre-west coast, and here, we're about the same height as the high points of the Peak District in England, at 600m.
Being very rocky, there is not much arable land, most is used for cattle or forestry.

Goats, horses and chickens

We moved to France from the UK with the idea of running a smallholding. While that didn't quite work out, we do have two goats, two Welsh section D cobs, and some chickens. The goats are the most useful piece of land-clearing equipment we have. We also make our own hay with an old tractor.
The goats have their photos on a number of items - binders, business cards, greeting cards, t-shirts, aprons, all suitable for goat dairy farmers or goat enthusiasts. We were a bit worried at first when buying a horned goat to live with our polled one, but our fears were unfounded, as the polled goat broke into the horned goat's isolation pen, and they've been living happily ever after since. The breed is French Alpine, and it's the most common goat to be found in this area.

The ponies are two registered Welsh section D cobs which we brought with us from England. Unfortunately we don't have time to ride them anymore, but they are good producers of manure for the garden. They get plenty of exercise going backwards and forwards to their furthest paddock, and have an open stone barn to shelter from the summer heat. They're unshod, and as the ground here is very hard in summer and full of granite, their hooves hardly need trimming at all.
light sussex hen card
As for the chickens, we are now down to two hens and a cockerel, but plan to replace those that have died of old age in the spring. We're going to go for Light Sussex breed point-of-lays, as they have proved to be the hardiest, best egg producers, and best mothers out of the mixture of breeds we started with. They also seem to have the most character. Boris is a crossbred rooster, and a handsome chap. I'm not sure if he's one of Chookles offspring, but she hatched him. Chickens do like to share their eggs around!
I hope you'll come back to visit my blog as I update it, in the meantime, you can see my complete range of photos and products to date at my ruralfrance shop.
Zazzle is a print on demand company - items are only printed when they are ordered. Although in America, they ship internationally, and have a money back guarantee. I have ordered my own cards from them and can vouch for the quality!