Saturday, April 30, 2011

In which Munson expresses boredom through the medium of sock dance

I’m fed up with this hayfever nonsense of yours. Something’s got to give and this sock is going to suffer first.

I’m fed up with this hayfever nonsense. Something’s got to give and this sock is going to suffer first.

I can keep this up all day.

Sock dance: I can keep this up all day.

And relax…

 I implore you...

Friday, April 29, 2011

New ---- in old barrels


When we came to the farm last year there was a huuuge quantity of armagnac stored here which was to be sold separately to the land and buildings. Now it’s all been taken away, leaving us with some splendid old barrels and tubs to use as handy garden beds.

I scored a couple of these tubs for the terrace but my hayfever prevented me from getting out to prepare them for planting. Jean warned me not to leave it too long as the binding hoops start dropping off as the long-cellared timber dries out. Realising that I was but a day away from having a bundle of tapered staves*, I grabbed some hay from a barn to line the bottom and then shovelled up a couple of wheelbarrow-loads of richly composted soil from the corral to fill each barrel.

I’ve yet to make a decision as to what to put in them – one has been kept in a semi-shaded spot near the kitchen door (above), and the other has been left in a more exposed position across the terrace. For now, it’s back inside until the sneezing and itching subsides.

* Look what people do with old staves:

Thursday, April 28, 2011

The outfoxed malamute and the hedgehog

P4282987 P4282988

Just after 9 this morning I heard Munson squawking at something outside my bedroom’s slightly tautological French windows. I could see a brown lump on my terrace, rejecting all of Munson’s attempts at play or conversation. Munson was waving a paw over a hedgehog on an attempt to give it one of his “come play” cuffs, but I never knew if he ever connected with the spines.

The tightly-curled up animal seemed unharmed, but not willing to show its face even after I’d put Munson on the other side of those windows.

I was rather surprised that our guest – undeterred by the scent of large  animal – had found its way onto the terrace via the villa gate some thirty metres away, making its way up a half dozen stairs to the farthest accessible point from the gate. The only other possibility was the unlikely one that a large bird had dropped it there. I don’t know of any sufficiently powerful raptors in the area nor of any pelicans with reinforced bills that might have scooped up our little friend.


The last time I woke with a large animal outside my door (before I formed my own wolf pack) was when I was living in a college on the grounds of the University of Sydney. One weekend morning, I drowsily opened my door and as I stepped out, kicked a possum across the dark corridor. Nothing wakes you up as quickly as a marsupial hissing its protest and waving its claws around your bare feet.

Our hedgehog was a shyer guest than the possum and I was able to gently slide a dustpan under it to remove from the terrace. I placed it in the undergrowth next to our household pond, and it had disappeared when I returned an hour later.


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Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Something tasty in the woodshed

log rolling

I’m not famous for being an early riser, but when I do find myself awake in the pre-9 hours, I go to my terrace to appreciate the views over the vineyards to the east. Without fail there will be rabbits everywhere, daring Munson to come down and  find them in one of the holes he frequents every day.  Beyond the small bunny-cratered landscape, they bound through the woodpiles and poo all over my new lawn. With bunny-scent everywhere, Munson spends part of his day searching through the lumber shed, home to all the vine posts I’ve harvested in recent months. He’s surprisingly nimble striding over the posts, and is never deterred by the complete absence of any visible animal residents.

Not more than twenty metres from where Munson was conducting his investigations I spied a head amongst the grass and lucerne of the closest paddock. At first I thought it was a large dog as we sometimes get visits from hunting hounds from around the area. Then I realised it was a young deer – quite unperturbed by our proximity, although Munson never picked up on its presence.

Bimbi the deer

When I mentioned this to Brent and Jean, they said that “Bimbi” has been seen with the cows as well, returning day after day to hang out with the herd.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Munson is 3

Munson's 3rd birthday collage

Some highlights from the last year, 9 months of which have been spent in France.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Beach day

Gustav & Munson (1) Gustav & Munson (2)Gustav & Munson (3) Gustav & Munson (4)

I must say I am really jealous of how well these pictures of Munson and Gustav turned out, as I’m sure I don’t have 6 pictures of Munson and myself that look this good in 3 years! These were taken in the space of two minutes!!

Gustav & Munson (5) Gustav & Munson (6)

The setting was a local swimming lake, which we had all to ourselves when we arrived late in the morning. It doesn’t officially open till Easter (next week) but that really just means there’s no shop open for refreshments, or lifesaver on duty. By the time we left there were quite a few sun-worshippers splayed out on the sand laid on one section of the lakeshore.


One of the surprises of the season is that Munson likes strawberries. Usually he (as would Bondi) would gingerly taste some fruit and then spit it out, and then look back up at me to see if I would share the next piece as that must surely be more desirable. However Munson has relished the juicy strawberries I’ve brought home this month.


After strawberry snacktime I thought we’d try for a  circuit of the lake as I’d seen a woman set off with her two dogs for exactly such a walk. At the edge the water is teeming with tadpoles, and I spotted a few fish (carp? trout?) about 30cm long or more.

P4162957-64_stitch Lupiac

P4162965 2011-04-16 Lupiac   Gustav

The terrain around the lake is about half open track and half under a canopy of leaves filtering the light to stunning affect whether it strikes land or water.

Lupiac collage

Middag på terrassen

Gustav and Munson

Our sunny villa terrace has two new additions this week, both from Sweden. My friend Gustav is having a short respite in France (his first), enjoying our balmy weather, country quiet and his new BFF Munson. He helped me set up the new sun shade from IKEA that I picked up in Toulouse before collecting Gustav from the airport.

The outdoor setting was christened with a dinner of chicken (cooked in Australian lemon-myrtle spice) and fresh asparagus from today’s farmer’s market. As we were finishing that off, I heard Jean at the gate and joked “oh that will be dessert”… and indeed it was. Jean had made a batch of fresh strawberry ice-cream and shared a tub of it with us.

Gustav and Munson  Gustav's ice-cream

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Bondi Surf Club

Bondi Surf Club

Bondi Surf Club. Population: one malamute, two lizards and a large indestructible chewy scorpion.

There's some corner of a foreign field that is forever Bondi. lounging lizards

Beauty and the beasts

Spring’s assault on my sinuses continues. It’s boosted my rate of book consumption, but there are still days when reading through red eyes is just not practical and I sneeze my way through some outdoor distractions.

Meantime, life on the farm continues. We’ve had a few days over 30C, followed by a few rain showers – just the thing for renewing the hayfever onslaught.  Frogs and lizards thrive in my garden, and I’ve heard the unmistakeable cry of my first live cuckoo. The grass is growing so quickly it has to be mown twice a week.  Between mowings I go around and inspect the regrowth for new shoots of nettles or thistles, locate the major roots and pull out as much as possible.

The heat is slowing Munson down a bit, leaving him happy to snooze on the cool floor inside. However as soon as I head out for a spell of yardwork, he dashes to his “office” to see if there are new rabbits waiting in his inbox.

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Brent and Jean had a busy afternoon moving cattle between paddocks. Being a Wednesday the three Munsoneers were home from school and were sent to chez moi for babysitting until the cows came home.

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Dogs must be carried

Scratching out the week

Back of the ute

There’s been little to blog about over the last week or so.  Spring has brought forth a bounty of pollen which has left me scratching my eyes and keeping indoors much of the day. Thankfully I’m  immune to most of the pastoral greenery – it’s possibly just a few of the closer cypress pines which are doling out clouds of my little bêtes noires.

At least every other day I get outside for short bursts of frenetic vine post collection, weeding, lake dredging, bramble slashing, seed planting and any other gerund which I deem timely and good exercise. The extra indoor time means more reading and some more focussed time on the piano learning new pieces.

It’s been raining on and off through this time, great for the garden, and I feel a little less guilty about not having Munson gallivanting outside each day. He’s been pretty happy indoors or snoozing under the table on the terrace. I’ve also chosen some of my outdoor activities so that he can be rabbit-hunting within close proximity. Not long before the photo above was taken, he’d given great chase to a hare that we encountered on a walk down through the front paddocks.

Early this morning I was woken by the sound of dogs barking and howling. Munson must have been telling some fox or stray dog (through the terrace gates) that they should rack off. Shortly afterwards, a stressed-out Munson came into my bedroom, jumped onto the bed and buried his head under my arm. Poor muffin!