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Everything posted by Beantree

  1. There was a documentary a few years ago featuring a mobile still up in the mountains somewhere in France. Surprised they bother with it, but it's probably a local tradition which they will be keen to maintain. We make our own bread because they don't use preservative here and it's stale the next day, which is why bread shops are open 7 days a week. Can't eat the 'plastic' stuff in England because I can taste the bitterness of the preservative. Reminds me of a friend who had a Summer job at Peak Bakery in Derby. They used to add material supplied by British Celanese, which was a plastic manufacturer in a place called Spondon, Derby. Not a nice place to live because the air stank. My friends job, by the way, was to clean the filters after the flour had been delivered. He used to be knee deep in maggots, which he had to remove with a bucket!!! Made more progress with the sycamore, but now all five of the 300L green waste sacks are full again, so it's a trip to the tip on Tuesday. It's open on Monday, but being our market day the town is full of very dangerous drivers and the possibility of an accident is too high to risk it.
  2. Perhaps even worse in France @Cat tails. Set a new record with over 400,000 positives in a 24 hour period and they said perhaps 1 in 20 has Covid. But they are saying the 5th wave has peaked? Despite hospitalisations still increasing? The health authority suggests that us in the relatively unaffected South could see a massive surge in cases that the hospitals here can't possibly cope with. So whilst it is steading in the North, we could see a severe 5th wave? February 2nd sees a slight relaxation in rules, so masks outside will no longer be compulsory. The vaccine passport takes full effect on Monday, which means the unvaccinated can't do much. But the restaurants have said that, whilst they will check the passports, they will not check identities (job for the police), so there will be people 'borrowing' someone else's passport.
  3. They have a rule here in France about vines @Daphne. You can't have more than 100 or you are classed as a business. This is based on them producing a bottle each and the consumption of more than 100 bottles a year per family is considered excessive. We're still going at the sycamore; about halfway there now. Problem is the frosts are so hard the grass is frozen until midday.
  4. Haven't touched the vines yet as we've been concentrating on the fruit trees which haven't been touched for years and are a real mess. Unfortunately heavy frosts have stopped the work so we are taking down a sycamore from 10 metres down to 3 metres because it is blocking the Winter sun to the house, even with no leaves. We pruned the figs two years ago and now they have been done again. The chickens range underneath and have fertilised the ground to the extent that the amount of fruit is ridiculous. However this time the prunings are going to the tip. We tried seasoning the last lot and it was destroyed by woodworm; the only variety of wood in the pile that was affected. We seem to get easily distracted with other jobs here. Today it was a leaking outside tap pipe which had been CONCRETED into the wall.
  5. They don't like walking on chicken wire and risk injury to their toes if they do. My advice is to look at other chicken coops. Secure door, good ventilation, a pent roof (naturally ventilated back to front), external weatherproof nest boxes and removable perch(es) are all good features. Helps your back a lot and keeps rats out if the whole coop is on stilts about 18" high. I'll try and find a picture of ours; we built three to bring to France with us.
  6. Had another thought, but it's a bit far fetched. Does she see you as below her in the pecking order? Never had any experience of that myself.
  7. The only time we've had chickens peck us is when they want to be picked up for a cuddle. The only exception is our new cockerel and we were warned that French breed could be aggressive. i wouldn't force her to join the others as they may bully her in the coop; if she doesn't want to join them it's for a reason. She might be pecking you to stop you putting her in with them? I can understand your concern, so just be careful near her until you can work out what's happening. Is she laying at the moment?
  8. Speculation today in a topic that suggested very soon everyone will have had Omicron at least once. I can understand that possibility because, with over 300,000 testing positive every day, 2 million a week equates to the population in 7 months, so around the end of July. Of course some don't even know they have it so don't get tested and we may therefore see the whole population having been infected by Summer? Despite this massive infection rate the hospitalisations are only rising slowly and are now about 3x what they were in November, which is half of the levels in the first wave. Let's hope it stays under control.
  9. The system in France, where everyone has a medical insurance number and carries an ID card, means that the EXACT number of resident people who haven't been vaccinated is known. Further to that they know all the names and addresses! They published the numbers by age group this morning and surprisingly one of the largest percentages of unvaccinated people is the over 80's, so Bridgett is far from alone and the anti-vax demonstrations are getting bigger.
  10. As you said, the chick can't climb the steps. But the other important points are you can't keep a chick on its own, it will need company of the same age or stay with the mother. Also keeping it warm and secure, which is a complicated process in itself. In my opinion rearing chicks is far more complicated than incubating and hatching. We have separate rearing units for 6 weeks onwards, which essentially look like a rabbit hutch with a run attached. Before that they stay inside under heat lamps, initially under red light then daylight hours with a dark emitter. Chicks can fall prey to rats, even with the mother, so any run needs small mesh which sits firmly on the ground. You are best separating the mother and chick(s) I think in a separate secure place. I know re-introduction will be difficult. Good inexpensive book to read is by Katie Thear, 'Incubation a Guide to Hatching and Rearing' ISBN 0-9061-3725-X.
  11. Perhaps I'm wrong about the reason for cases rising, because they are still rising to record highs and like everywhere else testing kits have run out in the shops. Since someone died in hospital and was later found to have a fake health passport they have been checking them all and found that 5% of those presented are fake! Bridgett Bardot was interviewed (well into her 80's now) and said she wouldn't have the vaccine because she was allergic to chemicals. When she was asked how she managed to get to a recent overseas visit that required a yellow fever vaccine she said "my doctor gave me a fake certificate"!!! In the meantime the conversion from a 'health passport' to a 'vaccination passport' has had a rough ride but has passed the first voting stage. Still expected to be in place by the 15th January it may impact on our local clay pigeon shooting club, because one of the exclusions proposed by Macron if you don't have one is (if I translated 'canon' correctly) you can't own a gun. See what is said after the bill gets its final reading.
  12. Glorious weather for that last few days, 17C, no wind and sunny. So mild that record temperatures have been set all over the Country. We've been pruning fruit trees because there are no frosts. But all that changes tonight, with rain and a light frost tomorrow morning then 6C in the day and -3C or less at night. So fleece on the Aloe Vera's and the bantams go into a heated cage in the garage. As the weather lady said "well, it is Winter"!
  13. Cases here have been beating records as well, but that is due in part to the huge number of people having tests over the holidays as a precaution before visiting family or friends. There are plenty of people with Omicron who don't have any symptoms at all, but can still spread it, so they wouldn't normally get tested. That would explain why cases are still rising @Cat tails, which makes social distancing etc. still so very important. But hospitalisation and critical care cases are only rising very slowly and most are from the 20% unvaccinated, the 20-40 age group being most affected. Yes @Daphne, no isolation as a case contact, if you are fully vaccinated (had third dose). If you test positive and are fully vaccinated you don't have to isolate for as long as before either. The time between the second and third dose is now a maximum of 4 months, or you lose your health pass (was 7 months when we went at 6 months and a week). The change to a 'vaccination pass' is being debated today. No word on a 4th dose fortunately: we're not thrilled about the prospect of a dose every 3-4 months!
  14. A bit of good news at last. Whilst Omicron spreads 3x faster than Delta it only creates serious effects in a third of cases. With nearly 80% of people vaccinated they have decided that if they become 'case contacts' they no longer need to isolate. I think part of the reason for this decision is the number of people off work in isolation, which is affecting businesses badly and perhaps unnecessarily. Face masks are obligatory outside in about half of the Departments (Counties) to limit the spread. It was also said that if there isn't another significant variant, this 5th wave will be over by Spring. Won't disappear though because, even if you have caught Omicron and survived it, you can catch it again. But at least things look as though they might be settling down?
  15. Opened up the weather forecast site here, purely to establish the daylight hours here now (9 and one minute), as our hens have started laying. The pop-up advert said that grants are now available for ASHP, up to 10,500€. Started to fill in the questionnaire only to find the next page was all our contact details, so stopped at that. There would be a lot of work we'd want to do first anyway; put in the reinforced concrete base, footpath on stilts around it, repoint the wall behind and put the hole through it for the pipes and electricity cable (too many walls collapse at that stage here). The starting point will be checking the suitability of our electricity supply cables. Our oil tank is a 1500 litre plastic unit in the garage. Was thinking of cutting it in half vertically to make a shallow double pond?
  16. We just lost interest in the whole event about 15 years ago. Fireworks upsetting the chickens and drunks fighting outside the local pub. Fortunately here we don't get any of that, so bed at the usual time and get up just before dawn for a cup of tea and then open up the coops.
  17. We didn't need the 1€ insulation @Ursula123, because we already have 9" of glass fibre up there. We've also heard some horror stories about cowboys putting it in. We need a system to tie into the central heating as there isn't a centre point as such in our house. We're in the planning stage on the basis that we should be prepared if our oil boiler fails. We have a central log burner with an air circulation system which blows hot air to either end of the 'longhouse', but it's not very good, which is probably why the Dutch (who started the renovations) installed central heating. Thanks for the link. I'd need to check the details on the hot water @majorbloodnock. Your cylinder probably has a heating element to get the temperature up to 60C to kill Legionella, but I'd perhaps be thinking about solar panels for the water and keeping it completely separate?
  18. That's very helpful @majorbloodnock, thank you. My calculations say we would need to upgrade our supply to 12 KW, from 6 KW which is another 80€ per year , so not that much. They do sell hot water cylinders here that only have a 1KW element, which gives us some flexibility meaning perhaps we could drop to 9KW? So now it will be down to EDF to tell us if their single phase supply can deliver that. If we have to go to three phase to get more the whole idea collapses, because 12KW is only 4KW per phase, or 16 amps. Thinking more deeply, the idea of payback isn't really relevant when we only have two options; wood pellets or ASHP. Oil boilers are now obsolete here, so when they break they can only be repaired, they can't be replaced. The idea of lugging sacks of pellets around and pouring them into the boiler doesn't appeal. I don't think any funding grants are available here, but we will have to ask. Brexit and the exchange crash cleaned out our savings, so we have no means of paying the whole amount up front. Your comments longer term will be interesting, particularly in a long cold spell.
  19. Maximum instantaneous load is easy to work out @majorbloodnock. It's the sum of the major electrical appliances that could be running simultaneously. Forgetting the solar panels, add the maximum input of the heat pump to the hot water cylinder and the cooker. Disregard any electric shower as we don't have them here, only mixers because of supply cable limitations and three phase supplies. That figure will tell me if a heat pump is even feasible here. Then I'll check what effect the change in standing charge is, as it may cancel out any savings.
  20. Certainly give me lots of food for thought @majorbloodnock. We are using 8-10 litres of oil a day during the 3 heating months and you are using 4€ of electricity, so we could save perhaps 800€ or more if it is cheaper than burning wood in the evenings for two months. Then there is the export of electricity which I have no idea about here, although lots of properties have panels on the roof because all houses face South. Our very large garage gets too hot in Summer (36C) because the grey slate coloured steel roof is uninsulated. To fit panels on it would need extra lintels I think, but then the roof could be insulated (wouldn't put them on the house roof because appearance for selling an old property is vital here). The big drawback is our limited electricity supply which trips out if exceeded. We could upgrade it (and the supply cables are already in) but are then penalised by a much higher standing charge. Do you know what your maximum instantaneous load is?
  21. Merry Christmas to all. Plenty of doom and gloom in this mornings news, to the extent that there will be an emergency Government meeting on Monday to decide what to do. All the New Year gatherings have been cancelled already, so it doesn't leave many options. We had more severe side effects from our Moderna booster; as to be expected from other reports. Arms sore as usual, but very tired to the extent that I went down the hill to pick up a few wind blown bits of Poplar, only to struggle to walk back up. Had to stop a few times to recover and the slope is only 10% over 30 metres!
  22. We may perhaps need that kind of setup here? News says to expect power cuts because 15 of the 56 nuclear power stations have been shut down, but I don't know why? We do have wind turbines and solar panels all over the Country, but on a cold, still and cloudy day there is no way the system can cope with demand. Do you have an idea of payback time for your system Major?
  23. News report this morning focussed on the British tradition of Christmas Pudding. Showed a chef making some and pointed out the ingredients. When asked what it tasted like the reporter said "nice, but a bit heavy." They also had mince pies, but surprisingly no Christmas Cake, which is completely different to the Bouche de Noel (Christmas chocolate cake log) they have here.
  24. I'm sure that @Cat tailscan scare you with the tails of Sinterklauss and his helper, who was used to terrify children who didn't behave. We eat late. most Europeans have eaten the day before. Ducklette (sold as that) this year, so a young duck, obviously as any older and they will have the texture of leather.
  25. I think the issue for zinc plated drinkers is the use of Apple Cider Vinegar; the acidity strips the zinc off. If I remember correctly the last time we bought some (12 years ago) there was a warning on the container label. We use some stainless drinker bowls outside and they do cause the water to go green, so they may perhaps be warming up more?

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