Hello from france

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Hello from france

Postby crepesuzette » Sun Oct 28, 2012 2:01 pm

Hello to everyone from lower normandy in france. I see from the forum that new members are asked to introduce themselves so here goes...
I've been living in france for nearly 5 years, came here for a change of lifestyle which turned out to be a bit more dramatic than I thought (got divorced). I live in an old stone house which used to be a farm but before you picture a romantic cute cottage, think more along the lines of slightly damp, freezing cold house with dodgy plumbing. As with most rural houses, all the floors are tiled so its like living in a fridge in winter. No chance of central heating, just a smoky wood stove and paraffin heaters. As I write this I am wrapped up in 4 layers of clothing plus a large scarf and my fingers are still cold. We did have a very early flurry of snow though yesterday.
As for self-sufficientish, that was alot of the reason for coming here. I have a small field so at easter time I buy in a dozen or so chickens, a couple of lambs and one or two rabbits - perhaps I should explain that eating rabbit here is as common as eating chicken. I was a veggie for 10 years in the UK but now eat just my animals as I know the life they've lived, what they've eaten and the end is as stressfree as possible. I grow veg and fruit, make jam and liqueurs and this year made wine (dandelion and blackcurrant). I'll let you know how it tastes when its ready to drink next year. I forage for nuts, berries and mushrooms. This morning the sun shone for the first time in about 2 weeks so I grabbed my basket and headed off to the forest. I came back 2.5 hours later with enough chantrelle for a lovely lunchtime risotto and what I think are woodland hedgehogs. I need to check these with a friend as I'm 90% sure but need to be 100%.
The Good Life - oh boy do I love that programme! Fell in love with it as a child, then it was repeated in the early 90's and I've seen a few episodes since on UK Gold when I've been back in England. An updated version would be great to watch but the originals are just fantastic! Like Barbara I'm happiest in my jeans and wellies although occassionally I would like to put on a skirt and feel more feminine.
So that's me for now, I look forward to joining in with some discussions.
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Re: Hello from france

Postby safronsue » Sun Oct 28, 2012 2:34 pm

hello and welcome. hope your cottage warms up. snow already? brrrrr
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Re: Hello from france

Postby crepesuzette » Sun Oct 28, 2012 2:40 pm

Thanks for the welcome. It doesn't normally snow until February here so I was hoping to hang on to my wood supply for a bit longer but I think I will have to start lighting fires more regularly.
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Re: Hello from france

Postby merlin » Sun Oct 28, 2012 2:50 pm

Welcome, great to have you here, tell me more about the rabbits. They are just becoming popular here, but I don't know anything about the breed type, feeding, dispatching or cleaning though. Do they have enough usable meat on them to make it worthwhile?
A few short films of us making home made food and drink in Bulgaria
http://inbulgaria.co.uk/
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Re: Hello from france

Postby Milims » Sun Oct 28, 2012 3:47 pm

Hi there and welcome :wave:
Let us be lovely
And let us be kind
Let us be silly and free
It won't make us famous
It won't make us rich
But damn it how happy we'll be!
Edward Monkton


Member of the Ish Weight Loss Club since 10/1/11 Started at 12st 8 and have lost 8lb so far!
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Re: Hello from france

Postby crepesuzette » Sun Oct 28, 2012 4:33 pm

Hello Milims and Merlin, nice to hear from you.
Merlin - re. the rabbits. The general ones used here are Lapin Normand which is medium sized, brown/grey coat, basically a wild rabbit. Others are Fauve de Bourgogne which has a beautiful reddy brown coat or Geant de Flandres which is grey/black and a large breed. If you start with 2 females and find someone with a male you can normally arrange to leave your females (one at a time) with the male for 24 hours. If successful, 31 days later you will have a litter of tiny babies, generally between 8 and 12. They can be separated from mum at 6 weeks and given a normal diet. By 8 months they are large enough to eat but you can leave it until they are a year old. Diet is easy; fresh water every day and lots of dandelion leaves and grass with rolled barley as the cereal. Some people here use whole wheat as the cereal but I have never tried that. Raw potato peelings, carrots, stale bread are all good too. Never give them lettuce as they get diarrhoea and go easy on cabbages and sprouts as they get wind. Hay in winter is good and always clean straw for bedding. I put mine out on the grass in chicken wire cages when its warm but you have to be around to watch them as they will try to tunnel to freedom. And give them shade from sun. Rabbits dehydrate easily and don't like the damp.

As for the despatch, its not difficult but I don't wish to upset anyone so maybe you should email me privately if you want to know how? It is worth doing from a meat point of view as one rabbit will provide a meal for 2 adults plus 2 small children and feeding them cost next to nothing if you start early in the spring.

A good way to learn is to find someone else in your area who keeps rabbits and ask if you can visit to see the local breeds and diet. They may be happy to prepare your first rabbit when the time comes for despatch which is the best way to learn.
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Re: Hello from france

Postby The Riff-Raff Element » Sun Oct 28, 2012 8:01 pm

Bit to the south of you. Been here nine years. Know what you mean about the tiled floors, but I'd never want carpet again. Very unhygienic in my view.
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Re: Hello from france

Postby demi » Mon Oct 29, 2012 11:17 am

My husband really want to get rabbits for meat. Iv always had pet rabbits throughout my childhood and my eldest ones just got put to sleep a couple of years ago, they were 10 years old and perfectly healthy until the end. One of them developed skin cancer and started looseing its fur and after a couple of months of treatment of suspected mites we saw a different vet who told us it was actually cancer and he would only get worse so we had to get him put to sleep. The other one had cattoracts in both eyes and was blind but otherwise healthy and had been using his brother to find his way around the outside big enclosure we kept them in. My mum took him to get put down a few months after his brother as she said he wasn't cleaning himself properly and looked like he was deteriorating.

Anyhow, I'm a bit funny about eating my pets, could be emotioal. I also tried rabbit once and didn't like it, too strong meaty. I used to be veggy too. But maybe it wasn't cooked properly, it was in red wine.
If i knew a way to cook it so it was less strong tasting i would concider keeping rabbits for meat.

I don't now the name for the breeds here but they have gigantic big brown/gray or white ones for meat. Iv seen a few smaller ones at animal shows, dutch, dwarf ect but im sure they are just for pets.
The big meat ones certainly look like that have good meat on them, maybe as much as a chicken? Iv never seen one buchered though so i don't know visually how much meat it there is from 1 rabbit.

We certainly have the space for them, and the kids would like them. If only i liked the meat i would agree to get them. Do you know good ways to cook it? I don't like lamb, too meaty for me. I thought the rabbit was similar strong flavour too strong for me. Any suggestions?
Tim Minchin - The Good Book
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kr1I3mBojc0

'If you just close your eyes and block your ears, to the acumulated knowlage of the last 2000 years,
then morally guess what your off the hook, and thank Christ you only have to read one book'
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Re: Hello from france

Postby crepesuzette » Mon Oct 29, 2012 1:23 pm

Riff-raff element, nice to know there are other people in france using this site. Any more of us?

Demi - I haven't found rabbit meat to be a strong flavour but cooking it in red wine does add a certain something. Try it in cider instead or just in stock with lots of vegetables. And younger ones will have a less strong taste than older ones. As for getting emotional, if we didn't we would be pretty hard-hearted! I like my animals, I give them the best life I can and the lambs particularly make me laugh but for me they are farm animals not pets. And I NEVER name them! Maybe you could keep a couple of rabbits for meat and see how that goes. If you can't bring yourself to eat them does it really matter? At least you will have tried.
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Re: Hello from france

Postby oldfella » Mon Oct 29, 2012 7:46 pm

Hello from another Ex Brit, South of Jon, been here 20 odd years, so am now part of the landscape. Can't give advice about any problems arising from being a new arrive 'e, cos by all accounts things have changed a lot over the years. Went back to England in 1998, for a short holiday 3 days, haven't been back since. Got tiled floors throughout the old farmhouse ( except the bedrooms) as we live with 3 dogs, 2 cats, and the occasional chicken that wanders in.
Most days, one or the other of our neighbours drops in for glass or two, and always forget to take the Tomatoes, or whatever they had when they arrived.The house is not what one would call, Pristine, you would certainly get dust on you finger if you run you finger over the mantle piece. The only advice I can give you, is that if you want to live as a Brit in France that's what you will be, a Brit in France, but from your post's you sound you will fit right in.
With regards to rabbits and livestock we keep chickens and geese but can't kill them, so I go visit the neighbours while the fowl deed is done. We eat what we grow or are given, we have fruit trees, nut trees vineyards all around us, we have more wine in our cellar, than we will ever drink, most of which we make ourself, and of course the samples we receive from our neighbours.
As always I ramble on, but I have always believed that you can only take out of life what you put in, so my advice is to look around and ask "What can I put in"
I can't do great things, so I do little things with love.
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Re: Hello from france

Postby 123sologne » Mon Oct 29, 2012 9:54 pm

Hello Crepesuzette and welcome to this lovely forum where I haven't been myself for quite a while...
I so know what you mean about the cold house in France. I was a French expat living in the UK (lived there 20 years), since early this year, when I came back home, so to say, with hubby in tow. All this to be closer to my sick dad and to get on with a bit more selfsufficient life. We are living in my dad second farm house which wasn't lived in since my granddad died in 1981... And the only thing which is good in this house is the roof, everything else pretty much needs to be redone, changed or seriously improved. We have the lovely cold tile floors, a culture of mould which would win us gold medals any time if such competition existed and a wood-stove which was smoking a lot recently. We just gave the chimney a clean today, so hopefully this will stop the smoking... As for the plumbing, well, we do not have a bathroom at this point and even the water is no good to drink. We have had a borehole dug which should produce better water once we have installed all the necessary pump, pipes, pressure vessel and so on. So for now we heat up pots of water (not good to drink, but okay for washing in) on the stove and bring an old bath tub in the kitchen daily to have a bath...
I sometime think we must have been mad to do this. But then I look at all the vegs I managed to produce this year and I start to feel better, especially if I can cook some with a bit of wild boar given by the local hunters... :iconbiggrin: I certainly will get chickens and rabbits at one point, hopefully next year. All this to say we have a fair bit in common!
Anyway, I hope to visit the forum more often as winter is coming, so we are bound to meet again... :wave:
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Re: Hello from france

Postby The Riff-Raff Element » Tue Oct 30, 2012 7:43 am

Hi Crepesuzzette - you see? The woods are full of 'em! There's a couple more in the Vendée / Charente part of the world, though I don't think they've been on lately.
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Re: Hello from france

Postby merlin » Tue Oct 30, 2012 10:27 am

Thaks for that advice on rabbits, we went the farm show in Plovdiv this year, keeping rabbits seems to be on the up here. It is usually pigs, chickens, sheep and goats ect, I will pm you to see if I could manage the despatching part.
A few short films of us making home made food and drink in Bulgaria
http://inbulgaria.co.uk/
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Re: Hello from france

Postby demi » Tue Oct 30, 2012 11:20 am

merlin wrote:Thaks for that advice on rabbits, we went the farm show in Plovdiv this year, keeping rabbits seems to be on the up here. It is usually pigs, chickens, sheep and goats ect, I will pm you to see if I could manage the despatching part.



You can always get somone else to do it if you're too squeemish. Or if you think you can manage it yourself you can get someone else who knows what they're doing to show you.
Tim Minchin - The Good Book
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kr1I3mBojc0

'If you just close your eyes and block your ears, to the acumulated knowlage of the last 2000 years,
then morally guess what your off the hook, and thank Christ you only have to read one book'
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Re: Hello from france

Postby diggernotdreamer » Tue Oct 30, 2012 3:49 pm

An old lady told me that during the war, they kept rabbits for food and when they where the right size to eat, they swapped rabbits with friends so as they didn't get to eat the one they had become fond of, as an outright sqeamy coward who could not kill any of my animals I am not adverse to eating an anonymous chicken or pig, does that make me a crap isher??
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