Tuesday, August 16, 2011
Little House in the Big Woods - Chapter One
After about 7 hours of driving yesterday we finally arrived in Viam, France. Our hosts are Menna and Jem and we are watching their property and caring for their animals while they are away for two and half weeks. They bought this house nine years ago and spent eight years fixing it up before moving here from Wales with their daughter Lily (age 9) a year ago. Now they are selling this one as they've purchased their dream property which sits on over 100 mostly forested acres just down the road. The property they've purchased is a collection of old stone buildings (including a cattle barn and a grain mill) that haven't been lived in over 50 years. To say it is a fixer-upper is a huge understatement. Most of the wood is rotted and they'll be living on a gigantic 10 person tent on the property while they mill the wood themselves. There is a fire pit up at the new house with the tent and we're welcome to go and camp if we feel like it.
Menna and Jem are down-to-earth, outgoing and good-natured who clearly love animals and their life in this rural setting. It's a little hard not to feel like soft city-folk, particularly when Vaughn starts shrieking about the flies or bees or things poking in his sock (although I do have to say he handled me removing a tick from him that evening like a champ).
I've been referring to it as "the farm" but really we're mostly surrounded by wood. The seven sheep we're taking care of are up the road at the 'new' house and my mind is blown to see that they have actual tails. I think I would have only slightly more shocked if they had had wings. In addition to the sheep there are about a dozen chickens (including some youngsters), a few roosters, maybe four ducks and two young gray geese. In the evening we go out and toss them pasta as a treat and they all clamor around and get rowdy like kids around a parade float. There is a broody chicken sitting on three of her original five eggs and with any luck in a week there will be a few new chicks. We are also responsible for an outside bunny, two indoor mice and a door mouse that Lily rescued up at the other property and is rehabilitating. We've also been told that if we open the front door at night we're likely to see three toads that come and hang out on the front step.
The house is huge and lovely with a stone floor in the kitchen and an actual old bread oven built into the wall. There are four large bedrooms upstairs and the attic has a master bath with a clawfoot tub up on a platform under a skylight. In the other half of the attic (which is only partially completed and likely to remain so now that the house will be sold) is Menna's painting studio. Jem is a sculptor and the house and yard are filled with their art.
Jacob is a bit under the weather and I didn't sleep well last night so between that and yesterday's long car ride, today was pretty much just about laying around. We'll likely do a bit of exploring (Menna has listed out some local attractions for us) tomorrow. I may be overtired, but I do believe I'm finally beginning to relax.