Muscovy Duck

Muscovy Duck
Roosting on the gate

2011 - My second year of blogging in Brittany

I felt I would like to share some of the photographs I have taken so far this year and some from other years. I live in a beautiful part of Brittany and just love being here. It's a lovely place to photograph and enjoy being in through all the seasons and hopefully this blog will show you where I live my life.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Houdini, La Chasse and the Village

There are daffodils in bud on the verges and the milder weather this week has been very welcome both for the plants and for just feeling better without hunching against the cold.

My rhubarb is coming on well and I should be able to pull some to eat in March.  It came from my gardener in Gloucester to my garden there, then to Cornwall when we moved in 1996, then here to Brittany in 2006.  It is so prolific and loads of people have had crowns from this bed.

This morning a woodpecker was drumming on a neighbour's tree.  I couldn't see him, but I could hear the rapid fire of his beak and I love all these sights and sounds of nature.  A wild rabbit ran across the road by the calvaire as I came back from my field, not an unusual occurence, but refreshing and lovely nonetheless.

A few more sheds which I photographed this week:

I keep getting glimpses of deer in the woods around me here, and I get them running across the road in front of the car in spite of the efforts of la chasse, the hunt who are always out in force, particularly at the weekends.  Every lane junction seems to have a cluster of little white vans with men standing around in bright coats with guns hanging off their arms, cigarettes hanging from their lips and usually one of them peeing into the verge.  It is strange that they do not, on the whole, wear camouflage, but instead sport orange jackets, perhaps it is so that they do not shoot each other.  Not all of those killed or injured are chasseurs, and one of the most vocal objections of protest groups is the manner in which the shooting groups monopolise use of the countryside because of safety fears by walkers and others.  Certainly there are few weekends when you don't hear the baying of the dogs and cracks of the guns during the season.

This photograph is by Ouest-France and is of a simulation of a hunting accident.  You can see the orange jackets on the hunters that I talked of above.

It is the second most popular ‘sport’ in France, with between1.4 and 2 million registered chasseurs, far more than any other country in Europe.  Football is the most popular activity.  Here are the accident figures for the last ten years:

2003-2004: 201 hunting accidents: 78 mild, 94 severe, 29 deaths
2004-2005: 167 hunting accidents: 68 mild, 74 severe, 25 or 26 deaths
2005-2006: 169 hunting accidents: 84 mild, 61 severe, 24 deaths
2006-2007: 179 hunting accidents: 24 fatalities 
2007-2008: 163 hunting accidents: 15 fatalities
2008-2009: 145 hunting accidents: 22 fatalities
2009-2010: 174 hunting accidents: 80 mild, 84 severe, 19 fatalities
2010-2011: 131 hunting accidents, 18 fatalities

They hunt on foot with dogs, but have a strange attitude to their animals.  Frequently, dogs remain in the countryside when the hunters go home.  The dogs have got lost or have been slow coming back and they are just left behind.

Here are three of the beasts one of my neighbour's has on his land at the moment.  He trades in cattle and the animals are always changing in this field.

I think the mole population has increased in the last two years.  One of my neighbours has so many mole hills on his lawn which must be very frustrating.  Nothing he does seems to do the trick.  I don't have much grass around the house, mainly shingle, but on my field they are making their presence known.  The earth they bring to the surface is lovely and I often spade it up and use it in the veggie beds, so it's not all bad.

Lastly, my ducks, one of whom, the third from the left in this photo, is now called Houdini.

For about three or four weeks now I have had one duck who insists on going outside the duck field and she gets stuck between the duck fence and the bank at the side of the road.  First of all we tried putting chicken wire along the bottom 2ft/60cm of the stock fencing then we tried orange flexible plastic barrier fencing, the sort they use on roadworks, most of the way along the fence.  She still escaped and occasionally took an accomplice with her, though usually it was just her.  On Friday night I clipped her wing as she was still getting over or through.  Yesterday she was out again.  We finished the whole fence on that side of the lane with the orange plastic fencing, not pretty but necessary.  I wonder if she'll be out again tonight?  Anyone got a good recipe for duck?

Three things I like:

1.   Watching the horses in the field across from mine charging across the grass and back again.
2.   Having a steaming bowl of homemade chicken soup for lunch.
3.   Seeing all the different visitors to the bird table and the top of the garden wall where I've put some old cat food and bits of solid fat from cooking the beef and duck this week.


  1. Hi Brittany Girl, thanks for the info on the picture, my friend from Cumbria has sent me a postcard of the same picture, so all clued up on it now, this was the first one I have of the harbour scenes. Still lovin those sheds! Julie xxx

  2. I like your gaggle of duck friends! I should also confess I am a bit of "shed addict" myself... Of course, I also am drawn to full blown barns and have an unending fascination with old houses to boot! Fun little blog you have! (and disturbing hunting stats...) Are you really going to eat Houdini?

  3. Hello Julie and Melody - there are a lot of secret shed admirers out there! No - only joking about eating Houdini - she's lovely really. Not sure what happened yesterday as all the ducks, bar two, were out in the goat field and took some getting in yesterday evening. Why is it that the grass is always greener? Sandra

  4. Perhaps ducks behind fences are like dogs on leashes... they just HAVE to be one inch past where the leash reaches, or just won't do!
    "herding" ducks is almost as easy as herding cats; neither seems to go well! ha ha
    So glad you didn't eat Houdini though... *phewwww* :)

  5. All the ducks bar the large Muscovy had got through a new hole into the goat field this afternoon. Repaired the hole and got them back where they should be, but one missing this evening I think. Hard to count in the semi dark, but will know definitely in the morning.