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Goat Farm - Alphabet Adventures


I can't believe it's taken us so long to go and visit this goat farm which is literally 2 minutes down the road from us. The Moulin de Vignasse produces delicious goats cheese that you can find in local markets or buy on selected days at their farm shop. We went along this weekend on a Journée du Patrimonie (European Heritage Day) where local monuments and cultural spots open their doors for people to come and visit. 

It's a lovely little farm! We got to see all the mama goats who were waiting to be milked. The younger goats were in a next door pen and there was a daddy goat outside (I swear he's smiling!) The mamas all rushed into the milking room at 5.30 to get their feed and be electronically milked. The boys found it fascinating to watch the milk being collected and whisked off down tubes to later be made into cheese. 

The farm also has a couple of pigs that they raise for meat and that enjoy being fed on goats milk which I'd not seen or heard of before.  The pigs loved lapping it up along with munching on quinces from a nearby tree.

The farm is also a working moulin and we were able to see the big wheel churning away in the water and listen to an explanation about how their organic flour is made, which you can also buy in their shop. Sadly by the time we'd arrived they had sold out of cheese but we'll be back to try out their different varieties. 

Did you visit anywhere this weekend as part of the European Heritage Days?

Mini Golf - Alphabet Adventures


The highlight of Summer for Reuben is always his birthday. Last year we rushed to get the pool ready so that we could have our first pool party. This year we had lots of family round and a pool party would have been nice but the weather had other ideas. Despite the heat that we'd had all Summer, this year was cloudy and drizzled a lot, though to be fair it was much needed. We didn't let it get in the way of celebrations however and we all headed off to St André de Najac for a game of mini golf.

We arrived en mass and were greeted by a lovely couple who told us they had been running the place for 15 years. After being sized up for clubs and having chosen our coloured balls we hit the course after a brief explanation on how to keep score. The kids played as they wished and whizzed around, hitting their balls in all manner of directions (including one in the pond.) The adults however played a slightly more serious game, keeping score and a close eye on who gained penalties on some of the more difficult holes. 


It was a really fun morning (especially as I came out victorious!) that was finished off with hot chocolates and a promise of birthday cake when we arrived back home. We'll be including mini golf as part of our Alphabet Adventure guide in the Summer as an activity for all ages!

A Simple Shelter



Of all the crazy things that have happened this summer...the kids, the work, the stream of visiting family and friends, the swimming, the trips out, the markets, the wasp stings...this has made me smile the most. This simple shelter, handmade by our 15 year old nephew, epitomises everything that we hope Wild Oak Wood to be. It's about getting out into the wonderful nature that surrounds us, being inspired, and getting creative, no matter how young or old you are. Teenagers can be hard to get going at the best of times, but he took the time and energy, under no instruction whatsoever, and toiled away until he had blisters on his hands. I love it! And I'm sure it won't be the last shelter to be built here in our woods!

We'd love to hear what you've been getting up to this summer and what you're looking forward to in the autumn.

Happy Holidays!


Wow! It's hot! Sorry to state the obvious but I've never known a Summer like it! It's been a little quiet on the blog as we are well and truly into the Summer season which means vide greniers, music festivals, village fetes, daily swim sessions and endless BBQ's. We have a stream of friends and family who are staying with us over August, testing out our tents for us and giving us the feedback we need to make sure next year is perfect for any visiting guests. I promise pictures of the tents will be live by the end of the month so you can get a full picture of what the tents look like. In the meantime I'm officially signing off for the Summer, though you can still find me over on Instagram posting pictures of what we get up to. Have a good one! Keep cool! And see you in September x

Veg Patch - June

As you may know, this is year one for our veg patch and let's just say I'm already learning loads and there's lots that I will be doing differently next year. Our top soil was delivered back in April. We didn't really have time to add any goodness to it so we've just stuck things in the ground this year and crossed our fingers that something will grow. Thankfully things have...


Potatoes and Onions
The potatoes have gone a bit wild. There was a decent amount of topsoil but it doesn't go down that deep. How many potatoes we'll get I have no idea as after the topsoil it will reach a layer filled with stones. Other people have suffered with their onions due to the amount of rain we've had. Ours seem to be growing, we planted red and white, we'll have to see what happens when we lift them up. As both of these crops take up so much space, especially if you want a decent amount, I'll either be moving them next year and be planting a lot more, or not at all.


Tomatoes
I do the same every year with tomatoes...plant them and leave them to go wild. I'm now realising that they could probably do with a bit of care in order to get a good crop. We're starting to get some tomatoes growing but some plants seem to be flowering better than others. Next year I'll be planting a whole bed of tomatoes, and will be spacing them out a bit more.



Beans
These are doing really well. I started them off in the greenhouse and we're starting to pick them now. We have both yellow and green varieties growing.


Salad
Our lettices suffered in the heavy rains a few weeks back but they're making a good recovery. We're picking and eating daily now. Radishes however, although they are so easy to grow I'm realising it's not really something we eat and the kids don't like them. I'll either have to find a way to get them into our diet or not grow them next year. Really hoping we get a good crop of the beetroot though. I started them from seed in the greenhouse and they seem to have taken in the beds. They're starting to break through now but are looking a little mini.


Sweetcorn
They're slowly doing their thing. Really hoping we get a good crop as we all love sweetcorn and they don't really sell it round here for some reason.



Courgettes
I'm about to pick our first courgette! I started these off again from seed in the greenhouse. I planted loads of different varieties but think I didn't get them planted outside quick enough cause they all started to suffer a bit in pots in the heat. Hoping some will still take if I plant them out now.

We'd love to hear what you're growing in your veg patch this year!

Beautiful Butterflies




The past few weeks it's been so lovely seeing flowers that I've planted along the front of the house establish themselves and start to bloom. It was looking a little sorry for itself for a while but suddenly rain and sun has caused a growth spurt and colour is starting to pop.

We have a rose bush that was already here when we arrived and has flowered beautiful red blooms. Last year I added verbena, thyme, lavender, a lovely yellow flowering plant called 'African Sun'. This year I also started nasturtiums from seed that are starting to produce beautiful rich orange and yellow flowers.

There are also a couple of different sage plants, one with bright hot pink flowers, and an echinacea plant. What I'm loving at the moment is the verbena as it's attracting some beautiful butterflies. I've seen a Red and White Admiral, and a Small Heath. I can see a little butterfly project emerging for the summer holidays to record as many as we can see.

What plants do you love that attract butterflies?

Our Rabbits


One of the things I was excited about when buying our new house was the fact that we would have land to keep animals on. We had already been keeping chickens in our small garden in our old village, but now we would have the space for so much more. I accompanied Jacob's nursery class on their farm visit a couple of years ago and an idea I loved that I've adopted is the idea of keeping animals for a purpose, not just to look cute and keep you company. Any animals here at Wild Oak Wood have to earn their keep and so far we have cats (who catch small rodents) and our fish are now in the pond (who will eat all the mosquitoes...hopefully!)


One day whilst browsing the Bon Coin (the French version of Ebay) I came across a local farmer selling rabbits. After persuading Andrew that they would be a good idea we went along with the boys to choose our new additions and came away with one male and two females, who I am officially naming Willow, Clover and Bailey. You know the saying about rabbits, they were at it as soon as we put them in a box together and the day we left for the UK for Christmas we were blessed with a little brood of baby rabbits. Not that we saw them properly however till we got back as they were hidden away under a bundle of rabbit fur.


We kept all our rabbits inside over winter but they are now in their permanent home outside, shaded under trees and happy with their palaces that Andrew built with old wood found in the barn and unused roof tiles from the garage. However, as mentioned at the start, these animals are for a purpose, we're keeping them for meat. Although rabbit may not be a frequent site in some supermarkets, here lots of people keep them for this purpose and you can buy them from the local butcher or find them in the supermarkets. Rabbits are easy to breed, produce lots in one go, and they don't need a huge amount of space. Many are kept in cages though we didn't like the idea of this. (We may regret this decision however when it comes to catching them...they are fast!) These rabbits are more wild than tame. They're curious at times when you enter their pen but generally they don't like to be handled and run away when you try and stroke them. These aren't small rabbits either, they're a big breed, about the size of large cats.

We're on a road to self sufficiency, and along with the chickens and veg patch we're making a start. This is year one and we're experimenting, seeing what works for us as a family and what our land throws up at us throught the year. The kids are totally on board, we haven't held anything back from them, they understand the purpose of the animals we keep and what we're trying to achieve here. We're not a vegetarian family so what better way to know what's on our plate than to grow and rear as much as we can ourselves?

What's next? Definietly bees at some point and next year we have pigs on the agenda. It would be great to have an animal that could keep the grass in the big fields down for us. I have a romantic idea of keeping goats but I know how cheeky they can be! Do you keep animals? We'd love to hear your experiences and any tips that you may have.
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