Ups and downs……………….
2016 was a rollercoaster of a year with many highlights but three very sad events.
Philip and I had decided that whilst we loved our life in Spain it was very apparent that with the continuing ill health of my Father we needed to be closer to the UK where we could be nearer to him and support my Mother. We made the decision to leave our life in the sun behind – a difficult decision as we loved the culture, the climate and – more importantly – our friends. But that aside – my parents are very precious and it was an easy decision to put them first. They have always been there for me – time the role was reversed.
So in June 2016 I made a trip to view a derelict farm in the Mayenne. This met the criteria of having sufficient land, buildings, 30 mins to the motorway and within our self-imposed 4hrs from the channel tunnel. I viewed it in torrential rain and whilst the house clearly needed much work the location was perfect. The land although sadly neglected had much potential. The rain did not dampen my enthusiasm and I made an offer on the spot. After some haggling, an agreement was reached and I had bought it. I explored a little more, taking the dogs for a walk along the track whereupon Jilly promptly celebrated the purchase in fine Border Terrier style – she rolled in fox poo! The track was promptly renamed Fox Sh*t Track and has been known as such ever since!
Sadly our decision wasn’t taken soon enough. My Father passed away in July and he was never to know of our new home. You will never be forgotten Dad – this is how I will remember you – smiling and with your hand in your pocket!
La Chauviere is a ‘commune’ and still classified as such. In the UK it would be known as a hamlet. It is a cluster of stone buildings, some of which need varying degrees of renovation and rebuild. In typical fashion the barns and animal housing mostly have fared better than the human accommodation – the latter sporting rather unattractive rusty corrugated iron roofing whilst the former have beautifully fashioned slate tile roofs.
It is in the Parc Natural Regional Normandie-Maine (see ‘About Us’ on the website) and in a very special location. The land once cleared by the local farmer – Frederic – was ideal for the alpacas albeit we would require a lot of fencing. The boundaries are for the most part ancient hedgerows interspersed with trees, mostly oak, some chestnut, masses of holly, ferns, wild rose, cobb nuts…………the list is endless. The hedging is dense which is fortunate as the existing fencing which has been overgrown is barbed wire. Our upper pasture is divided from our lower pasture by our own woods, teeming with wildlife……….red squirrels, many different species of birds. Judging by what I found on the land it was also clear that foxes had their den in the woods. Never mind Fox Sh*t Track – this was now Fox Sh*t Farm!!!
I moved in on 20th September whilst Philip was slumming it in a nice apartment in Vietnam. I arrived with a large touring caravan, a cat, 3 Border Terriers and a Deerhound. It was certainly cosy!
Two days later 6 alpacas and 2 horses arrived but that is another story.
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