More little things I’ve learnt on this French farm

champignions (mushrooms)

Raspberries

Yesterday morning, we got took out our secateurs (delightfully un sécateur en français) and chopped down the raspberry canes. You do this to promote new growth in the new year. As I chopped, I ignorantly didn’t know you used the word ‘cane’ to describe the plant, but the Father kindly corrected me when I told him about my gardening exploits later in the evening.

We dug up the canes which had failed to produce fruit this year and weeded around those that had. Now, unless there is some great technique that I’m oblivious to, the work has taught me that I am considerably physically weaker than Grand-mère. That’s with the fork, shovel or pick axe.

Je bêche avec une bêche.

One particularly long and stringy weed seemed to have grown everywhere. It winds around the plants and suffocates them. I could pull it off in large handfuls but it would snap from the roots. If the roots remain it will grow again.  Once we’d removed as much as possible we threw wood chip down on the ground around the plants to protect them.

Mushrooms

We set out on an adventure into the forest for mushrooms. So far this year, the mushroom harvest has been rather pathetic. There has simply not been enough rain. Although it’s now October, it rarely rains. The fields still have huge cracks in them from where they were toasted by the summer sun.

There were however some mushrooms in the forest. When we returned to the farmhouse we lay our small collection on the kitchen table for inspection. Grand-mère found her champignion book to help us analyse what we’d found. Luckily it contained many pictures as well as French text to help us identify our mushrooms.

With a quick glance at the table Grand-mère knew we didn’t have the best autumn mushroom in the collection. She hopes it will turn up next week.

We did have one particularly worrying looking mushroom, the closest image we found to it in the book had a rating of two skull and cross bones. Luckily, we  also had some edible (comestible) mushrooms. However, the book described the taste of some as sour, and others as unpleasant. They smelt bad too.  Fortunately, the very smallest, with stalks like straw and tops not much bigger than the tip of my thumb, smelt sweet. Grand-mère declared them to be very good. We have three of these tiny mushrooms.

Cream

Sometime last week, I finally woke up early enough to catch Grand-mere skimming the cream. Grand-père laughed at me wanting to see something so simple, but he eventually admitted he hadn’t ever skimmed the milk. Getting up early was well worth it though. My imagination had failed to consider that there would be a crisp layer of fat, translucent and a little yellow in colour, laying on the top of the milk. For some reason I can’t explain, being surprised by the cream delighted me.

What’s surprised you this last week?