Welcome to my blog

I was born in Guernsey (but now live in Brittany) and our main industry was growing tomatoes although that industry has now virtually disappeared. Growing tomatoes to a Guernseyman is like wine to a Frenchman, it's in our blood! I do not profess to be an expert, but I have picked up a few tips and techniques which work for me.
PLEASE NOTE due to ill health I have not kept up with this blog, however there is still a lot of information to look at from over the past few years. I will add the odd new post but some videos are missing from old post, I will re-create these one day.


Monday, 16 July 2012

I need a bigger tractor!

One of the problems of having slightly to much land for the horses is that they tend to eat too much grass, so I have to cut a few acres on my ride on mower. Now considering that an acre is about the size of a football pitch, then it can take quite a while. The grass is not really worth getting someone in to cut for hay and we also require the small bales, which not many French farmers have the equipment for as they use the really large round bales.




However, the French farmer next door must have taken pity on me when he saw me going up and down my fields with my tiny ride-on tractor. He came knocking on the door later and asked if I wanted him to put his young heifers in part of our land in exchange for a large round bale of hay. We can store just one of these in the stables for winter, so I jumped at the offer. Some people are a bit wary of letting French farmers use their land, as their is some ancient law about trying to stop them using it after so many years have passed. I tend to trust everyone until they do me wrong and we do get on really well with him. He is also selling up next year, so I felt pretty safe letting him use it.




The next problem was finding him an entrance at the bottom of the field as the hedge had grown across an old entrance, I managed to find it and clear it, then luckily I found an old gate laying around as you do! 


 
  
The dreaded Ragwort 

For some strange reason most French farmers have no idea about the dangers of Ragwort to livestock and horses. We tend to walk the fields quite often and remove it roots and all, then burn it, so we do not have too much on our land. 
We see lots of Ragwort in French farmers fields left growing wildly, yet they have strict rules on removing thistles. We had a chat the the farmer about it and Mrs TK downloaded a document in French for him, although he will probably do like most French farmers and ignore it. Horses will not eat it living in the field, but they will eat it dry and this can be a problem if it is mixed up in hay, so you should try to sift through the hay you are feeding horses, it was our only worry about getting hay from our neighbour.







4 comments:

  1. That's a good practical post Steve and a good reminder about Ragwort. I didn't know horses only ate it when dried in hay, potentially scary.

    That mower of yours must have some grunt too, cutting grass that length, seriously impressive. Has it got a V8 in it?

    The gate looks like it has got a fair few years left in it as well!

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  2. I cant believe the French are not bothered about it Andy.

    If I put the ride-on in 1st gear over the high stuff it just manages.

    A few weeks ago the ride-on caught fire while I was driving it, no water nearby, talk about panic! by the time I got back to put it out flames were all over the wiring.
    I thought that was the end of it, but the other day I salvaged what was left of the wiring and got it started. So now it's even better, starts in gear, doesn't stop the engine when you jump off the seat and I just need a screwdriver across the contacts to start it. :-) :-)

    I just wish someone had been filming me when it caught fire, like a scene form 'some mothers do have em.' LOL

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  3. You are right about the law. Our daughter was buying a house a a farmer put a claim in on the land. IT was the wrong land he was claiming on, but still delayed the sale by several months. This never showed up until just before the house sale was due to go through. IT was a real pain, and one people need to be aware of when buying property with land in France. The Notary did not pick this up and they had no idea about safer or the rights of local farmers.

    Your solution sounds ideal, but although he is not interested when he sells his farm will the fact the farmer used your land pass on to the next owner, thereby giving him rights in the furture?

    I had no idea about Ragwort, and now wonder if it is dangerous to humans if they eat it. I'm thinking of my baby granddaughter.

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    Replies
    1. Hi Piglet.

      The problem is worse with French farmers if you charge then, so most people do not. The problem with land is that if any house sold in France with a fair amount of land then it is offered to local farmers or the commune.

      The Farmer is selling his farm, but keeping the land to rent out, so I am sure we will be OK. I also always give him a few tomatoes and cucumbers to keep him sweet. :-)

      Ragwort is dangerous to handle, you should wear gloves and wash your hands afterwards as well to make sure.

      Fingers in mouths after touching it can be harmful.

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