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Lampwork & Glassblowing

An additional speciality by Melody is Lampwork Glass Making. This is a process of glass melting using an oxygen and propane mix flame with either soft glass (otherwise known as sodalime glass) or boroscillate glass. This enables Melody to create component inclusions for precious metal jewellery incorporation, or sculptural giftware for the home.

Melody has attended learning with some of the most revered world experts in the art of lamp work, including the dearly remembered Diana East of UK, and Rashan O Jones of High Desert Flame Works in Alberquerque, since 2013. After a break from this craft, Melody recognised that she still carried the passion for the art form, and has recommenced with a range of new ideas coming through the workshop ready for pushing the business forward in new directions.

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Half Year Review 2020

Mother & Baby Saanen Goats

Where on earth did the time go? Bush Fires in Australia, Corona Virus globally, Lockdown, Isolation, ……… and yet life on our renovation farm with livestock has continued in perpetual growth. Its time for our first Half Year Review. A chance to breathe, reflect, revise, and action.

Gosling hatched on 16 July 2020
Gosling (baby goose) hatched in the incubator on 16 July 2020

We have achieved a lot since New Year

  • Stayed well, and Covid 19 free
  • Managed 8 Goat Kid arrivals
  • Begun goat milking, cheesemaking, probiotic & yoghurt fermenting, preparing for soap making
  • Created milking stations and processing area, for twice per day goat milking
  • Done the first shearing of the Angora Goats for Mohair, who will be ready again in August
  • First ever shearing of the Alpaca
  • Set up hatching our very first batch of Silk Worm
  • Set up and begun planting of the Vegetable Path (Potager) and Polytunnel
  • Hatched Muscovy Ducklings, and recently a solitary Gosling (still time for a few more eggs to hatch)
  • In recent weeks, we finally have hot water from the tap! Whoo hoooooo
  • In the next few weeks, we will have a proper installed bathroom (no more camping shower in the barn)
  • Workshops are now almost fully useable and I can begin to make textiles and jewellery again
  • Planning for teaching is underway, and a wonderful opportunity for residential location has been discussed
  • Installation of electricity throughout the property is in motion
  • Rearranging fencing, and restructuring the pasture layout to incorporate what we now know about the land, as we watch it through the changing seasons in practical terms

and thats just the headlines that I can recall in this moment. Most of all, we are still here, still working hard, and have passed our first anniversary of arriving in France.

The Bathroom build is now progressing well
The Wet Room base has now set, and the water insulated walls are being installed for the bathroom

At the beginning of the year, we had Workaway guests booking in, with plans to travel for a cultural exchange here with us. We had to cancel all of those as the Corona Virus Pandemic happened. We have suspended our account on Workaway for now, as we already have people requesting to stay with us in 2021, subject to any health risk limitations still ongoing. We hope to be able to embrace friends and family visiting for the first time too.

Maybe its time to reflect on our progress, check our future goals are still in alignment, and adjust our course where necessary. A half year review to assess and revise our strategies session. Hmmmmmmmm, will that be held in the sunshine, and include wine? Perhaps home made cheese and wine? Thats a jolly good plan!

Bonne journée to you all. Keep well and safe. Keep wearing the mask, and washing your hands. We will all get through this together if we do.

Bon Courage mes amis

Sunset over Chez Elie, 87230 Champsac
At the end of the day, the sunsets are glowing, whilst we can breathe deeply in the clean mountain air
We look forward to being able to share our adventure in person, in the next twelve month period

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April Is Thunder Season

I’m really not keeping up with this blogging idea so far, am I! Its been a busy time with kidding season, lots of renovation work for the home, and of course – Corona Virus putting the world into self isolation. Its been scary to live through an actual pandemic, yet being on our little farm has meant that we could carry on with lots of works with materials that we have already on hand.

We have reached April, and on 18 April, we marked our first year anniversary of rolling onto the ferry with our trailer full of the essentials we knew that we would need to have with us until we found our permanent home in France. Mid April is when the hot weather is coming in strong, yet peppered with heavy thunderstorms and lightening. It is quite fantastic, lighting up the skies with enthusiasm and the thunder so strong that it shakes the house.

We have six goat kids, and possibly one more on the way. They are growing fast, and keeping us highly amused. We have learned that kids learn to bounce around long before they learn to actually walk! Yes indeed, we are proud goat herders right now!

Biddy

Angora Buck Kid

We have successfully achieved 6 goats kids this season, without any deaths or bottle feeding. We are pretty pleased with that record in our very first year. The kids are growing well, and we have learned that they definitely bounce their way around life long before they learn to walk and run in straight lines. We are proud goat herders right now!

We are milking! Yayyyyyy, our dairy girls are producing between 5-6 litres per day for us. We are now fully providing for ourselves in eggs (from the chickens, bantams and ducks) with two birds currently brooding for hatching, and milk. We have been making Cajeta (a lush Mexican caramel sauce made exclusively with goats milk), and mayonnaise. We are gathering our materials and equipment to make our initial batches of cheese and soaps.

The silkworm eggs are being brought out into room temperature so that we can now also begin our third fibre production stage, as the White Mulberry trees are coming into good leaf growth and have established nicely in the new orchard area.

The Alpaca Herd are getting ready for this year's shearing

With Corovid-19 still keeping everyone in lockdown, we wish safe passage through these strange times for all.

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Its Springtime

Gorgeous Saanen Goat Kid, Miss May born to Momma June on 20 March 2020 at 16h08 at Ferme du Berry

On Friday 20 March 2020 at 16h08, this gorgeous little lady was our first born to our family of goats, here at Ferme du Berry. Momma Saanen, June, was immediately smitten with her first baby. We named her Mai, to keep the name of month theme with this momma. We thought that momma June was having twins, and then Mai arrived as a really good size, singular, first baby. This photograph was taken 16hrs after her birth, and she is doing tremendously well. Encouraging smiles all around whilst we are all confined to home during the Corovid-19 lockdown in France.

Only 7 more ladies to give birth, and we will be curious to see the variations as we have three breeds overall, and two breeds of buck.

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Dreaming before Christmas

Whoa! Time to stop and take stock of where the year has gone.

At this time of year, we do our annual Day Dreaming Exercises.  Whilst getting on with everything else involved with Christmas, we allow our minds to wander and dream of what we would like to achieve in the year to come.  Some may argue that this constitutes wishing our lives away.  We would disagree whole heartedly.  Its a practice we have done for nigh 20 years now.

Our philosophy is that Day Dreaming is very healthy.  It helps us to picture what we would really like to achieve in our lifetime; the quality of life we aspire to; the type of people around us; the legacy we potentially leave behind for others, once we are gone.  

I recall that, in my 20’s, an aunt gifted me with a leather Filofax for Christmas.  They were just coming onto the scene as a popular YUPpy accessory (Young Urban Professional)  As I unwrapped it, she made a powerful statement.  “You are the only person I know who genuinely has a use for one of these things”.  I always had a busy life and was hard to nail down.  One friend even notified us 18 months in advance for their wedding, stating that it was to make sure we would be there.

I still have that original filofax, and I still use it today.  I have a newer one for my day to day needs, and the original is now split into very distinct project planning sections. Yes, there are apps and other technology to do this now.  I still swear by the activity of physically writing it down.  It impacts the brain with a stronger neural connection which lasts, and lasts.

So what is the purpose of telling you this aside story? Simple.

In my diary (aka Filofax; Journal; whatever it is that you choose to use), I write the list of dreams for the next year.  By the time I am writing it down, there has been lots of mental refining happening to our dream.  We’ve been working out some of the smaller deals; the things that need to be achieved in order to reach the bigger dream.  When the time comes to write it down, we have already worked out a great deal of kinks and requirements.  It has already become a list of achievements in early, intermediate and final steps to complete the overall goal.

A GOAL IS A DREAM WITH A DATE APPLIED TO IT – unable to recall who said it first.  Wise words though.

So we have our list for the coming year, and sometimes a little beyond that. The big dreams (goals) take a fair amount of smaller sections before the final completion.  These may have specific completion dates by the side, in order to plan a deadline for the overall goal.  Others, not so much.

In November or December, each year, we take great satisfaction in checking off what we achieved during the present year, alongside visualising and setting our sights on goals for the next year.  We rarely complete the list from the previous year.  We give ourselves permission to be flexible.  Some goals will identify themselves as actually having no real fruits to bear for us.  Those same goals usually serve to point us in a much better direction, so new goals replace them.  Its all part of the refining process. Then there are goals that are still in progress, so get transferred over to the following year. And so it goes on.

This year, we felt it was time to make our very long term goal a reality, the dream of moving to France for the remainder of our days.  Initially, it appeared we would be there by Christmas.  Then matters took a whole other direction out of our control.  It hasn’t changed the ultimate goal.  It simply served to show a variety of refinements to make it even better.

Yesterday we received news that there is another potential interest in our UK property for purchase (the chain fell apart below the first potential buyer).  Early days as, they too, have a property to sell before they can proceed. This is the way of the housing market, and our time to move will surely come.  In the meantime, we are keeping plenty busy with the arrangements that we can progress with, and doing our absolute best to be patient for the date to move to become clear.

This Blog is much the same.  As we build the new website and begin to operate under new branding and new services ahead of the big move, the idea of a blog came into being.  Marking the journey as much for ourselves, as potentially to provide some interesting tidbits for others to read.  Our best guess is that no-one is reading it at all for now.  However, one day, one day, it may be happened upon by fellow humans, and become a source of inspiration, occasional shared exasperation, and amusement.  Some chapters may also be an aid to sleep zzzzzZZZZZZZZZ

However you came to find this particular post, Welcome, Bienvenue.

 We greet you whilst in the throws of Brexit Crisis, a stagnant Housing Marketing, a rapid fluctuation in the Pound Sterling, yet our personal ambitions remain strong.  The sun shall surely continue to rise above the horizon each day.

For now, I’m headed back to the makeshift crafting base that I’ve put up in the back room to maintain a level of sanity and production.   Felting is the way forward for today.  I have a design in my head, and I will, I will, I will bring it into existence.  Along with a tutorial, kits, and, and, and …

Have a fun week ahead, dear reader.

Mel & Martin

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Slow, slow, slowwwwww

It all feels like the relocation to France is going so slowly at the moment.  If anyone knows someone who wants to live in semi rural Lincoln, in a good size bungalow with plenty of workshop space – please send them our way.

In the meantime, no one has time to twiddle thumbs.  Plenty of happenings in the background.  The website is continually being modified, and hopefully we have finally got the shipping algorithms sorted out so that we can begin listing products.

On the bench are some lovely items being sculpted in wool.  These are moving a little slowly too, however it is purely because the time is being utilised to write up a thorough tutorial at the same time.  Writing tutorials can feel a little overwhelming.  Mostly due to the confidence you have in what you are making, and then the uncertainty that you’ve actually given enough detail in the how to for others to replicate your actions.

Cue email to fond friend, who has no felting skills, to request that they become my tutorial & kit tester.  If they can make it from what I’ve written, then it will be considered a success! Let’s see what they say.

TTFN – Mel


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Moving Forward

Mercury in Retrograde

Apparently, according to astronomers, Venus has been in retrograde causing chaos.  As it begins to more forward again, good old Mercury, the sly silver fox, has turned retrograde to “perform a cleaning up operation”.  

Cleaning up the operation is exactly what’s been happening here.  Unfortunately we are still awaiting a buyer for the UK home.  Its a little frustrating, as we are all packed to keep the place suitable for viewing, and the workshop dismantled.  Marking time isn’t in my nature.  So I’ve set up a little art and craft table in the back study, so that I can keep something happening in the handcrafting department.

In the meantime, I’ve been working on the website, repeatedly scratching my head to resolve the shipping conundrum which has been putting off the listing of stock onto the site, to allow purchases.  

HURRAH

I think that, this evening, I may actually have settled the whole dilemma, so I will now start taking photographs and regularly applying listings of goodies for your Christmas shopping.

We also attended a gathering at York Weavers & Spinners Guild last weekend, helping out with a Spinning Wheel Surgery.  Martin had a particularly good time.  He lights up when he has a problem to fix for the ladies. We are looking forward to working more with Spinners and their Wheels.

Martin Berry under the close guidance of Clive Jones for the Spinning Wheel Surgery at York Spinning Guild November 2018 – ahead of the Timbertops Spinning Wheel business handover

Thank you for your patience.  We will cross fingers and hope to offer more interesting and exciting news soon.

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Events

The Diary is open on the desk.  We have officially made our first Event decision for 2019.  Well, subject to application for a stall being accepted in January.

 

Yarndale
It will be a very long drive to Skipton from home.  Likely best done over a couple of days, and then a couple of days to return too.  Though I am certain the traditional Yorkshire welcome will be on offer.  Best get me big coat out and prep the thermos for some good, strong, Yorkshire tea.  We are certain there will be some familiar faces and hugs to be had.