Cutting back a broom forest

This has been a momentous week for our favourite neighbours.

After years and years of waiting, they have finally completed the last bit of the puzzle.

They now own every single one of the houses in this hamlet.

This has been their home for the last forty years. One small tiny house purchased in the hippy days of the 70s. And as a bit of income came their way, another absent owner tracked down and added to the ‘portfolio’.

The end house was owned by a lovely local man who lived and died of old age there…. but then it fell to ruin and was rented out.

In that order. And quite the squat it was. Seriously bad behaviour from a group of feckless young adults who made everyone’s life a misery. Their goats ran amok among the grafted fruit trees. Their dogs bit everyone indiscriminately. And it was grim.

Fast forward almost three years the end house (top right of the hamlet) has finally become part of the whole.

Which means no more dreadful neighbours causing havoc. And more land to add to their already tricky ten hectares.

Not many people would want another ten hectares of difficult steep land with very poor soil.

But the top field…. The top field of all our farming dreams.

That now belongs to lovely Solène.

An almost flat bit of acreage. Right on the top of the col.

These stone walls link our mountain top from theirs. And all that land right up to the pine trees is where we were going to work.

Because of course, during the years of negotiations with the owners of the derelict land the weeds really took hold.

Broom. Genet. Genista.

Lovely nitrogen fixing weeds. So a darn sight better than a bramble forest or the usual pine beasties.

But a forest nonetheless.

So in the great tradition of all small rural communities, everyone came out to lend a hand.

I’m not doing any close ups because we are a shy bunch. But this is what a team of people can do in a day. One third of the field cleared.

Cut down with two of the heaviest strimmers I have seen (using the disc blades).

Then the rest of us collecting up the thick branches.

And feeding into Guillaume’s chipper on the back of the tractor.

All in heavy ear muffs because it made a mighty din.

Loads of fun when you saw the rich pile of mulch at the end.

A lot of the broom stalks left behind are a tremendous trip hazard. But for now one third of the field is clear. And that lovely hot fresh mulch is probably going to be raked over the lot to prevent new weeds.

And being the friends we have – everyone went hunting for the wild mâche plants in the undergrowth to add to lunch.

And I trotted back along our linking path through the forest delighted with the day’s work.