Sunday, March 29, 2009

'Nids de poule'

Today? Gorgeous. Crisp, clear, bright spring day - as I write this a 2 day old skinny crescent moon hangs idly over Lower House. It's a slender and elegant thing. On the western horizon shimmers the last of the sun. So sun down, moon up. Stars are bright.....

......but what's that insistent 'click-click-click'?

It's the electric fence that encloses the hens' compound, that's what it is. It's shorting on something along its length. I walk the line. I kick the odd leaf out of the way, flatten a molehill which threatens to breach the first 'live' wire and push a load of potentially beetle-holding dry grass to one side too.

AH HA! But what has been going on here? In the lee of the log piles we left, largely to give the birds some points of interest in an otherwise barren enclosure, I discover great excavations; nids des poule. They are literally 'hens' nests' - but known in French speaking road-mending terms as pot-holes. My birds have been dust-bathing in the dry dusty soil under the log pile and have enthusiastically scuffed up enough soil to short the system. They have had fun.

'Nids des poules' ....... we first saw the sign down in the Languedoc in the mid 80's somewhere between S├Ęte and Cap d'agde - a battered tin sign warned of imminent roadworks. Whilst my primitive French could do a word-for-word translation it took a bit of imagination to understand its vernacular use. We were much impressed with the French workers who mended these 'nids des poule' too - there was no stopping them and they seemed to cover vast distances each day - the stop for the long French 'dejeuner' only seemed to fire their progress.

I suppose a travelling Frenchman on the B4386 might be just as bemused on seeing a sign warning of 'Cat's Eyes Removed'.


Pam said...

Good to see that those hens are keeping you on your toes!
On the odd UK signage front, let's not forget "sleeping policeman" and "zebra crossing"

Pondside said...

I'd never have figured out 'nids de poule'.
Potholes aren't such a problem here, where the temperatures are mild, but in the east, every spring is one long road-repair time as roads and highways heave and settle after the freeze and thaw.

hand-knitted muesli said...

'nids de poule' - guest car park

Our 'hen'rietta's + elvis whilst having an electric fence (to keep the cattle out) didn't ever short it, they did however just love a dust bath. Their speciality was at 3pm in the guest car park. Pristine carpark advance the hen brigade - all garden beds - their mission to redistributed all mulch and soil as far as possible over guest carpark & pathway to main house all whilst looking impossibly cute to guests. Even better invite ducks along to help with re distribution of said stuff and further entice guests. Potholes - excellent place to lay eggs!!!

kissa said...

We live in pothole heaven however 'nids de poule' sounds so much nicer! Oh yes I too have been enjoying the crescent moon's delicate beauty.

Rachel said...

This reminded me of a holiday in France, during a hot dry summer, where we were mystified by permanent signs on quiet country roads: Boue!

We didn't find out it meant Mud! till we got home.