Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Pigs in the Pasture

"The “Bigorre” or “Noir de Bigorre” is a very ancient European breed of black pig, with a black hide and narrow, horizontal ears. Although known for its strength and robustness, this is a likeable creature due to a calm temperament and domestic nature.
This breed was fairly dominant until the 1970’s, as it’s not suited to intensive livestock farming, they quickly began to disappear until a handful of dedicated supporters set out to “save the beast” in the 80’s. Since the early 1990’s, approximately fifty breeders, two ham curers and five pork butcher-caterers formed a conservation association. They have since establish strict specifications for the care of and production of Noir de Bigorre, thus sustaining the breed for future generations."

And so our story of the pigs in the pasture began:

We selected two "Bigorre" pigs from a nearby farm in St. Sever de Rustan. They each weighed around 45 kilos and were the size of a hefty Cocker Spaniel, although heavier. 

This pen was used to weigh the pigs, clearly they can not be expected to stand quietly on the scale! The farmer chose two she thought were of similar size, wrangled them into the pen to be weighed. Slick system!

We were quite surprised with the condition of their farm, there were different holding areas. From securely fenced pastures to individual stalls (11) for females and their babies to spacious open areas near the barn with overhead canvas to provide shade, to hold young males or females ready to be sold and every single area appeared to have been recently cleaned. We were invited to come "whenever you wish" so they didn't clean knowing of our arrival! VERY impressed.

Expat neighbors van came in very handy for transport back to Montegut.

We used the same enclosure and fencing arrangement that the lambs enjoyed last year. The pigs were placed in the pen and immediately found a paradise of organic snacks!

A thick growth of various plants of which they soon made short work.

Happy pigs!

Pig "Eden" Quince, Plum and Pear trees provide some shade. They settled in quickly to their new home.

Fast forward TWO months!! They sure made short order of the vegetation.

Eating became a competitive sport!

They grew rapidly with premium feed, hay and baskets of fallen pears, plums, figs and peaches.
We were able to tell them apart by their tails, one "curled" to the right the other to the left!

When they weren't eating, they rooted in the soil. Together they managed to create deep trenches in several shaded areas where they enjoyed the cooler earth temperature.

Bigger and bigger.

They have nearly tripled in size and eaten nearly 2 hundred pounds of feed as well as vegetable and fruit scraps from two households twice a day. They also receive grass clippings along with a steady supply of culled fruit from the orchards fruit trees, they particularly fond of the fig tree.

And if you have thanks for reading.

Au Revoir!

Tuesday, August 9, 2016


"Not only is Chartres Cathedral one of the greatest achievements in the history of architecture, it is almost perfectly preserved in its original design and details. Chartres' extensive cycle of portal sculpture remains fully intact and its glowing stained-glass windows are all originals. Chartres is thus the only cathedral that coveys an almost perfect image of how it looked when it was built."

Cathedral of our Lady of Chartres in the city center of Chartres and is elegant from every angle. A lovely surprise to find this view from our hotel window. Built between 1194 and 1260 in the Gothic architectural design. It was saved from looting and destruction by townspeople, quite extraordinary considering the vast number of churches destroyed during the French Revolution.

The city was captured during WWII because of its proximity to Paris, only about 50 miles, the Nazis established a strategic command post within blocks of the Cathedral. This is credited to saving the oldest part of the city and where the Cathedral is located.

The majority of the interior has been beautifully restored. 

That is really some Pipe Organ!

Below is a section of the Choir Screen that was being restored during our visit. The original plaster was gently cleaned and then a new "skin" was applied. This not only adds support but allows for the artisan to make repairs to the carving details.

And there is one now!

He told me it will take 7 years of cleaning, plastering, filing and smoothing the new plaster to restore the design to match the original carvings on just the Choir Screen.

The dark area on this column is the un-restored section. Before and after at one glance.

 The stained-glass images are abstract and simple and appear after some contemplation.

And if you have, thanks for reading.

Avoir, Linda

Tuesday, August 2, 2016


"Rocamadour is a small clifftop village in south-central France. It is known for the Cité Réligieuse complex of religious buildings, accessed via the Grand Escalier staircase. It includes the Chapelle Notre-Dame, with its Black Madonna statue, and the Romanesque-Gothic Basilique Saint-Sauveur."

One of the most popular tourist spots and well deserved of the accolades! 

The story of Saint-Amadour, whose relics were said to be found in the village was a hermit who sought solitude in Rocamadour.

From the top of the rampart Rocamador literally defies gravity and present day engineering! The little village is built, layer upon layer, into and on the stone face of the Alzou canyon. From the small parking area at the top it is approximately 150 meters down a pathway of switch-backs to the church. 

Attached to the castle, which is now privately owned, this viewing area is open to the public (2 euro) and offers remarkable 180 degree views.

A peek over the walkway into the courtyard of the castle.

Difficult at times to see where the building begins and the rock ends.

 As early as the 12th century pilgrims trekked to Rocamadour to visit this religious site. On their way to the chapel they offered a prayer at each step.

Here is the famous "Black Madonna" in the tiny chapel it is displayed simply. Hauntingly beautiful the chapel definitely emanates a sense of peace and awe.

And if you have thanks for reading....

Avoir, Linda