A vole, not sure what species (maybe Common) disturbed when I moved its shelter sheet of corrugated iron so Alex could mow. I also have several photos of where a shrew was.
With all the wet weather we've had over this year, the orchard didn't always get mowed regularly, and the potager is a complete weedfest. Added to that all the fenceline hedges were getting too tall and I desperately needed some new compost bins. Time call in the professionals.
The section in the foreground hasn't been mowed since July, the rest even longer ago.
Our friends Nicole and Alex run a garden maintenance business as well as their gites, and we have used them for various projects in the past (most notably the coin d'apéro).
Alex removes the dead hazel tree prior to installing two new compost bins made of recycled pallets.
I called them up a couple of weeks ago and we met at the orchard to discuss the work. It was agreed they would come on 18 October and get as much done in a day as they could, for their standard daily rate of €240 + TVA. We all hoped it wouldn't pour with rain, but they assured me that if it was just damp with a few sprinkles they would work through it. Luck was with us, and although cloudy, the temperature got up to the low 20s and we had to shed a layer of clothing by lunchtime. (And it's rained pretty well non-stop the following days.)
A new Lizard Orchid Himantoglossum hircinum leaf rosette. Last year this orchid had slim strappy leaves and didn't flower. These leaves are more mature looking, so it might flower in 2013.
I spent the day down there with them, and while they got on with trimming the hedges, cutting out a dead hazel to make way for some new compost bins, strimming and mowing the grass, I weeded the potager. In the interval between us discussing the work and the appointed day it had been warm and wet, then with a few cold days. The orchids had responded by all sending up leaf rosettes ready for next year. They look very healthy and robust, so I was very pleased. Fortunately they are mostly too low yet to be cut off by the big mower, although inevitably a few got run over. I'm sure they will recover.
At the end of the day, you could certainly see where we'd been, but not in too severe a manicured sort of way, which is just how I wanted it. I picked some grapes, which remain in extremely good condition and are sweet and delicious. Some of them I passed on to Alex and Nicole just before they headed off to pick up youngest daughter Amélie from school.