What a wonderful month August has been. There have been highs and lows and not much renovating due to the high temperatures, but terrific all the same.
The joys have included an English country wedding and having our grandchildren visit. We have enjoyed hearing the excitement of visiting France and watching them all enjoy the freedom of our grounds. Favourite activities have included egg collecting, tractor rides, foraging, music, looking after animals and top activity swimming. It’s great to see our grandchildren take on a new activity and succeed at it. 5 out of 7 learned to swim this summer.
The lows were weather related. Our lakes lost a lot of water. The depth that was left was warm and rapidly accumulating algae. Warm water does not retain oxygen as well as cold, algae just makes things worse. It was a dreadful morning when we checked the lakes and found many of our large carp had died and a few roach. There was not much we could do to try and save the remaining fish. We considered all sorts but settled on ordering an aeration system to try and improve oxygen levels. Weighted pipes arrived with a device to attach to the end to blow air bubbles into the lake. Since we installed this, we have not lost any more fish. For next year we will improve oxygenation with planting, including introducing some native water lilies to create some additional shade.
The grass we keep for our ponies and donkeys stopped growing and became increasingly brown and useless. Like many people we had to turn to our fresh hay reserved for winter feeding. We had to be extra careful to check hooves daily, picking out any stones or dirt and washing hooves to keep them in tip top condition.
One of the unusual things we have seen as the water level in lakes receded was an assortment of shells. We discovered that we had a large quantity of freshwater mussels. It was sad to see so many shells but hopefully it is a sign that we have plenty of them living further out in the water. We did have to look them up as we both knew nothing about freshwater mussels. They have an interesting life-cycle that relies on our fish and their shells show rings that enables us to see how old they are. Each black line on the shell is one years growth, just like counting the rings on a tree trunk. The shells are surprisingly large. Our photo shows a euro for a comparison. Ours appear to be 12 years old. They help to purify the water.
August is an unusual time to see leaves falling from the trees. Our plantation of white poplar trees dropped its leaves. I think the trees have done this early to prevent any more loss of water through the leaves. I have heard others talk of an early autumn and I wonder what nature will do in response to the drought. Perhaps an early autumn might mean a good year for nuts, berries or mushrooms. It will be interesting to see what happens.
August 1st is always a sad time in our village as people remember the Battle of Le Rouvre in 1944. We found out a lot of information about this as we did research on the chateau’s history. We discovered a battle right on our doorstep!