August at Bois Jarzeau

The view across the Tude valley is dry and parched. The wheat is cut and fields disced and harrowed; the sunflowers are burnt brown and heavy; and the maize is still green with irrigation deployed to combat the long drought. A great banded grayling sets up territory on the lime tree and chases off allContinue reading “August at Bois Jarzeau”

South Charente in August

The sunflower and maize fields clothe the hills in a pale yellow and dull green patchwork; the cereals have been harvested and the stubbled earth disced and left full of weeds. Fine Charente cattle with newborn calves and attendant bulls are in green pastures; the calves are only present for a few days before beingContinue reading “South Charente in August”

Summer days at Bois Jarzeau

The heat of the past few days brings dark thunderstorms that travel up from the south over the wooded hills to the west, then switch direction, run up the Vallée de la Tude, and deluge the ground. The humidity immediately drops and the cool, clear air is cleaned of pollen and dust. The fields of cereals and youngContinue reading “Summer days at Bois Jarzeau”

Moulin de Perdrigeau

April 5th and 6th 2016 The old windmill with no sails sits on the hilltop in the centre of the forest like an upturned flower pot; the top is now a watch tower wth 360 degree views over the pines and farmland, with distant wooded hills, villages and La Vallée de la Tude that runs north to south away toContinue reading “Moulin de Perdrigeau”

South Charente Spring

The fine chateau at Villebois-Lavalette sits on a low hill, the medieval fortifications speak of a long and combustible history: an Iron Age fortification; a Roman castrum; an  English stronghold during the Hundred Years War; the seat of Dukes in the age of aristocracy; a prison after the Revolution; and today a battleground for summer tourists. The land hereabouts isContinue reading “South Charente Spring”

Bois Jarzeau Encore

The land of the south Charente is a changing; old fashioned, low intensive mixed farming is on the wane and new intensive agriculture is spreading. The old is untidy and intricate, fascinating but inefficient; and the new, uniform and sharp-lined, mundane but productive and profitable. Young Limousine bull in an ancient pasture land; herds of these fineContinue reading “Bois Jarzeau Encore”

Bois Jarzeau’s Little Emperors and Admirals

At the end of May, Freyer’s purple emperor (Apatura metis) or FPE was abundant around Lake Skadar in Montenegro as described here and then here. Close to the slow winding rivers and streams of the southern Charente, the lesser purple emperor (Apatura ilia) or LPE is king. These are the subspecies A. i. clytie, which is aContinue reading “Bois Jarzeau’s Little Emperors and Admirals”

Bois Jarzeau

The small, stone quiet village of Bellon sits on one of the endless rolling hills of the south Charente surrounded by large fields of maize and sunflower. The village is like a thousand others that pepper the landscape and together act like myriad anchors across the soft, green ocean that is rural France. The small village of Bellon. BoisContinue reading “Bois Jarzeau”