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Stupid La Poste!

So I got home to find an "Avis de passage" in the letterbox. Some sort of parcel was left, and a hastily scrawled "I came by but..." was put in the letterbox. Obviously something that needed signed for.

Which cost me an hour of my evening. As in, the shirt I washed (work shirt) probably won't dry by sunset now, as it was supposed to.

The first two characters... is that "UZ" or "VZ"? The website didn't want to recognise it either way. So I try the number by the barcode (the advice note number). The website said that modifications were no longer possible, and can only be done on the day the advice note was left. Which is today, the 6th of July.

So I went to the phone number, which I hope to god is a free call given that it took about four calls and forty eight minutes in order to go nowhere.
In order to reduce staffing, I would imagine, there is a nifty virtual assistant. That really cannot cope with non-Frenchies trying to pronounce French. She'd get one bit, then mess up another. Eventually she got it all, only to tell me that it was not a valid number.

Eventually I got through to a person. A parcel person. Who told me it wasn't a parcel, it was a tracked letter. Note that the advice slip has "Colis" (parcel) ticked.
So I eventually got through to a letter person, who told me it was not a letter, it was a parcel.

Actually, I think the logic that they were using was "nothing shows up on my screen, it must be the other one".
I get through to a telephone advisor, who takes the numbers and puts me through to the the parcel person. Who says, again, that it's not a parcel.

Finally I get through to a different telephone advisor who at least understands my tale of woe. He tries the numbers and says nothing comes up. So he then takes my name and postal code, nothing shows. I ask him to spell it, and sure enough, it is Murray and would appear to be the only one.

Since I cannot ask for the delivery to be retried on Saturday, as it's a non-existant parcel, I will have to go into the little town where the post office is on Saturday morning. Because of how insular and geographically divided French people are, the main post office is not the post office in the town I work, it's a town about four times further away. And the little local post office is attached to that one, rather than the one where I work.

But, for god's sake... if the parcel number is nigh unreadable, then the advice slip should indicate something. Are they trying to balls it up as much as UPS? That's a standard to exceed, not attempt to match.

So, there goes a quiet Saturday morning.

 

Even worse, I have no idea what it is. The stuff I ordered from DistriCenter arrived yesterday. As did the eye bath solution from Amazon (always useful to keep one in my locker since I work with chemicals). I'm waiting on a DVD from a third party seller, but that was sent today, so it won't be that. And there's something coming from China that will be here next month, if it ever turns up. So... I have no idea what this parcel is. Neither, apparently, does La Poste.
Marvellous.

 

Harvest

I was wrong. I said something in a recent video, but I don't remember if I actually uploaded that part, so if I didn't, pretend I never said it. ☺

Anyway, the southern part of my land, a little under one hectare, is cultivated by the farmer neighbour. It's a completely unofficial arrangement. I do not rent out the land to him.
While there may be people jumping up and down and saying "but it's money for nothing!" (and your chicks for free...), there are problems with formal arrangements. Namely, if he is paying for the use of the land, he is entitled to use the land as he sees fit. This was made excruciatingly clear when the guy over in the other town (other side of the field) retired and my neighbour farmer took over the use of the land. First thing he did was raze an ancient wood and numerous hedgerows by having a guy come and tear them down with a backhoe digger at 10pm at night. It was one of those "done and wrecked before anybody could object" kind of deals.
Indeed, the only reason we still have trees there is because mom marched across the field (in the middle of night) and informed him of two things. Firstly, that if he dared touch one single tree of ours, the place would be crawling with cops in a heartbeat. And secondly, if he thinks he's going to tear trees down, it's his responsibility to know where the land boundaries are.
I think mom was prescient in knowing that stuff like this might happen, so it's a completely informal arrangement. That being said, he probably thinks the land is his but leaves the trees alone so as not to get that "crazy cat lady" annoyed.

It does actually benefit me, as it happens. The land and the property is rated "agricultural", which is quite a bit cheaper than the "primary residence of clueless Brit" rating. So my "taxe foncière" is not a ball-busting amount for the land that I have, and he gets a little under a hectare to cultivate. It's win-win.
Plus, I don't have to mow it...

That's another thing mom forsaw. The land he can use is specifically just under a hectare. Because - and this is something that has caught out quite a few Brits when they come to resell - if it was over a hectare, then the farmer making use of the land would be able to enter into something called a "bail rural" which is, as everybody says, a rent for the use of the land.
Except everybody doesn't say that the law is weighted very very heavily in favour of the farmer. The agreement cannot be less than 9 years (though in some cases, 18 or 25 years), the farmer has the automatic right to renewal, said renewal can pass on to his children or to other people if he's a GEAC or some other sort of co-operative. The land owner must jump through a lot of hoops to end the agreement, with at least 18 months notice and the farmer can apparently go to something with a name like Safar or Spafar which can rule that, nope, the farmer gets to carry on.
Really, termination is only validly possible when rental payments have been missed, the land has been used inappropriately (defined as appropriate to the mind of a farmer, so tearing down trees is okay), change of zoning, or the owner wishes to use the land themselves for agricultural purposes.
Oh, and should the property be sold, the farmer has the automatic right of first refusal on the entirety of the land cultivated, paid of course at farmer's land prices and not house land prices.

So, he gets to make use of the land, and I get nothing in return, no payments. We specifically don't ask for any payment-in-kind like "a pig every month" that could be interpreted as some sort of reciprocal payment.

Furthermore, he bales up the hay from our land as well as his, and sells it to the guy at the top of the lane with the cow farm. I don't see a penny.

So, I ought to be able to recover the land without a load of trouble should I decide to sell (which is not even a remote possibility at this point). I will talk to him about it, obviously, because I understand that farming runs in cycles and it's completely unjustified to say "I'm selling, get the hell off my lawn". Honestly, I think the best thing would be if he's willing to sign an agreement to vacate on demand after a certain notification period, which I don't think is strictly necessary, but it will allow him to continue using the land while the house is on the market, it'll give the purchasers peace of mind that they can reclaim the land, and it also opens the door for them if they wish to enter into any sort of formal arrangement between themselves.
Clearly, I'd get advice from a notaire about how this should all play out. A long time ago, mom had an official letter sent to his younger brother outlining that the use of the field (which was noted as under one hectare) was an informal arrangement, and technically he is supposed to tell us what he is planting and ask for permission. He never did, but we never pushed it. In a small town, it's useful to once in a while put the fear of god into a farmer (the brother misread the letter and thought they were being kicked off of the entire land - the majority of which is actually owned by the people we bought the house from, so, yeah, he turned up literally shaking) and then let a lot of stuff slide because, well, small towns and all. It's better if the locals think you're weird, not an arsehole.

Well, that was a bloody long detour wasn't it?

Anyway, in this video that I may or may not have uploaded, I said that in the heatwave a few weeks ago, the wheat went from green to brown in three days. The wheat kernels were tiny. It's basically utterly mediocre crap. I said that the harvester normally comes around about the time of Bastille Day, and I'd not be surprised if it wasn't harvested by the end of the week (when I made the video).

Three days later, today...

Bringing in the harvest
Bringing in the harvest.

I was wrong because what is normally harvested around Bastille Day is the barley.
This wheat is about two and a half weeks early.

The guy I spoke to, the older brother of neighbour-farmer, said that not only is this harvest bad because the kernels are too small, but they are terrified that the heatwave forecast from now until the 20th (yes, it's supposed to be about two weeks up in the 30s again) will break with thunderstorms. That would be bad because that period coincides with the colza (rapeseed) harvest. And that one is not only doing well, but prices are gonzo. It's apparently around €700 a tonne (or €0.70/kg) of raw colza seed. That's over twice the usual rate.
And if the heavy storm rains come through, it'll be a lot of colza seed useless and in the mud.

So I really hope that they get that crop in, and that the corn (maize) also does well. It is looking good for the moment, but they are forbidden from watering, even though the farmer has two reservoirs full of water...

 

My own crops

As for my own crops, the potatoes are still looking good. They seemed a bit droopy yesterday, so I gave them a long drink and they've perked up again. I'll have to keep an eye on them, as it's only a week(ish) until the mildew wiped them out last year, however this year they're more likely to suffer terminal dehydration than mould. The place I have them is also extremely breezy. And maybe, just maybe, planting them in the shade of trees wasn't such a bad idea what with the heatwaves.
Potatoes.
Potatoes relaxing in the shade.
The tree on the right isn't that bendy, it's the wide angle lens.

My shallots are slowly dying. This isn't unexpected, bulbs (or sets) were planted in early April. So they've already had two months and I can see a number of clumps of bulbs have formed. The heatwave probably messed things up a bit, but they're still going and once the leaves are browner, I'll pull them and leave them to ripen in the sun. A couple of weeks, maybe?
Spring planted bulbs, once dried, should last until the following spring. I am no longer watering them, don't fancy mouldy bulbs.
I was going to take a photo, but then the harvester came by so I took a photo of that instead.

The carrots... are not doing much of anything. But I can take heart from the older brother saying his carrots suck as well. I think, as it is still quite chilly at night, that the problem lies with that. Blazing hot days and chilly nights.

Carrots.
Carrots, sorta, if they ever get around to becoming.

The melons are looking good. Small clumped plants with several flowers already showing. I am hoping for melons during my summer holiday.

Melon.
Melon plants.

And the leeks are slowly coming along. But they are a winter harvest crop, so can take their time. As long as nothing comes along and eats them, I think I'll have a good number of leeks. So I'd better gear up for leek soup (with potato!), look risotto, leek pizza, macaroni cheese-and-leek... ☺

Leeks.
Leeks.

Oh, I could maybe smash them up with shallot and potato along with a creamy sauce for a nice variant of a potato bake.

Now I'm hungry...

 

How much is sunflower oil now?

Seen at the supermarket yesterday.
Fontasol
Fontasol sunflower oil.

I thought, with a name like that it has to be Spanish. It is.
But that's not the shocking thing. No, the shocker is that it's €3,49 per litre of a brand I've never heard of before.

Kind of makes me glad that I got myself an air fryer and not a deep fat fryer. The chips that I read the label of the other day said that one should have 2-3 litres of oil for frying chips properly, filtering the oil every other use, and changing after 8-10 uses. Kerching! Kerchingkerchingkerching!!!

 

This one weird thing broke my brain

The official banana of the Tour de France
The official banana of the Tour de France.

I can't even...

I mean, I know that sponsorships are a thing, and at this time of the year everybody's going to want to jump onto the vast bandwagon that encompasses Le Tour.

But an official banana? What.

Do you think a bunch of guys dressed in monkey suits and big helmets with a flashing blue light on top will descend upon the crowds that line the sides of the roads searching for counterfeit bananas?
Unauthorised non-Tour-approved bananas?

I wonder what other weird tie-ins exist? Is there an official vibrator of Le Tour?

I think I'd better stop right there, and go make dinner.

 

 

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Last read at 13:32 on 2022/11/28.

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