February, oh February. February is the highest of seasons in Verbier and therefore we are all expected to work pretty much non-stop. Around this time of year it is common to see ski instructors walk around town with blank stares and dark circles under their eyes after a month of parading screaming children down crowded slopes. For the last month we’ve worried constantly a Parisian skier on blades might take out one of our kids as they careen down the slope in tight jeans and ill-fitting LOUIS VUITTON googles. For thirty days straight we’ve repeated the phrase ‘you have to ski with gloves on’ and stuffed little hands into little gloves just to be told ‘noooooo my thumb isn’t w-iiiite’ over and over again.

For thirty days straight we’ve sung Disney songs on repeat and yelled PIZZA! in the hopes the one naughty boy in the group stops before he misses the turning and we all have to end up going down a black run on our bottoms in order to save him.

All in all it’s a wonderful job, especially when you get the clients who want a couple or runs in the morning and then a long lunch in the sun. Yes please!

All this to say I haven’t been on many alpine adventures lately. However, I can’t say the same for the animals back at the Farm. Dad has been keeping me informed and I thought I would share the news with you all.

On the first Saturday of each month, across the border in Portugal, Moura has a market. A great place for local produce, cheap flannel shirts or a ten pack of hopeless single use socks. The country roads leading to the market ground are jammed with badly parked cars leaning at alarming angles on the edge of the verges. We set off from the farm early on winding single track roads excited for the day ahead.

We don’t want to miss the cheese man selling delicious “requeijão” or the plant stall that always has a twenty minute queue of small Portuguese farmers, buying seedlings for their vegetable plots. There’s the tree man with blood oranges and limes as well as loquats and pomegranates. The ironmonger with homemade barbecues made from old rusty gas bottles and a selection of hand tools, and then there is The Chicken Man.

The Chicken Man is Hermione’s favourite, he comes in a large open sided lorry stacked with wire cages. Hermione’s downfall is chickens, she can’t resist another one!

“Oh look, isn’t she pretty! I haven’t got a bluey- grey one like that. Lets get a couple so she won’t be lonely when the others are horrid to her when she first arrives.”

Our chickens are the free-est of free range. They have a white washed hen house with a stone floor. There is hand embroidered sampler on the wall opposite their perch with “The early bird gets the worm” on it and twenty individual nest boxes in alcoves in the wall, each with an ochre hand painted border. The eggs though, they prefer to lay in the old wooden manger in the calves house next door.

Last December’s market, the Chicken Man had brought a few other surprises for Christmas; ducks, guinea fowl, a pair of peacocks, turkeys and a pair of geese. The geese looked miserable and it seemed they knew Christmas was coming. They looked dowdy and cramped in their cage. We looked at one another and with tacit agreement bought them straightaway. Unceremoniously grabbed by the neck, the Chicken Man stuffed them both into an old cardboard box and taped it shut, I peeled off the notes and they were ours.

Once back at the farm we put the box into the chicken house and opened the lid. A pair of long grey necks slowly stretched out as they silently took in their surroundings, Billy and Maude had a new home.

It took them quite awhile to get comfortable at Las Tapias (the new farm about 30 minutes from el Moro). I think they’d spent quite a while in their cage on the back of the Chicken Man’s lorry and so suffered from agoraphobia. They didn’t really venture much further than the old bath we used as a drinker for the cows in the corral by our five star chicken house. Maude would spend hours in the bath with Billy standing guard and honking loudly if any dog, cow, horse or donkey came too close. Slowly they gained confidence and begun to flex and flap their wings as they emerged from the chicken house in the morning following the chickens who rushed out to spend the rest of the day scrabbling under the oak trees. I could see a maiden flight might be imminent but I wasn’t prepared for the day, soon after in late February, when I saw Billy stretch out his neck and peer over the stone wall. Suddenly he began to run the length of the grassy slope and took off only just clearing the low wall at the end. The ground on the other side fell away sharply and so, while he certainly wasn’t gaining altitude, he soon found himself a long way off the ground, slaloming wildly through the branches of the oak trees, honking loudly. Losing altitude fast he crash landed amongst the cows enjoying a quiet siesta in the sun. The cows looked alarmed and stared, in typical cow fashion, at this new arrival who had disturbed their peace and quiet.

Poor Maude had been left behind and honked mournfully. Having recovered from his concussion, Billy replied and they both began to walk across the campo to one another on their big pink feet. I herded Maude in the right direction and she met Billy halfway down the hill. By that stage we were not far from the lake, so once reunited I gently turned them in the direction of the water.

It wasn’t long before Billy spotted the lake. He certainly had never seen one before but some atavistic response kicked in and he began running towards the water honking quietly.

At the waters edge they stopped, drank, and then waded in until suddenly they were swimming.

From being ungainly birds on land with big pink feet they were transformed as they swam regally out onto the lake. Maude immediately began to bathe, pushing her whole body under water and flapping her wings. Billy upended to see what was on the bottom and they both swam smoothly from one side to the other eating the long grass growing at the waters edge. I swear I could see their beaks turning a brighter red, they were obviously such happy geese. And thus began the best day of their lives.


Have a lovely Sunday.




Daisy x