English translations of Peter's journal: (<< back to his page)
The 18th April: a really good day’s work on the biodynamic lunar calendar, and a glorious sunny day too. Another hard day’s work, from dawn to dusk in the gardens: planted the potatoes, and weeded around the onions, shallots, parsnips, beetroot and carrots; plus did a few DIY jobs after which I returned home to eat some nettle soup, buckwheat pancakes and a chunk of cheese ….. and all from the garden!
The 25th April: 5:30 am. Only a robin sings under a sky full of stars; the sound of the river is pretty loud given the small amount of water that is flowing in the riverbed at the moment. Today I’m making progress digging the new vegetable garden terrace, in a clearing at the bottom of the wood. The earth is very deep in places, black with grey decomposing layers from which comes the smell of the immense forest before man was around.
This afternoon, under a burning sun, I sowed a terrace bed of red kidney beans …. when I collapsed to the ground exhausted. I fell asleep and woke up later, the seed bag in my hand, my skin covered in soil and sweat.
Mid-June: rain again, always rain …. and almost nothing left to eat; a few beetroots, some chestnuts from last year, a few leeks that have begun to sprout, stinging nettles, and the milk from two goats! …. Not a lot, but still a whole lot in fact - I know that. I know this deep down inside me, but it’s so difficult to live coherently according to one’s convictions when things get tight. I have to get Pierre Rabhi’s book “Restrained Happiness” to put me back on track, so that I don’t lose hope …. or do I give up being an outsider and become like everybody else…. but at what price? Can I really do this? I recall a quotation by the naturalist and sculptor, Robert Hainard: “ To be of one’s time is to provide what one is missing.” That’s what it is to be on the fringes of society, to be a breath of fresh air, to be different, without which everything else chokes. It’s claustrophobic otherwise …. it’s oxygen, an act of breathing.
The 26th June: This evening I took my watercolours to the small sream and sat down; I’d noticed a moss-covered chestnut tree with a branch stripped of its bark and bleached by the years. A song thrush accompanies the sound of the water while I sketch …. what a delight.
End June, beginning of July: the hay is heaped up in the barn; every morning, as soon as the sun rises, I scythe.
The 2nd July: The hay is spread out after the sun has dried out the morning dew; shortly afterwards the sky clouds over, very black; mist rolls down the mountains; the hay, piled up in stacks, escapes the rain.
The 26th July: This morning, groping about in the dark, I begin to bale the hay; I want to carry the cut grass behind the barns to dry; I would like to do this before the sun rises because it will get very hot.
A thick mist still covers the valley, then little by little the veil lifts and the sun makes its brilliant appearance. I spread out my harvest of onions and shallots, place the sheaves of barley side by side to dry, and then return to the hay; it’s spread out all over the place; I now have to turn it over again with a pitchfork in the burning sun, with the horse flies attacking me. The fields look magnificent, with different shades of green depending on how much the grass has dried.
The 14th September: A day making preserves and jams…. but to begin with, a few trips to bring in the wood to feed the stove which will burn all day; soon, in the large pan, a thousand purple bubbles cloud the fragrant, sugary liquid of the blackberries. The preserves set slowly. A few jars of freshly picked vegetables – plus some of chantrelles (mushrooms) I’ve collected – are put in the oven to sterilise.
The 8th October: I’m roasting a powder I’ve made of horse chestnuts and acorns ….. there’s the wonderful aroma of freshly roasted coffee in the house.
The 12th October: At the moment my days revolve around the cows; I need to take them to the field along the road and spend the morning with them; I’ll make the most of that time to peel horse chestnuts or continue working on some wooden sculptures – some chestnut spoons, or a bird or cat sculpted from a branch of a lime tree.
In the afternoon I return to work in the vegetable plots – they are so beautiful and productive. At sunset I take a hot bath while cold raindrops fall on me, the contrasting prickling sensation being like when one places stinging nettles on the skin.
A mist rises on the mountainside … and then, the moon.