Mother’s Day In France


Today is La fête des Mères. The kids work very hard making things at school. On Sunday morning, they can hardly wait to give me their creation and smile and giggle their way through the poem they’ve been working hard all week to memorize. Minty has a great Gascon accent. This means when she says, “maman” she puts in “aing” on the end. What should be “mah-mohn” comes out “mah-maing.” Her English pronunciation is not much better. Her “mother” comes out like “muddah.” So, Happy Muddah’s day to all those Mah-maing’s in France.

You CAN Teach an Old Dog New Tricks and other little bits


( photo by B. Curtis )

I had heard that Tosca has had a run in or two with chickens.  We’ve always been careful with her around the chickens.  I bring her out with me and make sure she learns about their existence.  The chickens are getting a little nutty in CoopaCabana.  They totally love fresh bugs.  The last couple of nights I’ve been letting them out a bit before dusk for a roam.  Tonight, Tosca came out with me and I let the girls (and Kev of course) out right in front of her.  Tosca, the good girl she is, didn’t even look their way.  They encircled her while she carried on with her bunny hunting.  She is an amazing dog.  Poor thing had to get used to four crazy kids, one pampered cat, four barn kittens, big cows, big Malamute and now chickens running around.  I think she’s starting to feel ownership of her new space.  She doesn’t go too far.  She takes a dip in the lake.  She lays around in the shade.  She’s a good ol’ Pot with a happy life.

Today, in Farmville, Brent had a great day with the cows.   We spent a lot of time getting one of the cows up to the barn for a little day spa and she was being a total cow about it.  He lost his knife and was peed on by a calf.  A day in the life of a farmer.  A friend of ours, also a farmer and Scottish, happened to drop by and lend a hand.  In the end our latest calf was tagged and Brent made the call to leave the cow with the herd.  More importantly the knife was found.  We are also the proud owner of a new, very cool “tea towel.”  That means “dish towel” to you and me.

Laundry … don’t get me started on laundry (there are six of us you know!).  I’m out of socks.  I haven’t had socks for a few days.  I know they’re there somewhere, but my socks don’t seem to be surfacing in the mile high laundry pile.  So, I wear my brown Blunnies without socks.  And let me tell you, they’re like extended feet.  Very comfy.  No smell.  I totally love them.  I will get my socks on again someday … hopefully very soon, but life without socks at the moment has been tolerable.

My dishwasher is broken.  Our friend Kevin would find this a totally tragedy and probably take it to Dishwasher ER if he could find one.  I’m not that attached.  I almost enjoy the quaintness of washing up by hand.  But if the damn thing doesn’t get fixed soon I may resort to one pot meals and lots of forks.
jean cooks by brent

( photo by B. Curtis )

Brent took some cool photos of our staircase. Many sausages were burned unintentionally to get that smoky sunbeam effect. It was that vicious barn cat purring under the stool that made my cooking go awry.

( photo by B. Curtis )

But the bestest thing today was more progress on Brent’s farmer’s tan.  We actually both suffer from this occupational hazard.  I’ve never seen Brent SO TAN!  But only on the forearm, neck and facey bits.

kitten pile!

Kitten PileThis is how the kittens are dealing with the heat.  They snug up into a little pile to keep warm.

I Got Out Today


Today I went to an artisanal fair with Lucy and her friend from school (That’s artisan not artesian). I wasn’t sure what to expect, but it turned out to be a lot like Eugene’s Saturday Market. Let’s just say there were a lot of crystals, yoga, organic this-n-that’s, foot massage and many artisans selling and displaying their work. But instead of really nice Pad Thai, you could get seriously amazing pastries. But bestest of all I found a rouge and a rosé from a vineyard called Zélie. The grower’s daughter is named Zélie. Yes, I should have bought a bottle, but I got a picture instead. Did I mention we’re peasant farmers?
Z Wine!
After a great stroll through the many, many stalls displaying nice quality goods, a nagging daughter at last satisfied her urge to buy. She wanted a wooden egg. It was a nice egg, I’ll give you that. After buying many versions of the equivalent “wooden egg” for the children, I can tell you now that said “wooden egg” becomes vacuum fodder within an hour of home arrival. So I decided that homegirl should get something in the same price range, but more useful … earrings! She absolutely loves them and I think she’ll look after them more than her previous choice.

After all that, we went off to lunch to another AMAZING find, Restaurant le Haka.

Yep You Read That Right

NZ Feather
Yep, somewhere in buttfuck France is a New Zealand bar. Though it had pictures of Africa inside, we knew that it had the heart of a Kiwi. And in the bathroom was this beauty. A Christmas Eve “hot wine” event (okay, mulled wine). Santa on his motorbike, saying “merry Christmas” to a buxom blonde in a twpdb. It is a poster so good they kept it around a year or so after the event. It must have been quite a shindig.
Bad Santa

Lucy Caught The Mop
We partook in a little funfare robbery at the sit-and-spin before heading home. Here’s the strategy with the go-round rides. They have this thing where they let the kids try to grab a raggy mop. Controlled by the dude running the ride, it bobs up and down and the kids go crazy trying to catch it. If your kid catches the mop, they get a free ride. Only here’s the catch: they target the mop at the kid with a friend. Suddenly, Lucy beams with excitement about her FREE ride and her friend begins to droop. But don’t fret, how can you let Lucy go around again without her friend? Wait, we’ll get a second mortgage on the house and buy her friend another ticket so everyone can have a little fun. Next ride, oh looky here, Lucy’s friend caught the mop! And it just goes on and on from there. Thankfully there was only a few children riding at this hour.  Some little toddler who couldn’t quite catch the mop after it was placed upon his head on three occasions was given the mop generously by Lucy’s friend after she caught it.


I Like To Moove It Moov It

I’m getting my video capabilities going. I mean sure, watching cows move is like watching paint dry and grass grow, but it’s what we do. Everyday the cows get a new slice of yummy, green munchables and they get all giddy working their way through the best bits. The cows patiently wait for Brent to signal the move with “cow cow.” We often reflect on the classic Knock-Knock that goes: Knock-Knock. Who’s there? Impatient cow. ImpatIent c- MOO! This particular move was a bit crazy. They were all smooth in the beginning, but soon found our trick. We like to stick to a rectangle of some description. Sometimes, land will challenge you with trees and lakes as this move has done. After this video the cows (the Mirandaise particularly … big white ones) explore their new boundaries. This slice is actually an ‘L.’ So if a cow is drinking in the little lake, they can see cows on the other side above the bank. The bank that has a serious right angle not to be passed were they to join the viewed friends. Of course that is exactly what they want to do. I’m quickly learning “cow psychology.” The girls were well behaved, but just to be sure, Brent did a quick fix that allowed them to pass up the bank to the other cows if they felt the urge. The day there has passed and they did a great job munching down the grass to fill their bellies.

I’m a Belt and Suspenders Man

munch fest

If I didn’t have a wee baby, I had all the time in the world and money was no problem, I would build a three-wire perimeter fence with big ass vine posts spaced ten meters apart. Zap the top two and ground the bottom. After personally slamming in hundreds of posts I would sit back with my glass of champagne (RM of course … CM will do) bought directly from the producer and giggle my way to a wonderful night of snoozing.


But I don’t have that luxury and I’m left with a long term plan of getting to that blissful moment. There are thankfully a lot of fences around the farm that we’ve been using. They are typical French farm fences. Though it appears that a wire is hanging off little, wooden posts closely spaced, what you’re seeing is a magical illusion. The truth is the wire is actually holding the posts vertical. The cows seem to adhere to the Gascon ways, but I’m not convinced. Brent and I built a fence around Colorado that has big-ass vine posts and two wires that were never challenged by the herd. Even when pressured by one of the dogs, they dutifully respected the power of the fence and stopped as quickly as they started. Now, the girls are in Florida, which is rampant with teeny, tiny little posts and an oooooooollllld steel wire wrought with rust and hacks.




I worry about them getting out, but they’ve been the best cows ever. We’ve not had a break out in a very long time. Every once in awhile a heifer will get to the other side of our strip-grazing plan, but that’s to be expected. A girl can’t help but follow her heart to greener pasture. We shoo her back in or get the herd over with her during the next move (which happens daily). I’m the type of person who enjoys the benefits of a backup solution. My three-wire perimeter dream is my belt-and-suspenders*.


*this is a phrase I picked up from Brent who (I think) picked up from Joel Salatin who picked it up from who knows …


This is Brent mowing hardcore the old cornfield. He should elaborate on his field plans because it’s damn geeky and timing is everything … especially when you’re in the middle of a drought.

29 Again!

It’s that time of year again where I partake in my n’th annual 29th birthday. If you ask Lucy how old I am, she’ll quickly respond with “Mommy’s 29! [giggle giggle] that’s a joke!” She’ll also tell you how old I really am and verify it by yelling across the party/room/store with “ISN’T THAT RIGHT, MOM? YOU’RE REALLY 38 RIGHT? 38 ISN’T IT??” I asked my mom how old she thought I was and she said, “31.” Aaah, thanks mom! Then when I told her how old I really am she said something that went to the tune of “wow! You’re old!” This coming from the lady who once said after my long explanation of what a bad day I had, “you must feel like a real loser” as words of encouragement. But it’s the honesty and frankness that I love about my mom. That I’m still 31 in her eyes reveals my position in the family. I can see this happening with Zélie. She’s our little baby.

I actually don’t mind my age. Some great people got their funky-boom-boom on late into their thirties (and I’m still in my mid-thirties btw). Julia Child, Simon Cowell, Harrison Ford, to name a few. I’m not saying I’m all great, but it’s always inspiring to see people completely change their life and try something new. Even at 29! Last year I was pregnant and wondering where the heck we were going to live and how was this whole farm thing going to go. Today, I cleared the table in our “rustic” farmhouse for a little birthday dinner after checking on the cows, chickens, kittens and dog to find a lizard confused and exposed.


… thanks for all the birthday wishes!

Don’t Count Your Chickens

broody chook

Me: Hey! We have a broody chicken!
Brent: Cool! How many eggs is she sitting on?
Me: Eight.
Brent: oo. That’ll be cool.
Me: well, you can’t count your … you know the rest

The last couple of months have opened up a lot of time to get work done on the farm. Cows, fences, hay among other things provide a ripe environment for conversation that quickly leads you into cliché. There are too many for me to remember, but here are a few highlights.
These words were exchanged in real life:

What’s this crazy, whacky wire-gone-wild that Brent found on the ground? Hay wire

When building a fence, sometimes you just need to begin by putting a stake in the ground. We’re doing our best to make good fences to make good neighbors.

Michael has warned the children when playing by his house that it’s very easy to fall off a log.

There are more, but at this point in the rosé on a Saturday night with very little food in the belly and a long day of weed whacking fence lines, I’ve forgotten the others. Hay fever is a huge item at the moment. I’m sure Spring Chicken will crop up sooner or later. I suppose you might have others. If it’s farm related, I’ll bet we’ve used it in a non-cliché way.


A Bucket Load

It was a day yesterday. Busy with many, many things animals, children, baby, crazy singing electrician man (don’t go changin’ Mark!), people calling, important mail to ready, Brent away working his magic with French bureaucracy and our neighbor the mayor driving up in her camionnette with a bucket to show me. She pulls me over with a big smile and as I peek inside I hear the mew of three, fluffy kittens. Her brother found them tucked away in a barn. Now we’ve had our ears open for some barn cats. She knew this, which is why she thought she’d bring them over in case we might want one. The kids latched on to them immediately. Lucy grabbed the black one who loved her instantly. Otto and Minty played with the two gray ones. We decided to take the two strong friendly ones to keep each other company and keep our farm on top of any rodents out there. The kittens are very young, but seem to be thriving. There are two dogs on the farm that are learning that there are other animals out there in the world other than themselves, so hopefully everyone will get along. We had joked that the first barn cat on the farm would be called “amuse bouche” (a French word for appetizer) should one of the dogs mistake the cat for a bunny. But the kids named the black one “Griff” and the gray one “G-Cute.” This is a “G” year for cow naming so the kids thought they would follow along.
I didn’t want to post any pictures. I should probably not talk about the kittens in case we don’t have a very Disney ending. Which nearly happened when I heard the words frantically leaving Lucy’s mouth “MOMMY! MOMMY! TOSCA ATE GRIFF!!!” It’s true, Tosca did have Griff in her mouth and was walking calming somewhere else, but she didn’t eat him. Griff is totally fine and after inspection, it may even be that Tosca was carrying Griff like a puppy. She gets very motherly with stuffed animals, so despite her stubborn, old-dog ways, she has a soft spot for little fluffy things. Griff now has eight more lives to lean on. The kitten thing is very yesterday for Tosca and she’s moved on the bigger and better things … like eating their food, which could turn into the beginning of a beautiful friendship. We’ll see how it goes. They have a great set-up in one of the barns. Very cozy and the kids give them lots of attention. We’ll see if they grow strong and be our barn cats.

… well if you insist …




Welcome To Our Ool

In The Pool

… notice there’s no ‘p’ in it.  I’m not a big fan of pools when there are little ones running about.  All sorts of safety requires me to sit down for two hours and play lifeguard.  I love watching the kids play, but I prefer to let them run around discovering their own fun and games.  We’re more of a sprinkler family until everyone can swim.  Lucy’s school took her for swimming lessons last year.  It was totally cool and totally free.  This of course is amazing to me because I couldn’t get Lucy into swimming class in my neighborhood pool without standing in line at some un-sunny hour to secure her on a waiting list.  I’ve always thought that there may be a small market opportunity for swimming lessons in Seattle.

So as it’s Spring and refusing to rain, the kids have dug out the summer box and declared it summer.  They keep finding new things to fill and splash in.  This old Rubbermade box is very two-minutes-ago.  Today it was stacked tires.  A proper pool would be cool, but in France they tax you for such luxuries.  I’ve seen people buy above ground pools and set them in a small “natural” hole to avoid taxation.  I had a thought that with Brent’s digger and all our lakes on the farm … maybe we could “put another lake on the farm” you know “for the animals” and “maybe some sand around it”  because “animals like sand.”