A Game of Go Fish with Myself

It’s summer vacation, which means all day all kids.  And they’re lovely.  They’re high energy.  They’re ours.  The farm must go on.  There is a lot of work to do to get the farm fenced, pastured, cow moved, hay-ed and the rest.  The kids aren’t quite old enough to lend a hand, but they do what they can.  Zélie is loving the kids home all day.  She’s learning her secret power of cute manipulation expressed by grabbing loved items and running to the next room.  This followed by a “Zélie!!!!” in the distance.  Oh and she’s so proud.

On this day, we found time to play cards.  I love a rousing game of cards.  I’m a poker man, myself.  We played War then Go Fish.  Go Fish is a simple game, unless you’re playing with four little versions of yourself.  The trash talk.  The dancing.  The singing.  You think you want to line up some matching cards, but that is secondary to the antics that occur while playing cards with our children.  I ( one of six ) was overwhelmed.  I couldn’t help but think of playing a game of chess with death only inverted into a game of cards with life.  These are little versions of me playing cards.  Sure there’s some Brent in there, but he’s not into cards.  I saw four versions of little brats like me carrying on, having a blast, trying their best to win at Go Fish.  Minty, the cute and young, seems to be the real shark.  She acts all five-ish but then she memorizes the asks and slams you hard taking all your cards.  Don’t be fooled by that one.  In French, they would call her “coquine” … a little rascal.


Sunflowers with Mint


There are a lot of volunteer sunflowers out in them there fields.  Brent is working the field we call “Nebraska” because it came to us as a cornfield.

Brent mowed a little path that led to a huge supply of gorgeous sunflowers then called in on the “talkie walkie” (yep, that’s what they call them here) to let us know.  Of course, GrayCute had to join us.  That’s his belly.  We rub it for good luck.



I did a test shot to see if I could adjust anything to accommodate the bright sun.  What I got was a Punky Pantene Swishy Flip.  I love her hair even when it’s not brushed.



Unable to resist the power of GrayCute, Brent hopped off the tractor for a belly rub.


This is what Minty looks like when she says GrayCuuuuuuute.



If you need more Swishy Flips

Tweets from a Five-Year-Old


“MOM! I can NEVER EVER play my game again! Because this is NOT my blue bag! It’s not ever one of my blue bags!”


“MOM! I can’t use this COLORING BOOK! Zee scribble in it and NOW I need to THROW IT IN THE TRASH. WaH!!!! Because that’s what BABIES DOOOO! I Hate HER!!”


“MOM! I need a bandaid! I HURT MY LEG. IT”S not bleeding, but I NEED a bandaid!!!”


“OTTO! Otto.  Frack. Frack. Frack. Frack. FROOM! HHAHAHAHEEEE!”


“Mommy.  I have to go pee.  Mommy.  Sometimes, little girls go pee outside.”

A Wee Bit of the Tour


I love the Le Tour de France.  We used to watch it from America when Lance was doing his thing.  Back then and now, it brings the feelings of summer.  In the previous village we lived in, The Tour was always near.  We lived nearer to the Pyrénées so the start of the mountain stages would be right next door.  Our first viewing of The Tour was very quick.  It started in Saint-Gaudens.  We found a spot just after it began.  It was flat.  The boys were FAST. This is when I discovered my snap-snap-snap sport settings on the camera.  The caravan of advertisements and goodies sped by at record speeed, pelting the crowd with keychains and hats while the peloton followed even faster.  But I loved it.

The following year, we found a small hill climb that was close.  This would slow everything down and also provide for a little break-away.  Again, totally lovely seeing all the athletes.  The cheering was loud.  Everyone vocally supporting the cyclists brings warm, happy feelings of greatness.  These guys are working so hard and they clearly love what they do.  Then Lance, on his very last tour, threw a water bottle our way, but a cute little French kid grabbed it.  I don’t think he knows that it was one of Lance’s last water bottle tosses ever.  He loved it all the same.

The tour skipped The Gers last year.  This year, however, it was very close indeed.  Just down the road in a village we pass through often to visit our Scottish friend, Kenny.  The village is on a hill and then there are a few little climbs after it, so I tried to find a climb to catch the boys slow.  The road has ditches on each side, so parking would be impossible unless you’re a farmer.  If you’re a farmer, you know that for every wheat field on a road, there will be a little combine harvester ramp.  We pulled off at the top of a climb on a little harvest ramp (no wheat was harmed during the watching of the tour).  And then we waited.  The kids had a little picnic.  I was waiting for other fans to join us, but no one came.  There were loads of fans either side of where we were, but for a long stretch of road, it was me and my three little tchotchke seeking monsters.  A bit surreal.


(don’t worry, a cop told me to get off the road.  “ils ne peuvent pas passer.”  we squidged in.)

The caravan arrived in full swing tossing gummies and laundry detergent and bracelets one and two at a time.  Could they not see we had three kids?!  The kids bickered at the unfairness of it all.  Meanwhile, I was heavily peppered with squishy cow keychains.

The helicopters began buzzing and you knew it was close.  I had my camera locked and loaded for fast moving bikey boys.


Brent called in to tell me that their was a break away.  He was watching Z at the farm.  We don’t fit into one car you know.  And we have lots of cows.

The break away felt strong.  They were into it, but not killing themselves.


Then the peloton approached.  I did my snap-snap-snap action and they were still approaching.  I was a bit lost for photos.  I did my bit and they hadn’t even reached us.  The minute they passed the crowd and rounded the corner near our little wheat field, they seemed ever so slow.

tdf 2012 3


Since it was just the kids and me, our cheers were very quiet.  I couldn’t clap because I wanted to take a few photos.  Let’s just say, I heard a lot of crickets and some Tour de France dudes chit-chatting.  They took so long to pass us, I was almost uncomfortable.  “What? oh! hey! Hi!  Yeah, no … I’m just checking the wheat.”


The support vehicles closely followed and then it took one Skoda to pull over before I understood what the hold up was.


They all started doing it.  I didn’t want to photograph the whole thing, but let’s just say, “when the cameras aren’t looking, people are peeing.”


It’s a long road to the finish line even if you’re a support vehicle.


In the end, Minty got a hat.


Otto got a cool, green shirt.


Lucy got a water bottle.

We Sold Some Beef!

A very exciting piece of the puzzle was placed yesterday.  After all the farm searching, cow breed research, cow herd merging, fencing, pen building, pasture building, tractor buying, French system learning, heifer finishing and all the bits and pieces that helped us get better at making great beef … we sold some meat.  It was a great day.  It was great to see how this part of the business runs.  Oh there were hiccups.  The butcher was a bit late.  Brent was a bit late.  Beef buyers were waiting.  The kids did their best to entertain.  Brownies were served. Michael was there to mingle and look after people.  It all came together.  This is our first iteration of making great tasting beef.
we sold meat!
In geek speak, we shipped our 1.0.  In dancer, it was our opening night.  All the work that goes into shipping or opening a show follows with an all-day low.  There’s still so much work to do.  So many improvements to list and act on.  But for a few hours, we’re taking a big “sigh” ready to get rolling with the next set of beef boxes.  In the meantime, we have money going into our project.  Money that will help us improve our product.  Money that helped cover costs.  But more importantly, we fed people.  We fed people grass fed, grass finished beef that is tasty.  Beef that is healthy.  We feel pretty great about that.  I’m looking forward to our next beef offering hoping each one will be better than the last.

School is Out For the Summer

The kids are here on the farm fulltime, no breaks, no snooze button.  I’ve never had the energy to parse them out to various camps or pay-by-day activities so we spend each glorious day growing and learning as a family.  I’ve always been fond of Idle parenting.  With four kids, you don’t have much of a choice.  So the kids get bored.  I love it when they get bored.  When the kids get bored, they find cool stuff to do.  The day runs along in waves.  Low waves of easy entertainment with a little T.V. or some computer time.  Things that require very little energy  to participate.  Then we head into a transition period while they whine or complain or run around before they set into a new adventure.  When there is no T.V. and no computer, magic happens.  The kids come up with great games.  Because the kids live on a small farm with tons of old, crazy found objects and barns and rooms, they have the freedom to get totally lost in their made-up world.  When they’re done with that, they enjoy the many functions of plain white paper.  They will draw.  They will wad and toss.  They will fly.  They will fold.  Paper has many uses.  Zélie has even crumpled it up and gave it a little cuddle ( she’s not deprived of cuddly objects, she’s a bit of an over cuddler.  She likes to say, “aaaaaaaaah.” ).  Lucy has been motivated to write a book a week.  She is a great story teller.  She’s written many books for everybody.  She writes more than a book a week, but I’ve asked her to pick her favorite.  I don’t really care if she’s talented or not because she is motivated.  If the kids are motivated, we like to step aside and let them run with it.  Her motivation is contagious because Otto and Minty are also writing their books.  Each one with illustration.  Each one with Lucy’s binding and publishing techniques.

I enjoy hearing their stories.  Kids write the books they want to read.  So many children’s books are written for parents.  Olivia, a much loved children’s book, drives me nuts.  I read an Olivia book to the kids and I spend most of the time explaining the inside parental jokes conveyed with the text and the image.   The text says a straightforward line while the image contradicts the text in a funny parental way which leads down a road of twenty-questions on book review and “why is she saying that?” conversation.  I love to review books, projects, art, whatever, but I’m trying to read a book to my kid and enjoy the story.  We are not enjoying the story.  We are analyzing the author’s writing technique and general empire building.  A fair lesson I suppose.  Yeah, that’s right, I know it’s sacrilegious, but I don’t like Olivia the pig.  I like straightforward story telling like Hairy Maclary from Donaldson’s Dairy.  I like First Book of Sushi., Henry Hikes to Fitchburg ( which has parental signaling without all the inside jokes ) and Some Dogs Do.  The kids get sucked into the story.
love heart

“Love Heart” by Minty Curtis

Minty’s writing tip of the week:  Do a little ball to stop it.

“I wrote it and wrote it and then I do a little ball to stop it.”  I think Minty is on to something.  All those fancy punctuation marks can do more harm then good.  When you’re writing a story, she says, you need to stick a little ball on the end to stop it.

This week, we have Mr. No! Shoes!

Long Story Short:  Man has no shoes and wonders why.  Writes a letter (signed with only hugs) and gets shoes sent to him in the mail.

… and my favorite Children’s book brilliantly created and read by Dylan Moran and Bill Bailey in BlackBooks:

I Don’t Pout, I Grump

me and friends with better roller skates

I know we moved in almost two years ago, but with the project that we’ve taken on, I’m still unpacking boxes. I’m down to the framed photos. Each photo requires a drill (with Mr. Hammer the drill), a wall plug and then a screw. This is not a huge task, but Zélie hates Mr. Hammer.  I’m limited on my hammer time. While going through boxes, I came across a photo my sister Gladys took. Gladys took this picture when taking pictures was all manual. You absolutely had to know what you were doing. I’m not sure how many shots she took, but she was not able to see the outcome until she developed it. In this digital age with all the fancy technologicals, I’m amazed that photographers could do what they do.  I love this photo because it reminds me of my childhood as I grew up in a sleepy beach town. This is me grumpy. I would never describe myself as a grumpy person, but there is a lot of circumstantial evidence that portrays me as grumpy. As a child of the 80’s during my Smurf days, I always identified with Grumpy Smurf. I am grumpy here because look closely. You see that Jamie and Cherie both have Fireball Roller Derby roller skates while I have size 9 ladies metal wheel skates. The Fireballs roll smoothly and fast. The metal wheels are clunky. With the giant size, I could get nowhere fast. Oh Cherie and Jamie were so smug with their fireballs. I kept at it though. I didn’t let my metal wheels hold me back. Much later, i finally got some skates with fancy ball bearing gizmos. Oh was I fast. After “all skate” at the rink, I did the races. And I won. All those years with metal wheels built muscle and strength. Give me the ball bearings and I was off. No one could catch me. A few loops of speed and at the end … a free eight ounce Coke. Victory never tasted so sweet.

Farm Fashion: Shoe Edition, Article One- The Wedge


I’m all for wearing cute gear and general cuteness on the farm.  I always do a little five minute face even if it’s just me and my husband and our cows.  A girl has to feel lovely.  If you don’t believe that, give yourself five minutes of face and get back to me.  Zélie, like my two other girlies, is into shoes.  All shoes, any shoes, any shoe-like item will be used as shoes.  Her first word was, “shoes.” Today, on our evening walk, she chose the wedge.  I was a bit skeptical as I thought she might abort and move to bare feet.  I love children in bare feet, but I’m still working on “project tidy” which includes rusty nails and their spikey tetanus inducing friends.  She saw it through as any Cosmo girl would.  She walked all over the farm in her oversized wedges without issue.  Cats were cuddled.  Chickens were fed.  Balls were thrown.  I’ve done a little wedging myself on the farm, but I reserve it for more domestic tasks.  A wedge has no business with cattle work.

Reconstituting with Champagne

I love Champagne.  During the many years of devoting my body as a host for our wee little brats, I spent a lot of sober nights watching others tipsy the night away over great meals or World Cup shenanigans or weddings or fireworks.  ( I believe the current Politically Correct word for “brat” is “spirited,” but I like to keep things old school )  I didn’t miss a thing.  Except, that is, for Champagne.  Not sparkling wine.  Not mass market fizz catering to rapper’s delight.  I mean true Champagne that was grown by a grower and bottled and labeled.  I took Zélie in for a check-up the other day and to my surprise, I saw a fabulous campaign on the health benefits of Champagne.  According to this sign and as far as my French goes, Champagne evidently fixes everything.



Old Age



Infectious Diseases

AND, available at all Pharmacies!  I should have known.  I have quite literally a “gut feel” for crap food.  I’ve never, EVER believed in or liked sugar substitutes.  The same bad tingles are present with fake butter, fake oil and fake salt.  All wrong.  Wrong, wrong, wrong.  I eat real food.  Except Nutella.  That stuff is bad.  But a little goes a long way on a crêpe.  So, when I saw this clearly well researched, authoritative sign on Champagne, I felt justified.  Now I need to work some magic to get Champagne as a stronghold in our budget right next to healthy, great tasting beef and that cheese at the market I buy from super-nice-cheese-man.

Truth be told, “Kola Champagne” is really a Puerto Rican Moxie.  A cola drink that cures.  Who knows, maybe Angel and Dr. Thompson swapped ideas during a lull in the Spanish-American War.  Cure-all Cola drinks aside, I love Champagne and I would much rather have a glass of Champagne than Tylenol for pain relief.