Tagging A Calf



Law requires us to tag and name each calf born on the farm.  Our mama cows are great mamas, so this calf tagging requirement can be a bit dangerous.  I’m sure there are great things that came out of the meeting that required farmers to tag each calf, but I’m not sure they tucked into the implementation.

With Salers, you must tag them the day they are born.  Otherwise, you need to run them through the chute months later with a special calf gate.

We do steers.  This is rare in France.  Most male calves are sent off to feedlots to fatten and sell off to some mass market.



If you do steers for your direct market, you must castrate.  We execute the orange Fruit Loop of Doom.  The boys go with the flow.





The important thing is to find both balls.



One, two … hoopla.



Now for the ear piercing.








Back to mama.


Just Because They Can



This is what a cow does after a refreshing beverage.  When the water bowl has been moved, sometimes there is a rush on the water.  We have to wait for it to fill or else they push the dish under the fence.  So we wait and watch.  Brent looks at the herd and thinks.

Meanwhile, the cows do this.



and this.



a little pre-this.



about ready to do this.



Boom goes the dynamite.  This one has a Lumi tongue. pink and black.  I’ll show you later.



This one had a drink after weeding the paddock.  Another way to get Morning Glory out of your garden, take a Salers and let her munch.



Side view.



Double nostril!! Right!



and Left!



This white camion guy stopped to deliver les” Pub ” ( the junk mail.  In French, “Lay Poob”  at home “Lay Pube” ).  Incidentally, he had no idea we were in the field taking photos of cows licking their nostrils and consequently pissed by the mailbox.  I was a shake too late to capture the action.  But that is for the best.  French men pissing on the side of the road is as common as wine with cheese.  No shock there.



One more.  Phbbt!



Grasspunk beef tongue available 7 Euros a kilo.

Well, There’s The Last Calf Tagged …



Brent talkie-walkies in.  His name is ” Jazz Flute. ”   I was bummed because I wanted to go out and photograph Brent tagging ( and castrating ) a calf.   He has a style for tagging a calf.  And so, we are done.  Or so we thought.  When Brent went out for the second move, instead of his talkie-walkie tweets, I hear the roar of the Hilux.  “We have some work to do,” he says.  Another calf, without tags, popped its head up after a long afternoon nap in the previous paddock.  This happens sometimes.  Sometimes you say things like, ” Nah, this will take five minutes ” or ” that’s our last calf tagged ”  and suddenly you are faced with a challenge.  Our ” last calf ” has a twin brother.  And we were just talking today about Salers farmers who have lots of twins.  The challenge here is get this guy with his mum soon.

Brent tagged and castrated ” Je t’aime ” and we carried him over to the herd.  It’s important to get that calf to the mum so she will bond, feed and look after the little guy.  In this case, she will bond, feed and look after both of the little guys.



After Je t’aime was well in the middle of the herd, we guided the mum and bro to him.  Jazz Flute has been sticking close to his mum, which is good.  They moved along nicely.  It took some patience.  Meanwhile Je t’aime was trying to milk off anything with Salers fur.

He finally arrived with his family and the mum gave him a sniff and a lick.  Cool.  She recognises him.



Then Jazz Flute arrived and she also recognised him.  Oh but wait, she then recognised Je t’aime.  Oh but  wait … Jazz Flute … and so it went.  And so she worked it out.  Twins!  Je t’aime wandered a bit with a steer, ” are you my mother?”  Brent guided him back with mum and he started milking.  The mum seems to be handling the two.  Bon Courage with that, girl!



We’ll keep an eye on them.  Salers are great milkers, so there should be plenty for both calves.



Well guess what, this cow herd has a fever and the only prescription is more jazz flute.


Hay Is Off The Green



I didn’t know this until we started this farm ( Brent did ), but  you must move the hay bales after you hay a field to let the grass grow.  Otherwise you will have some random hay bale tattoo where the grass couldn’t grow and your neighbors will mock you.  With all the sun and rain and sun and rain, the lucerne and grasses are regrowing quickly.

I took two kids to Judo and left Brent with another two.



When I returned, Lucy gave me the talkie-walkie.  ” I have Z.  We’re finishing up moving the hay,” Brent talkie-walkies in.  Z loves to help out.  This is her first time in the tractor.  She always wants to go with Daddy, but as she is the baby, I’m slow to accept her age.



Oh but she loved it.  They came around with the last bale for Adventure Playground and she had the biggest grin on her face.



and a little smirk because that’s how she rolls.  Those earmuffs squidge her cheeks.



The cows are in!  The are super fat.  They love all this grass.  They are in ” Newman ” at the moment.  This is the paddock next to the mailbox.  They will wiggle back to the yards soon.  They seem so far away, yet so close.

Adventure Playground and The Discord



The Adventure Playground now has Adventure Hay Bales™.  Underneath one of the bales is Minty’s other gumboot.  Not sure how that played out, but Brent placed a bale on her right gumboot ( Minty’s foot was not in it at the time ).


Minty: Why is that discord hanging on the wall?

Me: Discord?

Minty: That big, black CD.

Me: Ah, that is a record.



I carried a small collection of 78 records around with me while I was a student and starving-though-always-had-money-for-a-pint artist.  I can think of ten other things that would be lighter and easier to manage than a small collection of 78 records.  I had a player as well, but that was a Goodwill kiddie player that did 45, 33 1/3 and 78.  With our move to France, I gave the collection to one of my sisters and kept the one record that I love, ” One Meat Ball. ”  The other side has ” Rum and Coca Cola.”  Great tune, but for me, doesn’t have that nostalgic impact of One Meat Ball.

This giant, black CD came up a few days ago with Otto asking about it when he viewed a hot Euro dance hit music video that delivered discords in pizza boxes to happy recipients.  I explained the record thing and he was totally amazed at the technology.  A needle?! And it PLAYS MUSIC!?  But HOW!?  CDs are so boring and un-amazing to these kids of today.

Thankfully there are people who post video of records playing on Youtube so you can experience life before ones and zeroes.



… I suppose soon enough, we will have Youtube videos of CDs playing.  After that, we’ll need a way to watch bits fly off a USB.  All to remember the good ol’ days.

Some Romping With Lumi



Even though Lumi has 72 hectares to play with, he still needs a romp.  Otherwise, he starts chasing his tail and eating our neighbour’s beans.  Double bonus to get Brent out there romping as well.  Otherwise, he buys a box of 48 Snickers bars.



Wait for it.



Puppy charge!  A great feeling.



Then a cuddle.



And more romping.



Go Lumi!



No! Not through there!.  Ug.




Say it in French now, ” Sneekehrs.”

I’ve always thought that a Snickers bar with a multi-vitamin strap-on == a PowerBar.  Less expensive but more justification.  The Power bar – sold in gyms, health stores and outdoorsy places – allows you to pay more for the Snickers-multi-vit-strap equivalent.  PowerBar equals fit, health and strength.  Snickers version … challenged by marketing.  As sweets go, Snickers has always been okay for me.

Until Brent, for whatever reason, went and bought a 48X48g box of Snickers.  Cool! – you say.  But think of the children.  How am I to manage 48 Snicker bars ( plus one lost to delivery … thanks, Gary for saving them from the ants! ).  47 divided by 5, as I need to keep loose in my jeans, has a remainder.  This, I will defer to my family to work out.


In other news, we opened a bottle of wine!  A blast from the past.  Some Provençal Gigondas.  Those were some days.  Very nice, but I must admit, I do loves me some local gas-pump red in a box.  It’s easy listening wine.  Bottled Gigondas is an event that requires serious food.  Our serious food has been sold.  Thank you!!



and for you, some easy listening to pair with your gas-pump boxed Saint Mont and some lesser grass-fed cuts.  I feel feather-bangs coming on.


I was looking for the song – sorry “piece” – that goes like — do-do doooooooo [beat] do-do do-be dooooo … come on you know the one.  what was it?!


( Brent is forced to listen to all my youtuble.  I publicly apologize for this piece.  I can hardly stand it ( thankfully I’m sitting ) myself. )







Looking For Red, Yellow and White in A Sea Of Red, Yellow and White



Otto had an all-day rugby tournament today.  We ran a bit late and missed the bus.  This is how it rolls with four kids, eighty bovines, forty chooks, silly dogs, cats, one farmer curmudgeon  and all the rest that skim your time.  With everyone fed and ready for the day, Otto, Z and I headed off to the big match.  I thought there would be a few local teams and some sandwiches, but no.  There were hundreds of rugby kids everywhere.  Each in some form of red, yellow and white, we walked around trying to find Otto’s team.  Their shirts, thankfully, are outrageous ( in a very New Zealand Waikato way ).  We found them quickly.

Two shots, one iPhone.  I love taking photos of my kids, but my battery went all melty man, but you get the idea.  Boys and girls playing rugby all day in Gascony.  Good times had by all.


A Bit of Wind, Hay Bales Moved and Some Calm



I’m not complaining.  This wind and rain and Spring-y-ness is working in our favor.  Grass-fed beef needs grass.  The grass is loving these current conditions.  The herd is FAT!

This is Lumi’s first everything so he barks a bit when the wind gets going.  Silly pup.  He also stands facing the wind and looks like a dork.  He has many talents that retriever.



Brent moved some of the hay to the ” Adventure Playground ” to dry.  An area close to the house where the kids can climb trees and romp.  The grass grows well there.  We are always tempted to put the herd on it.  I like keeping it for the kids.  There is a slight slope and therefore … someday … a zipline.  Today and a few weeks after, it is the great hay bale jump around.  The kids spend a lot of time jumping on or off of those bales.


And today’s random book of calm :



Switch Off Or Switch On

Electric lights, television, computers, fluorescent lights … all add to feelings of tension.

Ironically, you can compensate for them with another electronic implement – an ioniser.


This house we live in had none of these amenities originally.  When we moved in, we added hot water to the mix.  Electricity and cold water and toilet were already there from some previous owner adding value.  I enjoy turning the lights off.  There is so much daylight right now, no need to pay for illumination.

There was a moment in my life when I bought and used an ioniser ( an urban opportunity ).  I put it next to the cat litter ( inside cat, another urban opportunity ).  Without having to believe in magic and unicorns, it actually improved the environment.  Thankfully, life on the farm does not require this gadget.