Thankfully, There Was Tea


What a shitty day. No need to go into details. We’ll save that for the book we write ten years later.   “Too Many Heifers, Not Enough Hoes: Farming In France.”  … or whatever the title. ( that was a rap joke ).

Let’s focus on the positive. The Hilux was successfully pulled out of the mud. The truck you buy when you look for a sturdy, hard-arse, “what would the Taliban use?” vehicle to keep you going in tough terrain got stuck and pulled out of the mud, no issue. It is wet, wet, wet here at the moment. This was the easy part of the day.  Though, I learned of lot about 4×4 gear things and mud and low range.  On the job training, difficult, but your lessons are remembered forever. No time for multiple choice questions and grades.  Let’s get this truck out of the mud, shall we?

The herd munches down Nebraska ( the old corn field ).  Rain and rain and more rain.  They eat the hay and grass.  When Brent moves them the second time, the previous hay line has disappeared.  Great for the pasture.  There is a lot of grass in this paddock to keep the herd busy.

Lucy had the best tea party ever. Cucumbers were sliced. Jam was spread.  Cream cheese was found.  Great in so many ways.  She made lunch for everyone while I cleaned up the water that spilled in the kitchen and hallway from one little mouse with a bit of a drinking problem.  The water is sweeter in the drainhose of a dishwasher, words to live by … were you a little mouse ( see also, “fucking mouse chewed my dishwasher drainhose!”).  I never plan to write a book for children.  Anyway, here in France, they sell bread with the crusts cut off.  One Euro!


Still a few things left to do this evening.  But this family, we shall eat.  I made Goulash.  First time ever.  I was inspired by a customer.  Read also: “Where’s my Goulash?! ” husband whispers gently.  “What is Goulash?” I thought.  and “How do you spell it?”  Off I went with a recipe.  First time and the family seemed to enjoy it.  I’ll give ‘er another go.


More positive.  Our beef sale this Friday is totally sold out with peeps on the wait list.   We love feeding people tasty, yummy, quality food.


When you have a shitty day, like today, it’s good to step back and appreciate all the great things that you’ve worked on.  Kids, Friends, Customers, Food, Farm, Animals.  The Goldens, well, they tend to tend to themselves.


Today, In Gascon Farmville


Lucy made a Mardi Gras potato.  She chose googly eyes of different size to separate her piece from other same-sized entries.

The herd have been a bit funky with the rain.  We have spotted a milk-stealer.  Leprechaun, the calf, milks any cow he can find.  Brent has sorted him out to make sure all the calves get their share.


A bit more hay still.  When one (Brent) lays out the hay, it’s nice to sing along to those eighties classics.  I set up the iThing to play “Rat In The Kitchen” by UB40.  Brent LOVES UB40.  Red, red wine….. iiii-yee-ine.  Good times.


And The Cows, Oh How They Laughed

I moved the cows yesterday.  I wasn’t intending to.  Brent was coming back late last night.  I thought I’d set up the fence for him so that when he arrived, he could roll the hay out and move the cows.  It was getting darker by the minute and Brent was not home.  All this talk about squatting and hay bale rolling.  I thought I’d give ‘er a go.  Why not?  I’m on my own, I have no walkie talkie, I’ve never done a cow move by myself,  it’s getting dark and the cows with the big horns are staring at me.  What could go wrong?


I removed the hay net, easy.  Then went in for the deep squat.  But did it budge? No, not a bit.  I felt them roll their eyes.  “Come on lady, he does it each day, three times a day,” they insisted in a Seinfeld cow kind of way.  I squat again.  And I push and push and again and squat and push.  Nope.  I switched tactics and used momentum and gravity.  I got the ball rolling.  As it rolled down the hill, I noticed that is was not unrolling.  I needed to turn it.  A round bale of hay weighs a ton ( well, not exactly a ton, but it felt exactly like a ton ).  Darker it gets, their laughter increases, so I stopped.  I left a small line of hay with a ball at the end.  I started winding up the temporary wire fence to let the cows through.  The cows were lovely.  Perfect move.  Except for the silly me winding the wire.  While watching the cows come through, the wire popped off the reel, but I kept on reeling it in.  Then, well, the sun had set.  I couldn’t see how to fix it.  So as the cows were munching, I gathered the wire and picked up the posts. As I came to the end, the gate hook attached to the ball of wire I was holding caught on the live fence.  Yep,  zapped four times.  And anther zap on my way out of the paddock.

The next morning the cows were in!  In the wrong place!  The abandoned ball of hay rolled over the temp fence, knocking it off and low enough to cross.  They had a lovely Grand Slam morning breakfast on their next strip.

Brent is back home and thankfully all is right.  No new calves today.  Whew.

Calf Palooza


Four calves today.  Geez!  I think there are two above in the photo.  Little blobby bits napping in the sun.  With each calf, we need to tag within the first day.  We ( we being Brent ) also must castrate if necessary.  Otherwise, they are too frisky.  I think they have rodeo events about catching calves.  If you get them in the first day, they are too confused to work out what’s going on.  This is a dangerous part of the job.   One calf at a time is great.  Four in one day, I wish for all girls.  Two boys and two girls were born today.  Moms were great and Brent tagged all four without fuss.   He has his technique down and everything.

As this is an “L” year and we are required to name each calf, might you have any good names?  Already named:

  • Loveboat
  • Legion of Boom
  • Lido Shuffle
  • Lawnmower
  • Leprechaun

Also in the progress bucket, that giant wood pile of way back when is being cut into warmy burny logs.


Lumi is right there supervising.  A big pile of warm.  Though, as I write, my front door is wide open and the sun is shining.  I think I might pour myself a Kir.


Before After


Otto got his hairs cut today.  It’s been awhile as you might have noticed.  I usually cut his hair, but that was before he turned ten.  All cuts before ten were acceptable.  I’m not a bowl-cut mom.  I found myself a right pair of gator scissors, tossed up the Vogue antenna and thanked the fashion gawds that messy with a touch of gel will make everything alright.

But Otto is ten now, so I had to bring him to the city with the professionals.  The ladies were very nice.  We showed them a photo.  Please, not too short!  She asked Otto if it was too short throughout the process.  They also shampooed his hair which he believes is close enough to a shower to skip his shower this evening.

There are at least seven to twenty types of gel ( matte, sticky, stiff, just-out-of-bed … blah blah ).  It’s all very confusing.  We’ll work our way through until we get one that works.  You can’t put too much gel on the hair.


Every establishment has at least one dude with a hat on.  I love hats.  Why don’t we wear hats anymore?  Can you spot the man in the hat?

Deep Squats


It has crossed my mind of doing a “farm fit” class.  I used to teach all sorts of dance, acting, singing and theater dealios.  Doing a deep squat to roll a hay bale over to feed the cows has the right balance of physical fitness and motivation.  It’s not about you, that herd … they are waiting for you to get the bale rolled out.  They are watching you.

The calves, Legion of Boom and Lido Shuffle, walk under the wire to check out how things are going.


This was a great bale.  They could smell it.  Cows have a great sense of smell.


We didn’t put Fremont the woodburner on until much later in the day.  As you may guess, we don’t have central heating.  If the fire doesn’t go on, you put on another sweater or in Bug the cat’s case, some Christmas wrapping paper left after Brent’s birthday.


Fire made the room nice and toasty just in time for ZZ to grab a snooze in Daddy’s black chair with Happies the bear in her pink flamenco dress from Lucy who has returned safely from Madrid.


A Roll Of The Hay


For a couple of months, when the grass is stockpiled and not growing, we feed hay.  It helps the pastures and nourishes the herd.  Brent rolls the very super heavy hay bale out then calls the cows through.

Over the years, I have collected photos of Brent rolling out the hay bales.  Usually, I have Z on my hip, but lately, I just take photos and leave him to it.


” You could help, you know,” he asks sweetly.  Yes, I should help, but you pushing a hay bale is some good photage.  And you don’t really need help.


Your shoulders get a good work out.  Your delts bulge.DSC_2188

You get all grassy.


Even in the snowy


The herd loves you for this work.  And your body loves you as well.


Happy Birthday to you, Brent.


Hay rolling is almost over.  Z is older.  and I’ll stop taking photos to lend a hand.

Mismatched Gumboots


The other day or was it yesterday it all seems so long ago, Minty took photos of Z in mismatched socks.  I won’t go into socks … I could go on and on.  It would be therapy for me and boring to you.  Thankfully, here in Southwest France, socks aren’t needed through Spring, Summer and most of Autumn.

Today, little Z was running around in mismatched gumboots.  They call them “gumboots” in Australia.  In England, they have more than eleven words for “gumboots.”  I don’t know what they call them in America.  I grew up in Southern California.  No socks and no what-ever-you-call-thems.  Yes, yes, I lived in Seattle where it rains everyday except for that week in July, but there aren’t many puddles.  And John Fluevog didn’t make rain gear.


Thankfully the golden puppies of love chewed the opposite boots.  One pink left and one red right.  Not the same size.  Not the same color, but the kids LOVE splashing in muddy puddles.


Otto and Minty collected a tin of four-leaf clovers.  Brent seeded a few paddocks with clover.  It seems we have our fair share of the four-leaf variety.  Lucky us!  Lucky cows!