Graycute died today. He was our barn cat. He arrived in a bucket on a Wednesday with three other kittens. Wednesday is when the kids didn’t go to school. I’m sure this was planned by our neighbour farmer with stray kittens in the barn looking for homes. We grabbed a few and carried on. He lost three lives with us. First time, we ran over him with the truck. He was a kitten and we didn’t have kittens-seeking-shade protocol. He recovered without intervention. His bones were still soft. Second, I gave him raw meat that was too big. His throat was blocked … I scooped it out in time. Third, I ran over him in the Skoda … silly cat was a car enthusiast. But, he lived on for many years. He had his own theme song. He had a number one hit single “Liver.”
Liver! Oh! Liver!
So tasty and tender!
I eat it for breakfast and
Liver! Sweet Liver!
Yum Yum Yum it’s Liver!
You eat it for breakfast and
He was a permanent fixture here on the farm. In the winter, he would warm Brent’s lap in the evening and then cuddle up to Lucy while she slept.
On the way to the vet, he died in Lucy’s arms. I’m not sure what his cause of death was, but it was too soon. He was a young cat with many years to carry out his business on the farm.
Though he was just a cat, his quick and sudden death reminds you that you need to enjoy every moment shared. With anyone. You never know when they may not be with you even though you think they will always be there.
I am a Graycute
Calving season is never dull. There is stuff to do when they are born. There is the making sure mom and calf have bonded … usually good. Then, there are nutty calves a week old that like to run around and chase each other. Age appropriate behavior, but GEEZ ….
Today’s move was a bit animated. The running calves set the herd off a bit. They settled soon enough. Though, two silly buggers got stuck in an empty riverbed covered in blackberries. Brent hopped in and with HIS BARE HANDS started ripping the brush away to get to the calves. He called for back up. I showed up with a ski pole and Cindy ( our garden lopper ), he requested a tough, yellow fence post. He managed to chop his way through, lift the calves to high ground and get them back with the herd.
No photos. Just didn’t think of it as I was worried about the calves … ah! and my husband! But I do have a photo of one of our rump steaks. I ate it with veg and it was tender and delicious.
Minty: Wait, what year where you born?
Minty: WOW! 19 hundreds
No, but it’s true. When I hear about someone who lived in the 18-hundreds … I’m like WOW!! Did they have running water? How did they communicate long distances? Pigeons? Two thousand is her game. I grew up without cell-phones. I somehow survived without seat belts and 300 dollar carseats. My Mom’s arm was the only line of defence between a hard stop and that windshield.
We are hitting that moment when vacation is still very real, but school and September is very close. The light is different. The smell is different. We are preparing for fall. Brent’s “shut the chicken’s in” alarm is now ringing in the dark.
So many ideas for summer. We ticked off a bunch, but sometimes it’s nice to grab downtime. We are in France, time off is but weeks away after school starts. Next up, a trip to the mall. An hour drive to show the girls what a mall is and grab some supplies for school. Then a meal at La Pataterie … a restaurant dedicated and motivated to serve potato dish variations direct to you. Should be fun. I like that a trip to the mall is a thing. 19 – hundreds … 18 – hundreds … call me old fashioned, but I enjoy the heartbeat of the farm.
Some blokes popped over with their crazy cars this evening. Super cool. There’s the blue one … which is a Cobra. The Green one which is a … uh … super cool one. The red one which is a Jag. Sexy, but I’ve never seen a Jag look like that. A black one which is a bad-ass Merc AMG with extra foam. AND the sweet Miata. Black like mine ( back in the day ) without the bordello red interior. Rosebud, The Technical, posing in the background, handled the visitors with pride.
I love it when people pop by, especially when driving interesting cars. I gave them a coffee offering from Orac our seventh fambly member. Then off they went, driving one mile an hour down our dodgy driveway. I was impressed they took their beauties up to see us. Thanks guys!
Without my superhuman camera, I got slightly motivated to do some food photography. Here is Steak. We are getting better and better marbling with our beef. I cooked and ate that steak. It was fantastic. I don’t like to eat fat on a steak, but that steak with its grass-fed fat … delicious. I am biased, but the fat had flavor.
Nice, hot August day yesterday. It was all going fine. Then, the water shut off. This happens occasionally, usually with warning. But not yesterday. 5:ish on a Friday, no water. I waited for it to return. One hour. Another hour. Worried about the weekend, I went into town to see if I could see anything. There was a digger and a very long pipe being carried by a local water peep. They were working on it. Whew!
We have a well for backup and someday for year-round service, but the pump is busted. Worried about the animals, we called our fix-it guy and he came around to get the pump going again. Unfortunately he needed pieces to fix it and the shops were closed. Here in country France, the shops close. No 24 hour business. A bit more worry.
I contacted my friend and she told me a little diddy I did not know. When the water is out and you are a farmer with animals, the fire department will bring water to your animals. How fucking cool is that!? We could fill a couple of water dishes ( I say dishes, but my kids swim in them ) for the cattle. Turns out, the water was fixed just as our fix-it man was fixing the well. We all good. Then I flushed the toilet, washed my hands and made some espresso. No need to call the fire department.
In other water news, we have new waterers for the chickens which are okay. Definitely better than their plastic predecessors. Otto and Brent below constructing them. … as well as new feeders to save on food spillage costs.
Here’s the big bad boy sitting off in the distance as we chill into dusk. Jiggy, the fuzzle butt, sits close. Lumi sits away, guarding us from those aggressive owls.
This is what they did to that mowed paddock. They mowed it a bit more. Uniformly cut to perfection.
Tonight, the herd is back to work cleaning up paddocks. This paddock isn’t stockpile, but as you can see, it’s not perfect. They aren’t picky.
Here’s the photo from yesterday for comparison. Both taken within five minutes after the move.
In other news, this bad boy can climb hay bales. Lucy took this photo while out on a walk. He’s very pleased with himself.
Hello and welcome! I swear it was yesterday that I wrote something, I looked up and it’s August. Above, you will see our herd on mowed grass. Not a common scene. They work the pastures, our herd, making them more fertile and rich with grass. … for them. So it’s a win-win situation. The move this evening was to a field Brent mowed for hay. And did they love it? yes. Silent and munching. Except some mums who moo-ed for their calves.
We did A.I. this season to try it out. Good way to pick bulls with characteristics suited for our farm. I had this fear that one day all the calves would arrive, all at once. Turns out … that didn’t happen. WHEW. Brent did have to tag four in one day, which was a lot of effort to say the least. We had a friend in town. Poor lad. Turns up with his family and minutes later he’s out with Brent helping tag a calf. Then, carrying it -post birth goop and all- meters back to the herd. ( THANKS FRIEND!!! … we’ll call him Anthony ).
We are still waiting for a few more. Then the season is done. And this farmer’s wife is happy. I worry about the calves like my own children. They like to sleep outside the paddock in the bushes and grassy nulls. We move the herd daily so we wake them up to get with the herd. Otherwise, the mum can’t go back to them because there is a fence in the way. Though, the bellow of a mother cow travels far, so if we miss one, they get back with the herd. My mother … and I’m not calling her a cow … would yell my name at 5pm in the suburbs of lower San Diego, blocks and blocks away for me to come home to dinner. Me, the calf, would come running. A mother’s call can reach.
So many visitors this year. It’s great to learn their story and answer the many questions of why are we here. How did we get to this point? Raising children and cattle and chickens in France. It’s a long story, but not complicated.
Our vacation rental has been great fun. Everyone likes to add their bit to the farm.