Hot Day, Water M.I.A.

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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.

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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.

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A Lawn Mowed by Cattle

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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.

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Here’s the photo from yesterday for comparison.  Both taken within five minutes after the move.
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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.

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Oh Hello You

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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.

That’s me!

 

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Brats Like Me

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I have fond memories of going to the Oktoberfest somewhere in Southern California with my family.  My dad really loved the Bratwurst … and the beer to go with it.  I loved it just as much.  I haven’t seen Bratwurst for YEARS.  Today, buy two get one free, right there at the ol’ Carrefour market.  Mine for the buying.

I looked up a few recipes on how to cook it.  It’s all about getting the internal temperature safe and then browning the outside.  Many ways to do this, mainly involve some sort of par-boil followed by a brown.  In France, we cook raw sausage all the time.  We do this method.  BUT, as I was talking with Brent about it, it dawned on me that we house this very special machine a dear friend of ours bought to do exactly that.  A sous vide wand that gets your middle up to temp and ready for browning.  The brats are up-temping now and I can’t wait to brown my “saucisse irrésistible.” …. everything ( except ten words ) sound better in French.

We have some new web-footed friends joining team Grasspunk.  They are runner ducks.  I don’t know much about them, but I can tell you this, they like to cuddle.  I’m sure we’ll soon know why they are called “runner” ducks.

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Last week was a four day weekend and Minty hosted a Movie night.  “Movie Night” is code for junk food and television to avoid any school-end test studies.  The kids have a toolbox and they aren’t afraid to use it.  Works every time.

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(above children are not studying )

Minty takes photos of these two characters every day.  The gray one is a stuffed animal with the amazing talent of breath and a beating heart.  The beige one is a killer.
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Just a reminder, it’s tick season.  If you have a nap in the grass with a shaggy dog, be sure to give yourself a quick once over.  I hate ticks.  Useless buggers.

Have a great weekend! Hug a duck! I’m going to go brown my irresistible sausage.
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Daddy Don’t Like My Bacon

You cook the shit out of it. 

Well, I … and my sidekick Mint, we like our bacon extra crispy. 
To be fair, French “smoked pig belly” is different to American bacon. Not sweet.     Definitely holds the smoke notes without any shizz.i.am. So, it tastes great without the extra crisp. 
Add to that “school potatoes.”  As I add to my culinary toolbox the sous chef that is frozen veg, I tried frozen purée. Which is frozen mashed potato ice cubes ready for a thorough reheat. Seems easy and fast but, truth is, they taste like school potatoes fresh on your plate… a rest area before the bin. You have reached your destination!
Another photo of our retreat is up. A place to dine. I love staging this villa. It’s so clean and capable. I feel like I have a little vacation myself when I set things up  

All the bacon is gone and more requests were put on the waitlist. Turns out, daddy loves bacon … of ant sort.  So do all the kids.  Poor Otto was in the field and missed all of it. 

Alright you,  hug some local bacon today.   I’ll catch you up on the farm happenings on Friday. 

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Fête des Mères

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It’s Mother’s Day in France tomorrow. This is my mother. She taught me many things. She taught me to be kind to people. She taught me to be responsible. She taught me to be happy. I could do whatever I wanted in my life as long as I was happy.

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She taught me to laugh. I didn’t think of my mother as a funny person, but she had a sense of humor. She must have. She married my dad. She was a waitress when she met my dad. He was a cook. On her first day she asked him where the bathroom was. He pointed and said, “mention my name, get a good seat.”

She taught me to love and support your marriage. She loved my dad until he died. As a widow, she stayed present for teenage-me, to carry me into adulthood. She taught me strength. She taught me independence.

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She taught me honesty. I remember her response after I told her about what a crappy day I had. “You must feel like a real loser,” she says.  I laughed. I laughed because it was true.  After stating the obvious, the only way was up.

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My mother raised six kids without complaint. Her kids grew up to be great people.

Her advice to me every time I visited her, “Jean, don’t get old.”

Happy Mother’s day to my mom.  She is resting peacefully now.

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Escape

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Escape to a farm in Southwest France. … that is the message.  I live on a farm in Southwest France and I still need to tell myself that.  It’s so easy to fill your head with people’s words.  Podcasts, Stand-up Comedy, News, News on the TV, Youtube, Yabble Babble.  So easy to sink time in to understanding what’s going on … and it is VERY interesting … but … is it?   What is going on around you?  You could probably check in each week and be ahead of the game.  I say “escape” because the words people are using in the big cities, in town at your local big shop … feels stressed.  What if you could push a button and deal with things like drying your clothes without a dryer, picking some vegetables for dinner, moving big animals to tasty pasture … No need for roller coaster rides that you wait hours to ride.  … move some cows!  thrill of a lifetime.

We are offering a glimpse into our farm.  A temporary moment to experience what comes at us fast everyday.  Decisions about beef, about chickens, managing pasture, about business selling meat, about future offerings… each day a steady state of known and a fireball of unknown.  You’ll arrive and see five things we should do and you’ll leave knowing why we put energy into five other things you didn’t know. Or even better, you’ll relax, chill and enjoy the silence ( D. Mode ).

Our Air BnB can be booked at: Grasspunk Getaway

I took TONS of photos to promote our rental and these four photeez are core to my heart:

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a kitchen to cook real stuff with good ingredients on a hot stove with seats for people

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dozing on a bed with a door to the outside world, glimpsing at a book I find time to read each month the same chapter to remind myself of where I left off

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grass and open pasture for miles and miles

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a burger and another burger with a sloppy egg