Tombolala

kids at the disco

Once again Brent and I have been out partied by an uncustomary age bracket.  The first time was at the local fête in our last village.  Live music, plenty of booze, the night was young.  The kids were occupied.  We’re surrounded by the seventy and eighty year old crowd.  All were cutting a rug to the tunes of peppy-french-social-dance music.  Brent and I danced and danced until Brent hit the wall and had to go.  I stayed for a bit after with Lucy.  Then, at one in the morning, I glanced over at my right and told Madame eighty-year-old that I was tuckered out and headed for home.  She gave me a smile, pat me on my shoulder and then popped out to the dance floor for another round of French polka.
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Last Friday, was another one of those moments.  Lucy’s school merged with Otto and Minty’s school to do a dance / sing / raffle event.  In France, it’s called a Tombola.  We arrived at 6:30.  Otto and Minty did their dance outside which ended with the class walking hand and hand into the event hall.  Lucy took the stage with her class and performed (wait for it) a Modern dance!  Modern dance for those “not in the know” is a form of dance about movement and expression escaping the rigorous structure of ballet and the like.  It’s not something you’d expect your eight year old to perform at an end of the year shin dig.  There were no introductions.  There was no speech about all the hard work the staff had put in this past year.  There was no plea for money.  It was all about the kids, their dancing and their singing.  I’m still aghast that my daughter and her class got all modern dancey.  It was wonderful.
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The evening went along and the kids finished their performance.  It was Tombola time followed by an Apero (that’s shorthand French for l’apéritif which means sweet drinks, whisky and little nibbles).  Brent realized too late that the kool-aid substance in the white container was actually a Kir (cassis and white wine).  On and empty stomach and a full day of farming, well, he got a little giddy.  Let me remind you that this is a kid event and it’s now 9pm or so, dinner is still not served.  We at last sit around 10pm for our first course (I really love this place!).  the dinner wasn’t fancy, but it tasted fantastic.  After a few courses the Disco began and the kids danced like nuts.  The adults sipped wine and watched the fun.  We still awaited cheese, dessert and coffee.  It’s not quite midnight, but very close.  Brent didn’t make coffee.  He took Lucy home while I chatted with some parents and waited for Minty and Otto to tell me they’re ready to go … and waited … and waited … okay! Can we go now ?????? Minty, thankfully said that I could go. Whew.  My head hit the pillow at 2pm.  I was out partied by my 4 and 6 year old.  The kids had a total blast.  France really knows how to throw a good family fun evening.

Fencing is as Fencing does

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(photo by Mr. Curtis)

Yesterday and today we fenced.  We have some old, crappy fencing that keeps me awake at night while I figure the many possibilities of one or two of our young, sweet heifers (read “fucking heifers”) getting out.  It turns out number 78 or 64 is playing with the temporary zappy fence.  Bitch! She bobbles it around like the x number of volts snapping her head means nothing.  Ug.  But for the last two days we’ve not had any herding-fun-with-heifers™ so things are good.  I think the girls are digging their new rectangle.  Gordito gets out all the time, but quickly runs back to his mum.  Brent says this is the way it works with the little ones.  They sneak out for the good grass and then get back with the herd without issue.

Now let me tell you, I’ve never fenced in my life.  I’ve never thought about how one would fence. I’ve never researched or googled “fencing.”  I basically know nothing.  And it turns out, I have no natural ability to fence.  BUT, with Brent’s coaching, I’m starting to pick up the little tricks with running a line of fence.  I’m not talking about a little Seattle backyard fence.  I’m guessing I could figure that out, no problem.  No, I’m talking about fencing 400 meters or so of fence (that’s 1,312 feet to you and me) where you can’t see the corner post you’re trying to get to.  As we started doing this, I quickly reminisced of second grade math “word problems” where Farmer Bill needs to build a fence around so-and-so acres with blah-blah feet between posts, how many posts will Farmer Bill need?  Who knew second grade math would hit home so late in life?!  I remember thinking to myself, “what a bullshit question.  Like when in the hell will I ever use this? This is bullshit!”  Here’s the drill (now mind you my little, sweet (read super sweet cute) newborn is safe and snuggy warm near us napping.  The minute her eyes close our fencing effort is on)  The heifers are close by looking like they want to break through the flimsy temp wire we have there continually challenging their “grass is greener” urge.  Newborn sleepy == good.  Heifers in their rectangle == good.  With each post I check this state is valid.  The posts are laid out and we start at the beginning pushing them in with the tractor.  Brent drives the tractor and I work out the post.  So, my husband drives a very large, very heavy vehicle at me while I give him super clear instruction on when to stop and when to lift or go down.  He drives at me while I hold the post, I signal “come closer.”  If I want him to go back I signal “go back.”  When he’s in the right spot I signal “go down” which means lower the fork to touch the post.  If it isn’t aligned, I signal “go up” so I can realign.  After many posts in and out, Brent got very good at alignment so I’d simply do a thumbs up sign as to tell him “all was good”  but that looks very much like “go up.”  Thankfully after twelve years of marriage, he knew what I meant.  The first two posts gave us an incredibly steep learning curve and then we knocked them in fairly quickly.
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Both of us being perfectionist, we slipped our “cheap, peasant farmer” hat on which answered the question “what would a French peasant farm do?” that allowed us to loosen up our strict line and post depth.  At that point, those babies went in quickly.

Very little of the farm is fenced so I’m working with Brent to do the bulk of the fencing in while our little one is laying around whacking toys.  When she gets all mobile, it’ll be a huge challenge to get this stuff done.   After the few episodes of heifer herding,  I’m hoping to get a nice solid three wire perimeter fence up.   That way, if the cows get all crazy, it’ll be our own damn fault and we won’t bother anyone else.  Someday, not sure if it’ll be Gordito, we’ll get a bull and I’d like to keep Mr. Man with his bitches.  There are a few neighboring farms and I hope not to run into any bull-meets-bull situation.  But before that magical moment, we’ll use Artifical insemination.  Which means I will hire a guy with a long glove to get jiggy with it.  No, I will not be wearing the long glove myself.  Mark my words.  …

(super cute newborn … well I guess she’s four months now.)
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Two Herds Facing Each Other, But They Are One

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(photo by B.Curtis)

Today was a day.  A day like I’ve never had before.  I had a first hand lesson in cow herding, cow herd mingling and fence repair.  I should probably leave it at that, but then you wouldn’t get to appreciate my Gandalf moment.  Brent was under control.  He had a plan and I think the herd recognized it.  Me?  I felt I was suddenly starring in my own reality series.  I’ll skip the part where my day essentially started at 1am between dog, newborn and four year old and then newborn again and skip to the part where Brent said, “Nah, it’ll be like five minutes.”  We were to move the Salers down to Louisiana.  Brent laid out the plan.  The Salers got down to where they were supposed to go with a few recoverable hiccups.  Then the Mirandaise decided to “moo” their presence.  And Moo.  And Moo.  A quick side note on the M-girls.  They are curious and sweet, but also tough bitches with other cows.  We decided to let the girls in and ready ourselves to deal with “Salers excitement in new paddock” with “ M-girls meet S-girls.”  Fevette, a Mirandaise, decided she was going to show off and chased a small mob of heifers back up where they started.  I hopped in the truck to collect them.  The rest of the herd were having a meet-and-greet session.  Brent quickly fixed some fences that took a beating in the process.  It turns out our shocky-shocky battery decided today it was not going to participate which caused all sorts of problems.  Amazingly, I got there in time to block the back-road while Brent got the Fevette bunch back to the paddock.  Whew.  Things were looking good until the Salers explored the lake.  They were in and out and all around checking things out.  The Mirandaise were right with them showing them who was boss.  As Brent had to run off and get some fencing material, a Salers cow decided to push the fence and take a walk down another back-road.  A Mirandaise, of course, had to follow and off they went. With twenty Salers and four Mirandaise eager to follow, I slammed my mental stick (couldn’t find a stick) diving deep inside to my inner Gandalf and shouting “Allez!”  (al-ay) but really saying “YOU SHALL NOT PASS!!”  The herd stopped, blinked and then went back to where we wanted them.  The other two cows quickly came back and joined the rest.  After that, it was a munch fest while Brent and I double-checked the rest of the fences.  All looked good.  A back-up shocky battery was replaced.   We’ve since checked them a number of times and they seem cow-like.  So I think we can sleep okay.  I checked them at sunset and they were all nestled in for sleepy time mingling nicely.
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(photo by B. Curtis)

It all happened so fast.  Cows here.  Cows there.  Fences down.  Fences repaired.  Battery fucked.  Overlayed with this being a Wednesday when all the kids are home.  Thankfully we have Michael here who was happy to help out and make sure the kids were safe and happy.  He has a stash of songs in his pocket that he makes up as he’s singing.

Now that the girls are merged, I think we’ll be ready to take on the next challenges.  We have three births on the way.  One mama was ready to go yesterday.  Brent and I had a giggle about her popping out the calf just was we were mending the last bit of fence.  Yet, she’s still with calf and we keep checking her out waiting for our new arrival.  This is the day that I graduated from pot of flour to arms out control.  I think I’m starting to get the hang of this.  Hopefully.