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

You Get What You Get

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My heart hurts a little today because my daughter ( not Zelie ) accidentally dropped my camera on the hard, cold tiles of France.  This wasn’t her first time.  She dropped another camera of mine on the hard, cold tiles of France a few years ago.  That situation presented a green blinking light of death for my Nikon.  It was a plastic body that did not stand a chance with surrounding gravitational conditions.

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After that incident, I made a rule to NEVER place a camera on anything.  She was young, she pulled a book or paper that my camera was resting on off a high shelf … she pulled the paper and the camera tumbled to its death.

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After many years practicing my procedure with my camera, I left it on the table without concern because it wasn’t resting on anything … and she moved the table.  I wasn’t there, but I’m sure she didn’t mean it.   And it was my bad for leaving it there.  Thankfully, the camera body is made of metal, so most of the camera features are intact.  So far, the only damage is my ISO/QUAL/WB buttons are gonzo along with various shutter speed thingos as well as the “play” button to review the photo you just took.  As I am not a photographer and still not actively learning what those nobs do … I did use them to adjust settings.  At this point, any setting I every set is now locked in until I get my button fixed.  So, you get what you get.  It’s like the old days when you took a photo and didn’t know how it would turn out until developing time.
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Granted, my camera is probably considered “old” at this point, but it totally does the job and I love it.  I had no intention of replacing it.  Sometimes, restrictions invite creativity.  I leave you with a test photo of my stapler taken today with my newly broken camera.
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Cow Scratch Time

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It’s that time of year where the cows are extra enthused to scratch on any solid object.  And OOOH they love it.  Especially when we bring them up to the yards.  So much to scratch on, so little time.  They really get into it.

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Which is fine.  Though we have this one barrier to our yards that took a beating when the gutter system gone wrong weakened the underfoot, so the giant concrete pillars would wobble if some massive force … or cow scratch … tested it.

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And OOOh they did.  The herd LOVES a good scratch.  Especially now when the weather is warmer.  We used to park the digger to hold the wall up, but in the last few months, we didn’t need that safety net.

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The top bar is made of heavy pipe.  Except for the last bit … the wobbly bit … that is a plank of wood that has been winning the herd triage battle for years.  They test it, but that wood held strong.  Except for today.  The herd came in for triage, Brent went out to set up their next move and I herd a crack.  Instead of helping him, I manned the corner.  There was a snap in the wood, but it might hold for this round and we could fix it after.

I was trying to think of ways to quickly reinforce the plank while we triaged.  All options involved materials and time.  I stepped away to check the water and I heard the final “crack.”  Quickly!  What material can bind two planks of wood withstanding a half ton animal head in search of a scratch?  Duct tape.  Just so happens, I had some close by.

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I quickly patched with duct tape the two pieces of broken plank together to make it, presumably, stronger than it was before.  As a back-up, I asked Brent to drive the digger round to hold up the fence and detour any fence jumpers.

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Hahahah.  We’ve not had a cow jump a barrier.  Don’t worry.  Except for today.  It wasn’t over my outstanding duct tape improvisation.  She tried to jump over a proper barrier.

 

 “She’s going to jump, Brent”

“Don’t worry, she won’t jump”

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“She jumped, Brent”

Yep, she JUMPED.  Amazing.  We moved her safely with the other triaged cows.  They were a bit on edge, but calmed down soon enough.  Now I’m hoping she won’t remember her super cow jumper powers.

 

… and now this.  Monster Cars in France.

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Make It Look Easy

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I come from a dance background.  When we do amazing feats or kick our leg high, we make it look easy.  Nothing hurts.  Simple.  Casual.  Do this all the time.   That’s part of the art.

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I also dabble in the geek world.  Their art has a note of “duh,” which for geeks means make it look easy.  Sometimes, those amazing feats and solutions are not all that easy, but we make it seem so.

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We move children and we move cattle … and actually, we move chickens.  Chickens, that’s easy.  Children, meh … really depends on the temperament.  … not always predictable.  Hard to make that look easy when they scream and you scream back.

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Cattle?  you need to know some tricks.  I really enjoyed this move.  The cattle ( some new to the system ) crossed the road.  Seems simple, but is it really?  Over the years and with concrete examples of cow moves gone wrong, Brent has set up subtleties that make it all look easy.  And just like a ballerina “floating on air” on her toes, weightless … the herd popped over too easy.  What you don’t see are the bloody toes ( ballerina point dancer ref ) of the past getting this art down to making it look effortless.  Behind that move is pasture planning, cow chess moves and temp fence props.  Add to that when to get the herd back to the yards mixed with do we feed hay?  Do we feed hay because the pasture needs it?  So many inputs to make it look easy.  Here they are, the herd, crossing the road.

 

When I lived in the city, I would have loved to be part of that cow move.  That’s why we are offering an opportunity to stay on the farm.  Seems easy, but what are those tricks?  Accepting reservations starting in May.

The Famous Four

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I ignore our children.  Not on purpose.  It comes natural to me.  Sometimes I feel guilty.  I should be entertaining them.  Growing them.  Teaching them.  But my ideas are nothing compared to what they have planned.   And really, I’m not your clown.  Vacation time now.  No school.  We leave them to their own and they manage their pleasure, their day.  Like those old T.V. programs with children running around solving mysteries with a little dog by their side.  You watch one of those shows and think, ” now where the heck are their parents? ”   … we’re here.  We’re here unblocking them.  We are supporting them.  Sometimes mysteries need a new iphone app.  Or help to light a match for the bon fire. Or a basket to carry all this food.  Also, as much as I ignore them, we do things together each day that take minutes and are not status update worthy.  Otto helps move the chickens two or three times a day.  Zelie helped me feed the calf.  Minty looked after her new kitten and also the other pets.  The eggs are collected by one of this lot.  Dishes unpacked then packed. Customers, meat sales. Phone. Answer the phone! Lucy did the laundry and made the table clean and beautiful. Help me cook with Zelie and Minty. Meal together. Showers, teeth. Then the truth. I hit my kids up hard with comedy. Can they take it?

me: you can fend for yourself now, you’re thirteen. get a job! get out there, rule the world!
lucy: then I won’t get pizza pockets!
we: hahahaha!

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Remember Chicken?

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Our third lot of chickens have been sold.  We managed to grab one for tasting.  I’ve done a lot of photos of beef and pork while spending very little time with chicken.

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It’s nice to see what you are buying and how it looks in the kitchen just before dinner.  Our chickens are large by French standards.  I used huge potatoes so the scale is a bit off.

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Also working on roasting chicken.  Lucy likes crispy skin.  Otto likes the leg.  Minty likes the white meat.  Zelie likes the mashed potatoes.

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The family was very pleased with the flavor.  This chicken tastes like chicken.  It had the smell of chicken.  The texture of chicken.  Some salt, some pepper and a whole lot of pasture.  I’m excited to keep working on this.

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Lucy and Z Check The Mail

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It’s a bit over 700 meters to our mailbox.  Lucy has been waiting and waiting for a package to arrive.  Sure that it would come this day, she decided to walk down and take a look.  Why so motivated?  Shoes.  I’m sure you can relate.  Z wanted to come along.  And off they went.

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Lucy snapped a few photos along the way.  The herd seems to be doing well.  Most of them snoozing.  I love a snoozy cow.

She also grabbed this selfie.  I love it because if you trace their heads and neckline it makes a heart.  aaaaah.  how cute!

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Did her shoes arrive?  YES!!! YES THEY DID!!  Woohoo!