Treetop Fun in Southwest France

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I’ve been meaning to take the kids to this park in the forest that has ropes to let you walk between trees.  In French it’s called “accrobranche.”  I didn’t know much about it, so I didn’t know what to expect.  It’s very close to us.  This year, all the kids are old enough to venture out and enjoy some of the things offered in Southwest France aside from the beauty of farm life.

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I was expecting a few trees, a ladder and a rope … maybe a zipline.  As we approached the park, the forest was getting thicker.  So beautiful.  It was a hot day 34 ( 93F ), so spending the day in a shady forest was unexpected joy.  We rented our equipment, got a briefing and off they went.

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There are many levels for all ages.  Z had a 3 – 6 year old section with two complete tree puzzles, giant climbing boat structure and a single zipline to use over and over again.  The others had their choice of routes on three levels.  Each tree path had different types of ways to get the the next tree. Real life video game except instead of using your thumb strength, you were met and sometimes disappointed with your actual, physical skill.

Add to that a beachy lake swim that you can get to via zipline.  Shade, cool drinks and happy kids.  You can also drive and park on the beach side.

I took a photo of Minty zipping across the lake.  Can you spot her?
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The tree puzzles were high up.  There are rules you use to get connected from one crossing to the next.  As it was their first time, the kids were continuously confronting their fears and pressing on.

I was also confronting my fears of my children up so high.

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Z’s crossings were not as high and she had no fear.    She was also meticulous with the way you go about it.  They run a two clip system, so you are always supported with one clip during transition.  With some crossings, you use your own pully.

Prices vary on your age.  The beach is free, but they charge for the slide.

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We had such a great time!  … this sounds like an ad, but really I was surprised that it took me this long to get there!

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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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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

My Camera Is Holding On Awesome

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Can’t adjust the settings.  Can’t review what photo I take.  I’m shooting blind.  But I need to keep shooting.

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It’s a shot in the dark.  Like the old days.

The weather is superb.  Our dear friend is here and it warms my heart that we can work together on the farm then relax in the evening sun watching the tractors trudge on.  Rearing grassfed beef has a lot of management of pasture, but little time spent in a tractor .

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When the herd is moved, chickens fed and watered, the beef butchered and packed then delivered, you can lay under the evening sun.  Relax because the day is over.  Play with the kids.

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Chit chat with friends.  Let the grass grow.  In the afternoon, it will be sweeter for the herd.  A late breakfast.  They sleep in, our herd.

 

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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.

T, T What Begins With T?

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Fixed me up some T-bones this afternoon.  Played T-bone Tetris.  Though, for those who like to match things absolutely perfectly no gaps snap shut click clack snap 2 points … my T-bones won’t resolve that feeling, but they look great.  And they were very tasty.

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We also used some T things to get our Farm Stay ready for guests.  If you want to do the brick tile thing … you need the ‘T’.  Keeps the tiles straight.  I learned a little something about tiling this weekend.

And we fed our friend, who helped with our villa improvements, a T-bone steak.  T for tastebuds.  T for tender. T for thank you.

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