Noel et la Nouvelle Année
Trip Start Jul 30, 2010
19Trip End Ongoing
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So as you might have guessed we were told by someone that the farm he was working on needed a hand over the Chrismas week as he wasn't going to be there
At Yvelines there were/ are 2 cow, 20 ewes, about 25 lambs, 4 dogs, around 12 chickens and the 2 pigs. It was the farm of here parents which she now runs with an eco volunteer. So we were here our new home for the next week. First job was first- sortir le fumier (mucking out the cow poo). An important job not just for the cows but for the person who has to sit next to the fumier when milking, which happens twice a day, which means so does the mucking out. The first night i had a go milking one of the cows- Claudie, it was the first time i have milked a cow by hand, i have already done sheep and goat so now the cow. So a quick lesson for those who are interested, take a small stool so you can sit comfortably next to the cow, then quickly wash the four teats then hold the desired teat in your hand and squeeze with your thumb and forefinger, coiling your forefinger under your thumb, this keeps the milk in the teat, then squeeze in with your next fingers, starting at the top and working down, this then pushes the milk down and out into the awaiting bucket, repeat again and again with all the teats until the udder is drained. It though is a long process although Yveline managed it unbelievably quickly, i guess after 60 years of practice i would be able to do it in the same speed too.
So that was milking which we got aquqinted to, and sped up the efficiency over the week
The process of keeping milking ewes with their lambs. Ok so this is a little more complicated than normally keeping ewes and their lambs together crucially because if you left them to it the lambs would drink all the milk that the hard working farmer wishes to turn into cheese or yougart. So I'll begin the process in the evening just before they are bought in for the night. So after the cabage has been collected you put that in all the mangeoire (manger- feed tray), then get the ewes and lambs in they'll come charging in the ewes will start eating the cabbage, in this time you grad all the lambs and you put them in their pen for the night, over the week i am sure this got harder as they got bigger and wiser to the game. Then we would feed the two orphaned lambs there will be a photo of that
Le sortir et le rentrer des bêtes (getting the animals in and out). So this too was a job to be done everyday, both the ewes and the cows were taken out to the field after lunch after both lots had been milked and fed, before this could be done though the electric fences in the field had to be moved to allow the cows and sheep new grass to eat, another time consuming job but necessary to keep everyone happy and healthy. So after this was done the ewes and the lambs were first to sortir, fortuantly they knew the process fairly well and therefore once let out of their barn your just had to follow them to the field which was about 200m away, close the gate behind them and then go and get the two girls. They had to be pushed from there stable through the tool shed out into the garden and then out towards the field where the sheep were, although they had seperate paddocks then close the wire gate behind then, fill their water and then rebranch the electricity and that is the work done then a 4 hour break before everything has to be prepared to get them all back in again
Making yougart, this is a relatively simple process, you tak eyour milk of either cow or brebis (ewes) then warm to the right temperature add some youghart from the last batch, then stir and leave warm, then put into the glass pots and into a cool box (but warmed not cooled) cover and so the temperature remains stable over night and in the morning new yougart.
Cheese was the other thing, so i will try and remember the process because stupidly i didn't write the process, but this is what i remember; so after you have collected enough milk to make it worth we collected 20 litres then into a grande casserole (big cooking pot) heat to the right temperature again i can't remember then add the rennet, which is what will split the milk, as this is happening get a big knife and cut the curds in the pot then use your hand to break into smaller pieces, then remove the whey (it is to be fed to the pigs after mixed with a farine, flour mixture- another one of my jobs). Then the curds are put into pots with holes in the sides weights put on top, and the remaining liquid is pushed out, and you pretty much have cheese, leave to mature and there you go.
This really was our week over Christmas, for Christmas day it was the same as any other soup for lunch, and no real celebrations. Well c'est la vie.
The return trip to the island we hitched to a friends house in the middle of Brittany and in the middle of no where, and fortuantly the chap who picked us up took pity on us, knowing the chances of us getting another lift was unlikely and took us out of his way to the house we were looking for
For new years it certainly wasn't like any i have had before, we when to the house of a girl who used to work on the island there we walked in and there were about 10 other friends there all French (obviously) and i joke not everyone spoke perfect English. So this was great easy converstation then the food started coming 'fruit de mere'- everyone should know what that is and no translation needed. Oysters and everything else that could be desired. The meal passed after midnight, and we began discussing what we were going to do, there was a Fest Noz which is the traditional dancing in Brittany and very popular (http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x9uyi6_fest-noz-gallesie-en-fete-2009_music), so why not. So at about 1am we left for the 40 min drive to the Fest Noz after we arrived it was already in full flow and a new band just coming on to the stage, so to cut a long story short, we had a great evening all linked hand in hand charging around the hall, unusual for most but you might as well join in with the culture or else what is the point. Anyway we eventually left at around 6am for the journey home. Unusual and unforgettable new year.
Another couple of days at Helen's and we were back on the road again heading back to home our little island
So our holiday was over and back to what was now our normal life on the island.
We've just finished a new project so picture and details are going to be in the next blog.
Thank you again all for reading
All the best T