Ferme d’escures, France—What a week it’s been. After we parted ways with the Samsons it was off to Lyon, the birthplace of French cuisine. We ate our way through the city at delicious restaurants and the Les Halles market, where we finally bought some delicious mimolette cheese. Then we traveled to the Loire Valley to visit two chateaux, Chambord and Chenonceau. The French accents there actually do sound like frogs, and the castles themselves were like something out of a fairytale.
Now comes the part where we have to adjust to a new lifestyle, perhaps a more authentic French one. We are now on a pedagogical farm that is often visited by school groups and families. The farm then shows the kids first hand how they make cream into butter, how to bake bread etc. and also has many types of farm animals to feed and pet. My favorite is a small black goat that I’ve named “my goat.”
As a bonus, this is a French speaking farm, so Betsy has had the opportunity to flex her vocabulary while I mostly grunt and point. I am learning a lot however and can understand almost half of what goes on…it’s a start. There is a nice British woman named Liza who is acting as translator as best she can. The biggest problem of this whole place is that we seem to be superfluous. Besides us, there are two other WWOOFers, a student, two paid employees, Veronique (the owner), and some of Veronique’s family.
Unlike our prior experiences, there isn’t much that is asked of us and there aren’t really clear objectives or instructions. At our other WWOOF jobs, we’ve been asked to do construction projects, which meant there were obvious goals that we were working towards. At the end of both of our stays, we had something tangible to show for our time there. Here the goal is more maintenance: reaping grass to feed Noisette, the cow, cutting thorny branches for the goats, checking for eggs in the chicken coop, etc. And of course helping in the kitchen (there are eleven or twelve of us at meals). Veronique only asks that we work four hours a day--a foreign concept to us.
Nevertheless, we think this might actually be closer to WWOOF guidelines than our other jobs. And this afternoon we made plans to help Liza refurbish the large vegetable gardens and to sketch (possibly build?) part of a patio near the barn. So we’re cautiously optimistic that we’ll leave the farm feeling as satisfied as we have in the past.