Today we had a zimbo family Zoom meeting. It was good to see everyone and lovely to note how little people change. It gives a little bit of consistency to a convoluted world. The sun was shining outside and the air was chilly with its Siberian breeze. Sadly our 17 year old cat Bluey is having a bit of a rough weekend. She is curled up in her box by the door enjoying the rays of sun that have been on her all day. Our first Franklin Farm animal and hunter😻. No longer capable of catching any of the dozens of Blue tits we have outside the house these days. Bird has always been her favourite snack.
As some of you know Brexit has provided some interesting logistical hiccups with the running of our butchery as some ingredients come from the UK. I am lazy I guess, and have not bothered up to now sourcing from within the EU. There are some things that I have been unable to find. so the delivery from the UK is now being cleared through customs, I hope (!), unless I have had a spam caller and I have just signed my life away to some bloke called Gaetan 😰. Those who have seen me during the last few weeks have been busy little tasters on some new sausage recipes and we have had some pleasant feedback, for which I thank you. Some new sausage flavours will be sticking around, along with the ones to which you have become accustomed.
As soon as I can I will be scooting around on deliveries to satisfy my further away people with their requirements. Fear not 😊
Whilst Emily has been house bound with snow in the Netherlands over the past few weeks we have been forced outside in large amounts of rain feeding hungry 4 legged animals. We also had a little helper for a couple of weeks to see what we get up to, and we hope we broadened his experiences for his course at Lycée. I assume, from the amount of sausages eaten, he was properly worn out after every day. Tired adolescents = happy adolescents.
I don't usually discuss abattoirs because I know lots of people like to think of our farm in a light and fluffy way. However, they are an integral part of our business, legislation dictates that we cannot sell or even give meat to anyone outside of our immediate family if it has not been dispatched in a registered abattoir. Ribérac abattoir has been closed due to financial issues. It is one of the last local abattoirs that will kill livestock for anyone who wants an animal dispatched in our area, the others require you to be a shareholder of their enterprise which means you have to have a certain tonnage that you process every year. Others require you to be a registered butcher and/or animal trader. Consequently small producers are pushed out of the equation for access due to lack of numbers or money. Not all abattoirs that are still functioning have facilties to kill all species. So if you have sheep or goats, finding an alternative can be difficult and may require a trip of 100km in each direction to deliver the live animal, and then 100km in each direction to collect the carcasses.
There are 250 abattoirs in France. In 2000 there were 340. In the 1970's there were around a thousand. During this time the tonnage of meat consumed in France has not change considerably. So..... This means the facilities are getting bigger, higher tech, more expensive to run, further apart and less personal. Is that a good thing? I know where I stand on that but I will leave you to make your own judgements.
The producers and parties concerned with Riberac Abattoir are having a second meeting next week to try and find solutions. Abattoirs are a public service, they should be regarded as a hub for a community, they provide employment, families who invest in their community, and they are full of skilled labour. It should be something that people are concerned about. An abattoir should be something that as a community you are proud of, should support and encourage.
This is a photograph of my mate Mr.Stink he has been sitting on my bathroom wall for a few weeks now obviously hibernating and readying himself for the new season which, I am sure cannot be that far away. I have come a long way from the squealing woman who arrived in Zimbabwe some 30 years ago and jumped at the sight of every bug that moved, and even the ones that didn't. Now I only squeal at fake plastic spiders left lying around by evil children.
Our family takes pride in our ability to improve our insect population through our more natural methods of farming and living adopted during the last 17 years in France, fallen into initially by a serious lack of capital and then continued through increased awareness and education.
The media publish articles about fewer or no insects on our windscreens, or birds found starved to death at odd times of year. I wonder what people think when they read about it? Lets give some money to a charity and absolve our requirement to do anything? Without insects the world will fall apart they all have a function many are involved in the clean up and processing of our rubbish into something that will become soil for us to use. Some are pollinators enabling us to eat. Some are pest controllers. some are seed dispersers....... the list goes on. In short we cannot exist without them. Cherish them in all their stinky ugliness and elegant, hairy, beauty.
In theory we should be open to change during covid-19, but it appears that change is a very difficult task. We have been spoilt for too many years being able to get what we want whenever we want it and are reluctant to accept that continuing on our slightly diverted current path is not the best choice. We have become so detached from our environment that we forget that we are one big ecosystem The Planet, and whatever happens on the other side of the world happens to you too. Too much talking not enough action it is dispiriting.
It was a long and depressing drive through the Charente last Monday on my delivery run in the pouring rain and floods. I had several diversions en route...... I try to speak out in support of my farming compatriots defending and explaining the reason why things are done the way they are. But after driving past so many naked fields, with no trees or hedges on the high ground from where the water runs, and not an ounce of sensible field cover with adequate root system to protect the soil from the rain and hold the water back to eleviate the flooding, I wanted to cry.
Yes there was a lot of rain I am not denying that but compounded with so little green cover did not help the situation. The headlines say how the government are going to support 7000km of hedge planting. Well p*****g in the wind springs to mind.
Cover the ground should be the new mantra, mixed and varied farming. No to moncropping. Get those animals out on the land and give those tireless insects some food to work on (if you are not keeping up with my thought processes, I mean poop) This should be something to be excited about my farming friends. No, just being organic does not count. I drove past several properties advertising their organicness with their bare monocropped fields shining and underwater. Back closer to home where we are surrounded by trees, hedges and permanent pasture there was a normal amount of run off from the ground.
Above is our water running off our permanent pasture. Please note it is clear. Why? Because the field has poop, insects and roots.
I am not going to apologise for being repetitive if you have read all this before. It needs saying often in several thousand languages to as many people as possible to spread the ideas to get down with the bugs and soil to help make some progress.
And fear not my fine farming friends next time I will be going all out for those people who insist on town planning with tarmac, concrete and digging up trees. Another depressing subject.
Ín the words of Spock "Live long and prosper"
Fixing the spillway on the dam
I am farming sheep and goats on the Dordogne/Gironde border with my husband and our 3 children. We have an on farm butchery and sell our meat direct to the public via the markets and delivery points in our local area