Sunday, 27 April 2008

Fermes en Fermes

A curtailed post tonight due to the thunderstorms passing overhead, I may have the parafoundre (lightning suppression device) fitted but I still turn off the computer if I’m here. I found this site that tracks the storms and I can see if there are more due here.

Rain was forecast for today so I decided to take a bit of time out and visit a couple of farms that were holding open days. It’s a national thing organised by a body promoting agriculture and rural life. There are lots of farms listed in Lot et Garonne, my department, but not very many in my immediate vicinity so I had a look through and found a couple that sounded interesting as they were promoting environment and sustainability.

I set off for the first, only to realise once I’d programmed it into the GPS that it was a good three quarters of an hour away. I forget how big the department is sometimes. Still it was a lovely morning and I’ve not been out for a while so decided to go anyway.

When I got there I found out it was an apicurist, a bee keeper, and he gave a brief tour of his farm with an explanation of how the honey was produced and then processed. My French is getting better, I’m still not good with general conversation when everyone is talking fast but I understood more than half of what was being said. It did help that I’ve read a bit about bee keeping as I rather fancy a hive of my own one day. I think it comes with my name; Deborah comes from the Hebrew for bee.

The tour ended with a shop with a selection of their produce, honeys of course, mead, honey vinegar, honey sweets, honey cake, wax candles etc. The selection of honeys was great as there were tasters. I love honey, I love tasting the predominant flowers in real honey, not the sugar solution fed honey that is now marketed in oh so many supermarkets. My preference in texture is the crystallised variety. The consistency and colour of honey changes with the different pollen. I would have liked the sunflower honey but sadly they didn’t have any in the kilo tubs so I got Colza honey instead.

My learning continued today, I though it was rapeseed I had blooming in my pasture and I did wonder why I wasn’t sneezing and finding the pollen as obnoxious as I did in the UK. It turns out it is Colza, related but not the same. It makes lovely honey too.

From there I set off to a bio farm. There wasn’t much to do there but in the documentation he had I found that he sells bio beef at a reasonable price, around 12€ a kilo with a mix of everything from rump steak to pot au feu in either 5 or 10 kg packs. He also sells bio (organic) maize and wheat at cheaper than I am paying at the local co-operative for non organic. He is a bit of a drive away but I haven’t seen any organic foodstuffs available locally.

I then headed off to a goat farm to see their cheese making but when I got there I found that it had been cancelled as a venue for health reasons but that another farm near by was hosting a stall with tasters. Well you guessed, free tasters so I was off. This other farm was a good little find too, along with raising 4400 chickens, they had a travelling still (alembic) business and would come along and distil your fruit wine for you giving you eau de vie or firewater. Another little bit of information to salt away – my old apple tree produces rather a lot of apples that don’t store. Calvados anyone?


softinthehead said...

That sounds an interesting day out. Honey on hot buttered toast is one of my favourites. I read your post yesterday and it put me to shame, I am having trouble getting my lawn mower out for the first cut of the season, when I do it will probably only take an hour to do back and front :)

aims said...

Wow! What a beautiful day out you had! How interesting all the different types of farms you got to see! And honey - real honey - sigh....I'm with Sith - on hot toast...absolutely!! I've never had honey wine - sounds divine tho!

My day- I watched basketball for half of it..tsk tsk...wasteful!

Georgina said...

Hi Deborah, it sounds like you had a really interesting day. We have lots of Colza here and beehives popping up in everyones gardens too. If you like calvados you must try some of Pierres, it's apple flavoured fire water, god know what proof. Debs