French Connections

By the time I post this blog entry, we will have returned from our first proper week away from the small holding since we bought it in March 2010.

I am currently sitting outside in a huge garden in a gete in the Loire Valley. We have no Internet so I won’t be posting this live for a few days. It’s our last day, it struck me that we have so much to learn about living and growing from the French. Our trip hasn’t entirely been a busmans holiday, but the Loire has tonnes of agriculture, and is even more obsessed about food and drink than many other places inFrance. What is smallholding about if it isn’t an obsession with food? Everyone in this region has a mature orchard and a chicken or two, there is so much inspiration, I can’t help but blog about.

So anyway, picture me drinking some wine and slicing a saucison in dappled shade whilst writting this, and you will begin to get the feel.

We bought a whole skinned rabbit from a Market in Saumur at the beginning of the week, and have been eating it ever since. So much meat on one rabbit, the French aren’t at all squimish about Le Lapin, and it has made me very excited about the rabbit futures we put down just before we came away. Surely rabbit is one of the only truely sustainable meat producing mamals. It needs minimal grazing and if used correctly produces loads of meat, why are British meat eaters so sentimental about this animal? I find, from a small holding point of view, it’s much easier to ensure that a rabbit is raised with high welfair standards than it’s more complicated and fragile feathered cousin, the chicken.

Fruit and Veg production is also interesting here. The loire is the land of the vineyard, and Becs and I have got very excited (drawings have been started) about putting aside an area of the plot for a little vineyard. We have the southerly slopes near the forest garden in mind. Partly for eating, but also to knock up a bottle of plonk or two.

We have seen loads of walnut trees and also some figs, which has reminded us to plant a few figs in the forest garden.

It’s been lovely just to relax, but a week away from the animals has been plenty, we are both iching to get back. I have missed the muscoveys and chickens but most of all I have missed Oreo our whippet. Can’t wait to see her again.

North, south, east, west, home is always best.

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