Ferme du Vieux Chêne

In my experience the old adage ‘least said, soonest mended’ doesn’t work in any relationship. I knew Mark’s anger about the roller and his belief that we could be doing either chickens or producing honey was not going away. For me, that wasn’t a problem – He was right. It was a way for us to get some steady income from the unproductive area behind the farmhouse and silo. We touched on the subject again at the end of the week and agreed to talk with Monsieur Gerard at the farmers co-op to see what he felt was best and, if it was a viable option, how to move forwards.

Claude was at lunch outside the bistro when we met. He almost dropped his fork when we asked about eggs and honey. It was almost as if there was a feeling of guilt – he had a salad with eggs on his plate! “Both of these commodities will sell here.” he said, pushing his Salade Niçoise around the plate. We offered to refill his glass and he smiled.. “There are more opportunities to sell eggs than honey” he said, “But you have to use grain to feed the chickens.” “Also – if you want to make the most of chickens, you have to sell some on the market – you can’t keep them all!.” “You are not squeamish – no?” He looked quizzically at us in quick succession. Truth was, Mark would probably not be happy at selling off chickens to the butcher and I also would have qualms. “So!” said Claude, “You will have to harden your hearts if you are going to be chicken farmers!” He prodded an anchovie that was caught up with an olive and continued – “Bees are easy to keep but quite seasonal – they won’t produce as much over winter.” “But the Chickens… They are like Rabbits!” – He burst out laughing 😅

We took a couple of days to think it through together – I knew it was important for Mark, so I let him make the decision. It was going to be Chickens. We contacted Jacques to see when he could come out and plan a chicken coop and fenced area – we wanted them to be free range. Jacques said he could come immediately – things were slack as not many of “les Anglais” were moving in currently following Brexit. “And the locals are being mean with their cash!” I have to say that Jacques, pencil behind his ear, flat cap on his head and wearing a bib-n-brace, was an impressive builder / carpenter. He produced a basic sketch and then, with help of his Son, built the enclosure and coop within a week. This is how our farm looks from the air now that the chicken run has been added…


I collected some chicken feed ready for the birds arrival. We didn’t own a suitable trailer to collect the chickens ourselves so we paid the animal dealer to deliver. Lets have a tour of the ‘facility’…


…Jacques thought of everything including a hatchery in the main building 😎

I left Mark fawning over the chickens and went to assist with a grass mowing and baling job for Monsieur Cuvier in the next valley. Mowing is one of those relaxing activities…


…and the loaned Valtra G-Series tractor was really nice. The Kuhn baler did a good job…


…and so did the Kverneland wrapper…


Unfortunately, the tools supplied for moving the bales were less than ideal, especially as I had to take them a long distance…


…I’m pretty sure that Fliegl, the manufacturer, makes these for taking a couple of bales out from your yard to feed cattle in the fields rather than for a long distance delivery! After persevering for two such runs, I realised that I had many more bales than I needed to fulfil the contract and I guessed that I could afford to hire a more suitable transport tool for the rest of them and still make an additional profit over and above the price awarded for the contract. This is the Anderson RBM1400…


…and it’s the right tool for the job! I’ve come back from that job with an idea too – when we buy another field, perhaps we should plant grass too? Of course, we could plant Hemp – that should get the Gendarmerie excited.

Time to tell a tale from my flying days…

One mid-morning we were seated in the bar flight-planning over a cup of coffee when suddenly we saw two police cars haring down the taxiway with the blues on. We wandered outside to find out what was going on. They were inspecting the crop in the field at the end of the runway. Once they’d gotten over their initial excitement they wandered back to the clubhouse and we got the story. Someone had tipped them off that the farmer was growing Cannabis. After their mad dash, they’d found it was actually Hemp – someone was tugging their string😂

The Chicken pen is a mod created by AlienJim. The ones supplied with the game didn’t look right for my rural French farm and most were too large. This one only just fits in the space and I was worried that I might have to cut down a tree but fortunately we got the pen planted😎

I had intended to post this on Tuesday but I was under the weather following 3 days of excessive heat and I was going down with a virus as well. So, I ran out of steam on this post back then and opted to tell a quick tale from Twitter instead. By the time I finished that post I felt like someone had repeatedly punched me in the face. I was genuinely surprised that I didn’t have bruising around my eyes! Here we are at the end of the week and I still have a sore throat. I’ve started sneezing, which is a good sign – means the cold is finding its way out of my system although I feel that there are a few more days to go before I will feel fully up to speed. I had already started the baling on the neighbours field ready for a following post, but the job was left unfinished with the tractor and bale-wrapper left sitting there for 4 days as I took a break from almost all my computer games. In the circumstances I decided to include that work in this post.

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