Disclaimer – This post contains graphic images of animal processing. If you aren’t too keen on that, I advise you skip this read.
Hey there folks,
It’s been a hell of a birthday here in France, lemme tell you.
See what I mean?
This little fellow decided to be my birthday present to myself for he absentmindedly wandered into my snare and got himself butchered in the process. My lovely hosts (more on them in a bit) allowed me to skin and clean the kill for a future meal. Not much meat on him, but, hey! Got me a rabbit stew on the horizon.
So, let’s focus on my current Wwoof station for a moment, eh? My Camino Detour, if you will. I’m currently staying on a small farm (approximately 10 hectares) with two lovely British folks, Dan and Kay, whom have graciously invited me into their home (Les Tremblais) to work on their plot for two weeks. I have one more week here before I need to bugger off – either back onto Camino or continue my lovely detour (I’m still undecided).
As you can see from the above picture, my hosts generate their own electricity via solar panels. And I mean all – those solar panels generate enough power to keep the farm going day-to-day. There isn’t much electricity to be used, in all honesty, for the electric lights are not needed often this time of year, there is no central heating/cooling, and charging a computer/appliance doesn’t take terribly long. It’s quite simplistic, really, and very admirable – they will never owe anything to any random energy provider.
Speaking of which (and pictures to follow later), they collect all of their own water via rainfall and a small well. The well, of which I am adding several layers of brick to the top to increase the height, goes to a depth of approximately 18 meters and taps in to some sort of reservoir down there and is constantly replenished with the vast amount of rainwater falling upon Normandy. Water buckets are placed strategically throughout the property, the better able to collect runoff and rainwater. The well provides water not only to the house, but also to the animals (should the weather warrant it). Again, simplistic and admirable.
Now, the animals! To date I have helped plow a field with the aid of the horse, moved goats and sheep from field to field, assisted in slaughtering and processing two full-grown sows, and get a kick out of feeding the Chicken Army. Throw in a few cats, some rabbits for trapping, the evil goose, and a donkey, and now you have a veritable farm. The animals are raised for their milk, eggs, and meat and nothing goes to waste around here. Vegetables that are spoiled and leftovers from meal time are given to the chickens (formerly the pigs) – everything has a second use.
Yes, life on this idyllic setting truly is something worthy of investment. Do not get me wrong – aiming to be completely self-sufficient is not an easy task by any stretch. It requires a huge investment (physical, capital, and emotional), a sound battle plan, and the drive. That’s the key here; the drive. My hosts have been living this lifestyle for the past eight years and by their own admission are the happiest they’ve ever been. Collecting rainwater and planting your own crops by hand may not sound like much of a life, but there is so much beauty and wisdom to be enjoyed. The food, the lessons, and camaraderie I’ve experienced in just over a week are things I will take with me forever.
It’s the Wwoof experience; give it a go, eh?
Now then, this monkey is off for a walk!