and searching the escargot...
01.07.2011 - 16.07.2011 16 °C
So i went to visit the goat and cow dairy farm. It really is small and Denis runs it by himself with the help of a parttime employee. There's 26 goats plus about 10 'kids' who aren't old enough to be milked yet plus 3 cows and a fourth who is preggo. They all get milked twice a day, around 5.30am and 5.30pm, and after each milking there is always something to do, either make the cheese or yoghurt. Denis does a fresh, semi dry and dry goats cheese, and then the yoghurt, fromage frais and fromage blanc with the cows milk.
I was stoked the first time i went to visit - i was there from late morning til evening so i helped with the milking which is done with the automatic sucker things but i did a little bit with my own hands just for the novelty. Also placed the already made cheese into the molds ('faiselle') and later on with the new lot of milk added the salt, lactic acid and heated to make a new batch of cheese. It was fun but a lot of work, and a lot of time spent cleaning afterward. I can't imagine doing all that everyday and week. Denis is a nice guy, though he's more interested in working with animals than being a cheese-maker. He couldn't answer a lot of questions i had especially about how and why each cheese is different. As it's light until at least 9.30pm still we went horseriding after. The whole day was a nice change of scenery and people from being at the house or in Chalon.
I went back a few days later and helped to shift the entire perimeter of a flexi fence form one paddock to another for goats to have new grass. God knows how many metres but it took hours - partly because he had to stop avery 10 minutes for a cigarette mind you! I got the cheese i 'made' the few before plus some yoghurt, all delicious! Even Nadine liked the cheese.
He mentioned that his helper has to take holidays and asked if i would be interested in working there for a week (and getting paid) which would be brilliant, though as is 60kms each way and Nadine's getting funny about the petrol i would have to stay there for the week.
On another major development - Nadine and I finally had the 'what happens now' convo. They have officially relinquished their business to liquidators and she said they are finding money tight and can pay me for about another 3 weeks. So thats about 1 more week now. This after she had just spent several hundred euro at Sephora, a cosmetic store. hmmm.
I am however welcome to stay here for as long as i want, and just 'help out.' I'm more than a little worried about what her idea of helping out is... the way things have been i'm a little worried i'll get the short straw.
But, this actually suits me fine. I'm getting over cleaning someone elses house, the kids are on 2 months school holidays and I'm not quite the Mary Poppins that finds fulfilment in involving kids with craft etc all day every day. Selfish i know. Frankly i have things to see and do in Burgundy! However, at some point i will need an income again. I have some travels on and off from this week until October so will only be here half the time, but after that i need to decide:
- if i want to stay and just do my own thing - not ideal cos i don't want to chew through my savings and I've done the lone tourist thing and it's not very fun;
- stay and find work somewhere outside the house, if my language skills allow
- look for another family to au pair for (not too sure about that either)
- come up with another plan.
The last couple of days have been ok, but in recent weeks i've been a little unhappy - Mainly I feel Nadine is not at all considerate of me. I know what it is to be fully incorporated and cared for like a family member and i dont always feel that here. Mostly to do with Nadine's moods/stress levels, i don't know. But it gives me the feeling i had when i lived with my last housemate and that was stressing me out big time!
It's the little things you see, like when you're in bed sick for almost 2 days, and nobody bothers to come and see how you're feeling, if you need anything etc. And the fact i never know what is happening either until the last minute or until i ask. Seriously, often people just walk out the door and get in there car without saying where they're going, how long they'll be, nothing. Or Nadine starts leafing through recipe books on a Saturday night for ideas to prepare her mother's birthday lunch the next day and doesn't mention this until i ask what she is looking for. Her mum Maryvon is my favourite person in all of France, i would have liked to buy her a present. This did not occur to Nadine?
Ok, well as i said i had been unhappy, pretty bloody annoyed actually, but now things are a little better i'm prepared to give it more time before i decide leaving is Plan A.
And something super exciting and another thing i never thought i'd cross of the "to do in France" list - the weather has been miserable for the last week, raining a lot and several storms. picture the worst of winter in Perth. But turns out this makes for excellent snail gathering !! Yes, families in France actually do go out in the rain, with coats, sticks and bags, brushing aside prickly bushes to find big, plump snails. I went with Frederic on a 3 hour hunt, just walking from the house along a firebreak, then actually along the side of the major A6 autoroute (we got a lot of toots) searching. We found 188 that time. And with Frederic's other missions we now have 500 yes 500 live escargot in a box out in the carport. They look just like our snails only double the size. You just chuck them altogether, feed them clean green weeds froom your own garden that haven't been sprayed or anything and let them eat and excrete for 3 days, then clean them and i suppose parboil them for eating or freezing. I go away on Thursday so i think i'll miss that but will get full instructions. Just for the record - i dont mind eating them but we just don't have the snails big enough in Australia, and i am entirely over eating things coated in butter.
The next day we finally went on an outing. Few and far between. A 2 hour drive to a place called Guedelon. Here they are building a 13th century chateau using only 13th century methods. It's an experiment and a half and Truly incredible what they have done already, it started in 1998 and they expoect to finish around 2023. There's only around 40 people on site, mostly paid qualified engineers, carpenters, stonemasons etc plus some volunteers. They have even revived old methods of carving stone and such since they had to use onyl technology and methods that were used in the year 1229. I'm going to write to Kevin on BBC's Grand Designs in case they're not aware of this.
For anyone who's interested... http://guedelon.fr/