As of now, I am officially writing from the third and final farm I will visit this summer: the home of Jean-Yves Martinal. Before I begin, you should know that the internet situation here is scanty because the family prefers to keep the computer off to save electricity. I will post when I can, but be prepared for a slightly less frequent analysis. Now, on to the farm…
Like the description earlier in the blog states, the Martinal’s farm is a small, seventeen hectare operation that follows the rythym of the seasons. In February, the family begins producing goat cheese from the milk of their twenty “chevres” after having given the herd a few months rest. As summer approaches, the garden is planted and the cereals begin to grow. The list of grains is long, but it includes everything from wheat to make homemade bread to oats to feed the goats. As August winds down and the cereal harvest is finished, Jean-Yves transitions into his beverage production phase, beginning with apple cider in September and ending with beer in December. With a successful year completed, he reposes for a month or two before starting anew. In short, the family produces as much as it can for personal consumption and makes its living selling small, artisinal goat cheeses on the side.
Speaking of the family, Jean-Yves lives with his two daughters Lucie (19), Estelle (17), and son, Albon (15). He is a piercingly intelligent and talkative individual who sees the world symbolically and is curious about any subject. His daughter Estelle is going to art school to specialize in pottery and is currently building her own wood-fired oven. Albon, is young, energetic, and plans on joining the French Army’s firefighting division. Lucie, unfortunately, just as I arrived to visit friends in Romania. Thus, each is interesting, engaging, and a wonderful host.
Though the lifestyle here is simple, each day is filled with many labors. Twice daily, we take the Border Collie to retrieve the goats from the fields. They are then led into the chevrarie where they are milked two-at-a-time by a small machine. Every two days, the milk is processed by adding rennet and whey, ultimately ending up with small goat cheeses much like those I made with Christine Blancart. In addition to the goats, the pigs and chickens are fed each day and the garden is maintained. Those, however, are just the daily tasks. For the past three days, the great majority of our time has been devoted to the construction of the pottery oven. Measuring six feet by fifteen, the immense structure has literally grown from the ground up just since Monday.
Unfortunately, my internet time is running out and it is getting late. Though this is just a brief introduction to the farm, look for more to come later. Basically, all is going well, and the next week and a half promises to be a delight.
Talk to you soon,