Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Fièvre des Champignons

Autumn in France is mushroom season, and everyone, including me, is excited. Whether you talk to a teacher, a butcher, or the guy who drives a scooter around town vacuuming up dog poop (yes he exists...) they will all have something to say about mushroom hunting. Where to find mushrooms and what types grow in your region is common knowledge here. Not only that, but a French person can tell you what type of mushroom grows under which tree and will then rattle off a dozen recipes for cooking the mushrooms. Don’t expect someone to give you the coordinates of their favorite spot though. The best locations are kept secret and passed down through the generations like a family heirloom.

Mushroom hunting is also a risky business, but fret not, you can take all the mushrooms you find to a local pharmacist who will tell you which are edible and which are deadly... Many of the pharmacies have posters in the windows right now with descriptions of the local fungi. Even the local shops are getting in on the fun displaying all the essentials: mushroom knives with little brooms on the handles, books, and compasses.

I’ve been waiting patiently (except for a little pouting last week) for Martine to take me on a hunt, and finally, the day arrived last Saturday. She and I drove into the country after lunch. I was dressed sensibly for the forest in my Mizuno trail runners, Patagonia hiking pants, and rustic sweater. Martine was also dressed sensibly for the forest in a beautiful brown wool (possibly cashmere) turtleneck, brown leggings, and brown riding boots.

We drove about 30 minutes until we saw a trail on the side of the road marked ‘public’ and pulled over. One has to be careful not to get caught collecting mushrooms on private land. This time of year there are “mushroom rangers” patrolling the woods, and if you’re caught in the wrong place you have to hand your mushrooms over to the ranger who then has a lovely dinner that night. Luckily all the woods are marked clearly.

Once in the woods, I found a lot of mushrooms. Unfortunately, most of them were poisonous. Martine could point out right away whether or not they were edible, and had an excellent eye for spotting the little guys. The mushrooms we were looking for were les cèpes, and she found the first one. She found three more before I found my first (and only) one, but it was gorgeous! We didn’t find any more cèpes after that, but we did find wild apples and collected a few. We drove around a bit more and found all sorts of goodies on the side of the road. We found a walnut tree (which may or may not have been private), blackberries, and wild pears!

We returned back to her apartment with our bounty. We had just enough cèpes to serve them with dinner. Martine cooked a turkey leg with potatoes, and she sautéed the mushrooms in butter and garlic. She even threw together a quick apple tart. Ayumi and Pierre joined us for dinner as well. Good company, good food, formidable!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Bien Vivre

My host mom, Barbara, ironed ALL my clothes (including my jeans and pajamas) yesterday, and in the evening she showed me how to make a soufflé. Could life be any better?

Friday, September 24, 2010


Martine and her friends enjoy having dinner parties from time to time, but rather than slaving away in the kitchen preparing extravagant meals, they keep it simple. The first get-together was a Soirée Crêpe. We went over to Martine's friend's house, Laticia, who owns a Maxi Crêpe! It's a large electric griddle with seven circular indents on the surface for making the crêpes. It's placed in the middle of the dining table surrounded by all the toppings. First we made crêpes salées with chevre, ham, and gruyere (if I remember was awhile ago). Each person is given a little wodden spatula to flip and remove their crêpes. As soon as they're removed, Laticia would add more batter to our divet. As we ate, we'd also be flipping and adding toppings to our crêpes on the Maxi Crêpe. Halfway through we switched to crêpes sucrée. We had honey, brown sugar, butter, chestnut spread, peanut butter (!), nutella, and jam for toppings. My personal favorite was Breton style: honey, brown sugar, and butter.

Laticia and her Maxi Crêpe

The second gathering was last night. Barbara hosted a Soirée Raclette and invited Martine, Ayumi, Laticia, and Laticia's daughter, Valentine. Barbara owns an electric raclette, also known as a raclonette. The raclonette is an electric griddle with two layers. On the first layer, there are slots for six little wedge shaped spatulas. You put your cheese on the spatula and then put the spatula on the hot raclonette to melt it. The top layer is also hot and you can put anything up there that you want to cook or keep warm. Barbara placed a dish of potatoes on her's. A special cheese is used for the raclette called fromage à raclette. While your cheese is melting you pile your plate full of charcuterie and potatoes, and then dribble the melted cheese over everything. Everyone eats four or five pieces of cheese, so there is a constant cycle of cheese melting and then eating a little.

The raclette électrique or raclonette with cheese melting on the spatulas and the potatoes being kept warm on top.

My plate with charcuterie, potatoes covered in the melted cheese, and more slices of cheese waiting to be melted.

There's Always a Mushroom Around the Corner

The last couple weeks were really hectic with arriving at the farm and then leaving the farm only a week later. On top of that, I returned to Martine’s, but knew I couldn’t stay there and had to find a new family...stressful. Martine didn’t have room for me for another four weeks because while I was there the first time, I was actually sleeping in Martine’s room. She slept on the couch in the salon for six weeks. (Don’t ask me the details of why this was the situation because it was explained to me on my first day in France, and I really didn’t understand.) So when I returned, she was happy to have me back but could only host me until I found a new family. Luckily, she had a friend/colleague, Barbara, who also takes foreign students and didn’t have anyone at the moment. Barbara sounded great, but the apartment was 30 minutes on foot from the school! It sounded rough compared to the five minute walk I had from Martine’s. To my surprise, Martine told me that she had a bike “dans la cave” that I could borrow for the three weeks that I would be at Barbara’s. I was totally excited. I could get to and from school quickly and get around the city more freely.

Martine also said that we would go mushroom hunting à la forêt the next Sunday which had me equally excited. Over the last month, Martine had been recounting stories of mushroom hunting to Ayumi and me. We were practically drooling every time she mentioned les cèpes, and we had been pouring over her mushroom books. (Yes, Martine owns two books on mushroom hunting.

I couldn’t have been happier, but then Friday came. The muffler of Martine’s car fell off and broke in two, and the turning signal stopped working. She tried to fix it Saturday morning, but alas, she couldn’t get the parts she needed until Monday. That meant no mushroom hunting. On top of that, she had been speaking with Barbara. To our surprise Barbara said there was no place to store the bike at her apartment, and it couldn’t be left outside because theft is too big of a problem. I was totally heartbroken. No mushrooms and no bike. On top of that I was feeling more and more anxious about moving to a new family.

I realized though that this is the way most things work out here. It’s always dangerous to get your hopes up and get too excited about something because things don’t always turn out as intended. I think the French really enjoy the journey, and it’s only a bonus if you make it to the finish line. And where’s the finish line anyways? More often than not, the end result isn’t what was originally planned, but it’s usually just as good, if not better.

Rather than going mushroom hunting, Martine, Pierre, Ayumi, and I sat down to Sunday lunch. This in itself was enough to lift the spirits a bit. We ate fish wrapped in bacon, sautéed cabbage, and baked potatoes. Halfway through, Martine’s mother called saying she had a giant spider in her kitchen and didn’t know what to do! She, Martine, and Pierre are deathly afraid of spiders, so Ayumi and I offered to dispose of it. Just like that we had an invitation for coffee with Martine’s mom! I love Martine’s mother. She’s full of energy, tells funny stories, and speaks really fast French. We also hadn’t seen the apartment since we helped her move a month before.
To make a long story even longer, the coffee was great, the spider not too large, and the apartment was magnificent. I still had no bike, but Sunday afternoon was formidable, and there’s always next weekend for mushrooms!

The apartment of Martine's mom

The gigantic old front door

Twisty and narrow staircase that all of Martine's mom's belongings were carried up when she moved, including the gigantic buffet.

Most of the paintings on the walls were done by Martine.

The huge and ancient buffet

Martine and her mom

Levi’s & Wranglers

The minute I returned to civilization after the farm, I went shopping (évidemment). I think I was feeling deprived of all the glitz and glamour of a city, especially after being covered in animal poo for seven days. I bought a long tunic/dress that is all the rage in Tours right now, but it must be worn with skinny jeans or leggings. What was I to do? Bien sûr, I went out and bought myself a new pair of jeans! It was a good thing too because I ended up buying another tunic/dress that I adore, but I swear it’s totally different from the first one. Anyways, back to the jeans... I went to the department store called Galleries Lafayette. I love this store for the sole reason that they have rows and rows of scarves for sale. As I made my way to the jeans section, I couldn’t believe it, but there was a whole display devoted to Wranglers! They are not only sold in France, but in department stores, and they have a larger display than Levi’s. And yes, Levi’s are sold in France too.

Perhaps it’s not like this everywhere in the states, but I’ve never seen Wranglers in a department store. When I lived in Colorado, I knew that if I wanted a pair, I had to go to the local farmer’s store. The jeans would be found somewhere in between the animal feed and the wheelbarrows. I explained this to Ayumi who thought it was hilarious because Wranglers are sold in department stores in Japan too. Maybe we’re all missing out in The States. The best part of the experience was that I ended up buying a pair of Levi’ France. How ironic.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Tours - My Home Away from Home

I'm back in Tours, and I really feel like I made the best decision to return. My classmates were surprised, but excited, to see me Tuesday morning. They were all eager to hear what I did à la ferme, and I've picked up the nickname Annie de la Compagne. I went to my favorite Boulangerie, Hardouin, for lunch and ate my favorite sandwhich - mozzarella and sun-dried tomato with the best bread I think I've ever eaten.

I came back just in time to celebrate Martine's birthday yesterday. What a treat! I gave her a jar of dried tomatoes in oil that I made on the farm. Martine, Ayumi, and I have already made plans to go mushroom hunting this weekend. Wish us luck! We're hoping for a good harvest because it was hot yesterday and it poured today - perfect conditions for mushrooms.

I've found a new host mom, Barbara. She happens to be a friend and colleague of Martine's. Martine recommended her to me, so I'm hoping for a good match. Barbara also has a 15 year old son, and the two apparently like to talk a lot which means I will have a lot of practice with my French. Pierre and Ayumi both know Barbara and gave her a good report as well. I'll probably make the move to Barbara's this weekend. I'll be really sad to leave Martine (again), but at least I'm in Tours, which has become my home away from home. She lives a little far from the school, 30 minutes on foot (I've been spoiled at Martine's with 5 minutes on foot), but Martine said she has a bike that I can borrow. All I need now is a baguette strapped to the back of the bike, and I'll be a real French girl. If I'm lucky it'll be a classic Peugot!

Je Reviens à Tours!

Written Monday afternoon...

Well I’ve had a bit of a change of plans. I’m going back to Tours! The farm was great the first few days, and really, the family was very nice, welcoming, and laid back. On the third or fourth day though, I dug potatoes out of the ground for four hours. For the average person, this wouldn’t be a big deal, but it was too much for my back. I did NOT feel good that evening, and I still wasn’t doing that great the next day. Then my hamstring started aching, and I got a little worried. If I had really liked the family I may have tried to work something out with them, but then the chaos hit.

The family’s eleven year old basset hound, Lillie, fell down the stairs in the middle of the night and paralyzed her back end. She could only walk by dragging her back legs behind her. Stuart took her to the vet. The news was not good, but they hoped with a little rest she may improve a bit. The diagnosis was something like a slipped disc in her vertebrae that was pushing on a nerve causing the loss of mobility. The family was heartbroken. When they checked up on her after a couple days it was apparent that she was not doing well and were going to have to decide whether or not to put her down. Louisa brought Lille home for the weekend. She looked dreadful, but then again I think we all would after spending a couple days at the vet. Louisa broke down into tears shortly after bringing her home, and I was the only one around to try to comfort her. If Lille did need to be put down, I felt like the family needed to be alone to mourn. This was feeling less and less like a vacation.

On top of that, the work at the farm became more and more frustrating. I think this family may be the most unorganized I have ever met. Everything on the farm was set up haphazardly, although, some of this was out of their control. For instance, the two pregnant sows were delivered a month early, and the two holding pens were only 75% complete. There are concrete blocks in the pens that the sows are constantly knocking over, and one of them doesn’t have a solid gate. She has escaped a few times, one of which being my second day. It was an interesting initiation to the farm, having to herd a 200 pound pig.

Nothing on the farm was ever put back in the same place. It was always a challenge to find a feed bucket, and some of the tasks I was given had no rhyme or reason to them. This morning was a perfect example. I had the task of wheel-barrowing buckets of water to the donkeys because, for some reason, Louisa didn’t want to move them over to the daytime field with a giant pond and lots of shade. Finding the hose was a task in itself. The donkeys, of course, drank all the water instantly after I brought it, so we ended up moving the donkeys over to the field with the pond and shade anyways...

A farm is understandably a dirty place, but I think the farmhouse should be clean. This farmhouse was downright dirty. After a few days, I couldn’t stand the thought of walking on the floor with bare feet. The kitchen towels were greasy to the touch. Dishes were constantly piling up and “soaking” in dirty greasy water. The bathtub was always filthy and wasn’t cleaned after being used to wash mucky sheep’s fleece. I could keep going...

I found myself feeling anxious, my energy level dropped, and I was having a hard time imagining two more weeks of this. The most serious issue was my aching body, and the next location scheduled was another volunteer position doing more manual labor. The answer was obvious. I decided I'd go back to Tours and continue learning French at Tours Langues. I loved it there, and I missed all my friends. I missed speaking French too! On the farm, we only spoke English and opportunities to speak French with the locals were not that often. I contacted Martine yesterday right after I woke up. She responded the same afternoon telling me to return tout de suite! I even cried a little when I received her email and voicemail telling me to hurry back! She unfortunately doesn’t have the space for me again, but I will be able to stay with her until I find a new host family. The school has already contacted me and I’m set up to resume classes on Tuesday. I’m sitting on the train right now headed to Tours, and I feel so much better. I’m looking forward to another month in the Loire Valley!

I should point out that there were some great things about the farm. As I said before, the family was great. They went out of their way to make me welcome, and Louisa even wanted to set up outings for me to visit some of her French friends to work on my language. The food was delicious. Louisa was a great cook. We ate coq au vin one night that was made from one of the roosters on the farm, and there was always a bounty of freshly picked fruits and vegetables. I had the opportunity to do things I’ve never done before. Feeding and taking care of the animals was a treat and really fun (except for being head butted by Rosie the goat). I know more about animal poo than I ever thought I would! I even got to see a day old chick this morning. I really enjoyed the time I was able to spend with Louisa in the kitchen making jam, soups, and drying tomatoes. The kids were a bit exhausting at times, but also fun to watch and play with. On the whole, it was an interesting and rich experience that I will never forget!

Here are my favorite photos from the farm:
Johnny Dep was headed for the pot but is now a permanent pet on the farm due to the pleading of a previous volunteer. He lives with Girtty the goose.

Paxo jr. and the rest of the roosters
Peg Leg and his black hen
Poullet noir is highly sought after in France.
Les Couchons!
These pigs will all make a trip to the butcher before Christmas. They were the most fun animals to feed with their screeching squeals.
A happy pig waiting for the morning feed

There were about twelve piglets on the farm. They will replace the bigger guys that are headed for the butcher.
Rosie (and Daisy in the background)
Rosie looks sweet but was constantly escaping and and really enjoyed head butting me.
Cherry tomatoes
More cherry tomatoes

The day's tomato, ruhbarb chard, and strawberry harvest

Girtty the Goose - My favorite member of the farm.
She's a permanent pet who waddles anywhere she pleases. She came up to me one day and nibbled softly on my arm. I took that to mean we were friends, and after that she let me pet her.

Toscar - One of three great "outdoor" dogs
He may be trained to herd sheep at some point, but for the moment is tied up all day, every day.
Pheonix (3) and Harmonie (4)
Photo of Pheonix taken by Harmonie

Baby chicks
The five ducks on the right are called Indian Runners because of the way they walk upright. The two darker birds on the right think they're Indian Runners, so they're a pack of seven who always stick together.

One of the roosters

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Sheep Devil

Yesterday was a rather hectic day. The local organic mineral supplement / dewormer for farm animals sales woman stopped by the farm. The woman stayed for an hour and a half selling her products and talking about everything under the sun including her pool that’s shaped like a bean. She talked a mile a minute (in French) with the local accent. In the afternoon, I went to the local 2 hour French class for immigrants with Louisa. Then we picked the kids up from the school and Harmonie was bitten by the village dog! After the chaos, I was rather looking forward to a quiet afternoon all alone on the farm while Louisa and the kids took Stuart to Auch, so that he could head to the airport for a weekend trip to England.

After some time on the computer, I went outside to enjoy the view and read my book. As soon as I got outside the donkeys, goats, and sheep saw me and assumed I was there to feed them. They all lined up along the electric fence, which is just in front of the house, and got that sort of crazed hungry look they get before each feeding. I hadn’t been out there for more than a minute when I turn around just in time to see a sheep run straight through the electric fence and then stare at me with an expectant look on its face. I had time to say “Oh shit!” before one more sheep charged through. I thought for sure the whole herd was about to follow at any second.

What's wrong with this picture?

My mind was racing thinking what the hell am I supposed to do? I tried shooing them back in, but they were more interested in the grass. Rosie the goat was already on the wrong side of the fence, so she came over to see what was up. Rosie always jumps over the fence to hang out on the human side. She just wants to be a part of whatever fun the humans are up to as well as eat the greener grass. So anyways, I had three animals on the wrong side, although I wasn’t worried about Rosie because I knew she’d go back when she wanted to. I didn’t trust the two sheep though, and all the other animals (donkeys, sheep, and more goats) were still staring at me. Neddie the donkey kept baying at me, and the sheep were breathing super heavy. I tried to think of what food I could grab the fastest to lure them back into the field – carrots! I ran into the house and grabbed some. Rosie was very interested in the carrots and was all over me, but the sheep couldn’t have cared less. I gave the carrots to the goats and the donkeys.

I knew the only other option was to grab a bucket of corn. I grabbed the feed bucket and ran around the back of the house to the garage to find some corn. Then all the chickens saw me. After only a few days they now associate my legs with food, so I had about ten chickens following me and of course a few followed me into the garage. I grabbed a little corn and then coaxed the chickens back out. When I came back around the house with the bucket of corn all the animals were totally alert and watching my every move. The escaped sheep started walking towards me and followed me up to the edge of the fence. The fence is the first electric fence that Stuart and Louisa set up. They tried to do it on the cheap, so it’s a total mess and a pain to deal with. I’m typically not supposed to open and close the fence because it’s so difficult to keep the wires from getting tangled, so I really didn’t want to open the fence to put the sheep back in. I threw some corn over the fence, thinking the sheep might run back through. They just looked at me like I was crazy and went back to grazing. Rosie on the other hand, was quite excited and kept trying to stick her head in my bucket. I kept pushing her back, but she got more and more aggressive. She started trying to head butt me, so I started yelling at her and pushing back. Since she wasn’t getting her way she then reared up on her hind legs. She’d done this to me a few days before though, so I knew she was only trying to scare me. I kept yelling at her and using the bucket as a shield from her horns. She did this about five times, so I eventually gave up and gave her a little pile of corn. What a pain!


After much deliberation, I decided I’d just have to open the electric fence. This consists of unhooking four long wires from a post and trying to not get them tangled as well as not get shocked. Opening it was the easy part, and the sheep followed me right in. Even Rosie followed me in. I dumped the last bit of corn in the field and hurried back out. I started trying to put the fence back together, but of course, the wires had somehow gotten tangled already. I got one line of wire back in place when another sheep barged through! I was thinking you’ve got to be kidding me! I was out of corn, and didn’t want to get more with the fence open, so I just kept working on the fence. I got the rest of the wires in place, but it was totally tangled, so it didn’t much resemble a fence.

The other damn sheep that escaped was grazing away not paying any attention to me. I couldn’t shoo it back in, and by this time I was fed up. I decided I’d just sit and watch it. I sat on a rock for a few minutes watching the sheep. They are really bizarre creatures. They never stop grazing, so they make heavy breathing noises in and out of their nose. They sound sort of like lawnmowers. After a few minutes, the sheep walked up to me and sniffed my face for about 10 seconds and then went back to grazing. Bizarre. I was getting bored, so I tried to shoo it back in again, which miraculously worked this time. Thank goodness! I had all animals back inside. Now the only problem was the mangled fence.

Sheep Devil

I could’ve just left it, but I was worried it would be too easy for another sheep to walk through. The anal side of me was also taking over. I decided to just try to fix the wires a bit and hope I didn’t get shocked. Of course I got shocked, and it hurt! I got the wires mostly untangled, but the last one somehow got totally screwed up to the point where I couldn’t get it latched back on the post. Great! I could’ve just left it in the first place, but no, I had to fiddle with it. Now I was left with an even worse gap in the fence, and I got shocked again. I didn’t know how to turn off the electricity to the fence, so I just said screw it. I read outside keeping an eye on the animals until it got dark. By this time they had gotten over all the excitement and were scattered through the field. Louisa eventually came home and wasn’t worried about it in the slightest. She didn’t even bother to fix the fence until the next morning. She did have a good laugh over the story though.

The Farm

I’m finally getting around to writing about the farm that I have been living on for five days now. I’ve either been too busy or too tired to write in the afternoons. The farm is in the Gers just outside of a small village called Montesquiou. The farm is owned by an English couple, Louisa and Stuart. They have two kids, a girl and a boy. Harmonie is 4, and Phoenix is 3. They moved to France 3 years ago with the intention of buying a small farm (about 5 hectares) where they could live off the land and be self sufficient. 18 months after they arrived, they bought this farm which is 50 hectares. Instead of just living off the land, they are now full blown farmers.

The Farmhouse

They have only been living on the farm for 18 months, so they’re still in the stage of getting everything going. They have a lot of animals! There are six dogs, two feral cats, two donkeys, three goats, about fifteen sheep, two sows (each with about five piglets), about seven other pigs, three geese, ten ducks, and maybe 55 chickens. They have a vegetable garden with tomatoes, potatoes, eggplant, squash, carrots, grapes, strawberries, figs, and peppers. Their land is broken up into prairie, woodland, and fields for grains. They haven’t started growing grains yet, maybe next year. Everything is organic or in the process of becoming certified. The house is a typical old French farmhouse with lots of shutters and red terracotta roof tiles.

They bought the house from an old and slightly crazy woman. She had been living in the house with about 30 cats and a pig. The animals pooed everywhere. It was a total mess. Louisa and Stuart have put a lot of work into just making the house habitable.

The view from the front of the house. Sometimes you can see the Pyrenees.

My job is to help out on the farm for five hours a day, six days a week in return for a bed and three meals a day. I have a bedroom in the house, which is great because I thought I was going to be living in a tent in the barn or in an outbuilding. My main task in the morning is to feed most of the animals while Stuart and Louisa are getting the kids ready for school. I start at 8:00am. I feed the pigs (but not the sows and their piglets) and sometimes the donkeys, sheep, and goats depending on where they spent the night. I then feed the little chicks in the barn that are maybe a week old. Afterwards I move onto the chicken kingdom which is on a little hill behind the house. There are two hen coops, and then four smaller coops which hold either “teenage” chickens not old enough to be on their own yet, a rooster with a few hens for mating, or just roosters. There is another large holding pen for the ducks, two of the geese, and a lone rooster who likes hanging out there. The chickens are free range, so each morning they’re let out of the coops. They are free to wander around the farm looking for food and laying eggs.

The whole house with the barn attached

After I’ve fed all the animals, I look for Louisa and find out what we’ll be doing the rest of the day. Every day is different. So far I have harvested potatoes, picked tomatoes and strawberries, mucked out the chicken coops, walked the dogs, cleaned sheep wool, picked weeds for the pigs, collected donkey poo, and made sheep poo tea. I imagine you’re wondering what sheep poo tea is. Louisa collects sheep poo and then puts it in a pillow case, ties it up, and then puts the pillow case in a large barrel of water. The water becomes infused with the sheep poo and she then uses it to water the vegetables. And why do we collect donkey poo? It’s too strong to leave in the fields because it’ll kill the grass that feeds the animals, so it’s put in the compost pile. It also helps keep the weeds down in the compost. Another odd one is cleaning the sheep wool. There is a huge pile of sheep wool behind the barn. Today I had the task of picking big pieces of straw and chunks of poo off the wool and putting it into laundry bags. The bags are then put into the bathtub with boiling hot water which dissolves the sheep oils. Afterwards, they are laid out on sheets on the lawn to dry. Louisa and Stuart plan on using the wool as insulation. It’s going to be a slow process.

The view from my bedroom windown

In the afternoons I’m free to do whatever I want. I usually find something to help Louisa with in the kitchen. It’s harvest time, so she has a ton of fruit and vegetables that need canning or cooking. I helped her can a batch of pickle when I arrived. I’d never heard of pickle, but it’s a British thing sort of like chutney made from fruits, vegetables, and spices. I haven’t tasted it yet because it has to sit for 2 months before you open the jar. It looks good though. We also made plum jam the other night and we’ll make cherry jam soon. We have tomatoes coming out of our ears, so we’ll either can them or make tomato sauce. We’ve been drying the smaller tomatoes in the oven to make “sun-dried” tomatoes. They are then either eaten (delicious!) or put in jars with olive oil. Louisa even gave me a few of the jars to take home.

That’s the quick and dirty of the farm. I’ll fill in more about the chaotic life on this farm as well as each animal because they’re pretty funny.

View from the vegetable garden