Tasha & Kiri's Winter En France travel blog

some of the family and wwoofers chez gue aux biches

Chris leading the cows

Kiri helps a small wwoofer ride the donkey

the sheep

kiri and ficelle

pumba the pig

one of chris' cars - the "deux chevaux" (2 horses) - so...

the new old farm Ker Madeleine

Kirianne with the horses - a beautiful fall day in November

smiling donkey

chickens in a row

baby rabbits

goats taking Kiri for a walk (out to their pickets for the...

Tasha and the donkey and the old mill

doorway of the old stone windmill - I love all the stone...

running rooster

the big house chez gue aux biches

flo avec beaucoup des pommes

kiri and the apple press

flo and chris and the apple press - with kiri peeking through

bottling apple juice - family and wwoofers

beaucoup de jus de pomme

a sunday at the seaside

a nice day at the seaside

end of day at the seaside

Today we leave the first wwoofing farm at Le Gué aux Biches, where Flo and Chris and their family have hosted us for almost three weeks. We were so very lucky to land at such a place, with such people, for our very first WWOOFing experience! So much to tell...

I'll give you Kirianne's notes first, with some [interjections] (of course!) from me:

On the 27th of October we finally had made our way to our first WWOOFing farm. There was much to do there because there were so many animals and people. [It was school vacation and there were two other WWOOFing families there, in addition to some friends of the family’s kids.] We were quite confused the first day or two but after that got into the routine. It is actually quite easygoing.

At “Le Gué aux Biches” there are many chickens, geese, turkeys, ducks, a donkey, a pig, goats and rabbits. Last spring Florence and Christophe Célaire bought a bigger farm, Ker Madeleine, with more space/fields for agriculture and animals as well as the bed and breakfast that Flo runs, and the family which includes five children. They were planning to move everything there but are having trouble getting their building permit. They do have four cows, five horses, a pony and approximately 30 sheep at Ker Madeleine and have to go every day, morning and evening, because of the cows. They have a cow, Annette, a normal black and white cow, who had a calf, Fugeuse, this spring. They also bought another young calf, who is called Le Veau (meaning “calf”) to raise for meat. [The idea was that Annette would provide milk for him as well as for her own calf.] The problem is that Annette won’t accept Veau as her own calf so won’t let him drink from her. [That’s why we have to go every morning and evening, to capture Annette and tether her to give Veau an opportunity to “téter”. He’s not growing very well, under these circumstances. They also have a beautiful young [Nantaise] cow, Ficelle. She has beautiful eyes.

The sheep are very easy, as well as the horses/pony, so they’re forgotten for most of the time. But they are perfectly fine on their own. They have big pastures with lots of grass and it rains almost every day so they have enough water.

About that raining every day: in our second week here, it rained for four days without stopping! On the fifth day when it had finally stopped raining and was a beautiful sunny day, as we all drove to Ker Madeleine we saw all of the fields that were flooded and that got us all a little worried. There was one point in the road where we actually had to drive through the water that was covering the road. When we got to Ker Madeleine all of the animals were in a good mood, and there was nothing to worry about, although we weren’t able to get to the back pasture where the horses were because there was a very big river across the path and it was very deep and the current was very strong. We did see the horses though through the trees, and they were just as lively as every other animal, splashing through the lake that had formed in half of the pasture to come to the gate and peer over it at us.

One thing we helped with here was making apple juice. After picking apples for days and days we finally had enough to make apple juice and so we spent an afternoon at a commercial pressing place, where we helped turn the hundreds of kilograms of apples into about one thousand bottles of apple juice! Flo and Chris sell some of it. It’s really tasty juice – even if it is made from apples that are all bruised and some half rotten! (Most of the apples we picked up off the ground.)

Our daily chores include feeding and watering the small animals at Le Gué aux Biches: the chickens, ducks, geese, turkeys, rabbits, and the pig. And collecting the eggs. Not all of the chickens produce eggs. [They keep some of them because they are special breeds, like the funny Paduas and the Brahmas with the weird feet.] One of the geese and two of the turkeys (the two wild ones) have been killed by some wild animal [– some kind of a weasel, we think, since they were killed but not eaten. Too bad we can’t even eat them. Chris and Flo say it isn’t safe because of risk of disease.]

[That’s all Kirianne wrote.]

But we have eaten some pheasants that were given to Flo by neighbours, since they hunted around Ker Madeleine. A neighbour raises the pheasants and then releases them for hunters who pay big money to come and hunt them in the “wild” countryside. I got the chore to pluck and clean two of them. I had learned from my childhood when my father hunted ducks and pheasants. Flo was happy not to have to do it.

Farm injuries: Kirianne seems to injure herself one way or another almost every day! The worst was having a heavy wooden bench fall on her foot. We thought it might be broken and deliberated about whether to go to the hospital for x-rays. In the end, we decided “they” couldn’t do much even if it were broken, other than tell her to stay off it; which we tried to make her do… but the fact that she kept walking on it seemed to indicate that it wasn’t broken, just very badly bruised. It seems to be healing well.

Over the first week, I made friends with the pig. She seemed to appreciate the ear rubs and scratching I gave her. Earlier this week, however, it bit me on the leg as I was leaving the pigpen. I think it was mad because it hadn’t had its breakfast yet. But now I can't really trust it.

One Sunday we all took a day off and drove about an hour or so east, to the shore of the Atlantic Ocean near Vannes, for an afternoon of beachcombing. Nice day. ...except we were all starving hungry at the end, but since it's a tourist area and not really any tourists around this time of year, no eateries were open.

We really like it here at Le Gué aux Biches. We’d be happy to stay on longer… But we made arrangements for another WWOOFing stint in Brittany, and so we say our goodbyes. Flo has said we can come back if we want to, and we will quite likely take her up on that offer!

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