A diverse offering twixt the interesting, the unusual, and the amusing.
Saturday, 28 March 2015
From Sunflowers to Alpacas.
It's less than 20 years since Sunflowers have been grown as an agricultural crop in this area, and now further north; previously they were almost exclusive to the deep south (Van Gogh country).
They are grown here both as the following year's seed crop, and also as an oil crop; but mostly for oil.
I was talking to my neighbour, Laurence, about this year's crops and she informed me that each grower in her little 3 member Sunflower 'syndicate' will from now on only grow once in every three years; cutting the total crop by two thirds. Too much oil about, I presume.
So this reduces her arable crops to Triticale (a type of wheat), Maize, and the Sunflowers once in every three years. What a difference to 43 years ago when I first came to live here.
Back in 1972 there were small vineyards everywhere, every farm had a few Pigs, and the courtyards were filled with Hens, Ducks, and Geese. Milk was also produced by every farm. None of these now exists, and everything is brought in from elsewhere. A sorry state of affairs for a corner of Europe that was renowned for it's quality of produce, and almost perfect growing climate.
No doubt this folly will be corrected at some time in the future; but when remains conjecture.
Farming in this part of the world seems to be approaching a crisis point. I know of several neighbouring farms where the owners are 'elderly' and there is no-one in the wings to carry the batton. Children automatically head for cities, and the countryside is once again becoming barren. What will happen to all these wonderful farms, I don't know.
I can envisage the same happening here, as has in England's southern counties, where the old farms were bought by wealthy Londoners, and the land used for leisure activities.
I hate seeing these once productive farms becoming 'gentrified', and the land home to just a few ponies and alpacas. Many have, and the results are already obvious; a couple of years ago when my own crop of onions was depleted, I was obliged to buy onions that were grown in New Zealand. I think that says a lot about The European Union in general.
Alpacas yes; Sunflowers or Onions no. (I suppose I also ought to add Tobacco no; Barn conversions yes. I'm part of the problem).
The difference between an optimist and a pessimist, is that the optimist enjoys himself whilst waiting for the inevitable! I AM that optimist!
This is a daily, optimistic, 'photos and comments' blog. I make no judgements (only occasionally), just notes. If you wish to comment in any way at all, please feel free. Everything and everyone (except the obdurate and dictatorial) is very welcome.
I was born just south of London, but for the past 50 years I've lived in S W France. I am a painter by profession, and writer by desire. Lady Magnon and I live between an ancient cottage in a tiny village in perfectly tranquil French countryside, and a bijou townhouse in Brighton UK. In France we have plenty of fruit trees, all situated amongst a view that takes the breath away, in the UK we have a handkerchief sized patio. We also have a Border Collie called Billy. I try to treat our planet with respect, and encourage others to do likewise (without preaching).
Contentment is a glass of red, a plate of charcuterie, and a slice of good country bread. Perfect!