When I bought my original farmhouse here in France, it came with just over 2 acres of good mostly level land, plus a small plantation of Sweet Chestnuts; about 20 very-mature trees.
Dealing with the Chestnuts in Autumn was simply hard graft, tedious nightly sorting into 'large and small', and hazardous selling. The merchants, of course, always tried to knock down the price..... I learnt the hard way.
One of the first actual grown crops that I attempted was Gherkins. These are the small undeveloped fruits of the 'Ridge Cucumber', that are picked when between 2-3 inches long. They were an easy crop to grow, and the merchants came to the house every other day to collect them. I suppose we sold between 5 and 10 kilos at each occasion. They grew like crazy, and required constant picking.
I soon fancied myself as a proper farmer, and decided that I needed to grow a pukka 'agricultural crop' on my land. My first attempt at 'agriculture' was Maize; one of the easiest crops to grow.
I borrowed my neighbour's small Massey Ferguson 35 tractor, and was given a five minute lesson on ploughing. I must say that my effort was pretty good, and when later rotovated, the field looked as good as anyone's. My crop did well, but on account of my reluctance to spray with herbicides, the final harvested crop came with a lot of unwanted seeds, and went to feeding our, and a friend's, Hens.
The following year I had a go at Wheat. Again I ploughed and harrowed, then hand broadcast the seed in old fashioned style (as in Millet's painting above). In my area, it was normal for growers to exchange their Wheat crop with local bakers for bread. Unfortunately my crop was again full of unwanted wild seeds, and the baker turned it down. Again it was used as Chicken feed; most of the crop being sold to a local organic farmer, who didn't mind a bit of grass seed amongst the grains.
After my second attempt at playing Jolly Farmers, I decided to quit, and I devoted my land to the much easier production of hay, which I was happy to give to my neighbour.
I left farming to the professionals.
Your lovely story and how hard it can be to put one's wares onto the market reminded me of your quinces. Remember, some years ago I thought we could sell your surplus here in England? So I got in contact with one of the buyers at Waitrose.ReplyDelete
God damn it, Cro. I had no idea how difficult it can be to put quinces on the counter. Rules, regulations, specification like size of fruit, exact make, bla bla. What I had thought a bit of fun for both of us turned into a logistical nightmare. Financially not viable. Maybe when you come over to England you can bring some with you and we'll do a private deal. Say twenty for a tenner.
Guess what; this year we have no Quinces. All frosted. It's the first year I've known this.Delete
Frosted? Let's hope it's not a (metaphorical) sign of things to come.Delete
One winter day one of your quinces and I will meet. Reminds me of how difficult Seville Oranges are to come by. The season is very short (January).
Glysophate is the farmers friend, spray just before or just after sowing then ten days or so before harvest. Roundup is the common version.ReplyDelete
No thanks. It's banned here anyway!Delete
I doubt that it is. It's only a herbicide.Delete
Licenced until the end of 2022 here in the UK.Delete
I expect the experience was enjoyable, though?ReplyDelete
If I'd bought myself a Land Rover, it would have been even more so.Delete
We all have to have a go at something. Sometimes we succeed and sometimes we don't. C'est la vie.ReplyDelete
I wasn't unsuccessful, just pig-headed about chemicals.Delete
The gherkins sound like they were a successful and profitable crop, but perhaps too much hard work.ReplyDelete
I was younger then; I didn't mind hard work. I was after the money!Delete
I like the sound of the gherkins, too. Rather a niche crop, I expect, but not a food you could live on in a pinch!ReplyDelete
The Gherkins were a fun crop to grow. They didn't make us rich, but we lived off them during the cropping season.Delete
You really are a man of the land. No wonder Haddocks does so well. You've learnt a lot first hand .ReplyDelete
I tried to be, but not too successfully. It's all been good fun.Delete
How this story would have amused my dear farmer had he still been here.ReplyDelete
It still keeps me amused, even today!Delete