Goats are born, grow strong on their mother’s milk and then ‘depart’ for traditional Easter feasts – it’s hard to ignore the fact when it is clearly visible, one of the realities of farming life that I am uncomfortable with, but becoming more aware of. Célestine visited the baby animals – we have seen piglets being born, and been nibbled by little kids. The most attractive females will join the ranks of the milking goats and the males may well end up marinating in red wine, garlic and rosemary, slow-roasted and basted with olive oil – a local recipe that is served with large slices of ‘pain de campagne’ (rustic crusty bread).
The goats have the freshest mountain air and pastures, and nothing goes to waste in this environment – their manure fertilises the fields and the hay from the bergerie is converted to ‘fumier’ to aid the soil of the property and the vegetable garden. Their milk nourishes their babies and ‘provides food for the table’ in the form of organic milk and cheeses. The pigs drink the ‘petit lait’ or whey from cheese making, and once the biggest stud male has passed his prime, friends of the farmer gather to aid in the preparation of sausages, rillettes and choice cuts… it is an annual ritual, and rather than ‘buying an unknown piece of meat from the supermarket’, one ‘charged with conscience’ with the intention of ‘sharing’. The conditions of life are the best possible for the farm animals, and all is ‘appreciated’ as methods are highly sustainable and enable an income to support this lifestyle and maintain the historic stone mas – for there is always plenty of work to be done. Water comes straight from a mountain source (used in cheese making) and wood from the surrounding forests provides fuel. Many customers come straight to the door, so transport is minimised and the spirit of ‘preserving traditions’ thrives.