Monday, June 15, 2015

Strange presentiment.

To the valley for our morning walk. When we were here last week the farmers wife wandered over to tell us to stick to the road because they've gone back to old fashioned cattle rearing. The cows are being allowed to wander off to find a quiet spot where they can give birth alone. For the first three or four days the mothers divide their time between grazing with the herd and feeding the carefully hidden calf. After that the young one is introduced to the other mothers who surround it and lick it all over. A prelude to being accepted into the herd. The farmers wife says says this 'natural' way of farming breeds happier, healthier cows. 

The mayor waves me down as we drive into town for the morning croissants. The farmers wife went into hospital on Thursday for an operation ( it seems she was a three pack a day smoker ) and passed away from complications last night. The well rehearsed routines of village life already springing into action. Neighbouring farmers cleaning out pig pens and bringing in feed. A mass on Wednesday afternoon . " You will be there ? " asks the mayor. A wake in the Salle des Fetes afterwards. The mayor is unsettled. The farmers wife with some strange presentiment had phoned him from the ward before going into surgery to ask if there was a place for her in the cemetery. " There is but you won’t be needing it for twenty years " he replied. 

Back at The Rickety Old Farmhouse Sophie can be seen leaping in and out of the back of the builders van. She's carefully checking it to see if there are sandwiches on board.

The enduring rhythms of life in deepest, deepest France profonde. Small dramas too unremarkable for a diary but recorded here because they're too important to be totally forgotten.


  1. The power of community when everyone pulls together is extraordinary
    Sophie searching for the sandwiches reminds me so much of our Mia, happy memories to be cherished

  2. Cattle rearing like that is known as rewilding. It's gaining popularity in the mountain states.
    Alicia and Chloe

  3. Although a shock for all, perhaps a sudden passing, in this case, may have been a blessing. She seemed to know and appeared to be strong to the end.
    Happy to hear that the farmer is trying something to improve the wellbeing of his herd.
    Merlin is rather partial to a sandwich too, given half the chance.

  4. The builders know better than to come to Chez Sophie without sandwiches, but perhaps they are getting craftier at hiding them ! Hope the lads can find time for a round or two of throw the furry fox with Bob.
    Old fashioned cattle rearing sounds perfect, and exactly right for deepest France profonde.

  5. Much too important to be forgotten. How sad for the farmer and for the community and for the cows. Who knew that's how cows preferred to give birth? I have a degree (from the dark ages) in Wool and Pastoral Sciences and I had no idea. She was their champion. Thank you for letting me know.

  6. I like the sound of the old fashioned cattle rearing.

  7. From my experiences, people seem to have a sense of their time's end. Either they have something else medically that's been going on with them that they haven't told their doctors or it is something their doctors may be aware of but not to its full extent. . Sometimes it just that feeling of impending doom that frequently proves correct. I wonder if her family or doctor knows her whole medical story.

  8. So sorry to hear about the farmer's wife....she obviously knew that her time was drawing near.....may she rest in peace.
    When you walk by the herd of cows, you will certainly remember her and the nice little birthing story that she shared with you for the last.
    I agree with Kari in that we seem to have some sense that we are leaving this world...when my brother passed, he sent my mother out to buy bread (insisted that she leave at that moment) and he passed in her absence.