Over the weekend in our ongoing quest to entertain our children, we went to a farm. I picked up a flyer at some event and stored it carefully for a day when we were at our wits’ end.
We piled them into the car and took ourselves off having taken the initial precaution of ringing the farmer to check that the farm was open. When we arrived, there was a deer family grouped in front of the farm house, an ostrich and some ducks. So far, so delightfully inauthentic.
It was when I saw the duckpond that I began to suspect that this might be a real proper farm and not just a petting zoo. It was made of polythene with old tyres holding it in place. A trip into the farm yard confirmed my worst suspicions, it was a working farm.
It was slightly dilapidated and there were a lot of cows. There were also a number of dogs running about, in my experience, the mark of a real farm. The children did not like the dogs though they were unusually quiet for farm dogs and very well trained.
The farmer told us to stroll around (the grounds until we felt at home) and didn’t charge us. This was definitely a real farm. There were an extraordinary number of bunnies in cages which, I suppose, is not a standard farm feature but the rest was quite authentic, just that bit too authentic for our two boys who clambered into our arms and refused to get down. I was astounded to see the Princess patting a horse on the nose but the boys were too terrified even to approach it. She also inspected the pigs and boars (yes, really) with interest. There seemed to be a lot of bulls in reasonably enclosed spaces only separated from us by a number of troughs and I was a little concerned by this, especially since they seemed a bit annoyed.
At one point a rat sauntered across the yard. Unlike its city cousins which, in my experience, are always decent enough to scurry, this rat seemed to be in no particular hurry although there were two terriers on its tail. It may have been that its enormous bulk stopped it from moving at any speed. This may also have inhibited the terriers from trying a little harder. They sniffed lackadaisically at the shed it had strolled into but I didn’t feel that they were trying hard enough.
We decided to go to farm shop. This was a proper outhouse (no tasteful wooden decorations here) with a large vat of milk presided over by a Polish woman who spoke limited French. I was hoping for some local cheese or a loaf of rustic artisanal bread, ideally untouched by ratty, but the price list she handed us was heavy on butter and buttermilk. We bought two litres of milk from the vat, happy in the knowledge that we had met the cows that produced it and their friend the rat.
You know, I can’t help feeling that getting too close to the production processes takes from the romance of food. Also, those farmers, they deserve everything they get from the CAP.