My French Farming Experience

FOR three weeks in August, I travelled to France to work (or ‘WWOOFing’ as it’s called) on an organic farm. Not the usual choice of holiday, this experience was completely different to anything I had done before!

The farm was called ‘Domaine Bio de Kerjean,’ which is nearest to Pleyben, a small town in Brittany. No two days were the same on the farm and I soon got used to a different way of life. I got to practice a lot of French and had some interesting exchanges with those that couldn’t speak any English.

A variety of things were produced depending on the season such as fruits, vegetables, goat’s cheese, bread, sheep’s wool and honey. There were also horses up for sale. The goats were important to the farm as they provided milk and cheese to be sold at the market. There were 14 goats altogether and they were milked twice a day; in the morning before breakfast and in the evening.

These goats each had their own character and I quickly learned which ones were easy to milk and the cheeky ones who sometimes liked to kick the bucket of milk over, ruining all the hard work. Having said that, milking the goats was relatively easy in comparison to making the cheese, which is a very involved and long process.

Another activity I really enjoyed was feeding the lambs that had been adopted from another farm due to their mothers rejecting them. There were about 80 sheep on the farm and gosh, was it hard herding them. I’m talking about old school herding without a dog. Forming a human line to move the sheep inside, a stick was used to help. If the sheep broke away from the line, you just had to run after them and boy, can they run fast. Some of the sheep were sold every now and then for meat but interestingly, the food at the farm was vegetarian, making good use of all the fresh vegetables and fruit.

I also got to explore quite a few places around Brittany on the market days and on my days off. I visited Châteaulin, Pont-Aven famous for Gauguin, Concarneau which had a walled town on an island off the harbour and Quimper, the capital of the Finnistère department of Brittany.

One day I will particularly remember was when I, along with other workers and the family of the farm, went to the seaside. A rare occasion for the farm to be left without anyone, we made sure we were back in time to milk the goats and do the evening work. This was very surreal, having had a relaxing time on the beach just before.

Overall I really enjoyed my time at the farm and if anyone is looking for a different way to spend their holidays then look no further—the organisation ‘WWOOF,’ has farming hosts in 99 countries across the world.

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