06 August, 2011

Rural France

French Canal
They say that the French farmer is the most subsidised man on the land.  From our perspective here on the plains of the Saone they work quite hard during the sunny days of summer.  As far as the eye can see, which is not far by Australian standards, the land has been cultivated.  Currently at the end of summer the farmers are harvesting the wheat.  The combines are moving up and down the fields cutting the crop.  The next day the chaff is pilled into rows and the bailers come down and make nice neat bails of hay or alternatively large rolls of silage for the winter.
As we have had such heavy unexpected rain the routine has had to be interrupted because they can’t harvest wet wheat neither can they make hay unless the sun shines.  At our last stop we where in the middle of fields at different stages of the cycle and it was interesting to watch how the system worked.  The older machines required more steps while the modern contraptions produce a roll of hay every few minutes.
In the background of all this activity the sunflowers turn the heads as the sun passes from east to west.  (Trivia question: does the sunflower flower face the sun or turn away from the sun as it moves from dawn to dusk?)
Dotted amongst the fields are the paddocks of Charolaise cows and bulls slowly chewing the cud either to make the cheeses we eat or to produce the delicious veal we purchased at the butcher.  But the signs of autumn are in the trees with some turning yellow.  The farmers are gathering the wood into piles and taking them into the sheds close to the farmhouses ready for winter.
Watching this scene unfold from the deck of Malua was incomprehensible when we launched her those years ago in Sydney.  The question to now ask is what will we see from her decks next year?

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