* Between The Sea (the Med) and The Alps -- {Pronounce: ontruh la mair eh lay zalp}

Sunday, August 17, 2014

TTF - Farmers in the dell

Tripping Through France - Chapter 9


Crops 01France is an agricultural country.  If you don't believe me, check out the toys some kid plays with in his back yard.  (Whoever has taught him the neatnik game really deserves a prize.)  He also has a few small people-sized riding farm equipment.

As we traversed the countryside, we came across all kinds of fields, which were actually rather pretty, so I thought I'd show you just what summer crops look like over here.

What I know about farming is basically nothing.  I'm a city girl.  I've lived all over the US, but always in cities.  Even on driving vacations, I've really had no exposure to farming, and what I did have was usually boring enough to ignore.  So to see so many crops everywhere on just one simple little trip was kind of amazing.

Crops 02
Eeny Meeny Miny Moe, what crop does this farmer grow?
I assume this is a wheat field.  But it could be any kind of grain, for all I know.  Apparently, France does grow a number of grains.  Either it's a grain for humans or it's a grain for all the various beasts France also grows.  Whatever, there were lots of similar fields.

Crops 03
For man or beast?
What I do know is that my camera had started acting up just before I took these pictures, I was messing around a whole lot with it trying to figure out what was wrong, and when I jumped out of the car to snap these, apparently I dropped my lens cap.  I realized it just a short way down the road when I couldn't find it, we turned around and went back to look for it, found the exact spot where we'd stopped, but no cap anywhere.  Depending on whether the camera can be fixed or not, losing the cap may not actually matter.  I am sad.

Crops 04
We saw this machine just sitting on the side of the road, perhaps it was lunch time, but it really shows the harvesting process and was kind of fun being just there!

Whatever it is that Papa or the neighbor is harvesting, the Little Person is all set to help out.

Crops 05
Lilliputian farming
It was apparently grain-cutting time, and we saw these round bales all over.  But sometimes, either as the grain choice or the farmer's choice, the bales were rectangular bricks.

Crops 06
All rolled up

Another big crop is corn.  Although they have now started growing sweet corn as well as the traditional animal feed, we apparently did not go through the areas they grow it.

The French have only started eating corn in the last 30 years or so (it's animal food, after all), and then only cold in salads.  They do not serve it as a hot dish, they have not appreciated corn on the cob when I've found and served it.  However, I just read that recently Green Giant has started promoting it as a hot veg in France, so we'll see if another trend gets going.  (One could not find nacho chips when we first arrived, now they are everywhere, as well as jars of guacamole and salsa.)

Crops 07
A cornrow hedge playing with grain rolls



Anyway, I think it's safe to say that everything we saw was not fit for human consumption.

Possibly the grain growing next to this cornfield wasn't, either.

Crops 08
Baby cornstalks or something else?

I don't know why this crop is so much shorter than anything else we saw, unless it's not really corn.  But to my untrained eye, it certainly looked like a younger form of the big guys. 

Those are ancient volcanic mountains in the background.

This was a particularly pretty setting just off the road.  Isn't the village in the background really nice?  I don't know if this setting would look the same in another culture.

Crops 09
Do the villagers pay attention to all the food for their needs growing all around them?

And then, there were the sunflowers.  Gorgeous magnificent sunflowers.  Everywhere.

Crops 10
Beautiful fields of yellow

This just happened to be the perfect time of year to catch them at their finest. 

Old enough to look all grown up, young enough to not look half dead.

They can all have their own personalities, too.  This first one just stands out there and calls attention to itself.  The second one is proclaiming it's different, looking the wrong direction from everybody else.  Some grow taller, some stay shorter.  Hmmm, they aren't much different from the human population, are they?

Crops 11
Look at me!  Look at me!
Crops 12
I'm a non-conformist!

Not only do we enjoy them for various reasons, but the bees love them, too.  See the one zooming in up in the left corner of the first picture? 

Crops 13
Here I come!
Crops 14
Such a tasty snack

As I already shared, the lavenders were also out in full form.  But while all these other crops were all over the country on our route, the lavenders were only in a specific area.  I don't think I saw any lavenders and sunflowers together.  What a show that would have been!  There are other spectacular crops to be seen, but not at this time of year.

Crops 15
Early stage of that glass of wine

Another crop that is everywhere is the vine.  While these others are either regional or national, vineyards are both.  They grow everywhere, but they look different depending on the locale and the variety.  The most specific region we went through was Chablis, but we saw vines regularly the whole trip.

I just wanted to share one aspect I've learned.  I used to see this a whole lot, so either they've changed the way they do things or it's done more in other areas than we were in.  But I used to find it really odd that so many vine rows had roses at their ends.  I just figured the vintners must have wanted a little beauty while they were working.  One could say that the rose is the national flower of France (with geraniums being the window box queen).  It certainly was pretty to see on the road passing by.

Crops 16
Guinea pigs for the vines

However, I have since learned that the rose is like the canary in the coal mine.  When there is a certain kind of problem, the roses will falter first, warning the vintner that there's a situation to be dealt with.  Of course, they do still add beauty while serving that function.

Crops 17
The beauty of the past

As is done anywhere else, the French love to decorate with their outdated but picturesque ancient equipment.  We've seen old millstones, old wine presses, old farm equipment, whatever, decorate yards or even public spaces.  Usually, they plant pretty flowers all around them, making them a real delight to observe when passing by. 

So, there's my city girl's eye on the basic variety of summer crops the French farmers are currently cultivating, adding to the visual interest of passing by on the road.

Next, I'll show you some of the other fun things we saw that don't fit into any specific category but were nice all on their own.  So don't go away very far!

Remember, you can always tap a smaller picture to get an enlarged view.  


  1. I am so enjoying your posts. I almost feel that I am there. Love the history and the current happenings you came across. I truly had no idea that there was so much farming in France. Thanks for taking the time to post, your posts are so educational!

  2. I had never seen those round bales of whatever they are... hay? until I went to Texas to visit Crissy and Chris. I had only seen square bales. They are everywhere in Texas. That's quite something about the roses. Every nasty insect will attack them, too. Loving your trip!


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