A great farm with one unfortunate problem

This was a farm that ticked all the boxes. It had plenty of land, over a hundred hectares. The house was just large enough and was in the middle of the farm. The barn was big and modern. It was used in an extensive grazing system with Gascon cows and came with a small herd to start off. It was well subsidized. But there was a problem.

The house was nothing too fancy, but it was clean inside and large enough.


Blanc house


The house commanded the farm around it. It had views all around.


Blanc house and hill

Blanc house wide


The owner was a Swiss guy who only visited some times. He ran an extensive system which needed minimal work, but with the French subsidy system it returned a fair bit of cash. He let other farmers pay to take the hay from his fields. I don’t know if he knew this was slowly running the farm down.

He was an avid horse rider and kept his horses in a stable built into the barn.


Blanc horse


I didn’t like the soil condition much. I spent a long time walking around the pasture and it was clear there were issues. His overgrazing and haying had led to a reduction in the fertility of the soil. This is prime Haute-Garonne countryside, it should be full of plant life.


Blanc pasture


There’s a lot of bare soil there. That wastes sunlight and contributes to soil erosion. There was obvious erosion in some places. I didn’t think this was terminal, just something that had to be improved with some different farm management. It is one thing to lead an easy life and make a little money but it you are diminishing the stored value of the land asset then you aren’t being as smart as you think.


Blanc soil


The farm had new fences, but the spacing between posts was a little too long for my tastes. The permanent fence sagged a little, which is unexpected in new fence.


Blanc fence


He had a good corral built for his horses which could easily be used for cows, but what’s up with the roof of the barn?


Blanc roof


A windstorm had blown through recently and ripped off the roof of the new barn. Insurance was paying, so he’d get a new roof soon enough and that would be that. But we noticed that on our first, second and third visits there it was windy, windy enough to make kids cold. We mentioned the farm to the secretaire of our mairie and he said, “Ah, Volvestre. Lots of wind.”


Blanc roof 2


Part of the reason we moved to SW France was to get the kids outside more than they were getting in Seattle. We could have moved anywhere in the world, but the weather had to improve. Kids need to play outside and the climate has to support that.

The cold winds on this farm would have a big effect on our kids’ playtime and that wasn’t going to work for us. It was a beautiful farm but we would have watched it through the windows.

Still, Minty liked picking flowers there.


Blanc chubs

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