Mirandaise cows on a tidy small farm

I visited a local farmer who has some Limousine and Mirandaise cows. He has a small farm and keeps a herd of about fifteen cows. He used to run goats on the farm to make enough money from his twenty hectares but he’s retiring now and selling his place and winding down the livestock numbers.

I wanted to check out the Mirandaises, and this guy had them side by side with Limousines in his cowshed. Here are a couple of the Mirandaises. They’re rather beautiful girls. I do like their eyeliner.

 

mirand pair

 

Compare their look with the curly red Limousines.

 

mirand lim

 

Since the farmer had both kinds of cows, I asked him about the differences. He loved his Mirandaises, they were calm and friendly and they bossed the Limousines around even when they were the smaller cow. The big problem was how much money he could make selling a fattened cow to a butcher. The Limousines made a lot more money. Butchers want Limousine meat more than Mirandaise meat.

I have seen this pattern before – a farmer loves one particular kind of livestock and keeps going with it even when it loses him money. I respect this. He has his life to lead and he likes his life better with cows like the Mirandaises. But he is sad and frustrated that the market conditions do not suit his choice.

His cows are chained up for the winter – you can see the chains on the Mirandaises in the top photo. He trains the calves to the chain by letting them walk around their pen with blocks around their neck. It is a system of cow farming that I do not want to repeat, but it has worked for him for forty years. I believe there are other methods that will work better and give happier cows.

We walked around and I took photos of his tidy farm. Here is his collection of sticks.

mirand sticks

 

His woodpile. The big storm of February 2009 has left farms with a decade worth of firewood.

mirand wood

 

Three-wire electric fence. He used three wires because of his goats.

mirand fence

 

His colombage house.

mirand house

 

His awesome International Harvester 744. He wasn’t selling me this.

mirand ih

 

And his wood-fired stove with a boiler to heat the house radiators. He kept a pan of water on top to humidify the house.

mirand boiler

 

I liked visiting this guy. He’s an old-school farmer who doesn’t like how tractors have become huge and how you need new equipment for everything. His farm was tidy and organized. He gave me a big bottle of his grape juice for my kids and it tasted amazing.

I don’t know what his farm will sell for but it is a beautiful place with a lot of forest and a big lake. He wants to retire to something with fewer hectares so he can keep a couple of Mirandaise cows and his tractor.

8 thoughts on “Mirandaise cows on a tidy small farm

  1. bc in France says:

    Kevin, they’re also intelligent and curious. They get over their fear of strangers faster than the Limousines, which are famous here for their flightiness.

    I’ve been looking at maybe having some Gascon cows, which are closely related to the Mirandaises – the town ‘Mirande’ is in the middle of Gascony after all. The Gasconnes are just as friendly but have a better market. Once I collect enough photos I could do a quick guide to cows of SW France. 🙂

    Of course, what I need to get first are some British breed cows, something that gives me the chance to produce tender beef on grass.

  2. matronofhusbandry says:

    I’m curious why they are chained? Does anyone there have loose loafing sheds where the cattle are confined but not tethered or in stanchions?

    It’s not just France, Limousin’s have the same reputation here. Nice looking cattle.

  3. bc in France says:

    A lot of farmers chain their cows. It is the old way – cowsheds were built with stalls. I have an old 36-head cowshed built like that, with concrete stalls. If I want to reclaim the building space those concrete stalls will be a pain to get rid of.

    The cows stand or lie down, their manure goes behind them making clean up a little easier. The more modern installations have a gutter behind the cows and a ‘chain’ which drags the manure into a pile outside the building.

    These days farmers use ‘stabulation libre’ which is as you expect with pens of up to 20 cows and straw either forked in or blown in with a pailleuse, a machine that runs off a PTO and blows straw. [And I apologize since I mostly talk farming in French and I don’t know the English words for a few things.]

    From my visits I’d say that stabulation libre is a lot more common. I’ve even found a couple of farms that winter cows outside, but that’s rare.

  4. Duane Keys says:

    Thanks for sharing your visit to this farm. I love seeing a tidy and neat operation with everything straight and organized. Oh, how I long to get to our place that way.

  5. bc in France says:

    Hello Duane, I feel the same way. I dream of getting this place as well organized. I’m visiting that guy again next week. I’m about to do some fencing with the old vine pickets and he had plenty to say on the matter. Might as well learn from the pros.

    So do I want the cute IH (pictured, 5000h) or the low hour one (3500h)? I’ll check them out next week.

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