Thursday, December 27, 2012

Honey Farm!

Yay pictures!!!! So, in this post I'll only cover my time on the farm in Ardeche

So, break down: At Api Ferme there is Olivier, who owns the beehives and he lives with his partner Ameline who is the mother of Enora, Maelenn, and Matthieu, and Olivier's father, Michel lives with them as well.

While at the farm I helped make candles, bottle vinigar, make hazelnut spread, and spiced bread, and with my free time I got to hike the gorgious hills surrounding the farm.

Here I am in front of all the honey-based products that Olivier makes on Api Ferme; honey (of course), vinigar, spiced bread, candles, hazelnut spread, and nougat

Here is little Maethieu feeding some apples to the donkeys. 

So, Olivier, Ameline, and Michel sing gospel with a group of 16 people and they had a mini concert which I decided to attended. It was really cool to see them sing and little Matthieu and I got to hang out some more. Yet, at the end of the concert when he ran off to get some candy the woman sitting infront of me turned and told me, "Ton fils est trop mignon!" "Your son is so cute!"........I've now reached a new level of old, I can be mistaken as a six-year-old's mother.  Thankfully though, my uturus has been fetus free for 23 years now, and I have no intent of changing that in the near future possibly never. 

So when I got to go hiking I was usually accompanied by either Matthieu or the old dog (I could never remember his name so I just called him old dog), or sometimes by both. Old dog is an epic pup, aged at about 14 years, deaf, old-person skeletal skinny, and is so excited to be petted he trembles. During the day he also likes to hike the trails by himself.

There were cats too ^_^

Here I'm adding the labels to the vinigar bottles

Marie, another wwoofeuse, filling up the vinigar bottles

Because the recolting season is over Olivier doesn't open the bee boxes anymore, but I was lucky enough to be there at a time when he had to treat the hives for parasites. So, Marie and I got to see some bees while we were there.
Happy bees
the bee boxes

Once again I found myself in an extremely ugly place

With the family I also got to go to a dinner and a show. The show was a band consisting of a quebecois, a new yorker, and a frenchman (sounds like the beginning of a joke) playing traditional new orleans music. Combined with that and the gospel singing I felt like I went to france to experience american culture.
The music was amazing and I had a delicious escargo pizza...I figured I should eat something I couldnt get back in 'merica.

Michel also had a wonderful production of kefir which is a delicious, if not a little odd, drink made from the fermentation of bacteria and yeast. You essentially make the drink by cultivating the yeast/bacteria mix in some water feeding them citricy fruits, filter out the little guys, and leave the liquid ferment for a day. I fully intend to try this out when I get settle somewhere...only problem is I need to find someone with some of the bacteria/yeast mix to start out my own colony.....craigslist maybe?
Here everyone is hard at work. Maylene doing her homework, MIchel filtering out the yeast/bacteria, and Olivier making some spiced bread.

My two weeks at Api Farm passed incredibly quickly but at the same time I feel like I was able to become close with the family. I would love to return someday during the spring or summer during the recolting season to learn how to raise bees because as I mentioned in an earlier post I'm planning to have bee boxes of my own...yes, I have a rather eclectic list of interests, but it keeps life interesting!

After I left Api Farm I went to Lyon with a neighbor, Sylvie, who had generously let me stay at her appartment there. I didn't have much time but I figured I should go for a short stint just to check it out. It was a nice enough city, though the weather was rather bipolar

It was a normal city; churches, streets, rivers

My first day walking around I explored the Vieux Lyon (old Lyon) and after a couple of hours of that I decided to cross over one of the rivers. As I neared the bridge I heard someone shout my name, which took be aback because I didn't know anyone in Lyon. I ended up being Alessandro, Olivier's little brother, who had hung out with us a bit on the farm in Ardeche. He was there for the week for an internship in welding. In such a big city we happened to cross paths at just the right time. The world's a crazy small place right? Since both of us had nothing to do we just wondered around the city doing some of his errands, talked, grabbed a beer, and I bought him a haircut for his birthday (it had been on his list of things to do).

Before Sylvie had offered to let me stay at her place I had already made arrangements to couchsurf in Lyon with a guy names Herve. Even though I didn't end up crashing at his place he offered me dinner tuesday night which I happily accepted. We had a great night talking about traveling (he lived in Vancouver for a while), music, and other randomness. It was an exceptionally agreeable night. I must say that Couchsurfing has really allowed me to meet some really awesome people of whom I would never have been able to meet otherwise. Thank you couchsurfing!

After Lyon I skadoodled up to Paris to meet with an old study abroad friend, Robert, and I spent christmas with my friend Yoan and his family. More details later.

I hope you all had a wonderful chrismast/whichever holiday you celebrate. Yoan, Robert, Mikael (Yoan's friend), and I are going to be heading down to Aix-en-Provence for new years. Should be a great time


Saturday, December 15, 2012

Dubbed to Death

I currently find myself in the same predicament as before, I'm unable to upload my photos to this comuter so no photos to this post.

Update: I'm on a bee farm a litle south of Lyon, in Dunière, called Api farm and I'm being hosted by an awesomely quirky family. I get to pass my days making candles from bee's wax, bottling honey vinager, making pain d’épices (spiced bread), honey-hazelnut spread, and nougat and when I'm not doing that I get to hike around this picturest area dominated by large hills covered in oaks....ya, life is hard

Api Ferme site web

I'll be leaving though in two days for Lyon and then off to Paris for the holidays

I'll wait to further describe the farm until I can post some photos so in the mean time some observations.

Ever since the beginning of my travels dubbing has viciously been attacking my childhood. First it was Courage the Cowardly Dog in Turkish....

Oh, but it didn't stop there. In the Alpes, I was innocently washing the dishes when the melody of a Lion King song came sweetly to my ears. The warm blanket of my childhood enveloped me in happiness and I opened my mouth to partake in the ritual of accompaning the song, blessing the world my angelic voice and then BAM I was hit with french lyrics. I would also like to underline the fact that in the french song they say the lion is dead. He is sleeping! Sleeping I say!!!

The Simpsons was also repeatedly attacked with the wrong voices.

The lastest traumatic experience was Star Wars in French...I'm sorry but no one can compare to James Earl Jones as Darth Vader

Ok, I'm done complaining

Anyways, hopefully pictures soon

Monday, December 3, 2012

From the Cold Cold to just the Cold

Voila! Pictures as promised

Soooo, I've since left the cold cold alpes and now find myself in a cold Paris where I am now searching for another wwoofing farm to travel to in France. At this point I'm ready for Christmas to be here. I'm tired of traveling, traveling alone to be more specific, and I just want to relax and hang out with good friends. So, instead of traveling about from city to city which requires a lot of planning and stress, I'm opting for the stay in one place, in nature, and help out on a farm plan. 

Now for the pictures:

This is after my first day back on the Brunet Farm in the Alpes, and after a storm that dropped all the snow you see there. The mountains are gorgeous but them being so sizable means that we only got direct sunlight from about 8am to 3-4pm, and once that direct sunlight was gone it got real cold real fast.

Me and my bed buddy. Slept like that every night.

My boyfriend, Filou. Sadly we still haven't received any news of him since his disappearance two weeks ago. Myrtille and Gentiane think that he might have been stolen by a hiker because his breed can go for about 500euros. I hope that it isn't the case and he finds his way back to the farm.

These houses are abandoned for the winter, once the snow starts melting in may the people will return

Tough life on the farm
The cat on the left side, the calico, apparently liked the company of the dogs far more than any of the cats and so she would hang out with them all day. When all the dogs were curled up sleeping in a pile, she was there curled up with them. The puppy on the farm was very fond of using her as a pillow. Sadly I didn't get a picture of it.

One Wednesday morning, I accompanied Myrtille to the market to sell the cheese, la Tomme. People would come up and ask for some cheese, you would cut it, weight it, wrap it, and then receive the money. Sounds simple right? and it was...except for the whole calculating in french thing. You know the feeling of trying to run in water? How you're pulling with all your might but still going irritatingly slow? Well, that was my mind, and after a few mistakes and people waiting for me to finish up with my delayed calculations I just pulled out a calculator. Even with a calculator to aid me though, I was mentally exhausted by the end of the market.

I also ended up having my birthday in the Alpes. I'm not really one to make a big fuss about my birthday, a cake, a good meal, good company and I'm happy. Gentiane was already going to be making pizzas that night so I was just going to bake a cake and call it a good night. Yet, the Brunets and company had more planned. It ended up being the three sisters (Myrtille, Gentiane, and Lise) their three boyfriends, their uncle and his lady friend, and me, a huge amount of pizza, three cakes and tarts, candles, presents, and a room full of french people singing happy birthday in english. I was so immensely touched by the effort they made for me. All I can say is that I've truly struck it rich with the friends I've found.

oh ya, and about ten bottles of wine

looks like a painting right? I snapped this during one of my hikes.

Cows in the snow

Now back to searching for a ready for it to be Christmas -_-