Friday, 5 October 2007

An expensive lunch!

We went to the bull sale last week. It was organized by our "groupement" - the co-operative that we sell our lambs and calves through. As usual we were the only English there, which is no bad thing really as there is then no-one to congregate with. However, by not going the other English farmers do miss out on a bit of rural France.

The animal sales here are not like those in England. Even in our neck of the woods in England - Cumbria - when we went to sales we had to listen to get the gist of the accents, we were near to Lancashire and Yorkshire and the rural Cumbrians took some understanding. Here it is a different thing altogether. All the animals have a base price which is decided by the Groupement beforehand, and this is written up on the animal's details above him or her. We were listening to the "auctioneer" who said something and then there was a ripple of applause. Ah, thought I, that one has been sold. Oh no, just then hands went up and pieces of paper were passed around. Presumably the person who got the round of applause was just opening the bidding!

Two animals went through that had been born in November 2006 - "they're doing it it order of birth" we whispered to each other - then one went through that had been born in August, which totally blew our theory.

One little chap went by, rather reluctantly being pulled and pushed by his handlers. He's nice, I said. Again the above proceedure, so we thought he had been sold. I must add at this point that we had only gone for a day out and the lunch, not to buy a bull. That would be next year.

At the end of the sale we went to have a look at the little one that caught our eye - he was the smallest as he weas only 9 months old, but perfectly formed. "Do you like him?" asked our Technician, who does speak English. "Yes, he's quite nice. Was he sold?" "No" replied Pascal - mistake. I said to my husband "we don't need another bull until next year, and can't really afford one now", "but he will be grown by next year, and we'll have to pay more for an older one" said David. "But where will we put him, he can't be inside from now until next year." "He's used to electric fencing" said Pascal.

Again we turned away. No, we couldn't really afford him just now, don't know where to put him and don't need him for another year. "If we put some electric fencing at the back and brought the old girl up to calve with him", said I. At which point we turned back and said yes!

He even has a name - Bertrand. Our present stock bull is called Victor, because he came to us during May a few years ago around Victory in Europe week - well, it's obvious isn't it?

So Bertrand arrived at our farm. Still reluctant we pushed and pulled him off the lorry. Thank goodness we had a good driver deliver him and not the horrible one, but once again that's another post.

Bon chance Bertrand!