It’s 2016, It’s the first week of the summer season… and it’s the first day of the first week. Today is a visit to Goat Farm called Ferme des Fabrigoules. Go Provence hasn’t visited this place before, so no one was quite sure what to expect. To say that it surpassed all expectations is probably an understatement. The theme of this week was ‘Cuisine’, with each day representing a different country and their food. This particular day was, of course, French day and visiting a goat farm and actually seeing how goats were milked and then learning how their milk is turned to cheese was very topical. It is also on the doorstep of the Go Provence house. Literally about a two-minute drive.
When the minibus arrived the team and six guests were greeted by Ben and Julie and then it was time for a picnic lunch before the goat greeting began.
Two of the five guests were feeling very apprehensive. Nick was afraid of unfamiliar animals, and Chris explained how he had a phobia of goats after being butted by one when he was younger. Also Neil, (Go Provence director) was being very sacraficial due to his allergy to cheese.
First the guests were all taken into the barn where they watched the goats being fed, and Julie then introduced everyone to her favourite goat, Joystick! Joystick is a gentle friendly goat who likes being petted so she was a good choice for a first goat encounter. Chris, who was sitting down was very amused about the fact that he had a cat on one side of him and a goat on the other. I think at this point his goat phobia started to disappear. Sophie, the only lady guest this week absolutely loved hugging Joystick, and even Nick faced his fears and eventually gave Joystick a quick cuddle!
After meeting John Lennon, the alpha male (from behind a fence… he didn’t look too friendly) it was time for milking and the guests were taken into a narrow room where several goats were brought out and positioned for milking. Julie demonstrated how to coax milk out of the udder and everyone took turns having a go. Almost everyone managed to squirt a small amount of milk out, and Nick especially was over the moon. His face glowed and he couldn’t hold back his excitement. It was a lot of fun to see the guests getting to have this unusual experience.
The final stage of the afternoon was to go inside to the laboratory. In correct health and safety style all had to put on hair nets, aprons and shoe covers. This was quite amusing at first. Neil in a hair net! In the lab Julie showed the group five different types of goats cheese and we had to put them in order of age. Everyone was able to taste the different cheeses and also feel the density of them. Eventually everyone was able to make their own cheese to take home. Because the milk had only been taken from the goats today, the cheese that the group took home was very soft and white, and very bitter. The visit finished with a visit to Margaret and Thatcher, the two pink pigs at the back of the farm! As everyone was enjoying watching them slurp their dinner (leftover milky cheese), the heavens opened and the rain came down with a vengeance. Our cue to go home.
At home that evening in true French style, the guys helped Neil make crepes for supper, and what was on the crepes?? Goats cheese!
As the week went on, and the different guests talked about their favourite memories of the week, the goat farm came up time and time again. It was a definite success. Animals do have a way of making people feel good, they can have an instinctive way of making a person feel special, and many of the guests this week felt this way. It was also great to see Nick and Chris get over their fears. Now all is left is for Neil to get over his fear of cheese!