Pierrick has been milking cows since the age of 10. There are two people on his farm: him and his wife Aurélie. Aurélie was a professional beekeeper, but since 2013 she has been a “collaborating spouse” and helps Pierrick to take care of 50 dairy cows. This involves milking twice a day, for 5 to 10 minutes per cow.
“No calves means no milk,” explains Pierrick. The cows need to calve in order to produce milk, so there are also calves on the farm and they look at us with bemusement. Depending on their sex, they will either be sold or will replace their mothers. The cows here are Breton, Jersey, Holstein and sometimes even “Kiwi” (a cross introduced by New Zealanders).
The milk is collected in 3000 L tanks and will be sold to the processor/distributor “Biolait”. Today is a special day as Pierrick and Aurélie’s milk has become bio (organic)! It took two years to earn this precious label. Goodbye pesticides and fertilisers and hello quality milk! At Poulfang farm, the pursuit of quality doesn’t stop there. The couple is behind a collective interest cooperative company project to federate local producers.
The aim is to open a point of sale in Quimperlé to centralise the products and facilitate access for consumers. Pierrick says: “You are producing local rubbish, it may be local but it’s rubbish nonetheless,” that’s why the federated farmers have to follow a charter which guarantees product quality.
At Poulfang farm, there is no shortage of activity: Victorien, Pierrick’s son, also helps out; he is busy sowing the field. Aurélie lets out the goats, checks on the ducks, geese, hens and rabbits and takes us to see her hives. The recent mortality of bees makes it a difficult profession. Some of the hives are still on their property but others are in neighbouring gardens.
So we are at actually at Paul’s house as he has taken two hives in exchange for a few jars of honey. We put on our cosmonaut outfits and go and check on the health of the colonies. The first is young but doing well. We look at the alveoli, the honey and the brood nest filled with eggs and larvae. The second hive is humming loudly; there are a lot more bees here. In fact, there are so many that Aurélie divides the colony in order to create a second one “at least 3 km away as the bee flies” otherwise they will find their way back to the old hive and abandon their new home.
Back at the farm, we go our separate ways whilst drinking some of Aurélie’s apple juice. Yes – Aurélie also makes apple juice “on the side”. She collects unused apples from surrounding orchards before pressing, pasteurising and selling the juice at markets. The apple juice is delicious, we highly recommend it! To get your hands on it, as well as their honey, eggs and milk, you can contact Aurélie and Pierrick. They sell at the farm, markets and soon (hopefully) through a lovely eco-cooperative shop in Quimperlé.
Poulfanc, 29300 quimperlé
[On the road, at the 47 ° 50’52.0 “N and 3 ° 33’46.5” W]