Updated: Jul 26
Throughout this summer, the Pays de Fayence Tourist Office is organising their series of “Passion Partnership Visits” : free visits to uncover the sights and passion of our local craftspeople: artisan producers, smallholders and farmers, artists and the like are all lined up to spend time with you… The are people passionate about their art or craft, who will show you the rich culture and fabric of Pays de Fayence via their know-how; the visits are in small groups and offer you an intimate insight into their way of life and work.
And the name does justice to the series of visits, these are dedicated craftspeople: We went to see Jeremy and Aurélie at their goat farm in the Mons area, to discover their art as well as their smiles, which, despite working a 90-hour week and getting up at 3am every day to milk their herd, they manage to keep!
The farm comprises some 60 dairy goats, whose natural daily rhythm is respected; the milking takes place once daily, very early – or more accurately in the middle of the night! – to allow Jeremy to accompany his girls into the forest to forage and eat before sunrise. He practices pastoralism with his herd, they roam free and are rarely fenced in, eating and foraging all the plants typically found in the forests of our region, even spiney, prickly plants aren’t safe! Their reproductive cycle is also respected with a more ethical approach to their wellbeing, they aren’t artificially inseminated nor do they have to endure forced lactation. Female goats, known as does, will carry their young for 5 months, and once born, their kids will suckle for between six and ten months. The early-morning milking complete, the milk collected it is treated immediately with organic rennet and is left un-pasteurised. The rennet causes the milk to curdle and clot, the clotted milk is then put into round moulds, to settle for up to 3 days.
During the visit the goats enthusiastically showed their affection, they are a cuddlesome and sociable bunch, nudging and nestling, which made our time at the farm even more special. Having answered a myriad of questions, from diet, to breeding, to health, to wolves and local husbandry approaches, Jeremy then walked us up to the cheese workshop where Aurélie showed us a range of their soft cheeses, to whet our appetites: natural, herb-rolled or even stuffed, whatever your taste you’ll be well catered for. And a surprise for us, no need to keep the cheese in the fridge, a cool larder at around 14 degrees, without packaging to avoid it sweating are the perfect conditions to keep the cheese up to 8 weeks. Jeremy suggested turning the cheeses every few days so they mature evenly.
So what were our take-aways? Well apart from dozens of cuddles from the goats, we left with some great cheeses and excellent memories of a good time, shared. The Chèvrerie Monsoise believes the world of farming sometimes lacks good quality communication, they also have a real desire to share their craft, explain the processes involved as well as just how much hard work goes into the final product and why prices are what they are. They also emphasise just how important it is to eat and consume locally, staying true to ideals of respect for naturenand our environment: all of which are values and aspirations we hold dear at the Mas des Romarins too. The goat farm is open for visits Sundays, why not go and see it for yourselves or follow Jeremy and Aurélie on their Facebook page.