January 31, 2012

French friends arrive at the farm. OR– Amies francaise arrive de la ferme.

Today, we were honored to have some visteurs française.  These four young men were from the central part of l’France, and they each lived in a smaller town in an area from LeMans to Chartres to Orleans.  This area includes a region called la Beauce (pronounced la BOCE), a very diverse agricultural production region with all manner of crops including corn, barley, canola, onions, potatoes, wheat, and sugar beets.  Victor Pichot (Vik-ter PEA-show), who has been been here previously, is a young farmer with other business interests.  He also imports tillage equipment into France to sell to farmers in his region.  He has recently planted a field of walnut trees.  His friend Benoit Thibault (Ben-wa TEE bo), is a grain merchandiser, buying and selling grains and oilseeds and other commodities.  Jean-Baptiste Pinot (Zhon bateest PEA-know), is a potato farmer with other crops.  The last guest was Jérôme Peschard (ZHE-roam PESH-ar) has a main crop of onions with other complimentary crops on his farm at Trancranville. 

 We have hosted many young french farmers and students over the years.   These young fellows were quite interested in our farm, and to understand Indiana agriculture in particular.  It is always a pleasure to share information about what you do with another person who is interested.  Their sparkling personalities made the visit a pleasure.  It was a fun thing to discuss farming and family issues that turn out to be universal in nature… we find that we are more alike than different.

We toured the farm, seeing mostly the equipment; they took an opportunity to briefly drive one of the articulated 4wd tractors, a new experience for them.  Later in the evening we also took in a South Knox High School girls’ basketball game.  They were quite intrigued to see how important the sport is to folks in Indiana.  Benoit remarked about how strongly he was impressed when the crowd quieted and behaved so respectfully during the national anthem.   He loved the pep band and the cheerleaders.   All four of the french visitors clapped along with the singing of “Hail, South Knox High.”   And they were cheering for the home-team Lady Spartans.  I could hear Benoit yell, “Allez la blanche!”  (AH-lay la BLONSH, which means, “Go white!”  The gym was nearly packed with enthusiastic spectators.  The home crowd went home happy with a respectable 54-42 win over rival Vincennes Lincoln. 

It was a pleasure to host these visitors, and the time together passed quickly.  Further USA stops for them include Indianapolis and Chicago.  There they will board an Amtrak train for a trip to Salt Lake City.  From Salt Lake City, they will rent a car to go to Las Vegas, L.A., and San Fransisco.  We arranged for them to visit our friend Mike Stearns, Manager of Hammonds Ranch, a large and diverse farming operation in Firebaugh, California near Fresno.   To cap their trip they will attend the World Ag Expo in Tulare, California. 

They stayed overnight with us, and we sent them on their way on Wednesday, February 1st, with a hearty “bon voyage” and “a bientot!”.   I certainly hope our paths cross again in the future– here in southern Indiana, and in France!


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