It was a tsunami of information, and there would be casual references to critical things. Hundreds of them. In the course of a conversation about, say, how to direct grains towards their appropriate silo, he’d refer in passing to:
- The need to check the drain down by the old oak tree weekly, otherwise the lower field will become a lake.
- The way to cultivate an irregular shaped field which has pylons running through it.
- How to make sure the main escape valve on the lake outlet didn’t freeze and explode.
- The risk of death if you open irrigation taps in the wrong order
- The 45 points you need to keep regularly greased on a tractor.
- The name and whereabouts of the old man who alone knows the northern boundary when it cuts through the wood
- How to find various underground pipes using trees and bushes as reference points
- The points in the fields where there are springs; if you go in there in the wrong conditions you won’t come out.
And so on ….
At the same time, people came to the farm from all sides. Either to offer their (paid) services in the fields, or occasionally to protest aggressively that I’d managed to get the land, even though the decision was totally out of my hands. It normally happened that all my initial manoeuvring of tractors happened in front of such a crowd, although thankfully I was alone the day I took down an electricity pylon in the field then removed the phone wire on the way back.
There were days when Claude took me off to various fairs to look for the equipment I needed. This involved pushy salesmen talking tractors, me saying ‘bon’ or ‘ok’ a fair bit, then eating around long tables with hundreds of Gascon farmers. Some of these occasions were given a surreal twist in that the farm purchase and huge equipment costs (much of which I would later discover to be a mistake) was being paid for by my DJ-ing, and I’d find myself around these communal tables, breaking bread with my pocket knife and talking Horse Power when a few hours before I was on the Space Terrace in Ibiza.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]