Fragments of FranceAt the agricultural school of Pau-Montardon, flourishes a rural youth whose horizon is often the resumption of the family farm. A fate all mapped out which secures the future but which also includes its share of concerns.
” You are happy ? “
Once, ten times, twenty times, the answer is the same, without hesitation and with a vaguely astonished smile: ” Yes Yes ! “ Neighbors from a room at the boarding school chatting before the lights go out. Graduation friends who finish their lunch in the canteen. BTS students taking part in a practical work class to learn how to immobilize a cow without hurting it or putting itself in danger. Apprentices who follow without understanding a Spanish course while waiting for the bell which will finally free them. 1res who wait before a technical lesson on animal husbandry.
In the corridors, rooms and classrooms of the agricultural high school of Montardon, on the outskirts of Pau (Pyrénées-Atlantiques), a youth grows, rural, connected to all social networks, mixed but without ethnic diversity, whose horizon , feet on the ground, is that of sweat and toil. With the assurance of those who know what they are and what they are going to be. With the fears of those who don’t have a full choice either.
Charles Elgoyhen has the dazzling laughter of his age (16) and the plans of an adult: one day take over the family farm of 650 ewes and 80 horses in the Aspe valley. Margot Labourdette, 17, the daughter of a pastry-making mother and a father breeder of cattle, shows her room at the boarding school where the colorful decorations breathe the escaping childhood. His dream is to take over his father’s farm (120 heads) to continue to grow the herd by improving, again and again, the work of genetic selection of his animals. “Like my grandfather, my father, my uncle”, she says.
Louis Perrin, 18, will wait a bit but it is written that he will take over from his parents, duck breeders, force-fed in a double building with 1,800 places. Alexandre Tisnerat, 19, will also take over the activity one day: 40 blondes d’Aquitaine, a particularly productive breed of cow, and 320 Basco-Béarnaise, ewes whose milk is used to produce a quality cheese, ossau- iraty, and which have the merit of being rustic, therefore resistant.
” You are happy ? “ Yes, and yet this youth, more than others, is acutely aware of the difficulties and weaknesses of the farming profession. They know that the most desperate sometimes end up committing suicide, swept away by the wounds of failure. They also know that the hourly wage is derisory for the operators, that there are many abandoned farms, that the prices of meat or milk do not allow employees to pay above the minimum wage; and that, on the other hand, the prices of metals, fertilizers or materials can increase everything overnight.
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