The day of judgement had finally arrived for our direct selling venture. All future deliveries would depend on the success of this one. The 14 lambs that we were taking down to Provence had all been pre-ordered, so theoretically there should be no problems. In reality of course, there is always the risk of logistical and technical hitches and we were nervous.
We set off after lunch, popping by to see our neighbour to collect the van. We must have woken him up from his siesta. He groggily showed us how to work the fridge in the back of the van and plied us with coffee before letting us leave. We were already running late and we had only gone 400 meters.
My biggest concern however, was the butcher. I had called to check that all had gone well, but I still half expected to see the lambs running around the pen where we had left them in front of the abattoir. To my relief, they had not been forgotten and were now in chop form in big cardboard boxes.
We loaded up and set off, leaving our mountains behind us to head for the gentler climate of Provence. Muddy brown fields turned green, with the occasional flash of yellow colza; orchards of apples and pears transformed into white flowering cherry trees. My husband drove like a bat out of hell and we arrived on time.
We should have known that there was no need to hurry. Our meeting point was at a friend’s warehouse and our last customer arrived two hours late to pick up his box. We didn’t care though. We were exalting in the fact that our first delivery had gone without a hitch.
On our way back to the Alps, my husband threw the van round tight bends like a maniac, an inane grin plastered across his face. We felt like we’d just pulled off the greatest coup in farming history; we had sold our produce directly, at a price that was reasonable for both us, and our customers. The trial run had surpassed all our hopes and for once he wasn’t complaining about the price of lamb.
A glimmer of light has started to shine at the end of the tunnel. Even if it takes time, it could prove to be the solution to solving the farm’s precarious financial situation.
It is now full steam ahead for the remaining deliveries. Next stop Brittany!