After our success last year we failed this season to find any truffles. For photos please see our Newsletters page. Certainly 2018/19 was a bad season everywhere but that is little or no consolation. Please don't think of what follows as excuses - there are none. I failed and failed badly and lessons have been learnt. The challenges just kept on coming. Our first planned hunt was scheduled for before Christmas. However we had days and days of torrential rain and the soil was saturated. I was absolutely determined that our next truffle hunt would be another success so I wanted near perfect conditions. Our neighbour, Serge, the previous owner of the land, was consulted and his advice was that the soil was way too wet for hunting; so I called it off. Claude, our truffle hunter for several seasons, seemed fine when I told him, but now I wonder. We were away for Christmas and New Year so were planning a first hunt earlyish in January. What happened? I went down with an attack of gout which was far stronger and many times longer than any previous incident. I contacted Claude to let him know and his response was that he couldn't come anyway as Jicky had a sore paw. I was a little suspicious that he was harbouring some resentment for the December cancellation so when I was semi-mobile again and Jicky still had a bad paw I began looking for other truffle hounds. I joined the local Gers Truffle Growers Association, received a warm welcome from the administrator saying that he often passed the truffiere and would love to bring his dog. But then silence. I contacted the Auch Dog Club who provided multiple dogs twice a few years back from their truffle section. Nothing. I tried the local representative of the company from which I've bought trees. He came up with a suggestion and the guy had an excellent truffle hound but was too busy to take me on. I wrote to the local paper who often run truffle stories but again nothing. Then I heard from the guy at Gers Truffle Growers; he had been in hospital with a thorn in his hand which turned septic and said he couldn't come this season but will be pleased to come next. I'm not holding my breath as my cheque for the membership fee has still not been cashed! In 2002 before I planted the truffiere I went to see a local retired airline pilot who had established a truffiere with several hundred trees. At that time he hadn't had a harvest but I'd heard that he had had success later so I called him and got an introduction to a truffle grower fairly close by. He said that his hound was not fully trained but he had friends staying with him who had a successful dog. They came two days running with their bloodhound, Muffin, and turned out to be a delightful trio. However no truffles. See our Newsletters page for photos of Muffin in action. Our new friends will be happy to visit us each year from now on even though they live in the Loire! So the critical lesson I have learned this year is the need for back-up and understudies. I aim to have at least four dogs lined up for next truffle season. Finally apologies to everyone for my failures this year. I hope I haven't lost your trust!
PS Just because I'm paranoid it doesn't mean everybody isn't trying to stop me getting hold of a truffle hound.