Wednesday, March 3, 2010


The barn and henshed have been cleared and are now completely empty and ready for the builder. Another step away from this house's agricultural past. Small farms like this are disappearing in France just like everywhere else.

I found tools with hand made handles, an old tractor seat, photogenic rusty metal, many, many walnut shells - the remains of many a mouse's (or worse) supper, home made ladders, old bottles, chains, harnesses, a yoke, a flatiron, two crémaillères (for hanging over the fire and holding a pot or kettle).

These aren't things which were used in the dim and distant past but by Daniel, the man who sold us the house and who was born and lived all his life here. It is extraordinary to think how things have changed in such a short time. In Daniel's youth the cattle and sheep were walked out to pasture then watched over until it was time to come home. There were no enclosures. His sister Simone told us that when she left home her parents invested in fencing so that someone no longer needed to watch over the stock every moment.

Everything that could be homemade and mended was. There was a wooden wheelbarrow here when we first arrived. It weighed a ton even when empty. We have several beautiful ladders and know people who even now wouldn't dream of buying a shop bought handle for a fork or shovel but select a branch and make it fit. There is a strong 'waste not' ethos here which has nothing to do with parsimony but just common sense.


Jennifer said...

You have the makings of a great story here!

K Spoering said...

What a great collection! I love finding things from the history of our old home. You aren't destroying a past by changing the use of these buildings, but are creating a new one for the future. I try to make sure I leave things to 'be found' occasionally, and hope they will be treasured as we do our few finds.

Estyn said...

Here in the US so many barns and outbuildings are falling down from lack of use, a whole culture quietly rotting in the fields. It's wonderful that you're saving these buildings.

Liz said...

What lovely treasures! It is remarkable how much life has changed in such a short time. It's wonderful that you live in a place where people still make what they need rather than running out to the store. Thanks for sharing your story with us all.