Wednesday, 3 September 2008

The Old Farm

The view from the barn at Annie and Thierry's farm.

Our neighbours Thierry and Annie had invited us to visit their inherited family farm in the Aveyron region, in a little village called Galgan. The original house is 300 years old, and the newer house, built for a farm worker, is 100 years old. There are no 300-year-old houses in Western Autralia. We had a look in the attic and the cellar, and there were old things everywhere. I picked up a book out of a box, and it was printed in 1789. When I leafed through the pages I found some old receipts from 1906 which turned out to be from Thierry's great uncle. My mother would have been in her element looking at all the old stuff.

The date is M DCC LXXXIX. (1789)

The first time Roger had driven a tractor in five months.

Unlike the farms we are used to, many farmyards are actually located in the villages, and the fields may or may not be adjoined to the farmyard. In this case the farmyard is adjacent to the village church, so you can see the church in many of the photos. This place was very different from the village of Sainte Marie d'Alloix where we live, because it is basically a village that revolves around agriculture. There was no route nationale running through it, or freeway within coo-ee, so it was very peaceful.

The old house, which will be magnificent when it is renovated!

The old house is pretty basic - it hasn't been renovated over the years because ever since Thierry's grandfather's time it has been a second home. It has no ablution facilities (that's my way of saying "bathroom!) so the family uses it for extra beds when there are lots of visitors. However Annie and Thierry moved out of the more functional house so that we could sleep there while we stayed. That was pretty nice of them, and I felt a bit guilty sleeping in their big comfy bed, but it was certainly more convenient with the children.

Odette sitting on the windowsill of the house where we stayed.

During our stay we met many of Annie's family. We met her parents and three of her brothers (she has six!) and their families and we went to a barbecue at her youngest brother's house one evening. I loved the family feeling.

Thierry with Annie's brother Didier sitting on the huge fireplace,
where the sausage was cooked for lunch.

Annie preparing the table (with Hugh and Odette blurred).

At the farm there were hens and a vegetable garden, which in Annies's absence is tended by her mother and an old man who lives in the retirement home in the village. Next door, old Jean has a huge garden and hutches of rabbits. The kids had fun collecting the eggs and feeding the rabbits with scraps from the garden.

Feeding the rabbits.

Le vieux Jean.

I hope Annie and Thierry can renovate the farm and create a gîte or a chambre d'hôtes (B&B or guest house) there so that more people can experience this beautiful place.

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