Monday, June 18, 2018

News From France: Lots Of Love For An 1866 Auvergnat Farmhouse

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Our little village in the Auvergne, under a gray sky
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Work progressing on our stone farmhouse
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New windows, made to look just like the old ones
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Repointing the back wall
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Brothers C. indulging me by pausing for the camera

Noise and dust.
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The back wall gets a rinse to remove all the dust after old mortar was removed
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The stone wall after old mortar was chiseled away
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After new sand and lime mixture was applied.
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Brothers C. leaving after completing the job.
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Driving the big 'Manitou" away after it was all done.
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The result!
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Of course, I began planting flowers behind the house almost as soon as the brothers had removed their machines.
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Dear Reader, you may remember the major renovations that my husband and I have undertaken on the 1866 stone farmhouse here in France that my parents bought more than 50 years ago.  In 2016, we had a brand new tile roof put on the house, and in 2017, we had a local craftsman pierce two new window openings in the attic. This year, the big project was to have the stones in the back of the house repointed and to have windows installed in the attic openings.

Here in the countryside of France, it is hard to find people who still have the skills to actually renovate, instead of re-muddle these old buildings.  Fortunately, in the past few years, we have been introduced to some wonderful local artisans, who are serious about their craft and don't take any shortcuts.  Since they are all very busy, it may take some time to get the actual work done, but it is always worth the wait.

When it was time to have the back façade repointed,  we were looking for a mason who still mixes mortar the old fashioned way, using just coarse sand and lime, materials that were widely available here in the countryside when these farmhouses were built.
Luckily, we were given the name of two brothers who are experts at mixing 'chaux' and at getting the color just right.  Arrangements were made last summer for the work to begin this spring.  So, shortly after we arrived here, the Brothers C. showed up with heavy equipment and got started.

Rejoining the façades, when done right, is a tedious process as the old mortar first needs to be chiseled out before a new coat can be applied. Once the chaux hardens, the excess is brushed off to reveal the individual stones.
Oh, it was noisy and dusty, but the brothers arrived cheerfully every morning and went right to work, repointing one section of our back wall after the other, until the house looked as it must have when it was first constructed.

In between all this activity, the carpenter delivered and installed our new oak windows for the two attic openings.  After a few coats of stain, the windows look as though they have always been part of the house.

Obviously, my husband and I don't relax much when we are here in France, but it feels so incredible to get closer to completing some of the 'big' jobs.  There are still plenty of smaller ones planned for this summer, but I'll tell you about those next time.

Previously:
A New Roof For An Old Farmhouse In The Auvergne
The Daily Rhythm In A Little Village In The Auvergne


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