Thursday, February 1, 2018

A Decade Later 2018

Noun (in-staw-rey-shuh-n)
Renewal; Restoration; Renovation; Repair.

Whether used to describe an action or state of mind the word for our year is INSTAURATION.

This New Year rings in 10 years of instauration of Montegut. We have reached a milestone, a decade of ownership quite literally a sea change in our lives.

While structural repair of Montegut may appear visually profound it is the process that forever altered our lives.  So when I say or write Montegut it is the entity, literally, to which I refer.

Our first glimpse of Montegut came with the unexpected reunion of a large extended family separated by more than a century. Each trip reintroduces us to more of its personal history as well as reinforces our resolve to restore what remains of the nearly lost legacy of Dargeles' Montegut. We still eagerly listen to stories passed from generation to generation, renewing a bond that seems to have come full circle. As each family member shares their connection to the maison familiale our understanding and appreciation increases.

Here is a small section of the Crazy Quilt of projects crossed off our To-Do list!

Foremost was replacing the roof. Operating heavy equipment was a bonus. Withstanding a major wind and rain storm the following year unscathed was the reward!

I kept busy painting the shutters returning them to their original bleu ciel color happily leaving the heavy lifting to those with nonrational fear of heights.

Year after year our trips become more focused as our project were planned in advance. First the preservation of la maison then the room by room restoration. We extended our time from 3 or 4 weeks to 3 months and then to 5 months, completing essential as well as discretionary projects.

They really are the the color of the sky!

Then giving the ancient oak doors a boost with numerous coats of bees wax and hand polishing.

All while Barry re-built damaged interior walls, re-plastered, sanded and painted walls and window frames and doors.

So far he has completed 6 room plus the loft space which is approx 20'X 45. The stairwell which is close to 30' high and 10' X 14' ....  of course the ceilings had to be scraped, patched and painted as well!

Together we managed to renovate the entire upper level of Montegut!

There were many exterior upgrades including a new Septic Fosse, Exterior paint, Courtyard gravel, new hardscaping to create a shade garden, stairway to the upper barn area.

 The instauration of Montegut shall prevail!

And if you have, thanks for reading.... Linda

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Adding a Bit of Charm to the Kitchen

We stumbled across a heavy-duty table top at a nearby estate sale.  Leaning against the barn wall, no legs but the surface was in excellent condition, we realized immediately it was just what we needed in the kitchen. 

Barry added sturdy legs sanded the stained the wood, after several coats of a water proofing it became the counter space that was desperately needed. 

Well that all happened at the end of our trip in 2016.

This summer I made simple curtains to hide the clothes washer, dishwasher and the clothes dryer from view. 

Three sections hung on separate expandable rods across the front, with one panel to cover the side. Easy Pea-sy. Zig-zag raw edges, turned the top edge to create a pocket for the rod to slip through, the bottom hem was "dressed up" with two rows of stitching. As simple as that!!

                        Probably the easiest fix, so far, for this old farmhouse renovation. 

And if you have, thanks for reading.

Au revoir!

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Horse Cart to Flower Cart

We drove past this horse cart for a couple of weeks contemplating the purchase.... was it too kitschy for the courtyard? And did we really want or need another project and finally how would we even get it home?

Once we were able to determine the price, which took lots of pantomime along with our limited language skills the decision was clear. The horse cart would be fabulous in the courtyard! Now the dilemma would be how do we move the cart the 2 km to Montegut.

Enter ex-pat friend and neighbor Ray Brown and his utility trailer. He and Barry worked through several options and with only one trip they were successful in delivering the cart undamaged.
The next task was to stabilize all the parts and pieces.  The schakle that connects the spring to the body of the cart was straightend and it looked (almost) as good as new!
Once cleaned and reconstructed all the wood received a anti-bore beetle spray and then a coat of water proofing sealer.

Jeremie helped move and assemble the cart inside the stone circle.  He is always ready and eager to work. Wish we could clone him!

Cart is in place and needed just a little touch up stain to highlight the details. We were able to find a few pieces of an old cart used in Montegut as early as the late 1880's. The wooden seat, side lanterns and buggy shafts had been stored in the barn, it was serendipitous to see them in use again.

Now it really shines! What do you think?

I had been proprogating flower seeds in anticipation of filling the garden with color for the summer. Luckily there was plenty for the garden and the cart. 

Now the fun begins, planting is my favorite part. Geraniums, Green and Purple Potato vines, Cosmos, Morning Glory, Vinca, Cone Flower, Nasturtium, Lobelia and Alyssum plus a few Zinnias and Snap Dragons, here and there. 

We are thrilled with the results. The cart filled with flowers is another way to welcome family and friends to Montegut.

Pots and trays filled with a wide variety of flowers in place and now with just the right amount of sun and water that old cart has a new life filled with color.

Can't wait to fill the cart with color again next spring.

And if you have, thanks for reading.

Au Revoir, Linda

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Pigs in the Pasture

"The “Bigorre” or “Noir de Bigorre” is a very ancient European breed of black pig, with a black hide and narrow, horizontal ears. Although known for its strength and robustness, this is a likeable creature due to a calm temperament and domestic nature.
This breed was fairly dominant until the 1970’s, as it’s not suited to intensive livestock farming, they quickly began to disappear until a handful of dedicated supporters set out to “save the beast” in the 80’s. Since the early 1990’s, approximately fifty breeders, two ham curers and five pork butcher-caterers formed a conservation association. They have since establish strict specifications for the care of and production of Noir de Bigorre, thus sustaining the breed for future generations."

And so our story of the pigs in the pasture began:

We selected two "Bigorre" pigs from a nearby farm in St. Sever de Rustan. They each weighed around 45 kilos and were the size of a hefty Cocker Spaniel, although heavier. 

This pen was used to weigh the pigs, clearly they can not be expected to stand quietly on the scale! The farmer chose two she thought were of similar size, wrangled them into the pen to be weighed. Slick system!

We were quite surprised with the condition of their farm, there were different holding areas. From securely fenced pastures to individual stalls (11) for females and their babies to spacious open areas near the barn with overhead canvas to provide shade, to hold young males or females ready to be sold and every single area appeared to have been recently cleaned. We were invited to come "whenever you wish" so they didn't clean knowing of our arrival! VERY impressed.

Expat neighbors van came in very handy for transport back to Montegut.

We used the same enclosure and fencing arrangement that the lambs enjoyed last year. The pigs were placed in the pen and immediately found a paradise of organic snacks!

A thick growth of various plants of which they soon made short work.

Happy pigs!

Pig "Eden" Quince, Plum and Pear trees provide some shade. They settled in quickly to their new home.

Fast forward TWO months!! They sure made short order of the vegetation.

Eating became a competitive sport!

They grew rapidly with premium feed, hay and baskets of fallen pears, plums, figs and peaches.
We were able to tell them apart by their tails, one "curled" to the right the other to the left!

When they weren't eating, they rooted in the soil. Together they managed to create deep trenches in several shaded areas where they enjoyed the cooler earth temperature.

Bigger and bigger.

They have nearly tripled in size and eaten nearly 2 hundred pounds of feed as well as vegetable and fruit scraps from two households twice a day. They also receive grass clippings along with a steady supply of culled fruit from the orchards fruit trees, they particularly fond of the fig tree.

And if you have thanks for reading.

Au Revoir!

Tuesday, August 9, 2016


"Not only is Chartres Cathedral one of the greatest achievements in the history of architecture, it is almost perfectly preserved in its original design and details. Chartres' extensive cycle of portal sculpture remains fully intact and its glowing stained-glass windows are all originals. Chartres is thus the only cathedral that coveys an almost perfect image of how it looked when it was built."

Cathedral of our Lady of Chartres in the city center of Chartres and is elegant from every angle. A lovely surprise to find this view from our hotel window. Built between 1194 and 1260 in the Gothic architectural design. It was saved from looting and destruction by townspeople, quite extraordinary considering the vast number of churches destroyed during the French Revolution.

The city was captured during WWII because of its proximity to Paris, only about 50 miles, the Nazis established a strategic command post within blocks of the Cathedral. This is credited to saving the oldest part of the city and where the Cathedral is located.

The majority of the interior has been beautifully restored. 

That is really some Pipe Organ!

Below is a section of the Choir Screen that was being restored during our visit. The original plaster was gently cleaned and then a new "skin" was applied. This not only adds support but allows for the artisan to make repairs to the carving details.

And there is one now!

He told me it will take 7 years of cleaning, plastering, filing and smoothing the new plaster to restore the design to match the original carvings on just the Choir Screen.

The dark area on this column is the un-restored section. Before and after at one glance.

 The stained-glass images are abstract and simple and appear after some contemplation.

And if you have, thanks for reading.

Avoir, Linda