XIV. SPACES FOR FARMING WORK AND OUTBUILDINGS
Spaces at home for implements, products and livestock
Crops are seasonal because of the climate and therefore different work implements are needed depending on the season. Those that are not being used, when they are not needed, are kept in different outbuildings of the farmstead and those that have to be on hand in others. The people surveyed also described the outbuildings or rooms in the house where the animal feed and straw and hay for the barns were kept.
Porch and carriage porch
In several places in Álava, people reported there would be granaries in the porches. That was the case in Abezia (A), where it was usual to have large granaries, known as comportos, which reached the roof and had a small trapdoor at the bottom to collect the grain. Some had trapdoors in the roof to pour the grain in, while in other cases some of the boards of the granary acted as covers that were removed and replaced as necessary. There was the slaughter bench and the door to the cuartico, next to the comporto. There would be food troughs for the pigs in some porches.
The people surveyed in other locations explained that work tools and farm implements used on the farmstead were kept in the porch. That was the case in Bedarona (B) where the majority of the homesteads had a large entrance porch and the following items could usually be found there: carpentry tools and table, the oxcart and a pile of firewood. There would be a crosspiece on the wall where the rakes, pitchforks, sickles and hoes were hung. Tobacco was grown on some farmsteads and the leaves were hung from the porch roof to dry.
In Allo (N), small houses used the entrance as makeshift storage for animal feed or kept some gear, such as saddlebags, saddles, hoes, laia (a two-pronged foot plough), etc. there. The entrances to larger houses had a fired brick or pebble floor and there was usually a chair or even a three-piece suite. They were usually strongly-built furniture, with a curved back and straw seat. There was sometime a drop-leaf table, against the wall to take up as little space as possible.
Loft or attic
In general, the attics were places where the grain was stored. There were also used to store and dry produce from the vegetable gardens and fruit. The meat from slaughtering the pig and other animals were also hung there to cure. In some houses, the hay and straw were stored in part of the loft, even though they were stored in another outbuilding, the haystack. Farming tools and implements that were rarely used were kept in the loft or when they were not needed. The loft is still often used as the place to leave useless or old clutter. It was reported in the some of the places surveyed that the loft has sometimes been used as a bedroom.
The stable was generally part of the main building of the farmstead and the cows, horses, sheep, pig and hens would be kept there in separate sections. There were traditionally dirt floors on which dry grass or fern would be laid as a bed for the livestock. The bedding has to be periodically renewed and was then used as a fertiliser and was piled up in a corner of the barn.
Cement floors began to be used over time as they were easier to clean and the dunghills were moved outside. When the waste was piled up against a wall or corner, it was very common to place a ladder hung horizontally from the roof and supported against the wall using dies that acted as the henhouse, where the hens would go up a narrow notched board so they would not slip as they went up.
The livestock was sometimes kept in separate buildings, which was sometimes adjoining the house. Those buildings were usually two-storey: the lower floor was used as stabling and a store for wood and farm implements, and the upper one for straw.
In many cases, there were stalls dividing up the barn to keep the different breeds of animals separate and in their own space. Something similar happened with the dunghill and the tools and implements needed to work with animals. Outbuildings began to be built around the farmstead due to lack of space, for hygiene reasons, the need to have better organised and independent enclosures, and the growth or drop in the farming or livestock activity. There were sometimes adjoining and sometimes separate but always near to the house and, sometimes, were both. There are also examples where those outbuildings formed an integral part of the homestead right from the start.
It is noteworthy that those small buildings often did not have a single purpose, but could have several uses. Thus, for example, the hut with the bread oven could have the henhouse or pig sty on one side and an area to store the farm implements and firewood on the other; or it could also be a two-storey building with the dunghill on the ground floor and the haystack on the upper floor. The house, as a living concept, has constantly expanded its space with new buildings close to it, adapted to the emerging needs.
On the Atlantic side of the watershed, the space of the house and of the outbuilding is open, while on the Mediterranean side, the adjoining outbuildings face inwards and are generally enclosed about a plot of bare soil. As regards the geographical distribution, it should be noted that the outbuildings were located on the edge of concentrated population settlements, while they were around or near the house in the case of scattered populations.
The farmstead usually owned land at some distance away where there would also be huts or shacks. It was a way of colonising the territory and some of those shacks were turned into homes overtime. They were usually guard huts in the vineyards. It is the consequence of a logical principle that requires a presence to be on the land the further it is away from the main house.