Roll out the barrel, well twelve and a half of them to be precise! Yesterday these aged casks saw the light for the first time in many a year. These oak containers have lain untouched in the wood barn, we think they were probably used to store animal feed in the days when FFQ (French Farmhouse Quercy) was a working farm. They sat upon a raised wooden slatted shelf and this itself will now be very useful to put fire wood on. The oak casks, of different sizes, were taken out and given a jolly good spray, both inside and out, with the jet washer and they now stand proud, like standing stones waiting for their new position to be agreed.
My own personal knowledge of barrels is limited, so I was interested to know that the generic name is in fact a cask and the term barrel applies to a particular size of cask. Just for fun.... a barrique ( Bordeaux type) holds 225 litres and a Madeira drum holds 650 litres. and the British brewery barrel holds 164 litres. There is a barrel load..... of facts and information about casks that I am sure one could produce a dissertation on the subject, and have a lot of fun doing so!
A couple of our casks have a pale blue colour on the inside. This remains a mystery to me as I can't imagine for a minute that someone would have painted the inside of the barrel. I am left believing that perhaps (and this must be a good call considering the region where we live) that the barrels at some point contained red wine, Malbec wine, and the wine left this residue colour. My basis for this is red cabbage... bear with me, notice how blue the water is if red cabbage is soaked, perhaps its the same for red wine or grapes?
We now have to decide what to do with these icons of rusticity. It is likely that we will use them to support floral decorations, to divide pathways or to stand to attention and add a little "Je ne sais quoi" to a rural farmhouse garden. Or maybe.. just maybe they are good to hold a couple of glasses of beer at the end of a long hard day of cleaning barrels and doors.
The jet washer has been very well used of late with both sets of barn doors getting a good dosing along with the main door to the bolly. These have all been particularly satisfying jobs as we have seen a real difference after their watery scrub. The bolly door faces south and I can only assume that over the many years that it has hung there the fierce heat of the summer sun has charred and blackened the outer coating of the wood so that a thin layer of charcoal appeared to sit on the surface. Enter the jet washer and the years of burn are washed away. After a whole tin of oil, it was a thirsty door, things are looking very good indeed, I have put a few pictures below for you to see for yourself.
The barn doors have been a much bigger job, not only did they need a clean but they will need some repairing too. These vast planks of oak appear to be original to the barn. There are so many repairs that the wrinkles of their lives are etched in their vastness. Far be it from us to be the ones to cast aside the years of toil and turn on those weighty hinges. A golden colour for the moment, they may well dry differently, but for now they look resplendent amid the straw and soil of a farmhouse barn.