OK, I have a bit more that 79 walnuts, but I couldn’t resist using that title.

***French lesson alert***
In French, numbers after 69 get a bit weird, at least if you’re in France. Seventy is actually said “sixty-ten”, followed by “sixty-eleven”, “sixty-twelve”, etc. Eighty opens up a whole new level of strange with “four-twenty”, and ninety becomes “four-twenty-ten”.
In some francophone countries, like Quebec, Belgium and Switzerland for example, they are sane and have actual words for 70, 80 and 90.

This makes learning numbers a nightmare for a French language student. I still have to stop and think when someone has a 90-something in their phone number. But getting back to the nuts. When teaching French numbers to American kids, there’s a lot of snickering when you get to 79 – soixante-dix-neuf, which sounds a lot like “soixante-deez-nuts”… got ’em!

All that just to show you the walnuts that we picked. Well, you don’t actually pick walnuts, you wait until they fall off the tree and then hope you get to them before any little critters do.


La récolte

And once we picked them up, I had no idea what to do with them. I googled a bit in both English and French but couldn’t really find a straight answer. Some people were putting them in the oven and others were drying them outside. In the end, I brushed them with a bit of water to get off the dirt, left them out in the sun for an afternoon, and now I’m planning on letting them dry on a rack hanging from the ceiling for at least a month. Unless anyone can enlighten me on nut drying techniques?

Here’s the main noyer, or walnut tree, that we hit up every day to see if any more have fallen. And also the walnuts before cleaning.

noyer   noix avant

And, finally, a pic of the house, with the ivy removed from the front next to the door. You can see a bit more, but there’s still a long way to go!

house front


The house

Hello family, friends and everyone else! Thanks for coming to my space, though I’m not quite sure what it will turn out to be. A place to keep family and friends updated on the ruin, a place for me to share about life in France and the food that goes with it, and maybe some strangers looking to embark on a similar journey. As with most things in my life lately, I guess the answer is on verra, we’ll see!

Anyways, point number one is definitely to share on me and T’s ruin adventure. We bought this house a month ago in the south of the Aveyron department in France, and there’s a lot of work to be done!

Here’s a view from the field just above the house.

view from field

The house was built in the late 19th century (1889 from what we can read on an engraving near the door), and was mostly used as a barn. The ground floor was for the animals, probably sheep since this is sheep country, with the first floor used to store hay. The original owners would stay here for a bit during the summer, but it was never really inhabited. Which means no water and no electricity! We learned a bit more about the history of the house in the documents from the notary that I’ll put together at some point.

In terms of size, it’s 7 m. by 5.5 m. on the ground and a little over 6 meters tall (or so we think, we’re not quite sure where the pile of hay ends and the floor begins). The walls are 60 cm. thick and pretty healthy, if you don’t count the ginormous ivy growing on the side. There’s also a lean-to on the left side that’s about 9m2.

The back is a bit harder to capture, since there’s an elevated terrace running all around the ground floor (if that makes sense?). Great for a future patio, but it means I can only get 3 meters away to take a photo. Hence the use of my phone’s panoramic mode.


Here’s another panoramic shot through the front door. The flagstone roof has started to fall down, taking most of the first floor down with it.

first floor

And here’s the ground floor around the right side of the house.

entree rdc  rdc

These photos were taken just a few weeks ago and its already changed so much! We’ve taken out most of the fallen floor boards, cut them to the size of our fireplace and stored them with the rest of our firewood, which gave me the idea of for a gym where you saw through two-by-fours and haul wood around.

Next up on the ruin front is cleaning out the ground floor of fallen stones and then digging out the hay and dirt that has accumulated over the years. We’re also attempting to break through the giant rock that the house is apparently built on to get the maximum height possible. We’re thinking that will take at least a month to get a level ground floor, well it will take T at least a month since the rock doesn’t budge when I’m wielding the pickaxe.