The work of the farmer

In the old villages, the life of the farming population went on at the pace of work which essentially consisted in tending cattle, cutting the meadows and cultivating fields. They then practiced what is called transhumance or remuage : in the winter, the cows were in the village and in the summer, they are led to the mayens.

  Map of La Combaz-Cuimey


For work carried out in common such as road and path maintenance and cleaning of villages, a day of chores ( corvées ) was organized, a term used to refer to these tasks, mandatory for all except the elderly and small children.

The bisses( canals ) had a very important role. Water could be drawn from these canals for the fields, according to a well defined programme. Woe to anyone who exceeded the allotted time !

The farmers followed the course of the water in the bisse, which had been cleaned and prepared in advance. Arriving at the meadow, they channelled the water of the bisse and carefully irrigated the plot, with the watering time carefully counted. Then another landowner took over and so on until the evening.

Formerly, the famers went out to cut the fields at dawn to avoid the heat. After scything down a certain area, they would stop, standing straight with the scythe upright, and gather a tuft of grass to wipe the blade. They then would take the whetstone in the covi and carefully sharpen the scythe, dragging the stone on both sides of the blade several times, in a regular gesture. In the evening, the scythe was the subject of more intense care. It was placed on the anvil and tapped with a small hammer. The farmer sat on a bench, holding the scythe parallel to him, the handle resting at the back, on a wooden support. The front of the bench was topped with a wooden vise, operated with the foot, to open or close. The blade of the scythe was brought to the vise and compressed bit by bit along its length so that all its rough edges are corrected and that the blade becomes perfectly smooth. The scythe was thus made ready for a new day. This farming life was perpetuated until the 1960s.