La Moussiere is slowly dying and I’ve only just noticed. It’s not particularly sad, as everything in our world is doing the same thing at its own rate, but I was disappointed in myself for being so unobservant, so unfeeling. Its current state of health was brought to my attention by a photographic brief for the cover of a psychological thriller. It specified pictures of old, dilapidated farms and out buildings in a Northern European setting. As chance would have it, fulfilment of this brief entailed going out of our house into the lane, pointing my camera in any direction and pressing the shutter button. I have no reason to believe that my pictures will be the ones that the commissioning art director has in his mind, but they certainly opened my eyes.
A little more than eleven years ago we arrived here from a life in a huge city. This tiny hamlet was made up of two dairy farms, one beef farm, a small holding, the house we had bought, another ruin (now our current house) and eight souls – the two of us made it ten. Over the years we adapted to this total change of pace and found a new home. This winter, for the first time, the silence became deafening. The animals have gone, save for the dairy herd at the end of the lane. Two farmers have retired and the smallholding lies empty due to the death of the farmer and the subsequent departure of his wife to the bosom of her family, elsewhere.
Buildings that were old, yet fully practical, are now just old. Empty farm buildings have a slightly disturbing nature. The warmth, noise and steam of gentle creatures masks the harsh practicality of these structures, which are no more than holding pens leading to the slaughter house. This desolate feeling is even more apparent on a cold, grey day. I miss the noise of the animals and the farm machinery. What had become our bustling metropolis has fallen silent and we must now adapt to that.