ACTIVITIES OF THE PAST
Fénis, like the majority of Val D’Aostan towns and villages, was made up of farming communities until the second half of the last century. Countrymen’s work was not specialized, but rather, comprised a variety of activities undertaken throughout the year, following the natural cycle of the seasons.
In the town itself there were various “latterie turnarie”, places where the farmers brought any exceeding milk to be transformed into Fontina, Val d’Aostan Toma and butter. The “latterie turnarie” were so called because members of the community received their portion of such products, based on the amount of milk they had submitted, in turns.
During the summer months the farmers devoted themselves to harvesting forage for feeding the livestock in the winter. Grass was cut with a scythe – which, to be effective, had to be beaten daily and sharpened on an abrasive stone. The hay, gathered into bales (balon) was carried on the farmers’ backs into the haylofts, usually to be found near the stables. Another very demanding kind of work were the harvesting of cereals, the subsequent threshing and the storage of hay for people and newborn calves bedding, etcetera.
In the Autumn, everybody was busy with grape and other fruits harvesting, such as pears, apples, chestnuts and nuts. Potatoes, usually grown in the middle-slope, were dug up with a hoe. Part of the harvest was then stored away in special holes (crot di tartifle) for the following year’s planting, the rest taken into the valley for consumption.