Please come and visit my little Putz farm. The word "putz" is from the German "putzen" for "to decorate, especially to adorn a church." Originally, the putz consisted of wooden, clay, or tin figures arranged to depict the Nativity, which explains why there are so many and such a variety of animals.
I was fortunate to acquire this wonderful toy barn recently. Although I believe it to be a German toy, circa 1900, it is not a Putz building. In 1:18 or 3/4" scale, it is hand painted to resemble stuccoed bricks or stone and wood. The stable is on one side, and the living quarters with hay mow above is on the other.
I saw many farm houses with attached barns while driving through Germany and Austria a few years ago.
This type of farmhouse first emerged in the Middle Ages and was built using timber framing and/or stone. It is an 'all-in-one' house (Einhaus) with living quarters and livestock stalls under one roof. This rural type of farmstead still forms part of the scene in many villages in the central and southern areas of Germany. It is a very clever idea in a cold climate as the warmth from the animals helped to heat the house.
In my German toy barn, there is a small entry door with painted latch and hinges, and a charming shuttered window with a bench underneath on the living quarters of the barn.
This swings open in one large door to reveal the interior.
The blue painted peasant furniture came with the house. I believe the paper trim along the floor and the ceiling is original to the house. It has the decorating look from the right period.
I couldn't say whether the furniture is as old as the barn, but the style and scale are just perfect, so I am guessing they are.
The door into the hay mow doesn't open, but I feel the mow would make a perfect sleeping loft if it was accessible.
These farmhouse/barns were not limited to Germany and Austria. When my ancestors emigrated from England to Canada in 1850, their first home on their backwoods farm was a combination barn/house. Unlike this one, my ancestors kept the animals on the ground floor level and lived on the floor above. The heat from the animals rose and helped keep the family warm during their first few Canadian winters. The bedrooms were open sleeping lofts above the living quarters. Again, for warmth from below. I was lucky enough to visit the farm that my ancestors built so long ago. I toured the lovely red brick Ontario farmhouse, built once they could afford it. For over a century there has been a magnificent traditional barn on the property. Both are beautiful, but I must say I was more interested in the first building - the barn/house - still standing and quaintly decorated as an artist studio. It fired my imagination, and gave me a glimpse into my Great-great-grandmother's first taste of life in this new, uncharted country.
My antique stable did not come with animals, so I acquired some Putz animals to live in it. I think the majority of them are about 100 years old. Don't hesitate to correct me if you have some inside information. The dolls are from my collection of painted bisque costume dolls.
Little Johnny has dropped his bucket of milk. Mother waits for him by the door on the house side of the building. It seems she hasn't noticed yet. The chickens are curious, but dubious about cleaning up the mess.
Some of the animals had rough lives before they came to live with me. The three-legged dog is checking out the hornless bull. The dog might be saying, "I'm looking for the man who shot my paw."
Behind the barn the cows have gotten in to the hay field. Mother hasn't noticed that either. She is probably tired.
The horses are facing us instead of their mangers. Both are missing their tails, so they look better this way. Besides, who wants to look at a couple of horses' rear ends.
A stream runs through the farm, and the oldest sister, Juliet, is crossing the little Putz bridge on her way home from an assignation with the hired man. She has missed the milking. I am not sure she will want to talk to Mother, especially once mother sees the spilled milk.
Mother is calling to Jimmy to wash up for supper. Jimmy doesn't hear. He is congratulating his pet sheep on her new baby. They are both very proud.
"Go away, chickens!" cries Johnny! Oops, he is in trouble now. Mother has noticed the milk.
"Johnny, clean that up and then wash up for supper!" yells Mother. She knows that there is no use crying over spilled milk.
She is wondering how much mutton she can get from that sheep.
Juliet is wary of the big goose. It has chased her many times before and she has drawn its attention. Juliet is more afraid of the goose than she is of mother.
Oh, no, the donkeys have gotten into the load of hay!!
''Johnny," says Mother sharply. "Put the donkeys in the pasture and then finish cleaning up the milk."
Oh oh, the goat is eying the cow. That goat has a bad temper and it has never liked that cow.
It is just another bucolic day at the farm. Come and visit again. Maybe Father will be home from the fields then and Mother won't be so harried.
See you then!!
See more of Susan Hale's collection at Susan's Mini Homes here: http://susanshouses.blogspot.ca