Lemko farmstead


   In the Lemko dialect there was no such a word as "farmstead", but the word "obiystsia" had a similar meaning, even though it included all physical structures and the adjoining land, which were fenced in with hedges of "koziarky" or "dranky". 1

   The size of "obiystsia" varied, but was rarely less than 0.5 acre. In the Lemko dialect all the structures were referred to as a house, so called "khyzha", even if it consisted of two or three separate buildings. "Khyzha" referred to the living quarters as well as the kitchen which did not have another name. The living quarters consisted of the kitchen, "komora" (room for the sick, elderly, recently married offspring), hallway, "komirka" (small utility room), a combination living room/bedroom, so called "izdebka" (which was also known as "svitlitsa"), and "kunata" (pantry). The house also had a big stove with a chimney, which was used for baking bread and cooking meals. In the corner, right behind the main entrance, stood a bed, beyond it a table and then the second bed, "misnick" (cupboard), benches and stools. Icons and also frequently a wall clock adorned the house. The "komora" usually held one or two beds, an upright heater made of stones, a table, benches and chairs.

   The entry hall was empty, since it served as an access to four sets of doors, and by ladder or a convenient set of stairs, as an entry point to the attic. The small utility room ("komirka") held two or three barrels of sauerkraut, a hand mill, "zvaliaren"2 and a hand rail for old work clothing and burlap sacks. "Izdebka" was the largest part of the house that went unheated. It contained one or two beds, a clothes closet, a chest to store Sunday clothes, a table and a few benches. "Kunata" was entered from "izdebka", it had no glazed windows, but just an opening that had iron bars over it. Chests held grain for bread, "boroshno" (flour and meal), cheese made from sheep’s milk (so called "bryndza"), butter, a salted slab of fat, dried fruits, mushrooms and even honey, if the family was involved in bee keeping. The only food that was not kept under lock and key was bread, it was eaten, mainly by children, at anytime.

   The next individual structure — a stable for cattle ("stainia"), a small stable ("staienka") also known as "koniarka" for the horses, "boisko" (threshing area), a "prichilok" (storage area for hay, straw, dried out clover), "plantro"3 and the rest of the attic where the hay and straw stored.

   "Pelevnik" was for storage of chaff, chopped straw and other fodder. Additions to the stable or barn consisted of "koleshnia" (also known as "vozivnia") for the storage of farm implements, pigsties, coops for chicken, geese and ducks. Sometimes a third structure was built, so called "shpikhleer" (granary) as a repository for grain. Usually under the "shpikhleer" there was a cellar for storage of potatoes, turnips and beets.

   In the corner of the front yard there was an obligatory spot for a water well. Typically the whole area had an orchard planted around it, which was inaccessible to animals. There was also a small garden plot for vegetables. A fenced-in alley without any swinging doors ("firtka") or gates led from the road to the front yard. This is a discription of a Lemko farmstead [of an above average farmer] in the areas near Grybiv and Krynitsia.

1 "koziarky" or "dranky" - cleared branches of fair or spruce, or split planks of fair wood

2 a wooden laundry barrel with drain, in which water mixed with ashes was heated by hot stones. See related story "Girl washes clothes" (51eng.html)

3 Plantro - structure above "boisko", holds threshed sheaves

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Copyright © 1997 Jon W. Madzelan
This Home Page was created on Tuesday, June 17, 1997
Most recent revision Saturday, February 21, 1998