A concrete slab is poured in the part of the building where the hay will be unloaded and taken away. The other parts of the building (the drying cells) will be paved with asphalt, as a cost-saving measure.
Everything is now ready to receive the wood framework.
Drying hay inside a building preserves its nutritional qualities: prolonged exposure to the sun is detrimental to vitamin conservation, and multiple tedding operations damage leafy plants such as alfalfa, which is the preferred forage for our dairy cows. What's more, hay needs to remain outside for much less time after mowing, so that a shorter interval of good weather is enough to harvest it, which is an important advantage for monks who are not full-time farmers and must observe liturgical feast days.
Warm air is collected under the steel roof of the drying barn and then blowed through the hay. Once dry, the hay can be stored for a long time, remaining green and highly palatable to the animals.
The work is now at the foundation stage. Despite the rather wet conditions, the building company is laying the concrete stringers that will support the building's framework.
Roofs are numerous and vast over a complex as large as the Abbey, and so the roofers are frequently at work on one building or another.
This year, we will have seen them working for more than eight months running to repair more than 1,300 m² of roofing on the monks' refectory building and on the "Andrieu" building, named after the Prior who restored the observance and temporal administration of the Abbey at the end of the 17th century.
The work is still in progress and will not be completed until the end of the calendar year.