The casería is the common name in Asturias for a farmstead. In most usage, it denotes the farmhouse, along with all assorted other buildings and spaces, such as the antoxana, hórreo, cuadra, tool sheds, wood sheds, etc... It forms a single unit of agricultural production, residence, consumption, use, and storage. Also included are the associated orchards, fields, meadows, pastures, and communal land rights. The term does not describe a single unit of land with one boundary, but instead the functional areas making up a whole farm. The immediate area around the farmhouse formed by the closest buildings and land is (or at least was) called the quintana. The space within the quintana directly in front of the door to the house, and usually surrounded by the most important buildings is the antoxana. Often these words are used interchangeably, and most people would understand them as synonyms.
The rest of the farm — the fields and pastures for instance — are connected to the main house area, and each other, by farm roads (caminos) and walking paths (caleyas).
Originally a medieval unit of farm land, owned by a noble or the church, the casería became owned directly by the peasants during the 16th century, whereas earlier they had been tenant farmers, and even earlier, they too were owned directly by the privileged classes.
Traditionally the inhabitants of a caserío would be a married couple, their parents, and their children. One of the children could marry "pa la casa" - for the house. The other children would receive some compensation before leaving, or remain to help on the farm. Laws existed at least from 1781 to stop further subdivision of caserías. This system of mayorazgo inheritance lived on longer in western Asturias - centuries after it was enforceable law.
Many small villages (aldeas) grew out of a consequence of this remaining after marrying. The children who did not inherit the house might then go on to build their own near, or joined to, the original house.
Asturian Customary Law
According to the customary laws of Asturias, collected and codified in 2007, a casería is:
an economic and family-farm unit made up of dissociated elements, both in terms of their nature —house, antoxana , adjoining buildings and complementary constructions, hórreos or paneras, orchards, land, meadows, mountains, trees, animals, machinery and tools, farming and exploitation rights in communal property—, as well as its property system —private, leased or sharecropping—, its dispersed location and its destination or use —cultivation, harvesting, pasture—, which form a set agricultural unit capable of supporting a peasant family, without prejudice to the latter having other complementary sources of income.
Common Parts of the Casería
A casería usually encompasses the following buildings and spaces:
- a farmhouse - usually of two floors, and containing an attic and/or a corredor; a (sometimes enclosed) windowed porch used to dry fruits, hang corn, or put out the washing.
- an antoxana or quintana, a walled or fenced patio immediately outside the front door of the house.
- an hórreo or panera - a granary and storehouse for dried foods, designed to guard against humidity and rodents. Commonly the space below the hórreo is used to store farm implements and larger tools.
- a stable (cuadra) (with or without a hayloft (payar)).
- an apple orchard (pumarada) and possibly other orchards.
- one or more vegetable gardens (huerto or güertu), normally placed close to the house, and planted with the various fruits and vegetables the family eats daily.
- one or more fields (güerta or tierres) - Large fields planted with what we would call "field crops" in English: beans, cereals, potatoes, etc...
- one or more pastures (praos) - for grazing livestock.
- one or more corras - a low stone wall, roughly circular where gathered chestnuts still in their shells are stored before processing.
- Other various outbuildings - hen houses, rabbit hutches, etc...
- Gómez Pellón, Eloy. “La Casería Asturiana: Estructura de la unidad de expltación agraria.” Enciclopedia de la Asturias Popular, 1st ed., vol. 3, La Voz de Asturias, 1994, pp. 1–16.
- Rodríguez Muñoz, Javier. Diccionario histórico de Asturias. pp 211. 1st ed., Editorial Prensa Asturiana : La Nueva España, 2002.
- Fernández Benítez, Vicente. Trabayar pa comer: producción y alimentación na Asturies tradicional - Tomo I (Asturiano). pp 37. Fundación Municipal de Cultura, Educación y Universidá Popular, 2002.
- Quintana, La - Diccionario General De La Lengua Asturiana (DGLA). mas.lne.es/diccionario/palabra/61778.
- Antoxana, L’ - Diccionario General De La Lengua Asturiana (DGLA). mas.lne.es/diccionario/palabra/37357.
- Mases, JoséAntonio. “La Casa Campesina.” Enciclopedia de la Asturias Popular, 1st ed., vol. 1, La Voz de Asturias, 1994, pp. 33–64. Eating Asturias.
- La Comisión Especial de Derecho Consuetudinario Asturiano. “Dictamen de la Comisión Especial de Derecho Consuetudinario Asturiano (06/0177/0001/00390).” Junta General del Principado de Asturias, vol. VI Legislatura, 455, 9 Mar. 2007, p. 48.
- See also this short article on the difference between a huerto and a huerta.
- Vila Díez, Sara. La Huerta Ecológica Asturiana. 1a ed, Glayiu, 2013.