The taste of coffee still present on the palate, the JHP team embarks probes, spades, crane and hoist in the 4×4s and takes the road to the Brière marshes. The weather decides to discourage them that Monday. Soaked by the rain, frozen cold by the wind, the cutlers nevertheless keep going. Why? Each in their own way explain it to us in a few lines. Their eyes shine when they tell of their achievements. Sometimes smiling, sometimes emotional, they all delight in the struggle, in surpassing themselves, in the love of the wood, the Morta, and the pleasure of a reward extracted at the price of pugnacity and tenacity. Where does their mental strength come from ? All agree, without consulting each other, on team cohesion, mutual aid and the joy of working together.
Jean-Henri: a day extracting Morta
I have always dreamed of having our customers and visitors take part in our expeditions to extract the Morta. Sharing the sensation of effort when the probe refuses to push into the ground. Describing the weariness when we have to start again every 30 cm. I would so like people to feel our emotions; the spade that hits a clod and forces us to increase the pressure so that it finally and reluctantly agrees to push through into this black treacle of peat, earth and roots.
But I’d also like to share this feeling of hope when we see a glimpse of Morta trunk. The disappointment when it obstinately refuse to come out or the immense relief when finally, under the traction of the hoist, it capitulates.
This Monday all these sensations are multiplied because of the awful weather conditions. They have forced us to work soaked to the bone, with frozen hands and low spirits. At the end of the day, when the task is finally accomplished, the smiles reappear as if by magic.
Maelle : together in the same boat
Although she smiles as she talks.
This extraction day will stay with me. Recent to the team, I’ve only done 3 or 4 of them, but this one…
During these outings in the Brière marshes, you find the same joyous mood as what you find in the workshop. Except that here, we’re sharing the mess. Very trying exercise physically, it gives me the impression of contributing less than my colleagues. They refuse to let me talk like that. We all have our role, they say, no matter the size of our muscles. So I start digging, with difficulty. But when my spade meets some resistance, I feel a light bulb go off in my head. No way am I giving up and giving way to something stronger than me. I’m going to finish this, at all costs. I surpass myself. I remove the clods, I dig into the peat, again and again. And finally I discover it. It’s there, lying at my feet. Modest, it measures about 5 metres. So a small size for a Morta trunk. Never mind, it’s really there! I’ve found one!
Afterwards, I go and help the other groups. That’s what an extraction day is like: never alone, we share the difficulties, the rain (the word of a native of Finistère). You have to live it to understand it..
🔪🌳 Want to tell you about team cohesion but there are also so many other things to say.
Charlotte : we’ll get it, by hook or by crook
Her eyes shine when she evokes this Monday.
This extraction day? Ah! In the morning, we set off motivated, we load the 4×4s, it’s nice. But very quickly the wind picks up, the rain soaks us to our very soul. Never mind! We’re there to fight, to hunt for treasure. In fact, the hardest thing is the probing. With the heat wave summer, the soil is so dry… But when you know it’s there in the ground, you forget the pain and you continue digging. Precision is crucial when filling in the holes and restoring everything to its original state. No traces of our passage must remain. It’s a matter of respect for nature. Unthinkable for us to spoil the landscape.
On that Monday, I was lucky enough to be part of the team that found the largest trunk. We finished by hand, scraping the thick slimy peat. Lying in the mud, we cleared the trunk to be able to pass the straps underneath it. And when the hoist lifted this enormous Morta, we told ourselves: “It’s done!”. I’m from Brière so you can imagine! How proud I am to work this material on this land.
🔪🌳 Define this day in 3 words? Team cohesion, intensity, effort, and happiness. That’s 4 words, but they’re worth it.
Alex: we are never idle
In telling his adventure, he lives it.
An extraction day for me is about team building. Driven by motivation, we leave the workshop heading to the Brière marshes. It rained a lot that day. It doesn’t really make the work more complicated, but a lot less comfortable. The peat is humid (us too), it sticks to the spade, making it heavier.
As soon as the probe hits something solid, I know we’re in luck. Yes! A trunk of 12 metres and some 50 cm in Ø awaits me. I stayed focused on it the whole day. Otherwise, once you finish with your trunk you go and help the others. But this one took us a lot of time. The ground is hard, very hard. The spade has trouble digging into the soil. But when we install the crane and the hoist we the know the end is near and we’ve won the battle. We needed 3 battens to get to the end of this one. That’s fine, it makes the reward sweeter.
At the same time, we start filling in. It’s a safety measure in case it decides to fall back into the hole. . That’s already happened, you know. There you see hours of effort come to nothing at the bottom of the hole.
Last worry: will the 4×4 be powerful enough to extract this mammoth trunk? Suspense! Sometimes you just need an outgrowth to complicate the task for us.
🔪🌳 An extraction day strengthens the team spirit, boosts the motivation and makes us profoundly happy.
Antoine : our fatigue reflects our efforts
The words have trouble coming out and yet.
Sporty : that’s how I qualify an extraction day. This Monday was very hard. The ferocious changing weather inflicted gusts of rain and cold wind on us. Fortunately, the sunshine returned at the end of the afternoon.
In fact, the tougher it is the healthier the fatigue and the happier I am. Because this exhaustion proves my efforts. There is something authentic and pleasant about fetching material that can’t be found anywhere else in its natural surroundings. Why? Because working hard to uproot the Morta from the land really teaches us where it comes from.
🔪🌳 A day like this, it’s the team spirit, the satisfaction and pride in yourself. For an introvert like me, believe me, it’s really nice. Hard, but nice.
Manon : between the intense ordeal and the calm of nature
Love of the wood in the voice.
Setting off for extraction, it’s the intensity of the effort in a magnificent and calm place. You’re looking for something that comes out of nowhere and yet it has an incredible value. Whenever the probe informs us of the presence of a trunk, I feel emotional. I create a window, I dig a hole and there I discover, by dint of a struggle and pain, the strata inside the land. And little by little, we start to see the Morta. We perceive it in all its splendour. On that day it was long and thin.
To be absolutely honest, a day like that is very tough psychologically, because it’s physical and uncomfortable. We hold up mentally, through the team’s morale.
I am basically a cabinetmaker, so of course I am very mindful of wood. I have worked on almost all species, but this one…
Morta is dense, its fibres constricted, it offers beautiful finishes and I like to feel its weight in my hand. This wood is historic by its value and nobility.
🔪🌳 Two words? Let’s see: morally nerve-racking, but profoundly satisfying (that’s 4, or does it count for two? 🤔)
Aymeric : the probe is a real hassle
The cheerful tone shows his pleasure and pride.
The probe is a real hassle! This is the most complicated task. When you start running a race, you know the distance to cover, but here? What speed, what stride do you use? We have no idea. This Monday we have rain, wind and the storm. We’re dripping. Our hands are slipping on the handle of the spade. But you know what? We’re all smiling, well, in the evening at least. When the sun returns in the afternoon, bursts of laughter resound in the Brière marshes.
True happiness is when we hit something that stops the probe. So we work methodically. There’s no question of digging for nothing. Too hard! The best moment (so that makes 2 😉) is when we finished with the shovel and spade and we discover the trunk. On that Monday it measured 13 metres long. Crane, hoist, always the same manoeuvres. Usually we cut that kind of length. But this time we took on the challenge of extracting it whole. “You won’t succeed” Jean-Henri shouts. Well yes! We did it! We got him! Not Jean-Henri, the trunk…
Afterwards you have to wait 2 or 3 years to really know what’s in the core, that’s a long time, we get impatient. The iron and silica contained in the peat give it its black colour. It doesn’t change but its density can evolve with the drying.
🔪🌳 It’s impossible to have low morale during extraction. We help and motivate each other and we carry on.
Pierre : the team and the material, alone for a return to our roots
His eyes are lost in his thoughts.
That Monday I wasn’t in on it, but I’ve known other extraction days. It’s the moment I prefer, a break in the cutler’s life. You leave the workshop and find yourself alone: the team and the raw material for a return to our roots. We confront the scope of the land, the environment in which the Morta fossilized. I have worked with almost all woods, but Morta remains apart, incomparable! They say it’s dead when it is still living! It is beautiful and complex to work on. It’s the selection that brings the thing alive. Crafting wood is noble gesture, a quest for perfection. First, we choose the planks, then the pieces. The most black and dense and the less porous. Cold to the touch, the odour also tells us about the humidity. The weight and colour reflect the density.
🔪🌳 Personally, after an extraction day, I feel gratitude, respect and love for good trade practice.
And as is often the case, it’s those with the least to say who do the most.
If you want more details, we’ll welcome you with pleasure around a good coffee at our workshop-store in Saint-André des Eaux.
Discover our collections of knives, just to see what we make of this famous Morta anyway !