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Welcome to my blog, Genzano it story
and this post, Farm life in my youth
Dear readers, here we are still
talking about Genzano di Lucania, and in order to give you a better picture of
what life was like in the farms of Genzano when I was young, I need also to
tell you about the town itself and what was happening at the time when I was
young, so, let me talk about the town and the population first:
The town of Genzano di Lucania
early in the twentieth century had reached a population of about 7,000
inhabitants, in the forties when I was young the population had grown to about
8,000 and reached 8,389 in 1951 inhabitants, and this is the highest number of
people on record that I know of, because in the seventies it had shrunk to only
5,500 inhabitant or there about, because lots of people had to emigrate. The
reasons that they had to emigrate will be fully understood, when I explain what
happened to the rural community of this town including myself. Today the town
of Genzano has 6200 inhabitant or there about.
The town of Genzano has a
territory of about 21,000 Hectares of land if I remember right, and about 80%
of this land is arable land, and it is used to grow wheat; the rest is reserves
or grazing land; so this town owes its wealth to the rural community, because
this town is well known to produce lots of very high quality durum wheat, which
the mills that make pasta rush to buy it when it’s harvest time.
There are lots of other produce
from the farms also, because we used to have mixed farming, but these produce
are used locally, and if some of them ore sold out of the town, they are not a
great deal to make any difference.
At the time when I was young
there were lots of small farms in Genzano, and although the most important and
the largest crop that brought in the money was durum wheat, in reality we had
to practice mixed farming for our own needs, which I will try to explain
Let me explain how the farms were
As I have already said, when I
was young we used to have mixed farming, today mixed farming is practiced to a
much less extend, and I will try to explain the reasons why this has happened.
But in order to make it clear to you my dear reader, I will have to describe
the different way of how the land was used in the old days, and then how it is
used nowadays: In the old days to till the soil people used to do it by hand
hoeing, or by ploughing the fields with horse power or other strong animals.
Therefore there was a need for a lot of people to be fed to work the fields,
and there were a lot of animals also to be fed in order to work the fields. So,
this need to feed so many mouths required a lot of produce and a variety of
produce, therefore mixed farming was the only way to produce all this variety
of foods required; In order to achieve this variety of foods requirements and
for other reasons, in the old days the sowing fields had to be divided into a
three-year-rotation, of course it was also necessary then to rotate the fields
in order to keep them producing.
So one year a field would be
fallow land and it would be used very little, then the next year it would be
sown with durum wheat, and the year after that the same field would be sown
with oats or barley, or other light seeds, and the year after that to fallow
land. So, in realty there was only one third of the land producing durum wheat
each year. When I was young a lot of people used to work in those farms, and it
was hard physical work at a certain time of the year, and there was no much
money to be made, with the exception of every now and then when we had a good
harvest; but when the harvest was lean everybody would suffer, and all one
could do was to start all over again for another year, and so, one would be
hoping for a better harvest next year.
There were too many years of lean
harvest when I was young, some average and only a very few years we had good
harvest. But somehow people kept going on, and they were so used to poverty
that they seemed to be happy just the same, because they did not know of a
better life. But one has to keep in mind that the main harvest is only once a
year, and one year is a very long time when there is not enough money to go
In order to show you what I mean
I will make an example of myself, you see, for all the work which I did in the
farm in my youth, I earned almost nothing, but I was able to eat plain
wholesome food, and buy a few cheap cloths to keep warm in winter; well it was
something but it was not much.
Now let me go back to my own life
in the farm, and my experience as a young boy.
At the time when I was young in Genzano
every family had a dwelling in town, no matter to which group of people or
families one belonged, we all had a home in town even if it was only a room or
a few rooms in order to live-in in the town itself. But the farmers’ families
not only had a home in town like everybody else, where their women folks
elderly people and children lived; but most of the farmers had also a rustic
farm building in the fields, where the farmer would keep his animals, and with
the help of his workers if he had any would work his fields from there. The
farmers’ children specially those that were to become farmers one day would
start working in the farm very early in life, or as soon as they would finish
their compulsory schooling years; and before the second world war year 5 was
the minimum standard of teaching.
Now, some of the youths whose
families were better off financially would start to help in the farm only
during summer for a year or two, and then as they became older they would start
staying in the farm full time the whole year. But I wasn’t that lucky and at
the time when I left school, I was only 10 years old and I was going to be 11
years old during that year, when I had to start full time for the whole year in
the farm. At that time young boys were only required to attend school up to
grade 5, and I had already done so, so I went to help in our family farm full
time. Then a few years later the schooling laws changed, and all the youths had
to attend school up to grade 8, or be at least 14 years old to leave school.
So, I and a few other boys of my same age were the last of the little educated
youths of those times. So you should understand that the rest of my education I
had to do it all by myself later in life.
Now you can imagine how I felt in
the farm; I was perhaps the youngest boy around for miles, and I was of that
age when young boys like me would start thinking and also wandering about how
best one could find a way into society, because at that age one becomes aware
of a lot of new things so to speak.
This new way of living in the
farms was very hard especially for me, because, since the great loss of my
father, my family according to customs had lived a life withdrawn from society;
so, now that we were all over that period of grief that any family can have, I felt
that somehow I was a bit more withdrawn that the other boys of the same age. So
I needed a break more that everybody else, but it was not to be, because I
ended up working in the farm and so I became more isolated that ever.
Therefore, my helping (working)
in the family farm when I was young was no good for me socially, since there is
nothing to learn socially in the farm except farm things, which in the end they
might even put to good use, but only from those persons that would be able to
practice farming during their whole life time.
Farming life of those days was so
hard and boring, especially for me at that particular time of my life when I
was young. So, nowadays when I think about it, it makes me feel so hurt and
unhappy and I ask myself why this had to happen to me, and I feel so hurt that
I would like to tell you a story beginning with, ‘When I was young’ just to
show you how much harder life was then compared with today’s ways of life.