Sunday, October 20, 2013

Compare farming part 2

Welcome to our blog, Genzano it story
and our post, Compare farming part 2

When I was young there were already in use this harvesters they were horse drawn devises that would cut the wheat and tie it in bundles.

This is the very old way of harvesting fields of wheat a man with a sickle, you needed a gang of man to harvest a small field.

Harvesting the very old way

This link above is the link to our hub pages, where this article has more photos to see. 
Dear readers, this post is the continuation of our last post Compare farming, so you need to read our last post first, in order to follow what we are saying here; you see we would like to compare the old ways of farming with today farming, therefore, we need to say at least briefly how harvesting wheat was done the old ways; here we need to say also that I have personally witnessed the last part of this old practice when I was young. You see, when I was young we were already using a horse drawn harvester, and it was very helpful; but there were people that had some very small holdings and we had one of these ourselves, so we had to use the old ways of harvesting our wheat for that small wheat field, because that was the only way to do it, as it was hard or almost impossible to take any machines there for one reason or another.
So, let me describe how harvesting was done in those old bygone days; at harvesting time strange as it may seem today, one could hire some specialized people that were good at using the sickle, these people usually went from town to town to do this seasonal harvesting job; here we need also to explain that in Southern Italy because the terrain has different altitude the wheat reaches maturity at different times, this geographic position was helping these seasonal workers to have a longer span of work, so they would go from town to town until the harvesting season would finish completely. Now just to compare those very hard times with today times, I have to tell you that these workers were sleeping anywhere they could on a sack filled up with straws under a shelter if they could find one, as they could not afford anything else. In the morning if they had already been hired they would get up early and go where they had to go to work, if not they would wait in the town square hoping that somebody would hire them for the day. 
Now let us say that we had a small plot about one acre and we could not use the harvester of those time, because it was not possible to go there, we would then hire four people and form a gang that could harvest one acre in one day and collect it in hips that would be later on taken on a cart to the farm house to be threshed one way or another.
In the old times anything that had grown in the field was collected, it needed to be collected for the people to survive, it was the only way because the fields did not produce as much as they do today, because they could not be cultivated as good as we do today.
Now I suppose I have to say briefly how the older generations used to thresh their harvests, in order to collect all their produce. Now, let us suppose that it was only a few bundles of wheat to be threshed one could even extract the wheat by hitting them with a stick, but let us say that we had a cartful, or many cartfuls for that matter, then we had to use a different method, which is the way that most farm used in the very old times for centuries, so let me tell you how it was done.
I happen to know this procedure, because in the farms when I was young we were still using this method with smaller crops most likely broad beans, lentils, chick peas, linseed, and other farm produce, and the elder would always be telling us that this was the way that they used to collect their wheat as well and usually it took them a few months to collect all the season produce. So now let me describe this to you, so that we would be able to compare the great difference.
In order to do this, first of all we needed to prepare a piece of ground that is very solid and smooth, this could be achieved by stripping the old dry grass on a piece of land that had a large clay content, then wet it with a little bit of water to make it compact; once that was ready we would place our wheat or whatever was to be threshed and collected on this clean ground, then we would get our horses mule and donkeys whatever animals were available and drive them around and around until everything was threshed. Of course there was a lot more to say, but let us make it short otherwise it would become too boring.
Now, once the threshing was done we has to separate the produce from the straw and any other foreign matter, this was achieved by removing the straws from the top layer making sure that no produce was left with the straws, at the same time we would collect the bottom layer in a hip, once that was done we would have to clean that produce by using the wind, to take away the finer parts that were still mixed with the wheat or whatever it was, and there were many other things that we could use to get this wheat clean, by the end of the day we could have collected two or three hundred kilograms of produce.
In the very ancient times was even worse, see what they were using in the Medieval Times, here is a link to check out some ancient farm tools including the Flail and Winnowing Basket used to collect and clean wheat.  
I hope that this gives the modern reader a view of how thing were done in the old times, so I do not want to say much more about how all this threshing and cleaning of the wheat was done, because even writing about it is boring today, but anyhow it needed to be done in those days, because that was the only way to collect our wheat to make bread and other things. Now, my dear reader’s do you see how hard was then even to collect wheat for ourselves.
I hope I have been able to write something that really sets up the great difference of the ways of life that we were living then and the ways of life that we are living now, for this I want you to compare and judge for yourself how much better off we are today.
To the young people who think that today life is hard, let me describe to you what I have witnessed when I was young, because then life really was harder then today, you see those days everybody had to find how to earn enough to feed themselves there were no handover from the government. So, the very poor people of those days were trying to collect anything they could to feed themselves.
So at harvest time this is what I have witnessed, I have seen old and poor people mainly old ladies go around the fields and pick up any ear of wheat that was left behind in the fields, one ear of wheat here  and anther there until they had the strength, each day until harvest time was over and there was nothing else to collect; and I tell you what these poor people were happy if in the end they had collected enough ears of wheat that they could trash and clean themselves, perhaps they could have collected enough to make 50 to 100 kilos of wheat during harvest time and they were happy because, they could make bread from this wheat and not go hungry for a few months.
Now I hope that you see what I mean when I say that the youths of today don’t know anything about hard times?
 Genzano it story
Compare farming part 2
Next time with, a different story
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