Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Farming the old way

Welcome to our blog, Genzano it story
ant this post, farming the old way
This is similar harvester machine that we were using when I was young
This is a small trashing machine, compared to the trashing machine that we would hire to trash our wheat and other cereals.

Farming the old way

Dear readers, this post is the continuation of our previous post; farming today compared to the old way; in order to explain how farming was done at the time when I was young, what we are going to write here-under is the way of farm life that was going on then, we know that things have changed for the better since then, as we have already written in our previous post, because of the tractor and new farming machinery that have come out since then, all this progress has been due to the modern industrial progress, but when I was young these advanced machinery were not available yet, of course there were some, but they were a lot less advanced farming machine that could make farming easy, so we had to do most things the old ways, so let me tell you how life was in the farms of southern Italy in the early fifties and earlier.

It is a well-known fact that in those times and even now, there were/are two times during the year, when in the farms everybody would be really working hard and working very long hours; one of this was/is sowing time and the other is harvest time, let us start with sowing times. When I was young the working day at sowing time would start two hours before dawn, because we had to make the horses, mules and other animals ready for working in the fields, we had to feed them and water them as well, it had to be done in such a way that everything should be made ready in order to go into the fields at daybreak.

At that time of the year in the morning it would be very cold and there are lots of frosty days, so in the morning the outside temperature could be around zero or below, it is very hard then to harness the horses to the plough as everything one touches is so cold; but then when one gets going it is not so bad, because walking in the fields holding the plough in one hand and guiding the horses with the other hand is hard work and it makes one warm. This type of very hard work at sowing time goes on for about a month if the weather is good and perhaps it could be longer than a month. When the sowing is done then everything slows down again, but we had still to look after the farms’ animals and do other farming chores; see this article My farm life continues, in this hub, in a sub article we describe what we did after sowing our wheat and during the winter.

Anyhow, now that we have said what we did in the farms at sowing time, let us talk about harvest time, since this is the busiest time in the farms, because harvest time is when the farmers collect the fruits of their hard labour that they have done during the year, so there is no time to waste at harvest time, therefore this was and still is the most hectic time of the year for all the farmers, and it is a very worrying time too for the farmers as well, you see if something goes wrong all their work goes down the drain for the whole year, so to speak. Here we are talking about mostly how things were run in the farms when I was young.

Now let us say a few things about today farming, especially about wheat farming, because wheat is one of the main important produce that we need from farming, as we have already said at the beginning of this article. With wheat we make bread and pasta and other bakery products, therefore it is perhaps the most important farm produce that we use. So, let us compare what is changed in wheat farming since I was young:


Wheat harvest in the fifties

The following description is the way of wheat harvest time in the fifties when I was young. When I was young we had already a horse drawn harvester that was helping us, this early harvester was able to cut the wheat plants and tie them in bundles, so we were already half way down the track of progress, as this machine saved us a lot of work, because we did not have to harvest by hand. Anyhow, at this time of the year everybody in the farm works hard and for very long hours, it is very hot at this time of the year and everything is very dry. We get up very early in the morning, we get the horses ready for working by feeding them and watering them, then we harness the horses and set them to pull the harvester, and off we go in the fields for another day of hard work, if everything goes well, we might be able to go over a ten acre field just in one day with this harvester. The harvester needs two people to get it working, one drives the horses and another regulate the harvester, the harvester goes around the field and leaves these bundles of wheat or other cereal, whatever has been sown in the field. Now these bundles of wheat will be collected in hips around the field from other people as soon as possible, the hips of these bundles of wheat are made is such a way that if it rains the rain would run off easily, these hips of wheat will be collected later on when we finish with the harvester, perhaps in a week or two, we will go back to the fields with a cart to take everything on a special plot near the farm house, where the trashing machine will be hired and set.

When we collect and cart everything to the farm house, we work very long days, we get up before 4 am, but we have a break of two or three hours at lunchtime because it is too hot to do anything, then we go back to work and between real work and looking after the animals we finish at dusk around 8 pm, after that we only have to feed the horses: this sort of work goes on for more than a month and sometimes up to two months, with no breaks at all seven days a week. Everybody in the farm works to their maximum and they are very tired, they are also very worried about the possible fire hazard, and also of any thunder storms at this time of the year, since anyone of these happenings can destroy the whole crop, and a whole year of hard work could go up in smoke. So we all would be waiting for the trashing machine to come and finish our harvest.

When some famer did not have a lot of wheat to trash, they could use a place in common with other farmers, so that, the trashing machine would not have to be set several times. The trashing machine that were around and we would hire together with other farmers came with a large crew, because it was a much larger machine than the one shown in this post, it had a crew of about twenty people, it was a very interesting time when we were trashing our own wheat, oats, barley, etc. Because we were anxious to see how much wheat and other product we had made.    

Now there were many other things that I would be able to tell you, but I better not just to make it short; but here I would like to say that when one goes through these life experiences in the farm one knows that it is really hard life farming, but since this is the only way to grow these things for food, we the farmers keep working in our farms to feed the rest of the community.

So we feel that it would be right if the rest of the community should be thanking us for all the hard work that we have done, but it does not happen that way because, even when we are working our guts out, and while we are doing that we are becoming dull, the rest of the community does not care and they label us as dull people, just because we are farm people, but we did our part of hard work for our own benefit and also for the benefit of the entire town community.

This is how life was then in the small farms of Southern Italy. Now this town people attitude as I have said above, plus some very lean years when we hardly could survive and also because we had only a very small farm and it would have been hard to expand was one of the reasons why I migrated to Australia. But anyhow let us continue and describe how harvesting was done the very old way, so that we could compare it to today’s living.

Genzano it story
Farming the old way
Next time with, framing the very old way
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