My farm life chapter 8

My farm life when I was young.

This is how we would plough the fields when I was young, it was hard work. 

This is a very old way how we would extract the wheat from the straws and chaffs, it was hard work and it took a very long time  

Dear readers, in order to give you a better picture of what life was like in the farms of my native town of Genzano when I was young, I need also to tell you about the town itself, then the ways of how people used to live 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 at the present time while I am writing this article, the town of Genzano has 6200 inhabitant or there about.
The town of Genzano is known as Genzano di Lucania in order to distinguish it from Genzano di Roma. Anyhow this Genzano di Lucania 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 mostly used to grow wheat, especially durum wheat; the rest of the land is used to grow grapes vines or olive trees and other farm produce, and there are also reserves or grazing land; as anyone can see from what I have said, 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.
As I have already mentioned above, 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 they had to practice mixed farming for their own needs, which I will try to explain how the farms run at those times when I was young.
Let me explain how the farms were run
Let me explain how the farms were run until the fifties, when things started to change.
When I was young during the fifties 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 dear reader, I will have to describe the different way of how the land was used in the old days, and 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 also a variety of produce, for this reason mixed farming was required, because it was the only way to produce all this variety of foods that were required, in order to feed the animals and for other reasons as well, in the old days the sowing fields had to be divided into a three-year-rotation, not only to achieve these variety of foods, but it was also necessary to rotate the fields then in order to keep them producing, otherwise the soil would become tired and produce very little, in other words if we would continue to use the fields every year they would produce next to nothing and therefore it was not worth working them, for this reason our forbear had devised this three year rotation, which worked thus;
One year a field would be fallow land and it would not be used at all, or used very little growing broad beans or something like that, 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 again. 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 and perhaps praying God 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 around.
For all the work that 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, which sounds very bad these days, but then when there was nothing better that one could do, even this hard and unpleasant way of life would do, as long as one could live a healthy life; perhaps living a healthy life was the only thing that we could achieve easily then, because the air was healthier in the country, the life was very boring but at the same time it was not stressful compared to living in the towns,  and if there was any complain about a stench that came from the farm animals, it was something that would not harm anybody, it is only natural that all animals smell of something.

The human side of farming
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 workers he 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.
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 the first time, 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. (Now just to make it clear to our readers during my life, I have read many books and every now and then whenever I have been able to I have tried to continue to study; and even though I have not been to college, I have studied and done some courses in building and quantity surveying. But now let me go back to my farm life story.)
Now you can imagine how I felt in the farm when I was young; I was perhaps the youngest boy around for miles so to speak, 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 one becomes aware of the need to be social and friendly with people, otherwise one would become shy and withdrawn.
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. I needed a break more that everybody else, but it was not to be, because I was needed to help in the farm, so I ended up working in the family farm and so I became more isolated that ever.
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 be 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.
Now that I have explained the ways of life in the farms of those days, mentally I am going over the farm life of my ancestors, who had lived the same hard life as I did and they did not lament about it because they did not know better; and then I think about what it would be the farm life like today compared to old times; you see I want to compare all those things together, just to have a clear picture of what is happening. By comparing the farm life of these generations, I have come to the conclusion that I and those youths that as me ended up working in the farms when we were young, we were the last unlucky ones, because today even if a young man ends up working in the farms, they start when they are older and they cannot be as lonely as we were, because today they can have the company of electronic devices, like the radio and the mobile phones, so one can always keep in touch with the rest of the community.
I think that I have said enough in this article, so see you in my next article where I will tell you a bit more about my farm life. See you there.


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