Farm life continued 11
My farm life continued
Dear readers, if you have been following my life story and read my articles, you know that in my last article, we were telling you how bad I have felt during my entire life, because of the life that I had to live in our family farm when I was very young, and for that reason, I wrote an entire article to explain my personal situation, in that article that I wrote I have tried to break away from the pains that were in my heart, with the intention of turning those negative events of my life into a positive way of thinking; I have done that in our last article that I called, turn negative into positive, or Hello my world; I believe that just because I have done that I feel a bit better now, and I also hope that slowly I am going to be able to ignore that painful part of my life one day.
Now that I have done that, let me tell you more about my farm life when I was young, just for the record, because I believe that there is something that I have not told you yet and also because by telling you my entire life story, I might feel better knowing that somebody else knows my life story, you see a lot of people feel better when they tell their trouble to their friends. However, I don’t know how you my readers will feel about my life story, since it does not say anything important or useful to you my readers that you can use in your lives, except perhaps you might compare my somehow sad life story with your own life story.
Anyhow, let me review what I have done during my whole life starting from my first job in the farm with the intention of telling you the whole story of my life, of course I know that I have already told you some of my life story, but nevertheless I would like to tell you what I believe I have not told you yet, and if it happens that what I am going to write next you know already, then I would like to explain the reasons why I am writing my life story now, in a language that is not my mother tongue which happen to be Italian, but I am writing my life story in the English language, which I had to learn as a grown up, just because I migrated to Australia, so, English is my second language and for that reason it is harder for me to write my life story.
Anyhow, let me go back to my life story now; you see, I feel that I might be one of the few people left in the world that is willing to tell you the story of my life. I would like to tell you this life story about how the world was then when I was young, and what we did, so that a record could be kept even if it is going to be just a simple record of my own life, and some of the things I that I experienced then. What I would like to say here is that everything is changing so fast these days, but people don’t take the time to record those changes that occur, for this reason the old ways of life will soon be lost, because nobody is writing about them at all, but I believe that it is good to know how we used to live in the past, perhaps just to compare the past with the present ways of living. Speaking for myself, I could easily compare the ways of life that I have lived myself, to the ways of life that my forbears were telling me about themselves, and then to the ways of life that we are living today, which I should say that they are gradually changing more quickly all the time, hopefully for better times to come for all of us I hope. Anyhow, I believe that overall our standard of life is improving, as I am going to point out in one of our articles that we are going to call, Farming today compared to the old way, where we are trying to show you the great difference, about how we lived then, and how hard it was to earn a living then, compared to today ways of living, it is worth reading it if you want to understand the great difference, between today farming and the past.
Anyhow, I believe that if I continue to write about my farm life including some of the old practice that the old people used then, we would be able to compare them easily, even if some of those ways of life may seem strange or archaic to you today, it would still be a record of how people used to live then in their simple farm lives and the ways that I have seen it happen, so, I hope you are willing to follow me in my life journey that I will continue to write here, starting with my first job in the farm.
My first job on the farm
MY FIRST JOB IN THE FARM
Dear readers, I suppose that you would be wondering now, what a youth could do in the farm at the tender age of nearly eleven years old. Anyhow, since I told you how young I was then, I want to say here also, do not feel sorry for me for having lived my early life in the farm, because in those times it was the normal way of life that farming people used to live, and anyhow I was working in our family farm and not in a stranger farm, where people could be mean to you, so, it was not as bad as it sounds. For comparison sake I want to point out that even today there are people that are worse off than I was then; you see in the poor countries even today they not only start to work early in life, with a boss that pushes them to do more; but they also go hungry and thirsty, so, I say, think about them, before you think about me, and if any of you/us are in a position that can help, then try to help them in any ways possible for the good of those youths future life, sometimes even shaming those people that use this sort of slavery might help; you see to feel sorry for me now is useless because nothing can be done as it is in the past, but anyhow let me continue to tell you my life story and about my first job in our family farm, in southern Italy.
When I went to work in our small family farm in Southern Italy as a youth, I was going to turn eleven that year and the first job that I did was looking after a small flock of sheep, which included also a ram and a couple of goats; I had to do that job because the lad that my family had hired to look after the sheep left us suddenly, so, I had to replace him for a few months until we were able to sell the small flock of sheep. It was a very boring job to take the sheep out of the sheep-pen and into the fields to graze twice a day, I had to mind them that they would not graze in fields that didn’t belong to us, or fields which there was a crop still growing, I had to water them by driving then to a small creek also. I had to take them out early in the morning and then in the afternoon for a few hours each time, because this is how the sheep are grazed over there in summer times. Then when the town’s Fair was held we were able to sell the small herd of sheep, we had to sell them because it would cost us more to hire a youth to look after them than what we could earn from keeping them. Anyhow even though we sold our sheep I had to continue to stay in the farm helping with the other farm animals.
In order to be able to tell you what we did in the farms of those days, so that you can have a better idea, what sort of life I had to live in the farm when I was young, I will start by trying to describe you how a day in the farm was spend doing those farm chores, that seemed endless since they are repeated every day. Now to make it easier for me to tell you, I am going to start with those days when there was not much to do in the farm, because the hard work in the fields had already been done and all we had to do is look after the farm animals.
So, let me tell you first, about a day in wintertime, when all the main works of sowing had been done, and we were so to speak resting and waiting for better weather and longer days. Those were the days which we were mainly looking after the farms animals, but we also did some odd jobs around the farm, so, even in those days there were lots of things to do in the farm, but I am not going to tell you everything here, just because it would be complicated and I would like to keep this part as simple as possible; so, let me describe to you what we did in a winter day in the farm.
Winter days in the farm
This is how life was in the farms of Southern Italy in the early fifties; in the morning we would get up early usually just before dawn, as the days are short in winter, they are about 8 to 9 hours of sun light; so, as soon as we got up we would start doing our usual chores, we would start by feeding the horses and other farms animals, and we would also be grooming those animals, and at the same time we had to clean the stables as well, virtually we would collect all the manure that the horses and the other stable animals had made during the night before, we would load it on a strange devise like a field stretcher made of timber and wire, and then two of us would lift it and carry it to the manure heap, which was outside about 20 meters or so away from the building, at the same time we would still be grooming the horses with a hand brush, and at the same time we would continue to feed the horses and other farm animals, such as cows, pigs, chickens, and other animals with fresh serving of straw, oats, hay, grain, and whatever else was needed according to the animal’s needs, and sometimes according to the tusks that those animals were supposed to do during the day, because if the horses were going to do some work, we would give them more oats than normally did, when they would be staying in the stable the entire day.
Once we had finished grooming the horses and cleaning all manure from the stable, the chicken coop, the pig stay, sweep the floors and everywhere else; then one of us would go to the well with a couple of buckets or other containers, so that we could bring some clean fresh water for the small animals to drink, and also for ourselves to drink and to wash our hands and face, and everyday even if it was very cold we used to wash our hands and face outside the building: Here I can assure you that this was the main hygiene that could be had in the farm each day, and this was the only time and place where we used to clean ourselves; at any other time, when we got our hands dirty, we had to find a way how to clean ourselves with anything available around us; I know that for anybody that is used to tap water sounds terrible, but it was not that bad because sometimes in winter time there are several small creeks around the fields, where you could easily wash your hands.
Anyhow, by the time we had done all these chores, it would be time for the horse and the cows to be taken to the well to water them, (the horses and other large animals were watered only twice a day in winter timewintertime) and of course we had to stand on the well head in order to draw water with a bucket attached to a rope, we had to let the bucket down the well, and then with a flick of the rope we would make the bucket turn upside-down to fill itself, and then we would pull the bucket up the well and empty it into the trough; we had to draw as many buckets of water as they were needed until all the animals would stop drinking. On reflection, when I think about it, it really was a hard and dangerous job for a youth of my age, but then because it was normal then to do it, we never thought that it could be dangerous.
After we had done all those chores as I have said above, it would have been time to eat something, so we would sit down on some sort of wooden stools that most time we had made ourselves to have breakfast. Breakfast was usually brought in from town, from one of us or one of our neighbours, there was always somebody on horseback that would go to town the evening before, and then would bring prepared food in the morning. Breakfast would usually consist of a few fried dry capsicums and a few olives, and at the best one or two small pieces of sausage, or something similar which my mother would have fried in the early hours of that morning, and then placed it in a saucepan with a few drops of fried oil at the bottom, we set around a larger wooden stool which acted like a table, and with a slice of bread in one hand and a fork or knife in the other hand, we would try to eat our small share of breakfast from the saucepan with as much bread as possible, as there was plenty of bread of very good nutritional quality, but not much of everything else. At lunch or dinner time we would have something similar to eat, as we did at breakfast, and in the evenings, we had to do our own cooking, so, I am going to describe here how we used to prepare a warm quick and very simple meal, by using stale bread.
How to prepare cooked bread
How we prepared a quick meal called (panecotto) cooked bread
This might sound strange to some of you, how we prepared a meal of cooked bread, but in the farms we did; but it was called with the Italian farmer’s name “panecotto” anyhow, let us talk about this quick meal called panecotto that we used to prepare in the farms most days and why.
We all know that specially when it is cold, we need to eat at least one good warm filling meal every day in order to stay healthy and strong, especially if we have worked during the day, so, in the evening we had usually a large warm meal that we had to cook ourselves, sometimes we would cook pasta which could be bought from the shop or homemade pasta, but usually we made a quick meal called ‘panecotto’ which was very easy to prepare, because it is just cooked bread; to you this may seem strange that we cooked bread a second time for our main meal, but then over there it was the simplest meal to cook in the farms and very filling, therefore after a cold and long day of activities, this very simple meal was very welcome, and it was also very easy to prepare, so, let me explain.
In order to prepare this ‘panecotto’ all that was needed was a fire, which we usually had in the farm chimney going, or we would light one easily to keep us warm and to cook, you see in the farms to light a fire is very easy, because there is so much dry straws around in the mangers of the horse or other farm animals; so all we had to do is grab a bundle of this straws put it in the chimney and light it with a match, then we could add wood to it and you have a fire going. Anyhow, to cook this meal called ’panecotto’ we had to make this fire more lively to boil some water, sometimes we would add to this boiling water some vegetable, since they were available in the farm, or some slices of potatoes, since we would grow our own in the farm, at least for our own family needs; then when these vegetables or potatoes were nearly cooked, we would throw in this boiling water as many slice of durum wheat bread as required, and in a minute or so we would drain the water out of the saucepan; now let me tell you, this sort of panecotto works well only if you use bread made from durum wheat, because the durum wheat is like the past, you see the best pasta is made from durum wheat, anyhow over there in those times we did not need to look for durum wheat bread, because all the bread that we were eating in the farm was made from durum wheat; anyhow once we had this durum wheat bread in the saucepan on a lively fire, in a minute or so we would drain all the water out of the saucepan, at the same time while we were cooking the bread, we would also fry a small amount of olive oil in a frypan with garlic and pepper or tomatoes and when this was ready we would pour it on the cooked drained bread, or cooked bead and vegetable and that was all that was required, at this stage the ‘panecotto’ would be ready to be eaten, usually from a large plate and sometimes even from the saucepan itself, depending on how well we were organized in the farm, and how many people had to eat this meal.
Anyhow this was just one way, of how to prepare a quick warm meal in the farm in those days; of course there were other ways but this was to most popular one, since we usually had everything there already and was easy to make. Now let us continue about what else we did in the farms during the day.
Some farm work in winter time
Anyhow, now let me go back in the morning when we would have breakfast, after breakfast weather permitting we would have to do some minor jobs outside, like hoeing in the kitchen garden, which was about half an acre of land, or working in the vineyard, or going out to cut and collect fire woodfirewood for ourselves, and also for our families in town, as they depended on us for their wood supply, in order to cook their meals including our meals and keep themselves warm, because in the town in those times there was nothing to burn, it all had to come from the country, so we had to supply the wood to them in order to keep warm and prepare meals for themselves and us.
Now, I would like to point this out to you, because today most of us might think that what I have said sounds crazy, but in those days that was the way of life that most people had to live, they had to look after each other’s, so, from the country side we would supply our produce and fire wood to the town, and from the town we would receive back whatever we needed and they could give us, it worked out all right both ways; anyhow let me go back to tell the farm work that we did.
During the day we would still feed the animals every now and then, and bring in the stable new straw and hay for the following night.
This is how life in the farm was in winter times, when the days were short and the weather was cold and wet.
But when the days became longer and the weather was fine, there was work to be done in the fields even if it was winter. We would have to get up earlier then, in order to feed the horses and get them ready for the tasks that they had to do: it could be just that we had to plough a field or something similar, but in order to do that we had to harness the horses and attach them with their harnesses to the appropriate devices; all this had to be done early enough in the morning even if it was very cold, so that some work could be done during the short winter days in the fields. We had to start early also for safety reasons, you see, we wanted to be back to the farm house well before sunset, it was safer that way.
Apart what I have already said above, there were also other chores which had to be done in the farm in wintertime, like pruning and hoeing the vineyard, planting trees, pruning fruit and olives trees, cutting and collecting wood, and many other small jobs, so everyday there was always plenty to do.
But even though in wintertime we were busy in the farm, wintertime was very dreadful and sad especially for young people, because we were more isolated than at any other time of the year, and therefore it was very boring and it was very easy for one to become dull, since we did the same things every day, therefore if we young people became dull it was due to this harsh environment, at other times of the year it would always be a bit better as there was more contact with the town’s community, and also because there were some important happenings to talk about, even if it would be in a restricted way, because in the farm we would still feel isolated, and we were isolated, but to a less extend, so we were happy to see springtime coming. So in our next hub we will talk about, springtime in the farms and what happens there. Of course, what I am going to describe in our next article it is how a young man sees these happenings, so, see you next time with our article, springtime in the farms.
See you soon.