Making a living by farming was exhausting

 Last revised August 31st, 1999.  Your comments and suggestions would be appreciated.

The farmer finds that taking a rest is expensive.
His only 'passion' must be working on his fields -
day in, day out!

   Eating his meager evening meal he might mull over his plans for the next day: "Because it looks stormy tonight I'll need to get up at 4 o'clock to gather some firewood. The rest of the day I should gather acorns to feed the pigs. Now that the calf has put on some weight I'll have to take it across the moor to sell it. And I've got to weed the field. So I'm tired? So my knees hurt? So what! . . . I'd better get to work or I'll be short of potatoes and beets to feed your family! . . ."  Like most small farmers he really was a slave to the land. After he had paid his rent ('pachtgeld') for his cottage and fields, a farmer often was left with nearly nothing of his hard earned money to buy clothes, shoes and other necessities for his family and himself.
   And how terribly hard he really worked! But not as hard as those who worked only with human power because they did not have a horse. In the summers when the days were long a farmer often spent ten hours or more laboring in his fields. In the winters he worked by lamplight in his stable and barn or made money by
weaving linen in his cottage. But the returns from his crops were minimal. When he sold his cattle, speculators ended up with half of what the farmer's return for his work should have been.
   Because of these problems the best products of his farm: the meat of piglets (fed scraps to fatten them) till they were ready for slaughter, the carefully cultivated wheat, the butter, milk and eggs - none were destined to feed his family. He had to sell it all!
   By the end of the 19th century
many farmers suffered hunger. Only the privileged minority, the landowners who rented out their land and also those tenants who could afford tenancy of medium-to-large farmsteads had a decent living standard. Their families ate meat everyday, an unmistakable sign of affluence! The gentlemen farmers bought their meat directly from a butcher like city folk did and often game and fish appeared on their tables. With their meals they even drank wine!
   In contrast, for the great mass of farmers and daylabourers a heart nutritious meal, without any refinements, was the high point of luxury. They knew very well from experience what was needed to stop hunger pangs.

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