- My apologies for not sending out anything yesterday, but for some reason, no one in the library could access their U drive, where I store these texts. Today we seem to be back in business.
All opinions and complaints my own
Bound sheaves were placed into small piles or shocks (kri'z~, mandel', hroma'dka, pana'k, kupka) to dry before being transported from the field. Shocks took three basic forms: horizontal, vertical, and sheaves hung on wooden props. The oldest form was the horizontal one, which was often called a cross, due to its shape. As historical sources show, this was still the only shape used in Slovakia as late as the 18th century. Fifteen sheaves formed a shock, which also served as a counting unit (important as feudal dues). As soon as this feudal number lost its importance, other factors determined the number of sheaves per shock (anywhere from 11 to 22), most frequently the breadth of the field.
Arranging the sheaves vertically is a Slovak technique imported from Austria and Moravia. This arrangement was first used on country estates, while farmers continued using the traditional method. The Slovak way of drying grains was similar to that of neighboring areas, the only difference being a delay in the use of the vertical arrangement.
Harvesting work was traditionally organized by the sex and age of the workers. From the time the scythe replaced smooth and serrated sickles as a harvesting tool, mowing grain became men's work. Women mowed only in exceptional cases (widows, during a war, men gone for work, etc.). Women would cut the grain using a smooth or serrated sickle, or with their hands; they then placed the gathered handfuls on straw-bands, and men would bind the sheaves. In some parts of Slovakia, a binding peg (krutel, knutel) was used.
Older people and children moved the sheaves and helped form them into "cross" shocks. Digging the stubble into the earth and collecting the ears of grain [that had fallen to the ground?] was the work of the youngest generation. Everyone helped to transport the grain, but the cart was loaded by its master. The division of work described here was not set in stone, and always depended on the local conditions, which affected the entire harvesting operation.
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