Signs and portents
The main grain harvest began in early Agrazhar if the weather allowed and would usually be completed by the end of the month. The winter crops (wheat and rye) ripened and were harvested first, followed by the spring grains (barley and oats). The timing depended very much upon the weather – not only were weeks of warm sun and gentle rain needed for a good crop to grow, but several dry, sunny days were required to bring the harvest in. In a pinch unripe or rain-dampened grain could be harvested and placed in special corn-drying ovens, though these were more common in upland areas where the growing season was short.
Wheat was harvested with a sickle, used to cut a couple of hands-breadths below the ear of corn, leaving the long stubble standing in the field. The other grains were cut closer to the ground with a long-handled scythe. A team of five people – four reapers and a binder – could harvest two acres of crops a day. The process was not terribly efficient, and some of the grain fell to the ground; the poorest peasants often had the rights to glean the fallen grain from the fields after the harvest was brought in and before livestock was released to graze the stubble. Gleaning rights were hotly contested and seem to have been of considerable benefit to the recipients. Church tithes – one sheaf in every ten – were collected from the field before peasants carted their crop to their barns and houses.
For comparison, medieval harvest yields have been widely studied, and often hotly debated. They varied widely from year to year, depending largely on the weather conditions. In intensively farmed areas they could reach 1:10 or even higher, but were nowhere near as respectable in the open fields of the midland belt. Except where noted the following figures are based on averages for the Winchester estate between 1209 and 1270 AD, quoted in Christopher Dyer’s Standards of living in the later Middle Ages. Yields given are after tithes have been deducted and threshing performed.
|Crop||Seed (bu/acre)||Seed:Yield Ratio||Yield (bu/acre)|
¹ The quantity of rye sown is my guesstimate. Yield is derived from returns for the abbey of Cluny in 1156 (from Rösener, Peasants in the Middle Ages).
² Figures for Peas/Beans are derived from returns for Bishops Cleeve c1299 AD (from Dyer, Standards of Living…).
According to Titow’s study of the Winchester data between 1209 and 1350, bad harvests (where the yield was 15 per cent or more below the average) occured about one year in eight and good harvests (where the yields were 15 per cent or more above the average) about one year in 20.
Holy days & festivals of the month.
|4||Peoni – Lesser Sapelah (lay mass)|
|5||Larani – Soratir (lay mass)|
|6||Save-K’nor – Velere (lay mass)|
|7||Halea – Shesneala Day (lay mass)|
|8||Agrik – Low Ceremony of the Balefire (lay mass)|
|11||Summer Wool Fair in Selvos begins|
|12||Peoni – Lesser Sapelah (lay mass)|
|13||Morgath – Degrees of Nyardath (high mass)|
|14-17||Peoni – Greater Sapelah (purification ritual)|
|15||Larani – Soratir (lay mass) Yaelah|
|Siem – Night of High Perspective (lay mass)|
|17||Summer Wool Fair in Selvos ends/Feast of Saint Ambrathas|
|20||Peoni – Lesser Sapelah (lay mass)|
|25||Larani – Soratir (lay mass)|
|26||Morgath – Shadryn-Vars (lay mass)|
|28||Peoni – Lesser Sapelah (lay mass)|
|30||Siem – Night of Silent Renewal (lay mass)|
|Naveh – Dezenaka (high mass) Yaelmor|