Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 16.djvu/496

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470
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

who then parades the streets, beating a drum and stopping at each corner to announce that such a person has so much land which will be rented on such a day. On the day mentioned, all those interested meet in the public square, and a lawyer, or the village magistrate, states to the assembly the quantity and location, and the general terms on which it will be rented. He then auctions off the lot field by field. The highest price paid per acre per year, in E—— , is seven dollars and fifty cents, and poor land rents as low as twelve cents a year. Leases run from six to eighteen years. Each renter of land deposits with the magistrate, at whose office his lease is drawn up, a sum of money equal to the rental of the land he has taken for one year, and in most cases for two years. The money thus deposited remains with the justice during the whole term for which the land is rented, and is then returned to the depositor if he has paid everything due the landowner. The amount of ready money thus required is so great that farmers can seldom afford to rent more than a few acres of land. Owing in part to the excessively high rent paid for land, and in part to this deposit, farmers can make little more than their living expenses from rented land. In fact, even those who own their land are glad to get through the year without having to run in debt or to deny themselves some of the necessaries of life.

Without exception, the methods of cultivation employed around E—— would be thought in this country old-fashioned and inefficient. Even such simple tools as the scythe and cradle are seldom used, almost all the grain being cut handful after handful with a sickle, and then carefully laid out to dry before being bound into small bundles. A whole family works day after day over the grain, handling each straw at least three times, and yet showing no trace of mental fatigue at the (to me) awful monotony of the work. I could only wonder at the temerity of a government which dares to educate a people before whom, from their childhood, lies nothing but the prospect of drudgery so constant and so stupefying. The farmers, to economize time, generally do their threshing at night, rising for this purpose at twelve or one o'clock, and working at it until it is time for their regular day's labor to begin.

Grains of different sorts and leguminous plants are the main crops grown around E—— , to which each farmer adds whatever he needs for his own use. In most cases, also, they do a little market-gardening for the neighboring city market. According to the method by which all the land belonging to the community of E—— is cultivated, the whole arable soil of the village is divided without regard to private ownership into three parts, called Winter, Sommer, and Brachfeld, or fallow. In the Winterfeld are grown those crops which are planted in the fall, or early in the spring—being for E—— mainly rye and wheat. The Sommerfeld has the spring-sown crops, of which barley and oats are good examples. The Brachfeld is, as its name de-