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My farm life chapter 2
Dear readers, in order to give you a better picture of what life was like in the farms of my native town of Genzano when I was young, I need also to tell you about the town itself and what was happening at the time when I was young, so, let me talk about the town and the population first:
The town of Genzano early in the twentieth century had reached a population of about 7,000 inhabitants, in the forties when I was young the population had grown to about 8,000 and reached 8,389 in 1951 inhabitants, and this is the highest number of people on record that I know of, because in the seventies it had shrunk to only 5,500 inhabitant or there about, because lots of people had to emigrate. The reasons that they had to emigrate will be fully understood, when I explain what happened to the rural community of this town including myself. Today at the present time while I am writing this article, the town of Genzano has 6200 inhabitant or there about.
The town of Genzano is known as Genzano di Lucania in order to distinguish it from Genzano the Roma. Anyhow this Genzano di Lucania has a territory of about 21,000 Hectares of land if I remember right, and about 80% of this land is arable land, and it is mostly used to grow wheat; the rest of the land is used to grow grapes vines or olive trees and other farm produce, and there are also reserves or grazing land; as anyone can see from what I have said, this town owes its wealth to the rural community, because this town is well known to produce lots of very high quality durum wheat, which the mills that make pasta rush to buy it when it’s harvest time.
As I have already mentioned above, there are lots of other produce from the farms also, because we used to have mixed farming, but these produce are used locally, and if some of them ore sold out of the town, they are not a great deal to make any difference.
At the time when I was young there were lots of small farms in Genzano, and although the most important and the largest crop that brought in the money was durum wheat, in reality they had to practice mixed farming for their own needs, which I will try to explain presently.
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When I was young most of the work in the farms was done by hand or by horse drawn plow and other devises, as shown in picture on the left; there were very few years when the fields of wheat like the one shown above came our way, my guess from the picture above is that that wheat field is durum wheat called cappeli and this year the farmer will be happy because it is a good year.
Let me explain how the farms were run
Let me explain how the farms were run until the fifties, when things started to change.
When I was young during the fifties we used to have mixed farming, today mixed farming is practiced to a much less extend, and I will try to explain the reasons why this has happened. But in order to make it clear to you dear reader, I will have to describe the different way of how the land was used in the old days, and how it is used nowadays: In the old days to till the soil people used to do it by hand hoeing, or by ploughing the fields with horse power or other strong animals. Therefore there was a need for a lot of people to be fed to work the fields, and there were a lot of animals also to be fed in order to work the fields. So, this need to feed so many mouths required a lot of produce and also a variety of produce, for this reason mixed farming was required, because it was the only way to produce all this variety of foods that were required; In order to achieve this variety of foods requirements and for other reasons, in the old days the sowing fields had to be divided into a three-year-rotation, not only to achieve these variety of foods, but it was also necessary then to rotate the fields in order to keep them producing.
So one year a field would be fallow land and it would be used very little, then the next year it would be sown with durum wheat, and the year after that the same field would be sown with oats or barley, or other light seeds, and the year after that to fallow land. So, in realty there was only one third of the land producing durum wheat each year.
When I was young a lot of people used to work in those farms, and it was hard physical work at a certain time of the year, and there was no much money to be made, with the exception of every now and then when we had a good harvest; but when the harvest was lean everybody would suffer, and all one could do was to start all over again for another year, and so, one would be hoping and perhaps praying God for a better harvest next year.
There were too many years of lean harvest when I was young, some average and only a very few years we had good harvest. But somehow people kept going on, and they were so used to poverty that they seemed to be happy just the same, because they did not know of a better life. But one has to keep in mind that the main harvest is only once a year, and one year is a very long time when there is not enough money to go around.
For all the work which I did in the farm in my youth, I earned almost nothing, but I was able to eat plain wholesome food, and buy a few cheap cloths to keep warm in winter, which sounds very bad these days, but then when there was nothing better to do, even this hard and unpleasant way of life would do, as long as one could live a healthy life.
The human side of farming
Now let me go back to my own life in the farm, and my experience as a young boy.
At the time when I was young in Genzano every family had a dwelling in town, no matter to which group of people or families one belonged, we all had a home in town even if it was only a room or a few rooms in order to live-in in the town itself. But the farmers’ families not only had a home in town like everybody else, where their women folks elderly people and children lived; but most of the farmers had also a rustic farm building in the fields, where the farmer would keep his animals, and with the help of his workers if he had any would work his fields from there. The farmers’ children specially those that were to become farmers one day would start working in the farm very early in life, or as soon as they would finish their compulsory schooling years.
Now, some of the youths whose families were better off financially would start to help in the farm only during summer for a year or two, and then as they became older they would start staying in the farm full time the whole year. But I wasn’t that lucky and at the time when I left school, I was only 10 years old and I was going to be 11 years old during that year, when I had to start full time for the whole year in the farm. At that time young boys were only required to attend school up to grade 5, and I had already done so, so I went to help in our family farm full time. Then a few years later the schooling laws changed, and all the youths had to attend school up to grade 8, or be at least 14 years old to leave school. So, I and a few other boys of my same age were the last of the little educated youths.
Now you can imagine how I felt in the farm; I was perhaps the youngest boy around for miles so to speak, and I was of that age when young boys like me would start thinking and also wandering about how best one could find a way into society, because one becomes aware of the need to be social and friendly with people, otherwise one would become shy and withdrawn.
This new way of living in the farms was very hard especially for me, because, since the great loss of my father, my family according to customs had lived a life withdrawn from society; so, now that we were all over that period of grief that any family can have, I felt that somehow I was a bit more withdrawn that the other boys of the same age. I needed a break more that everybody else, but it was not to be, because I was needed to help in the farm, so I ended up working in the family farm and so I became more isolated that ever.
My helping (working) in the family farm when I was young was no good for me socially, since there is nothing to learn socially in the farm except farm things, which in the end they might even be put to good use, but only from those persons that would be able to practice farming during their whole life time.
Farming life of those days was so hard and boring, especially for me at that particular time of my life when I was young. So, nowadays when I think about it, it makes me feel so hurt and unhappy and I ask myself why this had to happen to me, and I feel so hurt that I would like to tell you a story beginning with, ‘When I was young’ just to show you how much harder life was then compared with today’s ways of life.
Now that I have explained the ways of life in the farms of those days, mentally I am going over the farm life of my ancestors, who had lived the same hard life as I did and they did not lament about it because they did not know better; and then I think about what it would be the farm life like today compared to old times; you see I want to compare all those things together, just to have a clear picture of what is happening. By comparing the farm life of these generations, I have come to the conclusion that I and those youths that as me ended up working in the farms when we were young, we were the last unlucky ones, because today even if a young man ends up working in the farms, they start when they are older and they cannot be as lonely as we were, because today they can have the company of electronic devices, like the radio and the mobile phones, so one can always keep in touch with the rest of the community.
My life in the farms
Welcome to my article, my life in the small farms when I was young.
Dear readers, here we are talking about my farm life when I was young, I would like to tell it just the way that I have lived it. To understand my points of views that I want to make here, one has to try to compare the present way of life which we live today in the towns or in the farms to when I was young; from my experience I can assure you that life then was much harder and boring than today. I am saying this to you dear readers because today you are living in this new and wonderful era of electronic devices, and you can choose to listen, watch or play with these electronic devices; and in doing so you may be able to enjoy yourself, and at the same time you may be able to learn something useful from them, if you put your mind to it.
Therefore I am asking you this; can you imagine a world that has no man made electronics? A world with not even a single push button devise that you could amuse yourself with like we do today? And then to compare this way of living you should ask yourself, how could one live in a very isolated environment where silence reigns supreme days after days. I suppose all this is hard to believe today, but that’s how my farm-life was like when I was young, and this sort of life I had to endure in my long stay in the farm during my youth. So let me say a bit more about life in the small farms of those days.
Life in the farms of those days was a very boring life if you try to compare it to today ways of life, there were not many people around you that wanted to talk to you; there were no telephone or mobile nor there were any radio or TV, it was indeed a very peaceful but lonely place; but people of those days did not mind, because there was nothing that they could have done, as it had been like that for many generation before them, so they lived as they could with the few contact they had and in the company of the farms' animals.
The small farms of southern Italy of those days
In the small family farms of southern Italy of those days there was no electricity, so we had no electrical devices of any sort not even a portable radio to listen to, because those devices had not come out yet on the market, and even if there had been a portable radio on the market we would not be able to afford one. I know that today it would be hard to believe that in those times we the farmers could not afford to buy anything outside the bare need to survive, but it was so.
So I had to grow up in this lonely environment, and as I grew up and became a teenager I started to realize that I was falling behind to the rest of the normal town community, to understand what I am saying, I need to explain that even though I was working in the farm every day, we were allowed to go to our home in town ones or twice a week and when we were not too busy in the farm we could also spend every second Sunday with the other members of our family that were permanently in town, this is why I was able to see that I and the other youths that were in the same position were all in a disadvantaged position.
As I said, we were all in a disadvantaged position and becoming dull, as long as we were in that position there was no way of improving ourselves; here I mean everything at all could have helped, even the way of knowing what was happening in the community, which the other boys in town seemed to know everything and we seemed so dull when we were compared to them, also the ways of expressing our self clearly was not easy, since we were forced to live a lonely and taciturn way of life and therefore we did not speak much. There were times that I wanted so badly to have a radio like the people in town, so that at least I could listen to a proper way of speech, and improve myself in that way, but it was not possible. Therefore I was stuck in that lonely world, where one is stuck for good with one’s own company and thoughts day and night for ages; this is how we used to live our young lives then and let me explain:
In the farms of those days there were only a few people staying and working there, and they would go on about doing their farm duty. So they didn’t really care to talk to you if you were much younger than them. So, it was a very lonely place to be in such farms when one was young.
Those people which usually are staying in the farms don’t talk very much, since in their isolation there is nothing much to talk about; so, they are used to be taciturn, and there were days when only a few necessary phrases were exchanged between us; so conversation was very low indeed. This way of life that I was living could only result about not being satisfactory for me later on in life, because I was very young and my needs would have been better served, if I had been in a more sociable place in order to learn a more sociable way of life, and in doing so I would have been able to overcome some of my personal shyness. So, this staying in the farm when I was young became later-on a great disadvantage for me, because it only made me grow more isolated, and in the end it made me feel even more isolated from the rest of the world; and in this isolation I had to grow.
There were lots of times when I were alone and nobody would be near me to say a single word, and this was happening to me many days. So in my isolation I would start thinking and learning things all by myself in my own way, anything at all that came into my mind, or things that would happen in the farm, and when you are by yourself for a very long time and think by yourself for a great length of time, you don’t need to express your thoughts in words to yourself, therefore anything that you learn may start being stored within your own mind in a different way, you still learn things, perhaps even more accurate than when you learn with words: The only drawback is that when you have to speak out, lots of times you would not know what to say; not because you don’t know it, since in your mind there is a very clear picture of what you need to day; but because you find it hard finding the right words to express yourself. So this is one of the great disadvantages, which I and those youths who were unlucky like me, as they ended up working in their own families’ farms at a very early age. I am sorry to say it, but we had to put up with the hard consequences which have followed us for the rest of our lives. Now allow me to describe a bit more the farm life of those days.
I would describe such a farm life thus:
Because in the farms there are not many people to talk to, and nothing of much of importance to talk about, so farmers’ people are usually taciturn; and when you compare this way of life to the towns’ people way of life you could feel at once the difference. Wherever you are in small towns people converse a lot with each other, but in the farms there seems to be a great silence of human voices, not only because there are not many people to talk to, but also because those people that are there are not interested in talking, since they are there to do their job and run the farm. So, we who happened to be living in the farms when we were young, we had to keep ourselves to ourselves, and this is how and why we became dull later on when we grew up.
So, whoever has happened to have lived in the farm as I did would have to become dull, particularly if one was as young as I was and the few people around me were much older than me, because as I said those people in the farms were there just to do their jobs, and therefore they could not and would not care about the young ones’ developing social skills, because it had nothing to do with the running of the farm, and also because they didn’t know any better anyhow, just because nobody had taught what to do or say to them, so they would go about just doing whatever they had to do.
Even nowadays while I am writing this article, I hate the way of life that I had to live in the farm when I was young and I hate so much, because it made me then a dull person, not only then but for most of my life, and perhaps I am still a dull person now; only because we usually were living isolated lives and we had to keep ourselves to ourselves.
Of my shortcomings I became aware even more when I had to leave my farming life behind, since I had to start a different way of life somewhere else. And since then, right through my entire life I have tried to catch up with the rest of the community, but it seems to me that I have never been able to catch up completely.
So, this is the reason why I hate still that way of life in the farms; it is because such a way of life as we had to live in the farm could only breed dull people; and so I became dull in the end; but not only I, but also all those youths which ended up like me working in the farm at a very young age had to become dull.
But this is not all because; there were times when we went into town, while we were there we could feel that some of the town’s people would ridicule us for being what we were, and this would hurt us very much as it was not our fault for being what we were. But let us not worry about this very negative side of life, because if we worry too much it could destroy us; therefore let us try to turn this negative aspect of life into a positive one, if we can?
Turning negative into positive
As you have read above dear readers life sometimes can be very hard, and I have had a large share of hard life, but I am not going to surrender and continue to cry my heart out. I believe that we all have to try to overcome our inner pains and try to turn a negative thing into a positive that is the only right way to go about.
Dear readers, this life story has many sides, one of which is what I did in my young life and it has turned out that it was not the best way to live our young life in the farms of those times; and then is what I have felt about the time that I have spend in the farms, and this is also a negative thing, because I have been feeling hurt for a very long time, and I was even more hurt because I was living in the farms without knowing the consequences that could follow, so even today my heart wants to cry out, but I am not going to let it happen in this negative way, because I am going to fight back, and try to turn a negative into a positive, I believe that this is the only way that makes sense and I am going to try it out.
Now this point of time this is where I would like to stop with this hub, there will be more farm life stories later on, but now let me break away for the time being, because in my next hub I am breaking away from my farm life, in my hub called: Hello my world.