Random facts of the day: some traditional measurements!

https://sites.google.com/a/wrps.net/lhschemistry/_/rsrc/1461015140094/unit-3-labs/units-of-measurement/Us%20Survey%20units.jpg?height=251&width=400

Random piece of general knowledge (many thanks to The Old Farmers Almanac):

1 league = 3 miles = 24 furlongs

In other words, there are eight furlongs to a mile. So how long is a furlong? 660 feet, or 40 rods (one rod being 5 ½ yards). Seen another way, a furlong is equal to one eighth of a mile: equivalent to 660 feet, 220 yards, 40 rods (1 rod = 5 1/2 feet), or 10 chains (one chain, therefore, being equal to 66 feet).

Originally, it was the length of the furrow in one acre of a ploughed field – thus, the name: one “furrow long” – in the old open-field system of medieval England, in which acres were usually long and narrow, and was the distance a team of oxen could plough without resting. From there, it passed into the British Imperial and U.S. customary system of measurements. An acre was reckoned as one furlong in length (naturally), and one chain in width, and was considered to be the amount of land one man, behind one ox, could plough in one day.

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Other oxen-derived measurements include an oxgang (from the same root as our contemporary word “going,” with the implication of walking *), the amount of land tillable by one ox in a ploughing season (an area which could vary from village to village, but was typically around 15 acres), a virgate, the amount of land tillable by two oxen in one ploughing season (thus, two oxgangs), and a carucate, the amount of land that could be tilled by eight oxen in a ploughing season: equal, naturally, to 8 oxgangs or 4 virgates. Thus, these measurements were not random or arbitrary, they described what could be done on them, in a way that was very useful and informative for an agricultural society!

*  That derivation still exists, though somewhat concealed by changes in the language, and our understanding: a “gang” is a group of people who go (walk) around together. And the archaic English word “gangly” refers to a person or (usually young) animal who appears to be “all legs,” and therefore seems made for walking! Also, a “chain-gang” is not just a group of people joined by a chain; they are chain-gang: that is to say, they are walking chained, rather than free.

On a related note, the furlong was historically considered to be equivalent to the Roman stade (from which we get “stadium”), itself derived from the Greek stadion ~ and it was, although approximately: the old Roman measurement was actually 625 feet. The Romans reckoned eight stadia to the mile, and (as remains the case in our English measurement, albeit using furlongs) three miles to the league. Thus, the Roman mile was a little shorter than ours is. A league was considered to be the distance a man could walk in one hour, and the mile (from mille, meaning “thousand”) consisted of 1,000 passi (paces: five feet, or two single steps of two-and-a-half feet each).

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Now you know probably more than you ever wanted to about ancient land-measurements!

(Additional information gleaned from Wikipedia, and from my own knowledge of things medieval!)

“So God Made a Farmer” – Paul Harvey | YouTube

Already shared this in my recent post about Bloomberg’s idiocy, but thought it deserved “top billing” in a post! Paul Harvey’s classic paean to the American farmer:

Full text of this marvelous speech may be found here.

 

Bloomberg implied farming doesn’t take intelligence in 2016 comments | Fox News

https://anglophilicanglican.files.wordpress.com/2020/02/image.jpg

Bloomberg: “I could teach anybody, even people in this room, no offense intended, to be a farmer… Now comes the information economy… You have to have a different skill set, you have to have a lot more gray matter.”

Source: Bloomberg implied farming doesn’t take intelligence in 2016 comments | Fox News

When you’re not sure which is more breathtaking, the ignorance or the arrogance…! This is the frickin’ idiot that’s running for the Democratic Presidential ticket. I have to say, I don’t like any of them, but this is over the top. “We, the intelligentsia,” indeed. Horse puckey!

From one of the comments: “A farmer can live without Mike Bloomberg but Mike Bloomberg can’t live without a farmer, and I will side with the farmer.” Amen! Yes. So will I. Any day of the week! Bloomberg is a menace, on many levels. I have never liked him, for his opposition to the Second Amendment, but bashing farmers makes me despise him on a whole different level.

I will say one thing: this male (I won’t call him a man), and the rest of his “intelligentsia” (read: the arrogant coastal / urban elite) couldn’t live a week without what they disparage as “flyover country,” and the basket of deplorables, bitterly clinging to God and guns, who live there.

This individual is not only a sorry excuse for a political candidate, but he is a sorry excuse for a human being. Not that that’s new information, for me! I’ve known it for a long time; this is merely additional grist for the mill. I’d say he’s is full of bullsh_t, but that would be insulting to bulls. Putrid pustule of a person!

Because I hate to end on a negative note – Paul Harvey, among others, is one who thought of farmers rather differently than Bloomberg. Here he is:

 

Jefferson vs Hamilton, and why I am a Jeffersonian

Source: Hamilton’s Curse: How Jefferson’s Arch Enemy Betrayed the American Revolution–and What It Means for Americans Today | Amazon.com

Reasons for my preference for Jefferson over Hamilton, aside from the former’s primary authorship of the Declaration of Independence, and his agrarian ideal:

“While Jefferson is better remembered today, it is actually Hamilton’s political legacy that has triumphed – a legacy that has subverted the Constitution and transformed the federal government into the very leviathan state that our forefathers fought against in the American Revolution. How did we go from the Jeffersonian ideal of limited government to the bloated imperialist system of Hamilton’s design?

“Acclaimed economic historian Thomas J. DiLorenzo reveals how Hamilton, first as a delegate to the Constitutional Convention and later as the nation’s first and most influential treasury secretary, masterfully promoted an agenda of nationalist glory and interventionist economics. These core beliefs did not die with Hamilton in his fatal duel with Aaron Burr, but were carried on through his political heirs.

“The Hamiltonian legacy wrested control into the hands of the federal government by inventing the myth of the Constitution’s “implied powers,” transforming state governments from Jeffersonian bulwarks of liberty to beggars for federal crumbs. It also devised a national banking system that imposes boom-and-bust cycles on the American economy; saddled Americans with a massive national debt and oppressive taxation, and pushed economic policies that lined the pockets of the wealthy and created a government system built on graft, spoils, and patronage.”

Other than that, not a bad system… *ironic smile*

 

How to lay a hedge | Gardens Illustrated

Learn how to lay a hedge using traditional craftsmanship and hedge laying skills.

“Interested in the centuries-old skill of hedge laying? Follow our guide on how to lay a hedge and learn about the traditional ways to lay a hedge.”

Source: How to lay a hedge – Gardens Illustrated

“Hedge laying is a seasonal job carried out between October and March when trees and shrubs are dormant, and birds have finished nesting in the hedges…”

Ever wondered how to “lay a hedge” in classic English style (or even what that term meant)? Here’s an excellent starting point! No reason it couldn’t be done here in the U.S., for those with the land and resources to do so! I’ve often wished I could have a place where I could recreate an English cottage garden, including / incorporating a traditional hedge.

 

Plough Monday, 2020

Image may contain: sky, cloud, outdoor and nature

Today is Plough Monday, the first Monday after Twelfth Night and Epiphany, and what used to be an important date in the agricultural calendar. Traditionally it was the day on which farm workers returned to their duties after the Christmas and New Year break. On this day,

“A plough would be taken to the local church to be blessed in order to ‘speed the plough’ and ensure a bountiful harvest later in the year. It was a difficult time of year for ploughman, as the ground was hard and difficult to work on, so the ploughmen would decorate their ploughs and take them around the local villages where they would ask for money from the wealthy landowners.”

This money was formerly used to pay for “plough lights”: candles lit in the church, to pray God’s blessing upon the agricultural work. And if a donation was not forthcoming, the miserly one might find that his yard would be plowed!

Today would be the perfect day for a classic English “ploughman’s lunch,” which at its most basic consists of rustic country bread, one or more varieties of (originally local, now any British) cheese, pickled onions, chutney and/or some other sort of “pickle,” and ale or (generally “hard,” but sweet would be a perfectly fine substitute) cider.

Some would add an apple, others some type of greenstuff (watercress would seem a traditional choice, as it might have been picked fresh from the stream running at the bottom of the field), or perhaps a boiled egg; but though one occasionally sees them with smoked meats, pork pies, or even Scotch eggs, there seems little need to go too far beyond the basics, to me.

Plough Monday, Cottage Loaf and a Ploughman's Lunch (Recipes)

This one includes spring onions and a (somewhat anachronistic, in my view) tomato, but otherwise sticks pretty close to the basic plan!

In conclusion:

Let the wealthy and great
Roll in splendor and state:
I envy them not, I declare it.
I eat my own lamb,
My own chickens and ham;
I shear my own fleece, and I wear it.
I have lawns, I have bowers,
I have fruits, I have flowers;
The lark is my morning alarmer.
So, jolly boys, now,
Here’s God speed the plough!
Long life and success to the farmer!

(I am almost positive that this verse is on the other side of the mug seen in the picture, above!)

“They’re Trying to Wipe Us Off the Map” – Small American Farmers Are Nearing Extinction | TIME

Mary Rieckmann with her son Russell tending to their cows on Nov. 20, 2019.

A perfect storm of factors has lead to the biggest crisis for American farmers in decades. Here’s what it’s like to be an American farmer in 2019.

Source: American Farmers Are in Crisis. Here’s Why | Time

Read this article. It’s important. Yes, it’s filtered through the requisite anti-Trumpism and climate alarmism of the mainstream media. But the reality it describes, for small family farms in America, is one which needs to be understood:

“In the American imagination, at least, the family farm still exists as it does on holiday greeting cards: as a picturesque, modestly prosperous expanse that wholesomely fills the space between the urban centers where most of us live.

“But it has been declining for generations, and the closing days of 2019 find small farms pummeled from every side: a trade war, severe weather associated with climate change, tanking commodity prices related to globalization, political polarization, and corporate farming defined not by a silo and a red barn but technology and the efficiencies of scale. It is the worst crisis in decades.

“Chapter 12 farm bankruptcies were up 12 percent in the Midwest from July of 2018 to June of 2019; they’re up 50 percent in the Northwest. Tens of thousands have simply stopped farming, knowing that reorganization through bankruptcy won’t save them. The nation lost more than 100,000 farms between 2011 and 2018; 12,000 of those between 2017 and 2018 alone.”

That is dismaying, to put it mildly. Indeed, for those of us who can see past the surface numbers to understand the implications, it is deeply frightening.

While there are a number of factors contributing to this crisis, I believe that the threatened demise of American small farms is at base an attack – and I would argue that it is in large measure a concerted and intentional one, by an unholy alliance of convenience between Big Government and Big Corporatism – on food sovereignty.

Every single one of the factors listed in the article – “a trade war, severe weather associated with climate change, tanking commodity prices related to globalization, political polarization, and corporate farming defined not by a silo and a red barn but technology and the efficiencies of scale” – can be traced directly to one of the two entities mentioned above, in some cases both.

So, where does food sovereignty come in – and what is it, anyway, and why does it matter?

Well, food sovereignty is defined as “the right of peoples to healthy and culturally-appropriate food produced through ecologically sound and sustainable methods, and their right to define their own food and agriculture systems.” It is in its essence localized and dispersed, rooted in family farms and local communities.

Big corporations hate this because it interferes with their profits, and big government hates it because it interferes with their control – thus the alliance-of-convenience mentioned above.

And yes, some of the factors that affect small farms are (presumably) unintended consequences of other issues – but the responses, the proposed “solutions,” by government and corporate interests alike, are always in the direction of greater centralization (“get big or get out,” or variations on the theme), greater industrialization and automation, more control, less human input and contact with the land, less local sovereignty.

The underlying reality is that food sovereignty is the basis of sovereignty, period. It doesn’t matter what your system of government is – capitalistic, communistic, or anything in between – you are not sovereign if you cannot control your own food supply: if you have to rely on someone else, state or corporation, to provide your food and to control what food is provided, and when, and how.

Now, obviously, most of us (by choice or necessity) are willing to trade a little sovereignty for convenience – we are no longer (for better or for worse) a nation of farmers. But the further we get from local agriculture, rooted in small family farms that are closely tied in with their local communities, the less sovereignty we all enjoy, and the more we are at the mercy of Someone Somewhere Else turning off the tap.

In other words, the demise of small, local, family farms is not just a shame – although it is! very much so – and it’s not just less healthy for consumers, communities, and the environment, although that is also true. It’s also dangerous, for our rights and freedoms, for liberty, sovereignty, independence.

Who controls the food, controls those who rely on it for survival. That’s the bottom line.