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In ploughing, the most rigid attention should be paid to the oracular precepts given by Cato1 on the subject. "What is the essence of good tillage? Good ploughing. What is the second point? Ploughing again. What is the third point? Manuring. Take care not to make crooked furrows. Be careful to plough at the proper time." In warm localities it is necessary to open the ground immediately after the winter solstice, but where it is coke, directly after the vernal equinox: this, too, should be done sooner in dry districts than in wet ones, in a dense soil than a loose one, in a rich land than a meagre one. In countries where the summers are hot and oppressive, the soil cretaceous or thin, it is the best plan to plough between the summer solstice and the autumnal equinox. Where, on the other hand, the heat is moderate, with frequent falls of rain, and the soil rich and full of vegetation, the ploughing should be done during the prevalence of the heat. A deep, heavy soil, again, should be ploughed in winter; but one that is very thin and dry, only just before putting in the seed.

Tillage, too, has its own particular rules2—Never touch the ground while it is wet and cloggy; plough with all your might; loosen the ground before you begin to plough. This method has its advantages, for by turning up the clods the roots of the weeds are killed. Some persons recommend that in every case the ground should be turned up immediately after the vernal equinox. Land that has been ploughed once in spring, from that circumstance has the name of "vervactum."3 This, too, is equally necessary in the case of fallow land, by which term is meant land that is sown only in alternate years. The oxen employed in ploughing should be harnessed as tightly as possible, to make them plough with their heads up; attention paid to this point will prevent them from galling the neck. If it is among trees and vines that you are ploughing, the oxen should be muzzled, to prevent them from eating off the tender buds. There should be a small bill-hook, too, projecting from the plough-tail, for the purpose of cutting up the roots; this plan being preferable to that of turning them up with the share, and so straining the oxen. When ploughing, finish the furrow at one spell, and never stop to take breath in the middle.

It is a fair day's work to plough one jugerum, for the first time, nine inches in depth; and the second time, one jugerum and a half—that is to say, if it is an easy soil. If this, however, is not the case, it will take a day to turn up half a jugerum for the first time, and a whole jugerum the second; for Nature has set limits to the powers of animals even. The furrows should be made, in every case, first in a straight line, and then others should be drawn, crossing them obliquely.4 Upon a hill-side the furrows are drawn transversely5 only, the point of the share inclining upwards at one moment and downwards6 at another. Man, too, is so well fitted for labour, that he is able to supply the place of the ox even; at all events, it is without the aid of that animal that the mountain tribes plough, having only the hoe to help them.7

The ploughman, unless he stoops to his work, is sure to prevaricate,8 a word which has been transferred to the Forum, as a censure upon those who transgress—at any rate, let those be on their guard against it, where it was first employed. The share should be cleaned every now and then with a stick pointed with a scraper. The ridges that are left between every two furrows, should not be left in a rough state, nor should large clods be left protruding from the ground. A field is badly ploughed that stands in need of harrowing after the seed is in; but the work has been properly done, when it is impossible to say in which direction the share has gone. It is a good plan, too, to leave a channel every now and then, if the nature of the spot requires it, by making furrows of a larger size, to draw off the water into the drains.

(20.) After the furrows have been gone over again transversely, the clods are broken, where there is a necessity for it, with either the harrow or the rake;9 and this operation is repeated after the seed has been put in. This last harrowing is done, where the usage of the locality will allow of it, with either a toothed harrow, or else a plank attached to the plough. This operation of covering in the seed is called "lirare," from which is derived the word "deliratio."10 Virgil,11 it is generally thought, intends to recommend sowing after four ploughings, in the passage where he says that land will bear the best crop, which has twice felt the sun and twice the cold. Where the soil is dense, as in most parts of Italy, it is a still better plan to go over the ground five times before sowing; in Etruria, they give the land as many as nine ploughings first. The bean, however, and the vetch may be sown with no risk, without turning up the land at all; which, of course, is so much labour saved.

We must not here omit to mention still one other method of ploughing, which the devastations of warfare have suggested in Italy that lies beyond the Padus. The Salassi,12 when ravaging the territories which lay at the foot of the Alps, made an attempt to lay waste the crops of panic and millet that were just appearing above the ground. Finding, however, that Nature resisted all their endeavours, they passed the plough over the ground, the result of which was that the crops were more abundant than ever; and this it was that first taught us the method of ploughing in, expressed by the word "artrare," otherwise "aratrare," in my opinion the original form. This is done either just as the stem begins to develope itself, or else when it has put forth as many as two or three leaves. Nor must we withhold from the reader a more recent method, which was discovered the year but one before this,13 in the territory of the Treviri. The crops having been nipped by the extreme severity of the winter, the people sowed the land over again in the month of March, and had a most abundant harvest.

We shall now proceed to a description of the peculiar methods employed in cultivating each description of grain.

1 De Re Rust. c. 61.

2 These rules are borrowed mostly from Varro, B. i. c. 19, and Cojumella, B. ii. c. 4.

3 "Vere actum;" "worked in spring."

4 Virgil says the same, Georg. i. 9.

5 Crosswise, or horizontally.

6 Zig-zag, apparently.

7 A rude foreshadowing of the spade husbandry so highly spoken of at the present day.

8 "Prevaricare," "to make a balk," as we call it, to make a tortuous furrow diverging from the straight line.

9 He probably means the heavy "rastrum," or rake, mentioned by Virgil, Georg, i. 164. It is impossible to say what was the shape of this heavy rake, or how it was used. Light, or hand rakes were in common use as well.

10 "A gong crooked;" hence its meaning of, folly, dotage, or madness.

11 Georg. i. 47. Servius seems to understand it that the furrow should be untouched for two days and two nights before it is gone over again.

12 Fée declines to give credit to this story.

13 A.U.C. 830.

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