CHAP. 18.—the NATURE OF BARLEY.
Barley-meal, too, is employed for medicinal purposes; and
it is a curious fact, that for beasts of burden they make a paste
of it, which is first hardened by the action of fire, and then
ground. It is then made up into balls, which are introduced
with the hand into the paunch, the result of which is, that the
vigour and muscular strength of the animal is considerably
increased. In some kinds of barley, the ears have two rows
and in others more; in some cases, as many as six.2
The grain itself, too, presents certain differences, being long
and thin, or else short or round, white, black,3
or, in some
instances, of a purple colour. This last kind is employed for
making polenta: the white is ill adapted for standing the severity of the weather. Barley is the softest of all the grains:
it can only be sown in a dry, loose soil,4
but fertile withal.
The chaff of barley ranks among the very best; indeed, for
litter there is none that can be compared with it. Of all grain,
barley is the least exposed to accidents, as it is gathered before
the time that mildew begins to attack wheat; for which reason
it is that the provident agriculturist sows only as much wheat
as may be required for food. The saying is, that "barley is
sown in a money-bag," because it so soon returns a profit.
The most prolific kind of all is that which is got in at Carthage,5
in Spain, in the month of April. It is in the same
month that it is sown in Celtiberia, and yet it yields two harvests in the same year. All kinds of barley are cut sooner than
other grain, and immediately after they are ripe; for the straw
is extremely brittle, and the grain is enclosed in a husk of remarkable thinness. It is said, too, that a better polenta6
made from it, if it is gathered before it is perfectly ripe.