Working In The Fields

Fertile floodplain was destined to traditional wheat and maiz culture, while on the land at the feet of the hills, that is, the small sloping plots that as we go up the hill are quickly replaced by terracings supported by dry-stone walls (masiere), vines , corn, wheat and occasionaly, on sun-exposed sheltered spot, olive-trees were grown. Steeper slopes, covered in bushes and coppices, wood was cut down every ten/twelve years. In these woods juniper berries were collected to be employed in the making of spirits, butcher's brooms (bruschi) and asparagi, and on the northern slopes, chestnuts. Especially fit for cultivation was the land at the bottom of sinkholes and Karst depressions, where earth washed down by the rain had accumulated. Until the 60s cherries and peas were grown in Val Liona. In May and June men and women with baskets full of products flocked to the busy seasonal markets in Calto, Pederiva and S.Germano. Of the many vegetable species that were once cultivated, today there almost only remains corn. Many peasants also kept a couple of cows for thei milk, calf-meat and their help in drawing carts and ploughs (although oxen were employed when deep ploughing was needed); those who couldn't afford a cow kept some sheep or goats. The meagre peasants' economy was completed by the breeding of a pig and some fowls. For what concerns sheep-farming, we know that sheep were often bred by associated shepards, that Asiago shepards were most unwelcomely dreaded, and that heavy fines threatened those who couldn't reatrain their flock's wanderings. Of this occupation are witnesses the family names of "Pastore", "Pastorello", "Capraro" and the presence near S.Germano of some "casotti", small dry-stone huts. In winter time peasants went for wood. The most valued types of wood were sold (oak and hornbeam as burning wood, chestnut-tree to make poles to keep up vines), while twigs and branches were burned in the peasants' hearth. Some placenames (Carbonara, Carbonarola, "ara de carbon") prove that in the past coal was produced as well. Cutting down oaks and hornbeams is started anew since little time; chestnut-trees are not anymore employed, since vineyards' poles are nowadays made of steel or concrete.