Medieval Monday: The Labors of June

In the Middle Ages, the arrival of June meant not only a change in the weather, but a shift in daily labors, and in what was on the menu to eat.

Labors of the month JuneWhile most crops were harvested much later in the summer, hay was the first to be cut in June, though it was typically poor quality. In a society so dependent on animals for survival, haying was a vital community activity, with the lord’s fields taking priority over all the others. This was a labor carried out by men, women, and children. They worked in groups under the supervision of a reeve that had been elected by the peasants themselves. The men cut the hay with long scythes, each going through about one acre per day. Women and girls were responsible for raking and turning it. If the hay was not able to dry out, it would rot and be of no use.

On the edge of the field, there would be a man with a whetstone who could make quick repairs to dull and broken scythes as needed throughout the day. A horn would be blown at dusk to signal the end of the work day.  Sometimes a lord would provide the laborers with a meal and ale, or allow villagers to take home as much hay as they could carry home on their scythe. Anyone who tried to pile on too much was likely to lose their load on the way and go home with nothing.

At the end of June, it was time to pull weeds from the wheat fields, plow fallow fields, and uproot thistles. However, it was considered unlucky in England to pull thistles before June 24th (St. John’s day).  Anyone who did would find they would only multiply three times over.

Bee keeping was another important activity of June, which was when they were expected to begin swarming. Watching a hive was typically children’s work, as they could do so while spinning or doing some other household task. When a swarm formed, it would be followed by villagers banging pots and making other loud noises to “help the bees settle” and also stake their claim on the swarm.

During the month of June, sheep would be taken to a pond or a stream to be washed before shearing. Running water was preferred because their wool tended to be so filthy. Other tasks for June included repairing barns and outbuildings, clearing away brush, digging hop plots, fixing broken carts, gathering hemp and flax, and making salt.


Enjoy another episode of Tales from the Green Valley, where some of the above labors and others are shown. The video demonstrates the washing and shearing of sheep, dairy production (making cheese), field labors, special foods, and June festivities. For more information about wool production, you can revisit another of my posts on the subject. Check out my Medieval Index for a variety of other topics related to the Middle Ages.

 

Tales of Ferrês Blog Tour!

Greetings everyone. Today I am featuring Speculative Fiction author K.M. Jenkins’ new release, Tales of Ferrês. It came out on Tuesday and is full of wonderful fantasy stories for young readers. Check it out below I got a few fun excerpts for you to enjoy.

About the Book

JENKINS_2020_TOF_PROMOBANNER1

Since the beginning of time, one kingdom in the world of Tarzinëa has remained a mystery. Very few have entered its depths and survived. Walk alongside our heroes and watch their tales unfold as they enter the Forest of Ferrês. Discover everything from wolves so large they look like full grown ponies, to devil creatures that lurk in the night. Expect the unexpected as you venture into the magical land of Ferrês where not everything is as it seems.

Purchase Today for $2.99!


 

Excerpt #1:
Bonds of Friendship

Jerked back to reality, a wide-eyed and gaping Karigan followed as trees parted to reveal a path covered by undisturbed dirt littered with fallen leaves. She hesitated, knowing the path led deeper into the forest. Ralph said no one ever comes out once they go in. But what if the forest draws you in? What happens then? Curiosity won as Karigan stepped forward, taking the path deeper into the Forest of Ferrês. All Karigan knew was that a mystery awaited her, and something told her it was best to keep moving.
Moments of wonder swiftly turned into regret as the trees grew larger and the fairy’s glow fought to keep the darkness away. “Excuse me, Alia, but where are we going?” The light swayed as Alia hovered to a stop beneath a large archway. Karigan stepped closer, eyeing the darkness within and looking over her shoulder as little Alia sat down on a nearby stump.
“Go inside,” Alia said.
“But it’s so dark.”
Giggles rang out as Alia swooped into the air, circling about her and creating particles of dust. “Do not fear, for in darkness is light. Go inside.” The little fairy shoved her back forcefully,  making Karigan stumble forward through the archway.
Nothing. All she could see was nothing. Where is the damn light! Panic gripped her. Calm, yourself, Karigan. It won’t do to lose your head. Just breathe and try to relax. Fairies are supposed to be good, trustworthy. Oh…by the gods, the damn fairy is trying to kill me! Her eyes flew open, and her breathing grew frantic as fear pressed in on her lungs.
Snap!
“What was that?” She turned around. To her dismay, the exit had disappeared. “How the hell?”
Snap!
I’m going to die! She faltered, stumbling over a branch. Karigan hit the ground hard, knocking the wind out of herself. Fear consumed her.
Snap!
Jumping to her hands and knees, Karigan’s eyes locked on the nearby trees. Slowly, her eyes adjusted as she watched, and waited. Silence weighed on her until a rabbit crashed through the brush beneath a nearby tree. “Oh, thank the stars…it’s just a rabbit.”


 

Excerpt #2:
Bonds of Betrayal

Shogun stood in the council chambers with several other generals. A few ryders were present. The king was looking at the map of the kingdom as they went over each checkpoint where they’d searched for Dengotta. It had been five days since the funeral and there was unrest among the people. Many were claiming the ryders were all to blame for their Queen’s death. Several controversies broke out throughout the city and the king’s men stepped in to put a stop to them. Time seemed to be their own worst enemy. The longer Dengotta remained free, the more the people sought retribution. Soon they could have an uprising on their hands.

“How far south have you searched?” the king asked.

“We have teams scouring the northern lands and others have started to infiltrate the southern side of the kingdom. So far we haven’t had word of any sightings. It is almost like Dengotta disappeared off the face of the earth, sire.”

Shogun watched General Bash as he finished his report. The man was tall with sandy brown hair, cropped short for battle. He was a good man and never gave up on anything the king wished him to complete. Shogun knew without a doubt Bash would be the man to bring Dengotta in. A servant girl running into the chambers interrupted his thoughts. The poor kid was gasping for air.

“Sire, there are several hundred men at the castle doors. They demand entry to speak with you.”

The king looked at the young girl dressed in kitchen garb. He thought it must be urgent if a mere girl had been sent into a war meeting. Rodrik looked at her as gears turned in his head. He had just opened his mouth to speak when screams echoed from the hall outside the council chambers. Chaos came swiftly.

Guards ran into the room surrounding the king—swords drawn and ready. Moments passed like an eternity as the men the young girl had spoken about broke into the chambers and fought the generals. Shogun kept his wits about him, gathering his magic to strike. But he never expected what was to come next.


 

Excerpt #3:
A Forbidden Friendship

Kÿla pressed her small body to the ground hoping not to get crushed. Trees were moving all around her. Roots were springing up from the earth as they slithered across the ground like giant serpents looking for their next meal. She didn’t know what was up with the forest today. Never had she seen the trees behave in such a way. If she wasn’t careful Kÿla would find herself crushed underneath the giant trees that stretched for miles into the sky. 

I know the forest is magical, but this is getting old. Dodging a flailing branch, she jumped from rock to rock. As a twin-tailed fox Kÿla moved with stealth unknown to mankind. Her speed allowed her to glide through the air with her two tails. They twitched nervously as she landed on a rock, then crouched and prepared to jump once again. Pouncing, she avoided the trees, but she wasn’t gaining any headway. The longer she remained in this part of the forest, the more danger she was in with the looming giants around her. Kÿla panted and tried to catch her breath. Her eyes danced around the forest floor as she decided where to make her next move. She was about to jump only to have a tree land right in her path. She growled in frustration.

“What do you want from me!”

A tree uprooted itself in response, sliding its roots across the ground like snakes. Slowly its gigantic form slithered over in front of her then dug deep into the earth. Another followed suit, then another. Before Kÿla could blink, several dozen trees had moved into a straight line on both sides of her. They were trying to herd her—but why? Tentatively she placed her small paw on the ground, waiting to see if the trees would move. Silence. Everything was still. Another paw followed the first and she slowly made her way down the path. The trees were quiet and didn’t budge an inch.

Kÿla hated being herded like some common cow to a destination she didn’t know. It was bad enough she had left the sanctuary of the Torrigan Falls. But now, if she was correct, Kÿla walked within DarkDeath’s territory. He would have her head if he found her here again. She wasn’t one for rules and loved adventure, but after their last encounter she wanted to stay clear. Her eyes danced among the base of the trees as she continued to pad along on her dainty paws—always alert in case the trees started to go crazy again. 

The lane went on for miles as the trees continued to form alongside each other. Before Kÿla knew it she was in a meadow. The trees shifted back to their former positions leaving her even more confused. What was the point of making her come to this meadow? All she saw before her were flowers and tall grass. She found herself irritated when unfamiliar scents alerted her. By the gods, I’m not in the Forest of Ferrês anymore.


 

About the Author

JENKINS_AUTHORPIC_2018K.M. Jenkins is a published international bestselling author that writes epic battles, forbidden romance, and tales of fantasy and adventure. She has a big love for the fantasy genre and loves dragons above all creatures.When she is not writing, you will find her chasing her twin boys around the house. Between the three she has epic battles throughout the day and nothing ever gets boring.

Connect with K.M. Jenkins:

Website | Newsletter | Reader’s Group | FB | Twitter | Instagram | Amazon | Bookbub | Goodreads

5 Fun Facts:

  1. I am the proud mother of twin boys. They were born in June 2017, and are a big handful. 
  2. Besides being a published author I also run my own cover design business, KJ Magical Designs. 
  3. The first book I read with dragons was Elizabeth Kerner’s “Song in the Silence”. This book is what sparked my love for dragons. 
  4. I have a Bachelor’s Degree in Graphic Design and a minor in Mass Communications.
  5. I have lived in Sioux City, Iowa my entire life minus two years over in Lucas, Iowa. My dream place to live would be Tennessee or Utah.

JENKINS_2020_TOF_PROMOBANNER2

Medieval Monday: The Labors of May

May Day marks the beginning of summer in the medieval world. The weather is really warming up, and there are lots of new chores to begin. Planting and harrowing continues, and weeding the grain fields becomes an important chore. Cabbages, leeks, onions, and garlic are ready to be planted, as are those plants used in fabric production like hemp, flax, madder, and woad.

In the Medieval Home Companion, the author advised his young wife, “Throughout the months of April and May sow the green vegetables that are eaten in June and July. Cut the green vegetables of summer, leaving their roots in the earth. After winter, the roots put out new shoots, and you must hoe and loosen the soil around them. Sow new ones, and pick the new shoots of the old. From April until the feast of the Magdalene is a good time to sow green vegetables…Set out white cabbages and round cabbages that are sown in February and March. In May, one finds new beans, turnips, and radishes.”

Meadows and pastures are growing lush and green, finally able to sustain new lambs and calves who have been weaned from their mothers. Their milk will now be used for dairy production; cream, cheese, and butter.

Bees are swarming too, and can be captured to start new hives to provide honey and beeswax.


Enjoy another episode of “Tales from the Green Valley”. Topics included for the month of May are dairy production (milking, churning butter) , plowing, harrowing, charcoal burning, sowing peas, making fishing rods and tackle, fishing, making straw rope, baskets, and thatch for roofing, period foods, and celebrating May Day.


Use the Medieval Monday Index to discover more topics relating to daily life in the Middle Ages.