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.

 

Medieval Monday: A Knight’s Stock

Just like today, there were many types of horses in medieval times but they weren’t classified by their breed, but by their usage. Medieval knights must have used more than just their warhorse in their daily lives. In this episode, Jason introduces us to three horses that a knight might have kept in his stable and describes how each would have been useful in its own individual way.


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

Medieval Monday: A Knight’s Steed

A knight and his horse were a perfect partnership, the dominating force on the battlefield for many hundreds of years. How did this perfect partnership come to be and how did a knight work with his horse to cement their place in history? Jason shares his own experiences with horses – knights must have had similar relationships with their own steeds.


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

Medieval Monday: The Labors of April

Spring is here! Farm work really gets underway—harrowing and sowing are important chores for this month. Crops planted in April included grains, like barley and oats, and legumes like beans, peas, and vetches. Grain seed was planted by standing with one’s back to the breeze, and flinging a handful of seeds outward from the waist. This was a quick and easy way to create a dense growth of grain. It took four bushels of seed for each acre planted.

By contrast, legumes were more carefully planted. A hole was poked into the soil with a “dibbler stick,” and the seed dropped in. It took three bushels of beans or peas to plant each acre. The field was harrowed after all the planting was done by dragging a tool like a giant rake across the field. This covered all of the newly planted seeds with soil.

Flax and hemp were also planted in April. These had a myriad of uses, the most notable of which was fiber production. In addition to large crop fields, household gardens were cleaned up and made ready for planting in April as well. Herbs and coleworts would be the first things planted.

Calving continued, and the lambs were continually being weaned, which meant dairy work could begin for the spring. Cream, milk, cheese, and butter were back on the menu again. Pigs also began to have piglets, so any food leftovers were given to the pigs.

It’s time for another episode of “Tales from the Green Valley” which focuses on what daily life would have been like during the month of April. Subjects in this episode include spring cleaning (and other chores of a medieval housewife), calving, bedding, building/repairing stone walls, field work, and making food from early spring ingredients. Enjoy!


Did you miss last week’s post on medieval tower houses? Click to read and get a visual tour of one towerhouse still standing in Ireland. Use the Medieval Monday Index to discover more topics relating to daily life in the Middle Ages.

 

 

Fantasy Art Friday

Get inspired with this week’s Fantasy Art Friday, where fun fantasy artwork is combined with a writing prompt to get your creative juices flowing.


This place has seen better days. There is part of a tower or castle looming in the background, but everything around it seems to be falling apart, including this entrance with gaping holes in the roof. It isn’t abandoned though–there is a guard on watch. Is that a gallows behind him on the other side of the wall? It adds to the sense of foreboding in this picture, along with the fog, the dead trees, and the crumbling structures.

Who lives in that castle? Is it a tyrant living lavishly on the backs of his or her subjects, while dishing out cruel punishments for any minor infraction? Or is this city part of of a kingdom that has fallen on hard times and is barely surviving? Maybe there’s a completely different twist to this story that only you can tell…

Keeping Watch over ruin