Medieval Farming

Medieval Farming

The farming year in Medieval England was clearly shaped around the weather. At certain times of the year, certain things had to be done by peasant farmers or crops would not have grown. Farming, in this sense, was controlled by the weather.

Month

Work that needed to be done

Weather the farmer wanted

 

January

 

mending and making tools, repairing fences

showers

 

February

 

carting manure and marl

showers

 

March

 

ploughing and spreading manure

dry, no severe frosts

 

April

 

spring sowing of seeds, harrowing

showers and sunshine

 

May

 

digging ditches, first ploughing of fallow fields

showers and sunshine

 

June

 

hay making, second ploughing of fallow field, sheep-shearing

dry weather

 

July

 

hay making, sheep-shearing, weeding of crops

dry early, showers later

 

August

 

Harvesting

warm, dry weather

 

September

 

threshing, ploughing and pruning fruit trees

showers

 

October

 

Last ploughing of the year

dry, no severe frosts

 

November

 

collecting acorns for pigs

showers and sunshine

 

December

 

Mending and making tools, killing animals

showers and sunshine

Marl = a limy clay used as manure in Medieval England

Frosts were a major worry for Medieval peasants as just one severe frost in the growing season could kill off your crop. Seeds were especially vulnerable to frosts. The impact of a bad frost could leave a family or village without a crop for the year.

Harrowing = a spiked farming tool used to cover up seeds after they have been planted. Like a giant garden rake.

Fallow fields = these were farming fields left alone by the farmers for a year so that the field could regain its strength. If a field was used year in year out, it would not maintain its fertility. Though this system seems a waste as land was lost to the farmers, it was the only way then not to exhaust the land.

Acorns = these come from oak trees which were a very common tree in Medieval England. Pigs were allowed to wander in forests and feed themselves up on acorns. Acorns were free and a lord would not mind as he would have no use for the acorns - but he certainly would for fattened pigs.

Heavy rain - this was feared in the summer as the crop had nearly grown and a heavy rain storm could flatten the crop and make harvesting it all but impossible.


MLA Citation/Reference

"Medieval Farming". HistoryLearningSite.co.uk. 2005. Web.






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