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meadow. The hay is not in general dried in the field, but is loaded as soon as cut, on waggons drawn by oxen, and brought into a large yard, or piece of ground adjoining the barn, and is there opened out to dry. They have no hay forks, but instead they use the butt end of the scythe handle, or a forked stick. The latter is the only implement they have for pitching up the hay into the barn. The hay is generally housed the day after it is cut; none of it is put into ricks. They make it as soon as it is dry into large cocks; under each cock they thrust crosswise, two long stakes, leaving one end of each standing out; they then pass a rope round the cock and attach it to a horse which draws the hay thus held together along the ground to the barn. When the distance is short, the trouble of loading and unloading waggons is thus saved, and two horses will in this manner bring in a vast quantity in the course of the day; the tenth cock, as it is brought in, is weighed and taken as the average. The whole quantity of hay made this year at Krasnoe, not reckoning the stock laid in by the peasants, which must be considerable, was about a hundred and ninety seven tons, all harvested in excellent order. The average value of hay in the country is about eight shillings and threepence per ton; sometimes, however, it is as high as thirty-three shillings; and at Petersburg, it rises occasionally to fifty-five shillings a ton; this, however, is considered a ruinous price.
All the crops
year seem very good, except the rye, the staple food of the country; it is generally thin and bad, and in many places a total failure; it is chiefly housed by this time, they began cutting it on the 15th of August, but the harvest this year is later than usual. Besides
rye, oats are grown here in large quantities, barley and flax to a considerable extent, and a good deal of hemp: there are also a few pease, and some small patches of spring wheat, which, however, looks very unthriving; a few hops are to be seen around the villages, and potatoes and cabbages are largely cultivated for human consumption; the former vegetable has, I believe, not been introduced
peasantry to any great extent, till of late years; and even now they rely much more upon the cabbage, which they have a peculiar mode of pickling for winter food, since they cannot always preserve potatoes from the frost.
They always here begin sowing rye on the 18th of August, as it is the anniversary of the consecration of the church. They have a mass, after which they proceed to a field near at hand, when the priest pronounces a blessing, and offers a public prayer for the success of their labours. Though the sowing on this day is a mere form, the seed-time commences immediately afterwards in good earnest; and the young corn is already in some places beginning to make its appearance.
As soon as the corn is cut, it is dried on a sort of
kiln, threshed out, and stored up in large bins in the granaries. Here there is a threshing machine worked by horses, but the flail is used by women as well as
I have seen the peasants often threshing their own.corn without an implement of any kind, merely taking up the sheaf by the lower end, and beating the heads upon a spot of hard dry ground, swept clean as a threshing floor. They dry their corn by fires in large open sheds built on purpose; but sad calamities are, as might be expected, the frequent result of this dangerous practice. All the agricultural implements in general use are rude in the extreme; the peasant's spade is a mere paddle of wood, sometimes shod with iron, but more often not; his plough is an ineffective instrument drawn by a weak pony, and his harrow merely consists of boughs fastened together with the thin branches cut off a few inches from the base so as to form projecting teeth: his waggon does not contain above two or three barrows' load, but it certainly is as much as his miserable horse can draw. Every peasant is a petty farmer, and the wretched state of agriculture which exists is, I conceive, the natural consequence of the system.
Journey to Yaroslav Tver-Avant-courier-Cross-roads—Passing
a ferry-Kaskine and Ouglitch-Russian travelling~Navodka and Nachai--Arrival at Yaroslav- View from Government-house— Volga - Military church Regiment of Cantonists Officer taking the oaths of allegiance - Horse fair — Dinner-FrostSociety-Card-playing-Mode of marching--Nobility-Rank and Title--Military grades given to civilians.
Yaroslav, October 3rd, 1837. My last letter made you acquainted with our projected visit to this place, where we have now spent upwards of a fortnight most agreeably. My time has been so constantly occupied, that I have never had leisure for writing to you, and I sit down now to wipe off the arrear.
We left Krasnoe on the 13th of September, being provided with a travelling carriage by the kindness of M—'s father. Our regrets at quitting the place, which had been our home for nearly three months, and our leave-takings with those from whom we parted, I shall pass over in silence, and proceed to Tver, which we reached the same afternoon. The General sent us with his own horses the first eight
and-thirty miles, having dispatched a set half way over night, so that we found six fresh horses awaiting
We hired horses to take us the remaining stage of about two-and-twenty miles, which lay along the high road between Petersburg and Moscow. Tver, the capital of the province, or government as it is called, of the same name, in which our time had hitherto been spent, is a city of considerable size, situated on the right bank of the Volga, which we crossed by a bridge of boats on entering the town.
Here we were obliged to sleep, as some arrangements were necessary before we could proceed on our journey, since the remainder of our route lay for the most part along a line of cross-roads little frequented, and on which no regular posting stations existed. However, owing to the kindness of the Governor, Count Tolstoy, all the difficulties which we should otherwise have had in procuring horses were done away. Our present hosts, when they invited us to Yaroslav, had promised to bespeak Count Tolstoy's good offices for us, and to beg him to furnish us with the means of proceeding through his government.
On arriving, therefore, at Tver, I sent a note to the Governor, applying for an order for horses, and his secretary immediately came and said that every thing should be done for our accommodation, and that he would return in the morning, when all would be ready for our departure. Accordingly, as soon as