I was too little to note very much of what was done. I remember that my father set up boundary marks—little piles of earth or stones, I think they were—to mark the corners of the field we claimed. My mothers and Turtle began at one end of the field and worked forward. My mothers had their heavy iron hoes; and Turtle, her old-fashioned digging stick.
Many families now built stages in their fields, where the girls and young women of the household came to sit and sing as they watched that crows and other thieves did not steal the ripening grain.
A watchers’ stage was not hard to build. Four posts, forked at the tops, upheld beams, on which was laid a floor of puncheons, or split small logs, at the height of the full grown corn. The floor was about four feet long by three wide, roomy enough for two girls to sit together comfortably. Often a soft robe was spread on the floor. A ladder made of the trunk of a tree rested against the stage. The ladder had three steps.
June berry time had come. I was now fourteen years, old and had begun to think myself almost a young woman. Some of the young men even smiled at me as I came up from the watering place. I never smiled back, for I thought: “My father is a chief, and I belong to one of the best families in my tribe. I will be careful whom I choose to be my friends.”
There had been plenty of rain, and the June berry trees were now loaded with ripe fruit. We Indians set great store by these berries, and almost every family dried one or more sackfuls for winter. June berries are sweet, and, as we had no sugar, we were fond of them.
When my sack was filled, I tied it shut and slung it on my back by my packing strap. Sacred-Red-Eagle-Wing laid some sweet smelling leaves under the sack that the juices from the ripe berries might not ooze through and stain my dress.
And then came the corn harvest, busiest and happiest time of all the year. It was hard work gathering and husking the corn, but what fun we had! For days we girls thought of nothing but the fine dresses we should wear at the husking.
While the ears were ripening my sister and I went every morning to sit on our watch stage110 and sing to the corn. One evening we brought home with us a basketful of the green ears and were husking them by the fire. My father gathered up the husks and took them out of the lodge. I wondered why he did so.
We loaded our two pack horses with strings of braided ears, ten strings to a pony. The smaller ears we bore to the village in our baskets, to dry on our corn stage before threshing.
The life of a farmer in Syria and Palestine is very different from the life of a farmer in England. He does not live in an isolated farmhouse, in the midst of a number of enclosed fields, which he owns or rents, and which he cultivates at his own cost and for his own profit alone. The country is much too unsettled to permit families to dwell alone, and so they cluster in little villages for their common safety and defence. The cultivated lands of the villagers lie outside the village, and the most fertile ground is sometimes a mile or two away from the houses. The villagers are too poor to enclose each a farm for himself, and the farms are simply cultivated plots lying unenclosed in a great waste, which belongs, perhaps, to the Government, or to some great feudal lord.
The ploughs used by these Syrian cultivators are little more than a bent wooden stock, having a long bar, by which it may be drawn. The lend of the stock is in shape somewhat like that which is formed by a human foot and leg, the foot being the 'share,' which scratches up the soil. That part which corresponds to the leg is prolonged upwards into a long handle, with the help of which the ploughman guides the plough. The bar by which the plough is drawn is attached to the inner or fore side of the bend, at the ankle, as it were. Two oxen of a small kind are, as a rule, attached to each plough.