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The thresher and reaping

Following deforestations on the Șinteu plateau, large stretches of arable land ensued. However, the low soil quality resulting from these land clearings, the presence of rocks, roots and stumps made the arable lands not productive enough. Consequently, livestock farming was the main occupation of the Slovaks. Most of the lands were used as pastures, grasslands, or were cultivated with fruit trees (mainly plum trees, apple trees, and cherry trees). On the best lands, two agricultural crops typical to the Slovaks mainly developed: ray crop and potato crop. Wheat was the most sought after and cultivated grain over time. Wheat was made into everyday bread, but bread also had augural powers. In the peasant mentality, bread had supernatural powers; through bread one could more easily get in contact with divinity, with the ancestors’ souls. However, the low soil productivity in the high area of Șinteu made wheat cultivation difficult, its yield being low. This is why wheat was cultivated on smaller areas, often mixed with other cereal plants (barley, oats, ray, millet). Ray adapted more easily to the natural conditions in the Plopiș Mountains area, being an unpretentious cereal and generating a high yield. After the preliminary preparation of the land (manuring, plowing, harrowing), sowing took place. It was done manually, either in spring or fall, depending on the chosen cultivation. The harvest took place in summer, with the participation of the whole family. All other work was left aside until the end of harvest. Men sewed, while women and children gathered the ears and formed crosses. The cereals were then carted to the threshing floor or home, to be threshed; here, they were stored in ricks or barns. Initially, threshing was done with the help of animals, and later with the thresher. A threshing machine existed in Șinteu during the first half of the 19th century. Cereals were then stored in different ways (grain storage holes, barns, tubs, grain crates etc.), and, when needed, they were ground at the water mill. 

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