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FARMS AND VINEYARDS
 THE best tilled farms in Portugal are in the north, in the rich province of Minho. They are
quite small, and are worked like well-kept gardens by the farmer and his family, with
perhaps the help of one or two hired hands.
The chief crop grown there is maize, and many different things are sown with it, such as
dwarf kidney-beans and gourds. Young cabbages are also planted among the maize, and in the
winter, after the grain has been garnered, they grow to a great height, when their leaves
are plucked off one by one, the top being left to grow taller still.
June and July are very busy months. Besides the wheat and rye harvests, the maize, which
is not cut until September or October, gives endless work. First it has to be hoed, and
then earthed up. Later on it is gradually thinned out, some of it being taken as fodder
for the cattle, and all the time it has to be carefully and regularly watered. This is
generally done by irrigation. A farmer's whole prosperity depends on his water-supply, and
no trouble is too
 great to insure a good one. Sometimes it is brought for miles in underground channels, or
along a groove cut in the top of a broad wall. Another method is to raise it from a well
by means of an old-fashioned water-wheel, worked by oxen. Many buckets are set about a
foot apart on an endless chain, which passes over the wheel. With each turn these buckets
dip into the well, and as they come up again empty the water into little channels, which
carry it in all directions to irrigate the growing crops.
As the maize ripens to harvest the golden cobs have to be cut from the straw, husked,
dried, and finally threshed.
The husking or removing of the outer sheath is a tedious business, so the farmers often
give a kind of harvest home, to which they invite the neighbouring peasants. They provide
food and wine in plenty, and their guests work far into the night, to the accompanying
music of guitars and violins.
There are many different kinds of beans grown—black, white, grey, and yellow,
mottled beans and striped beans, large and small. Flax, too, is widely cultivated, and in
the north the farmers' wives and daughters spend the long winter evenings spinning and
weaving it into linen for their clothes. In the marshy land near the sea we find rice, and
most of the onions that are sold in England as
 Spanish onions in reality come from the North of Portugal.
From the north, too, comes the wine we call port. Vineyards flourish, and wine is made in
all parts of the kingdom; but that which is imported so largely into England, and which is
handed with dessert in so many English houses, is made only from the grapes grown on the
steep hillsides of a tract of country on the banks of the River Douro, some sixty miles
above the old seaport town of Oporto. It extends a long way up the river, and for a few
miles to the north and south, through the valleys and gorges of many small tributary
streams. It is a mountainous country, and from the water's edge to the high hill-tops
there is nothing to be seen but vineyards, rising terrace above terrace in dull, unvarying
monotony. The vines are grown as bushes, and have none of the beauty of those in many
other parts, where they are trained over trellises, or allowed to ramble at will up
You may have often seen the rich tawny red wine on the dining-room table, but I wonder if
you have ever thought of all the labour that went to produce it. The construction of the
terraces where the vines are to grow is in itself a mighty piece of work. Each terrace has
its strong retaining wall, built with the stones taken from the soil, and when the vines
have been planted, they require
 constant care and attention. In the autumn the low-growing shoots have to be removed and
the roots uncovered. Pruning begins at the same time, and occupies the whole winter. The
ground has to be dug in March, when all weeds are cleared away, and the earth is hoed into
little mounds to protect the roots from the hot rays of the sun. Next comes the training
and propping of the branches, which are secured by willow or rush ties to stakes driven
into the ground. A second digging takes place in May, when the earth is once more
levelled, and during the summer the vines have to be sprayed with sulphur to keep off a
dreadful blight called oidium, which would otherwise do great damage.
At last, towards the middle or end of September, the vintage begins, and this brings with
it the hardest work of all. Bands of men and women arrive from far-away villages in every
direction to help with the work, singing and dancing as they come, as though out on a
A LONELY FARM.
The women gather the great clusters of grapes into baskets, and empty these into other
larger ones, which the men carry away on their shoulders, passing from terrace to terrace
right down the hill to the wine-presses. These are large granite tanks, into which the
grapes are thrown, and men are employed to tread out the juice with their bare
 feet. It is very tiring, and is performed by relays of workers, trampling steadily, their
hands placed on each other's shoulders to steady themselves. This goes on for many hours.
The pulp is then left to ferment for some time, and bubbles and heaves as though it were
boiling. When the stalks and skins rise to the surface the liquor gradually begins to cool
down, and the time has come for running it off into the huge vats in the cellars below.
The following spring the wine is put into casks, and sent in large boats down the Douro to
Oporto, where it is stored in the merchants' "lodges" till required for export.