On the way home from the cities one day last summer, Mog and I noticed something interesting about a corn field. The first few rows of corn were harvested all the way around, as far as we could tell. We speculated, as you do, about why. Maybe to allow more air circulation to help dry the crop...or maybe the farmer was getting low on feed for the cows, that could be it. Hmm, maybe the outside was the least productive or something...none of it seemed right, because we saw another field like that, and two more. With a mighty shoulder shrug, we figured we'd find out the real reason eventually.
So hooray! Mog called this morning and had the answer. She's been at her sisters house, and happened to talk with a farmer friend. He said no, none of the above ☺. He said you plant the straight rows and turn around at the end of the field, within the field. Then the last pass is around the outside of the whole field.
In the fall, you harvest that outside ring first, so again, you can turn around within the field. Isn't that cool?
A bit later, Larry and I were talking on IM, surprise! ☺. I told him the crop saga, and he was suitably impressed. It reminded him of the biblical admonition to save the corners for the poor. Wha...? I must have missed that chapter:
“And when you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not reap your field right up to its edge, nor shall you gather the gleanings after your harvest. You shall leave them for the poor and for the sojourner" Leviticus 23:22
I said "Huh?" and Larry mentioned the painting by Jean-Francois Millet called The Gleaners (here's the zoomable version--I highly recommend it).
Which relative had this print on their wall? Look at the small, snug bundles behind the women, and the bend in their backs. One online description of the painting said the women were well-dressed and healthy looking, as tho this was a lark for them, just something to pass the afternoon. But no--zoom in--these women need every kernel. I doubt they thought of the landowner as particularly generous....and then, you know, this scene happened all over Europe in those years, and definitely in Bohemia. Wow, these really are the values we grew up with, if you ignore the dire poverty part: "Work together"..."Get all you can"..."Don't whine"...."A little sweat never hurt anybody"...."work is noble"..."waste not, want not"
...it's your own fault if you go hungry because it's there to be gleaned...