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Cultivation of Cereals

The first rains in October signal the start of sowing. The fields are dug over 2 or 3 times with a wooden plough (aletri) or an iron plough (papara). Reaping was done in July with sickles, and the reapers wore a kind of wooden glove (palamaria) on their left hand or long wooden thimbles (daktylithres) to protect their hand and to enable them to carry a larger number of cornstalks. The cut stalks were tied together to make sheaves (dematia), which were gathered together in stacks. The threshing was done with the adokana or doukana, a timber beam dragged around the threshing floor by animals. The constant movement of the beam would break up the corn. The workers used a wooden implement known as a sklavoura to collect the coarse straw and take it to the barn for storage. The rest ― grain and chaff ― was piled up and tossed into the air with a wooden pitchfork (lihnitiri). The wind carried off the chaff, and the grain fell to the ground. The grain was then sifted with a riddle (starodermono), transferred to sacks, and carried home. The unit of measurement for corn was the sniki (or the pnak on Samothraki).

Four snikia were equivalent to a kilo of grain, or enough to sow a field of 2,000 m2 (two stremmas or approximately half an acre). People would talk about a ‘one-kilo field’, rather than a ‘two-stremma field’, which was the official unit of measurement. On Samothraki, because most of the islanders raised livestock, the expression ‘a one-head fold’ was used as a unit for measuring a variable land area. The better the soil, the smaller the ‘fold’.