For three years the child is nurtured in this way. Whether this method of rearing is equally advantageous to the mother and the child is a matter for physicians to speculate. With respect to the child, the advantage is unquestionable, for since the breast-feeding mother performs the entire range of work, the child’s limbs, spine, and nerves are bent and strengthened for all types of movements before he can walk. The mother’s care for the child also grows by no small degree through this continuous affectionate contact.
The child learns how to walk in the living room under the mother’s supervision; he can also safely practice running and jumping on the extensive, clay threshing floor (which is far removed from the fireplace), so that he can develop the agility and skills needed for his future calling.
As soon as this first phase of exercising the physical powers has been completed, the child, from the age of four on, usually keeps company with the cowherd, thus becoming familiar early on, under the latter’s supervision, with his father’s open fields, where he shall commence the first part of his hard-working life. At the age of seven, when the time of moral education according to legal regulations begins, the physical education finds its salutary continuation: the child goes to school at a schoolhouse often half an hour’s walk away from the parental home. In the process, the body is gradually hardened against the changing weather in winter, when the teaching period is set for three hours each in the morning and in the afternoon.
However, in order that the boy should not be idle outside of teaching hours, he must, during classes, from Martinmas [November 11] or from the time when the livestock is stabled until May Day [May 1], supply seven skeins of yarn every day, each skein at 66 threads over the long reel measuring 4.5 ells. In regions where ‘small yarn’ is spun, the amount is ten skeins at 60 threads over the small reel measuring 2.25 ells*; during the time from May Day until 14 days after Michaelmas [September 29], though, he must tend geese while attending school for a few hours over the lunch hour in compliance with school regulations.
From the Wilbaser Kirmis [kermes] (14 days before Michaelmas) onward, flax is cleaned during daybreak (the period from 2 o’clock in the morning until the sun rises) for as long as the weather permits; during the time mentioned, four persons, young and old, from the stable boy up, have to break completely, before breakfast, one 50-60 pound bundle of flax, which the lady of the house puts onto the threshing floor the evening before; they do this on the wooden flax breaker, so that during the day the lady of the house and the farmgirls can pull it over the flax breaker, rubbing and hackling it. By the light of a carefully kept lamp, whose light the farmhand must use at the same time in the cutting chamber to chop fodder, this work is continued on the threshing floor until the cold drives the entire family into the spinning room.