Castillans - Economy



Subsistence and Commercial Activities. Although smallhold farming is the linchpin of the regional economy, it is rare for an individual or household to live off agricultural income alone. Income provided by the family farm is augmented by small-scale animal and poultry husbandry, by public-works employment, and by individual enterprises such as beekeeping, shopkeeping, and other such supplementary economic pursuits. On the farms, alternate-year dry-farming/fallow rotations are customary. Barley and wheat are the important cash crops and are harvested in the summer. Grapes are Commonly grown and are harvested in October. Even in those parts of the region not important for wine production, a farm will generally have small grape arbors, from whose fruit a household will press its own wine. Sugar beets, introduced as a cash crop about fifty years ago, provide a winter harvest. Other common crops, grown for local consumption rather than for sale, are melons, pumpkins, carob beans, lentils, and chickpeas. Traditional farming methods—using a chiselpoint plow, handsowing, weeding by hand-held hoe, and harvesting by scythe—have only slowly been replaced by mechanized means. Chemical fertilizers have slowly replaced manure since the early to mid-1950s. Animals are raised both for fieldwork and for food. Oxen, once the most important draft animals, have largely been replaced by mules. Sheep husbandry was once the heart of the Castilian economy, and in the eighteenth century huge flocks, raised for their wool, were common. Today, however, the number of sheep has Declined drastically, and they are mostly raised for their meat, which is an important component of the local diet. Of all animals raised for food, the pig is most important, and nearly every family raises one or two. Commercial swine herds began to be established in the 1960s, as did commercial poultry Production. Large-scale cattle-raising operations exist in some parts of the region, where pasturage makes it possible. A very important nonagricultural product is pine resin, from which tar, turpentine, and other resin derivatives are made. Forestry-based industries have always been under strict state control, and they can only be carried out in compliance with the regulations of the local forest district office. Even when trees are on privately held property, there are strictly enforced rules regarding the start and end of tapping season, which trees may be cut, and whether or not new forests may be opened up for exploitation.

Industrial Arts. There are few industries in rural Castile. Sawmills and the production of pine-resin derivatives are two such enterprises. In the past, local artisans crafted the tools, utensils, and other consumer goods used by the villagers of Castile, but today the people are more likely to depend upon the stores of the neighboring towns or cities to provide such items.

Trade. Items produced regionally for export to the rest of the country and beyond Spain's borders include pine-resin products, meat, dairy, and poultry products, cereals, and, in some areas, wine and sugar beets.

Division of Labor. In Castile, the division of labor according to sex is best understood according to the distinction Between the public and private spheres—to males belongs the world of paid labor, to females the domestic tasks. This division is not complete, however, for it is crosscut by considerations of class and by the demands of the household farm. Generally speaking, in poorer households, a woman may need to seek paid employment in order to supplement the Otherwise inadequate cash income of her husband. In any case, the heavy work of farming and all specialized agricultural and Forestal jobs are the province of men. The task of threshing wheat falls to the male youths of the farm household. While economic necessity may force a woman to take on paid Domestic work or seek employment in a local shop without Seriously damaging her reputation, there is no such mitigating circumstance to justify a man's assumption of "woman's work"—a man who does so is simply not considered a "real" man.

Land Tenure. Agricultural land is privately owned, in smallholdings. The pine forests are owned by the communidad, a group of neighboring villages. This form of organization derives from medieval times, when clusters of villages and hamlets were under the authority of a ruling lord who maintained his seat in a nearby city. These affiliated settlements held large tracts of land, much of it forested, in Common under the dominion of the lord. Although the individual settlements eventually achieved politically independent Status as municipios in the sixteenth century, their confederation in the communidads remained in place with regard to forests and pasture lands. Today, the primary role of the communidad is to apportion the income realized from commonly held lands and to regulate the use of such lands in order to protect future income. For the pine forests, this means that the rights to harvest the trees or their resin—but not the property rights to the land itself—are periodically allocated by communidad authorities.


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