Subsistence and Commercial Activities . Until the early twentieth century most Nogays were pastoral nomads raising sheep, goats, cattle, horses, and camels. The Kuban and Kumyk Nogays and later the Nogays of Achikulak grew mainly millet but also oats, wheat, maize, watermelons and other melons, and squashes. Some Nogays also fished. Arid conditions, however, made the life of both pastoral nomads and agriculturalists difficult, and droughts and harsh winters sometimes brought great devastation to the herds and crops on which the Nogays relied for subsistence. In the twentieth century, improved availability of water (including more extensive canalization, already begun in the nineteenth century) and modern techniques have made the Nogays more productive as farmers and animal breeders. Today the recently sedentarized groups on the Nogay steppe raise sheep and cattle, whereas agriculture plays a greater role for groups sedentarized earlier, such as the Achikulak Nogays or the Nogays of the Kuban. Wheat is a major crop, and the importance of other crops is increasing. The availability of water, especially in river basins and along canals, makes orchards and vineyards practical. Today in the Terek-Sulakarea, fruits and vegetables such as apples, pears, plums, cherries, apricots, peaches, grapes, tomatoes, cucumbers, cabbages, onions, eggplants, squashes, watermelons, and other melons are cultivated. Many of the crops resulting from such cultivation were unknown in the traditional diet. Along the Kuban, other crops such as sugar beets and sunflowers are also important.
Industrial Arts. Many of the wares that were traditionally produced from wool, leather, and wood (also from clay by sedentarists), such as clothing and household utensils, have given way to modern commercial products.
Trade. In earlier times horses and domestic wares were traded with neighboring peoples and Russian merchants in return for bread, salt, textiles, leather footwear, and manufactured goods. In the nineteenth century sedentarized Nogays also traded agricultural products such as wine. Today agricultural products from private plots in the Caucasus are sold throughout the former Soviet Union.
Division of Labor. In traditional nomadic families the livestock were collectively owned and managed, usually including the livestock brought by brides joining a family. Men tended the animals, were engaged in the field, were responsible for construction activities, and acquired goods from outside the household. Women were occupied with domestic chores. The female head of the household managed domestic affairs and organized the work of the females of her household. A symbol of the authority of the female head of the household was her chain of keys to the trunks and cashbox. She kept the male head of the household informed of the state and needs of the household and kept track of expenses. The female head distributed products for preparing meals, she or her first assistant cooked, and she served the food that was prepared. There was a strict hierarchy among women, with younger women obliged to obey the orders of the older women. Older women were responsible for preparing milk products, preparing grain and flour, spinning yarn, weaving cloth, and sewing clothing. Young daughters-in-law performed the heaviest tasks: gathering dung for fuel, laundry, cleaning the residences, sorting fleece, making felt, carrying water, and washing utensils. Today the division of labor is less stark; in many households there is cooperation between men and women. Nevertheless, women still tend to perform domestic chores in addition to managing the household budget, and men still tend to perform outdoor chores such as watching after the animals, tending the gardens, etc.
Land Tenure. Under the Soviet system, land was owned by the state, although this part of the former Soviet Union had the highest proportion of privately cultivated plots.