Tudor Monastery Farm is in episode 3. It is late spring and the farm has been run for two months. The pig enterprise has been set up. Ruth, Peter, and Tom sheered their sheep and sold the wool to the monastery. They then learned how to drive oxen. Now they focus on food and what the farmer ate. Bread and ale were a staple of the Tudor diet. The Tudor people had a high-calorie diet. Bread and beer were 1/3 of the calories in the Tudor diet. Since they worked hard on the farm, they were able to burn calories faster. Ruth comments the only thing missing was Vitamin C but if you had the “occasional leaf” you were good on Vitamin C. If the barley crop failed, the Tudor farmer could starve. In the Tudor period, one in four harvests failed.
Religion guided the Tudor farmer in preventing a bad harvest. Forty days after Easter, the Tudor farmer processed around the farm boundaries to ensure a good harvest. It was called beating out the bounds. There were no written parish maps to tell people where their boundaries were. A second reason why the Tudor farmer processed around the farm was to remind the people of the boundaries. Ronald Hutton talks about how they got the Tudor children to remember the boundaries. Boys were often beaten and turned upside down. After they did that they were given fruit cake as a treat. The idea was to remember bitterly what a place looked like.
Tom and Peter then discuss the pigs. It was the earliest form of factory farming. Farming changed during the Tudor period and instead of being subsistence farming, they were profit farming. The boys separate the piglets from the mothers to wean them. The piglets are taken to the woods. They are fattened up on acorns. A boar is introduced to the mothers to breed.
In the meantime, Ruth collects wild yeast to make bread and ale. Her experiment in capturing wild yeast is a success. The idea was to collect the wild yeasts that were in the air. Ruth’s experiment is a success. She then works to spread out the barley on a floor to start the beer-making process. The next step after spreading it out on the floor is to get it wet. Days go by and they shovel it into a smaller and smaller pile. Beer making was an intensive and time-consuming job. Ruth then transports the barley to the bread oven and continues the ale-making process. Tudors drank ale and not beer because beer required hops. Tudor farmers worked from dawn to dusk.
The only place where time counted was in the monastery. The monks had specific times when to pray, when to go to the chapel and when to eat. Tom and Peter build a clock for the monastery.
To continue to learn more about the Tudor Monastery farm, continue to watch this fantastic series.
Tudor Monastery Farm is an excellent show for the classroom. If you need a filler for a substitute teacher or just to share some living history with your students. You can show certain episodes in an agricultural classroom as well. Grab some clips and use this series in the classroom as part of a lecture. You are only limited to your imagination when it comes to using YouTube in the classroom. The discussion on Tudor pig breeding would be an excellent clip to show in an agricultural classroom. Or you could create a science experiment on capturing wild yeast to demonstrate the scientific method.
You can access the YouTube Video here. The worksheets for this series are available on my Teacher Pay Teachers page.
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