PALLADIUS (Rutilius Taurus Aemilianus, 4th Century BCE)
De Re Rustica (Opus Agriculturae)
Original text from: (translation: Andrea Gaddini)

Liber I

Book 1
XXI. De stabulis equorum et boum.
Stabula equorum uel boum, meridianas quidem respiciant partes, non tamen egeant a septemtrione luminibus, quae per hiemem clausa nihil noceant, per aestatem patefacta refrigerent. Ipsa stabula propter ungulas animalium ab omni umore suspenda sint. Boues nitidiores fient, si focum proxime habeant et lumen intendant. Octo pedes ad spatium standi singulis boum paribus abundant et in porrectione quindecim. Plancae roboreae subponantur stationibus equorum, ut iacentibus molle sit, stantibus durum.
XXI. On stables for horses and cattle.
The stables for the horses and cattle must surely look south, but they must not lack of windows looking north, that could be closed in winter in order to avoid damages to the livestock, and must be opened in summer to refresh them. The stables must be made so that they keep the cattle's hooves above any liquid. The oxen will be better having a fireplace close to them so they can turn towards the light. For every pair of oxen, eight feet of space are absolutely enough if they stand up, and fifteen feet if they lay down. Then it must put oak planks under the stall of the horses, so that they are comfortable as the animals lay down and hard as they stand up.

 Liber II sive Mensis Ianuarius

Book 2 - month of January
 III. De proscindendis agris et iungendis bubus uel arandi disciplina.
(...) boues melius collo quam capite iunguntur: quos, ubi ad uersuram uenerint, arator retineat et iugum propellat, ut eorum colla refrigerentur
III. On ploughing and oxen yoking, or the ploughing discipline.
(...) the oxen should be yoked by the neck rather than by the head: so that, when they reach the end of the furrow, the ploughman reins them in and pushes the yoke ahead, refreshing therefore their necks.

 Liber IIII sive Mensis Martius

 Book 4 - month of March
XI. De conparandis bubus, tauris, uaccis.
Hoc mense conparandi sunt boues, qui tamen, siue de nostris capiantur armentis siue emantur, idcirco nunc parabuntur utilius, quia necdum sagina temporis pleni aut celare possunt fallaciam uenditoris et uitia sua aut ad repugnandum domiturae contumacem pleni roboris exercere fiduciam. [2] Haec tamen signa spectanda sunt in bubus, seu de nostro seu de alieno grege fuerint conparandi, ut sint bones nouelli, quadratis et grandibus membris et solidi corporis, musculis ac toris ubique surgentibus, magnis auribus, latae frontis et crispae, labris oculisque nigrantibus, cornibus robustis ac sine curuaturae prauitate lunatis, patulis naribus et resimis, ceruice torosa atque conpacta, palearibus largis et circa genua fluentibus, pectore grandi, armis uastis, uentre non paruo, porrectis lateribus, latis lumbis, dorso recto et plano, cruribus solidis, neruosis et breuibus, ungulis magnis, caudis longis ac setosis, pilo totius corporis denso ac breui, rubei maxime coloris aut fusci. [3] Melius autem boues de uicinis locis parabimus, qui nulla soli aut aeris uarietate temptentur. Aut si hoc deest, de locis similibus ad similia transferamus. Illud ante uniuersa curandum est, ut uiribus ad trahendum conparentur aequales, ne ualentioris robur alteri pro curet exitium. In moribus haec consideranda sunt. Sint arguti, mansueti, timentes hortamen clamoris ac uerberis, cibi adpetentes. Sed si regionis ratio patitur, nullus melior cibus est quam uiride pabulum. Vbi uero deest, eo ordine ministretur, quo pabuli copia et laborum coget accessio. [4] Nunc tauros quoque, quibus cordi est armenta construere, conparabit aut his signis a tenera aetate summittet, ut sint alti atque ingentibus membris, aetatis mediae et magis, quae iuuentute minor est, quam quae declinat in senium, torua facie, paruis cornibus, torosa uastaque ceruice, uentri substricto. Vaccas etiam nunc maxime parabimus: [5] sed eligemus forma altissima, corporis longi, uteri capacis et magni alta fronte, oculis nigris et grandibus, pulchris cornibus et praecipue nigris, aure setosa, palearibus et caudis maximis, ungulis breuibus et cruribus nigris et paruis, aetatis maxime trimae, quia usque ad decennium fetura ex his procedet utilior. Nec ante aetatem trimam tauros his oportet admitti. [6] Sed erit studium diligentis amotis senioribus nouellas subinde conducere et steriles aratro ac laboribus deputare. Graeci adserunt, si mares creare uelis, sinistrum tauri in coitu ligandum esse testiculum, si feminas, dextrum: tamen tauros diu ante abstinendos, ut, cum tempus est, acrius in causas dilati feruoris incumbant. [7] Sed his armentis hieme maritima et aprica loca, aestate opaca paremus ac frigida, montana maxime, quia melius frutectis et his herba internascente saturentur. Quamuis circa fluuios recta propter loca amoena pascantur, fetura tamen aquis tepidioribus adiuuatur, unde magis utilius habentur, ubi pluuialis aqua tepentes format lacunas. [8] Tolerat tamen frigus hoc armenti genus et potest facile hibernare sub diuo: quibus tamen septa fieri propter iniuriam grauidarum conuenit laxiora. Stabula uero utilia sunt strata saxo aut glareis aut harenis, deuexa aliquatenus, ut umor possit elabi, parti meridianae obuersa propter flatus glaciales, quibus aliquis resistere debet obiectus.
XI. On the purchase of oxen, bulls, cows.
In this month it must procure the oxen, that however, either if we choose them from our herd, or we buy them, just now they will be chosen in the better way because, being still not satiated by the season food, they cannot hide the seller's deceit and their own defects or even they can't trust in their own strength and be obstinate in refusing the taming. [2] These are the characters to look at in the oxen, either if we choose them from our herd, or from other ones, to get good young oxen: they must have vigorous and wide limbs, being of strong frame, with the muscles prominences protruding on the whole body, with wide ears, broad and hairy forehead, black lips and eyes, strong and half-moon shaped horns and without bending defects, wide turned-up nostrils, brawny and compact neck, broad dewlap hanging down to the knees, wide chest, broad shoulders, not small venter, extended to the flanks, wide loins, straight and flat back, solid, vigorous and short legs, large hooves, long and silky tail, thick and short hair on the whole body, better if red or tawny. [3] It is best to procure oxen from neighbouring countries, so they are not troubled by the change of air and climate. Or, if we do not have local oxen, we transfer them from zones with a similar climate. Before any other thing it must pay attention in getting oxen of equal force in pulling the plow, so that the strenght of the most vigorous does not provoke the consumption of the other. With regard to the temperament these characteristics must be considered. They should be lively, meek, afraid of the orders, both given by the voice or by the whip, of good appetite. If the zone supplies it, there is no better food than green forage. Where instead there's lacks of it, forage in the measure allowed by the food availability and the work demanded is given. [4] Now we'll buy also the bulls, to which is up the task to build the herd, or those which since the most tender age show these signs will be raised: they must be tall and with imposing limbs, of middle age and closer to the youth that declining towards the old age, with threatening look, small horns, wide and sinewy neck, narrow venter. We need also to procure above all the cows: [5] we will choose them of very huge height, with a long trunk, great and capacious venter, high brow, black and wide eyes, beautiful horn, mainly black, hairy ears, very wide dewlap and long tail, short hooves and small and black feet, of an age not over three years, since therefore they could easily calve until the age of ten years. It's better not the take them the bull before their third year of age. [6] It will be a task of the careful breeder, after having culled the oldest cows, to procure soon afterwards the new heifers and to assign the sterile ones to the plow and the work in the fields. The Greeks say that, if we want that bull calves be generated, during the mounting the left testicle of the sire must be tied, or the right one if we want cow calves: they say also that the bull must remain a long time in abstinence, so that, when it will be the time, they throw themselves with more ardor by the accumulated lust. [7] Then in winter we shelter these herds in sunny places by the sea, in summer in shady and fresh places, above all on mountain places, because they satiate better with shrubs and the grass growing between them. If it's possible they will be sent and graze by to the rivers, close to pleasant places, since the pregnancy is aided by lukewarm waters, therefore it is better to keep them where the rain waters forms lukewarm lagoons. [8] This kind of cattle endures well even the cold and can easily winter in the open: anyway they must be provided with spacious pens in order to avoid that the pregnant cows be hurt. The stables are better paved with stone, gravel or sand, with a slight slope, so that the liquids can drain, and will look south because of the icy winds, from which it must give some shelter.
XII. De domandis bubus.
Hoc mense ultimo domandi sunt trimi boues, quia post quinquennium bene domari non possunt aetatis repugnante duritia. Capti ergo statim domentur, qui quidem prius, cum teneri fuerint, frequenti manus adtrectatione mansuescant. Sed stabulum noui boues largioribus spatiis habere debebunt, ut et ante stabulum loca nullis concludantur angustiis et producti non aliqua uitientur offensa. [2] In ipso uero stabulo adseres transuersi a terra septem pedibus alti configantur. Ad quos boues ligentur indomiti. Tunc eligis absolutam tempestatibus et inpedimentis omnibus diem, qua capti perducantur ad stabulum. Quorum si nimia fuerit asperitas, uno die ac nocte inter uincula mitigentur atque ieiunia. Tunc appellationibus blandis et inlecebris oblatorum ciborum, non a latera neque a tergo, sed a fronte accedens bubulcus admulceat naresque et terga pertractet mero subinde conspergens, hac tamen cautione, ne aliquem calce contingat aut cornu. Quod uitium, si in primordiis effectui sibi cessisse senserit, obtinebit. [3] Tunc mitigatis os et palatum salibus frica et in gulam demitte praesulsae adipis librales offas et uini sextarios singulos cornu infundente per fauces: quae res intra triduum totius saeuitiae iram resoluet. Aliqui eos inter se iungunt ac docent onera temptare leuiora: et, quod utile est, si arationi parantur, subacto prius solo exercendi sunt, ut nouus labor tenera adhuc colla non quasset. [4] Expeditior autem domandi ratio est, ut asperum bouem mansueto et ualido boui coniungas, quo ostendente facile ad omnia cogetur officia. Si post domituram decumbit in sulco, non adficiatur igne nec uerbere, sed potius, cum decumbit, pedes eius ita ligentur uinculis, ut non possit progredi aut stare uel pasci. Quo facto siti ac fame lassatus carebit hoc uitio.
XII. On oxen taming.
In this last month the three years old oxen must be broken in, since after the fifth year of age they cannot be tamed in an effective way because at that age they reject to be treated in a tough way. Once they are chosen they must be tamed at once, if previously, when they were still calves, they have been accustomed to be frequently touched by the man's hand. Anyway the new oxen must have wider room in the stable, and the space in front of it must not be reduced by any narrowing, so as the calves are taken outside they don't suffer any wound. [2] In the same stable seven feet high poles must be raised in the ground. The untamed oxen will be tied to them. Then a day free from bad weather and engagements will be chosen, in which, after having captured them, it must lead them to the stable. And if their aggressiveness will be excessive, it will be calmed keeping them a day and a night fasting and tied. Then the ploughman will gently call them and entice them offering food, approaching not by the side neither from behind, but from before, and he will stroke their nostrils, fingering their back, then sprinkling them with wine, and paying attention that no calf could hit them by kicks or butts. The animals will keep this vice, if the first times they will notice that we allow them to do it. [3] Then, after having calmed them, it must rub their mouth and palate with salt, then make them swallow mouthfuls of one pound of salted lard, and using a horn as a funnel pour in their throat a sextarius (0,5 l.) of wine to everyone; this treatment for three days will make vanish the aggressiveness of their wild state. Somebody tie them each other and train them to try with light weights; it is also useful, with steers assigned to the plowing, to make them train on a land already worked previously, so that the new job don't waste their still tender necks. [4] The faster way to tame the calves is yoking an unruly ox with a tame and active one, which with his example will easy force the other to perform every work. If once tamed the ox lays down in the furrow, it is not use intervening neither with the fire nor with the wipe, but rather, when he lays down, tying his legs with a rope, so that he cannot walk, stand or graze. Doing this, weakened by thirst and hunger, they will lose this vice.

 Liber V sive Mensis Aprilis

Book 5 - month of April
VI. De armentis.
Hoc mense uituli nasci solent, quorum matres abundantia pabuli iuuentur, ut sufficere possint tributo laboris et lactis. Ipsis autem uitulis tostum molitumque milium cum lacte misceatur saliuati more praebendum.
VI. On livestock.
In this month usually the calves are born, and their dams take advantage of the plenty of pastures, so that they can provide both work and milk. The calves are fed milled and toasted millet mixed with milk, to enhance the salivation.

 Liber VI sive Mensis Maius

Book 6 - month of May
VII. De armentis.
Nunc castrandi sunt uituli, sicut Mago dicit, tenera aetate, ut fissa ferula testiculi conprimantur et paulatim confracti resoluantur. Sed hoc luna decrescente uerno uel autumno fieri debere praecepit. Alii ligato ad machinam uitulo duabus angustis regulis stagneis sicut forcipibus ipsos neruos adprehendunt, qui Graece cremasteres dicuntur. [2] His conprehensis tentos testiculos ferro resecant et ita recidunt ut aliquid de his capitibus neruorum suorum dimittatur haerere. Quae res et sanguinis nimietatem prohibet et non omnino iuuencos subducto robore uirilitatis effeminat. Nec admittendum est, quod plerique faciunt, ut statim castratos coire conpellant. Nam certum est ab eis generari, sed ipsos fluxu sanguinis interire. Vulnera uero castraturae cinere sarmentorum et spuma linentur argenti. [3] Castratus abstineatur a potu et cibis pascatur exiguis ac sequenti triduo praebeantur ei tenerae arborum summitates et frutecta mollia et herbae uiridis coma dulciore sagina roris aut fluminis. Pice etiam liquida mixto cinere et modico oleo post triduum uulnera diligenter ungenda sunt. Sed melius genus castrationis sequens usus inuenit. [4] Alligato enim iuuenco atque deiecto testiculi stricta pelle clauduntur atque ibi lignea regula premente deciduntur ignitis securibus uel dolabris uel, quod est melius, formato ad hoc ferramento, ut gladii similitudinem teneat. Ita enim circa ipsam regulam ferri acies ardentis inprimitur unoque ictu et moram doloris beneficia celeritatis absumit et ustis uenis ac pellibus a fluxu sanguinis strictis plagam cicatrix quodammodo cum ipso uulnere nata defendit.
VII. On livestock.
Now, as Mago says, it's time to castrate the calves, since their age is still tender, and it is made compressing the testicles with a splitted cane and eliminating them by destroying them little by little. But Mago teaches that this must be made with moon on the wane, in spring or autumn. Others tie the calves to a crush, and with two tightened tin bars used as tongs, they seize those legaments, which in Greek are called cremaster. [2] So doing they put in tension the testicles which are then cutted off with an iron blade, shearing as to leave there some of the extremity of the legament. This technique stops the excessive bleeding and it doesn't make the calves completely effeminate and the strength of virility is not removed. Then it must not send them, as the greater part of the breeders do, to mount just after the castration. Indeed they surely will fertilize, but then they'll die for the loss of blood. The wounds of the castration must be rubbed with vine-shoots ash and litharge. [3] The castrated calves are not provided drink and just a little forage is fed, and in the three following days little young buds of trees, tender shrubs and the mildest leaves of green grass, grown with the dew and the water of the river are fed. After three days the wound must be accurately greased with tar mixed with ash and some oil. But with the experience the best technique for the castration has been found. [4] After having tied and felled the calf, they lock the testicles, tightening the scrotum and, compressing them with a wooden stick, they cut them with a hot axe or a hatchet or, which is even better, with a purposedly made tool, which is sword-shaped. So doing, in fact, the edge of the burning iron blade presses on the wooden stick and with the same action it extinguishes the trouble of pain thanks to the benefit of the rapidity, and also, burning the blood vessels and the skin, excluding them from the blood flow, creates a scar, which is somehow born from the same cut, and which defends the wound.

Liber VII sive Mensis Iunius

 Book 7 - month of June
VI. De armentis: in eo de castratura, de caseo, de tonsuris.
Hoc etiam mense uituli recte, ut dictum est ante, castrantur. Nunc etiam caseum iure conficimus et oues in frigida regione tondemus.
VI. On livestock: in particular of castration, cheese, and sheep-shearing.
As I said before, in this month it's time to castrate the calves; it's also time to make cheese and, in cold regions, to shear the flock.

 Liber VIII sive Mensis Iulius

 Book 8 - month of July
IIII. De armentis.
Hoc tempore maxime tauris summittendae sunt uaccae, quia decem mensum partus sic poterit maturo uere concludi: et certum est eas post uernam pinguedinem gestientes ueneris amare lasciuiam. Vni tauro quindecim uaccas Columella adserit posse sufficere curandumque, ne concipere nequeant nimietate pinguedinis. Si abundantia pabuli est in regione, qua pascimus, potest annis omnibus in feturam uacca summitti: si uero indigetur hoc genere, alternis temporibus onerandae sunt maximeque, si eaedem uaccae alicui operi seruire consuerunt.
IIII. On livestock.
This is the month in which usually the cows are taken to the bull, so that the pregnancy of ten months can be concluded in full spring, and surely after the spring fattening they crave to abandon themselves to the lust of mating. Columella says that a bull can be enough for fifteen cows, and it must pay attention that they couldn't succeed to conceive for their excessive fatness. If in the region in which they graze there is plenty of grass, the cows can calve every year; if instead the grass is not sufficient, they calve at alternate years, especially if they are cows usually employed for draught.
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page last updated: November 1st 2007