This 1883 Farm Account book has all kinds of useful tables in the back, and this one is kind of interesting: Distances Travelled in Ploughing. I wonder what purpose this would serve? Why would great great grandfather need to know this? It reminds me of the lunchroom talks of today, where various colleagues compare the health apps on their iphones…calorie counters, types of exercise that can be tracked in order to earn more calories to eat. Is this the same idea?
Well I decided to do a little research, and as usual I was surprised to find a logical explanation for this. It seems that the farmer would have used this information to determine how far he could push his oxen before giving them a rest.
I found an article about this on wikipedia, including this image which is in the public domain:
I got the following information from the Furlong article on wikipedia:
Farm-derived units of measurement:
The rod is a historical unit of length equal to 5½ yards. It may have originated from the typical length of a mediaeval ox-goad.
The furlong (meaning furrow length) was the distance a team of oxen could plough without resting. This was standardised to be exactly 40 rods.
An acre was the amount of land tillable by one man behind one ox in one day. Traditional acres were long and narrow due to the difficulty in turning the plough.
An oxgang was the amount of land tillable by one ox in a ploughing season. This could vary from village to village, but was typically around 15 acres.
A virgate was the amount of land tillable by two oxen in a ploughing season.
A carucate was the amount of land tillable by a team of eight oxen in a ploughing season. This was equal to 8 oxgangs or 4 virgates.