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Estate owners mainly grew grains, because it provided the best income. In the XVII century, Estonia was the northernmost country that grew enough grain to export. Mainly rye was grown. Most widespread was the three field system, and oxen were used as draft animals. Fields were divided into long narrow sills. To increase the productivity of the fields, rocks were gathered and hauled away from the fields. First ones to do this, were the farmers on the islands. Later these rocks were used to build fences.
The yield was increased by fertilizing the crops with manure. The farms usually herded more livestock than the estates. There were relatively few cows, mainly because of the limited possibilities to transport milk. The limited yield of the estate's fields was compensated by expanding the fields further. The peasants were of course used as free workforce. This lead to the situation, that when before the Livonian war, the farm fields had outnumbered the estate's fields four to one, then by the end of the XVII century, it was only two and a half to one. The imposed mandatory labour increased accordingly. The main obligation of the peasants was to work on the estate fields; also there were many different types of corvée, the most burdening of these was the one where farmers had to take their horses or oxen to work with them. In addition to seasonal labour, peasants were obligated to haul grains in the winter, which could mean a trek hundreds of kilometres long. On top of all that, they had to pay rent with either crops or tools. Peasants were also forced to take part in the battue, they themselves were forbade to hunt larger game.
There was plenty of fish in the waterpools. Especially lake Peipsi, where the Russian fishermen were a constant headache to the Swedish authorities.
Bee keeping was less common than in Medieval times.

Image: rye

Source: Ain Mäesalu, Tõnis Lukas, Mati Laur, Tõnu Tannberg. Eesti ajalugu I. Avita, Tallinn 1995

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