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Joint work

In old times, joint work events or talkas were of great importance in Suiti community. It was accepted to do larger works together with neighbors. In this way, even hard farm work became easier, faster and more fun. In the form of talkas, buildings were built, manure was removed from barns, grain was threshed, potatoes were harvested and flax was ground. In talkas, guys could meet girls and girls their boyfriends, they could drink, sing, dance, taste better food. To illustrate the traditions of talkas, we have placed a description of manure removal talka in this chapter.

Manure removal talka

In earlier times, manure was removed from the stable or barn in the form of talkas. Several men drove up with two-yoke carts, or at least one-yoke carts, and with happy conversations got down to the dirty work. Men loaded carts and teenage boys drove horses to the fields. Unloading of the carts usually was done by the owner himself as only he knew best where and how much manure is needed. Girls broke up and scattered the manure in the field with small forks. They embellished their work with songs in such a way that even the dirtiest work gained its charm.

The table had to be laid in the talka and the food had to be better than everyday. Hosts baked white bread, sklandrauši, made meat jelly with round potatoes, meat with cabbage and brewed beer. Especially threshing and flax-making talkas were never without beer. But beer was only given when it was possible to feel the floor of the barn with forks in the deep barn. Not before.

On the talka day, the hostess made the beds early in the morning, put new blankets on them and put clean covers on the pillows, as well as put on better clothes herself. Then the talka participants arrived and everyone got to work. The men carried the cow boxes and the gates of the horse pens out of the stable. The girls, adorned with white aprons, went to the field. The men removed one section of the wall in the stable, directly opposite the door, so that the cart could pass through the stable and the manure loading could begin. In the field, the owner took out one sideboard of the cart and threw it in front of the cart on the tiller, then took a pitchfork and spread the manure.

At breakfast time, two wooden buckets with water and a few pieces of soap were placed in the middle of the yard. Two towels were hung on a nail by the door. People washed their hands pouring the washed water on the ground.

In the room, a white milk soup – noodles – was steaming on the table in large clay bowls. Three wooden spoons were placed in each bowl. In the middle of the table was half a loaf of bread and a pile of pies. There was butter in the plates. With a spoon it was decorated with a cross on top and ornate grooves on sides. Meat jelly had also been made.

The men sat on the benches without crossing themselves, cut pieces of bread with sharp pocket knives, took the meat with the same knives and put it directly in their mouths. Butter was spread on the bread. After each bite, the soup was scooped up with the first spoon that came across. While eating, the joy of tongues was loosened. The girls came home when the men were already at the table and were eating separately. When the men had eaten, they wiped their knives down their trousers, gathered them up and put them in their pockets. After wiping their mouths with their hands and twirling their moustaches, they went back to work. Men worked with hats on their heads.

Sauerkraut and lamb were usually eaten for lunch. After lunch, while the horses grazed, everyone went to sleep for a nap. When the work was finished, they sat down at the table again and ate (launags or dinner), after which they went home.