Sing a Song of Blackbirds
The Fathers' Fields
The prairies south of Ravenspire have incredibly rich soil and abundant rainfall during the growing season, making them some of the most bountiful farmlands on the Mahogany Coast. Although there are a few towns scattered here and there along the High Road, the most notable settlements are the so-called “parishes” that make up the Fathers’ Fields.
The parishes are small villages built around a single stone church of simple design. The church is dedicated, not to any god of the oldworld pantheon, but to the land upon which it is built. The church is used as a community center as well as a place of worship, especially right after the harvest season, when the people of the parish throw lavish holy festivals, thanking the land for its bounty.
The primary occupation of the parishes is a sort of communal farming. The land around the village is divided into three separate plots of farmland. The people of the parish each get a certain number of furrows in each plot, which they can use to grow their own crops. The number of furrows a family or individual gets is determined by the whole of the community and is generally dependant on several factors, such as their skill as a farmer or the type of crop they wish to plant. Staple crops are given priority, and the community reserves the right to deny a person furrows if he or she wants to plant a crop that does not fit into the parish’s elaborate system of crop rotation.
Generally, one of the parish’s fields is planted with staple crops like wheat, rye, turnips or potatos. A partially depleted field is planted with less demanding crops, such as oats and barley. The last field has its soil tilled, mixing in the roots of previous crops to replenish the soil. Clover is then planted in the fallow field, and livestock is allowed to graze in it. Their manure also contributes to revitalizing the soil for the following year. Once the harvest comes, everyone is allowed to keep half of the crop from their furrows. The rest of it is taken by the community for redistribution. Some of it is stored in silos against the possibility of a bad growing season. Some of it is given to the Ravens as a land tax, and the rest of it is redistributed among the people of the community. This ensures that everyone has a variety of food, and gives the people the ability to pay taxes without disrupting their ability to feed themselves.
The name of the Fathers’ Fields comes from an old folkstory that has been passed down by the people of the parishes. The story goes that the fields were once ruled by a cruel Baron, and after a bad growing season he tried to take the land away from the farmer that worked it. The farmer was infuriated by the Baron trying to take away the land his family had worked faithfully for so many long years. He took his grievance before the king, and supposedly said “I am as a father to these fields. Would you take away my children?” The king was so stirred by the farmer’s bravery that he proclaimed the farmer’s lands to be free and independant of the barony that had once oppressed the farmer’s family.
The veracity of this tale is uncertain, especially since the Fathers’ Fields have not been part of a feudal monarchy at any point in recorded history.