The land that surrounded the windmills was important, these we not just ornamental gardens these were the places where they produced almost all the food consumed by the family. And the livestock was another important element. It all fit into a very small space, the people were truly homesteaders.
Eric and Aart next visit a typical windmill garden. This is a wonderful example of what a traditional millers garden would have looked like. Indeed, it belongs to the windmill, every windmill has a vegetable garden for the food for the miller's family. It would typically consist of cabbage and potatoes and strawberries, even fruit trees. The things they needed for food they had it in their our own garden. The intent of this space was to try to produce as many things to sustain the family life as possible and it's a very clever use of space. For example, we see the willows that surround the garden, they act not only as a windbreaker but those canes can be harvested. We see them in the construction of fences or used as part of the construction materials for the barns. It's an incredible diversity that is packed into a very small space. We also we see the animal husbandry. Eric asks Aart to talk about the livestock component. They would typically have some chickens, beautiful eggs, some goats for milk and eating grass around the meadows. So the animals were a very important part of life.
There would be times of year when the miller would go fishing. That was a very profitable endeavor for them. We see some really clever fishing traps that the miller would've built out of the same willow branches. So that was a very important part of their life as well. Fishing happened, often in autumn, and they would catch so much eel that they would earn more money with fishing than with operating the windmill.
Photographs courtesy of InstantHedge
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