Agriculture as a natural sideline
Schmallenberg was a farming town: agriculture shaped life and the townscape for centuries. Until well after the middle of the 20th century, agriculture was practiced by almost all families as a main or sideline occupation. The burgher farmers lived in the town and farmed their fields outside the town. They kept livestock at and in their houses in the town. The houses built after the town fire of 1822 took these conditions into account: they were built for people and animals alike. They kept livestock, stored hay, housed the equipment for farming, and produced and stored butter and milk in a separate dairy kitchen. In front and behind the house there was space for dung heaps and stacks of beech wood. Animal husbandry - cows, goats, chickens, rabbits and pigs were kept - guaranteed the basic supply of milk, butter, eggs and meat for the households.
Houses for people and animals
The house at Oststraße 31 was built in 1822 as a five-aisle, two-story house with eaves on a quarry stone basement that belonged to the previous building. In 1822, a minimum distance to the neighboring building (Oststraße 33) of 20 feet (1 Prussian foot = 31.4 cm), about 6.3 meters, was prescribed. This gave each house a wide yard space on one side, which could be used for agricultural purposes. On the other side, the houses were set close to the neighboring property.In the front part of the mostly two-story houses were the living rooms. Behind them was the part for the cattle. The walls of the basement were not made of oak beams, but of stone. Only the living quarters had cellars: potatoes and beets were stored in these cellars. The hay was stored in the attic: in addition to storage, it also served as heat insulation in winter. Between the stables and the living quarters was the cattle kitchen, which had a water supply and a sink. In the cattle kitchen there was also the "Schweine- oder Schüetelpott", in which pig feed was cooked or sausages were scalded during slaughtering, or laundry was boiled. The milk kitchen, located on the north side of the house, housed the supplies and processed the milk.There was a close relationship with the animals with which people lived closely. They were fed, milked, cared for and finally slaughtered for years. At night the cows were chained in the barn, the manure was collected in the slurry trough. The barn was mucked out several times a week and the excrement was collected on the manure pile, which provided valuable fertilizer within half a year. In the 1950s, the cattle were only led to the Weide tied to the road, as car traffic had increased considerably. The care of the animals, especially the milking of the cows in the morning and at noon, was a woman's job, as was the processing of the milk. If there was a cow in the house, the family did not suffer poverty; not even in the meager war and post-war period. Farming was also done as a sideline. Farming and harvesting were mostly done by hand until well into the 20th century; it was not until the 1950s that the tractor made its appearance. Economic upswing, growing purchasing power as well as automation and changes in food production led to the abandonment of part-time farming in the course of the 1960s. At the beginning of the 1970s, there was no longer any part-time farming in Schmallenberg.