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Remember the Rainforest 1

 

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We have observed at Santa Barbara's vast farm the perfection of cleverly managed farming, which is only now, in the decline of the exploitation of gold mines, being utilized in the province. Gold was once the sole source of the wealth of Minas, and farmers were even careless of cultivating the necessary food to feed the slaves who were exclusively employed in the other land. The successive waning of gold production had led them to exploit the fertile lands. Our farmer was still surely paying the royal mining tribute of a thousand annual golden cruzados; however, his farm's main income consisted of corn, flour, beans and some sugar. The supply of maize was colossal and filled the large

barn to the ceiling. Sugarcane was pressed in a small device on the farm, part

used for cachaca, part for molasses, and all sold to neighbors. The ashes of the dried bean straw, after being beaten with sticks in the lean yard in front of the house to remove the grain, are used to make soap, which, however, is not pure and never takes solid consistency. Nor is cattle farming here neglected. A herd of six hundred heads provides meat, milk, cheese and leather for the home economy. Thus is found in the products of the farm all the supply to meet the most pressing needs of life, something that promotes not only welfare, but also influences favorably on the morality of the inhabitants. This effect is noticeable, especially in the condition of slaves, who are healthy and happy and maintain true patriarchal relations with their owners.

After crossing the Sapucai in canoes and having paid a few small coins for each mule's pass, after reaching two wooded hills, we reached a beautiful valley below, formed to the left of the Serra de Sao Goncalo, to the right of the Serra da Paciencia. Both are beautifully covered with woods and, by their contours, resemble the foothills of our Alps entirely. The very region through which it passes is high, and the vegetation of the field is of alpine genus; the long hills are covered with clumps of gray-green grass; the lowlands, on the contrary, are full of small trees with small leaves. The mountain is usually light yellow granite with black mulch of small shale, on which is the red clay that contains gold.

Serra Paciencia

The village of Sao Goncalo, which is N. N. E. three leagues of Santa Barbara, had in the mid-thirties very important gold washes and enjoyed great wealth, whose past bears witness to by several imposing buildings already half ruined. However, the

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