CATO – Duties of the Overseer

My part 3 of Marcus Porcius Cato, who died 149 BC and had great thoughts on establishing and running a successful farm or ranch as recorded in Forgotten Books.

Duties of Overseer:

  1. maintain discipline
  2. observe feast days
  3. respect the rights of others and uphold his own
  4. settle all quarrels/administer punishment
  5. make sure no one is in want to easily prevent picking and stealing

The overseer should not permit wrong-doing by others and show appreciation for courtesy. He should not be given to conviviality, but should always be sober. He should keep his hands busy and see that the master’s bidding is done and not think he knows more than the master. The master’s friends should be his friends and give heed to those whom the master has recommended. He should confine his religious practices to Sunday or to his own house.

Lend money to no man unbidden by the master, but what the master has lent he should collect. Never lend any seed reserved for sowing, feed, corn, wine, or oil, but should have relations with other farms to make exchanges in emergencies. His accounts should be discussed frequently with his master.

He should not keep any hired men or day hands longer than is necessary. He should not sell anything without the knowledge of the master nor conceal anything from the master.

He should have no hangers-on, nor consult any soothsayer, fortune teller, necromancer, or astrologer. He should not spare seed in sowing for that is bad economy. He should strive to be expert in all kinds of farm work, and, without exhausting himself, often lend a hand. He will better understand the work and sleep more refreshingly.

First up in the morning, he should be the last to go to bed at ngiths; and before he does, he should see that the farm gates are closed, and the each of the hands is in his own bed, that the stock have been fed. He should pay the highest compliments to the teamsters who keep their oxen in best condition. Make certain that plows and plow shares are kept in good repair, planning ample time for for farm work so nothing is done late.

During rainy times, find something to do rather than remain idle. Clean up.

“Remember that while work may stop, expenses still go on.”