November from the Hours of Henry VIII

November image from the Hours of Henry VIII shoiwing two men knocking down acorns for the pigs below the trees
Morgan Library MS. H.8 f. 63 November from the Hours of Henry VIII France, Tours, ca. 1500

The labor for November is often a butchering scene; typically, hogs. But another popular labor for November scenes in books of hours is that of feeding acorns or nuts “mast” to swine, as here and in the Très Riches Heures. In this image from the Morgan Library’s Hours of Henry VIII, as in the November scene form the Très Riches Heures, we see a man allowing swine to graze on the fallen acorns, while another man beats the trees with a stick to encourage the nuts to fall. Here too the trees are pollards, the lower limbs having been removed for their wood. Notice that both men are dressed warmly with strong shoes, leggings, warm shirts and hoods. November is not a balmy month, and those swine look ready for the butcher. Typically, one or two sows would be wintered over with a single boar, though the boar might be borrowed in spring from a neighbor in return for a young pig.