In Sugar Estates there were four main places. The planter’s house or better known as The Great House, it usually stood on top of a hill, the factory, where they made sugar, the field, which was filled with sugar cane and the small huts, which generally was far from the great house, where the slaves lived(This is shown in fig.1). It was in these tiny huts which African slaves were forced to get out of almost every day to work on the plantation.
Slaves would have to work for the entire year. For slaves there were two seasons, The Dead Season and the Crop Season. During the Dead Season, which is August to November, slaves would have to dig holes for sugarcane, put manure, they would cut the fully grown sugarcane at the bottom when harvesting and leave the stem in the ground, this is called ratooning, they would also have to pull weeds, build, cut timber, repair roads and any other odd jobs.
During the Crop Season, whish was November to July, slaves would have to cut and send sugarcane to the mill within forty eight hours. There were three different types of mills. There were animal, water and wind driven mills. The animal mills were usually powered by cattle, mules or oxen. Slaves dreaded this season seeing that they were forced to work a lot harder. “During crop time they work night and day almost incessantly” (Smith 1745, 232).
Sugar cane could take 14 to 18 months to mature. Cane was planted either by digging trenches and putting old cane cuttings from end to end, or by digging holes and planting 2 feet long cane cuttings. After fertilizing the sugar cane with animal manure you would have nothing else to do but wait for them to ripen. When the sugar cane is finally ripe the slaves would have to cut the cane by hand using broad curved machetes. When the sugar cane was all cut they would then load them onto carts. Since Mills were so inefficient, during the Crop Season the slaves would work in the mills and boiling house 24 hours a day to make sugar. Working in both mills and the boiler house was difficult and dangerous.
After the cut sugar cane was brought to the mills, by cart or donkey, the slaves would then put them in wooden or metal roller to be crushed to extract its juices.