Pater familias ubi ad villam venit, ubi larem familiarem salutavit, fundum eodem die, si potest, circumeat; si non eodem die, at postridie. ubi cognovit, quo modo fundus cultus siet operaque quae facta infectaque sient, postridie eius diei vilicum vocet, roget, quid operis siet factum, quid restet, satisne temperi opera sient confecta, possitne quae reliqua sient conficere, et quid factum vini, frumenti aliarumque rerum omnium. ubi ea cognovit, rationem inire oportet operarum, dierum. si ei opus non apparet, dicit vilicus sedulo se fecisse, servos non valuisse, tempestates malas fuisse, servos aufugisse, opus publicum effecisse, ubi eas aliasque causas multas dixit, ad rationem operum operarumque vilicum revoca. cum tempestates pluviae fuerint, quae opera per imbrem fieri potuerint, dolia lavari, picari, villam purgari, frumentum transferri, stercus foras efferri, sterquilinum fieri, semen purgari, funes sarciri, novos fieri; centones, cuculiones familiam oportuisse sibi sarcire. per ferias potuisse fossas veteres tergeri, viam publicam muniri, vepres recidi, hortum fodiri, pratum purgari, virgas vinciri, spinas runcari, expinsi far, munditias fieri.
(Cato Maior, Agr. 2.1-4)
When the master arrives at the farmstead, after paying his respects to the god of the household, let him go over the whole farm, if possible, on the same day; if not, at least on the next. When he has learned the condition of the farm, what work has been accomplished and what remains to be done, let him call in his overseer the next day and inquire of him what part of the work has been completed, what has been left undone; whether what has been finished was done betimes, and whether it is possible to complete the rest; and what was the yield of wine, grain, and all other products. Having gone into this, he should make a calculation of the labourers and the time consumed. If the amount of work does not seem satisfactory, the overseer claims that he has done his best, but that the slaves have not been well, the weather has been bad, slaves have run away, he has had public work to do; when he has given these and many other excuses, call the overseer back to your estimate of the work done and the hands employed. If it has been a rainy season, remind him of the work that could have been done on rainy days: scrubbing and pitching wine vats, cleaning the farmstead, shifting grain, hauling out manure, making a manure pit, cleaning seed, mending old harness and making new; and that the hands ought to have mended their smocks and hoods. Remind him, also, that on feast days old ditches might have been cleaned, road work done, brambles cut, the garden spaded, a meadow cleared, faggots bundled, thorns rooted out, spelt ground, and general cleaning done. (tr. William Davis Hooper, revised by Harrison Boyd Ash)