Each day the mission overseers (missionaries, lay helpers, headmen from the resident Indian bands, or members of the soldiers' families) would lead work groups of mission Indians out of the walls to the labores, or farm lands. Farming was the main occupation of the communities in their quest to become self-sufficient. Crops included maize (corn), beans, chile, squash, melons, cotton, and sugar cane. Orchards produced apples, peaches, grapes and other fruits.
Each mission had an acequia. This system of gravity-fed irrigation ditches brought water diverted from the river by means of a dam to the fields and orchards. A portion was brought through the compound. The grist mill at Mission San José was powered by this water.
Did You Know?
that Texas longhorn cattle evolved from 3 breeds the Spanish imported to the Americas in the 17th and 18th centuries? They were the barrenda or piebald, the retinto, and ganado prieto. Modern longhorn have long legs and a narrow body - perfectly suited to travel long distances in dry, harsh country.