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into the towns, sometimes to a distance of one or two hundred versts. The straw is consumed by the cattle, and is also used in the steppes, where wood is scarce, for heating the stoves. There is, however, often a surplus which is employed to make fences for gardens, or embankments for ponds and marshes. Our roads and highways not being stoned, the immense transports of produce can, generally speaking, only be made in winter on sledges : if it ever takes place in summer, it is effected by means of oxen, the keep of which costs nothing, since the road itself supplies them with pasture, for it is no less than two hundred and ten feet, or thirty sagines wide, and all as green as a meadow. These oxen, which are seldom employed in tilling the land, but always in transporting goods, come to us from the vast steppes of the Volga, the Don, and the Caucasus; and this periodical influx of horned beasts, which are brought in great numbers from all the confines of the empire, is the source of frequent plagues and distempers, which destroy our cattle, and frustrate all our endeavours to improve the breed. Some agriculturists of large fortune, possess fine cattle imported at a great expence, from England and Holland; but all the profit, hitherto at least, has been absorbed by the expence and precautions* necessary for the preservation of these animals; precautions, indeed, which, for
* Precautions, that is to say, against the effects of the Russian climate, to which of course they are not inured.
the generality of proprietors, and still more for the peasants, are totally out of the question. This is the reason why, with our fine pastures, and all the means of having an excellent breed of horned cattle, we have nothing but poor and miserable animals. . With Merino sheep, the case is very different; our wools, indeed, are not first-rate, nor are our cloth factories adapted for manufacturing the fine sorts of wool. The consequence is, that, while coarse wool affords to the grower an immense profit, fine wool fetches less than prime cost, and the owners of flocks of superior breeds are only paid by the sale of rams. This is an excellent state of things for extending the Merino blood through the country in general, and the ram trade is at present a very flourishing business.
Now as to our horses, we must divide them into two classes, those of the gentry, and those of the peasants. The former occupy themselves zealously and successfully with their breeding studs, for which they spare neither expence or trouble. The studs of the province of Tamboff are chiefly supplied by the fine stallions bred by Countess Orloff: the grand object is to produce fine powerful trotters, and in this we meet with great success. With the peasants' horses, the case is quite different; they are small, of a bad breed, ill fed, and ill attended to. There is no legislative measure in existence for their improvement; the habits of the people in no way supply this
deficiency, and the breed of horses of this description is utterly neglected, and is visibly growing worse. In this case, as in many others, our system of husbandry is passing through a crisis. Formerly the immense tracts of arable and pasture, and the superabundance of grain, permitted the keeping of great numbers of horses, half wild, but strong and hardy; and the remains of this stock are still to be seen in the hands of our peasants. The people, however, have not yet learned to accommodate themselves to the present state of things, now that land is scarcer and forage dearer; so that they ought to be more careful of them, and to bestow more attention on their breed and keep of their cattle. Habit and the recollection of the time, when they might wander for pasture far and wide, interfere to prevent the adoption of an improved system among our peasants; but it is to be hoped, that when the origin and progress of this evil are once fairly perceived, the landed gentry and the Government will take measures to remedy it: the more so, that society in Russia was never so much occupied as at present in promoting all kinds of industry, and every thing connected with agriculture in particular. The movement lately produced is active enough, and may resolve itself into satisfactory results.
A few ordinary sheep, pigs, poultry of all kinds, and one or two cows in addition to the horse, the sorry description of which we have just lamented,
complete the live stock of the peasant, and help to consume the produce of his land, which he cannot sell at any price, however low, on account of the distance of the markets. In a year of plenty, the different kinds of corn become exceedingly cheap, and are consumed with reckless improvidence, since no one thinks of laying by. And this will explain the terrible dearths which sometimes visit us. But we will return to this subject, and treat it more at length. These dearths arise from numerous causes.
With the triennial system, our manner of proceeding is very simple. In the month of August we sow our winter corn, viz. rye, and a small patch of wheat, having ploughed the ground twice in the course of the summer. In September, after the harvest, we prepare the ground for the spring by a light ploughing, and in the month of April, after a second ploughing, we sow it with oats, barley, pease, and millet, and a little later with buck-wheat. In June, we prepare the ground for the winter crop, and begin to mow the grass, the hay harvest occupies us till the middle of July, and this completes the annual routine of our husbandry. It must be remembered, that the seasons are reckoned according to the old style, twelve days, or nearly half a month later than the new, so that the hay harvest, for instance, does not really begin till July, and lasts till August. I must inform you that the twentieth part of our population lives in towns, and is engaged in various trades, the
remainder is wholly agricultural. Every peasant, as you have seen above, cultivates for his master and himself, in addition to the fallow, eight acres, and mows two acres of meadow. Every acre in a plentiful year gives not less than ten measures called chetverts * of grain. You can judge, therefore, of the immense quantity of our produce, of which more than the half remains on our hands, owing to the lowness of the price, and the prodigality of consumption : two or three successive years of good crops overload us to the greatest possible degree, no human force can dispose of the produce, and our storehouses are not capacious enough to contain the corn, the more so, that buildings of all kinds are expensive with us.f The natural question then is,—why do we produce so much, and why do we not vary our productions; a question easy to ask, but not perhaps so easy to
Our peasants being once provided for by the allotment of land, being unable to read or write, and ignorant of every art but that of husbandry, time and money would be requisite to teach them and. habituate them to any other branch of industry. Now time and money are generally the very things of which landed proprietors in this country have least at their disposal. They must live, educate their children, and pay the debt to the crown, #
* The chetvert weighs six Russian poods, or 216 lbs.
# If, as is generally the case, there is a mortgage on the estate, the Crown is the creditor.