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a half of grass are commonly cut, four tons have been produced simply by heavy seeding and plastering; where thirty bushels of corn have been the common crop, seventy bushels have resulted from well applied manure, selected seed, and good cultivation; and where only two hundred bushels of carrots or rutabagas were ordinarily yielded, six to eight hundred have been obtained by performing every part of the operation promptly, in the best manner, and on a deep and rich soil. We have known a gain of more than one hundred dollars a year on a single farm from a selection of the most efficient tools, and proper laborsaving machines. We could also name some farmers, who, instead of reaping an average net profit of only two per cent., make at least twenty per cent.; and some of the best farmers of Western New York (and doubtless elsewhere) clear from $700 to $900 from every hundred acresand in one case about $6000 have been made in a single season from a five-hundred-acre farm. The owners and managers of these farms were active, intelligent, and energetic men, of long experience, always in the midst of every important operation, and we need scarcely add, constant readers of the best agricultural publications of the day."
Such are the opinions of one who has long been regarded as an agricultural authority. They are cautiously expressed, but are not discouraging. They strengthen the position taken throughout these pages, that it is not the mere land which makes the cultivator independent, but the skill and industry with which he handles it. They may be said to lie at the foundation of all intelligent, well-directed labor. An animal will grow if generously fed; if not, he must remain nearly stationary. If not fed at all, he will assuredly die of starvation. It is pre
cisely so with agriculture. Crops must be fed, or they cannot be produced. In this case, the feeding consists of thorough tillage and manure. Both are costly items, but they are indispensable to success. The great question is how to command them in the largest abundance at the smallest cost.
It is granted, on all hands, that the soil should be saturated with manure. Mere hard work will not procure it in the necessary quantity. Brains must be made to come in as the leading helper. Hence intelligence is necessary—the mere land will be found powerless to do all that too many expect it to accomplish. Women, sick men, even absolute cripples, unable to perform an hour's work, have been highly successful farmers. But if deprived of hands to work, they had heads to superintend.
Just before the crash of 1857 came with such desolating severity upon the country, a working man, a resident of the city of New York, who had somehow scraped together $4000, found himself precluded from increasing it by high rents, dear food, and the inevitable increase of expenses on every side. In this dilemma, he addressed himself to the Tribune, in these words:
"I want to know what chance a man would stand in the country to take up farming-not out in Kansas--but say in Jersey, or the western part of this State, or out West near some improving location, so as to get away from high rents and dirt, and breathe a mouthful of fresh air-say a little place of fifty or sixty acres, with house' and barn, one horse, three or four cows, a few sheep, some poultry, all paid for and clear of debt, so as to have $1,000 or $1,500 at interest, just to have a little loose change coming in. Could a man live better, feel better, and be less a drudge, than to stay here in New York, and drudge, drudge, from day to day, and month to month !"
What a revelation is here given of the workings of one mind among the large class for whose information this volume has been written ! To this string of questions the editor made the following pointed reply:
“Farming is a vocation, requiring knowledge, experience, and skill, like any other. No man born and reared in the city can remove to a farm, at thirty or forty years of age, and become immediately an efficient, thrifty, successful farmer. He will have much to learn and something to unlearn; and if he should get through his first year of farming without using up $500 of his capital, he many consider that he has done well. Yet if he will keep his eyes open, take counsel from his neighbors, take two or three good agricultural papers, and read them carefully, we believe he can render himself a fair average farmer the second year, and something better than this thereafter. But, Is such a change as this desirable ?
“We answer, Yes. If, with average capacities, and a capital of $4,000, you can, by steady industry, make nothing beyond a bare living in the city, we hold that you can do better in the country. If you buy your land for its fair valuation (and a great deal in this quarter is held twenty to fifty per cent. above that mark), and use it well, it must be steadily increasing in value. Your buildings also will necessarily be enlarged and improved—this year a corn-crib will be added, next year an ice-house, and so on-and though your surplus funds will rather diminish than increase, and you will hardly see a dollar where you now see ten,
you will be insensibly crawling toward a competence. Your children will every year become more and more helpful to you; your young fruit-trees will come into bearing; and you will have at least twice the produce to turn off six or seven years hence, that you can spare the first year.
“ As to drudgery,--a man who aspires to earn a good living and rear and educate a family by honest, straightforward work, must be diligent as well as frugal,—there is no help for it. Still, a farmer with $4,000 capital well invested, or even half that sum, need not labor excessively. From April to November, he must work steadily and energetically at least ten hours per day; but in winter he may
moderate his exertions and give himself a week or more to visit relatives or friends, when he sees fit. Farmers do not work so many hours, on the average, as do the mechanics of this city.
“ As to location; we think a man with $4,000 may buy a fair farm, in New Jersey, or one of our river counties, stock it fairly, and have $500 over for lee-way; but he can, of course, buy a much larger farm and stock it much better from such a capital in a newer region, or even in western New York. Every section has its advantages and disadvantages; we should more strenuously insist on a healthy locality, than on fertile soil. With a cash capital of $4,000, you will be a rich man in almost any new settlement; but 'frontier life has its inconveniences, even for men; still more for women and children. Investigate and decide for yourself.”
Wanting the Best—The Poorer Lands first Cultivated, then the
Richer OnesValue of Swamps-History of three of them Cranberry Swamps of New Jersey--Power of Example-The Mississippi Swamp Interest-Wealth following ReclamationPublic Loans to aid Drainage John Johnston, the Great Amer, ican Tile Drainer.
It is a feature of American thought and habit to be rigid and exacting. We are too apt to reject the moderately valuable, and to insist on having only the best. The habit has infected even the children, beggars though some of them may be. A ragged little urchin came one morning to a gentleman's door, asking for old clothes. He brought him a vest and a pair of pants, which promised to make a comfortable fit. Young America took the garments in his hand, and examining them as closely as if he had been buying them, then, with a disconsolate look, exclaimed, “ There ain't no watch-pocket!" Now, the truly great are humble; just as those ears of corn, and those boughs of trees which are the most heavily laden, are seen to bend the lowest. The urchin's impudence represents the national propensity--we must have the best.
But what we may conceive to be the best for us, frequently turns out otherwise. It is thus in seek