Page images
PDF
EPUB
[ocr errors]

mind is disastrous to all good husbandry. The halting and hesitating farmer, who is perpetually doubting whether he is in his proper element, will be very certain to find himself out of it, and in no other, or certainly in no better one, in the end. But I have presumed that this is no longer debateable ground, and that your decision is fixed and irrevocable. Το such would say, give to the profession of your choice the best energies of your bodies and minds. Husbandry is no light or easy service. It requires diligent and intelligent labor—and for such it will always return adequate rewards. Be active, industrious, inquiring. Apply the mind with assiduity, as well as the labor of the hands. Carry into your business the same zeal and enterprise, which are the harbingers of success in the other pursuits of life, and they will accomplish as truly useful results for you, as they do for others. It has often occurred to me, that with many, the object of farming seemed to be a sort of experiment, to determine with how little labor, industry, and good management, the farm could be made to clear itself from year to year. Some farmers seem to think, that if they can procure the means of a tolerable subsistence, they have accomplished all that is desirable. Others extend their views somewhat farther, and are satisfied if they can obtain a merely comfortable support for themselves and families, not having in either case any direct reference to the capabilities or the permanent improvement of their estates.

The true problem to be worked out by every intelligent and enterprising farmer, I take it to be this, to raise annually the greatest possible amount of the most profitable crops, having a single eye to income immediate or more remote, according to his means, and especially to the gradual and permanent improvement of his farm. The practical farmer, whose own personal labor is his principal active capital, cannot afford to make doubtful experiments on any considerable scale. He cannot afford to improve his

farm any faster than he sees the way clear for a certain and compensating profit in the end; and this end may be more or less remote, according to the means at his convenient command. With these limitations and restrictions, the point to be aimed at, is the greatest possible production from year to year.

The earth is a kind, faithful, and generous mother, and she will repay and reward any investment of labor or capital, which is made in accordance with these principles. Particular seasons, from drought, or other causes, may disappoint the expectations, or defeat the plans of the husbandman ; but I speak of the cultivation of a course of years; and affirm, that the farmer should make from year to year the greatest possible drafts from the earth, always having reference to income or profit, immediate or eventual, and the improvement and amelioration of his farm. In this way, the productive power of a farm, by judicious and efficient husbandry,, may be indefinitely extended. Production, properly applied and expended, increases the power of production, so that it would be difficult to prescribe the limit, beyond which production might not be carried.

I am not now speaking in reference to modes of husbandry or cultivation, unsuited to the circumstances, wants or condition of the county. I have no reference to modern English agriculture, as distinguished from our own. We all know that the agricultural productions of that country have been amazingly increased within the last twenty or thirty years, but by modes of cultivation in part, which would not be suited to the circumstances existing among ourselves.

ourselves. I refer to what has been done, and is now doing by some of the practical farmers among ourselves with eminent success and with great pecuniary advantage. The cry of the farmer should be perpetual, give, GIVE, GIVE, taking care himself to return more strength and nutriment, in the form of manures, than have been exhausted by his crops, in this manner preparing the way for a

more liberal draft, at the next season. Thus good agriculture is in some sort a system of exchange of kinds, but not of values.

Experience, at all times, has taught the husbandman that animal and vegetable substances, mixed with the soil, afforded nourishment to the plants, which it produced. Science has disclosed to us the fact, that the living plants and the dead manure, whether animal or vegetable, are resolvable into the same elementary substances, though existing in different states of combination; so that in supplying animal and vegetable substances to the soil, in a state more or less decomposed, we in fact furnish the same essence which enters into the composition of the germinating and living plant. In supplying manures to the soil, we return to it the same elementary substances, which are drawn from it by the nurture and feeding of the living plant, and this is what I intended by the remark, that good husbandry is a system of exchange of kinds, but not of values. We thus see, that to secure an increased and increasing production, MANURE is the great and principal instrumentality. This is the beginning, the middle, and the end of thriving husbandry.

To create from the resources of the farm the greatest possible amount of this food for plants, should be the constant aim of every good farmer. This is the ultimate source of his gains, and he must guard all the avenues to it with an ever vigilant watchfulness. The farm must be washed and scoured for the

purpose of obtaining this treasure.

In this county, we have abundant sources of supplying it, and though all farms are not equally privileged in this respect, yet none are destitute of the means of doing very much in this way. The sagacious farmer will watch with an eagle eye every possible opportunity for increasing the amount and improving the quality of his manure-especially will he see that nothing is lost. All his plans of improvement will have reference to this main and engrossing object. He will not expose

his stable manure heap at the end, or in rear of his barn, to the impoverishing ravages and inroads of the rains, the wind, and the snow, a scandal alike to good taste and good husbandry. The liquids are of no less value in his estimation than the solids, and the most careful expedients are devised, as circumstances require, to see that nothing be lost, but that everything be preserved, in the greatest order and perfection. His stable, barn-yard, and piggery, are regarded as so many manufactories of manures; and his cattle and swine are each made to contribute in the best possible manner to this end. Every hog kept by a farmer,” says Mr. Phinney, of Lexington, (who is the highest authority on this subject, as well as on all others pertaining to practical agriculture,) “should be required to prepare ten loads of compost manure in the course of a year, which he will CHEERFULLY do if the owner will furnish him with the materials, such as loam, peat, or swamp mud,” &c.The same distinguished cultivator assured me, as the result of his experience, that thirty dollars worth of manure judiciously applied to an acre of ground planted with Indian corn, over and above the usual quantity allowed for this purpose, would be compensated the first year, in the increased production of the crop, estimating the corn at one dollar the bushel; and that the additional fertility thus imparted to the soil, available in the greatly increased productions of future years, would be the net profit. He further assured me, and in this I am certain he would be confirmed by the most successful cultivators in our county, that the great secret of good husbandry is LIBERAL MANURING,*

In order, however, to secure the full effect of such a course of husbandry, it is necessary that the ground should be properly prepared, and that the nature of the soil to which the manure is to be applied should be fully understood. And here is ample opportuni

* Appendix, A.

proper, made

ty for the exercise of all the skill and sagacity of the most experienced cultivator. He must know the constituent elements of the substances with which he is called to deal, else he cannot apply the remedies which the infirmity of the soil may require. It is often the case, that the effect of manuring is in a great measure lost from the shallowness or lightness of the soil, or the nature of the subsoil. Such lands, it is sometimes said, will not bear heavy manuring. The only cure for this description of soils, is to make them over, in other words, to create a soil. This operation, however, in the old modes of husbandry, was found to be too expensive, and not such as to commend itself to any great extent to the judgment of practical men. Deep ploughing, by bringing up to the surface the infertile subsoil, and covering under it the vegetable mould of the soil long and expensive manuring necessary to create a soil suitable to the early growth and nurture of plants. With sufficient time and expense, soils were reformed in this way. But the invention of the subsoil plough, the greatest achievement of modern art, as applied to agriculture, will enable the Essex farmer to convert his sterile soils into fields of fertility and abundance, with the greatest advantage and profit.

Many farmers among us complain much of their light and barren soils. They allege that manuring does but little good ; that it excites the land for a short time, and that then the effect is entirely lost. This is undoubtedly true to a very considerable extent, and in this way, those richest of the farmer's treasures, the manures, are partially, and sometimes almost wholly wasted. This is a sacrifice which the interests of husbandry can by no means afford. That mode of husbandry, which leads to such sacrifices, must be a false and defective one. To the farmer, therefore, who makes the complaints above suggested, I would say, reform your husbandry, and use the instruments which modern art has put in your

« PreviousContinue »