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THE FARMER., Volume I, 16 October 1879
notes from seafield. FROM AN OCCASIONAL CORRESPONDENT. I promised in my last to remark on the crop, and extent of land under it, on the farms by the Wakanui Creek, in which direction my journey has lain. I passed by the block of land formerly in the occupation of Mr Thomas Reid, but I was sorry to see that nothing had been done ■with it since the former owner left. However, the stubble was looking remarkably well, and generally there was plenty of good keep on the land. On the Seaview Estate Messrs Saunders have a fine lot of wheat well in, and presenting a hopeful appearance. I called at IVtessrs Proctor Brothers on the way. They have about 200 acres of crop in, with every appearance of a hearty result at harvest time, and to the left of the traveller, Mr B. Ede, in the same locality, has some fine promising looking barley and oats. ]Vfr Jameson’s cereals are also coming on very well, and he has a fair lot of young cattle revelling in excellent grass. A tine flock of cross-bred sheep, I was glad to observe, shared his attention with the cattle, and showed he knew what he was about in running a farm. Juat hero, too, gorse fences give evidence of attention in their thriving looks and luxuriant blossom. Further on the farm of Mr J. "Wright meets you. He has a fine lot of wheat, barley, and oats in, and one of his buildings is a stable of the old country type. He has quick fence, too—one of the very few in the district—and I was to see that it was bidding very lair indeed. Mr Wright is happy in the possession of paddocks deep in luxuriant grass. Take the crops all round just Sere, the prospect is very bright indeed, and X was forcibly reminded of one of the fattest districts in Cheshire by the old English appearance of the paddocks, which look so green and hearty. It vould serve no purpose to run over the list of industrious, hard working farmers who are settle d around, but it is gratifying, indeed, to see that as far as_ the season has yet gone, they have a lively hope that harvest will not disappoint their trust in a fair reward for their pains and toil I id and saw our friend Mr J. W. Leadley, with whom I had a little chat His crops are doing very well, only a little late. He has gone in this year for ploughing in his seed, and the result is a promising crop, well rooted against the ravages of the wind. His paddocks, too, are of the healthiest, and Ms cot of fine pigeons give quite an old country look to the farm. Just opposite Mr Leadley is Mr Inues, who has erected a substantial stable. His crops, too, are looking welL The next farm arrived at is Mr Stewart’s, and opposite is Mr Thomas Walsh. Both these farms are splendid loWt, and the crops show that the owners l are good farmers; they suffered here tlbe winter from floods, and I near the Road Board is going to cut a large drain to relieve them. On the Wakanui Terrace is Mr John Corbett, who a large farm here, and a splendid lot of cattle. His crops ought to be very heavy this year, as some of the land was a part of | the English grass paddocks of the old homestead. Higher up the creek Messrs. Sandrey and Blackler occupy about 1100 acres. They have the and the large trees and wellgrown garden make it look like quite Homely; in fact, it is the oldest place in this part of Ashburton. There is a very large'wool-shed on the farm, and a lot of ouftmldings. The gorse hedges here are very good, and well kept. There is a very large area in crop, and it ought to be very heavy, as the hind is some of the best in the district T , On reaching the Wakanui Creek, I find I am in the township laid out some two years ago by Mr G. H. Moore. There is a newly formed road through it, but there is at present no evidences of houses or population. It was contemplated, I believe, to remove the school from its present site about 1J miles nearer town to this place, but the majority of the residents in the district were against it, so the Wakanui township is as yet only known to fama by the lithographic maps in the land agents’ offices. On reaching the top of the terrace, 1 found that I was among some very good land, the crops bidding well for harvest. Mr Meredith Wilson s farm here looks well, and his improvements are of a very substantial nature. The clay land about this neighborhood has given the farmers an opportunity of using dug sods in place of ploughed ones for their fences, and they have a very tidy and substantial look about them. The road from here to the school is one of the best in the district. The school u situated a comer convenient to the large population in the neighborhood. The master, Mr Ginney informed me that he had his hands full, having an average attendance of 50 pupils, he had made application for an assistant mistress, and he believed that one would be granted. Mr James Brown’s crops look remarkably well, and the land shows evidence of good farming. Mr Edwin Thomas has a nice block of heavy land close to the school, and the crops are very forward, his garden is very well stocked, he bos a large collection of farming implements, and gear about the place. I noticed some some very superior draught horses here, and a draught colt which took u prize at the show last year is a very powerful, wellbuilt animal, and would not disgrace himself in any show. Turning my horse in the direction of Seafield, I pass the forms of Mr S. Christie on my right and Mr D. Buttterick on my left. The latter gentleman is farming a large acreage this year, and his crops promise well. Mr Henry Beckett has a nice block of land higher up the creek, and Messrs Cass and others have succeeded in getting nearly all their land under the plough, Mr P. Cass, nearer the sea has hit on a very fwir piece of ground, and the crop has a good show, I find that Mr Wellbron is now busily engaged in fencing the block of land now in Russoct north of Mr Butterick’s. This block, though a trifle stony on top, has a very fair sub-soil, he intends breaking it up ready for crop next year. Mr Connor has a very fine crop, which speaks well for the soil in this part of Seafield. Mr Dodson has a farm here of 300 acres In crop, 100 acres in wheat, . looking very well; and I hope he will have s a good harvest. I then travelled on to the Poplars farm, the property of Mr E. Oollison, he Juts a fine lot of wheat, a fair- | looking field of oats, and ywy good
milch cows in good condition, and an English grass paddock with a good sward upon it. After having a drink of milk, I turned homewards thinking of what I had seen, and I made my mind up that things were not so bad after all, and will be much better if Providence will smile on us in harvest time. In my next letter, I intend informing you of the state of the crops in North Seafield and Cambridge. I can say that the crops as a whole look remarkably well.
Stock and Crop. Our Seafield correspondent—a practical fanner of extensive English and colonial experience—has more than once drawn our attention to farms on which stockfeeding is combined with grain culture. He has pointed out with considerable enthusiasm, the wisdom of this combination, and we are so thoroughly convinced ourselves of its expediency, that we take this opportunity of drawing the attention of our agricultural friends to the matter. In a district like ours, where the land is occupied by small capitalists, to whom an Immediate return is a paramount consideration, the grave mistake of exhausting the soil’s fertility by successive grain crops to obtain this desideratum, is too frequently committed. Large crops may be harvested for a few years, and large sums realised by these operations, hut if no attention is bestowed on the recuperation of the productive forces, the land will become so greatly impoverished and reduced in value, that this course of farming is actually unprofitable. Grain growing does not exhaust the soil, provided the ingredients absorbed by the plants are returned in some form, but if the plants are removed—as is the case in grain crops—the land is, of course, impoverished to the extent of the elements of plant food consumed by such plants from the earth. Some small return is made by the roots and stubble left to decay, but the straw and grain being carried away, the soil’s fertility rapidly deteriorates if nothing is done in a contrary direction. With this in view it becomes necessary for the provident farmer to find some means of replenishing his supply of plant food, and science and experience have long indicated that this is best done by stock feeding on the land previously employed in grain culture. Grain draws on the soil for nitrogen, phosphates, and potash, while the other requisites in its composition are absorbed from the air. Growing animals, i.e., young stock, require from the soil for bone and muscle formation the same elements in smaller quantities as cereals, but matured stock return all these properties in the shape of manure to the soil, and retain only the carbonaceous matters for fatty tissues, respiration, etc., so that a full grown fattening animal, when sold carries away none of the ingredients most useful as manure. In practice this fact is illustrated by the exceptional fertility of dairy farms on which butter making is conducted. From such farms the carbonaceous matter only is removed in the way of produce, and the land instead of becoming sterile is constantly increasing in productiveness. With growing stock, the land will not recover its strength qnite as rapidly, but the same result is attained in the end, and all who hope to farm profitably must recognise the necessity of combining stock feeding with grain culture.
Farmers and Fanning. We farmers get a great deal of good advice. We are glad so many are interested in our welfare. Farming would seem to be the natural employment of mankind, and those who are unable, or unwilling, to gain a living and supply their own wants by cultivating the soil, are very willing to tell others how to do it. But they often those who are least able to give advice, are the most profuse with their counsels. There is not much wisdom in their reproofs, nor do they always fall on obedient ears. If those who walk with wise men become wise, then it is very essential that we receive our instruction from men wiser than ourselves. If we are to learn industry from the bees, and the ants, there can be nothing degrading in learning something from the humblest of mankind. But no teacher can impart knowledge to his pupils, if he is not much more intelligent than they. It will be conceded that farmers are the most numerous, and most useful, and the most industrious of all classes. And we think it can be proven that they are not only the most honest, but decidedly the best business men in the commonwealth. We are told we work too much and think too little, that we have not the accuracy and energy of business men, that we ought to open a debtor and creditor side with every field on our farm, and know what every bushel of wheat and every animal costs us. This is all very well in theory, we know something about books and prompt payments, and what we are doing. We want to look at the results, the facts and figures, to ascertain who are the safest and most reliable men in the community. It has often been stated that ninety per cent, of our merchants or business men fail, sometime during their career, to meet their obligations. We estimate that ninety per cent, of our every day farmers never fail to pay their honest debts, never defraud th#ir creditors, nor take advantage of the bankrupt law. If this is a correct estimate, then young people when they go into business may expect there are nine chances in ten they will fail in business and defraud their creditors. And if they begin life on a farm with industrious habits, and a good moral character, there are nine chances in ten they will not fail to pay their honest debts, produce more than they consume, and add to their own and the aggregate wealth of the community. , . We are tolc' farming is a slow business. "Very few get rich ; there are no millionaires holding the plough. We can plough very well without them. The greatest good to the greatest number is not brought about by concentrating wealth, but by diffusing it. Are not a million of honest men, who produce more than they consume, and never let their dates go to protest, a million times more valuable to society than one millionaire who only gathers up the wealth that better men than himself produced, by some reckless expenditure or fortunate speculation 1 We do not write in a boastful spirit, for a good many of us farmers are in humble life, and have had a fair square battle
with poverty and privation. But we provide honestly for those of our own house, and do nut like to see so many leaving the farm, and becoming discontented because a few men get very rich in business.
Has there been so much progress and improvement of late that the young of the present generation are too good and great to live on a farm 1
The hills and dales, the green fields, and the blue sky, never tainted any pure heart or dwarfed any master mind. It is not gold and debentures, but a pure and honest life that constitutes a first-class man. When men become rich by exchanging one thing or another, there is nothing added to the comfort of humanity. It is a pity when a few absorb the wealth of a great many. Fanners produce by lawful industry the wealth that brings peace and plenty to themselves and associates ; they do not rise on another’s ruins.
Wealth of heart and moral worth are far better and more enduring than material riches. If we can leave a good name and a stainless reputation when we have done with all things that are of the earth, earthly, it will be of comparatively little importance whether we have twenty pounds or twenty thousand.
Wheat Cultivation. FROM THE “RURAL AUSTRALIAN.” Why should not wheat bo cultivated as we cultivate the garden pea or cabbage ? The splendid results achieved by Hallet, Mold, and others with pedigree and stud wheats, with garden culture, surely justifies the theory that wheat can be improved in the same way as other plants, by special culture. It is nonsense to say that it would not pay. Why does cabbage, or potato, or any other culture pay I Let the farmers tiy to grow any of the garden crops as he does wheat, and see how they would pay him. So it is with the improved varieties of all plants, they will all degenerate if they don’t get as good treatment as that which produced them, or at least helped to do so. In our opinion wheat should be planted at the same distance apart as cabbage ; not, perhaps, ordinary wheat, any more than some of the poor sorts of cabbage. But in the case of Mold’s or any similar wheat they ought to be a foot, at least, apart each way. We suppose most of our readers have seen a bed sown with cabbage seed, for the purpose of raising plants for planting out, let stand for many months. What miserable objects they appear beside one taken from the same bed a few months before and properly cultivated 1 It is just the same with wheat. We sow the wheat just as thickly as we sow the cabbage seed, and the same result follows. Let the wheat be cultured in the same reasonable way as cabbage, and in a few years’ time we may have ears and grains a dozen times the size of any yet seen.
Insect-Eating Plants. Mr Francis Darwin has recently added some important facts to our knowledge of these plants. It has long been surmised that those plants which catch and kill insects in various ways depend upon such food for their healthy growth, but direct proof of this has heretofore been wanting. Mr Darwin instituted a series of experiments to decide the question, as follows : —2OO plants of Drosera rotundifolia were cultivated in soup-plates filled with moss ; each plate was divided into two parts by a low wooden partition and covered with gauze to exclude insects. On one side of each plate the plants were fed with small pieces of roasted meat, placed upon the leaves every few days, while those on the other side were not allowed any such food. In the course of a month the effect of the meat diet was evident in the brighter color of the leaves, and when the experiment was ended it was found that the plant had received such nourishment from the animal food. While there was a decided gain in every way, the greatest advantage was found by comparing the seeds produced by the different plants. The ratio between the weight of the seeds from those without animal food and those with it was as 100 to 379.7. Hen Lice. When a hen wants to sit, make a new nest with clean straw or hay, sprinkle it with a little dusted carbolic acid, Persian insect powder, or common flour sulphur. When such precaution is not taken, hens are often literally driven from the nests by lice, and the eggs are lost, to the chagrin, and sometimes to the perplexity, of the owner, who does not know what is the matter. Hen lice art not very big, but they are influential, and should -be systematically interviewed when a poultry keeper is desirous of success. No water fowl is troubled with lice, if it has plenty of water to swim and bathe in. Stall-Feeding. Soiling, or stall-feeding, is not a new idea. Previous to 1836 Lord Egremont, in Sussex, used to have his milch cows tied up during the greater part of the year. He maintained that one-third of the food was saved, that the cows were fed with one-fourth part of the usual trouble, and that more dung was made. Comparing even the system of yardfeeding with the fattening installs, Mr Elhnan, of Glynde, a skilful agriculturist, found that nine oxen fed loose in the yard consumed, in destroying as well as eating, as much as twelve oxen that were tied up. Height of Trees.
The following heights are furnished by a correspondent as the average attained by different forest trees ;—Oak 45 feet; ash 38 feet ; beech 45 feet; birch 47 feet; elm 44 feet; lime 44 feet; poplar 48 feet; fir 57 feet; chestnut 44 feet ; sycamore 37 feet ; yew 16 feet.
The Best Government. —We wonder whether the Hon. John Hall intended to perpetrate a pun last evening when he said, “ The people want the best Government, and that’s all.”—“Post. The Stud. —The Rotomahana brought to New Zealand the famous English stud horse Coeruleus. This animal is a full brother to the renowned Blue Gown, the winner of the Derby in 1868. He is seven years old, and only retired from the turf last season. During his career he has won some good races.
THE FARMER., Volume I, 16 October 1879
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