(By ouu Travelling Rkpobteb.)
As time rolls along I find in every part of the country that crops are promising splendid yields, providing the weather only keeps anything like what it has done up to the present. Rolling is just now tne order of the day, and one noticeable feature on the plains is that where the tussocks have been carted off, the paddocks have a much better appearance than where they have been allowed to encumber the soil. Now, this is a point on which I feel inclined to lecture our agriculturists, for two reasons. First, because wherever a tussock is left it is bound to occupy a certain area of ground on which corn should be grown, and as the season advances the tussock advances with it, so that by the time the reaping season comes on No. 2 difficulty crops up, and that was illustrated to a very considerable extent last year in the clogging of the reaping machines, the breakage of knives, &c., the reapers having to cut through clods of soil instead of grain. This was due. solely to the slovenly manner in which the grain had been prepared, and had the crops been heavier the evil would have been aggravated considerably. Tills year, lam glad to say. a much better system has obtained, and in many ways a great improvement is to be observed in the country. One item in particular is worthy of notice and imitation, that is the conversion of a portion of the Farm into a fruit and kitchen garden, sheltered by a plantation. This kind of tillage is not so immediately profitable as cropping, consequently it has not received that amount of attention it deserves, but I am glad to see the farmers devoting their energies in this necessary branch of their occupation. One reason why it has been neglected so much is because in many cases our farmers have gone in for “ cropping leases,”' sometimes with profit to themselves, but oftener to the proprietor of the land, and in such cases every acre means so much cash to each party for the short term during which it is let, and the planting of 20 acres in trees this year would probly mean a loss to the landlord of £3O or £4O of rent, consequently a bad system has been adopted of impoverishing the stamina of the land for an immediate gain in preference to making provision for future and permanent improvements. There can be no two questions about the matter. Public bodies and private farmers must establish a plantation system in a more vigorous manner than they have yet done, and carry it out in such a way that some good will eventuate to the country. The County Council made a start at the work this year by ploughing and fencing some half-dozen small blocks at wide intervals along the railway line, and with the consistency displayed by public bodies selected in most cases the poorest land at their disposal. The season of the year, also, was chosen so that the ground should be prepared just too late for any planting to be done. So that next year the operations of ploughing, harrowing, etc., will have to be repeated, and the trees which are yet to be planted will he a year behind. In the Longbeach district a considerable amount has been done in this direction, more particularly about Chatmoss and Windermere. At the former place the change which has taken place in the swamp land is wonderful. Two years ago walking was almost an impossibility on the lower part of this estate ; it being a swamp with a depth of from 6 to 12 feet cf peat on it, and the cultivation of it looked hopeless. The manager, Mr James Scott, however, Ims for years been carrying out an extensive system of drainage at an enormous cost, and. has gradually reclaimed the land acre by acre. Last autumn he was able to sow rape and grass seed on the whole of the large block east of the boundary road, about li miles from the railway line, at an expenditure of about £I6OO for seed alone. The growth on this block is so heavy that unless one saw it, it would be impossibe to imagine anything so luxuriant. The sheep depasturing on it are hidden by the growth, and as it will not, or rather cannot, be mown, a large quantity of it will not be made use of for fodder, the land being yet too soft to admit of cattle being put on it. Chatmoss is well situated for carrying on large operations in all descriptions of farming, for the land on this large estate is of the most varied description, that near the railway being light and strong, gradually improving until it meets the swamp. This dry land is of great advantage, where so many sheep are kept, as a run on it occasionally prevents the foot rot. The improvements on Chatmoss are of an extensive character, and in a few years, when the whole of it can be got fit for the plough it will be probably cut up into a number of small farms.
The Exportation of ButterTo the Editor. Sir, —As I find the columns of your valuable journal are devoted to the interests of the fanning community, and that you have given many practical hints and suggestions, I beg to solicit from you, or any of your correspondents, some information relative to the exportation of butter. The splendid season we are now having has naturally increased the supply much beyond the demand fpr local consumption ; consequently the price is getting very low. Whereas, if butter could be shipped to England, arriving there in good condition, the price must necessarily advance here. lam told the experiment has been tried on a small scale, with great success, but then very especial care was taken. On the other hand there have been many failures, probably through want of proper attention, or proper kegs. If you could help your many readers by giving information upon this subject it would be greatly to their benefit, and the general prosperity of the district. lam, &c., Dairy.
[Our correspondent has brought under our readers’ notice a subject of very great > importance to this district* Ashburton at. present does not produce,.butter in ‘ vety large quantities, but the production will be mimensely increased year by year. ■ In fact/we fully anticipate seeing dairy farming becoming quite as important a branch of the agriculturist’s labors as either wool or grain growing. Having
tried the experiment suggested by onr correspondent, some 12 years ago, merely from curiosity, we have great pleasure in stating the modus operandi. The process was first explained to us by a German merchant of grsat experience, who anticipated at that time the probability of a trade opening up in the direction suggested by our correspondent. The first and main object to keep in view in this, as in all dairy operations, is cleanliness ; and the next the quality of the packages used. We were in the habit of putting down about 15 cwt. per week for the West Coast markets at that time, and after being kept from three to five months the butter was turned out as fresh as the day it left the dairy, and two kegs were sent to friends in Scotland, who pronounced it to be equal to the best they had ever used. We used white birch kegs, of the usual 5G to 60 lb. sizes. As all timber is known to contain substances which will tend to deteriorate the quality and flavor of so absorbent an article as butter, the one thing needful is to destroy these substances ; and the process adopted to do so was as follows. The kegs were first filled with hot water and salt, and the liquor kept stirred for a few minutes, then boiled again for another keg. The water would sometimes get inky looking and bitter on its application to the first keg, thus showing that there was a dye in the wood which, if not removed, would inevitably find its way into the butter and destroy both its flavor and color. The kegs were then filled with cold water and allowed to stand for about 3 weeks, changing the water every two or three days. They were by that time reckoned sweet enough to be filled. The butter was packed in in Itb rolls, made up in such a shape as would occupy as small a space as possible, each pound being rolled in a piece of calico soaked in brine, and when the keg was packed full and headed up, an auger hole was bored in the top, and the keg filled with strong brine, and allowed to stand a day or two to allow the wood to absorb all the moisture is was cabable of, and then the keg was finally corked up tight. Of course, the best quality of butter only should be used, and packed fresh as soon after churning as possible. The experiment is one worth our fanners’ while trying. Kauri kegs seem to be used most here, and we should think that they will require more soaking than birch or white pine. As we have already said, the butter packed in the way we have described and sent to Scotland, arrived in excellent condition, and drew encomiums from makers in one of the most popular butter counties in North Britain.—En. A.G.]
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Ashburton Guardian, Ashburton Guardian, Volume I, Issue 14, 28 October 1879
THE FARMER. Ashburton Guardian, Volume I, Issue 14, 28 October 1879
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