The Ashburton Guardian, COUNTY AGRICULTURAL & SPORTING RECORDER. TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 18, 1879.
The Cattle Show is one of the most deservedly popular institutions of present day civilisation, and though this era of the world’s history has been roundly abused for its demonstrativeness, the Cattle Show stands out as one of the redeeming features that must rise above the condemnations of sage, philosopher, and historian. The novelist may deify the heroes of the realms of old romance, and the philosopher may rail against the shams and hypocrisy of the age we live in, but none of them can evolve from the sanguinary times when the sword was the mark of the gentlemen, and his ability to use it a passport to nobility, an institution so typical of a fulfilment of the Bethlehem shepherds’ words “ peace on earth ; goodwill towards men,” as is the modern Cattle Show. We can read with a thrill the glowing descriptions of old time pageants and tourney jousts, but we fail in those busy times of ouis to invest with a halo of romance the affairs of everyday life, and the prosaic round of duties that fall to the lot of men in this work-a-day world. The engines of war have been brought to a degree of perfection never dreamt of by our ancestors of the spear and lance times, but while these, engines’ perfection have been striven for by those who study the art of war, the men who study the arts of peace have been equally busy and equally assiduous. It is in the perfection of these arts of peace to which we must look for the world’s progress, and in spite of Carlyle’s growlings, the observer must allow that the hills of living beef and mutton and the grand contrivances for cultivating the earth and gathering in her produce, displayed in the pens and show-yards of the Cattle Show are a genuine reality that the age of chivalry never knew, and that there is not much of either hollowness or sham about the triumphs as there displayed. The living exhibits of some of our great stock rearers, and the fleecy wealth displayed by wool growers are pictures that appeal not to the poetic imagination, but to the matter-of-fact mind that knows wherein real wealth consists, and how much at peace a country must be that is able to spread such trophies of care, and skill, and toil before the eye of the onlooker. The triumphs of machinery, too, are incontrovertible evidence of the superiority of our times over those of the past, and show how fast we are trending to that happy time when the sword will be beaten into a ploughshare, and the spear into a pruning-hook. And it is at the Cattle Show that proof of all the progress of the past up to the present is spread out for us to gaze upon. It is an institution that is deserving of all the patronage the man of to-day can give it, for it is the index page of the agricultural year, and the chronicle of the district’s progress in which it is held. The Cattle Show is not an ancient institution, it is not a relic of times long gone by, but its establishment is comparatively speaking a thing of to-day. For ages the agriculturist has fought with the elements and the many influences that tend to make his profession the uncertain one it is—now a source of great wealth, anon an avocation attended, as we have seen during the past year, by the ruin of many who followed it. The Cattle Show is the annual reporter to the farmer of how near the scientific world is bringing him to a position independent of those influences that militate against his success in the warfare he has to wage. It is the annual field day of a Society with the noble object of fostering agriculture as a science—a society of men banded together to gather from every available source the latest found truths regarding agriculture, and in a new colony like our own the researches of such a Society are especially valuable. The Agricultural and Pastoral Association in comparing notes of experience gained, and showing results obtained, contribute as much to the colony’s future success as any other contemporaneous institution. By its labors it brings to the husbandman’s
knowledge the most economical processes of working, the most improved imp’ements, the most profitable methods of cropping and treating the soil, the best strains of stock for breeding purposes that ought to be chosen. On all these points the Societies scattered over New Zealand have been instrumental in disseminating knowledge, and to their agency the farmer of to-day is much indebted for the proficiency he has attained in working the virgin soil of our young colony, and for the knowledge he has stored up for future action when time and close farming call upon him to reinstate the fertility of the laud he has cropped, and recuperate its reproductive powers. At this niabment agriculture in the Mother Country is going through a severe trial. A succession of bad seasons has reduced it to a low ebb, and foreign competition has robbed it of the prices that ought naturally to attach to its products in a time of scarcity, but with the position and power it has attained, in the end it must again triumph and take the premier place it has long occupied amongst the world’s growers. The misfortunes that have fallen upon the English agriculturist are the opportunity of the New Zealand grower, and this year he will obtain a high price for his grain in the English market—a market in which he must compete with growers in every part of the world. It is to his interest to nurse the productive powers of his land, and to lose not one chance to improve, nor neglect one item of information that will tend to strengthen his position and add to his ability as a farmer. The Agricultural and Pastoral Association is agreatagencytohelphiminthis, and their annual show is the great muster day by the success of which the country estimates the value the farmers place upon the usefulness of its labors.