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THE FARMER., Ashburton Guardian, Volume 1, Issue 59, 10 February 1880
AMONG THE FARMERS. (Bv Our Rambling Reporter.) WAKANUI. —CONTINUED. “ It’s a far cry to Loch Awe,” but its a precious sight longer to get +0 the residences of Wakanui farmers, and the Bucephalus of your reporter has gone quite lame over his manifold turnings and twistings in trying to get round the many corners of that creek. One of our oldest, and we may without flattery say the best, our farmers, living in the neighborhood of the muddy stream is Mr. George Lamb, whose snug little farm is distant 3 miles from town, and his land shows evidence of neatness and an intention to make a permanent and ornamental home for himself. Although not holding an extensive acreage, Mr. Lamb has a block of land of good quality, which, having been worked in a really creditable style, shows a good return for his labor. He has about 80 acres in wheat, giving a prospect of about 32 bushels per acre, 30 acres of oats offering 40 bushels ; and 20 of barley—3o bushels —besides a good stack of grass bay, 81 acres in pasture, and the usual small kitchen garden. Further down the Mill road we pass Mr. Hotten’s farm, who was absent on our visit, and on our left Mr. Frank Dines, who has done his share as a navvy on our Canterbury railways, is the next we visit. His crop consists of 10 acres of wheat, which is a poor looking crop, and looks hardly worth the cutting. His 120 acres of oats, however, look more like giving some grist to the mill, and will probably thrash out 33 bushels. Mr. Thos. Holmes is the next of the bucolics on our journey, and, in addition to farming, both he and his good lady are sporting characters in a mild way, and Tommy loves nothing better than to dilate on the pedigree and qualities of some blood stock he has on the farm. I have seen worse than they are, and I have seen a long way better, but so long as the old man is pleased with them it is none of my business to criticise them. Anyhow, ho knows how to grow grain, for his 120 acres of wheat ought to turn in 30 bushels, and the same area of oats 50 to the acre, and he seems to have found time to go in for a cabbage and spud patch. Turning back towards the creek, Mr. James Dwyer’s farm was my next resting place, and he informed me that his prospect was a healthy one, and his crops certainly look as if he is going to have a good innings this season. He has 90 acres in wheat, which estimate about 33 bushels; 25 in oats, about the same ; 25 in barley, 35 bushels ; about 35 tons of hay saved, and about a dozen acres in root crops.
Mr. Hyland is the next resident towards the sea, and has 20 acres in wheat, equal to 20 bushels; 30 of oats, 30 bushels; 30 of barley, 20 bushels ; and a small lot of hay and a nice little grass paddock. Nearer the creek, in a nice secluded spot, is Mr. Henry Beckett’s farm. He has, in addition to the one near the crook, another farm near Seafield, and altogether his crops this year will total up 210 acres wheat, up to fully 30 bushels ; 130 oats 30 bushels ; GO in —25 bushels ; and the hay from some 50 of pasture land has resulted in building stacks with fully 100 tons contained in thorn. It is at present a mystery to mo what the farmers are going to do with all the hay this year. As I think, there is sufficient in stack to supply all the wants of the district for the next two seasons. Mr. Beckett has also about 80 acres of really fine grass, and a good patch of potatoes, &c, for home consumption.
My next calling place was on one of my favorites, a man whose quiet unobstrusive ways, and skilful management of bis big farm has always been taken by mo as one of our pattern agriculturists. His neighbors need not be told that I refer to Mr. David Butterick, who has on his mind the responsibility of working a farm of some 1,200 acres, and who seems to be able to do it without ever getting into a state of excitement over it. Ho has 230 acres, or thereabouts, in -wheat, equal to 22 bushels per acre ; 106 oats —30 bushels ; 76 bailey —3O bushels, a stack of hay of fair proportions, and a couple of hundred acres of grass. Crossing the creek here, Sam Christie’s mansion is close handy, and his patch of land looks as if he would do well to take in a partner on the estate, one of the female gender is what I would recommend, and if the mate was a good one, I don’t know a farm in the Wakanui, where a woman’s talents, in the shape of raising ducks and green peas, could be better developed than on this same spot. Mr. Christie has not done a great deal in the shape of cropping this year on bis own place, bo having been engaged elsewhere. He lias 10 acres in wheat, estimated at 20 bushels ; 34 of oats at 25; 15 of barley, about 18 ; and 70 in permanent grass. At the junction of Christie’s road, with the Beach road, Mr Edwin Thomas’ portly form and comfortable homestead is close by, and any acquaintance of Ted’s is never known to pass bis bouse, without calling in to admire the draught horses, and the beer ; and the mistress of the house is .as hospitable as her jolly husband. The crop here is not up to what I expected to see on such good land. 35 acres of wheat on one of the best sections in the Wakanui will do well if Mr. Thomas with himself on his thrashing machine (at which he is well known as an adept) can get more than 20 bushels per acre out of it. His oats are good, and he has some GO acres, up to 45 bushels per acre ; and 20 barley, about 20 bushels. A stack of hay, a grass paddock, and a trim well kept garden include all his improvements. His next neighbor on my way back home is Peter Lownie, who has a small holding of some 100 acres; but as the land is good, aud Peter knows how tq malic the beat use fif it, nobody need be surprised at his having good crops and being satisfied with the good things in this vale of tears. There are 48 acres in wheat, which will yield all of 35 bushels ; 15 acres in oats, about 25 ; and 32 in grass. The next farm is Mr. Clephane’s, who has 30 acres in wheat—2s bushels ; 25 in oats—3s bushels; and 45 in grass and clover. Thence homewards I pass Moffatt’s mill, and all the others on the Wakanui road have already been noticed. One thing worthy of remark that I may mention just here is, that the small plantations taken in hand by the County Council, are doing well, the one at the corner of the Longbeach and Great South roads having a fine lot of healthy young gums coming up! Wattles have also, been sown, but as yet they have not shown their heads above grpund. The past season has been particularly favorable to young plantations ; one I saw on Chatmoss estate, just on the edge of the swamp, has shot up in a most incredible manner—the gums having grown in some cases at the rate of nearly a foot a month, since transplanted last year. And the Pinus insignis, and P. Maritima both do well, although the growth is not sp rapid.
The crops along the Groat South Road are not as a rule first class, most of the land being poor and stony. It is only so far a narrow belt along the railway line ; but as an example of what can bo done on this land by adopting the rotation system, and feeding off With sheep, I may mention a paddock of 200 acres or so on Chatmoss, which was by most people considered unfit for cultivation, being actually worse in quality than any land in the Wakanui district, the stones lying on the surface, and just a sprinkling of soil between them. This land Mr. Scott cultivated and laid down in rape, fed off, then cropped with turnips, fed off again, and again repeated the process. This year he prt in oats, and his labors have resulted in the granclest-look-ing crop I have seen ; for, without having any great quantity of straw, the heads are large and extremely well filled, and will give an 80 bushel per acre return. The paddock shows, whore the machine has cut the oats off, a perfect mat of clover and grass. This is a sample of what can be done on poor laud by combining sheep and grain growing together. About a mile and a-half from this field, in the reclaimed portion of Mr. E. G. Wright’s swamp, is the champion wheat crop of the district. The field is about 200 acres in extent, was last year in turnips, and fed off' with sheep, and it now has a GO bushel crop on it. It is a grand sight, and indicative of what enormous quantities of grain will be produced in the extensive swamps running right through to the sea. Dry seasons will not affect this kind of land to the extent they will the plains, as the moisture is retained for a much longer period. As pasture lands the swamps are prepared grow enough to feed 5 or 6 sheep to the acre without giving out, when once permanently laid down.
THE FARMER., Ashburton Guardian, Volume 1, Issue 59, 10 February 1880
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