AMONG THE FARMERS. (By Oue Rambling Rbpcetbe.) From Tinwald to Waterton is the best drive in the county, that is, so far as the road is concerned. Being formed the full width, and not having the high crown and large boulders on it so fashionable in other parts of the Ashburton, it is capable of carrying traffic over the whole width of it; indeed, the Longbeach roads are far and away the best made anywhere within 30 miles of the township. The first farm after leaving Tinwald is Mr. J. R. C. 0. Graham’s, one of the pioneers of that district. He has done little in cropping this year, being more in the pastoral line, and has only 80 acres in oats and 20 in barley, and 1000 acres laid down in English grasses. On the opposite side of the road is the farm of Messrs. Crowe and Lysaght, who possess a long irregular strip of first-class land, between Graham’s road and the river, and who make the best use of it. They have 100 acres in wheat, 36 in oats, 216 in barley, and 36 in grass, and remarkably good crops. Mr. IV. H. Smith has a small holding, with 43 acres of wheat—about a 20-bushel crop—and 10 acres of oats and 100 of grass. On the bye-road towards the swamp, Messrs. Gudsell have about GO acres of oats, and the next holding on Graham’s road, that of Mr. Dalgetty, has 20 of wheat, 25 oats, 25 barley, and 18 in grass, fairish looking crops ; and adjoining is Mr. Wood’s farm, on which there are 70 acres wheat and 70 of oats, which will give 25 and 35 bushels respectively. Mi’. George Biddings holds a large block of some 1000 acres, mostly swamp land, which ho is now engaged in draining, and when this is done he will have a grand lot of grazing land. Even now there is an immense quantity of surface sown grass on it. This block is one of the numerous educational reserves held in this district, and like most of them, is held at present at a lowrental. Most of the reserves having been selected in the early days, they are on the pick of the land in the country and will, when the present leases fall in, bring an enormous revenue to the Board of Education. Mr. Biddings has 20 acres in wheat, 170 in oats and 45 in barley ; heavy crops. On the same road, towards Wheatstone, Mr. Bishop’s farm is on the right, and he has a very decent sort of a farm, especially towards the swamp, where horses and cattle revel in the richest kind of pasture. Mr. Bishop has 130 acres wheat, 130 oats, and 20 of barley some of this acreage being included in another farm he holds near Waterton, the balance being in grass. Opposite to him, Mr. John Small, an early settler, possesses a compact block of land, upon which he fattens more than the average of his neighbors of horses, cattle, sheep, and pigs. Mr. Small is great on pigs—they are perhaps the best paying stock on a farm of this sort. Mr. Small has in crop this year 100 acres in wheat, 55 in oats, 15 barley, and 120 laid down in permanent grass. Two of Mr. John Brigg’s paddocks adjoin him on each side, from which large stacks of hay have been saved this year. Between Mr. Small, and the township of Wheatstone, is Mr. W. Prebble’s selection —a nice block of land partly swamp and partly dry land, with an immense growth of feed upon it. He has CO acres of wheat, and 163 of oats, besides his grass paddocks. Alongside his frontage is the long curve on the Longbeach railway of the future, which here _turns off from Wheatstone towards the Longbeach road, the surveyed line joining that road opposite Mr. F. Standish’a residence. It is to be hoped that ere long this necessary work will be initiated, and although none of the people about this district can complain of their roads or the coaching accommodation provided for them, yet the iron horse is by far the most preferable method of travelling. The Wheatstone Hotel, of which Mr. Seorge Wilcocks is proprietor, is close at [and is a particularly welcome sort of a place on such a hot day as 1 visited there. The house is really a credit to the host, and would be belter patronised if in a larger centre of population, the furnishing and accommodation being first class ; good stabling is provided, and as Mr. Wilcocks combines the business of coach proprietor and mailman with that of selling beer to thirsty travellers, he has to keep some good horses fit for the long journey from Longbeach to Ashburton and back every day, and he makes the hotel a sort of half-way house to divide work among his steeds.
Just here the County Council contemplate some extensive and necessary drainage works, which are required to relieve the farmers nearer the sea from the immense floods which occasionally deluge their lands, and as there is ample fall from the lower end of Mr. Prebble’s farm to the Ashburton river, passing Wheatstone on the track, there are no engineering difficulties in the way of carrying out the work. I am sure that the Council will receive the hearty thanks of the Ashton people when the work is done. Down towards the beach I drop in on some small holdings which have all the right ktnd of men on them to make good colonists, and George Gilnour is one —a canny, clear-headed farmer, whose advice among his neighbors is looked upon as being worthy of notice, and as he is a clear-headed and logical kind of an individual, Mr. Gilmour is necessarily a man
of mark in Ashtor. As a pork breeder Mr. Gilmour is “facile princeps,” and as lie comes from that part of the Old Country where bacon curing is a science, it is not to be wondered at that- his bacon is considered worthy of special mention a show where particularly strict and impartial judges adjudicated on the quality of the pork. The reason for this is twofold. First, his knowledge of the correct breed of porkers to keep—and his fancy lies in the same direction as my own, viz., Borkshiros —and, secondly, his knowledge of what to do with the pig when defunct, and it is in this process that Mr. Gilmour shines. Adjoining Mr. George Gilmour, and, still more public spirited, is Mr. Thomas Taylor, erstwhile the Joseph Hume of the Road Board, and a very much “respeckit ” member thereof. Mr. Taylor always kept an eye on the expenditure of the Road Board, and always kept his weather eye open to have all necessary works done in the district he represented in the local body, and is consequently looked up to with that degree of respect his success commands in getting all the needful roads and bridges made in the locality necessary for its due comfort and convenience. Mr. Taylor has done more. He has set a good example to his neighbors in the direction of making a comfortable home, and one pleasant to the eye. with a plantation and a garden, and suitable outhouses, stables, &c. His is perhaps one of the most promising and ■well-conducted farmers about this part of the district, and the conveniences for reaching this part of the world, in the shape of good roads, are deserving of the thanks of the public to hi in more than to anyone. To hark back a bit: Mr. James Croy is a man who cannot be passed by, although not a farmer on an extensive scale. He and his brother do more in the line of road contracting than farming, and whilst making money that way, leave their better halves to add to the family store by converting the produce of the farm into cheese and butter, and for small farmers, I don’t know of any in the county whose example could be followed with advantage to themselves and the country at large ; and whilst I am on this farm, it is just as well to state that, as a contractor, Mr, James Croy held the medal, so to speak, as being the prize road maker of the Ashburton, and his work can be detected by its quality wherever the traveller wends his way. I can also conscientiously state that his cheese and butter are quite as good as his roads ; and we would be glad to see many more of the same sort as the Croy family settled on small freeholds, and there would then be no fear of the prosperity of Ashburton.
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