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(By "The Tramp.")

With the war at an end and the signi^R of the Peace Treaty within measurable distance, and the return of our soldiers, matters agricultural will once more begin to move along on normal lines. For the past few years agricultural pursuits in this and every other county in New Zealand have been carried out under exceptional circumstances, and more than one farmer, owing to the shortage of labour and other causes, has been precariously near the bankruptcy court. It is hoped nbw that brighter times are in store for the man on the land, and with a view to assisting in the reconstruction that must necessarily follow in the trail of war, it is proposed to devote a column weekly in the " Guardian " to matter interesting to farmers in this County. In undertaking the collecting of this agricultural news, which it is hoped will he of benefit and interesting to the man on the land. "The Tramp" asks for the hearty co-operation of every farmer in the County. Long experience has shown him that the farmer, as a rule, makes but a poor correspondent, particularly where newspapers are concerned. It is only by personal contact, as a rule, that information can be obtained from a farmer, and valuable items are often lost to his fellowfarmers through what might be termed indifference to supply them. Now, "The Tramp" knows for a fact _ that most farmers pay frequent visits to Ashburton—some once per week, and some at more or less frequent intervals as circumstances permit. During a visit to town ther.e is nearly always some leisure time, and "The Tramp" suggests that a portion of' that time oould be profitably employed in passing over some particular item of interest to the farmers in his district, to appear in this column. There is not a single farm in this County that at some time or .other cannot produce an item of interest. .. If"" is one exception. "The Tramp " will bo glad to hear of it. Suggestions from farmers regarding items to be published will be particu larlv welcome, likewise criticisms upo/. j any subject dealt with. Reports of c::- ' •periments which have proved either nrofitable or a failure will.also be welcome, particularly in regard to the failures, as the mere fact of bringing them under the light of publicity may fiause some other farmer to come forward and show whero the experiment failed and how it can, with no great difficulty or expense, be converted into a success. Now, farmers, wake up; be alive to your own interests,' and don't be so slow in paying a visit to, or communicating with, " The Tramp" as you are in becoming members of the Farmers' Union. J SCHOOLS AND SHOWS;

T foel sure the Ashburton' and Methven A. and P. Associations will pardon me for devoting the first article to a criticism of a section of their show schedule. I refer in onch instance to tlio school sections. It is just as well that there should be no misunderstand'insr in this matter. We hear a- good deal nowadays regarding extending the agricultural education of the young, and vahiablo work in this County has already been done in the latter direction by the Ashburton High School. There are, however, pupils attending the primary the County who will never see the High School, and I ask. the farmers in all .seriousness what is beine done to create enthusiasm for agricultural pursuits amongst these nupils. In going round the County I find qne. ■ prtlnary school where any- ■ thing like decent measures are being taken to impart practical agricultural instruction to the boys. I refer to the Mayfield School, under the capable direction of Mr C. Withell. All honour to Mr Withell. and his district should be justly proud of his efforts. For veai's past his display has become a feature of the horticultural section of the Ashburton Show. If Mayfield School can excel with its exhibits, is it not reasonable to suppose that others in the County can do the same ? Now to seek one of the causes of the apathy, and it is not very difficult to find. Class 374 of the Ashburton A. and P. schedule shows that the magnificent sum of 10s is awarded for first prize and 5s for second prize ( plus £1 Is from the president for the collection of vegetables grown in school gardens under the supervision of the teachers. In Methyen the rarizes are 10s and 5s respectively. Did it ever occur to those who compiled the schedules that the whole of the prize-money lumped together for tho two shows in the sections indicated above would not pay any one master for his time in supervising ? What, then, is left out of the prizemoney to encourage the pupils to make their display ? Compare this liberality in prizes with, for instance, £5 5s in the same schedule given for the best yearling trotter or pacer. Who has to exercise tho most uatience in preparing his exhibit for the show —the small boy witli his carrot or turnip, or the wealthy farmer with his yearling trotter ? There are plenty of similar comparisons that could be made in the schedule to show how the grown-up farmer who ha_s to exorcise the least trouble with his exhibit scores every time. I have discussed this phase of the question with practical farmers, and they, without exception, are willing to admit that tho system is wrong. How many small birds' eggs, for instance, would the local bodies get in a year if some monetary inducement was not siven .to the small boy to collect the eggs ? The same .applies with the vegetables. The material" is not lacking, but tho hoy must be encouraged. If the collection of vegetables is found too unwieltlv for the schools to compete, then it is easily modified. If the section can only draw one entry each year at Ashburton and a blank at Methven, then it has no further use in the schedule. A modification can easily be made by stipulating so many vegetables of each variety, which could easily bo packed in a case and sent to the show, and the exhibits from a dozen schools ranged side by side on tho benches would make an interesting and comprehensive display. I hope that this article will not be like casting bread upon tho waters, but that tho members of both show committees will sit up and take notice, and that a modified scheme as suggested will be introduced next year, and the nrize-moncy trebled 'or quadrupled. With the prosperous yields of grain this vear.£s each from, some of the wealthy farmers would not be out of place' to start this County primary school exhibition on. a-solid'basis. Let us see who will be the first farmer to send alone: his donation.

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Bibliographic details

LAND, STOCK & CROPS, Ashburton Guardian, Volume XXXIX, Issue 9597, 29 April 1919

Word Count

LAND, STOCK & CROPS Ashburton Guardian, Volume XXXIX, Issue 9597, 29 April 1919