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(By Our Travelling Reporter.)

The last sale of the season was held at the Mount Somers yards on, Monday. A review of the sales throughout the year tells the same story of the slump in sheep, and consequently the sales have not been so well supporteH by attendance or entries as in former years. Last winter, too, helped to account for tho small ' yardings, as the flocks in the Gorge and back-country were seriously depleted owing to" the very bad winter, and they are ,to a large extent, in ordinary years, the big supporters of the Mount Somers sale_ by sending down large entries of surglus stock. Altogether it has not been a _ood year for sheep, but, although feed is scarce enough in the district, farmers consider themselves not so badly, situated in this respect as those further down on the plains. The trouble is, of course, that on such high country early and severe frosts will soon prejudice what feed is available. As elsewhere, the turnip crops have been more or less a failure, although one observer states that the crops of harder turnips sown in January and February have done better than the softer varieties put in earlier. Relying on the early promise of these root crops, _ farmers had reckoned to have sufficient feed, but the dry weather led to a serious check, which cannot be overcome before growth is again retarded by the frosts. There is very little hay this year, and the stock-holders will be put to it to see the winter through.

There is a more cheerful story to tell when it conies to grain, chiefly oats, in this district. The croos generally have been remarkably good, one farmer re'm firkin- that he had ne^er seen anything like this season. Everywhere i' 1 tho district grain had done well, and this applied to crops right up nj_ fni* as Hakatere. Certainly there wer° some tidy nests of stacks in many paddocks, and this applied also in the country seen when passing through Springburn, Spr.eacle.igle, and Greenstrpet. .

"TWders p't,rt to be railed shortly for a Soldiers' Memorial Hall, which, it i<* estimated, will cost about £1400. Itis honed to onen the buildine free of debt, as already £500 has been subscribed or promised, and the Mount Somers Dor-min Board are mnkimr a "■rant of £700 towards the hall out of their nccumnlatpd funds. It sjiv ."nrne+hinff for the generosity of the district towards patriotic matters that so lanre an undertaking should "have such a cheerful asnect financially. The hall is designed somewhat after the manner of a similar memorial at Darfield. Memorial tablets in marble are to he placed in the main entrance to thp memory of fallen soldiers from the district, and a-'*roll of honour,, includine the names of all soldiers who served 'in the war, is to be placed within the building., A site' has been chosen in the Mount Somers Domain, and the Domain Board are to bo responsible for the care and maintenance of the bni'dine on its completion, when it should be a fittir~ monument to the fallen soldiers, as well as a mark of tho interest and affection of Mount Somers residents'. It is felt that the lighting arrangements should be in keeping with the rest of the building, and'it is honed, if there is' sufficient-interest shown in a practical manner, to dispense with the evil-smelling dimness of oil lamps that areJ common in most country halls, and arrange for more modern illumination.

Another evidence of the public s>pirit in Mount Somers is the success attending the agitation for a new school, more centrally situated. There was a certain amount of opposition to the proposed new site, but the petition signed by 44 residents (representing 58 children attending the school) outweighed a counter-petition with 13 signatories (representing eight children), and the Education Board has already bought tho new site, comprising four acres, in Mr Bull's oaddock, which is situated practically in the centre of the townshin, to suit most scholars. At present the residents are urging the Education Board to proceed with the new school building at once, instead of waiting until the spring, as is proposed. It is exDected that the old site and buildings will be sold, so as to contribute part cost of tho new. £

Tho coal-mine is still working, and there is a much readier demand for this fuel than can bo supplied owing to a dearth of miners. The coal from this mine is much better quality than some of the brown coals now on the- market. Twelve truckloads were observed coming down the tramline on Monday. There sire at present a good many men employed at the quarries extracting limestone, which is now put through a special process, being first warmed or dried and then crusned into powder. In this form it is equivalent to carbonate of lime, and is easily put into the soil when drilling seed, acting as a very valuable manure. There is some talk of trying to obtain Lake Coleridge power to develop the industry, and, if this were accomplished, tlie Memorial Hall would not have far to go for its lighting. A welcome home social is to be held to-night (Wednesday) in honour of Messrs John and James Murray and James Harris, who have recently returned from the theatre of war. Mr John Murray (or " Jock," as he is more affectionately styled) is a particularly warm favourite in Mount Somers and surrounding districts. Mount Sonier.s is justly proud of its war record, although, as in other districts, war has taken its sad toll. The Mesopotamia station has had 13 men killed out of 15 who went to the war. The warm days on Sunday and Monday, together with the nor'-west wind and showers on Sunday evening, did much to clear the snow lying in the hill and back-country. Several fires were observed high up the mountain on Monday, which were explained as the burning of scrub or tussock for spring feed purposes. Monday was delightfully warm and summery up till about 2'p.m., when the wind suddenly turned sou-west and chilly. Mount Somers is somewhat exercised about the licensing issue. It is pointed out that the district voted No-hcenso by a three-fifths majority in 1902. when the Ashburton electorate went "dry" and the hotel lost its license. Since then Mount Somers has been included in the "wet "area of Selwyn, but at this next election returns to its old status in the Ashburton electorate. As one resident says: "To say the least of it, the position is tantalising. We don't know where we stand—except that.there is no bar-counter to sunport us ! At the recent referendum Mount Somers voted 3 to 1 for Continuance fill votes to 39), and Hakatere voted 6 to 1 (24 votes to 4) ..the same way. Still the hotel is unlicensed, and back we go,' like naughty, boys, into the Ashburton electorate for the next tryr out (or dry-out)." A good many will

agree with the Mount Somers residents that the licensing laws require a. good deal of definition before the next poll.

That bee-farming can be made a very profitable undertaking was instanced at one farm visited on Monday. Here there were 60 up-to-date hives, with all tlie apparatus for honey-extracting that goes to the make-up of a modern apiary. The farmer said his bees had been doing well this season with their unlimited fields of clover for profitable roaming, and he considered the district eminently suited for bee-farming{' He himself had been somewhat handicapped by foul-brood getting among his hives these last two years. Last year ho had the disease fairly scotched, when the work was interrupted by .his being called up for military service, and he had his work to do over again this year. Situated as it was, at the mouth of the Gorge, the. apiary suffered rather from the sweep and violence of the nor'-westers; but that was a small matter. He instanced two other cases in the district where bee-farming in a fairly large way was proving successful.

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THE COUNTRYSIDE, Ashburton Guardian, Volume XXXIX, Issue 9598, 30 April 1919

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THE COUNTRYSIDE Ashburton Guardian, Volume XXXIX, Issue 9598, 30 April 1919

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