« iepriekšējāTurpināt »
come under my observation. Several experiments of the same nature are now being tried in different parts of Worcester county, the result of which will prove most beneficial, and no doubt will be published, as the gentleman offering $50 for the experiments is public-spirited, and will have no desire to keep any information hid that will be of benefit to the agricultural community.
The same kind of questions were put to the intelligent farmers in our county-such as, What is milk worth in your vicinity to be manufactured into butter, butter being worth 20 cents the pound? How many quarts of milk does it take for a pound of butter? Is there any great difference in the milk of our common native cows for butter? Is it sure that the cow giving the richest milk for butter will make the fattest calf? Ought cows to give milk and butter in proportion to their live weight? Do cows consume food in proportion to their live weight and the milk and butter made from them? How many quarts of milk and pounds of butter does your whole dairy give in nine months? Is there any difference in the milking qualities of your cows, according to their weight? To the above questions I have not found one in a hundred of our practical and otherwise intelligent farmers that could answer, from knowledge, one of these common-sense questions; nor do I believe they can be answered by one in a thousand throughout the whole of the dairying districts of the country. But the question has been asked, and answered with some degree of accuracy, (namely,) Can the present stock of cows that have come under your observation be made, by selection alone, and without any change in feed or extra labor from such as is now bestowed on them, to improve in their milking properties, so as to increase their milk 2 quarts per day for 9 months in the year? It is understood by this proposition that the next generation of cows shall be selected, when calves, from the best half of our cows, as one-half are as many calves as are raised in New England. Further, it is proposed to give a good bull for each 50 cows, instead of indifferent and some decidedly bad ones, as at present, and allowing the good bulls to cost $50, and that the present bad ones would sell for no more than $20 each. And the answer in most cases has been, that they thought it could be done by taking a little more thought and some action. Now it occurred to me, if this could. be done, it would pay, in part at least, the outlay that we are asking our legislature to appropriate for an agricultural school and pattern or experimental farm; and, as I was in Boston, I stepped into the secretary of State's office, and carefully took down the number of cows as returned to that department in May, 1850, and found the number from Worcester county alone to be 35,594, and the two-year-old steers and heifers to be 17,837. Now we will suppose these cows, by wise thought and attention, to be increased in their milking properties 2 quarts per day for 9 months, or 270 days in the year; and that milk is worth, in all parts of Massachusetts, 2 cents per quart for manufacturing butter-here it is: 35,594 cows, at the above reckoning, would make $10 80 for each cow, or a round sum of $384,415 20. Add to this sum, as increased value on twoyear olds over the old stock, say $35,674, which would make a sum total of $420,089 20; deduct from this $21,330 for good bulls over the old stock, and we have left $398,759 20-and this for Worcester county alone, with a population of 140,817, or about 1 cow to each 4 persons. The cows are supposed to yield at least 4 pounds of butter per week for
40 weeks in the year, and at least one-half of this butter is manufactured in so careless a manner that it sells for but 17 cents the pound, while good butter sells readily in any market in Massachusetts for 20; and as the bad butter requires the same amount of materials and labor as the good, here is another item of $78,296 80, caused entirely through ignorance and a general want of knowledge in its manufacture and pres ervation. Then there are our oxen, our one year olds, and calves in process of raising. I have not the statistics as to number, but, from an extensive acquaintance in the country, have no doubt they would more than equal in number and value the cows and two-year olds, and it is the opinion of some of our practical farmers that an equal amount could safely be placed to their credit. With the same advantage that we propose to give to. cows and two-year olds, if this be true, we have a sum total on horned cattle. alone to the amount of $797,518 40, besides the loss on badly manufac tured butter, as above, to the amount of $78,296 80.
As large as these figures look, I believe, from personal observation, that it is far below the real loss on neat stock alone, by mere ignorance and inattention to the subject and knowledge of breeding and caring for our stock. I have taken up this one individual subject of neat stock, and on this small territory, (only about the tenth part of the State,) because, in the first place, I have a pretty good opportunity of knowing, from personal observation, the condition of stock pretty generally for the last twelve years, and of most other counties in Massachusetts; and should say, without prejudice, that more care and attention are bestowed on this one branch of farming in Worcester than in any other in the State; and would further add, that it is my conviction that no farmers in the State are better posted up, or more ready to adopt any substantial improvements, than the farmers of Worcester. I will leave others to judge whether our cattle, as they are, and have been for the last ten years, will not favorably compare with the other States in the Union? In purcha sing several thousand head (for our market) from the farmers individually, in sections of all the New England States, for the last dozen years, and from a patient, continual inquiry, I believe it would more than compare.. As I have my stock-book before me, I will give a sample of the differ ences in prices paid last October by myself in Vermont: Lowest price: paid for one-year olds, $6; highest price, $20 each; two-year olds, aver age $14; lowest price for any two head was $9 each, and highest price paid for any two was $40 each, and other ages in proportion. This was on a lot of 110 head, bought for what would be rated store cattle, to be wintered. Though, for various purposes, and with my present object in view, I spared no pains to inform myself of the reason of this great discrepancy in the prices of cattle in a single neighborhood, when I had found the same difference in the quality of stock for several years, all my observations and inquiries have resulted in this fact: The farmer that raised the cheap stock had expended very nearly as much feed and care as the breeder and grower of the high-priced stock, and should put the difference at $1 per head; while the farmer that made good cattle is never necessarily obliged to look up a market for his stock; whilst the farmer that keeps poor stock is obliged to sell for what he considers a low price and slow sale; and, perhaps, there cannot be found a more intelligent and thinking set of farmers in the United States than these Vermont farmers are; and I believe, from experience and observation,
that this difference in the worth of good stock and bad will be found in all of the New England States, and certainly in northern New York. The grower of inferior stock says it is just the same kind of stock that has been on the farm for years, and he cannot afford to go into this highpriced stock, and finally has never thought much about it; whilst the breeder of good or improved stock says he cannot afford to have anything to do with bad stock; his father used to keep them; but he was on to the New York cattle-show a few years since, and was convinced, whilst there, that it was ruinous for him to pursue the old course; had brought home a good bull, and here was his stock. And then there is the same great difference in their horses, sheep, mules, and swine, which will swell the amount, as I have estimated them, to four times at least the amount stated on milch cows and two-year olds, in Worcester county; and this sum, great as it is, must be admitted to be a sample of the annual loss to a very large portion of our whole American farmers.
Admitting the above statements and observations to be true, and that this condition of things exists throughout the nation, I would ask if there would be any harm in urging this subject strongly upon the early attention of Congress, and insisting upon it, that appropriations shall be granted sufficient to establish an agricultural college, connected with a pattern and experimental farm, where young men may graduate with honor and great usefulness from all parts of this widely-extended country -where agriculture in its highest state may be studied, and sciences applied-where all the different breeds of cattle, from the short horn or Durham to the last Hungarian cattle, shall be experimented on, and their different qualities proved-the best and different ways of feeding stock and caring for them-where all the great variety of soils may be taken to pieces, and their good and bad qualities exposed-where veterinary surgery may be carried to perfection, and all the other arts and sciences carried to as high a state of advancement as they can be in any other country on the face of the earth? And this institution should be strictly American in all of its departments. If it is said we have no American agricultural science, it is high time we had; and young men enough can be found in all parts of the United States, with hearts beating high, and who have earned a reputation at home in following the plough and subjecting the noble ox to the use of man, and who have preserved and built up a strong constitution, and who have a longing and thirst for an improved American agriculture. Let such young men as these be immediately appointed to the different desired professorships, with annual pay sufficient for them to obtain the most complete education that can be obtained at home or abroad in the particular department of each; and as soon as an institution can be put in running order, they can be home, ready to take their respective situations and do lasting honor and good to all coming generations. Once started, we shall find enough talented young men that will be rapping at the door of agricultural science, and showing us that, with the one talent they had intrusted to them, they have gained ten other talents, and therefore have a just claim to come in.
I would not distrust the wisdom of our government; but, in reviewing fac-similes of letters from Gen. Washington to Sir John Sinclair, from 1792 to 1797, on agriculture, we can see with a single eye that he had his mind strongly upon this subject, and, strange as it may appear, more so
than any Chief Magistrate, or perhaps other officer in our government, for this whole generation and a half. Whilst all other interests have been well cared for, this greatest of all interests has been strangely overlooked. The manufacturer, the mechanic, the merchant, and scholar have always had their particular advocates in Congress; whilst the farmer, who is the very father of our representatives and senators in Congress, stands afar off, and not so much as lifts up his voice in prayer (amongst his more clamorous sons that have left his peaceful fireside for other crafts) to Congress and insist, as he should, that, if the manufacturer needs protection, to him is the entire privilege of at least growing the raw materials, such as cotton and wool. The statistics in our trade in foreign wool surely look bad, when there is not a particle of doubt that this is the best country in the world for its production. Sheep husbandry is not depreciating in its tendencies, but, on the contrary, a great renovator of soils-no complaints, where the sheep ranges, of worn-out or hungry soils; but look on the other hand, and see the vast extent and hatefullooking waste lands that have been entirely impoverished by growing grain for the city and foreign countries. And whilst the unskilful manager of these (at present) unsightly soils has pocketed the cash for the skimmings, in the shape of corn at the East and West, and the grower of tobacco and cotton at the South, nothing has been brought back to feed these, Pharoah-like, hungry soils; and all the present unskilful cultivator of them can do, is to hand them down to his sons, to go through another fiery trial. But they refuse to give us more than twelve bushels of wheat, where they gave our fathers twenty-five. And our Anglo Saxon sons, who are well posted up in all other of the arts and sciences but that of systematic farming, say they cannot, they will not, take the proffered remnants of this old homestead; and it is left to the worn-out fathers, or perhaps widows, or weaker or discouraged sons, to till on, and own.
Whilst the Anglo-Saxon spirit of our fathers is being developed in our sons, whose passion was, and is, land-more land-and whose courage, energy, and activity have lost nothing by time, they start for the far West, where they can have land in quantity and quality to their heart's content; and as they want nothing but the axe and plough in that region of fertility to go on with the same principle of skimming that has been taught them in their fatherland, it cannot be expected that their present farms under this system will last longer than their fathers' did in the old States. It is West, and more land, until we have already reached the great waters of the Pacific. Now, I would ask, has the time not arrived that we may expect some of our leading men connected with the government will lend a hand for this object? I am presuming that many, if not all, of the several different States will soon form themselves into what may be called a board of agriculture, and after being duly organized will make it their first business to gather all the statistics on all the different branches of agriculture in their respective States, and report to their monthly meeting; and they will not have to go far before they will find causes enough to petition their legislatures to establish an agricultural school and an experimental farm, calculated at least to prepare young men in all its branches to enter the establishment for agricultural education that shall be founded by the national government. If any man in the whole country doubts the propriety or necessity of this undertaking, let him go to work and pick up the statistics for his own town, county, or State in
the same way that it has been done in Worcester county as above, and he will find that he will be safe in contracting with our government to put one establishment in each State in working order, and permanently endow it with professorships, and hire and maintain practical farmers enough to man it in all its departments for any term of years. If they will agree to pay hi.n one-half the present loss on milch cows and two-year old cattle resulting from ignorance and thoughtlessness in selecting and breeding alone, the contractor may go further, and pledge himself that a spirit shall be awakened within five years from the opening of these agricultural institutions that shall convince every reasonable man of their usefulness.
You have the figures as above for Worcester county; loss as above on cows and two-year olds annually $398,759 20, from ignorance and thoughtlessness in the management. On oxen, one-year olds, and calves as much more, which we agree to improve without any pay; besides all other domestic animals usually kept on the farm. And now we will look for a moment to the economy in the making, preserving, and applying of manures: a lack of knowledge of the wants of our soils, as well as their natural capacity for the production of profitable crops, and of the most economical way of feeding out crops to the best advantage, and preserving and increasing the fertility of our land. After the best esti mate that can be made on the losses annually sustained in this county alone, and all added to the loss on cows and two-year olds, put all these losses together, which, at the lowest estimate, would amount to more than one and a half million of dollars annually, or fifteen millions for Massachusetts. Are we calling for a remedy at too early a day, or at too high a cost? If the statistical information is correct which has been gathered from all parts of the United States, and published by your department, which has been the means of doing much good, it shows at a glance that Massachusetts is not behind any of the other States in its agricultural department certainly? But, for convenience sake, we will call them equal, and compare the statistics as above with the other States in the Union, and make figures for the loss they annually all sustain for the want of agricultural knowledge; and your book will be full. The estimates will then fall further short of what would be realized with this knowledge than Dr. Franklin did in stating that it was his conviction that the United States mail, within half a century from that time, would go through from Philadelphia to Boston in twenty days. Old Virginia, with one of the best natural soils and climates in this country, reports that her tobacco crops for the last half century have depreciated her soil to so great an extent, that her wheat and corn crops come down to a very low mark-so low, that her sons cannot afford to stay at home any longer, and so they go further south. Shall old Virginia be forsaken? I answer, No. Her soil must be regenerated, her crops changed, her wasted manures saved, her ploughings deeper, and she, too, must be saved. And is this not a fair sample of all the old tobacco, cotton, and sugar growing States of the South? Can we do without her products? No. Then should not they also study the nature and wants of their soils which are required to produce her valuable staples? Have not they, as well as we at the North, an abundance of fertilizing matter at home, locked up in hills and valleys? And is there anything but the key of agricultural knowledge wanted to bring them to light,