« PreviousContinue »
With regard to the mowing of grass, in general, for hay, the workmen should be made to cut as low as possible, by which the crop is increased, and the remainder thrives better than it would do otherwise. Many hands should be ready to assist, and five makers are not too many for every mower. The grass should be shaken out immediately after the scythe. By the evening it should be raked into rows. The next morning it should be again shaken and spread, and in the evening it should be put up into cocks. These being opened on the following morning, after a similar process, may in fine weather be safely collected into the great hay cock at night. If successive rains come on to damage it, as it is stacked a peck of salt should bestrewed in layers on every load, which will sweeten it and render it palatable for cattle, which would not taste it without this preparation. The stack should be covered within a week after it is finished, and a trench should be dug near it to carry off any wet, if it be placed in a situation subject to damp. The hard hay of a poor soil is little subject to firing, which often occurs with respect to that made of succulent herbage. The latter, therefore, requires longer time for its making. To preserve as much of the sap of grass as possible, without incurring the danger of firing, is the grand practical problem of hay making.
When the stems of culmiferous plants are totally divested of green, they are perfectly ripe. Some farmers recommend that wheat should be cut before this mature stage, not only to prevent any of the grain from shaking out, but as being found to make more excellent flour from being cut before perfect ripeness, than after having attained it. The latter observation may very safely be controverted. But, as it is admitted that every moment it remains standing after complete maturity, is critical, it may often be judicious to commence the reaping of it before the period of full ripeness. Wheat has been immemorially reaped instead of being mowed, and this method ought always to be adopted, as from its high growth it becomes untractable to the scythe. When barley ground is purposely smoothed by rolling, that crop may be cut down with the scythe, which not only, from the greater ra. pidity of its operation, removes that grain more effectually from the danger of being shaken by winds, but brings with it a much greater proportion of the straw for manure, than any other node, a circumstance well deserving attention. Cutting of corn in wet
weather ought ever to be avoided, if possible; and, however obvious this caution, it cannot be regarded as superfluous, as it is unfortunately very often neglected. Barley is particularly subject to injury by wet, having no protecting husk; and has a strong tendency, when cut in this state, to run to malting : it should not only be cut dry, but immediately, if possible, be bound up, to prevent its being discoloured, which will otherwise easily occur. Peas grow so irregularly as to make the sickle necessary. For removing the produce from the field, long carts, moveable upon the axle, by which the whole load is moved at once uponthe ground, and lifted to the stack by persons appointed for the purpose, are prefer
able to other modes. Dispatch is thus ob-,
tained when particularly required, a circumstance always worthy of regard. Instead of housing corn, stacking it is a far superior practice, as it not only, by the consequent exposure to the air, carries what is called a finer countenance, but as it is more completely preserved from vermin than by being deposited in a barn. Every sheaf should be made to incline downward from its top to its bottom. Where they are laid horizontally, rain will be taken in both above and below. The best form for a stack is that of a cone, (the top of which should be formed with three sheaves united in a point) placed upon a cylinder. The moment a stack is finished the covering of it should, if possible, commence: materials should there. fore be previously collected. If much rain should fall before this operation is performed, it will be difficult, and perhaps impossible, to render the stack dry while it stands; and in order to prevent putrefaction, it will be often requisite to pull it down, and after fully exposing every sheaf to the air, to reconstruct it.
The method of preserving potatoes has already been suggested, and to go farther into detail on this subject, would exceed our limits.
The usual mode of threshing is attended with the inconvenience of the straw being very often not thoroughly cleared, by which much grain is lost; and with that of affording the workmen great and perpetual incentives to depredation, which, perhaps, are rarely resisted, or at least are certainly often yielded to. A fixed threshing mill will give comparative security against these evils; and one worked by two or three horses may be purchased for from sixty to
a hundred guineas, and which, in eight hours, will thresh fifteen quarters of wheat. The granary should be over this mill, and the corn may then, immediately after threshing, be drawn up into it and deposited safe under the key of the farmer. Fresh threshed straw is better than old for feeding cattle, and is best managed for them by being cut into chaff. FRUIT TREEs.
The culture of trees, for the purpose of deriving a fermented liquor from their juice, employs a great proportion of the land of this as of other countries; and is, therefore, an important branch of agricultural attention. The preparation of the juice of apples is more particularly attended to in the British empire, than of that of any other fruit; and the few remarks on the general subject which our limits will permit, will be confined to that fruit. The varieties of apples are entirely artificial, nature having produced only one species, which is the common crab. But different culture produces very great differences, which are preserved by artificial propagation. The seeds of the finest flavoured apples, among the native species, should be sown in seed beds, in an extremely rich soil; and the assistance of a frame, or even a stove, may be applied. In the first or second winter the plants should be removed to the nursery; while they remain there, the intervals between them may be occupied with garden stuff, which should not, however, crowd or overshadow them; and weeds, whenever they appear, should be extirpated. In pruning, particular attention must be given to the leader; and, where there are two, the weakest of them must be cut off. The undermost boughs should be gradually removed, and not all in one season. The height of the stem should be seven feet, or seven and a half, as the crops on a tree of this elevation are less exposed, and, indeed, the tree itself is less susceptible of injury. When they have attained five inches in girt, which they will do in seven or eight years, they may be safely planted out. Tillage is favourable, as the ground is thus stirred about them; and, where cattle are permitted to feed among them, they are apt to injure them, and, indeed, also to injure themselves after the trees begin to bear, by the fruit sticking in their throats; on which account apple grounds, not in tillage, should be eaten bare before the season of gathering. Apple trees should be carefully cleared of a redundance of wood, which intercepts the free
circulation of the air. They should be kept clear also of the misletoe, which is often extremely injurious. Moss likewise should never be permitted to incumber them. The failure of crops, in particular years, is often ascribed to what is called blight; but, to adopt more intelligible language, is probably imputable to the great exhaustion of the trees by recent bearings; to prevent, or mitigate which exhaustion, the best application is that of care, to bestow upon them all the natural means of healthy and vigorous vegetation. Excess of bearing, however, will inevitably impair strength. Grafting in the boughs, and when they are fully grown thinning the branches, will prevent excessive produce, and may be considered as a very probable method of procuring fluit in moderate quantities every year. As general management, with respect to orchard grounds, it is a judicious rule to plant for such, a broken up worn out sward, keeping it under arable till the trees have attained tolerable growth, when it may with advantage be laid down to grass, and be permitted to remain in that state till the trees are finally removed. After one set of graftstocks on the stem have become effete, a second has been successfully applied: and thus, though the effect of age will at length prove fatal, the bearing of trees has been often very long protracted. The pear tree is of much longer duration than the apple. Both should be extirpated without reluctance, when their produce no longer compensates for the ground occupied by them.
TIM BER TREES AND COPPiCEs.
The planting of timber trees is an important aid to general cultivation, particularly in mountainous and moorish situations, where they afford shelter both for corn crops and cattle. Wherever plantations are formed in such situations, the aspect of the surrounding land is always improved, and exhibits a richer verdure. When suddenly removed, the contrary effect takes place; the efforts of human industry are then impaired; the warmth of the soil is dissipated; vegetation is pierced and chilled by the unresisted blasts which sweep along its surface; and the cattle are benumbed and stunted for want of protection from its fury.
In a flat and rich country, plantations of: ten operate injuriously; and lofty hedge rows, containing stately trees, check the
free passage of the air and light, prevent
the seasonable drying of the ground, and, in a changeful and critical climate, the corn
is consequently delayed in its progress towards maturity, often cannot be gathered in proper condition, and, sometimes, is compietely ruined. These considerations will generally be sufficient to decide the question of planting timber trees in particular situations. Where the practice is thought judicious with a view to the melioration of the soil, the larch, which is the quickest grower, and the most valuable of all the resinous trees, will be entitled to a preferonce. The most barren ground will answer all its demands for nourishment. For oak, better lands are indispersalle. Beech trees under the protection of Scotch firs, previously planted for their shelter, will lay hold, eventually, even of a soil which possesses neither clay nor loam, and thrive so rapidly as to require, in a short period, that the firs should be cut down to afford freer air and ramification. The use of small plantations of timber on large estates is very considerable. A vast quantity of posts, spars, and rafters, for buildings of every description on the farm, is perpetually called for in such circumstances, and will thus be fully supplied on the spot; whereas the want of it is attended with extreme expense and inconvenience. Planting should commence in October, and may be continued till April, excepting during frost. Injuries from cattle must be effectually guarded against in plantations, in their infant stage, which are as easily ruined as fields of corn. The fences, therefore, should be kept in the best possible repair. With respect to coppices the caution about cattle is equally necessary. When coppices have attained the age of fourteen years, they may, generally speaking, be cut down more profitably than at any other age; and the most advantageous method after this, is to sort out the wood for appropriate lonoposes, whether for fuel, hoops, or hop poles; which arrangement will, in almost all cases furnishing such varieties, abundantly compensate for the time taken up in making it. In some situations, as in Surry for stakes and edders, in Gloucestershire for cordwood, in Yorkshire for railing, these articles yield a considerable advantage; and as they are sure of a market within a small distance, which with respect to the carriage of so bulky a commodity, is a point of the first consequence, an annual fall of wood applicable to these purposes may be desirable. The ground appropriated for its growth should be divided into that number of sowings or plantations, which will
equal the number of years intended for their growth before cutting. The management will thus be easy as well as profitable, and fall naturally, without agitation and embarrassment, into the regular business of the year. These plantations may be sown either in October or March. The land being in good order, it should be sown with corn or pulse, appropriate to the season and the soil, after which the tree seeds should be put across the land in drills. Acorns and nuts must be dibbled, and the key berries scattered in trenches, drawn by the hoe, at four feet distance. Osiers may often be cultivated to great advantage, yielding a profit in the second, or at least in the third year; while a coppice requires 15 or 20, and an oak a 100 years to attain to its maturity.
A considerable part of the stock of a farmer must always consist of cattle; and the maintenance and management of these, therefore, must ever be an object of great consequence; and in proportion to the number of them which he keeps for sale, in addition to those which he employs on account of their immediate service and labour, the importance of the subject is increased to him. Whether, in the latter point of view, oxen or horses are more advantageous has been a long agitated question. In situations in which there is a breed of cattle particularly adapted to work, and such situations do occur, the employment of the ox may probably be most beneficial. And when a farm is of so great extent that a considerable number of beasts may be annually bought at a small expense, and no inconvenience may be incurred by turning out those to fatten which are ill qualified for labour, the same preference may be wisely made. Bulls are on some accounts to be preferred to oxen, being procured at a cheaper rate, and more active and persevering in labour. In other cases than those just mentioned the question will be decided differently. The activity of the horse is extremely superior to that of oxen, and it is more applicable to different species of employment. Its hoof is less susceptible of injury; and, with respect to well managed farms, in which dispatch is more required than absolute strength in the operation of ploughing, the quickness with which the horse completes the business in comparison with the ox, will, it may be presumed, at length generally diffuse that preference of the one to the other, which is obviously in
creasing every day. Yorkshire is the most distinguished part of England for the breed of horses, particularly for the saddle, and the black cart horse of the middle counties has been long celebrated. In the north of England, a very valuable breed from Lanarkshire in Scotland has lately been encouraged, of extreme activity, though not fit for particularly heavy draught, passing over a vast surface of land in a short time, and highly useful, therefore, not only in ploughing, but in the - general work of a farm. The Norfolk management of horses, as instruments of agriculture, is considered by many as the cheapest that can be practised. In the winter months their sole rack meat is barley straw. In the most busy season a bushel of corn is thought an ample allowance, and the chaff of oats, which is far preferable to that of barley, is universally mixed with it. They are in summer kept out all night, and their feed is generally clover only. A great saving in the maintenance of horses has been obtained by the substitution of roots for grain. Turnips and potatoes have been given them in a raw state, in which case, if hard labour is required of them, some corn in addition may be expedient. If these roots are boiled, however, the corn may without injury be dispensed with. Carrots are better for horses than potatoes, and both are thought extremely serviceable in preventing various disorders to which they are subject, particularly the grease. Carrots are deemed an effectual cure for what is denominated thick wind in horses, and to broken winded ones, are of admirable use in palliating the complaint. The practice of soiling horses, instead of turning them to grass in summer, is by many experienced men thought by far the superior method. The produce thus managed goes three times as far as if consumed in the field. The injury done by feeding pastures with horses instead of sheep or oxen, an injury very material and obvious, is avoided; and the dunghill, which, in all situations at a distance from towns and cities, is an invaluable object, especially if plentiful littering be allowed, is sufficiently benefited to compensate for this expense of their keeping. Black cattle, intended for feeding, should be chosen for their being shortlegged, which quality is almost uniformly connected with a general good make. Straightness of back is another important recommendation, and the more perfectly straight they are, while at the same time they are very broad and flat on the loins, the more readily experienced
judges will decide on their worth. Smallness of dewlap, and the barrel form of carcase, both in the fore and hind quarters, are also justly insisted upon as points of excellence. A curled hide is indicative of a thriving beast, and worthy of observation in the choice of these animals. A still more favourable symptom is a softness or sleekness of skin. Indeed the nice touch of the hand is requisite in the judge of cattle, perhaps nearly as much as the keen observation of the eye. Oxen that have been worked are more valuable to graziers than others, as not only fattening with greater rapidity, but furnishing more excellent beef. After working till the age of fourteen years, which is within two of the usual extent of their natural life, they have often supplied most tender and admirable meat. It is a consideration of great importance to the grazier, that he should always secure such a stock of winter food for his cattle, as will maintain them during that season, reserving them for the spring market, which is always superior to that of autumn. From the beginning of March to that of June, the change of prices will be completely in his favour; and in order to avail himself of this, he must so arrange his affairs as to procure an adequate stock of winter maintenance. Whatever food is used for this purpose be. sides hay, the latter is always to be implied, and from seven to fourteen pounds a day should always be allowed to each beast. For hastening the process of fattening an ox, linseed cake has been found superior to every other article. its price, however, of lase years has been more than proportional to this advantage. Carrots complete their fatting with a nearly equal degree of celerity; and an ox will eat a sixth part of his weight of this root every day; at which rate an ox of sixty stone may be supported by the produce of an acre of these roots, for upwards of five months. Two beasts, of the weight just mentioned, if half fat when put to carrots, might become completely so by consuming the produce of an acre. Cabbages are but little inferior for the purpose to carrots and oil cake. An ox will eat of them nearly one fifth of his weight. Turnips are the most common description of winter food, but possess not the same fattening quality with the substances enumerated; and being a crop susceptible of various injuries, are much less to be relied on than many others. Of these the consumption of twenty-five ton is deemed necessary to fatten a beast of about sixty stone. In consequence of eating succulent plants, and particularly clover, beasts are apt to swell greatly and very dangerously, in which case, driving them about with great rapidity is often practised with success, though a still more effectual method is to stab them between the ribs and hip bone to the depth of about four inches. A flexible tube has also been frequently passed through the mouth into the gullet, by which the air, which causes this disease, is easily discharged.
The practice of stall-feeding, or keeping the cattle in the house at every season of the year, and feeding them, when practicable, with green food, where there is abundant litter, is considered by excellent judges as the best method of turning to account the produce of the soil. Double the usual quantity of manure also is thus produced; and the annoyance of the cattle in any great degree by flies and insects is ef. fectually precluded. This plan has been long and extensively practised in Germany, and is making its way in England, under the encouragement of many judicious agriculturists. Not only may grass be thus employed for food more profitably than in any other way, but boiled roots may be used with extreme advantage, with a view either to maintain or to fatten cattle; and, ridiculous as the idea of this management for a vast number of cattle and horses might at first appear, it is found capable of being performed with the aid of a steam engine by one superannuated attendant. The roots may be permitted to retain their original form, or may be mashed and converted into thick soup, as is deemed most eligible.
Cleanness and temperate warmth in the process of fattening beasts for human food are of the utmost importance: and it has been philosophically remarked, that analogy will lead us to conclude what observation justifies from fact, that whatever tends to form in beasts a state of feeling unirritated by fear, vexation, or pain, must tend to shorten the period necessary for advancing them to their maturity of size and excellence.
Towards the end of August the annual purchase of wether lambs for an estate on which regular flocks are not kept generally takes place. These are justly preferred for stock to all others. The new Leicester have the advantage in competition with all the long-woolled breeds, and the Southdown
with all those of short or middling wools. For severe and mountainous moors, the black-faced and coarsewooled Scotch sheep are by far to be preferred, being able to sustain the most rigorous weather, and to live on the most scanty food. Instead of putting sheep, after the above-mentioned purchases, to the highest feed, and pushing them to perfect fattening, the better way is to keep them tolerably well till March, and to begin then to fatten them, by which method they will be fit for sale at a season of more advanced price; and upon this plan the purchase money is, with good management, generally doubled, and the fleece found an additional clear advantage. Whatever be the nature of the stock, towards the middle of May they should be turned into their summer grass, and, in an inclosed farm, the division of the fields into different parcels intended to be fed is an object of great importance. It is justly thought, that in large parcels they do not thrive equally well as in small ones, and the waste of food is considerably greater. It will be found, that in flocks of from ten to twenty the same farm will keep considerably more than in one flock. The number should be appropriated to each field according to what it is enabled to carry, and suffered to remain, without any other change than what depends upon the state of individuals from accident or season. They will thus inevitably flourish. By adhering to the practice of folding, which, however, in certain cases may be necessary, much loss is often sustained; much food is spoiled; and injury arises from numbers being so closely crowded together: and although the practice may be highly beneficial, as preparative for corn, this advantage is often too dearly paid for. Another point of very considerable consequence with respect to sheep is the practice of close feeding. Even in pasturage shorn completely to the ground the herbage is found rapidly to spring up; and when drought is observed nearly to destroy the produce of fields treated in a different manner, by being permitted to run to bent, such as are managed in this close way are in comparison at least highly productive. In all plants cultivated for pasture the moment the seed stem runs, the grand effort of the system is directed to the formation of the seed, and the way to produce the greatest abundance of leaves, therefore, is to prevent the rising of these stems, which by close feeding is of course effectually accomplished.