Page images

first and last to be encouraged, and the other to be eradicated.

After all, what is the wonderful science in farming? You put a seed in the ground, and it comes up—that is, if it does come up-either a pea or a bean, a carrot or a turnip, and, with your best skill and greatest learning, you can not plant a pea and induce it to come up a bean, or convert a carrot into a turnip. As for planting, any fool can do that, and as for making it grow, the wisest man in the land can not effect it. These and a few other similar arguments were entirely conclusive, and soon visions of the accomplished fact engrossed my mind.

I should have a neat, modest, small, but cosy little house; square, for economy's sake, but surrounded on all sides by a deep piazza; the garden should be filled with delicious vegetables, fruits, and berries, the earliest and best of their kinds; there should be a magnificent bed of asparagus—that king of the kitchen garden-a dozen long rows of strawberries, with fruit as luscious as a young girl's lips; Bartlett pears, early peas, peaches and cream—the latter only indirectly vegetable— cauliflowers, tomatoes, mushrooms, lettuce-every thing, in fact, that a gentleman eats when he can get it, and nothing that he eschews when he can do no better. The residue of the farm

was to be partly orchard and partly market garden, and this was to supply the family during the winter and pay the

expenses of the household. It is an immense satisfaction, of a hot evening in summer, even in the prematurely scorching days of June, to leave the city, after a long day of labor and trouble, and, rushing away with railroad speed into the country, to enjoy the delicious air and cool breeze, to sit beneath the outspreading trees, to wander through the woods, to bathe in the brook, to doze or smoke in the shade. The scent of the blossoms or the hay, or no smell at all, is such an exquisite relief from the customary odors of New York streets. The sun seems to lose half and the air to gain double its ordinary power. The pleasures are so innocent, the matters of interest so pure, the mind is braced but not wearied. The garden, whether kitchen or flower garden—those delightful adjuncts of a country place—is such an infinite source of health, improvement, and delight. Man, confined to the city by dire necessity of money-making, recognizing the country as the natural sphere of his existence, dreams of a neat, quiet, retired country place, and books such as “Ten Acres Enough” persuade him to convert these dreams into realities.

I had always been troubled with similar visions, although by a strange fatality my education in country matters had been wofully neglected, for I could hardly distinguish tomato-vines from egg-plants, and had not the remotest notion of modes or seasons of planting; but, now that there was a possibility that these imaginings might be realized, I was so charmed, that I resolved to record my experiences for the guidance and instruction of others. Thus it came about that this work was written; and if it is occasionally defective in style and irregular in plan, it is probably not more so than was my farming.

[ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small]


T was early in winter when I made up my mind

finally to erect a country house on the Flushing five acres. Plans, and size, and arrangements were in the vague and misty future; for months the ground could not be broken to build the foundations, and little could be done besides preparing for the next year. The first thing that seemed of vital importance was the stock. Pigs and chickens could be obtained at any time; horses had to be had, of course, but need not bother one till the last moment; but a cow was a creature that must be taken when a good one offered. Moreover, I have a weakness for cows: it is a purely theoretical interest, for my knowledge is less than moderate, not even extending to the mode of milking them; but their big eyes, and gentle manners, and unnecessary horns, and split

« PreviousContinue »