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full extent of the beautiful Bay of Carmarthen and Gower's Land; then as far as the Black Mountains on the north-east, and the Percilly Mountains on the north-west; while eastward you see, Tenby, Gilter Head, and Caldy Island; and directly before you, on a clear day, lies Lundy Island, with the Devonshire coast in the back-ground, and sometimes even the hazy outline of a portion of Cornwall.
Immediately below is the glen, known as the Black Valley, the only visible habitation being the cottage of Thomas Morris, at whose fireside the lover of homely fare, a good story, or a good song will always find a welcome, and will bring away with him a picture that will prove a pleasant memory for many a long day. I. D. FENTON.
OUR FARMS AND OUR FARMERS.
COULD a perfect stranger to our institutions and our country-one conversant, however, with foreign lands, and learned in all that relates to the development of human progress in other quarters of the globe-could such a one be put on shore at Liverpool, or any other of our great commercial ports; visit our unrivalled docks, our vast warehouses, and see the immense hive of human beings engaged in furthering the purposes of commerce, he would certainly indorse the opinion of the Great Napoleon, and pronounce us a "nation of shopkeepers."
But land him, say, on the coast of Norfolk, and, avoiding the larger and busier coast towns, transport him at once into one of our most flourishing rural districts; show him the carefully cultivated fields, the level and closely trimmed hedgerows, and the magnificent crops of corn waving like a golden sea over the landscape; and he would as certainly assert England to be nothing more or less than a community of farmers. And in this opinion he would not be far wrong, in spite of the doctrines of the Manchester School. Agriculture is a much more important matter, and its development and progress are more closely associated with the well-being of this country than could at first sight be believed. It is true we can import corn, and that at a price which will absolutely yield a cheaper loaf than our own agriculturists can supply at a fair profit; but in the matter of beef, mutton, and the finer description of long wools, we are dependent mainly upon Great Britain and her farmers.
The proportion of our population who, directly or indirectly, derive their living from the land is a very large one, and includes amongst the number one of our most influential classes, the landholders. It is probably under the
mark to say that one-fourth of the working population of England is dependent upon agriculture.
Coming more directly to statistics, we find that upwards of 30,000,000 of acres are in cultivation in Great Britain, of which 19,000,000 are devoted to the growth of corn and roots, and 11,000,000 or 12,000,000 are in permanent pasture. Now, taking the very low average of 41. per acre (and, in shame be it spoken, this is less than half the sum that might be profitably employed), the actual aggregate sum employed on the land by our farmers is not less than 120,000,000l. This amount of land and capital is divided amongst, in round numbers, 225,000 farmers, holding farms varying in size from thirty acres to 1000 and upwards. In this calculation the smaller holdings are omitted, as furnishing no employ for agricultural labour, and being classed under the head of spade husbandry. Taking two horses for every fifty acres of land in arable cultivation, we get employment for 760,000 horses, not including young horses, foals, &c.; and to manage and till the land our farmers employ an average of 756,000 labourers, actually engaged in outdoor work. In-doors we have a further staff of 63,000 agricultural servants, and 25,000 female domestics. As a further assistance to our farmers in busy times and certain seasons of the year, we have upwards of 236,000 women and children, occasionally or partly employed, besides boys and girls resident partially on the farm, and numbering 100,000 and upwards. To pay this large staff, our farmers' "little labour bill" is computed at something like 27,000,000l. annually.
Descending from generalities to individuals, we will take our model farmer, put him upon a farm, stock it for him, and calculate his profits.
The proper size of a farm will of course vary with the amount of his capital and the nature and value of the land; probably, however, from 200 to 400 acres is the most convenient, and, upon the whole, the most profitable size for the investment of capital. To stock and work his farm to a profit, our farmer should possess at least a capital of from 81. to 10l. per acre. It is true he may go into his farm with less; and if seasons, crops, and prices are propitious (a consummation oftener looked for than arrived at), he will not feel the deficiency. But should markets fall or seasons blight his crops; if he has to buy in his stock dear and sell it out cheap-not so unfrequent an event as a novice might suppose; he involves himself in a labyrinth of difficulties a lifetime will not extricate him from. Taking, then, this sum as necessary to start our farmer, we will try to
show how the money is consumed. First comes the valuation from the outgoing to the incoming tenant. This comprises the taking-to of straw and hay, for on most farms the tenant is prohibited from selling his hay; the valuation of fallows and growing crops, and in some districts what are called unexhausted improvements, being the manure, &c., that the previous tenant has enriched the land with, but from which he has as yet reaped no benefit. Improvements in farm buildings are sometimes classed under this head.
Then comes his farm implements, his ploughs, harrows, drills, carts, waggons, &c., which should all be of the very best and most modern construction. Next comes the stock, the amount and value of which depend upon the nature and capabilities of the land. If it is a grazing farm, and the quality of the land be rich and good, a large amount of capital is required to stock it. Many farmers in the Midland Counties have stock to the value of 201. per acre.
It must be remembered, however, that the present prices of live stock are exceptionably high.
Having laid out part of his capital in his implements and stock, our farmer must still possess a balance in hand to meet his weekly payments, such as labour, tradesmen's bills, rates and taxes, and the hundred-and-one items which require him always to have his hand in his pocket. For, supposing him to enter his farm in April, he will have some months to come before his corn is fit to cut and send to the market. Then there is his rent to be provided for, usually paid half-yearly, although among most landlords it is postponed for some three or four months after it is actually due.
The amount of stock a farm will carry so much depends upon the quality of the land, that no general rule can be laid down. Upon sheep farms, that is, upon land adapted for the keep of sheep, it is considered that one sheep per acre can be kept, and sometimes, with the addition of artificial food, even more. Grazing land of a rich quality will feed a bullock to the acre, and that on grass alone; but to keep a dairy cow summer and winter will require the produce of three acres. regulation of his stock, our farmer is required to exercise both judgment and discrimination : he must buy in the cheapest market and sell in the dearest; he must be alike careful not to overstock his farm, so that he will have to purchase large quantities of artificial food, or to understock it, so that his own produce remains unconsumed.
Having thus started our farmer, stocked his farm, and fairly placed him in working order, we will now see how his time is occupied in
his daily tasks, so as to procure the greatest amount of labour and return for his capital.
Perhaps in no occupation is such unceasing industry and watchfulness required as in farming. The manufacturer, employing machinery for the production of his article, works with materials susceptible of but little variation, and day by day the same task is begun and completed. But with the farmer this is different: his task is ever changing; and a variation in weather, a fall of rain or snow, will completely disarrange his contemplated plans, and make an operation he was successfully pursuing today injurious to-morrow. Hence the necessity on his part for constant and careful supervision and watchfulness, that he may take advantage of every opportunity, and not neglect to "make hay while the sun shines."
Our farmer must of necessity be an early riser. He must be at his post at or before six o'clock in the morning, the hour that his labourers usually assemble for work. He must then set them about such tasks as time, seasons, and weather render necessary to be done. Stock will next require his attention, and here the eye of the master is essentially requisite. He must see that their food is proper in quality and sufficient in quantity, and that every animal is receiving its fair share. He will also notice any appearance of illness or unthriftiness in his animals; and if he finds one of them ailing, he will, if possible, ascertain the cause, and apply, or cause to be applied, the appropriate remedy.
Field operations next require his supervision; and in this department is essentially requisite a thorough knowledge of his business, for our farmer should be able to detect at a glance all oversights and shirking of work on the part of his labourers. He will thus be able to discriminate between the man thoroughly up to his work and who has his master's interest at heart, and the mere idler, whose whole study it is to get through his work with the least trouble. A farmer will generally find a sprinkling of the latter class among his labourers, however careful he may be in his selection of them. Dinner generally occupies an hour, after which field operations are resumed, the horses coming home at various times from three to six o'clock; upon most farms the horse labour ceases at three. Six o'clock generally sees the termination of the farm day, and at that hour the labourers cease from work. Those, however, who have special duties to attend to, such as the horse-keepers or waggoners, and the cowmen, stop until their respective duties are finished, however late the hour may be. Before retiring to rest, the farmer should again be at his post, see that all
his in-door stock are fed and attended to, and that his men have instructions for commencing their next day's work.
Such is a brief sketch of a farmer's daily routine, varied of course from month to month as seasons change and bring special duties with them, as hay and corn harvest, &c., &c.
It is now time that our farmer derived some substantial benefit from his labour, so we will proceed to give some computation of his probable profits. His returns consist in his fat stock, sold at a profit over and above the cost price, deducting the value of purchased or artificial food; his crops of corn, harvested, threshed, and sold to the miller or corn dealer; his young stock, the produce of his breeding animals, a surplus of which are generally sold, after keeping the best and finest to replace the vacancies caused by death or those disposed of; and the other miscellaneous products of the farm, such as butter, cheese, wool, &c. Going further into particulars, the quantity of corn yielded per acre varies very much with the quality of the land and the nature of the seasons. Upon fair medium soils five quarters of wheat, six of barley, seven or eight of oats, and five of beans, are considered a very good average. Of green crops, such as turnips and mangold wurtzel, large weights are often produced per acre. In favourable seasons and upon good land, from twenty-five to thirty, and even forty tons per acre are not unfrequently grown. But this crop is, as a rule, never sold, but consumed upon the farm by the sheep and beasts. Upon the price our farmer gets for his produce will depend materially the state of his balance sheet. Wheat is now sold at 40s. per quarter, and even less; but this price, our farmer tells us, does not remunerate him for so expensive a crop as wheat. Farmers generally consider from 55s. to 60s. per quarter as a fair and not exorbitant price, injuring neither the producer nor consumer. Barley, we are told, at 40s. or 42s. per quarter, pays much better than wheat, not only from there being generally a greater yield, but from its being a less expensive crop to grow. Turnips come next in order, but being consumed on the farm, their value is not estimated in the balance sheet, but is returned in the shape of beef and mutton. Clover, which forms part of the rotation of crops, is also not valued, being consumed by the stock.
Coming now to the consideration of the profit realised by the breeding of sheep and cattle, a vexata quæstio is raised. That great agricultural authority, Mr. Mechi, considers that live stock do not pay at all, except from the benefit the farmer derives from the manure.
On the contrary, an equally eminent writer,
Mr. Caird, gives it as his opinion that they are the most lucrative sources of profit to the British farmer. As in most other matters, the mean of the two opinions is most probably the correct one. Upon rich grazing farms, where cattle are fattened without artificial food, live stock undoubtedly pay well, as requiring no extra expense in either labour or food. upon purely arable farms, where stall-feeding is indispensable and large quantities of artificial food are used, the profit must be looked for entirely in the rich manure they produce. Cattle for grazing are bought in at various prices, from 12l. to 181. or 201., and sold out again at from 17. to 251. Where stall feeding is carried to its full perfection, and animals are kept the requisite time, they make large prices: 50% is not unfrequently given for a fat bullock. No live stock at the present time pays so well as sheep. We have not only the carcase, making the somewhat long price of 7d. per lb., but also the wool, selling at the unprecedented price of 70s. per tod, or 2s. 6d. per pound. The weight of wool clipped from a long-woolled Leicester or Lincoln sheep will average eight pounds per fleece; so that here we get an annual return, if wool remain at its present high price, of 20s. per sheep in wool alone. making up his balance sheet, however, our farmer has to deduct losses in stock (often a very serious, if not a ruinous item), repairs of farm implements, wear and tear, and a hundred other small items, apparently trifling in themselves, but amounting to a considerable sum at the year's end. In summing up our farmer's profits, a clear 15 per cent. may be regarded as a fair return--not exceeded on the average of years, and too often diminished by inclement seasons and casualties that the most careful cannot foresee or guard against.
"AH! it's a nice thing to be the belle of the village; to walk down the little street with a quiet, independent air, and feignedly unconscious that all the marriageable girls are looking out with envy, and all the youths with love; tripping along towards the seashore, pretending not to see Fred Wilson, the young farmer, as he half reins in his stout cob to bow as he passes, and to walk by the retiring waves for an hour on the hard firm sand, with a little coquettish soup-plate straw hat upon the top of those wanton tresses, floating down and half covering a charming little figure, every golden hair being a very chain dragging some poor heart at its end."
Not a bad soliloquy that for an old bachelor of five-and-forty, down by the sea-side for the
ONCE A WEEK.
benefit of his health and to get his broken wind mended. I had just turned out of my lodgings, and was following in the wake of the fair craft, Amy Ellis—when at Rome we must do as the Romans do ; and being in a fishing village full of amphibious farmers, I of course felt it incumbent upon me to talk sea slang, which of course I did very badly and out of place. I was soon down upon the sands amongst shingle, dogfish, and skate eggs, star fish and jelly fish, and the stranded shells of many a shipwrecked cockle.
a month, and my ideas were, that it would have
to find that Fred Wilson had made a circuit, I was not surprised upon reaching the shore spot where Amy was walking, and was now by and crossing the sandbank, had reached the sight put me in mind of a score of years before, her side, leading his horse by the rein. wild-flower gathering, and I felt rather lonely of moonlight walks, of evening rambles, and return, buried hopes and fears; and looking as I thought of years slipped by, never to far out to sea at the pallid rising moon, I had gone into a deep fit of musing, living the past over again, and wondering as to the future, when my chain of thought was broken by the cantered up to me. heavy thud, thud, of Fred Wilson's horse as he In a minute he pulled up
when I saw the last futter of her ribbons, and at my side, and I was about to ask after Amy the last wave of her hair as she stepped lightly through the gap in the sandbank, called by the people of the district a "stavver." Something most fearfully blue. was evidently wrong, for Fred was looking He was a favourite of mine, for I used to set him down as the beauway of cheering him up, I pressed him to sup idéal of a bluff young Saxon farmer, and by help to cheer me up, too. with me, perhaps rather selfishly, for it would
Being naturally of a sociable turn of mind, and having plenty of idle time on my hands, I had pretty well made myself known throughout the length and breadth of Delsthorpe. I had been rabbiting with this farmer all amongst the "sine-hills; the dykes with that one; shot mews as they speared eels in floated lazily overhead; been shrimping, boating, fishing, marketing, learned to appreciate hogs-mutton hogs, beasts, pigs, turnips, and potatoes, and had played loo of a night at nearly every house in the village. I had free access to the house of the Ellises, much to the disgust of some of the young farmers, who looked bludgeons at me till I asked two or three of them into my rooms, and over some choice cigars laughed them out of their jealous fancies. They were good friends again with me directly, but not so among themselves, for little Amy Ellis of the deep blue eyes and ruddy lips was a perfect apple of discord, and no one could tell to whom the prize would belong. I had heard in confidence several times that the fortunate winner would be Mark Warren, then Philip Franks; another week Harry Henderson would be the ruling favourite, but only to be supplanted by Fred Wilson, until conjecture wearied itself out in guessing Amy Ellis's future husband. Now, being her father's senior by some few years, I considered myself quite at liberty to laugh and chat with the saucy little maiden, and I soon made up my mind that she was what Mrs. Ellis affectionately called her, "a merry little hussy," without a thought of matrimony in her pretty little head. She was far more ready for a good romp or girlish bit of merriment than making stay had almost reached its fullest limits. And so days and weeks rolled by, and my soft speeches or listening to them. admiration, artless as a child, and with the to the revenue men who practised with the Fond of had made acquaintance with every one, even I powerful passions of a woman's nature as yet great gun in the shed; I knew the crew who sleeping in her breast, she was ready to laugh and flirt with any of the youths who had manned the life-boat, and had been well inplayed with her as a child, and if coquetry structed in all the gear and management; but could be innocent, then decidedly her flirtations now that inexorable fellow called Conscience were free from guile. whispered of business and the world's every-day firebrand amongst the young bachelors of Dels-parations for departure. Somehow or other I But she was a very duties, and so I was fain to make my few prethorpe, and did more mischief in one night had grown to be rather an important person in than a Notting Hill boarding school would in the place, and, failing a better, was looked up
matter, and I had to use a great deal of perI could see plainly enough what was the suasion before I could gain his consent, but I carried my point, and an hour afterwards wo capital Havannas which I had brought down were chatting over the fire, smoking some with me, and drinking some brandy-and-water, under whose influence Fred had become comthe essence of which had never paid duty, and jilt-a flirt: he was half mad, he said, and municative. He was in love, and Amy was a nothing would give him any satisfaction but breaking the heads of Harry Henderson and a would leave the place for good and emigrate, few others. But he would not do that; he that he would.
to as an oracle. I had been chairman at the grand annual dinner, and in many ways had deference shown to the weaker part of my nature, so that I might very well have considered myself in the front rank of the élite of Delsthorpe.
The course of true love was running in its usual channel, and the lads of the village "so merrily" one day were so drearily the next, and the wise women of Delsthorpe were as much at fault as ever as to whom Amy Ellis should marry. Fred Wilson was merry and sad by turns, like the rest of the youths. One day he was in ecstasies and the next vowing vengeance against his rivals and pursuing them all with homicidal glances. I was as much in his confidence as in that of his enslaver, and preserved a prudent silence, leaving time to work out his own scheme upon the couple. Everything good, to be thoroughly enjoyed, must be worked for, striven for, or fought for; the apple that falls into our lap, dead ripe, bears no comparison with the sour, acrid, wooden-fleshed pippin that we knocked of old off the parson's tree, and afterwards secured by climbing over the glass-bottled wall; and I dare say if our little Amy had "thrown herself" at her admirers they would have called her a forward chit, and gone mad after Polly Brown, whose nose was as red as her cheeks, and whose hands were always rough and chappy. And they might have done worse than this, for when they arrived at years of discretion and had got over the romantic part of their married life, they would have been as well able to appreciate Polly's cooking as I was, for I lodged with Mrs. Brown and could appreciate the excellences of the tidy little manager, her daughter. Poor Polly's nose would not have been noticed then, nor the roughness of her hands felt, any more than Amy's beauty would be, when it had grown "familiar to the eye," as the moral copy-slips used to say.
I had only another day to spend at Delsthorpe and felt rather reluctant to part from the quiet village and the hospitable friends I had met with. I felt, too, that I should regret much the salt sea-breeze which had given me back my health-richest pearl that the sea can produce. My last day was a fête day-"Delsthorpe Dancing," a day annually looked forward to as the reunion of friends and relations. Probably in bygone days there may have been Terpsichorean exercises carried on upon the greensward, but now the dancing was but in name; the generality of those met together enjoying themselves to the top of their bent with eating and drinking, for which pastime the preparations during the last few days had been on an extensive scale, the evident determination of all being to live well upon that
At last, tired of the heated room, I made my escape to enjoy an evening walk upon the sands, and had hardly reached the intervening bank when I started as a heavy hand was laid upon my shoulder, the thick sand having muffled the footsteps of my follower. on turning that it was my young friend Wilson, and I could just see by the dusky twilight that he wore anything but a pleasant aspect. I knew his complaint so well that I would not revert to it, but pulled out my cigar-case, and, lighting up, we climbed the sea bank and sat down in silence. It was a warm, close, heavy autumn night, thick clouds hung overhead, and the darkness was fast closing round. The sullen wash of the water upon the piles, and the constant heavy roll of the waves upon the shingle added to the gloominess of the evening, while a sighing breeze which kept coming in puffs and dying away again seemed to my shoregoing weather-wisdom to portend a storm. As the waves broke upon the shore their crests seemed, as it were, on fire, and the phosphorescent light wore the appearance of the tail of some huge rocket rushing along the sands. Fred's thoughts were evidently with the party we had left, and he smoked on in silence, while I watched the peculiar phenomenon before me. At length I broke the silence and said, "Is not this very much like a storm coming on, Fred?" But before he could reply a rough voice at my elbow exclaimed, "Storm it is, as sure as guns is guns; glass has been going down ever since one o'clock, and what with this heavy tide and the blow that's coming on, I reckon we shall have the bank pretty well shaved before morning. "
Our informant was one of the revenue men, who, with his glass under his arm, had come up unobserved and given us the unasked benefit of his opinion on the weather. He touched his hat and walked on, and we could just see that he was busying himself with striking the top spar of the signal mast, which stood on the highest part of the sandbank.
"Tell you what," said Fred, "there's a rum one coming on, or else old Snodger would never be letting down the flag-staff, for he doesn't do that for a capfull of wind. It's odd, too, you were saying you would like to see one of our storms, and here it is coming the very night before you leave; for come it will, that's certain.