Imágenes de páginas
[graphic][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][ocr errors][merged small]

Indian Mallow, Velver leaf , Buds, Flower & fruit. Fig. I portion of a plant. Fig.2 A split flower. a The naked calyx. B.The oblique petals c. The styles with their stigmas.d.The ovary or seed pod Pig 3


[ocr errors]

ern latitudes. There is no other fiber that admits of so wide a range of application, and “possessing, in a superlative degree, the qualities of firmness, strength, and luster, not found in any other fiber saving silk only.”

If it shall be proven that the roots will withstand our winters, even if required to be protected by winter manuring, it opens up a possible source of immense wealth to our people. It is asserted that we may yet get two cuttings per season, yielding four tons of stalks, which, for the making of paper in the rough, will yield eighty dollars per acre. The cru le fiber sells for twenty cents per pound, the bleached $1 50, and the combed silky fiber at $2 50. The latter is used in the production of sewing silk, shoe thread, fishing lines, &c., and the heavier silks, satins, plushes, velvets, fringes, &c., are largely or solely composed from it. With the aid of our improved machinery, we shall successfully compete with the world in this, as in all enterprises, and the question is, by whom and when shall the test be made ?

Flax has been grown by man from the day when mother Eve doffed the figleaf. In the ninth chapter of Exodus, thirty-first verse, is this reference: “And the flax and the barley was smitten; for the barley was in the ear and the flax was bolled.” Many other expressions occur, which show that flax had an early place in agriculture. It has been cultivated since, in almost all nations where raiments are used. My earliest and most pleasant memories, as of most Pennsylvanians of my age, are closely associated with the spinning-wheels of our mothers, the distaff, the reel, and the breaker. The pulling, rotting, breaking, and hacking for the flax was a pastime for the boys of the farm, as the spinning, reeling, and twisting was of the girls. Each family was a community in itself. It is one of my proudest recollections that I assisted to produce the linen and woolen material of my youthful wardrobe. If the farmers' sons and daughters of to-day could make the same boast in the future, it were well for them, as evidence of a return to the primitive and frugal habits of long ago.

The steam engine, the power loom and spindle, and the tyranny of “ King Cotton ” have subdued, yes, destroyed household production; and while we are fast drifting into effeminacy, the hardy toilers of France, Germany, Holland, and Ireland are supplying us, and multitudes of our people are begging for food or work.

We import $25,000,000 of flax and its products per year, and pay as duty on it $485,989. Three million acres are employed in the production of flax in Europe, while we have in Pennsylvania hundreds of thousands of acres fully suited to its growth lying unprofitable, whereas the census of 1870 shows a product of only eight hundred and fifteen thousand eight hundred and six pounds of flax and fifteen thousand six hundred and twenty-four bushels of seed. Three million women are employed in Russia in the spinning of fax by hand. What are our women doing?

In the Green Isle one-sixth of the acreage is in flax, and yet she imports one hundred and twenty thousand tons per year of raw material to supply her looms, and exports of piece linen alone $10,000,000, one third of which we buy.

Why not grow flax in Pennsylvania ? The answer is, “unthrift and want of better systems of industrial training for our unprofitable, because unskilled, hands."

The census of 1870 assigns to Pennsyluania five hundred and seventyfour tons of hemp. It is a marvel that the figures are so small. The plant is suited to our latitude and the lines north of us. Under careful cultivation, the average yield is half a ton per acre, which, at $133 80 gives $66 90. “ It is best grown in rich bottom land. Upland will do well in localities where timber shows a naturally strong soil. No trouble is experienced from weeds after the first year, and old hemp land is the best, as it is shown that hemp culture is not exhaustive, but the quality of the land increases in fertility from year to year, owing to the generous crop of leaves left on the surface, in the process of harvesting and rotting. No rotation of crops is necessary. Thecost of production is light.”

The above facts are taken from the report of Secretary Gray, of the Kansas Board of Agriculture. That young State, in 1876, had one thousand four hundred and fifty acres in hemp, and the crop was valued at $79,260 68, or $54 66 per acre. As the same advantages from improved machinery apply to this, as well as other textiles, I hope we shall see an awakened interest in its culture, and the rich meadow lands of our eastern counties, now comparatively waste and unproductive, devoted to the growth of this coarse and strong textile, and thus adding largely to our wealth and progress. There are other plants native to our State, or growing in it, that are worthy of notice and of trial. But the limits of my space admonish me that I can only name one or two of them.

Another question, correlative to this, is the production of textile fiber from the mulberry, oak, and alianthus, through the agency of the silk worm. We import an average annually of raw silk of one million fortyfour thousand pounds, costing $5,559,000, to be manufactured mainly in Philadelphia and New Jersey. Why not produce this at home, and afford profitable employment, or recreation rather, to thousands of women and children, and men unfitted for severe duties? I doubt if there is a more promising field for the employment of our idle capital than in establishing individual or associated effort to develope the knowledge and practical working of silk culture. The white mulberry nowhere grows finer than in the rich limestone valleys of Pennsylvania.

The great want of our people is the industrial school. If those who are interested, in a business way, in the working up of raw textiles, would direct their minds and the minds of others to the necessity of encouraging home production by the establishment of coöperative associations to direct the will of the producer, we would early realize the condition of thrift existing among the Germans and French, resulting from a system of industrial training through associated capital and industrial schools. Nature has done everything for us, and it is for us to profit by her bounty, and by the successful examples before us, to extend our prosperity and the happiness of our citizens, and thereby build up the greatness and lasting fame of the republic.

The establishment of “working schools," as recommended by our Executive and State Superintendent of Public Instruction, would be a long stride in the right direction; and if in addition, our General Assembly, instead of lavishing vast amounts of the public moneys on institutions of doubtful merit, or that should be self-sustaining, would make liberal offers of bounties for the development of her agricultural, manufacturing, and other industrial resources, the lasting benefits resulting would make ample returns in the creation of new enterprise, and the evolving of skill, taste, and wealth.

Bounties for the production of the best textiles would stimulate and quicken the trial, while the State, in either event, would not be the loser.

Coöperative effort, the offering of State bounties, and industrial schools are the sure indices, therefore, of social independence.


By W. G. MOORE, of Berks County.

Is the raising of dairy stock profitable in eastern Pennsylvania, and what is the cost of a cow thus raised ?

It would seem that the great majority of practical dairymen, those who have made dairying a life-long business, are of the opinion that raising dairy stock is not profitable. At least I infer such to be the case, for I know of but comparatively few persons engaged in dairying who give any attention whatever to raising dairy stock.

Many dairymen sell their calves as soon as they possibly can, often, in fact, to butchers who kill and dispose of the veal before it is fit to be used. They seem to think that they can derive more profit from the sale of milk which would be consumed by the calf than from the sale of the calf itself, at four weeks of age; or what the calf might be worth to them on becoming a cow. Probably, also, they are kept too busy in attending to their cows and milk, without having time or sufficient help to devote to other matters, and in fact have not the room, in many instances, for any other animals but cows, except, of course, as many horses as they may need. But without answering whether or not it would be profitable to dairymen to raise their own stock, I do think that the raising of dairy stock is profitable to the farmers of eastern Pennsylvania ; more especially when they raise well-bred cows. As mentioned by me in a previous essay, our farmers set a great value upon barn-yard manure, and make it an object to keep and raise Jive stock not only for the milk and butter derived from cows, and having their work done by horses, or of converting said live stock into money when it arrives at a marketable age, but also for the equally necessary purpose of converting their straw and fodder into manure. For without plenty of good rich manure, the farms of eastern Pennsylvania would soon become barren and valueless. Now, as it is necessary to keep and raise live stock on a farm, I believe the raising of cattle to be more profitable to the farmer of moderate means than any other kind of stock, as the original investment is smaller, and he can turn his money oftener and has less risk to run.

In the section of country in which I reside, fully one half of the farms are cultivated by tenant farmers on the shares. That is, the owner leases to his tenant upon the following con.litions: The tenant is to keep a limited number of horses and cattle, to do all farm work, and keep fences, &c., in repair (the owner, however, furnishing the rails and posts,) and the tenant in most cases paying one half of the taxes. As an equivalent for his services, the tenant is to occupy a house, rent free, keep pigs and poultry, feeding them, of course, at his own expense, is to receive one half of all the grain raised on the farm, all the hay necessary for feeding his stock, and is expected to convert all the straw and fodder into manure. Sometimes the tenant is allowed to sell a certain quantity of hay, on paying one half of the proceeds to the owner of the farm. Their agreements also generally require them when they quit, at the expiration of their lease, to leave the same quantity of hay upon the premises which they found there upon taking possession. Now, one of the principal ways for the tenant farmer to derive profit for his year of toil, besides what he may get for his milk,

« AnteriorContinuar »