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spread them upon the benches and partake of the bountiful dinner.
But such a minor festivity pales into insignificance in comparison with such annual events as the Fourth of July, Old Settlers' Day, and the County Fair, though the latter has sadly degenerated since it fell into the hands of city sports, who make it simply an occasion for horse-racing, accompanied by all the devices for separating a fool from his money which usually surround a circus.
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NO SERIOUS LABOR PROBLEM.
We thinkitapproaches very nearly to what an idealfarm paper should be. It is practical and sensible and it gets very close to its read
It reaches the prosperous farmers of the Mississippi valley -people who are liberal buyers.
That's why it
The western farm hand gets $25 a month the year around, board, washing, and pasture for a horse (for, mind you, the western farm hand usually owns his horse, and not infrequently a top buggy besides).
The farmer in the corn belt has his labor problem, too, though I have never heard any one predicting the doom of the corn belt on that ground. The fact is, that while the existence of the labor problem is recognized, it is of such minor significance as to be almost neg. ligible. Fortunately for western agriculture and American society in general, there is no proletariat of agricultural laborers. The cases of large corn-growers who depend almost altogether on hired help are so few in number as to count but little in the aggregate, and even these men are forced by the necessities of their situation to be exceedingly active in direct supervision and management. There are practically no farm laborers of the European type—that is, men who expect always to work for wages as farm hands. In all my trip I met with only one married farm hand, though doubt. less there
considerable num: ber, in the
aggregate, scattered the country. The typical farm hand is
unmarried man, usually the son of a farmer living in the neighborhood—though frequently a foreign immigrant—who "works out'' for a few years merely to get money enough to begin farming on his own responsibility on a rented farm. Under such conditions it would be manifestly impossible to organize a successful labor union among farm hands. If such a union were organized it would necessarily be confined to the worst and least efficient element among them, since only such men continue long in that occupation.
This scarcity of farm labor, however, in no way interferes with the success of corn-growing. In the first place, the
COLMAN'S RURAL WORLD
St. Louis, Mo.
corn-grower works with his own hands, and so do the other members of his family. Riding plows and cultivators, disk harrows and corn harvesters, as well as twine binders and hay stackers, so reduce the amount of muscular strength needed that a boy of ten years of age will frequently render almost as much service as a grown man. I was shown one corn field of 120 acres which had been cultivated almost entirely by two girls, aged thirteen and fifteen, using riding cultivators.
Another factor which contributes to the solution of the labor problem is the distribution of the work of the farm over the year.
On a typical corn farm there is no season which is preëminently the busy season, unless the corn -plowing has fallen behind because of wet weather. Though farmers with whom I talked universally agreed that corn was by far their most profitable crop, there were very few farms where corn was grown exclusively. With a given labor force, only a certain amount of corn can be cultivated, anyway, and it requires no more labor force to grow a certain amount of other crops in addition. Wheat and oats are sown before cornplanting time and are harvested after the corn has been “laid by'—that is, after the plowing is finished. The hay harvest also comes in this interval, and the threshing is usually done before the corn-husking begins. Moreover, the stubble field can usually be plowed in the interval between the harvesting of the small grain (wheat and oats) and the husking of the corn. Thus the farmer in the corn belt has practically eliminated the labor problem, so that even the limited supply of farm hands is no serious handicap upon the corn-growing industry.
As to the problem of domestic service, there is practically none. Hired girls are almost non-existent. Every farmer's wife expects to do her own work, and if in time of sickness or special stress of work she can induce some girl from the neighborhood, belonging to a family where perhaps there is a surplus of girls, to come in and help her, she considers herself fortunate.
Like other parts of the West, the corn belt was settled by people from a great variety of sources, and has not been without its share of tough communities; but the land was too valuable, and there was too high a premium on thrift and industry, for such communities long to remain.
“The magic of property, wrote Arthur Young, turns sand into gold.” It seems to me that a justifiable paraphrase would be, "The magic of prosperity turns worthless characters into model citizens''—though I do not think it would be safe to apply this in every individual case.
for his live-stock, battling with weeds and the thousand-and-one other relentless enemies of the farmer. But when he reaches this paradise, unless he has retired on account of old age, he is almost invariably disappointed, if not demoralized. The life soon grows monot
Having always been accustomed to an active outdoor life, he becomes restive and discontented. Sometimes he takes up some other line of business -goes into a store, starts a hotel or livery stable, or goes into the real estate business; and again he sometimes
THE RESULTS OF THRIFT.
Everywhere in the corn belt, and indeed wherever farming is prosperous, one meets with the interesting phenomenon of the retired farmer. In general,
he is a man considerably past middle age, who has by hard work and careful management become the owner of a fairsized farm, with perhaps a moderate bank account besides, and who has either sold or rented bis farm and moved to town to spend his deciining years in rest. From the number of such cases one might almost conclude that the average farmer's idea of paradise was a country town where he could live comfortably, supplying his daily needs without denying himself rest or sleep, and where he wouli be free from the wear and tear of rontinually guessing at the weather, caring
degenerates into an ordinary town loafer. He frequently makes a poor urbanite, for his ideas of living were developed under rural conditions. He is somewhat slow to appreciate the value of good sewage, generally opposes levying taxes for street improvements, and is almost invariably disliked by the merchants because of his parsimonious way of buying goods. The habits of his early life stay with him and dominate all his business transactions. The effect of town life upon the retired farmer is, however, by no
means to be compared with its demoralizing effect upon his minor chil
The Agricultural Light
of the West
The Kansas City Weekly Star
other paper has so wide an
field of this section.
readers every week. This part
almost exclusively among
ness-like type, that seek
Write for sample copy and Rate Card and get an early start.
The Kansas City
dren, especially his boys, if he happens to have any
RURAL CALLS BY TELEPHONE.
One of the most important problems of life in rural America is the problem of relieving its monotony and isolation. Rural free delivery, which is now almost universal throughout the corn belt, was expected to accomplish something in this direction, but will probably accomplish very little. One farmer's wife in particular complained that whereas formerly she had occasion to go to town
posed can hear, and this favors a general neighborhood conversation without an actual meeting. Where it is a recognized custom it loses the stigma which attaches to ordinary eavesdropping.
Being alone in the sitting-room of a farmhouse one morning, I heard the telephone bell ring several times. Thinking that possibly some one was trying to call up the house, I took down the receiver and placed it to my ear. What I heard was so characteristic, and therefore so interesting, that (please do not expect me to blush; it is more or less the
once or twice a week to get the mail, if for nothing else, now she had no such excuse, and left the farm less frequently than before. The rural telephone is, in my opinion, the most effective agency in this direction that has yet been invented. Rural telephone systems are found almost everywhere throughout the central West, and they are generally arranged with a number of houses, sometimes fifteen or twenty, on the same circuit. This arrangement gives little privacy in the use of the telephone, but it has its compensating advantages. Whatever one says all who are so dis
custom of the country) my arm failed to remove the receiver irom my ear, and in consequence my ear could not do otherwise than hear: First Female Voice:
Is that you, Sarah?
Second F. V.: Yes, it's me.
First F. V.: Have you got your dishes washed yet?
Second F. V.: No; we're just through breakfast.
First F. V.: What did you have for breakfast?
Second F. V.: Fried mush, and eggs, and pork, and—say what did you have?