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A VIEW OF THE WORK AT THE SEVERAL PLANTATIONS AT MOUNT
VERNON, IN THE YEAR 1789, AND GENERAL DIRECTIONS FOR THE EXECUTION OF IT.
From the plans of the plantations, from the courses of the crops, which are annexed to these plans, and from the mode of managing them as there prescribed, may be derived a full and comprehensive view of my designs, after the rotation is once perfectly established, in the succession that is proposed. But as this cannot, at all the plantations, be adopted this year, every thing in the mean time must be made to tend to it, against the next, as far as circumstances will admit.
The ploughs belonging to this plantation, together with those from Dogue Run, are to continue, without interruption or delay, when not prevented by frost or rain, to break up field No. 5 for Indian corn. And, when this is accomplished, next to break up No. 4 for buckwheat, which is to be sowed in April, and ploughed in before harvest, as a manure for the crop of wheat, which is to be sown therein in the month of August next, after these ploughings are performed.
Then, as there is no field at this plantation, which can with convenience be appropriated for spring grain, or for the crop of sundries this year, and as the ploughs at Dogue Run, especially if the winter should prove hard and unfavorable, will not be able, of themselves, to break up fields No. 4 and No, 6 at their own plantation, and at the same time prepare those of No. 3 for barley and oats, and No. 7 for Indian corn, in due season, the whole may go to Dogue Run, till the corn at Muddy Hole shall want them, and work in No. 6, if the condition of it is such as to admit thereof; or in No. 4 at the same place, if it is not; for the respective crops which are designed for them.
The fence on the Ferry road, from the division between the fields No. 4 and No. 5 to the lane on the Mill road, must be repaired with new rails ; but from thence to the gate leading to the barn from the overseer's house it should be made tolerably secure with rails, which may be taken from the opposite side.
As the days are short, walking bad, and the different kinds of stock will require careful attendance, it may perhaps be best to relinquish the idea of the people of this place having any thing further to do with the new ground at the Mansion House; and when not employed, in open weather, with their fencing, to be threshing out grain. But there is a work of great importance, if the weather and other circumstances would concur for the execution of it in season. I mean, that of getting up rich mud from the most convenient parts of the creek, and laying it in small heaps, for amelioration, to be carried over the poor parts of No. 5, which will be in corn. If this last-mentioned work can be accomplished, (and it must be done soon, if any effect is expected from it this year, in order that the frost may have time to operate,) the cart may be employed in hauling it to the ground.
Another piece of work to be done here, as I propose to make a small quantity of tobacco at this, as well as at my other plantations, is, to hill the ground that is marked off for it, in time. But, previous to billing, it must be laid off with the plough into three-feet squares, that the hills may be made directly on the cross; so that, in the early stages of the growth of the tobacco, it may be tended with a plough each way.
If these several kinds of work should not afford sufficient employment for the hoe people, with the cultivation of the ground, which will be marked out for potatoes and carrots, and which ought to be ploughed up immediately, they may be preparing field No. 6, on the creek, for corn in 1790. In the execution of this work, the cedar trees are not to be cut down, but trimmed only; and other trees left here and there for shades. The brush and rubbish, of all sorts, are to be thrown into the gullies and covered over, so as to admit the ploughs to pass.
Both parts of field No. 1 should from this time be withheld from stock of all kinds, that there may be, in the spring, early food for the ewes, lambs, and calves. Field No. 3, now in wheat and rye, must be sown with clover and timothy on the first snow that falls, six pints of the first, and two of the latter per acre.
Dogue-Run Farm. The ploughs belonging to this plantation, when they have performed what has already been directed for them at Muddy Hole, together with those of the latter, are to begin, if the ground will admit of it, to break up No. 6 for buckwheat, to be sown in April. But if this, on account of the levelness of the field and the water which may stand on it, cannot be done, then plough No. 4 for the crop of sundries. But, as it is of essential importance, that the oats and barley should be sown early, and the working of the
fields for Indian corn not so much delayed as to endanger the prospect for that crop, the ploughings of both No. 6 and No. 4 must be delayed, at least till the oats and barley are in, if they cannot be broken up in season for the above purposes. The oats ought to be sown in February, next the post-and-rail fence; and the barley as soon after as possible, on the other side, adjoining the corn. With both, clover and timothy, in the proportions already mentioned, are to be sown.
After the above work is accomplished, it will be time to crossplough and sow such parts of No. 4 as are intended for carrots, and this is to be done in drills four feet asunder; and, if the ground is dry enough, in the month of March, and for flax, which should be sown in April.
By the time these are done, possibly before it, the fields for corn will want listing. This corn, in the south part of the field, next to the woods, may be planted at five feet each way, with two stalks in a hill, and in the north part, next to Colonel Mason's, at four feet each way, with one stalk in a hill. The ploughings and harrowings necessary for which, without going into detail with respect to the manner and times, must be given when wanted.
The sowing of buckwheat in April for manure seems to be the next thing which calls for the ploughs ; because it ought to be in the ground as soon as all danger of frost is over, that it may be in the proper state (full bloom) for ploughing in before harvest.
After buckwheat, pease will come next, and the ground for these, as for the tobacco, must be laid off in squares for hilling, that they may, before they begin to run and spread, be ploughed each way. They ought to be planted in May.
Pumpkins, potatoes, turnips, and buckwheat for a crop, in the order they are mentioned, will next claim the assistance of the ploughs. The first should be planted in May, in hills eight feet apart, and well manured. The second in June, in drills four feet apart, and a foot asunder in the rows, with a large handful of manure on each potato, which should be uncut and of the largest sort. The third, that is, turnips, to be sown partly in June, and partly in July. And the fourth, buckwheat, as near as may be to the 10th of July. .
This field of sundries may be thus apportioned; carrots, five acres ; potatoes, five; pumpkins, one; turnips, one; pease, fifteen; flax, three; tobacco, five; buckwheat, thirty-five; being seventy acres in all.
That it may be ascertained, by repeated experiments, whether carrots or potatoes are the most productive and valuable root, I would have the ten acres allotted for them in one square, and the rows for each alternate through the whole square, and each to have the same quantity of manure allowed to it.
The work, which has been mentioned for the ploughs, together with the ploughing in of the buckwheat before harvest, the wheat aster harvest, with the workings of the several species of crops during their growth, is all the employment that can be recollected at present for this part of the force of the plantation, until the autumn ploughing for the next year's crop commences. But, as these, till the system is brought more into practice, and the preceding crop is a better preparation of the ground for the succeeding one than is the case at present, will require much exertion and an addition of ploughs ; one may be added to the number at Dogue Run, which will make five there; and another at Muddy Hole, which will make four there.
Much fencing is necessary at this plantation, before it can be said to be advantageously laid off, and in good order. That, which requires to be first done, is the one which divides field No. 4 from the meadow; but, as the rails, which are about the stacks, will be most convenient for this work, it may be delayed until they can be spared. In the mean time, no heavy stock must run in that field, to trample and poach the meadow.
The next, that requires doing, is the line from the head of the meadow to the new road, which is to be laid off, thence with the road to the Tumbling Dam, and thence round field No. 7, agreeably to the ploughing, and the rails which have been laid there.
Next after these, the cross fence between field No. 5 and the wood should be done, and then the fence, which was begun last year, but not finished, between fields No. 2 and No. 3. The fence which divides the first of these, that is, No. 2, from the great meadow, requires doing also. All these are essential; as it also is, to strengthen the post-and-rail fence, which divides No. 1 from No. 2 and No. 3; but, as this never can be inade a good one, until the whole is taken down, and both posts and rails shortened, it must be postponed till there is time to do this ; righting it up in such a manner, as to make it answer for the present, being all that can be attempted this year.
Lastly, when time will adinit, after the posting and railing from the Tumbling Dam to the Mill is completed, the rails, which at present run upon that line, may serve to separate the great meadow into three divisions, as will be marked out.
Every thing, that the hoe people can do in the course of the winter towards getting the old crop off hand, and preparing for the new one, ought to be the first object of consideration, and must be closely attended to. Carrying out manure, when the cart can be spared and the ground is in order for its reception, either for carrots, potatoes, tobacco, or other things, is not to be neglected. Grubbing and filling up gullies, in the fields which are to receive crops this year, is also essential. And, if these should not afford sufficient employment, the overplus time may be spent in clearing swamps, or the sides of them, so that they may hereafter, when drained effectually, be tended in tobacco previous to their being laid down in grass.
At this place, I propose to plant about thirty thousand tobacco plants, in field No. 4, round the houses and stacks, where they will be most convenient to the manure; and, where the ground is not very rich, I would join a gallon or a large double handful of manure to each hill. The ground for the crop ought to be broken up early, either with the ploughs or hoes, that the green sward may have time to rot. If thirty thousand hills cannot be got here, the deficiency may be made up by the gate that goes into field No. 5.
Early and good ploughing at this place is indispensably necessary. The field No. 7, intended for spring grain, that is, barley and oats, would, if justice were done to it, call for a second or cross ploughing by the time the ploughs will begin to break it up. Consequently, field No. 1, designed for corn, will hardly get more than a listing, and the field No. 4, which ought to have received a crop of sundries, must go altogether uncultivated this year.
After field No. 7 is sown with barley, oats, and grass-seed, the latter in the proportion mentioned at the other places, if the preparation of No. 1 for corn cannot be postponed, without involving injurious consequences to that crop, the ploughs must go there next, and do all that is necessary for getting it planted in time, and in good order.
But, as I do not mean to plant potatoes or carrots among corn this year, as was the case last year, inclining to allot separate spots for this purpose, these spots, and that which is intended for tobacco, ought to be immediately ploughed ; that the weeds and grass, where there are any, may have time to rot, and the ground