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well does not contain more plant-food than one that yields poorly: on the other hand, many soils that give poor yields are often rich in plant-food. The chemical composition is not always the deciding factor in fertility. As a matter of fact, it is rarely the deciding factor. Equally important for the plant are heat, air, light, good tilth and moisture. The writer once analyzed a soil that showed high amounts of plantfood, and yet the yields were very low. A good sytem of tile-drains was put in this field, and three years later the crops were very large. The draining produced no change in the composition of that soil, but it brought success. There is a more or less widespread notion that, if one knew the relative amounts of plant-food in a ^ ^^soil, a deficiency of one might be remedied by adding it in some fertilizer. This may be true in the case of nitrogen, but that can be determ ined by the growth of crops, as pointed out above. In most cases the failure to grow good crops is due to some of the other factors of plant-growth not being right, and not to a mere lack of plant-food."
The beginner is likely to be attracted by the socalled "abandoned" farms, in much the
same way, no doubt, that one is attracted by a bargain counter at a store. An abandoned farm may or may not be a bargain; the presumption is that it is not a bargain, for if it were of first-class value the occupiers probably would not have left it. The intending purchaser should determine why the farm is abandoned before he allows himself to be tempted. Cheap farms, like cheap goods, are likely to'prove unsatisfactory and even dear in the end. It is a common notion that one may well buy a " worn-out" far.n, and then bring it up to a high state of fertility. In most cases, such land can be renovated and made productive, but the process requires skill, takes time, and usually costs more than to buy good land in the beginning. Of course everything depends on how badly the land is worn and what the facilities are for recuperating it. The new farmer usually has enough other problems without beginning with a serious handicap in the land itself.
Where? There is no one place that is best for a farm. The part of the earth is usually more important from the personal standpoint than from the agricultural standpoint. All the preceding pages testify to the fact that agriculture thrives practically everywhere. Some crops demand certain climatic conditions, and of course these conditions must be met; there are great geographical regions in which certain kinds of husbandry reach their highest state; but there still remains the widest choice as to region, and one cannot give general advice. For certain kinds of agriculture, the old East is better than even the agricultural West. Some persons long merely for a change of climate and scene: this may be commendable, but it is not often required by the necessities of farming. Skill in farming will succeed anywhere, if it is combined with good business ability. Persons who fail in one place are likely also to fail in another. Climate and geography cannot take the place of personal ability, not even if the climate is the most propitious on the earth.
The novice must be on his guard as to literature. Many books and magazine articles contain just enough truth to make them dangerous. The safe book is more than likely to be somewhat dry, or at least not to fire the enthusiasm to white heat. It is a good rule to beware of any book or article that makes farming very easy, and that does not state the cautions and warn of the disabilities.
Fig. 150. A type of farmhouse that is weU worth preserving, if the construction is BtUl sound.— This particular building is an historic structure on Long Island, New York, built by the first settlers.
In the choice of crops, it is always safe for the beginner to avoid all high-class and narrow specialties. In certain hands, and under ideal or unusual conditions now and then, these specialties turn handsome profits, but this does not necessarily commend them. Mushrooms, Angora goats, ginseng and all fancy crops and breeds should be taken up with great caution. It is the shortcoming of the person who has read much and has practiced little to pick out isolated crops or products; but the good farmer is the one who works his practices into a system. This system should be such as to conserve or even increase the productiveness of the soil, to economize labor and other expenditure, and to furnish a sustained effort, and to allow some leisure.
It is not the purpose of this editorial to make it difficult for the beginner to choose a farm. The Editor has no desire to discourage any one from going on the land. There are great possibilities in agriculture, and the kinds of agriculture are so many that almost any person can find a type of business to his liking. But it is desired to let the learner know that farming is a serious business (if it were not, there would be no need of a Cyclopedia devoted to it), and to set some of the problems before him. The beginner is sure to meet these problems, and he would better meet some of them before he buys his farm. Usually he should not rely on his own judgment alone. It is likely to pay, in the long run, to seek the advice of an experienced and cautious man. The kind of advice that such a person would be likely to give is indicated in the three articles that follow.
GENERAL ADVICE TO THE CITY MAN
By George T. Powell
For many years the city man has been attempting to manage land. For a few months he hopes to secure from it some degree of pleasure, a larger measure of health, and, in some instances, a margin of money profits. Unfortunately, however, instead of managing, in too many instances he is managed. Through some land-agent he has probably covered the farm with dollars in the fictitious price he has paid for it, and everything he has done by way of building and improvements has been in a most expensive, even extravagant way, until he finds his country place to be a costly burden.
In the choice of a farm by a city purchaser, when personal knowledge of farms is limited, the services and advice of some competent authority should be sought, to whom may be given the main points that are desired in the proposed farm. This would include the section or locality that is preferred; the size of the farm; the general policy that is to be carried out in building; whether extensive, formal landscape work, requiring road-building, COnstruc
Flg. 151. A common type of run-down farmstead. Such buildings are likely to attract the city man who thinks that a cheap place may be readily reconstructed into a desirable habitation, but they usually prove to be the most expensive in the end and are incapable of being made really satisfactory.
tion of artificial lakes or ponds, forest- and ornamental-tree planting, or the planting of orchards of fruit trees is to be done; also, whether a dairy is to be kept on the farm; whether horses, sheep, pigs and poultry are to be included; and to what extent agriculture as a business is to be made a feature of
the plans of the farm. The purchaser should consult this expert in the same spirit in which he would consult an engineer or a lawyer in case he needed engineering or legal advice.
With the policy defined, if a particular farm is under consideration, it should be carefully examined by the expert as to the character and condition of the soil, the suitability of the place for the purposes desired, the extent and quality of the water-supply, the best location for the buildings, the natural landscape effects of which advantage may be taken; and all of these considerations should be embodied in a definite report that will give a comprehensive idea of the advantages and disadvantages of the farm. In addition to the farm itself, the neighborhood should be considered, its social advantages, roads, telephone and mail facilities, all of which are now essential to the city man who plans to spend an increasing part of his time on a farm.
If the purchaser plans to buy a farm for the purpose of developing certain lines of agriculture, and to give to it his best thought and business energies, the relation of the farm to transportation and to markets becomes highly important, as also the labor facilities that may be at command.
In the construction of buildings, the expert should make a study of the natural materials in stone, sand and gravel that may be on the place, and the extent to which these may be utilized. Information should be secured as to the kind and amount of machinery that will be necessary, the varieties of fruits best adapted to the soil and location; if orchards are desired, the cost of trees and of planting them, and the capital required to maintain them until they become productive. The purchaser should secure information on the cost of labor, the purchase and cost of supplies, and an approximate estimate of the capital necessary to conduct the business successfully. Were this information first obtained, there would be much less
disappointment, and far more satisfaction, in the experience of buying a farm and developing a country home. The city man has little knowledge of the land, even though he may have been born on a farm. He probably left it when a boy, and conditions and methods are so changed that his early knowledge is of little service to him.
After obtaining the best information regarding the character and value of the land, he should secure a wide-awake and educated manager. Preferably, this should be a young man who has lived on a farm and has secured some knowledge of its practical management, supplemented by scientific knowledge gained from a course of study in an agricultural college. The services of such a man are invaluable, and they cannot be obtained at the ordinary value of farm laborers. One of the most costly mistakes a city man can make in conducting
liquid manure from a pit to be carried off in an eight-inch drain, not only to be lost but to contaminate the drinking-water of a herd of valuable cows. On still another farm, an hour's ride from New York city, is a farmer with only a common-school education. He was having a hard struggle with his farm, and when confronted with the prospect of his children leaving the farm to try to better their condition in the city, he called to his aid agricultural expert counsel. His farm was examined, and the soil being especially adapted to the growing of peaches and strawberries, the system was changed and orchards planted, which have since made him financially independent. In this case, special study was given to the demands of a good home market. Varieties of the finest flavors were planted, and they were marketed when nearly ripened and at their highest excellence. The second crop of these
a farm of the management of which he has little knowledge, is in employing a manager who has no more knowledge of the business than himself. It is astonishing that good business men, who pay high salaries for competent managers in their city business, will still cling to the old scale of wages when hiring a manager for a farm, forgetting that as much skill is required for the farm managership as for any other, and that the years of preparation at college entail expenditure of effort and money. Moreover, the owner must see to it that this intelligent farm manager is accorded the social position that his training and ambition deserve.
Numerous illustrations could be given of the value of securing skilled services on the farm, and particularly on the suburban farm. Within an hour's ride of New York city is a farm of three hundred acres, owned by a prominent business man. He is fond of short-horn cattle and is interested in pastures, hay and corn. By seeking the best information to be secured and applying it, through the selection of well-bred seed-corn and giving higher tillage, he increased the yield of corn from sixty to seventyfour bushels per acre the first year, and in a season not favorable for the growth of corn. The yield of hay was increased from one and one-half tons to four and one-half tons per acre, while greatly improved pastures were made through better preparation of the soil and more liberal fertilizing and seeding.
On another suburban farm, by employing a poultryman who had taken a course at an agricultural college, a profit of 40 per cent on the investment in the poultry department was secured, while on the farm the superintendent was allowing the
berries cancelled a mortgage, and the third gave a comfortable bank surplus after paying the farm expenses.
The gentleman farmer is frequently ridiculed by the man that makes a living by farming, because of the belief that all crops grown on such farms are produced at a greater expense than their cost in the market. That such belief is far from correct in many cases, there is no doubt. The following is given to support this statement: A certain place had a live-stock superintendent, who had a poultryman under him at $45 per month, or $540 per year. Supplies averaged $30 per month, or $360 per year, making the total expense $900 per year. The earnings were, for ducks and duck eggs $230, squabs $390, hen eggs $300, broilers $35, roasters $90, capons $58, making the total earnings $1,103, against $900 expense, leaving a profit of $203. In this estimate nothing is said of old stock sold, which paid for the raising of the breeding-stock for the following year. The manure was given to the farm in partial return for roots, hay and straw. This was the first year of systematized work. The poultryman could take care of four times the amount of stock he had, and therefore he cared for thirty ewes and drove a delivery wagon once a day to and from the station three miles from the farm.
Agriculture is a business that produces much wealth, and in its successful conduct calls for a broad and most diversified knowledge. As this fact becomes better understood, educated service will be demanded on the farm, and suburban farm life will be ideal in the many advantages it will then have and the high order of pleasure it will yield.