Imágenes de páginas

and the consequent recrystallizing of society, the old line fences still remained: persons clung to "the farm" as if it were a divinely ordained and indivisible unit. This atomic conception of the farm settled the business into rigidity. The "abandoned farms" are forsaken atoms; and there are many other atoms, large and small, to which the owner still clings with a forlorn hope, becoming a slave to the area that lies inside the boundary fences. The rehabilitation of a region of so-called abandoned farms must be molecular, in most cases. The traditional boundaries must be disregarded. The land need not be aban

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

''<"'""' '■,' ,,,/;"'"*•J" "y/"':

Fig. 156. New farm organization in New England.—Several fields have been united into one.

doned, even when the farm is abandoned. A farmable and manageable area must be assembled, quite irrespective of the party that owned it a generation ago, bringing together those lands on which one may establish a really effective farm business. In many parts of the country, the line fence is the greatest obstacle to the development of agriculture.

If the old farm must be taken into a newly assembled system, perhaps the farmer himself may also change his relationship to land. Because eighty acres or one hundred and sixty acres can support a man and his family, it does not follow that this is the best arrangement either for the man or for society. Not every farmer has either the executive ability or the skill to enable him to handle a business of his own; and the great majority of men at best can manage only a small business. Even with all our education in agriculture this will remain true, or relatively true. It will not do to argue that a farm business should be large in order that the farmer may become wealthy, for wealth (as now-a-days measured) is not the most desirable end in farming; but a business must have a certain volume and momentum in order to make it effective in itself and to develop the best results for the community. It is not true that "a little farm well-tilled" necessarily develops the best farming. It develops great skill of a certain kind, but it does not train managership or generalship: the little farm is too small a field for certain types of ability of the first order. The best agriculture will develop under the best leadership; and it is a question whether strong leadership is likely to arise in a region of similar-sized farms.

Unless all signs fail, the chief feature of the new agriculture is to be the development of leadership, as it has been evolved in other occupations and trades. We cannot expect to apply the discoveries of the new science or the benefits of the new education without a new kind of leadership. This is likely greatly to modify the existing order. For the past generation and more, agriculture has been undergoing a struggle for existence. The struggle has not been even-handed, for the farmer has been disadvantaged by disabilities and oppressions that do not belong normally to his business; but the net result is the elimination of the least efficient and the least adaptable. This process is likely to continue, and we shall see decaying agriculture alongside of advancing agriculture. The unadaptable farmer, if he remains in the business, will be bound to have dependence on the progressive farmer. Leadership may come about in several ways: declining farms may be purchased outright and assembled into large holdings; the farmer may retain ownership and take part in a cooperating system, as in the cheese-factory and butterfactory regions; the relationship may be purely educational, the weaker man in the community looking to the stronger for advice and guidance in the management of the farm. In whatever way differentiation arises, the process will modify not only the size of the farm but the internal organization of it. In other words, it is doubtful whether farms are to retain the economic and social separateness that they have had in the past. It is a question whether the increasing difficulty in obtaining farm labor is to be overcome merely by securing labor here and there for existing kinds of farms; or whether some of the embarrassment is to be met by farmers working for other farmers; or some of it by such a reorganization of the business as to provide overseers for cheap labor operating in groups, or at least under control. Farming can not expect to compete with other business in the demand for labor until it pays a comparable wage; and it is a question how far it is possible always or even usually to secure this wage, together with the increasing necessities of better living, from the present one-family farm.

On the other hand, there is undoubtedly to be an increasing place for the very small farm. The small, intensively tilled farm will be near centers of population where the farmer can handle his own market; and high-class specialties will be produced. Such a business enjoys great economic independence. It demands high skill. It is to this kind of farming that the popular fancy seems to run, notwithstanding the fact that few persons possess the requisite skill and knowledge of special detail to make it a success.

Another type of small farm is that on which the proprietor expects to perform all the labor himself, with small equipment. These are one-man farms, and the farmer is essentially a laboring man. All the income is derived from the products that one man can secure: there is little organization and no profit on other men's labor. Such farms are usually on low-priced land and are devoted to the universal staples in which risk is reduced to the minimum. They rarely develop the best possibilities of farming. Their policy is narrow and traditional. This kind of farm is very numerous. Here is the seat of much of the slow and poor farming.

It is possible to manage satisfactorily a farm of one hundred and sixty acres or less with comparatively little outside help, if the soil is good, the equipment ample, if much general live-stock is kept and little land is maintained in tillage. In good farms of this class the proprietor expresses his organizing ability largely in management of tools, machines, teams and cropping schemes. If such farms do not develop the greatest possibilities of the soil, they still may be profitable and they contribute to a wholesome and attractive social order.

On the other extreme is the large so-called "bonanza farm" of the Great West, characteristic of a new country. These farms are in process of disintegration. Usually they are poorly farmed, although many of them are examples of good business organization. Under the social and economic conditions that obtain, they are too large.

The novice is likely not to see the larger questions of plan and policy, but to think first of raising enormous crops. He is always attracted by "bumper crops." Emphasis has been laid on this phase from the first by the agricultural colleges and the agricultural press. Heavy crops are of course essential; but one must be sure that they are worth what they cost, and that they mean something to the general scheme of the farm business. The American small farm has not raised the question of farm organization as it has been raised in countries of managed estates; but the primary consideration in any farm, small or large, is to analyze the business and then to organize it. The American farmer has succeeded because land has been new, rich and cheap: in farm organization and management he is undoubtedly distanced by his European compeer. Naturally, the Middle West and the Farther West are to strike out new lines; and because of similar economic and social conditions, the East is to look to the West rather than to Europe.

There is another class of questions in the organizing of a farm that some time must be considered in the interest of society: this is the devising of such farm plans as will make the entire farm attractive to a sensitive mind; and in time the artistic appearance of the entire countryside will be considered worthy the attention of all farmers. The layout of the farm may be made to serve esthetic ideals without depreciating the economic value of the farm or interfering with its administration: rather, such layout should aid the utilization of the estate, since the artistic is that which also is fit. This subject, however, will find a fuller discussion in Chapter IX.


It is difficult to state principles underlying the proper layout and organization of a farm, since the plan must conform to the person and to local conditions. Perhaps the best that can be done is to give examples, letting the author state his reasons. The leading points to consider are perhaps the following:

The adaptation of the plan to the kind of farming that is to be pursued;

The best utilization of the different soils and exposures and natural features on the place;

The economizing of time and labor in reaching all parts of the farm;

The best location of buildings with reference to efficiency of administration;

Such layout as will best provide for rotation and the maintenance of fertility;

A proper proportion between the different parts, as between tilled and untilled land, forest and open, meadow and pasture, forage crops and grazing, orchards and annual crops;Provision for the necessary live-stock;

Such shape and size of fields as will best lend them to economical working;Provision for the more personal parts of the place, as gardens, yards and ornamental features;Development of the artistic or attractive appearance of the entire estate.

[ocr errors]

By W. J. Spillman

When the United States government made pro-
vision whereby citizens of this country could secure
land under the homestead law, the principle which
governed in fixing the amount of land that one indi-
vidual might preempt was that the area should be
sufficient to support an average family in comfort.
At that time settlement was going forward in the
Middle West, and in that section it was then con-
sidered that a quarter-section, or 160 acres, of land
was a suitable area for a homestead. The same
principle applied to irrigated lands in
the West would probably result in the
area of homestead claims being reduced
to something like sixty acres. When ap-
plied to the ranges, it should provide
range enough to enable the farmer to
sell about forty head of two-year-old
cattle annually. In order to do this, the
ranchman would have to maintain a herd
of about sixty cows, which, with their
progeny, would make a herd equivalent
to about one hundred and forty head.
When the ranges will carry one head on
ten acres, the range homestead would
necessarily be about two and two-tenths
sections of land. When the range is so
poor that it will support only one head
to fifty acres, the homestead should in-
clude eleven sections.

The interests of the whole people are
best served when the size of the farm is
governed by the principle above out-
lined. The ideal is many small farms
owned and operated by contented and
prosperous farmers whose families enjoy
the comforts of life, rather than a few
large estates occupied by an ignorant,
discontented and ambitionless tenant
class. The latter are inimical to our
democratic system of government. The
old idea that the man with the hoe must be little
above the brute is thoroughly disproved by ex-
perience in this country. There is no more self-
respecting class than the small, prosperous pro-
prietors. It is only when the tiller of the soil must

carry on his back a mercenary and piratical aris-
tocracy to rob him of the legitimate efforts of his
toil, that he must be the unthinking animal pic-
tured by Millais. Let us take, then, as the ideal
the small farm that produces an abundance of vege-
tables, fruit, meat, forage — in fact, everything
needed on the farm that can be economically pro-
duced at home, with enough of all these and some
other money crops to sell to supply the needs and
the desirable luxuries of the family, and provide
surplus enough to educate the children and leave
something for the proverbial rainy day.
In those sections of the country where markets

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

Fig. 1S7. Suggested subdivisions of a farm in the prairie region devoted to dairying, hog-raising and poultry; 160 acres.

are available and where the prices of all kinds of farm produce are satisfactory, it has been demonstrated that a family can live well on ten acres of properly managed land. It is only the exceptional man, however, who has the executive ability for the

« AnteriorContinuar »