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main features of importance in laying out the farm into fields of convenient size for crop cultivation is the advantage of fertilizing the cultivated lands used in the growing of corn and small grains, by giving them a period of recuperation in the production of leguminous crops, such as clovers, alfalfa and the like.
All the features of subdivision on the farm are directed, in matter of convenience, toward one common center, where are gathered, for storage and feeding advantage, all crops produced on the farm. This headquarters represents the home and base of operations for directing the entire operating force of the farm.
The residence is made the greatest feature of decorative skill and architectural beauty to be found on the farm. It should be large, roomy and attractive, and control a space for lawn and ornamental grounds of not less than one acre, preferably situated on slight elevation sites. Location for buildings must be governed by sites and exposures affording good natural drainage and dryness of soil. When these are secured, the greatest advantage is had in a location near the public highway and central on the line of the road extending through or by the farm. This gives a larger acreage near the farm buildings, and aids in convenience of fencing to secure more direct access to the remote enclosures, where crops are raised or stock pastured.
Back of the residence lot is the natural location for the family orchard of approximately three acres, containing as complete an assortment as possible of the fruits adapted to the needs of the family. In conjunction with this is one acre in separate enclosure devoted to small-fruits and vegetable - garden. One-half acre adjoining the orchard and opening into it, should be suitably fenced and furnished with modern buildings for handling the farm poultry. One acre is needed for barnyard, one-half acre for stacks and four acres for feed-yards and stock-lots, divided to suit the convenience of the cattle, swine, sheep and such other stock as may be kept on the farm.
From the beginning of settlement on the naturally treeless prairie of the corn-belt country, tree cultivation and forestry improvement have been matters of great interest to the landowner. At the present advanced stage of improvement,
the grove of a few acres, with the tree lines and shade trees planted about the stock-lots and farm buildings, marks one of the most attractive and cheerful features of farm-home improvement.
Roads and fences.
The fencing and laying out of roads on the farm are made to conform to the subdivisions as planned and plotted for their various purposes, in crops and pasturage advantages. These should be made features of permanency in the layout of the farm, and so recognized in its economical conduct and management. All fences on the farm are to be substantially and solidly built. The barbed-wire fence is the common, every-day, cheap and serviceable
Farm view in the Illinois A field of
part of the corn-belt, showing the great sweep of fields. 160 acres of com on the left.
farm fence, and is the one in common use on the average corn-belt estate for the general farm fence enclosure. The four-strand barbed-wire fence, with posts set sixteen feet apart, is a satisfactory cattle and horse fence. For hog and sheep pastures the woven-wire fence has come into general use, and its presence around a pasture suggests a feeling of pride, expressed by the hackneyed expression "hogtight." The alfalfa or clover hog-pasture has become as much a part of swine industry improvement of the present day as the bare hog-lot is a reminiscence of former times.
All roads on the farm are made to have their base of survey from the barnyard, and are laid out near to and parallel with the fence leading to the most remote fields on the farm. In no case should a road angle across an enclosure, but continue in a direct line along the fence enclosing the field to an opening at the corner leading to other enclosures. By this system of farm roads, with gates at the corners, a complete circuit may be made of the farm at any time of the year along its laid-out roads, passing from one enclosure to another without interference or damage to crops. Section lines being legally established public highways, when once opened, offer opportunity for approach to fields and enclosures that the well-planned farm, with its buildings and improvements properly located, may utilize to great advantage.
Barns and yards.
The plan of the barnyard, with its buildings, stocklots, feed-yards, watering fixtures and appliances for the successful and economical management and handling of the farm animals, is a matter of vital importance to the farmer. Inasmuch as the element of profit or loss is introduced at this juncture, it becomes very important that a proper and correct foundation be laid in the establishing of the stocklot and feed-yard system of the live-stock industry of the farm. Comfortable, roomy sheds and stockbarns must be provided for all stock. These should be made to open out into spacious yards or lots well-protected by proper drainage to carry off all surface waters, and be supplied with the best modern appliances for keeping pure and clean everything in the way of feed and drink intended for the animals. Feed platforms made of two-inch plank, closely jointed and set on an elevation slightly above the surrounding surface, when kept clean by scraping and sweeping, offer the best advantages for the hog-lot when self-feeders are not employed.
Sanitary possibilities are the first matters of consideration in the selection and layout of the barnyard and stock-lots. The barnyard should not be a stock-lot nor considered as one, other than its proximity to the stock-lots and its advantage for opening into them, as a matter of convenience.
Since mixed husbandry has become so fully established on the farms throughout the corn-belt country, introducing every feature of live-stock enterprise and industry from the breeding of purebred stock to the finishing of the range steer for the beef market, there has been a gradual demand for feed-lot improvement. The old-time muddy hog-lot has been supplanted by the dry yard and the alfalfa pasture. The feed-lot for the steers has been tiled and drained to carry off as much of the surface water as possible. The open feed-lot with a tight board fence on the northern and western sides or an open south and east front shed has taken the place of the two extremes,—the wire fence and the closed shed or stable.
The water-supply is only second in importance to the feed-supply. The usual system employed in securing the farm supply of water is from wells, lifted by the aid of pump and wind-power. The well is located on an elevation above the point of discharge, and from a large supply tank or reservoir the water is piped, under ground, to supply tanks in the various divisions, barns or enclosures where it is to be used. This system of water-supply, when properly guarded, is the cleanest and least liable to contamination of any in use. The well is fenced and every precaution used to keep stock from it, or prevent any drainage or seepage collecting near it. The same system is observed in supplying water to pastures and other parts of the farm demanding water.
Cribs, granaries and storage houses for all the grains and feeds produced on the farm are quite as important a part of the farm economy as the system
more into use as the farm crib, since it may be utilized as a wagon-shed and for driving loads under in case of emergency, to protect them from rain or storm. The crib room should be one-half more than the average annual yield of the farm. This is to allow for corn that is being carried over unfed, or the laying in of corn when the prices and the feeding demand may seem to warrant it.
Granaries for the small grains are preferably separate buildings, and are now usually so constructed. This granary is also planned to exceed the storage requirements of the average crop, in order to meet the demands of exceptional seasons in acreage or yield. Some persons also prefer that the horse-barn be separate and apart from other structures, though it is very frequently made a part of the main barn.
The storage of hay in barns is not regarded as of any particular advantage, unless there is a feeding demand in the barn for the hay. Stacking hay is the common and popular method of storage for this crop, and the stacking-lot alongside the feedyard is estimated both as a wind-break protection and as a saving in the labor of feeding out the hay. Outside hay-racks or cribs with capacity for holding large quantities of hay are also very generally in use in the feed-yards and stock-lots for all classes of cattle. These are supplied by hauling direct from the haystacks in the meadows a supply that will last for several days.
Crop-rotation and maintenance of soil fertility are subjects now beginning to command attention on the corn-belt farms. Results of experiments in the plowing under of leguminous crops, grass sods and the spreading of barnyard manures and refuse gathered from the stock-lots, have demonstrated the value and need of increased fertility in crop production.
The western corn-belt farmer rotates corn with small grain in order to get the land in suitable condition of tilth for clover or alfalfa, the crops best suited for restoring nitrogen to the soil. The demand thus created for alfalfa and clover seed has been a potent factor in creating prices higher than ever before known. The tendency among the best farmers is to grow more alfalfa in order to be able to grow more corn and wheat. The selffertilizing properties of this crop, in their value to the common grain crops of the farm, are just beginning to be made use of in practical agricultural work. Likewise is the husbanding of the farm manures becoming a feature in the economical management of the corn-belt farm.
LAYOUT OF A LIVE-STOCK FARM FOR THE MID-COUNTRY
By Frederick B. Mumford
The mid-country embraces those states in the Mississippi valley which lie almost in the exact geographical center of the United States. This region is more frequently called the middle west. It is in the center of the corn-belt.
In considering the operation and management of a mid-country farm, it will be important to have a clear knowledge of some fundamental principles of administration, which may be widely applicable to farming operations in general. It must be understood that this discussion has reference to the typical mid-country stock-farm, and will therefore necessarily eliminate any reference to vegetable- or fruit-growing, chicken-farming, squab production, ginseng plantations or mushroom caves, all of which may be conducted successfully on small areas. The mid-country farm is distinctively a grain and livestock producing area. This type of farming requires much larger areas than most of the so-called intensive systems of agriculture, and it is conducted on an entirely different basis. The administration of these larger areas has produced a system of extensive agriculture which has had a most profound influence on the social and economic development of the farmer himself.
The management of large farms requires business ability and leadership. The handling of large numbers of men and teams and the care of complicated modern farm machinery have resulted in developing generalship to a marked degree. Not only have the highly favorable circumstances of fertile soil and equable climate drawn able men to agricultural pursuits, but the very limitations placed on his operations by scarcity of labor, distance from markets and difficult transportation, have resulted in an extensive system of agriculture that is highly profitable and attractive to men of ability and training. Under this system the profit per unit of production, as per bushel or per animal, is often smaller than under more intensive systems, and thus from necessity the farmer has been compelled to produce a larger number of bushels or of animals. To do this required more land and laborsaving machinery. This machinery has revolutionized modern agriculture and forever lifted from the
tiller of the soil the excessive burden of hand labor, which, under European conditions, has crushed ambition, destroyed intellect, and by a process of natural selection driven the brightest minds away from the land.
The type of farming in the mid-country, therefore, is general agriculture (grain- and stock-farming), tending more and more to live-stock production. The growing of grain exclusively for sale over wide areas is practically past. The typical mid-country farm is now distinctively a stockfarm.
Size of the farm.
There is a lower limit to the number of acres which may be profitably administered by one man. It requires but little larger outlay for machinery on a 240 acre farm than for one comprising 80 acres. The buildings and fences cost much less per acre on a large farm. One man should be able to manage the larger area as easily and at the same time derive a greater profit. The smaller area may be so operated as to yield a larger return per acre; but in the administration of a stockfarm there is no fundamental reason for greater profit per acre from the smaller area. On the other hand, the economic advantage of purchasing and selling live-stock in car-load lots and of employing perfected labor-saving machinery, are all in favor of the larger farm. In the writer's opinion, a stock-farm in the mid-country should comprise at least 160 acres, or, better still, 240 acres. It is possible to increase the size of the stock-farm indefinitely, but the profit per acre will, in general, decrease as the area increases beyond 240 acres.
Let us assume, then, a 240-acre farm in the middle west to be operated as a stock-farm for profit. This account describes an actual farm with fences, buildings and other improvements as now in active use.
The diagram (Fig. 168) shows the arrangement and size of fields, location of buildings, roads, orchard, water system and wood-lot. This arrangement of fields is nearly ideal. The buildings are as near the center of the farm as possible and connected with every field, either by a public or a private road. It is not desirable to have smaller field divisions than here shown, as the first cost and maintenance of fences is a very considerable item.
The windmill at the house (Fig. 169) furnishes water from a deep well for the family. The water is carried to the fields and barn by pipes, being accessible to every field by means of the farm road. The roadsides are planted with sugar maples and groups of trees surround the homestead.
The profits will depend largely on the amount of production and the cost per bushel, per animal, or per unit of production. The net profits may therefore be increased by increasing the yields per acre and by decreasing the cost of growing, handling and marketing.
As the first factor depends primarily on soil fertility, the problem of increasing or at least maintaining fertility must be considered in deciding on a cropping plan. The second factor calls for executive ability and involves the labor of men
and horses, and the use of labor-saving implements. The foundation of all successful farming in the middle west is now and must ever be the skillful growing and handling of Indian corn. The other crops are grown largely as supplements, or are employed for the purpose of aiding in maintaining fertility. There are several successful rotations with corn as the mainstay. One rotation is corn followed by a small grain (either wheat, rye or oats) and this by clover. This is a common three-year rotation and is always successful when clover can be seeded on small grain in the spring. On a farm of 240 acres devoted chiefly to the production of livestock, a good cropping plan for each year would be sixty acres of corn, sixty of wheat, rye or oats, sixty of clover and sixty of permanent pasture. This simple plan, combined with the careful application of all barnyard manures, is one of the most profitable yet devised. It is always easy to modify this general plan to provide for the planting of special crops, such as rape for pasture, sorghum for winter forage, or cowpeas on particularly poor spots where clover fails to grow.
It is always advisable, however, to plant the full acreage of corn and clover each year, decreasing the area of small grains to provide for the special crops.
Some of the modifications of the above rotation that are particularly adapted to the stock-farm are the following: (a) Early in the spring, sow one bushel of oats and four pounds of Dwarf Essex rape per acre on well-prepared land. This mixture will yield a very abundant and highly nutritious pasturage that may be utilized for all classes of live-stock, but is especially profitable when fed to fattening sheep or hogs, (ft) Sow sorghum with a grain drill at the rate of one-half bushel per acre. This may be sown as late as July 1, but is best sown from June 1 to 15. This makes a coarse hay that is cut with a mower and is cured as hay and finally raked and forked into small ricks containing about
one thousand pounds each and left in the field. If placed in larger permanent ricks, it frequently moulds and is seriously injured for feed, (c) Grow corn in drills planted somewhat more thickly than for the ordinary crop, and turn in the fattening hogs or sheep and allow them to harvest the crop.
Utilization of grain and forage.
A permanently prosperous agriculture demands that every bushel of grain, or, if sold, its equivalent in purchased foods, should be fed on the farm. This is also true of the hay.
Following the rotation advised above, there will be produced annually on a good farm of 240 acres approximately the following: 3000 bushels of corn, 1200 bushels of wheat or rye, or, in place of these, 2500 bushels of oats, 90 tons of hay, and pasturage for 30 head of cattle and horses, or their equivalent in other stock. The profitable utilization of this large amount of grain and forage is sometimes a difficult problem. It is not possible to give one definite plan that will be best under all circumstances. The changing markets for breeding animals, fat stock and work or pleasure animals will necessitate changes in the general plan. The following general considerations will be useful, however, in determining a profitable plan, (a) A safe method is to produce, by breeding, lambs, young cattle, hogs and horses and finish these for the market by employing the feeds grown on the farm. (6) Another plan, more common in the cornbelt in former years than now, is the fattening of cattle, hogs and sheep that have been purchased in thin condition, direct from the producers or from the great live-stock markets. This latter plan is open to the objection that it is always a speculative venture and may or may not prove profitable.
Fig. 169. Administration area of the Montford farms, shown in Fig. 168.
Either of the above plans involves a knowledge of the art of feeding animals, and of their relative efficiency in producing meat from the grains and forage. In general, it may be said that it requires