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GUIDE TO FARMING
"When Adam delved and Eve span
"Where was then the gentleman!
"Upstart a churl and gathered good,
"And thence did spring our gentle blood!"
THE FIRST STEP.
WHAT strange sensations one feels on leaving home, the home of our forefathers and of our young humanity--on taking the last look at the old familiar house with its surroundings--nature and art. What are our thoughts when bidding a long farewell to the many happy associations, and when we get on board that ship which is to take us away with our household gods to a new and distant country, how often do we ask ourselves--shall we ever again see the old land, the scenes of childhood, youth and manhood? We may hope and feel a wish to return, but the new world is so bright and fresh and ever new, so much to do and so much to see that from the moment of parting with the old home till we take possession of the new one it is one continuous dream--and even then the dream is not dispelled, as day by day we mark progress in some new work in the new home. With the beautiful climate, the spring, the summer, the autumn and the winter weather so blended into one another, is so different to the climate of Europe--the bright clear sky, the fine fresh breezes, and
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the strange evergreen foliage, talk about poetry, why the first start in colonial life is full of it--and every writer who has visited our adopted home tries to sound its praises higher and higher. David Pugsley, an Englishman, author of "The Rise and Progress of Australia, Tasmania and New Zealand," says, New Zealand will no doubt some day become an important and populous country if not a great nation, she possesses all the elements to warrant such an opinion and to justify such a belief--with a fine if not the finest climate in the world, the Colony has every corresponding advantage, the capabilities of the land are so great and the produce therefrom so astounding, that a stranger and an eye-witness is almost afraid to record what to distant landowners will naturally appear more Like fiction than fact (page 233), and so we find every writer carried away with the abundance of natural wealth, the prodigal riches of this country, and the promise it gives--in spite of blundering government -- of taking a high stand among the nations of the earth.
DESCRIPTIVE AND ILLUSTRATIVE.
As we intend to write a practical handbook on the management of bush and fern land, selecting, clearing, fencing and cultivating, house building, managing stock and general farm work, we may leave the poetical part out and tell our story in plain prose. But as we shall avail ourselves of many useful hints collected from local publications to illustrate and enforce our remarks, we wish to assure our friends that in no instance will we do this without being aware who the writer is, so that we may judge whether the remarks we quote are derived from
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theory or practice. To begin then with the Colony, -- the celebrated Dr. Hochstetter bursts out in the following strain of eloquence, --"On looking over the numerous Colonies of great and glorious Albion: that vigorous parent tree, the branches and saplings of which are taking root and thriving in all parts of the world: and comparing them with New Zealand it is at once evident that of all the colonial provinces of the British crown New Zealand bears the most resemblance to the mother country by virtue of its insular position, its climate, its soil, and the whole form and structure of the country. It is an empire of islands, a double island which, thanks to the power of steam that now-a-days shortens every distance, lies towards the neighbouring Australian Continent like Great Britain towards Europe. Blessed with a genial oceanic climate, so admirably suited to the Anglo-Saxon race, with a fertile soil well watered and splendidly adapted to Agriculture and Farming, with a manifold coastline suited perfectly to the notions and habits of the first maritime nation of the world, it is the country without dangerous animals, without poisonous plants, but rich in mineral treasures, a country where horses, cattle and sheep thrive, where fruit, grain and potatoes grow most abundantly, a country adorned with all the charms and beauties of grand natural scenery, a country which would easily support a population of twelve millions, which promises the bold and persevering emigrant a lucrative and brilliant future, such a country appears indeed destined before all others to become the mother of civilized nations." It is indeed pleasant to contemplate such a picture of the land of our adoption, and to believe that he speaks only the truth. But if our leading men in their politics would look more to the future in their legislation, if they would try to develop our resources instead of grinding down the working man with taxes and obstructions, if they would let
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the labourer go free and tax wealth and real property, encourage agriculture and manufactures, assist in developing the natural wealth of the country, instead of taxing the very first discovery of it. When will the day come when we can say with a recent visitor, New Zealand is essentially the poor man's country, although there are but few poor in it. It is a country to which those of the working classes in England who have the means or intend to emigrate should direct their steps--for it is a Colony in which nine out of every ten who land therein rise in the course of a few years from poverty to affluence, or from a poor to a good position, with industry and sobriety the artizan or labourer soon becomes his own master--landowner or farmer--and the majority of the most wealthy men in the Colony are those who landed a few years since without any capital beyond that which is most valuable in New Zealand--individual labour. This is certainly very encouraging in theory, but in practice how do we find it? Just hear what an old settler says of his experience, coming from an old country--where from the division of labour one is almost ministered to by unseen hands--into a new country where he must rely on himself for everything, is a hard lesson to learn, but, he says, the difficulties though many are not insurmountable. Industry, steadiness, perseverance and patience will conquer all--for by degrees difficulties are overcome and the new life becomes pleasant, as all things are enjoyed with a zest hitherto unknown. This is the country for a hard working man with a large family who finds it difficult to live at home, for if his means are unequal to settling at once with his whole family on his land, his children can find employment and be able to assist him during the first year of heaviest outlay and least production. The land being his own is the great advantage, and one that will some day draw an active and industrious population to this country.
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There is a prospect of independence not so distant but a man may reap the benefit himself-- at all events his children will realize it--and he can have the comfort of knowing that his family will be more independent and better provided for than he could have dreamt of at home. This writer says that the climate of the Province of Auckland is as much superior to the South of England as that of the South of England is to the North of Scotland. The forest is evergreen, no frost to interfere with vegetation, and the heat of summer is never so great as to make out-door work disagreeable.
PRACTICAL AND DEMONSTRATIVE.
A working Colonist of the Province of Auckland, who resided for several years in Australia, says--after six years practical experience here, I am of opinion that New Zealand is to be preferred to Australia for immigrants of limited means, especially if they are industrious and intend to follow agricultural pursuits. The same writer advising newly arrived settlers goes on to say that, having arrived at Auckland (the same remark will apply to any other Province) and taken a temporary residence for the family, look round for a few days to get all the information you can--do not be in too great a hurry in purchasing land-- and if possible, if you intend to cultivate, have it half and half bush and fern, not too swampy nor too mountainous-- and in the absence of a navigable river or a creek see to the facility of communication to the market for your produce, good land for cereal crops will be almost of no value without it, and even land for grazing will be equally bad-- thus many things impossible to explain on paper will
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require to be carefully considered before selecting land for permanent settlement. Another writer tells us that when out searching for land to settle on, he walked over many miles, seeing nothing but bush land and fern land, but no roads, no cattle and almost no living thing--giving the first true idea of what waste lands really meant--till we came to a muddy creek which ran into a tidal river, and up which the tide flowed, we gathered branches to throw on the mud to enable us to cross, some of our companions got off the branches and sank up to the armpits in the mud, fortunately at this depth the bottom was hard, and they soon struggled out, while the more lucky ones enjoyed a hearty laugh at their mishap. We condemned this land, says the same writer, not because of inferior quality, for a great portion of it was good, but from the difficulty of approach. This land has since been occupied, and is now within a day's journey of Auckland, on horseback, and has a weekly post--the muddy creek is bridged and a road opened over almost the line we walked. This gentleman advises settlers against being too easily frightened about bad roads, for if there is a line of country over which a road can be made, there is no doubt the road will be opened as settlers increase. Referring to the district where he selected his land he says, two and a half years ago this district was in a state of nature, except for the surveyors' marks and a maori footpath here and there, it might have been untrodden by men--now there is progressive improvement, bush and fern giving place to grass crops and orchards-- a palpable proof how slowly and gradually the fruits of our labour become visible--but once visible, how marked the progress.
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BUSH LIFE AND THE BUSH DESCRIBED.
Dr. Hochstetter, in his last work on New Zealand, which he dedicated to the Queen, gives some fine sketches of country life and forest scenery, and as the work is too expensive for the general book-buyer, we will copy a very felicitous description of colonial bush life, and of New Zealand vegetation. "There are the first settlers pioneering for generations to come, a small log-house is standing in the midst of the dusky bush, it is the scanty shelter of a family that has come many a thousand mile far over the deep to found a new homestead in the new country--the father is in the bush, and trunk after trunk is falling prostrate before the powerful strokes of the woodman's axe, the mother at home is preparing a frugal meal, children are playing in front of the sylvan hut radiant with health, and their glowing cheeks flushed with the fresh breeze, a faithful dog and a few chickens and pigs are their playmates. From year to year improvements are going on, the bush disappears, crop succeeds crop, the log-house is removed, and a pleasant commodious country-house surrounded with blooming gardens and waving fields occupies its place, herds of well fed cattle are grazing in the pastures, horses are plunging and skipping in the meadows--friends have settled in the neighbourhood, smooth lanes and neat paths are winding between hedges and through the woods from farm to farm, and close by the wayside stands the church, and where of late there stood but a scanty isolated hut, there is a village, &c. Thus in the evening of a busy life will the old settler enjoy the fruits of his labour, and his children by his example and the blessing of the Giver of all Good will take his place in the battle of life, and with, rapid strides take possession of the land."
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We have then a description of New Zealand Vegetation. "The traveller from whatever country on arriving in New Zealand finds himself surrounded by a vegetation that is almost entirely new to him, what from afar appears by the side of the immense tracts of forest covering hill and dale to be open land or meadows, is on closer observation found to consist of bushes, and where grasses, weeds and chequered flowerage were expected, only uniform ferns and bushes with some scanty white blossoms are to be seen. Rarahue pteris esculenta, the roots of which formerly yielded the chief aliment to the natives, covers nearly all the open land, only Manuka and Rawiri leptospermum or Kumaharau pomaderris and Koromiko veronica are intermixed with pteris--here and there in moist places arises isolated the "Cabbage-tree" Ti cordyline australis, and quite modest-- like the recluse hidden among the bushes--blooms the tender blue Rimuroa whalenbergia gracilis, the only bell-flower of New Zealand, and the Tupapa lagenophora forsteri taking the place of our little daisies. On entering the "bush"--as the forest is called--ferns principally meet the eye, magnificent tree-ferns from thirty to forty feet high, their trunks as if coated with scales, and with neatly shaped crowns, dicksonia and cyathea, which cover with luxuriant growth the trunks of the forest trees--the singular form of the Kidney fern trichomanes reniforme, the edges of the leaves bordered with seed-pods --ferns between the branches and twigs of the trees, ferns on the ground asplenum bulbiferum, tender species of goniopteris and leptoteris, in short all sorts and varieties of ferns--but in the woods nothing but shrubs and trees. A few trees grow gregarious, and are prominent in the landscape by their appearing either in closed forests or as separate clumps and groves, these are the Kauri dammara australis, the Kahikatea podocarpus dacrydioides, and the Tawai (black birch) fagus fusca. The
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New Zealand trees grow mostly so intermixed that more than a dozen varieties may be found on the same acre, and among the chief ornaments of the mixed forest are the various species of pines. Totara podocarpus totara and Matai podocarpus spicata are large and beautiful trees found in every forest. Rimu dacrydium cupressinum is distinguished by hanging leaves and branches, Tanekaha phyllocladus trichomanoides by its parsley-shaped leaves--alongside of them towers the poplar-shaped Rewarewa knightia excelsa--the Hinau elaeocarpus hinau, the fruit of which is the favorite food of the parrots, and the bark of which is used by the natives for dyeing purposes--the Kowai edwardsia microphylla also, with its magnificent yellow papilionaceous blossoms, grows in many districts to a considerable size. Among the largest forest trees, the Rata metrosideros robusta, the trunk of which frequently measuring forty feet in circumference, is always covered with all sorts of parasitical plants, and the crown of which bears bunches of scarlet blossoms--also the Kahikatoa leptospermum, Tawa laurus, Pukatea laurelia, Karaka corinocarpus, and a great many others. The underwood is composed of bushes and shrubs of the most different kinds, especially species of panax and aralia, above which the slender Nikau palm areca sapida, the sole representative of its genus upon New Zealand, rears its sap-green crown in picturesque majesty -- and while this palm and the fern trees remind us by their forms of tropical forests, the New Zealand forest owes its tropical luxuriance to the countless parasitical weeds, ferns, to the Pandaneae and Orchideae covering trunks and branches, and to the creepers which cover the ground as with a natural netting, which coil round every stem, run up every limb, glide from head to head, and entwine the topmost branches of a dozen trees, thus the forests become impenetrable thickets which sun and air can scarce penetrate.
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In the interior of the bush it is gloomy, everything is silent as the grave, neither gay blossoms nor gaudy butterflies, and few birds greet the eye or relieve the melancholy monotony of the scenery, all animal life seems extinct, and however much the curious traveller may have yearned after sylvan beauty, it is with feelings of delight that after days of tedious plodding through the dreary solitude of those gloomy and desolate woods he hails once more the cheering daylight of the open landscape."
CUTTING DOWN AND BURNING THE BUSH.
It is curious how anxious settlers feel in selecting land for first settlement. Where money is scarce, fern land or at least open land is far better than heavy bush land, but where the settler has a little ready capital, bush land and no other is worth having, so before we offer our opinion let our friend speak, and mark well what he says--"We had a dread of commencing to fall bush, anticipating much difficulty, and in our first attempt we only cut down the larger trees, which we expected would at the end of summer burn off, leaving the land pretty clear--we found our mistake, the fire would not run, and the ground was left covered by a half-charred tangled mass of underwood, branches and trunks of the larger trees. We were very-careful afterwards to clear off all the undergrowth first, then the scrubby bush, then smaller trees, falling the larger ones last, and carefully lopping off their branches, leaving the whole as level as possible. In due time we fired it, and had the satisfaction of having a clean burn-off." Too much weight cannot by any possibility be attached to the proper clearing of the land. The requisite tools to begin
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with are an American axe and a short-handled bill-hook, such as is used by surveyors. This latter instrument is used to clear away the dense undergrowth which prevents the larger plants from being easily got at with the axe, while still standing, and also from burning after they are felled. The best time for falling the bush is in the autumn and winter, for not only is the sap down, but the fallen wood is soaked with water during the winter and spring, and it becomes drier for early autumn burning. The trees should all be fallen in one direction, so that the heads equally cover the ground, and as they fall, the branches lopped off and the trunks cut in such lengths as two men with levers can move. The underwood must be carefully cut, not simply crushed down by the larger trees, --if so, when the fire has passed over the ground, these smaller saplings still being green would remain unburnt, and cause a vast amount of trouble and delay. In March, before the weather breaks up, a fire is run over the ground, the larger logs are then rolled into twos and threes to burn one another out, and the smaller pieces which may have remained unburnt by the running fire are carried to these logs to be consumed and assist in burning them. If it be intended to sow the land at once in grass, the sooner it is sown after the cooling of the ashes the better-- if with wheat, it may remain until the end of April or beginning of May, but should be sown early, as the crop will have a better chance of mastering any weeds which may be natural to the soil, and the growth of either grass or young wheat will assist in preventing the ashes from being washed off the surface by the winter's rain. It is useless to attempt to preserve single trees, for although not actually burnt, they will if only scorched by the running fire be destroyed. Where it is desired to save any particular tree or clump, and some ought to be
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preserved both for the sake of appearance and shelter, a patch of at least half au acre must be left uncut, the outer trees will be scorched and will die, and can afterwards be removed for firewood as they are wanted, but the inner ones will be preserved uninjured. A good axeman can fall an acre of bush of average thickness in six days, but the raw emigrant from home unused to the work must not calculate on doing more than the half; trees of four feet diameter and over are usually left uncut. The lopping, logging and burning will consume as long a time. According then to the amount of labour at his command must the new beginner lay out his plans. The first year building his house, transporting his provisions and goods, and the formation of a garden will disarrange the system on which his after operations should be based. It should, when these are provided for, be his endeavour to clear just so much ground as he can fence and sow with wheat and grass every year--but at any rate, whatever it be, he may reckon on so many acres of wheat and the same quantity of land brought into cultivation as pasture, until the whole farm is thus gradually brought into grass. The stumps, however some may consider them unsightly, take up but little room, the labour of removing them would be altogether too costly. Where however the bush is moderately light, where the trees are not more than from six to nine inches in diameter, they should be cut down at a height of about four feet from the ground, and may in the course of four or five years, with the aid of a block and tackle and a pair of horses, be readily torn out and the ground rendered fit for the plough--by leaving the stumps some height from the ground a great advantage is given in the increased leverage.
The formation of a garden and orchard should be commenced during the first few months. This will be a
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work of some little trouble, as the tree-roots which spread like a network over the surface of the ground will have to be chopped out with an adze as the ground is broken up, but this will be performed with a good will, for the certainty of obtaining a fair crop of all kinds of vegetables the very first season will serve to stimulate his exertions. A sufficient quantity of potatoes to serve the wants of his family and provide seed for the next year should be planted, pumpkins, cabbages, in fact all vegetables will thrive most luxuriantly, and fruit trees from a competent gardener-- not the worthless suckers so many beginners obtain gratis from their more settled neighbours -- may be planted during the winter at intervals of from twenty to thirty feet from one another. Now supposing the settler to take up his ground in December, to spend the first month in building a hut and transporting the most necessary of his household goods to his location, another month in falling, lopping and logging an acre of forest around his house for a garden to be planted in September with potatoes and vegetables, and in February a second acre to be burned as late in April as the weather will permit, and to be sown with wheat in May--he would be able within twelve months from his first settlement to raise as many potatoes and vegetables as he will require for himself and family, and fifteen or twenty, in all probability perhaps thirty bushels of wheat in addition, which with a steel mill he can himself convert into flour. These two acres will, from the short time the timber will have been fallen, give more than ordinary trouble in burning, but to ensure a good crop of wheat it will be advisable to chip in the seed.
During the winter and spring he will have time to fall a considerably larger piece of ground for the next autumn's burning and sowing, and of course his returns will be proportionally increased. The acre on which the first crop
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of wheat was grown having been necessarily cleared of surface roots, to allow him to chip in the wheat, he will find, it to his interest to break up thoroughly with the hoe for potatoes in the second year, since the ground cleared the first winter and spring will produce in the second year wheat for consumption and sale too. This, as in every succeeding paddock, he will sow in May with wheat at the rate of one and a half or two bushels per acre, sown broadcast on the ashes, using no means whatever to cover the seed, and among the young wheat in early spring he will sow at the rate of two bushels of mixed grass seeds and eight pounds of white clover to the acre. Thus within two years he will have a grass paddock for his cows, which up to this time he will have run upon the unenclosed bush around him, where they would find excellent feed. No industrious man with health and strength, if provided with the means of maintaining himself and family during the first twelve months and partially during the next six, need hesitate to enter upon the occupation of a bush allotment of average quality and situation--but he must work, not spend his time on the road between Auckland and the bush, or lose too much time in frightening and shooting pigeons.
CHARACTER OF THE SOIL FROM ITS VEGETATION.
The best test of the character of the soil is its indigenous vegetation--this is a very important part of the settler's first duties and is what will affect all his after Colonial life--we have pleasure therefore in giving the experience of an intelligent settler from a local paper, we have here hints as to the comparative strength, quality and value of trees, for it has been ascertained that our native trees are
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equal, some of them even superior, to any timbers of the Australian Colonies. The iron bark of Australia was found after repeated experiments to be the stiffest and strongest of Colonial timbers, and the Australian cedars proved the best for house work. In New Zealand there is no wood corresponding to the Australian cedar--but some of the Auckland woods admit of a polish, and form variegated cabinet work of such beauty, that they will vie with similar articles in any part of the globe. They are splendid furniture woods, and furniture of cabinet and household manufacture is to be met with in Auckland of unsurpassed workmanship and elegance, made by Auckland artisans. The puriri is said to thrive in the same quarter as the dammara or kauri--it sometimes is called iron-wood or New Zealand teak. Mairi belongs more particularly to Southland, and bears some analogy to English box, being heavy and hard. Rimu is a large pine, takes fine polish, and is harder than kauri. Imitations of ebony might be made of rimu. The totara grows in small forests of the South, and the rata or boa constrictor of Colonial trees, at first unable to support itself, winds around stouter trees, kills them is its embraces, and becomes a large tree, having a tough, timber easily worked. The pitch pine, tanekaha, and the mai or black pine, have their uses, and the bark of rimu is certainly valuable for tanning. These woods are believed indicative of the soils they grow on. Kauri and puriri indicate poor land. Rimu promises better, growing abundantly about New Plymouth. White pine (kahikatea)loves a moist situation and low swampy grounds. Mai, karaka and rimu prefer dry soils and undulating country. Few of these grow by themselves in forests, except the kauri, but are found intermixed in great variety, many loaded with climbers, or almost choked with underwood and parasitical plants.
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If New Zealand claims one hundred and twenty species of indigenous trees and shrubs, a considerable portion is entitled to the distinction of timber woods. Many of the shrubs are pretty, but as yet proper attention seems not to have been devoted whereby with care and culture the better qualities might be improved. Some of the ferns are elegant, as also the New Zealand fuchsia, sometimes thirty feet high. With flowers and fruits nature behaved not bountifully. The poroporo is nothing to speak of as a fruit, nor fern-roots as esculents; kiekie might be eaten by Russian sailors on short allowance of rations. In its pomona, flora and fauna New Zealand is very poor, and the fish in its seas or bays, creeks or rivers, are all inferior, far inferior in quality to the fish on the coasts or in the rivers of Great Britain and Ireland. The phormium tenax is really the most valuable native shrubby product. In Victoria the enterprising in that Colony are growing it and manufacturing it, and advertise for off-sets to plant for culture. No crop could be grown with less trouble. When once planted out in rows, wide enough between to be horse-hoed, the main labour is over, and the first plants will last many years. Perhaps a dye could be extracted from hinau, and a powerful astringent in addition, but chemistry has scarcely shown its learned and experimental face on these shores. It is high time its practitioners took up their residence here. Some of the barks are said to have as much as ten per cent of tannin. If so, they ought to be highly esteemed for many purposes, and prepared in a scientific manner. The discovery that oil of blue Australian gum-trees is the best solvent ever found for kauri gum ought to make that purest of gums more valuable than ever. Formerly the process was expensive, mastic gum was used which cost in England 16s. per lb. The blue gum oil converts kauri gum at 3d. per lb. into
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a translucent varnish for maps, paintings &c, and if this varnish stands the test of time, it will supersede mastic.
Many persons fancy that new land has only to be turned up and planted right off, and it is only by carefully considering the character of its vegetation past or present, or its chemical constituents, that this fallacy can be combated--it may be that certain alluvial or mixed bush lands, rich in decayed vegetable matter, can be so cultivated successfully, but one peculiarity with scarcely an exception is common to the open lands of the Colony, we allude to the necessity of fallowing or not cropping the land until the second year after breaking it up, for instance, if broken up in May, June, or through the winter, it should not be sown with wheat until the following May or June, or with potatoes or other spring crop until the next spring. This process is called by the settlers "sweetening"--a term which implies some existing latent quality in the soil itself, deleterious to vegetation, such for example as the formation of carbonic acid gas in a high degree, caused by the presence of iron in the soil--and the natural and simple remedy for this is the course pursued, turning up the soil to the action of the sun and the oxigen contained in the atmosphere. Quicklime has the same and a still more instantaneous effect-- hence the results which follow the application of alkali to the soil, such as soda, soap-suds, and the potash contained in the remains of many kinds of wood when burned-- these, by acting on the acidity of the soil, release the various salts required for the food of plants from a fixed to a soluble state, the only form in which they can be taken up and absorbed. Another and a practical solution to this phenomenon is the theory that from the time when the present open lands were covered with forests, a succession of crops--whether fern, flax, small manuka, or other scrub -- have been raised upon the ground,
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reaped by the action of fire, and carried in the form of ashes into the natural water channels by the washing of the rains. Thus an uninterrupted system of exhaustive cropping has been carried on, with only the partial return to the soil of the roots of each course as they have decayed in the ground. Another general rule we would allude to is that the southern or shaded aspect of every main ridge appears to possess a soil superior to that on the opposite side--this rule we have been told is observable in other countries besides New Zealand, though of course more remarkable here, where the country is in a state of nature, than in one where the variations of quality have been equalised by the cultivation of centuries.
THE MANAGEMENT OF CLAY LANDS.
Clay soils are certainly heavy and expensive to work, but they possess this advantage over soils of a lighter texture, that without manure the latter soon get exhausted, while the clay soils improve year after year--and, with the exception of the white, all other clays are productive. The settler before he makes his purchase should enquire carefully into the nature of the soil--then weigh well the permanent advantages to be derived from clay soils, that they keep the manure nearer to the roots of the plants, are less liable to be affected by severe drought, are less easily exhausted-- for the deeper you go in the clay in New Zealand the richer it seems to be--even on soils of strong black loam, where the wheat crop averaged in the third year twenty-three bushels without manure, we have seen the wheat higher and ranker above the rest, along the whole line of drains where the yellow clay thrown from the under-drains had been filled back again. Wheat, beans, clover, and grass
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succeed well on these soils--against them must be taken into account the expense of drainage, the greater power required to till them, and the impracticability of working them in all weathers. On the other hand, the sandy soil is peculiarly adapted for the growth of potatoes, barley, turnips, peas, grass, and even clover for the first six or eight years, is easily worked, and at times when from excessive moisture it would be better for the farmer to sit over his fire than to attempt to cultivate his clay lands-- again, they are subject, particularly if left sown, to loss of crop through drought, and the fertilising qualities of the manure applied to the surface sink through a porous soil below the depth to which the roots descend. But there is an intermediate soil--the flax land, of New Zealand--which itself not a clay, but a retentive loam upon a clay subsoil, combines the advantages of the two former descriptions, with the defects of either modified, as it is more or less argillaceous or silicious. This description of land is generally found in gentle slopes or ridges covered with heavy flax more or less mixed with small manuka and rushes, koromiko, and weeds. The surface of this soil at any rate will be indented with various shaped holes of all depths from six to thirty inches--caused, it is supposed, by the burning into the soil of the roots of the previous crop of flax when destroyed by fire. Another is a loam of a lighter texture upon a clay bottom, the natural growth on which is the tupaki and koromiko, with only occasional plants of flax. There is also the shell ground, or a black loam mixed throughout with small shells--this too, when a clay loam and resting upon a clay subsoil, is a valuable kind. But in a sandy loam the presence of shells, unless in a very small proportion, is not desirable. With respect to color in the choice of a soil there has always been a prejudice in favour of a black one, but the reader will bear in mind that, in New
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Zealand at least, he will meet with black, rich-looking, friable soil of a character by no means commensurate with its appearance--the depth of this soil varies from two to five feet, requires thorough draining and the application of lime, and is admirably adapted for laying down in pasture and for the growth of potatoes, after but not before the application of manure--but it is not suited for the cultivation of cereals, though of course by the introduction of turnips and sheep such soils will eventually become valuable for all purposes, except the growth of wheat. For the present it is enough to say that the crop of the third year on such soil will not compare favourably with the crop of even the first year on clays, or the three intermediate soils mentioned above. It would appear from the timber which is found underlying such soil, that kauri has been the prevailing growth at some antecedent period. Some descriptions of black soil contain more humus than others, but any general superiority in them will rest, we believe, upon the fact that black absorbs heat whereas white reflects it. This rule will also hold good in like ratio with respect to the intermediate colors, as they vary from one extreme to the other. But there are some descriptions of soil, and to some considerable extent, which are to all practical present use, except as cattle runs, utterly valueless. It would seem that nearly the whole of the open lands of this Province have been at no great distance of time covered with forests which have been destroyed by fire--that it depended much on the nature of the woods so destroyed whether the action of the fire was detrimental or otherwise to the soil on which they were grown. Accordingly, wherever trees of the kauri are found in the open soil, either by the presence of its gum or the remains of the tree itself, above or below the top soil, or by those small raised mounds of hard impervious soil which point to the spot where the tree
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stood at the time of its upheavement. Wherever these are found we shall likewise find the soil to be inferior in quality, varying, we believe, for better or worse in exact proportion as the original forest was more or less heavy, and the action of the fire consequently more or less intense. We have another description of a friable brown soil, of light texture, overlying a porous subsoil of similar nature, only more closely cemented, and on which the action of fire is apparent. Kauri has been the prevailing timber on such land. At present it produces a stunted growth of ti-tree, fern, and a plant of the fuchsia species which has an oval-shaped leaf of a light-green color, and bears clusters of yellow flowers. This plant is always a sign of sterility, and is known by many settlers as the "poverty plant." As a general rule, the growth indigenous to the soil will indicate its richness or exhaustion at the present moment, but it must depend upon the class to which the soil and subsoil belong, whether in the latter case it be worth while to restore it to a condition of fertility. Flax, tupaki, koromiko or New Zealand willow, which very much resembles the English privet--fern over four feet in height, are all indications of a good soil. But perhaps the more desirable location for the newly arrived emigrant, more especially if his capital be small, is the forest or heavy bush of the Province of Auckland. Here he will be sure of an immediate return for his labour--the land, as soon as cleared, being in excellent condition for the production of the usual crops and vegetables without the necessity of the application of manure. The only exception to this rule is where the forest consists largely of kauri, but this, if within six or seven miles of water carriage, would of itself be too valuable a property to have escaped the notice of larger capitalists for the sake of the timber alone. As however the cultivation of clay lands in the old country is brought
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to such perfection--and is so well explained in every work on farming--it will not be necessary for us to say much more on that subject. We will conclude, therefore, that you have determined to settle on or to cultivate bush land--and as this work of managing bush land is peculiar to the Colony of New Zealand, at least to this hemisphere, we will commence by giving the experience of a thorough practical and successful settler.
THE CULTIVATION OF BUSH LAND.
To clear and cultivate bush land is a very different matter to that of fern land, where the first outlay is a team of bullocks, a plough and all the accompanying paraphernalia--the axe and the hoe are the most expensive implements required in clearing the bush -- and again, bush land is ready for cultivation when cleared, whereas fern land must be fallowed by the sun and the strong summer atmosphere before any crop can be put into it. Other considerations equally valuable should be considered in connection with bush land--thus the material for housebuilding, for fencing, and other purposes, is immediately within reach. In many cases the timber itself is of considerable money value, and as a general rule the quality of the land is superior to that of the open fern ground. We have often wondered that the possessor of bush land, were he even double the distance back in the forest that he is, should find fault with the apparent solitariness of his situation, or trouble himself so much with what may be his future difficulties, when he has so much work before him for immediate employment. The want of roads, and the anticipated difficulty of getting out the produce when
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ready for market, is allowed to be made the bugbear to frighten many a one from settling--a labour, when set about with a will, by no means so great as it at first sight appears, and when shared in by three or four who participate in its advantages, scarcely worth taking into account at all. And in connection with bush clearing it should be taken into consideration that in the first work of erecting a house many prefer the substantial material of slabs or broad palings to the nikau, which we perceive to be in general use among new settlers, as both warmer and neater, more safe from risk of fire, and we believe--for we have built both--the more quickly constructed of the two. The kauri, rimu, kahikatea and totara will be found the best if not the only trees from which slabs may be split. A cross-cut saw, axe, mall and wedges, will be all the tools required--and, from a tree of some thirty inches diameter, a number of slabs may be split in far less time than one unacquainted with the work would believe. The same with the roof. To split shingles is a quicker operation than to collect toi toi or cutting grass, and makes better and more substantial work when finished. As it is said that a man seldom builds or has built for him more than one dwelling house during his lifetime, it may be as well to describe two or three other plans for constructing a house in the bush, so that, with all the experience of others before him, he may select what he is best able to afford or--better still-- what will make him most comfortable.
HOW TO BUILD A HOUSE IN THE BUSH.
We will give the experience of a working colonist from one of the local papers--he says, after selecting your land, your
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first business will be to erect a habitation, and he gives the following very economical list of useful tools to begin with-- two American axes, grindstone, six-feet cross-cut saw, files, set of wedges, maul rings, hand saw and files, hammer, gimblets, pretty strong and different sizes, spokeshave, tomahawk, or small bench axe, 2 1/2 inch augur, smoothing plane, foot-rule, strong line, garden spades, grubbing hoes, dung fork, strong iron rake, six teeth at three inches apart, bill-hooks, fern-hook, scythe and stone, sickles, wooden rakes, hay-fork. In the event of your having working bullocks, you will require bows, yokes, chains, plough, and harrows.
Select a pretty level spot for your house, sheltered if possible from the cold southerly winds and facing the rising sun--and, if your land is near a navigable bay, river, or creek, erect your house near the best landing place. There are many different ways of building houses in the bush-- but the one we shall recommend to you is made of either raupo, nikau, or toi toi, it being easily constructed, and very warm and comfortable when well finished -- the materials are also plentiful.
Proceed to cut straight posts of hard wood, not less than six inches in diameter, and eight feet long--saw them level at the top ends, that the wall-plate may rest on each of them. Mark out the size of your house, according to your family, twelve feet by twenty will make two good sized rooms. After squaring off the ground plan, dig the corner holes first, making them all two feet deep--put in posts, fill in a little to steady them upright. Fix a line pretty tight from the top of one post to another, by which means you will see if they are nearly all level, and on the square--the line will also be a guide to put in the remainder of the posts. Leave two feet of space between each post, and wider spaces for the door and windows, and a still
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larger space for the chimney. Ram all the posts well. The posts for the centre of the end and partition walls must be fourteen feet long, which will give a good pitch to the roof, and also answer to rest the ridge-pole on. Cut long straight pieces for wall plates, square them with the axe to make them lie solid on the top of the posts, and fasten them on with four-inch nails. By searching the bush a little you may find a straight tree, between two and three inches in diameter, that will answer for a ridge-pole--fasten it on with a few nails to steady it. The rafters must be straight, and about three inches in diameter, and fitted on at two feet apart, and made to rest evenly on the wall-plate and ridge-pole. Fasten to the wall-plate with three-inch nails-- but smaller nails will answer to fasten the top ends. Battens are the next thing in order. Straight ti-tree poles are very plentiful, and those of about two and half inches diameter are easily split, and make very good battens. Nail them on the walls and roof at about ten inches apart. This done, the place is now ready for the raupo, nikau, or toi toi, which is fastened to the battens with flax, or small cord-like roots, which creep along the bush ground, and which, by enquiring of some of the older residents, you will be shown how to fasten on. The chimney is made of posts, in the same manner as the house, and should be in size about six feet wide by four feet deep, or eight feet wide and six feet deep, and you have room for a bench or comfortable seat at each side of the fire for a little enjoyment in wet cold weather and winter evenings, and this size has another advantage, for it considerably reduces the risk from fire. Let the wall-plates be eighteen inches lower than those of the house. Battens are nailed on the posts, inside and outside, at four inches apart, and filled in between with mortar made of clay and grass chopped up and mixed amongst it, to make it hang together. When
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the mortar gets dry, remove a few of the lower inside battens, and build in more mortar to keep the fire from the wood-work. Finish up by plastering inside and outside, until all the battens are covered. The stalk of the chimney is drawn in to the usual width at the top by means of four straight poles about three inches in diameter, extending from the wall-plate to about eighteen inches above the ridge. Fasten them well to the wall-plate, also at the top, with four cross pieces to steady them. The stalk is covered outside with some material, in the manner of weather-boarding. Fix some kind of spouting between the thatch of the house and the stalk of the chimney, to throw the wet off. The chimney is best in the side of the house. A few boards for doors and other inside purposes and window sashes may be bought. Dig a small drain round the outside of the house to keep the damp from the floor. A house built according to the above description will last five years, with very little repair.
Another writer in a newspaper gives his experience in house building, recommending the slab covering to the walls--but our experience is in favour of the raupo, being so warm and comfortable, so cheap and plentiful that for the first five or six years it is certainly to be preferred. The raupo is so well adapted for the construction of buildings of various kinds. A man accustomed to such work will have no difficulty in cutting enough to form the walls of a good sized cottage in a couple of days at the most. As it grows to a great length, it is quite easy to get it long enough to reach from the floor to the roof of your cottage, and of course a saving is in that way effected. When cut, the raupo is laid out so as to get dry in the sun, because of the extreme dampness of the plant just taken from the water. As the raupo has to be tied into thick bundles in building, it is better not to cart it until dry, as
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weight and bulk are more while the reeds are damp. In making a raupo cottage the first thing to be done is to get the frame of the house made. This is done much in the same way as in the case of a slab house, the only material difference being that the frame need not be so heavy for raupo as for slabs. We have known cases in which, when the forest was at a distance, and therefore the cartage of rough timber formed a considerable item of expense, the use of sawn timber was resorted to for a frame-work instead of the other. In such cases there is much to be said in favour of such a course. There can be no doubt about the advantages of a regularly framed house. For one thing, it stands twice or three times as long as one made on the rough-and-ready bush principle of sticking the ends of the uprights in the ground, where in a comparatively short time the best of timber must rot. The principle on which this is generally done is that the raupo may after a time be replaced by weather-boards, and so the rude cottage raised to the dignity of a regular farm house.
Admitting however these advantages, there is a good deal to be said against the practice, at all events where rough timber is available. To frame a house so well as to be afterwards available for weather-boards, requires a good deal more knowledge of carpentering, as well as a good many more tools than usually are found in the hands of bushmen. If a carpenter has to be engaged to come and do the work, by the time the half-and-half house has been constructed, it will be found to have cost nearly as much as a regular weather-boarded house, and will after all be but a temporary erection to be pulled down in a few years. Besides this, there is the danger of fire to be considered. It is very difficult indeed to arrange a raupo house so as to be free of this danger in even a moderate degree, and this
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should operate as a check upon spending more money upon so dangerous a style of building than cannot be avoided. When the frame-work has been put up in the usual way, slight rods of manuka are tied along at short distances apart, and the raupo is fastened to these by narrow strips of the native flax, or, if a more durable building is aimed at, by tarred string. The approved mode of lying is the one practised by the Maori, and must be seen to be understood. To make a good building it is necessary to have two thicknesses of raupo, that is, to have an outside and an inside layer of the reeds fastened along the walls. In this way a house of tolerable appearance may be constructed at a very cheap rate. It is well to have the roof thatched, and the eaves projecting considerably, as it adds both to the appearance and substantial comfort of the house. Toi-toi with an inside facing of nikau leaves is the material usually employed in thatching roofs--and no better can be got--it is most plentiful near swamps, and infinitely preferable to the common rush. The Maori used to put a layer of a bush-climber, known as munga-munga, upon the top of the regular thatch, and this was most useful in keeping everything in its place. We have ourselves known roofs made in this way by the natives remain good for five years. Usually they will not do this when made by Europeans, as they do not spend so much time on them as the natives did. A three-roomed house built in this way we know to have been put up for seven or eight pounds, without the floor, which can of course be made either of sawn or split timber.
With regard to the comparative advantages of raupo and slab cottages, there is room for a great diversity of opinion. Certainly the slabs will last the longest--but on the other hand they cost most, and are much less warm than raupo cottages. The danger of fire is far greater in the case of
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raupo however than slabs--an objection which may be regarded as balancing the extra comfort of the reed house.
On the whole, either kind being regarded merely as a make-shift to last for a very short time, the slabs have in our opinion rather the advantage, being convertible into a barn, stable, or cowshed, after it ceases to be needed for a dwelling-house. The raupo cottage is of little use for any of these purposes--it is moreover sure in a few years to become a perfect nest of rats and mice, and, unless great care is taken, is only too likely to become the haunt of other and if possible less agreeable kinds of vermin.
CLEARING, DRAINING AND FENCING FOR A GARDEN.
Our working colonists go on to tell us that the first work after clearing the surface of the ground will be to have it properly drained, if this is required. But this work being so well described and illustrated in English books, and of course so universally acknowledged to be of such advantage, we do not consider it necessary here either to describe the operation or to recommend it. The following remarks on fencing, draining and planting, copied from a local paper, are very sensibly written and to the point.
Wooden fences can be speedily run up when materials are found convenient--but unless the posts have been all charred at the bottom, and coal-tarred between earth and air, the best kinds of wood will not last more than twelve or sixteen years in favourable soils. Willows are very suitable for wet or marshy places, and can be woven into close fences with a little trouble. Privets intermixed with sweet briars make pretty hedging, where strength is not particularly required. The sea buckthorn is said to make
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excellent hedges on cold, bleak exposures, and defies sea winds more than any other. Buckthorn hedges are best when mixed with privets. Beech hedges have their advocates, and so also the holly--tastes infinitely vary. In new Colonies, the cost of fencing and clearing cut deep into the pockets of settlers.
The soil ought to be adapted to the plants, or the plants to the soil, climate and exposure. However favourable the surface soil, unless subsoils are free from mineral substances detrimental to vegetable roots, the plants will not long prosper. A hard ferruginous clay below the staple soil will spoil the whole work. Therefore the necessity of drainage with tiles, with small stones, with woody brush, or by subsoil ploughing. New Zealand is a Colony which will never be cultivated to proper account till the grounds are well sheltered by woods and hedging, and the wet lands thoroughly drained. Good timber in course of years will constitute as high values on landed estates as any other property or stock the owner or owners can have on it. The objection being that the trouble at first is considerable and the return remote, which may be met by many examples. If our forefathers had done nothing for posterity, posterity might have never known that the South Sea Islands--and New Zealand among them--were to be the happy and independent homes of British millions. Planting is not a ready money speculation. To raise good hedges, judicious men recommend the nursing of young quicks on soils similar to those where they ultimately are intended to be planted out. They are acclimatised at once by this simple plan. No violent change takes place in the habits of the young thorns, or whatever kind may be selected. They are moved at once from the nursery and deposited fresh in their future positions.
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All living plants should be regarded as living organisations, governed by natural laws, each kind having its own particular physiology. It is therefore important that suitable preparations should be made to plant your hedging in a soil and situation most congenial to their natures and habits, so that no blanks or gaps will disfigure it and render the whole concern comparatively useless.
A protest is already entered against planting on ferruginous and indurated clay subsoils. Often two small ditches are dug and a mound raised between, if the earth taken out is kindly. On top of this mound the plants are carefully placed. Some prudent persons who anxiously desired that their hedge should grow equal and fast, have gone to the trouble of applying stable manure fermented and properly prepared, and their labour was amply repaid.
Thorns and many other plants are tenacious of life--for a few years they seem to thrive on any soil--but if an impenetrable and noxious pan lies under, as soon as the roots descend to this substratum, a stunted growth and an unsightly, unfenceable hedge will result, requiring constant repairs, causing continual outlay, and becomes a source of annoyance and vexation to all concerned. More need not be said. The practical rule for training is laid down, not to allow a hedge to grow faster in height than it fills up in thickness. Gardeners' modes of dwarfing their trees are worthy of imitation. Ground too rich will rush the plants up to height without adequate breadth or thickness, causing much pruning labour to fill up closely.
David Hay--quoting from Professor Way--says that all light soils, such as gravelly, sandy and volcanic, lose much of their fertilising properties through heavy and continued rains--heavy loams and clay soils have an affinity for it and hold it in solution--draining enables rain water to percolate through the soil, diffusing the rich fertilising
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ingredients it contains, and also improving what David Hay calls the underground climate, on which the luxuriant growth of plants materially depends--it acts in its passage through the soil by carrying food to the roots of the plants, and not only does it bring to the soil the riches of the air, and so add to its fertility by the addition it thus supplies-- but the activity which drainage gives it, and its own solvent powers, make the whole an apt receptacle in which food for plants may be prepared for use. The superabundant water in the soil finds a ready egress by the drains, while the nourishing matter is retained in the earth as food for the plants. The result therefore of artificial land draining, where no natural drainage exists, is cheaper cultivation, a better underground climate, and continuous and abundant plant feeding, giving an earlier and more abundant harvest.
The subject of fencing, whether the common three-rail, the ditch and embankment with one rail on top, one of the American fancy fences, or a permanent live fence, comes next in order. Mr Hay strongly objects to furze for a fence, except in bleak and very exposed places. Thorn hedges raised from seed, planted from four to six inches apart, and kept clear of weeds for the first two years, and at the same time protected from cattle, will form a good fence three years after planting--leave it uncut the first year, and in the spring of the second year cut it down to within a few inches of the ground, then run the hoe along each side, so as to destroy all weeds and leave the surface open and clear that the air may penetrate to the soil. The plants will throw out vigorous shoots the following summer, and after they have reached the height required, they should be trimmed every year in the month of August.
With the following pithy hints about bush work and progress, we close the first part of our work on Colonial farming. The best way of cultivating is simply to fall all
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the timber, and run a fire through it when dry, sowing wheat and grass upon the ashes without breaking up the soil or using any means to cover the seed. The timber should have been all cut down by the end of October, to be burnt and sown with wheat in the following March and April. Each tree is fallen, lopped, and the trunk cut into such lengths as one or two men can roll over with levers. When the fire has run through the fallen mass, the logs are rolled together into twos and threes to burn one another out, and the smaller pieces unconsumed are carried to the different fires. As soon as the ashes are cold, wheat at the rate of one and a half or two bushels to the acre is sown broadcast, and in the Spring grass seed at about the same rate. Were the grass not sown with the wheat the first year, the necessity of breaking up the ground by hand for the second year's crop would be entailed upon the settler. Some indeed sow no wheat, but grass at once, thereby avoiding the risk of losing the grass crop through the over-luxuriance of the wheat.
Great as are the advantages offered to the settler by forest lands, too many allow themselves to be scared away from such a selection by the apparent difficulties--the labour of the axe, the want of roads made ready to their hand, and the isolated and lonely position in the bush. The sooner such effeminate specimens of humanity leave the Colony in disgust the better for it and themselves too. They are not the stuff out of which good colonists are made. Hardships indeed--why, they have come to beds of down, to the luxuries of polite life, to all the accessories of civilisation, when compared with the real privations and difficulties which the early settlers had to encounter. It is positively disgusting to listen to their silly laments for the luxuries and comforts they left at home. It is pitiable to see strong men and women, used to labour, quailing before
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obstacles, which, in a far more aggravated form, men of education and refinement--delicately reared--have smiled at and overcome. We were lately on the sections of two "forty-acre men," shipmates of each other, of equal age, and the same trade--they had both been settled exactly at the same time upon their farms, about ten months. The one had from the first found fault with everything--the country was a dog-hole, the roads were miserable, the forty-acre system a most villainous take-in. This man has a small patch turned over for a garden, about as large as the site of a good-sized house. The other had at first commenced pig feeding, accumulating manure, and has broken up with the spade and underdrained and fenced above three acres of land, which is planted with onions, potatoes, field-pease, and about half an acre of wheat. This man--by far the poorer of the two--will after this year grow more produce than he can consume. The other at the same time--having eaten up his capital--will not undeservedly be starved off his ground, and swell the ranks of the grumblers--those discontented ignorant idlers about the town, who know far better how to handle a glass of rum than an axe or a spade.
A PERSONAL NARRATIVE.
Twenty-five years ago, I was a boy of twelve, living near one of the richest valley farms in the interior of a New England State. The farm comprised about three hundred acres, of which seventy-five were strong alluvial soil, in meadow, flooded by the high waters of every spring--one hundred more in upland pasture and arable land, and the balance in woodland. The occupant's family consisted of a son and two daughters, the elder of whom was the housekeeper. The "help" was a hired girl and a man, with an
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additional hand, and sometimes two in haymaking. Here he spent his life in a fruitless attempt to support his family and educate his children. He was an industrious, hardworking, frugal man, who taught his children habits of the strictest economy--but he was an anti-book farmer, and a patron of the credit system. The merchant, the blacksmith, the wheelwright, and every one with whom he had dealings had accounts, the balance of which were all on the wrong side, and somehow could never be reduced. The ploughs had the old wooden mould-boards faced with strap-iron-- the harrow-teeth were made of white oak--a horse-rake he had never seen. The fences were rickety, the buildings dilapidated. There was an orchard, but the knowledge of fruit-culture did not teach that it ever required trimming, and its productions were about as large and as hard as nutmegs. As the meadows lay convenient to the barns, they were fed down closely in autumn--the feed was better there than in the pastures. The cattle were never stabled in winter, nor were racks provided in which to feed them, and the quantity of forage they wasted equalled that which they consumed. The stock died in winter of exposure--in spring of weakness. The crows always called in their early spring migrations, and were always sure of an abundance of animal food. The manure in the cattle yards was rarely distributed, because the meadows were thought to be rich enough without it, and it would not pay to draw it up hill to the pasture lands. It went on accumulating until the very yards were higher than the surrounding fields. The wash of the yards was conveniently disposed of in the neighbouring brook, towards which the yards sloped, and by which they were effectively drained. It was the boast of our neighbourhood that his cattle yards were always dry.
On this farm in those days, an agricultural paper, book, or periodical was never seen. The father entertained a
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sovereign contempt for the book farming which one or two of his neighbours were beginning stealthily to practice. With him a change of crops consisted in breaking up the meadow, planting it with corn or potatoes, without manure, the first year, sowing it with oats and a sprinkling of grass seed the next. The idea of applying chemical knowledge to the adaptation of different manures would have been regarded as humbug, and the man who should have predicted modern ploughs, harrows, cultivators, thrashing machines, reapers and mowers, would have been treated in that neighbourhood with the pity and consideration due to an insane person.
The consequences were inevitable--with each year the ends were further from meeting than the year before. Then the pine, oak, and other valuable timber, and finally the cord-wood were cut off to satisfy an old creditor, while making a new one. As the son grew older, he became dissatisfied, broke away from the old homestead, and after encountering the difficulties common to such efforts, obtained an education without paternal aid, studied a profession, and settled in the practice of it in the county town of his native country.
Pass over a score of years with their changes. The father has gone to his rest. In the family arrangement the homestead passed into the possession of the husband of my eldest sister, who has now occupied it some eight or ten years, and he has had no income except that derived from the products of the farm itself.
There is a change there now. In the place of the ruinous dwelling is a large commodious farm-house, with its neat vine-clad portico its shades and blinds, and all the "modern improvements." The parlour has its piano, and, with the other rooms, is finished in a style of substantial elegance. Young shade-trees are springing up around the
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lawn in front of it--a neat flower garden is laid out at one side, with a vegetable garden in the rear--young trees are putting forth vigorous shoots, giving promise of abundant fruit of various descriptions.
All the out-buildings are torn down, and the new ones erected in the rear of the house, upon a gentle slope which overlooks the meadow. Here are warm, dry stables for every head of live stock upon the farm. The floors are so constructed as to save all the drippings, and the manure is housed as carefully as the stock. Not a pound of hay or an ounce of grain is fed outside the stables. The straw, stalks, and coarse fodder are all cut and mixed with grain, which is always ground before it is fed out--in this manner not a straw is wasted. Running water is carried into and out of every yard.
Are you curious to look at the stock? Here is a flock of long, coarse-wooled, heavy sheep--"Leicesters" I think he calls them, to begin with. Is not this wool very coarse? you ask, as one of the long-bodied, heavy-quartered, Landseer-like looking animals nibbles at the owner's hand; rather--he replies--but at 1s. 3d. per pound it brings as much money as that of so many Spanish merinos; and he goes on to tell you how it costs no more to keep them than the little merinos--that the ewe almost invariably produces two lambs in each year--that they are very hardy, come early to maturity, and that the lovers of good mutton are quite willing to give two guineas for the carcase of a fat two-year old, when common mutton could hardly be given away. Then, here are his cattle--all selected with a careful eye to their destined uses. Here are pure bloods--Herefords, Devons, Alderneys, and Durhams--some for beef, some for their milking qualities, some for draft oxen. After repeated experiments, he tells you that he has concluded to keep no pigs but those of the Suffolk breed, as they
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make pork the cheapest. We look at a pen of them. There is scarcely a greater difference between a greyhound and a porpoise, than between these and the long-legged gaunt species that used to range at will over the potato and corn fields twenty years ago.
Come now into his field. Here he will utterly confound you. He is thoroughly versed in the mystery of agricultural chemistry--start him once upon alkalies and acids, phosphates and superphosphates, silica and alumina, and he becomes abstruse and scientific. And yet there is a singular method in all he says. This field produced nothing. It wanted lime. Lime was furnished, and the corn crop he thinks is sixty bushels to the acre. That one was short of ammonia--ammonia was supplied, and the change is even greater. But I will not particularise further. Here are the hills, the brooks, the old trees, each of which is endeared to me by some association of childhood--but all else is changed. The wilderness has been made to "blossom like a rose."
What are the net results? Upon the farm on which the father grew poor, the son-in-law lives like a country gentleman. His young lady daughters are at the seminary. Instead of a borrower he is a lender--each year adds to his stock-list and note-roll. Out of debt, with a farm and stock worth £4000, living comfortably and elegantly, discharging his duties towards society and his family, he occupies a position of happy independence which a professional man can never hope to attain.
What is the secret of this change? Go into his library and you will see the explanation. He is at the same time a practical and a scientific farmer. Books and papers-- those garners of the experiences of other men--in part are the tools with which he works. These teach what improvements are really valuable, and he adopts them.
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The best investment he makes is agricultural literature. He will tell you how an article which taught him to set his fence posts with the tops downwards, and gave the reason why he should do so, has doubled the length of time that his posts and board fences are serviceable, with various other illustrations not less curious. Books upon chemistry, meteorology, manures, upon horses, cattle, and sheep, fruit and horticulture, and all kindred subjects, with all the approved periodicals (to many of which he contributes), you will find there--all giving evidence of the thorough reading to which they have been subjected. On the whole I pronounce his establishment the best cure I have ever seen for the malady which afflict too many of our farmers still, called "prejudice against book-farming."
A farmer should never break up more land than he can cultivate thoroughly--half-tilled land is always growing poorer, while well-tilled land is constantly improving. A thrifty and prudent farmer will not devote his sole attention to the improvement of certain fields on his farm, because the land is "easy to work at," and let other portions of his premises go uncultivated, and grow nothing but brush, bogs, briars, and stones.
A farmer should never have more cattle, horses, or other live stock than he can keep in good order. An animal in good order at the beginning of winter is already half wintered. Nor should he let his cattle endure the chilling storms of winter in an open yard or field, whilst a few shillings expended in providing comfortable stables would amply repay him in saving of fodder, and afford a greater quantity of milk.
A farmer should never depend too much on his neighbour for what he can by careful management produce on his own land. He should not make it a common practice
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to either buy or beg fruit while be can plant trees and cultivate them on his own ground -- nor annoy his neighbours by borrowing tools to work with, while he can make or buy them. "The borrower is servant to the lender."
A farmer should never be so immersed in political matters as to neglect doing his various kinds of work in due season, and to tidy up matters and things for the winter--nor should he be so inattentive to politics as to remain ignorant of those great questions of national and state policy which will always agitate more or less a free people.
A farmer should not be continually borrowing a neighbour's newspaper, while he can easily save money enough-- by curtailing some little extravagance, to subscribe and pay for one or more of his own.
A farmer should never refuse a fair price for anything he wishes to sell. I have known men to refuse six shillings for a bushel of corn, and after keeping it for five or six months they were glad to get four shillings for it. I have known farmers refuse to take a fair marketable price for their butter, and after keeping it three or four months they concluded to sell it for two-thirds of the price they were first offered. "A bird in hand is worth two in the bush."
A farmer should not let his buildings go to decay while he can afford the means to keep them in repair--nor should he allow tattered clothes to be stuffed in broken windows to take the place of glass. If he does, he will soon acquire the reputation of a man who tarries long in the gin-shop.
A farmer should not be contented with dilapidated-looking fences on his farm, so as not to tempt his cattle to become unruly and destroy his crops, while he has plenty of opportunities and material to make or keep them in repair.
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THE CLIMATE OF NEW ZEALAND.
MEAN TEMPERATURE OF PLACES IN NEW ZEALAND.
MEAN TEMPERATURE OF PLACES IN NEW ZEALAND.
MEAN TEMPERATURE OF PLACES IN THE NORTHERN HEMISPHERE TO COMPARE WITH NEW ZEALAND.
MEAN TEMPERATURE OF PLACES IN THE NORTHERN HEMISPHERE TO COMPARE WITH NEW ZEALAND.
JANUARY is the warmest and one of the finest months of the year. The temperature of the month of FEBRUARY nearly resembles that of January, and is equally dry. In MARCH the thermometer falls a little, but the weather con-
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tinues as dry as during the two previous months. In APRIL the temperature becomes sensibly cooler, and the weather more unsettled and showery. In the month of MAY the air begins to have an autumnal feel, and the weather is much more wet than in the preceding month-- but towards the end of the month there are generally some of the finest days of the year--calm, temperate and bright. In the month of JUNE the weather is cold and chilly--but it is very little more unsettled than the two preceding it-- during this month we also find some very fine, clear days which are very pleasant. JULY is generally the worst month in the year, the very depth of winter, cold and wet, the ground being now saturated with moisture, the water does not readily drain away or evaporate--the dry days however are commonly bright and clear, but there is little frost and no snow, the temperature being about ten degrees warmer in New Zealand than in an English winter. In AUGUST a slight improvement generally takes place--there is rather less rain than in July, and towards the end of the month the air becomes perceptibly warmer. In SEPTEMBER spring commences--rain falls in less quantity and not so frequent, and the roads soon dry up after a rain. The weather in OCTOBER is sometimes fine and dry--at other times cold and boisterous, high winds and squalls from the westward, with showers, the cold is disagreeable. In NOVEMBER the temperature increases rapidly -- but the weather is sometimes unsettled. In DECEMBER the thermometer rises still higher, the weather is more settled, and the warmth nearly equals that of January.