CHAPTER XII. AGRICULTURE AND HORTICULTURE.
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THE "SACRED PLOUGH."
AGRICULTURE AND HORTICULTURE.
"Earth's increase and foison plenty;
Barns and garners never empty;
Vines with clustering bunches growing;
Plants with goodly burden bowing;
Springs come to you, at the farthest,
In the very end of harvest;
Scarcity and want shall shun you,
Ceres' blessing so is on you."
"Ceres' Song," Shakespear.
DESCRIPTION OF WILD LAND AND MODES OF CLEARING.--New Zealand agricultural wild land is composed of three chief varieties: Fern, Grass, and Bush.
The Fern, is land covered with a dense growth of the common fern, four to six feet high, intermixed with a bushy shrub called tutu. Choosing a dry gentle breezy day (in any season) the fern is fired in half a dozen places to windward; when the fire, running slowly through, shrivels up the tutu, and consumes the tops and branches of the green fern together with all the dead bottom-stuff. The fire-softened fern stalks, are then swept down with a short scythe, just raked in ridges and burnt;
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FERN AND GRASS LANDS.
and the tutu stumps grubbed up, thrown in heaps, or carted off. The land is then broken up five to seven inches deep, with a strong iron plough (wrought-iron share) drawn by two or three pair of oxen. After lying a week or two to dry and pulverize, it is harrowed, when the fern root is raked-up, heaped, and burnt. A light, levelling, cross-ploughing is then given, when the new land, (after lying in a kind of "maiden-fallow" for three or four months) 2 will be reduced to the finest tilth and be fit for any crop. The expense of this process may vary from £2 to £4 per acre--according to the heaviness of the fern and tutu.
Grass land, consists of coarse grasses, intermixed with scrubby fern, flax, dwarf tutu, toetoe, and ti tree. Where these intermixed shrubs grow thickly, they are swept down with bill-hook or brushing-bill, and burnt; but the lighter, more open, lands of this description may be broken up and cross-ploughed at once, lie fallow a month or two, and then receive the crop. The cost of reducing wild grass land to "crop-state" may vary from £1 to £2 an acre.
Bush land, is the common forest land. In the early summer of November, the brushwood is
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slashed down with bill-hook and hatchet, and the trees are thrown with the x cut saw and American axe. The fallen-stuff lies withering and drying through the summer, and is burnt-off in early autumn. If the first, or "running," fire acts well, everything will be consumed save trunks and heavy branches; when the latter are lopped-off, the trunks rolled together, and the whole slowly burnt-up, in heaps. The cost of clearing bush land may vary from £5 to £10 per acre; and the first crop, grain or grass seed, may be "chipped-in" with the mattock for about 20s. per acre more. The unsightly (surface-root) stumps remain in the land about three years; when the smaller ones may be torn up with a pair or two of bullocks, and a strong stump-chain, and the land made roughly ploughable. Bush land is richer than either Fern or Grass land; and for small dairy farms, where there might be family hand-labour at command, or for hop-grounds, orchards, kitchen-gardens, or home paddocks, Bush land is best. But the process of first clearing and cultivating it is, comparatively, both so slow and so expensive, that nine-tenths of all our agricultural operations are carried on on Fern and Grass lands.
SOILS.--There is, of course, some difference in the quality and constituents of the soil of these three chief varieties of agricultural land--but it is a difference little felt, in the actual practice of farming. Poor Dieffenbach, one of the first and best
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writers on New Zealand, remarks that the extraordinary luxuriance of all indigenous vegetation, and of all introduced farm and garden crops in New Zealand, is far more attributable to fineness of climate than to richness of soil: a remark, which the experience of ten years, has amply confirmed. The climate is, in fact, New Zealand's elemental guano, and unquestionably does much to equalize soils. I have seen scrubby-looking, cold-clayey, lands at Auckland and Canterbury, (such as an English farmer might well refuse to plough) produce heavy crops of wheat equal to anything obtained on the vegetable mould of that soi-disant garden of the country, New Plymouth. The commonest soil of the best agricultural districts of the North Island, appears to be a volcanic, or a vegetable, surface-soil of six to ten inches, lying on a deep, porous, yellow, subsoil (singularly pure and free from stone, shell, gravel or clay); and in the South Island, a vegetable surface soil, not unfrequently lying on a light gravelly clay.
SYSTEM OF FARMING--ROTATION OF CROPS.-- Owing partly to scarcity of labour, partly to that rude "rough-and-ready," quick-and-slovenly, mode of doing things, common in young colonies, it cannot be said that there is yet any System of farming in New Zealand. Indeed, I can easily imagine one of our Holkham, North Lincolnshire, or Carse-of-Gowrie men (full of beef and science) going to New Zealand and gravely asserting that
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NEW ZEALAND FARMING.
there was no Farming there, of any kind. One startling peculiarity of New Zealand farming is that it commonly ignores both stock and manure! That combined arable and grazing system, which we call farming in England, is (as yet) almost unknown in New Zealand. A man buys his 100 or 500 acres of wild land, gets a pair or two of oxen ploughs it up by degrees, rudely crops it till it will crop no more; and then either lets it lie fallow, or lays it down in grass, and begins to think of stock. There is no country in the world, however, where the produce of a farm would be so increased by the abolishment of a primeval system like this, and the substitution of the British, combined "arable-and-grazing" plan. The application of a little animal manure, a night's folding of sheep, produces effects on New Zealand soils which I know not how to describe save by terming them magical 3 The "grazing-side," too,
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of a farm in New Zealand, would not only double the produce of the "arable-side," but would be just as valuable, per se, as the "arable-side," so doubled --for stock, beef and mutton, dairy produce, and above everything, Wool--fine combing wool--will always find an excellent market in New Zealand, when Wheat, all wheat, nothing but wheat, grown by every farmer, might prove a drug.
The system I should follow, then, were I now recommencing farming in New Zealand, would be to lay half the land down in permanent grass for sheep and cattle; devote two-thirds of the remaining half to wheat, bailey, oats and potatoes; and take the residue, for root-crops for working stock and for a small dairy farm. And on my arable portion, I would take oats first, slightly manure for potatoes second, wheat or barley third and fourth, then manure, and so round again; putting in cole-seed or a turnip crop now and then, and feeding-off with sheep.
One of the most remarkable features of New Zealand farming, is the extraordinary ease with which the soil (once broken-up) can always be worked, at all seasons of the year. In the famous Carse o' Gowrie, there are not, I think, more than twenty weeks in the year fit for ploughing; and thirty weeks is probably an over average for Eng-
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land. But in New Zealand, it would be difficult to find a day in the year when, as regarded the state of the soil, ploughing or any other operation could not be performed with perfect facility.
STOCK.--Horses, cattle, sheep and pigs thrive and multiply in a remarkable degree, and are singularly free from disease. Oxen are generally used for breaking-up new land, and for all the rougher work of a new farm; but horses are better adapted for the lighter implements used in all after-tillage. Unlike England, America, and the Canadas, New Zealand requires the farmer to make no winter provision for stock. The winter is only a cooler spring, vegetation never ceases; and the pastures and natural herbage are almost equally good and fattening at one season as at another.
The working stock of a farm, therefore, is seldom housed or stabled. When the day's work is over, oxen and horses are unyoked and turned loose to graze in some paddock, or to browse about the bushy skirts of the farm. A little manure, however, goes so far in New Zealand, and produces such magical effects, that it would be a far more profitable custom to turn all working stock into the straw yard every night among the pigs, and to feed them there on roots and artificial food.
FARM HAND - LABOUR. -- Agricultural labour, considering the shorter hours, is full three times
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dearer in New Zealand than in England. But, owing to the easy-working character of the soil, and the greater dependence on climate to perfect the crop when the seed is once sown, much less hand-labour is employed, and less, in fact, is needed than in England; and the actual annual expenditure on a New Zealand 200-acre grass and arable farm would not, I think, be more than 100 per cent, greater than on a similar English farm. Labourers who have bought land, and who are rising into the small-farmer class, are generally willing to devote a portion of their time to taking contract work on neighbouring farms; and with this and the help of a regular farm man or labourer's family kept on the farm (and the master's own hands from time to time) the common work of a farm is got through better than would be expected, looking at the scarcity of common day labourers. Whilst, from the fineness of the weather and the fact of everybody turning out to help, crops are cut and carried without any extraordinary difficulty or expense at harvest time. Nevertheless, the scarcity and dearness of hand-labour are considerable obstacles to the arable farmer's quick creation of an estate in New Zealand; and constitute a very strong additional argument in favour of the plan of making New Zealand farms partly labour-saving grazing farms, and in favour of the introduction of machinery and improved agricultural implements.
IMPLEMENTS.--As an arithmetical proposition,
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HAND-LABOUR AND MACHINERY.
we might say that as farm hand-labour is three times dearer in New Zealand than in England, the profit consequent on the introduction of "labour-saving" machinery, would be three times greater in New Zealand than in England. True political economy unquestionably prescribes machinery as more necessary in young countries than in old. America acts on this truism: she applies machinery to many operations which we perform by manipulation; and in the department of agriculture, had invented and used the celebrated McCormick "Reaper" long before such an implement became common in English fields.
Referring to the chapter on "Exports and Markets," the reader must see, that if the New Zealand agriculturist would make sure of retaining the first place in the markets of Sydney and Melbourne, and would not run any chance of being driven thence by the wheat-growers of Chili and South Australia, he will have both to improve his cultivation, and to reduce the cost of production by the more general introduction of better farm-machinery. Many of the New Zealand-made implements one still sees in use in the colony might have figured in Old Tusser's "Hundred Points of Good Husbandrie;" and during my late mission among the settlements, I remarked more than one plough at work, bearing about as much resemblance to an English farmer's plough of 1857, as Noah's Ark might have borne to a Screw Frigate.
The observations made in the chapter on Outfit
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as to the prudence of taking the plainest, but the best of everything for New Zealand use, apply specially to agricultural implements. The stoppage or breakdown of any implement in an English field, is no improvement to the farmer's temper--but it becomes a serious loss in New Zealand, where the wheelwright may live ten miles off, and where his wages may be 12s. a-day.
Messrs. Ransomes and Sims maintain such a world-wide repute as kings of the agricultural implement province, that emigrant-agriculturists would do well to procure any farm implements which they may require of these eminent manufacturers, whose name on an article may be taken as a warranty of its goodness.
List "A" comprises the half-dozen things which would be found the most generally useful for a small New Zealand farm; and which any one now going out to create a little estate by the Plough might most advantageously take. List "B" enumerates other articles well suited to improved New Zealand agriculture, and which I think would generally prove saleable at a good percentage; but the taking of any of which should mainly depend on the capital of the party, and on the scale on which he proposes to commence his agricultural and estate-creating operations.
All or any one of the articles in "A" or "B" may be procured, at the understated manufacturer's prices, through Sheppard Ransome (the London agent), 31, Essex Street, Strand; or, to save trouble,
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MESSRS. RANSOMES' PLOUGHS, ETC.
through Messrs. Richards, Twallin and Company, 117 and 118, Bishopsgate, London; who (free of charge) receive and securely pack up the implement for the sea-voyage, along with any of the smaller articles of common outfit named in Chapter XV., --an arrangement which often economises freight-charges, and prevents the cumbersome multiplicity of case, cask, and package.
Messrs. Ransomes and Sims (Ipswich) forward an illustrated priced catalogue, on application, free by post. This catalogue gives the description, uses, and what we may term the "Prize-Pedigree," of their various implements; and a copy of it might usefully accompany any articles carried to New Zealand.
Ransomes' "general-purpose" iron Y.F.L swing-plough for light land; with steel mould-board, one cast and one wrought iron share (Useable also as a one or two wheel plough--one wheel 6s. extra; two wheels, 16s. extra.)
4 1 9
Ransomes' "breaking-up "Y.F.S iron swing-plough; with steel mould-board, two best-steeled shares (Useable also as a one or two wheel plough--one wheel, 6s. extra; two wheels, 16s. extra.)
4 16 6
Ransomes' East-Anglian iron harrows for general purposes
4 10 0
Ransomes' improved Scotch cart and raves ...
17 0 0
Ransomes' winnowing machine (complete) ...
10 0 0
Ransomes' hand drag-rake; with two of Sillet's (curved) digging forks...
| 1 7 0
The most useful of these six excellent articles would be the Y.F.L plough, the harrows, and the Scotch cart.
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Ransomes' one-horse Y.O.H plough, with wrought-iron frame, extra share, and one wheel
3 14 0
Ransomes' wrought-iron S.C.W swing-plough, with steel mould-board, three steeled shares, trussed iron whippletrees ... (Useable as a one or two wheel plough--one wheel, 6s. extra; two wheels, 16s. extra.) 1
7 17 0
Ransomes' Y.M.T plough, with fittings for a horse-hoe
5 0 0
Ransomes' East-Anglian five feet seed-harrow and pomeltree
2 10 0
Medium capacity, small farm, corn-drill about
24 0 0
Ransomes' (extra) Scotch (or Windsor, £17 10s.) cart and raves
17 0 0
Ransomes' M'Cormick's prize Reaper, with Burgess & Key's improvements (small size)
40 0 0
Ransomes' prize two-horse, portable, thrashing machine; jointed spindle ...
44 0 0
"SUB-SOILING" has not yet been practised in New Zealand. I am inclined to think, however, that our new and sour Fern lands, would be much benefited by a little "stirring-up" of the virgin sub-soil; when Bentall's Patent Plough (page 24, in Messrs. Ransomes' Catalogue) might prove a most useful general implement. Crosskill's celebrated Patent Clod-crushing Roller would, I think,
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CULTIVATION OF WHEAT.
prove another most useful implement in the work of reducing wild land to good cultivation in New Zealand--but at £17 it is an expensive article,-- and I have not ventured to incur the responsibility of placing it even in "List B."
WHEAT.--On all new, "first-crop," lands, two bushels and a half per acre should be sown in May; on old farm lands, two bushels in June suffice; whilst on rich forest land (as far north as New Plymouth, at least) one bushel an acre has been sown with success as late as August. Wheat is generally sown in the old broad-cast fashion; but drilling, especially in first-crop fern lands, where the fern is apt to spring again, and has to be (or rather should be) hand-pulled, would be a great improvement. In the North Island, mid-harvest comes on about the middle of January: in Canterbury and Otago, a fortnight to three weeks later. A yield of 50 to 60 bushels per acre is by no means uncommon; 70 has been obtained in Canterbury, and on one occasion nearly 80 on Bush land, at New Plymouth. But the average yield of the general wheat crop of New Zealand under the present rude mode of farming, cannot certainly be estimated at more than thirty bushels per acre, averaging say 65 lbs. per bushel. The reader, however, should remember that this is an average yield under the most unfavourable circumstances: a rude and slovenly tillage, no manure, crop after crop till the land is exhausted,
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BARLEY AND OATS.
frequently bad seed, and bad and wasteful harvesting and threshing. It is my deliberate opinion, and I believe the opinion of every practical man who has paid any attention to New Zealand agricultural matters, that if farming in New Zealand were carried on more in conformity with the first principles of English agriculture, the yield of wheat and of all grain and root crops might easily be increased 50 to 75 per cent.
BARLEY.--On fresh new lands, which are the most subject to the barley caterpillar, I should recommend a very early sowing of three bushels an acre in June; but on old lands, two bushels and a half in September. Owing partly to the caterpillar, and partly to the circumstance of barley requiring a finer tillage, it has not, hitherto, proved quite so successful a crop in New Zealand as wheat. Nelson stands first in barley, and has produced some splendid samples of the Norfolk chevalier variety.
OATS.--Generally sown in August, at the rate of three bushels an acre. Canterbury and Otago (the latter, New Zealand's Scotland) have beaten all the settlements in oats. One hundred bushels per acre of the black Tartarian have been obtained at Canterbury; and splendid crops of Poland and potato at Otago. In relative weight and positive fineness of sample, oats exceed barley and equal wheat: forty pounds per bushel is a common weight;
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MAIZE--CHANGE OF SEED.
and some Lincolnshire Polands, which my brother once grew at New Plymouth (white as a hound's tooth) reached nearly fifty pounds a bushel. 4
As a general rule, in the cultivation of these three chief white crops, I should recommend an early Winter and a moderately thick sowing, in preference to a Spring and a thin sowing.
MAIZE.--Grown by the natives in the north, in warm spots of bush land, but will not ripen as a common-farm, field-crop. Maize forms a good "climate-index." The summer and autumnal heats necessary to bring maize to perfection exceed the degree of temperate, and become semi-torrid, distressing or injurious. America, Africa, and parts of Australia are maize countries--Devonshire, Van Diemen's Land, and New Zealand are not; and the climate, which will nearly, but not quite, ripen this grain, is a climate which in respect to heat will bring every English grain, grass, fruit, and vegetable, to full perfection, and which will prove mildly bracing, salubrious and congenial to the English constitution.
POTATOES.--Next to wheat, by far the most common crop in New Zealand. They are generally set
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in the North Island in September; but the Canterbury and Otago fanners prefer planting a month later. In my own small practice, moderate-sized sets of middle-sized tubers (ten to twelve hundredweight to the acre), the sets a foot apart, and the rows two feet and a half apart, has proved the best planting. The quality of potatoes is excellent, and the crop is a certain one. On common light soils, without manure, seven tons per acre is a fair yield; but twelve to fourteen tons have been obtained on bush land. A monster potato plant (or "bush"), growing in a cottager's beach garden at New Plymouth, where the soil was intermixed with the black iron-sand, is said to have produced nearly 200 tubers, of which 70 were of fair cooking size; and another goodly root is named at page 233.
Turnips, carrots, parsnips, onions, and all root and vegetable crops, are very prolific in New Zealand, and of the finest quality: thirty-five tons per acre of turnips is not an uncommon yield--specimens of the white Belgian carrot have been shown at the Canterbury horticultural show, weighing nine pounds--two rods of the bush soil, at New Plymouth have actually produced forty hundredweight of the white Altringham carrot, equal to the almost incredible yield of 150 tons per acre-- 300 lbs. of onions have been obtained from less than a rod of ground at New Plymouth (nearly twenty-five tons per acre)--and cabbages grown on bush soil have been cut weighing forty to fifty pounds each at Otago.
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TOBACCO.--The tobacco plant grows luxuriantly on bush land; and there appears to be no reason why it should not eventually be raised for a crop, as in New South Wales. Its cultivation would be a branch of industry well suited to the Natives; and there is already a surprisingly large and increasing consumption of tobacco among both races. As, however, the duty levied on it (1s. 3d per lb.) forms one of the principal items of the customs' revenue, the government would probably prohibit its general cultivation: the wiser course, however, would be to encourage its free cultivation and manufacture, and to meet the consequent deficiency in revenue by imposing a higher duty on spirits, and on articles of luxury which could not be produced in the colony.
HOPS.--A few acres of hops have been grown as an experiment, and have answered remarkably well as to yield. The sort introduced, however, was one of inferior quality; and any agricultural emigrant proceeding - out from an English hop county, would do well to carry with him cuttings of the finest varieties of his district. The native women and children would make capital hop-pickers; and poles are cheap and plentiful.
LAYING DOWN LANDS IN GRASS.--It would seem that the soil and climate of New Zealand are equally well adapted for artificial pastures and farm grazing, as for the growth of grain and
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root crops, and arable agriculture. One hundred acres of the Tamaki meadows, near Auckland, have carried nearly 100 head of cattle through the year, many of them fat for the butcher. At New Plymouth, thirty-five acres of fern land, laid down in grass (white clover and Italian ryegrass), have been known to carry nearly 300 sheep throughout the year. Bush land, after bearing four heavy wheat crops in succession, has been sown with grass in March, and afforded a good bite for cattle in May. Indeed, sufficient has been seen of the luxuriance of artificial grasses in New Zealand, to show that ordinary lands, laid down in grass, are quite equal to the grazing of five sheep per acre throughout the year. Grass seeds, for permanent pastures, are best sown in the autumnal months, March, April, and May. March is, I think, the best month. Grass seeds (and the observation applies to all seeds in New Zealand) cannot be covered too lightly. Thirty pounds per acre is considered a sufficient sowing, and the following has been a common mixture:--
Pacey's perennial rye grass
White Dutch clover
Cow grass (perennial red clover)
I should, however, prefer a much greater variety of grasses, and in laying down new wild land, would sow some such mixture as the following:--
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PASTURE GRASS SEEDS.
Pacey's perennial rye grass
---------Italian rye grass
Perennial red clover
Sheep's Fescue (Festuca ovina)
Meadow Fescue (Festuca pratensis)
Red Fescue (Festuca rubra)
Smooth-stalked meadow grass (Poa pratensis)
Cocksfoot and foxtail
Trefoil and lucerne
Sweet vernal and Avena flavescens
This mixture, or any other, may be obtained of Messrs. Gibbs and Co., Half Moon Street, Piccadilly, London, Seedsmen to the Royal Agricultural Society, properly packed for the voyage in a zinc-lined cask, at the rate of about 25s. per acre; and emigrants who intend to embark largely in agricultural and grazing pursuits, would do well to provide seeds for a few acres--for grass seeds, owing to the increasing demand, are dear in New Zealand, and some of the excellent varieties here enumerated could not yet be obtained in the colony, pure and genuine.
Grass seeds have generally been sown on old, crop-exhausted, arable land, or on new lands ploughed up on purpose; but experience seems to show that the expense of breaking-up the surface, and of ploughing and working new lands, for artificial pastures, might frequently be saved. Some of the richest pastures at Auckland, are those where all
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that has been done, has been, merely to set fire to the indigenous vegetation, scatter the seed on the rough unbroken surface, and then rudely harrow it in. Indeed, this plan is frequently preferred there; and from what I have remarked myself with reference to the germination of wheat, I am inclined to think that if the seed were steeped, and advantage taken of showery weather, even the single operation of harrowing might be dispensed with: especially if a flock of sheep or herd of cattle were driven two or three times across the sowing, so as to fray the surface, and to tread the seed down a little. However, be this as it may, there are millions of acres of wild fern and grass lands in New Zealand which might be converted into permanent pastures, equal to the grazing of four to five sheep per acre, at an expense of not more than £1 per acre in burning-off a portion of the indigenous vegetation, in scattering the seed on the partially-charred surface, and then cross-dragging a strong harrow over the surface. 5
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DAIRY FARMING.--The richness of the artificial pastures, the easy growth of all fattening, milk-giving roots and vegetables, the quick breeding and increase of stock, the suitability of the climate for the making and curing of butter, cheese, bacon, and hams, and the fine price these articles always command in the port-towns, and the Australian markets,--all indicate that Dairy-farming is likely to become a considerable branch of agricultural industry.
Fifty-acre lots of bush land are well adapted for small dairy and garden farms. Industrious families landing in New Zealand with a hundred or two, understanding dairy work, and the curing of hams and bacon, and buying fifty acres of the light Bush land, might now realise little fortunes in New Zealand. With ten acres of the most broken parts of the lot, left standing for browsing-ground, and for shade and shelter for the stock; with twenty acres laid down in grass; with ten devoted to the growth of carrots and the best dairy roots and vegetables; and with the remainder devoted to patches of wheat, maize, potatoes, onions, and garden produce, such families might easily milk a
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LIVE FENCES--OSAGE ORANGE.
dozen cows, kill fifty bacon pigs every winter, and send a good deal of fruit, vegetables, poultry, honey, and small produce, to market as well.
"Dairy produce maintains very high rates, and supplies sometimes are not to be had: dairy farms would meet with great success in this place, in the hands of persons well acquainted with the occupation."--Late Auckland Paper.
FENCES.--The commonest fences are the ditch and bank, and the post and rail, costing at the present rates of labour about 10s. a chain. Quick or furze is generally planted inside. Furze is remarkably luxuriant in its growth; and when trimmed and properly attended to, makes an excellent live fence. To please the eye, it may be mixed with the wild-rose, broom, and geranium, all of which attain a great size in New Zealand, and become strong thick shrubs. The best plant, however, for permanent live fences, would I think be one which has not yet been tried in New Zealand; but which would prove a most valuable introduction, the Osage orange. It is said to grow with great rapidity, and to form a permanent hedge far superior to Quick. Messrs. Gibbs, the eminent seedsmen, inform me that it was introduced into the United States some years ago by a Mr. Pitkin of Manchester, Connecticut, who devotes his whole attention to the growth of it, and who carries on a large business in the sale of the seed. They believe that the plant has somewhere been tried in this country, and have promised to make further inquiries. If
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IRON FENCES--BUSH WIRE FENCING.
the emigrant reader, therefore, were to communicate with Messrs. Gibbs (Address, page 347), he would probably be able to ascertain, by-and-bye, whether the seed is procurable in this country. If it be, I would strongly advise him to obtain some, for should the Osage orange be equal to its reputation, nothing would prove more valuable in New Zealand, or indeed more saleable.
Little or no iron fencing has yet been imported; but iron hurdles would, I think, be a valuable introduction. The first cost would be three times greater than that of the common fences; but hurdles are easily shifted from place to place, and would serve as a protection to the young live fences several times, where the common stationary fences would serve such purpose only once. The taking-out of iron fencing however (like the larger agricultural implements) must depend mainly on the agricultural emigrant's purse; but if I were now going to New Zealand with a clear thousand or two to purchase 300 or 500 acres of land for a regular arable and grazing farm, I should be much tempted to expend £100 or £150 in strong iron hurdles. Messrs. Hill and Smith, Brierley Hill, Iron-Works, Dudley; and Messrs. Hernulewicz, Main and Co., Eglinton Iron-Works, Glasgow, are the best and largest manufacturers of all sorts of iron and wire fencing that I have been able to discover; and their prices of iron hurdles vary from 2s. to 2s. 6d. per yard. 6
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FARM ROADS AND HOUSES.
ROADS.--Within a radius of some six to ten miles of the six chief provincial towns, the main roads are tolerably good; but the common agricultural bush-roads of New Zealand are little better than rough cart tracks, thickly studded in wet weather with many a mud pit and "slough of despond;" and generally speaking we might say that the road's tractive power, which would draw two tons in England, would not draw more than one ton in New Zealand. As the local legislatures, however, are bringing into operation a judicious system of highway rates, the common roads will soon be much improved; whilst from the peculiar configuration of New Zealand, the long line of coast, the near interior, the number of harbours and small port-towns, nine-tenths of the farm produce of New Zealand will seldom require a cartage of more than a few miles to convey it to some market of the District.
FARM HOUSES AND BUILDINGS.--Most of the country or farm-houses in New Zealand are substantial wooden buildings, many of them of the one story, verandah-cottage style. In this Land of brick and stone houses, we are apt to picture a "wooden
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NEW ZEALAND HOUSES.
cottage" as a sort of flimsy, make-shift, band-box dwelling. But in such a climate as New Zealand's, these cottages are wind and weather proof; neither hot, cold nor drafty; and neatly painted, backed by a clump of trees and embowered in gardens--their eaves and verandahs covered with jessamine rose peach and vine--they present an air of rustic elegance and sparkling beauty, to which the plastered "bell-and-brass-knocker" deformities of our streets and villages can make no possible pretensions.
A substantial verandah-cottage of this description, 32 feet square, containing two front rooms 14 feet by 18 feet, and two back rooms 14 feet by 14 feet, with a kitchen detached (amply large enough for a family of half a dozen) would now cost about £200. Stone houses are occasionally put up where quarries are handy; but next to wood, cob houses (costing some third less than wood), constructed of tempered layers of clay, are the most common in the rural districts. In clayey localities, or where timber is scarce, as on the Canterbury plains, "cob" answer well: it is a common style of building in Devonshire. Wood, brick or stone houses are generally covered with shingles, (narrow wooden slates)--"cob" are generally thatched.
Raupo cottages are frequently put up as temporary "make-shifts." These are post and pole buildings, (constructed best by the natives,) lined outside and inside and thatched, with the raupo-rush, tied
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with the Phormium tenax. With a rustic verandah, they are snug enough dwellings for three or four years; and cost from £20 to £50.
As yet, farm buildings are very humble erections in New Zealand, and might well make a "Mechi" gasp and marvel. A small barn and granary, a potato house, straw yard, and implement shed, costing some £100, would be made to suffice for a mixed arable and grazing farm of two to three hundred acres.
I may here hint to any estate-creating emigrant reader, that he would find it a capital plan to provide himself with a few common tools, and to put up a little carpenter's shop among his outbuildings.
If this were done, he might lend a hand in the erection or gradual improvement of his house and premises; and on rainy days step into the shop and make door, gate, garden seat, wheelbarrow, rocking-chair for his wife, or capacious cradle for the antipodal baby. I took lessons in carpentry before I went to New Zealand, and, with a few tools, was enabled to make myself master-architect in the building of two cottages, and to execute all farm-carpentry work which offered.
The following tools would enable the emigrant to perform all rough-carpentry jobs; and as it is essential that the quality of tools, like the quality of everything else carried to a colony, should be the best, he would do well to procure them at Fenn's, 105, Newgate Street, London,--a shop famous for colonial tools.
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FREEDOM FROM BLIGHTS, ETC.
2 Saws (a half-rip and a hand).
1 Iron-back saw.
1 Pair match-planes.
4 Screw-augurs (1 in. to 1 3/4).
4 Socket-chisels (ditto).
1 Pair compasses.
2 Screw drivers.
1 Marking gauge.
1 Mortice gauge.
3 Large firmer chisels.
1 Dozen gimblets.
1 Dozen bradawls.
1 Dozen saw-files.
2 Rasps and files.
3 Hammers (assorted).
1 Pair pincers.
1 Pair cutting-pliers.
1 Measuring tape.
1 Twelve-inch square.
1 Oil stone, mounted.
1 Joiner's basket.
1 Bench vice.
BLIGHTS, INSECT AND ANIMAL PESTS.--Rust, mildew, and other diseases, which frequently damage and sometimes destroy the farmer's crop, are unknown in New Zealand; and there is, I think, no country in the world where, the seed once sown, the harvest is so sure and certain. Partial failures of wheat have been experienced; but these have not been caused by any "climatic-blight," but by a long course of the most slovenly farming, aggravated by over-cropping and by a long repetition of the same crop and the same seed.
Such insect pests as the wire-worm, and the insect which is occasionally so destructive to the wheat crop in North America, the turnip fly, and the devouring locust, are all unknown in New Zealand. The only insect which can be called seriously injurious to the farmer, is the barley-caterpillar; but this is very partial in its attacks, and seems to
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PURCHASE OF FARM.
disappear, as lands become well stirred and cropped. The introduction of the rook and the sparrow, however, would, I think, be attended with beneficial results in destroying the larvae of this caterpillar; and in clearing off from the fields and gardens two or three other insects, which, though they do not seriously damage or emperil any crop, would, nevertheless, be better out of the way.
There being no wild animals in New Zealand, farmers never have their fields or gardens ravaged by blundering elephant, or by marauding monkey or raccoon; and none of the birds, with the exception of the little parroquet, which will occasionally pilfer an ear or two of wheat, are in the least destructive to anything sown by man.
Rats (and now mice) are numerous; but with great good taste and discretion they evince a wholesome horror of cat and dog; and confine themselves principally to the bush-banqueting in safety on the innumerable wild roots and berries which the wilderness affords. Rats are found about homesteads; but I never lost a bushel of wheat by them; and they are certainly not so much a "pest of the farm" in New Zealand, as in England.
PURCHASE OR HIRE OF FARM LANDS. -- The estate-creating, emigrant-agriculturist, generally purchases his wild land of one of the Provincial Governments under some of the public regulations described in chap. XVII. But private Proprietors who have foolishly purchased too much land, and
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RENTING AND LEASING.
left themselves with too little money to cultivate it (a very common blunder in New Zealand) are frequent sellers at low prices. Cleared, and partially-improved farms, too, are occasionally in the market for sale; but these are generally too costly for the pocket of the common buyer. Small farms may also be rented occasionally; but in good situations 20s. or 30s. per acre would be asked for them. Wild lands are let on lease; and the following is an arrangement which is sometimes adopted, and which I regard as a very fair one:--Lease twenty-one years; annual rent of first seven years, 5s. an acre,--second seven, 10s. an acre,--last seven, 20s. an acre: with a fixed price purchasing clause--giving the Leaseholder the option of buying the property at any one of three periods, and at any one of three fixed prices, during his occupancy.
PROFITS OF FARMING.--The elements of a rough calculation on this point exist in the following memoranda:-- 7
1. Outgoings for hand labour, say £100 per cent, more than in England.
2. No outgoings for rent, rate, tax, or tithe.
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PROFITS OF THE FARMING.
3. The wild land purchaseable for 10s. to 20s. an acre, and reduceable to "crop state" for £2 to £4 per acre.
4. The fee-simple of the cultivated virgin soil thus purchaseable say for £5 per acre.
5. Such soil capable of yielding thirty to forty bushels of wheat per acre; or of grazing five to six sheep per acre, or other stock in proportion. 8
6. The average cash market prices of the chief productions of the three divisions of the farm assumed as follows:--Wheat, per bushel, 6s.--wool, 1s. 3d. per lb.; beef and mutton, 3d. per lb.--butter, cheese and bacon say 9d. per lb. 9
But the emigrant reader, in roughly estimating the profits of investing £500 to £2000 in New-Zealand agricultural pursuits, must not confine his calculation to the mere annual outgoings and incomings of the farm.
An English farm is a rented manufactory for the wholesale production of food; and when the tenant has paid all the year's "outgoings" (rent, taxes, tithes, labour), and received all the year's "incomings" (crop and stock), the difference between the two, is his annual profit or loss; and the year's calculation is complete.
But in New Zealand, when the annual balance
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PROFITS OF THE ESTATE.
between "outgoings" and "incomings" has been struck, the year's calculation is not complete. There remains a further and a distinct item of profit to be put down on the credit side--namely, the increased value of the young farm.
If, at fair market-price, I buy a little estate in England in 1857, and sell it again in 1860, I may get a little more, or a little less for it than I gave--but, probably, I have not the means of buying this little estate in England, therefore the little I might get, or the little I might lose by it, is, to me, a mere matter of moonshine.
But I can, and I do buy it in New Zealand; and if, in 1857, I buy a hundred acres of wild land near any of the settlements, and convert it into a little farm, I can sell it in 1860 perhaps for double what it has cost me--and I can do this by virtue of, what we may term, a natural law, almost as certain as gravitation:--"golden population" has flowed-in around me, and doubled the value of every acre of cultivated land in the neighbourhood. 10
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To define farming in New Zealand, therefore, as the "profitable production of food," is not a sufficient definition--we must make a great addition to the sentence, and say it is "the profitable production of food," and, the "creation of an estate by means of plough and fleece."
HORTICULTURE.--On this subject it must suffice to say, that without, I think, a single exception, every vegetable, fruit and flower which flourishes in the open air in Great Britain flourishes equally well in New Zealand; whilst some plants, such as the taro, sweet potato, loquat, 11 standard peach, geranium (geranium hedges will grow eight feet high); and various delicate flowers which either would not succeed in England, or which would there require the greenhouse in winter, grow and flourish in the north of New Zealand almost as luxuriantly as if they were indigenous to the soil.
All New Zealand vegetables, growing very quickly, have a most delicate flavour; peas, onions, potatoes, and beans, are, I think, unrivalled in their quality; and I have eaten as fine greengages at Nelson, and almost as fine ribston-pippins, cherries, and peaches in Auckland and New Plymouth, as I
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MESSRS. CHAMBERS' BANANAS.
ever saw among the picked and highly-cultivated fruits of Covent Garden. The grape succeeds moderately well as fruit; but in no part of New Zealand can we find that steady continuance of dry autumnal heat necessary for the vineyard; and we shall never, in New Zealand, pay honours to the god--"who first from out the purple grape crushed the sweet poison of mis-used wine."
Before we leave the garden for the pastures, sympathy demands that we free Messrs. Chambers, and a victim of theirs, from certain horticultural hallucinations into which they have fallen, and which may tend to impair the general veracity of their respective statements "In re New Zealand." The author of a recent work partly on New Zealand, 12 says:--
"Every word in the following interesting account--taken from 'Chambers's Papers for the People'--with reference to the capabilities of the land, &c., in New Zealand, we, from our own personal observation readily indorse. But without such attestation, the respectable source from whence
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the account originates is a sufficient guarantee for the truth thereof."
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Now one passage of this credible account of the Messrs. Chambers runs thus:--
"The Banana and a few other fruits of an oriental character form immense orchards in New Zealand."
There are, I think, three little exotic Banana plants in the horticultural gardens at Auckland, and there may be three more in other corners of the hotter north; but Bananas no more grow in New Zealand than cocoa-nuts or coffee grow in Norfolk. The Banana is a fruit matured only under a fierce tropical sun. Even in the comparative oven of Sydney it does not flourish; and the best Bananas eaten there are grown at Moreton Bay.
The statement that "immense banana orchards are found in New Zealand" might do serious injury to the immigration interests of the colony. The vegetable productions of a country form the popular index to its climate: tell an ordinary Englishman that the mean temperature of New Zealand is 58 deg., and you tell him nothing; but tell him that wheat, potatoes and apples grow there, and that dates, cocoa-nuts and oranges do not, and you at once give him a general and a truthful idea of the climate of the country. If a retired Indian, or an invalid emigrant, whose chief object in emigrating was improvement of health by be-
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taking himself to some cooler, more bracing, climate, were to read and to credit that the tropical Banana was an abundant common fruit in New Zealand, he might well pause ere he went to New Zealand.
I trust, therefore, that I may be permitted to hint both to the "Englishman" and to the Messrs. Chambers, that when they next set forth our New Zealand fruits before the world, they would do well to strike out bananas, for "Banana Orchards" are found in New Zealand, just as orange groves are found in Edinburgh.
Most English flowering plants become larger in New Zealand, blossom more profusely, and lose none of their beauty or fragrance. Alluding to flowers, I may remark that bees bid fair to become a considerable nuisance in New Zealand. A pains-taking, industrious clergyman, who seems to have believed in bees, actually wrote, and then published a book on New Zealand bees; and some enthusiastic honey-eaters have gravely set down honey as a New Zealand export. If bees and honey could be exported together, once for all, the country, I think, would be well quit of both; but in deference to popular opinion and the prejudices of my readers, I must admit that the "bee statistics" of New Zealand border on what Mr. Nott and enthusiastic bee-fanciers would term, prodigious -- one hive is said to have produced, in the course of four years, nearly one ton of honey!
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The insect waxes strong and vigorous on the wild-flax and the garden flowers; and numerous swarms go off, independent, into the bush. Cooper's bee-hunter might have made his fortune in the New-Zealand forests; and lumps of honey-comb in every second baby's fist, tureens of limpid honey, and a diabolical compound, called metheglin, said to have been consumed largely by the Saxons, and which probably accounted for their overthrow at Hastings, are cloying proofs of the power and progress of that insect pest which strangely enough has been fixed on as the type of industry--industry carrying a sting!
Many of the small bush trees, and wild shrubs, and a few wild flowers, such as the laurel-like karaka, two elegant veronicas, the fern and ti trees, the perfumed manouka, the scarlet myrtle and giant fuchsia the red and yellow parrot's bill, the splendid clematis or virgin's bower; and various elegant creepers are occasionally introduced into the shrubberies and gardens with lustrous effect. Indeed, looking at the easy cultivation, the vigorous and certain growth, the size and beauty of all English plants, fruits, flowers and vegetables, and at the profusion and beauty of these forest shrubs, and their adaptability for garden growth, I should conceive that New Zealand would prove a true Garden of Eden to any enthusiastic florist or horticulturist; and can easily conceive that if we could once persuade a Sir Joseph Paxton to go to New Zealand--trees, shrubs and flowers would enchain him there.
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INTRODUCTION OF TREES.
In a country boasting millions of acres of forest, and possessing a hundred varieties of forest trees, it may seem almost a joke to call for more--but in truth, the general introduction of our English trees would be very beneficial. There is no wheelwrights' wood in New Zealand equal to the ash, and no shipwrights' wood equal to the oak--but our English varieties are needed far less for timber, than for shade and shelter, in the open plains. New Zealand trees grow so thick in the green twilight of their dark, dank, forests; and are so lapped up with creepers, protected by brushwood, and coated with grassy parasites, that they seem quite unable to bear up against the light and air of broad day on the breezy plains; and there are not, I think, three varieties which would grow as hedgerow trees. On the plains of the south island, and even in many parts of the wooded north, round the farms and homesteads, belts and clumps of English trees would be a great pastoral and agricultural benefit, and would much increase the beauty of the scenery.
The magnificent Norfolk Island pine, the blue gum of Australia, and various acacias which have been introduced into New Zealand, seem likely to flourish there as well as in their own regions; and all English varieties which have been tried grow vigorously and well. The ash, that supple Venus of the woods, and the elm, appear to delight in the New Zealand soil and climate; and the oak, beech, birch, poplar, weeping-willow, chestnut, larch, Scotch
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and silver fir, and the American white ash (Fraxinus Americana, a better wood than the common ash), would all be most valuable introductions.
Seeds of all, or most, of these varieties may generally be procured in autumn of any of our country friends; if not, they may be procured of Messrs. Gibbs of London, or of any country seedsman at a trifling cost, and I would urge every emigrant to take a few out with him. All seeds, as before observed, should be put up dry in little bags or packets, and then inclosed in some zinc-lined case or cask.