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I ZH^£i.\,h 


My Farm at Edgewood. 

A COUNTEY BOOK. 1 vol.» i2mo, ^1.25. 


BOUSTD TOOETHEB; A Sheaf of Papers. 

DOCrOK JOil^fd. Being a Narrative of Certain Events in the Life of an Orthodox 

Minister oi Connecticut. 
BEVEUIbS OF A BACHELOB; A Book of the Heart. 
SEVEN sroKIESi With Basement and Attic. 
DEE AM LIFE; A Fable ot tlie Seasons. 

My Farm 




A Country Book 



— " it toaa ctil ffrown over with thorns^ and nettUs covered the face 
tJiereof and the atone-wall thereof was broken down. Then I saw and 
considered it well: I looked upon tty and received instruction.^^ 

— PBoy£BBS xxiv. 81. 

New York 




COPTBTOffT, fSeS, fS84- 

By Donald G. MrrcuBLii 






^^ --'=*'. 








A FRIEND asks, — "Are you not tired, then, of 
-^ ^ that fancy of Farming ? Is it not an expensive 
amusement ; is it not a stupefying business ? 

** Do you find your brain taking breadth or color out 
of Carrot-raising, or Pumpkins ? Poultry is a pretty 
thing, between Tumblers, and Muscovy ducks ; but can 
you not buy cheaper than you raise, — without the fret 
of foxes and vermin, — in any city market ? 

** Shall I sell out and join you ? Shall I teach this 
boy of mine (you know his physique and that gray eye 
of his, looking after some eidolon) to love the country — 
so far as to plant himself there, and grow into the trade 
of farming ? A victory over the forces of nature, and of 
the seasons, — compelling them to abundance, — is no 
doubt large ; but is not a victory over the forces of 


mind, which can only come out of sharp contact with 
the world, immensely larger ? " 

In my reply, — loving the country as I do, and wishing 
to set forth its praises ; and believing as I do, in the 
God-appointed duty of working land to its top limit of 
producing power, — I said a great deal that looked like 
a mild Georgic. 

And yet, with a feeling for his poor boy, and a re- 
membrance of what crisp salads I had found in the city 
markets, after mine were all mined and devoured by the 
field-mice, — I wrote a great deal that had the twang of 
Meliboeus in the eclogue. 

-En ipse capellas 


In short, in my reply, I beat about the bush : — so much 
about the bush in fact, that this book came of it. 

Edgewood, 1863. 





Around the House, 45 

My Bees, 51 

Clearing Up, 57 

What to Do with the Farm, . * . 64 

Dairying, 69 

Laborers, 75 

A Sunny Frontage, 93 

Farm Buildings, 97 

The Cattle, 104 


The Hill Land 117 

The Farm Flat, 127 

An Illustration of Soiling, . . .137 

An Old Orchard, 143 

The Pears, 153 

My Garden, 160 

Fine Tilth makes Fine Crops, . 165 


Seeding and Trenching, 

How A Garden should Look, . 

The Lesser Fruits, 


Plums, Apricots, and Peaches,' 
The Poultry, . . . . 
Is IT Profitable? . 
Debit and Credit,* . 
Money-Making Farmers, 
Does Farming Pay? . ' . 


. i68 

. 176 

. 202 


The Argument, 227 

Agricultural Chemistry, . . . 229 

A Gypseous Illustration, . . . . 234 - 
Science and Practice, .... 241 

Lack of Precision 248 

Knowing too Much, 252 

Opportunity for Culture 256 

Isolation of Farmers, .... 261 

Dickering, 268 

The Bright Side, 275 

Business Tact, 282 

Place for Science, 286 

-Esthetics of the Business, . . .291 

Walks, 296 

Shrubbery, . . . . . . .301 

Rural Decoration, 307 

Flowers, 314 

L'Envoi, 325 



TT was in June, 18 — ^ that, weary of a somewhat 
"^ long and vagabond homelessness, during which 
I had tossed some half a dozen times across the 
Atlantic, — partly from health-seeking, in part out of 
pure vagrancy, and partly (me tcedet methinisse) upon 
official errand — I determined to seek the quiet of a 

There were tender memories of old farm days in 
my mind ; and these were kindled to a fresh exu- 
berance and lustiness by the recent hospitalities of 
a green English home, with its banks of Laurestina, 
its broad-leaved Ehododendrons, and its careless 
wealth of primroses. Of course the decision was 
for the country ; and I had no sooner scented the 
land, after the always dismal sail across the fog 
banks of Georges' shoal, than I drew up an adver- 
tisement for the morning papers, running, so nearly 
as I can recall it, thus : — 


" Wanted — A Pann, of not less than one hundred 
acres, and within three hours of the city. It must 
have a running stream, a southern or eastern slope, 
not less than twenty acres in wood, and a water 

To this skeleton shape, it was easy, with only a 
moderately active fancy, to supply the details of a 
charming country home. Indeed, no kind of farm- 
work is more engaging, as I am led to believe, than 
the imaginative labor of filling out a pleasant rural 
picture, where the meadows are all lush with ver- 
dure, the brooks murmuring with a contented bab- 
ble, cattle lazily grouped, that need no care, and 
flowers opening that know no culture. This kind 
of farm work is not, to be sure, very profitable ; and 
yet, as compared with a great deal of the gentleman- 
farming which I have had occasion to observe, I 
should not regard it as extravagant. Perhaps it 
would not be rash to put down here some of the 
pictures which I conjured out of the advertisement. 

At times, it seemed to me that an answer might 
come from some Arcadia lying upon the cove banks 
of an inland river : the cove so land-boimd as to 
seem like a bit of Loch Lomond, into which the 
north shores sunk with an easy slope, whose green 
turf reached to the margin, and was spotted here 


and there with old Mid mossy orcharding ; the west 
shore rose in a stiff bluff that was packed close with 
hemlocks and maples ; while beyond the bluff a rat- 
tling stream came down over mill dykes and through 
swift sluices, and sent its whirling bubbles far out 
into the bosom of the little bay. West of the bluff 
lay the level farm lands ; and northward of the 
green slope which formed the northern shore, it 
seemed to me that wooded hills would rise steep 
and ragged, with such wildness in them as would 
make admirable setting for the sloping grass land 
below, and the Sunday quiet of the cove. It seemed 
to me that possibly there might be an oyster bed 
planted along the shore, which would help out the 
salads that should be planted above ; and, possibly, 
a miniature dock might be thrust out into the 
water, at which some little pinnace might float, with 
a gay pennant at her truck. 

Possibly it does ; possibly there is such a place ; 
but for me it was only a picture. 

Again, it seemed to me that the farm house would 
nestle in some little glen upon the banks of a river, 
where every day crowded boats passed, surging up 
against the current, or gliding down with a meteor- 
like swiftness 

In this case, the slopes were many : a slope east- 
ward from the house-door to the banks of a little 


brook that came sauntering leisurely out from the 
wood, at the bottom of the glen ; a slope from the 
house up to the hills piling westward ; slopes on 
either margin of the glen ; and above them, upon 
higher ground, pasture lands dotted with stately 
trees ; while a fat meadow seemed to lie by the river 
bank, where the little brook came sauntering in. 
There, and thereabout, whisking their sides, stood 
the cattle, as in a Flemish picture — as true, as still, 
and just as real. There may be such cattle whisk- 
ing their tails, but they are none of mine. 

Then, — it seemed the home should be upon an 
island, looking down and off to the sea, where ships 
shortened sail, and bore up for the channel buoys, 
which lay bobbing on the water. There, the farm 
land ended in a pebbly beach, on which should lie a 
great drift of sea-weed after every southeaster. The 
wood was a stately grove of oaks, taking the brunt 
of the northwesters that roared around the house in 
autumn, and making grateful lee for the pigeons 
that dashed in and about the gables of the bam. 
The brook seemed here a mere creek, which at high 
water should be flooded even with the banks of sedge; 
and when the tide was out, showing half a dozen 
gushing springs which plied their work jauntily till 
the ebb came, and then, after coquetting and toying 
with their lover, the sea — were lost in his embrace. 


Only a fancy I If there be such a lookout 

from farm windows, the ships come and go without 
my knowledge ; and the springs gush, and die in 
the flow of the tide, unknown to me. 

Again, it seemed that answer would come from 
some remote valley side, away from the great high- 
ways of travel, where neither sail nor steamer ob- 
truded on the eye ; — where indeed a sight of the sea 
only came to one who climbed the tallest .of the hills 
which sheltered the valley. Half down the hills an 
old farm house, with mossy porch, seemed to rest 
upon a shelf of the land. A cackling, self-satisfled, 
eager brood of fowls were in a party-colored doud 
about the big bam doors ; a burly mastiff loitered in 
the sun by the house-steps ; mild-eyed cows were 
feeding beyond the pasture gate ; a brook that was 
half a river, came sweeping down the meadows in 
full sight — curving and turning upon itself, and 
fretting over bits of stony bottom, and loitering in 
deep places under alluvial banks, where I knew trout 
must lie — then losing itself, upon the rim of the 
farm, in tangled swamp lands, where, in autumn, I 
knew, if the farm should be mine, I could see the 
maples all turned into feathery plumes of crimson. 
But I did not ; plumes of crimson I see indeed each 
autumn, but they are at my door ; and a great reach 
of water — on which ships tack, and tack {tgain — 


comes streaming to my eye as I sit quietly in my 

It was not from mere caprice that my advertise- 
ment had been worded as it was. For the mere es- 
tablishment of a country home, one hundred acres 
might seem an unnecessarily large number, as in- 
deed it is. But I must confess to having felt an 
anxiety to test the question, as to whether a country 
liver was really made the poorer by all the acres he 
possessed beyond the one or two immediately about 
his homestead. Indeed I may say that I felt a some- 
what enthusiastic curiosity to know, and to deter- 
mine by actual experiment^ if farm lands were 
simply a cost and an annoyance to any one who 
would not wholly forswear books, enter the mud 
trenches valorously, and take the pig by the ears^ 
with his own hands. 

A half dozen acres, which a man looks after in the 
intervals of other business, and sets thick with his 
fancies, in the shape of orchard houses, or dwarf 
pear trees, or glazed graperies, offer no solution. All 
this is, in most instances, only the expression of an 
individualism of taste, entered upon with no thought 
of those economies which Xenophon has illustrated 
in his treatise, and worse than useless as a guide to 
any one who would make a profession of agricultu- 


With fifty or a hundred acres, however, steaming 
under the plough, and with crops opening succes- 
sively into waving fields of green — into feathery 
blossom, — into full maturity ; too large for waste ; 
too considerable for home consumption ; enough, in 
short, to be brought to that last test of profit — a 
market, and a price ; then the culture and its costs 
have a plain story to tell. The basis will not be 
wanting for an intelligent decision of the question 
— whether a man is richer in the cultivation of a 
hundred acres, or of ten ; whether, in short, farm- 
ing is a mere gross employment, remunerative, like 
other manual trades, to those immediately con- 
cerned ; or whether it is a pursuit subject to the 
rules of an intelligent direction, and will pay the 
cost of such direction, without everyday occupancy 
of the field. 

My advertisement named three hours' distance 
from the city, as one not to be exceeded. Three 
hours in our time means eighty miles ; beyond that 
distance from a great city, one may be out of the ed- 
dies of its influence ; within it, if upon the line of 
some important railway, he is fairly in a suburb. 
Three hours to come, and three to go, if the necessity 
arise, leave four hours of the pith of the day, and of 
its best sunshine, for the usurers of the town. 
Double four hours of distance, and you have a jour- 

lo AfV FARM. 

ney that is exhausting and fatiguing ; double two 
hours, or less, and you have an ease of transit that 
leads into temptation. If a man then honestly de- 
termines to be a country liver, I hardly know a hap- 
pier mean of distance than three hours from the city. 
If, indeed, he enters upon that ambiguous mode of 
life which is neither city nor country, which knows 
of gardens only in the night time, and takes all its 
sunshine from the pavements, which flits between 
the two without tasting the full zest of either — of 
course, for this mode of life, three hours is too great 
a distance. The man who is content to live in 
grooves on which he is shot back and forth year after 
year — the merest shuttle of a commuter — will natu- 
rally be anxious to make the grooves short, and the 
commutation small. 

I bespoke in my advertisement no less than twenty 
acres of woodland. The days of wood fires are not 
utterly gone ; as long as I live, they never will be 
gone. Coal indeed may have its uses in the furnace 
which takes oflf the sharp Qdige of winter from the 
whole interior of the house, and keeps up a night 
and day struggle with Boreas for the mastery. Coal 
may belong in the kitchens of winter ; I do not say 
nay to this : but I do say that a country home with- 
out some one open chinmey, around which in time 
of winter twilight, when snows are beating against 


the panes, the family may gather, and watch the fire 
flashing and crackling and flaming and waving, until 
the girls clap their hands, and the boys shout, in a 
kind of exultant thankfulness, is not worthy the 

And if such a flery thanksgiving is to crackle out 
its praises — why not from a man's own ground? 
There is no farmer but feels a commendable pride 
in feeding his own grain, in luxuriating upon his 
own poultry, in consuming his own hay — why not 
bum wood of his own growing ? It is not an extrav- 
agant crop. Thirty years on rocky, wild land, else 
unserviceable, will mature a good fire-crop ; and if 
there be chestnut growth, will ensure sufficient size 
for farm repairs and fencing material. A half acre 
of average growth will supply at least one roaring 
winter's fire, beside the chestnut for farm purposes. 
And thus with twenty acres of wood, cut over each 
year, half acre by half acre, I have forty years for 
harvesting my crop ; and then, the point where I 
entered upon my wood field is more than ready for 
the axe again. Indeed, considering that thirty years 
are ample for the growth of good-sized fire wood, I 
have a margin of ten years' extra growth, which may 
go to pin money ; or may be credited to some few 
favorite timber trees that stand upon the edge of the 
pasture, and pay rental in the picture they give of 

12 MY FARM. 

patriarchal grace — to say nothing of an annual har^ 
vest of chestnuts. 

Woodland, again, gives dignity to a country place ; 
it shows a crop that wants a man's age to ripen it ; a 
company of hoary elders — conservatives, if you will 
— to preside amid the lesser harvests, and to parry 
the rage of tempests. Mosses plant their white 
blight, as gray hairs come to a man ; but the core is 
sound, and the life sap swift, and in it are the juices 
of a thousand leave& 

A wood, too, for a contemplative mind is always 
suggestive. I^s aisles swarm with memories ; the 
sighing of the boughs in the wind brings a tender 
murmur from the farthest days of childhood, when 
leaves rustled all the long summer at the nurse's 
window. Bird-nesting boyhood comes again to sit 
astride the limbs — to hunt for slippery elm, or the 
fragrant leaves of young wintergreen, or the aro- 
matic roots of sassafras. 

This scarred bole, so straight and true, reminds 
of still larger ones in the forest of Fontainebleau ; 
the chestnuts recall the broad-leaved ones of the 
Apennines ; the hemlocks bring to memory the kin- 
dred 8apin of the Juras, under whose shade I sat 
upon an August day, years ago, panting with the 
heat, and looking off upon the yellow plains which 
stretch beyond the old French town of Poligny, and 


upon the shadows of clouds, that flitted over the 
far and " golden-sided " Burgundy. 

Next, the coveted place was to have its quota of 
running water. It would be a very absurd thing to 
go far to find reasons for the love of a brook. There 
are practical ones of which every farmer knows the 
force ; and of which every farmer's boy, who has 
ever driven a cow to water, or wet a line in the 
eddies, could be exponent. 

And in the romantic aspect of the matter, I believe 
there is nothing in nature which so enlaces one's 
love for the country, and binds it with willing fet- 
ters, as the silver meshes of a brook. Not for its 
beauty only, but for its changes ; it is the warbler ; 
it is the silent muser ; it is the loiterer ; it is the 
noisy brawler, and like all brawlers beats itself into 
angry foam, and turns in the eddies demurely pen- 
itent, and runs away to sulk under the bush. A 
brook, too, piques terribly a man's audacity, if he 
have any eye for landscape gardening. It seems so 
manageable, in all its wildness. Here in the glen a 
bit of dam will give a white gush of waterfall, and a 
pouring sluice to some overshot wheel ; and the 
wheel shall have its connecting shaft and whirl of 
labors. Of course there shall be a little scape-way 
for the trout to pass up and down ; a rustic bridge 
shall spring across somewhere below, and the stream 

14 MV FARM. 

shall be coaxed into loitering where you will — under 
the roots of a beech that leans over the water — into 
a broad pool of the pasture close, where the cattle 
may cool themselves in August In short, it is easy 
to see how a brook may be held in leash, and made 
to play the wanton for you, summer after summer. 
I do not forget that poor Shenstone ruined himself 
by his coquetries with the trees and brooks at Lea- 
Bowes. I commend the story of the bankrupt poet 
to those who are about laying out country places. 

Meantime our eye shall run where the brooks are 
running — to the sea. It must be admitted that a 
sea view gives the final and the kingly grace to a 
country home. A lake view and a river view are 
well in their way, but the hills hem them ; the great 
reach which is a type, and, as it were, a vision of the 
future, does not belong to them. There is none of 
that joyous strain to the eye in looking on them 
which a sea view provokes. The ocean seems to 
absorb all narrowness, and tides it away, and dashes 
it into yeasty multiple of its own illimitable width. 
A man may be small by birth, but he cannot grow 
smaller with the sea always in his eye. 

It is a bond with other worlds and people: the 
sail you watch has come fronj Biscay ; yesterday it 
was white for the eye of a Biscayan ; your sympa- 
thies touch by the glitter of a saiL 


The raft of smoke drifting from some steamer in 
the offing is as humanizing, though it be ten miles 
away, as the rattle of your neighbor's wagon by the 

You live near a highroad to take off the edge 
from loneliness and isolation ; but a travelled sea, 
where all day long white specks come and go, is the 
highway of the world ; and though you do not see 
these neighbors* faces, or catch their words, the 
drifted vapor, and the sheen of the sails, and the 
streaming pennants yield a sense of nearness and 
companionship that gives rein and verge to a man's 

Then, physically, — what reach I Heaven and 
earth touch their great circles in your eye ; the touch 
that bounds human vision wherever you may go. No 
height can lift you to a grander touch, or alter one 
iota its magnificent proportions. With a land hori- 
zon, it may be an occasional hill that conceals the 
outmost bound, — a temple or a tree ; it is various 
and uncertain ; even upon the prairie a harvest of 
flowers may fringe it with an edge that the autumn 
fires consume, or which a trampling herd may beat 
down ; but where sea touches sky, there, forever, is 
the line immutable, which runs between our home 
and the spacious heaven, that buoys, and bears us. 
And thence, with every noontide, the sun pours a 

l6 MY FARM. 

fiery profusion of gold up to your feet ; and there, 
every full moon paves a broad path with silver. 

So, with each of the features I have claimed, come 
kingly pictures ; — not least of all to the gentle slope 
south or eastward, which should catch the first 
beams of the morning, and the first warmth of every 
recurring spring. 

In a mere economic point of view, such slope is 
commended in every northern latitude by the best 
of agricultural reasons. In all temperate zones two 
hours of morning are worth three of the afternoon. 
I do not know an old author upon husbandry who 
does not affirm my choice, vdth respect to all tem- 
perate regions. If this be true of European coun- 
tries, it must be doubly true of America, where the 
most trying winds for fruits, or for frail tempers, 
drive from the northwest 

And with the slope, as with the wood and with 
the sea, come visions ; — visions of sloping shores of 
bays, into whose waters the land dips with every 
recurring tide ; and where, as the gentlest of tides 
fall (so upon the Adriatic coast), an empurpled line 
of fine sea mosses lies crimped upon white sand, and 
pearly shells glitter in the sun. Or — of lake shores, 
gentle as Idyls (so of Windermere), with grassy 
slopes so near and neighborly to the water, that the 
mower, as he dips the last sentinels in green, sweeps 


Ills iDlade with a bubbling swirl of sound, quite into 
the margin of the lake. 

Southern slopes, again, suggest luscious ripeness. 
The first figs I ever gathered, were gathered on such 
a slope in a dreamy atmosphere of Southern France, 
Tvith the blue of the Mediterranean in reach of the 
eye, and the sweetest roses of Provence lending a 
balmy fragrance to the air. 

Sheltered slopes recall too, always, what is most 
captivating in rural life. You never see them or look 
for them even, in Dutch-land — in Poland, never; 
in Prussia, or on the highways of travel in France, 
never. And few rural poems, or pictures that haunt 
the memory, were ever rhymed or sketched in those 
regiona Theocritus lived where lie the sweetest of 
valleys ; Tibullus and Horace both knew the purple 
shadows that lay in the clefts of the Latian hills. 
DelUle chased his rural phantoms beyond the Bur- 
gundian mountains, before they had taken their best 

But in the English Isle — by Abergavenny, by 
Merthyr, under the Tors of Derbyshire, in the lea of 
the Dartmoor hills, — abreast of Snowdon — what 
sheltered greenness and bloom I What nestling 
homesteads ! 

I must not forget to give a sequence to my story. 


i8 MV FARM. 

I had entered my advertisement. Was it possible 
that any one in the possession of such a place as I 
had roughly indicated, would be willing to sell ? 

For twenty-four hours I was in a state of doubt ; 
after that time, I may say the doubt was removed. 
I must frankly confess that I was astounded to find 
what a number of persons, counting not by tens, but 
by fifties, and even hundreds, were anxious to dis- 
pose of a " situation in the country " which fully 
corresponded to my wishes (as advertised). 

Were the people mad, that they showed such 
eagerness to divest themselves of charming places ? 
Or were my fine pictures possibly overdrawn. And 
yet, who could gainsay them ; are not trees, trees — 
and brooks, brooks — and the sea, always itself? 

I think my New York friend, to whom I had or- 
dered all repKes to be addressed, may have handed 
me a peck of letters ; — blue letters, square letters, 
triangular letters, pink letters (in female hand), and 
soberly brown letters. 

Not a few of the propositions contained in these 
letters were, at first sight, phdnly inadmissible ; as 
where a sanguine gentleman suggested that I should 
make a slight change of programme, so far as to 
plant myself on the shores of the Great Lakes, or in 
a pretty retiracy, among the fine forests along the 
Erie Bailroad. 


Another, '' in case I found nothing to suit else- 
where," could recommend "a small place of ten 
acres, in a thriving country town, two minutes' walk 
from the post-office, house forty by thirty-five, and 
ten feet between joints, stages passing the door three 
times a day, large apple trees in the yard newly 
grafted, and the good will of a small grocery, upon 
the comer, to be sold, if desired, with the goodSy and 

Inadmissible, of coiirse ; and the letter passed over 
into the hat of my friend. Another letter, from a 
widow lady, invited attention to the admired place 
of her late husband : he had '* an unusual taste for 
country life, and had expended large sums in beauti- 
fying the farm; marble mantels throughout the 
house, Gothic porticos, and some statuary about the 
grounds. There was a gardener's cottage, and a 
farmer's house, as well as another small tenement 
for an under-gardener, and twenty acres of land of 
which six: in shrubbery and lawns." The architec- 
ture seemed to me rather disproportionate to the 
land ; inadmissible upon the whole, as a desirable 
place on which to test the economies of a quiet 

I can conceive of nothing so shocking to a hearty 
lover of the country, as to live in the glare of another 
man's architectural taste. In the city or the town 

20 MV FARM. 

there are conventional laws of building, established 
by custom, and by limitations of space, to which all 
must in a large measure conform ; but with the 
width of broad acres around one, I should chafe as 
much at living in the pretentious house of another 
man's ordering and building, as I should chafe at 
living in another man's coat. Coimtry architecture, 
whose simplicity or rudeness is so far subordinated 
to the main features of the landscape as not to pro- 
\ / voke special mention, may be of any man's building ; 
but wherever the house becomes the salient feature 
of the place, and challenges criticism by an engross- 
ing importance as compared with its rural surround- 
ings, then it must be in agreement with the tastes 
and character of the occupant, or it is a pretentious 

Perhaps I ought to beg the reader's pardon for 
this interpolation here, of a law of adjustment in re- 
spect to the country and coimtry houses, which 
would have more perfect place in what I may have 
to say upon the general subject of rural architecture. 

At present I return to my stock of pleasant advi- 
sory letters : 

A tasteful gentleman, of active habits, calls my 
attention to a park of which he is the projector, and 
within which several desirable places, with admirable 
views, remain unsold ; while land in the neighbor- 


hood might be secured at a reasonable yaluation, for 
such farm experiments as I might be tempted to 
enter upon. Attention is particularly called to the 
social advantages of such a neighborhood, where 
none but gentlemen of character would be permitted 
to purchase, and where the refinements of city inter- 
course would be, &a, &c. 

Now it so happens that I never heard of a park 
upon this mutual method, where there did not arise 
within a few years a smart quarrel between two or 
more of the refined occupants. The cows, or the 
goats, or the adjustment of water privileges, are sure 
to form the bases of noisy differences, in the man- 
agement of which, I am sorry to say, the amenities 
of the town are not greatly superior to the amenities 
of the country. Aside from this danger, I have not 
much faith in the marketable coherence of those 
rural tastes which would belong to a promiscuous 
circle of buyers. A community of cooks, or of coal- 
heavers, I can conceive of, but a c6mmunity of rural- 
ists, or of amateur farmers, quite passes my compre- 
hension. I say amateur farming, for I know of no 
farming which is so amatory in the beginning, and 
so damnatory in the end, as that which delights in 
a suburban house, and in a sufficient quantity of 
ground a few miles away, where, under the wary 
eye of some sagacious Dutchman or Irishman, the 

22 MV FARM. 

cows are to be fed, the weeds pulled, the chickens 
plucked, and the new industry and profit developed 
generally. It is very much as if a man were to enter 
upon the business of whaling by taking rooms at the 
Pequod House, and negotiating with some enter- 
prising skipper to tow a few tame whales into har- 
bor, to be slashed up, and tried, and put into clean 
casks, on some mild afternoon of June. 

In the latter case, we should probably have the 
oil and the bone ; and in the other, we should per- 
haps have the butter and the eggs ; in both, we cer- 
tainly should have the bills to pay. 

If a man would enter upon country life in earnest, 
and test thoroughly its aptitudes and royalties, he 
must not toy with it at a town distance ; he must 
brush the dews away with his own feet. He must 
bring the front of his head to the business, and not 
the back side of it ; or, as Cato put the same matter 
to the Romans, near two thousand years ago, Frons 
occipitio prior est. 

But while I was thus compelled to discard certain 
propositions at their first suggestion, there were 
others which wore such a roseate hue as challenged 
scrutiny and compelled a visit. Thus, a very straight- 
forward and business-like letter from a Wall-street 
agent informed me that his esteemed client, Mr. Van 
Heine, "was willing to dispose of a considerable 


country property thirty miles from the city, in a 
favorable location. The house was not large or ex- 
pensive, possibly not extensive enough ; there was 
old wood upon the place, the surface charmingly 
diversified, and in addition to other requisites, it 
possessed a mill site, mill, and small body of water, 
which, in the hands of taste, he had no doubt," &c, &c. 

The agent regretted that he could give me no 
definite information in regard to the exact size of 
the property, or terms of sale, but begged me to 
pay a visit to the place before deciding. 

The description, though not particularly definite, 
was yet sufficiently piquant and suggestive to induce 
me to comply with the hint of the agent. I liked 
the man's nomenclature — '* a donsiderable country 
property ; " it conveyed an impression of dignified 
quiet and retirement The dwelling was probably a 
modest farmhouse, grown mossy under the shade of 
the old wood ; possibly some Dutch a&ir of stone, 
with Van Heine gables, which it would be hardly 
decorous to pull down. I might add a little to its 
size, and so make it habitable ; or, if well placed, it 
might — who knew — be turned into a cottage for 
the miller. There remained, after all this agreeable 
coloring, the small body of water and the diversified 
surface, which were enough in themselves to form 
the outlines of a very captivating picture. 

24 MY FARM. 

I determined to pay Mr. Van Heine a visit Ob- 
taining all needed information from bis agent, in re- 
gard to tbe locality and its approacbes from tbe 
city, I set off upon a cbarming morning of Jime by 
one of tbe nortbem railways, and after an bour's 
ride, was put down at a station some five miles dis- 
tant from tbe property. I drove across tbe country 
at a leisurely pace, stopping bere and tbere upon a 
billtop to admire tbe far-off views, and speculating 
upon possible improvements tbat migbt be made in 
tbe badly conditioned road. The neigbborbood was 
not populous : indeed, it was only after baving meas- 
ured, as I fancied, tbe fiftb mile, tbat I for tbe first 
time saw a party from wbom I migbt ask special 
directions. I may describe tbis party as a tall man 
in red beard and red fur cap, witb a black-stemmed 
porcelain pipe in bis moutb, and trowsers tbrust into 
stout cowbide boots. He was striding forward in tbe 
same direction witb me, and at nearly an equal pace. 

" Did be possibly know of a Mr. Van Heine in 
this region?" 

" Yah — yah," and tbe man, who may have been an 
emigrant of only four or five years of American na- 
tionality, pointed toward himself with a pleased and 
grim complacency. 

" This was Mr. Van Heine, then, who baa a coun- 
try property to sell V " 


''Yah — yah/' and his smile has now grown eager 
and familiar. 

His place is a little farther on ; and I ask him to a 
seat beside me. 

'' It is a fetrm he has to sell ? " 

"Yah — yah, farm." 

I ask if the view is good. 

" Yah — good — yah." 

I venture a question in regard to the mill. 

"Yah — mill— yah." 

"Grist miU?" I ask. 

"Yah — mill." 

'' For sawing ? " I add^ thinking possibly he might 
misunderstand me. 

"Yah — sawing.' 

I venture to inquire after his crop& 

"Crops — yah." 

The conversation was not satisfactory : we were 
driving along a dusty highway, and had entered 
upon a sombre valley, where there was no sign of 
cultivation, and where the only dwelling to be seen, 
was one of those excessively new houses of matched 
boards, perched immediately upon the side of the 
high-road, and with its pert and rectangular "join- 
ery" offending every rural sentiment that might 
have grown out of the blithe atmosphere and the 
morning drive. 

26 MV FARM. 

"Dish is de place," said my friend of the red 
beard and porcelain pipe ; and I could not doubt it ; 
there w&b a poetic agreement between man and 
house ; but the mill remained — where was the mill ? 

Van Heine was only too happy : across the way — 
only at a distance of a few rods, not removed from 
the dust of the high-road, was the mill, and the 
"body of water." The new scars in the hillsides, 
from which the earth had been taken to dam the 
brook, were odiously apparent : but the investment 
had clearly not proven a profitable one : the capacity 
of the brook had been measured at its winter stage ; 
even now, the millpond at its upper end showed a 
broad, slimy flat, which was alive with frogs and 
mudpouts. A few scattered clumps of dead and 
seared alders broke the level, and a dozen or more 
of tall and limbless trees that had been drowned by 
the new lake, rose stragglingly from the water — 
making, with the dead bushes, and the loneliness of 
the place, a skeleton and ghostly assemblage. 

Mr. Van Heine had newly filled his pipe, and was 
puffing amiably, as I stood looking at the property, 
and at the sandy hills which rolled up from the fur- 
ther side of the pond, tufted with here and there a 
spreading juniper. The whole aspect of the prop- 
erly was so curiously and amazingly repugnant to 
all the rural fancies I had ever entertained, whether 


sesthetic, or purely agricultural, that I was ex- 
cessively interested. My red-bearded entertainer 
clearly saw as much, and with violent and persuasive 
puffs at his porcelain pipe, and occasional iterative 
" dams " in his talk (which had very likely sprung of 
unpleasant familiarity with the dam actual) he be- 
came explosively demonstrative and earnest. 

I hinted at the shortness of the water ; there was 
no denial on his part ; on the contrary, frank avowaL 

" Yah — dam — short," said he ; " dat ish — 
enough for der farm — yah ; but for der mill — dam 
— nichts " (puff). 

I spoke in an apologetic way of the advertisement, 
and of certain requisites insisted upon ; he had per- 
haps seen it ? 

" Advertisement — yah (puff) — yah.** 

I hinted at the slope. 

"Yah— der slope." 

" The slope to the south ? '* 

" Oh yah — south (puff) — yah." 

I explained by a little interpolation of his own 

"Dam — yah — dish ish it ; der is de pond ; dish 
is south ; dat ish der slope — to der pond — dam — 
yah." ' 

" And the lands opposite ? " 

" Oh, dat ish not mine ; der mill, der house, der 

28 MY FARM. 

pond, der land, vat you call der slope — dis ish 

I suggested the mention of a water view in the 

"View," said my red-bearded friend; "vat you 
call view?" 

I explained as I could, teutonically. 

" Dam ! der vater view ! (with emphasis) ; dish is 
it ; der pond, ish it no vater ? — hein ! — dam (pufF)." 

Even now I look back with a good deal of self- 
applause upon my success in extricating myself from 
the merciless and magnetic earnestness of the red- 
bearded Mr. Van Heine ; I think of my escape from 
the dusty high-road, the angular joinery of the 
house, the bloated hills, blotched with junipers, the 
straggling trunks of the drowned trees, and the im- 
perturbable insistance of the German, with his ex- 
pletive dam and his black-stemmed porcelain pipe 
as I think of escapes from some threatening pesti- 

Another country place was brought to my atten- 
tion, under circumstances that forbade any doubt of 
its positive attractions There was wood in abim- 
dance, dotted here and there with a profuse and 
careless luxuriance ; there were rounded banks of 
hiUsy cmd meadows through which an ample stream 


came flowing with a queenly sweep, and with a sheen 
that caught every noontide, and repeated it in a 
glorious blazon of gold. It skirted the hills, it 
skirted the wood, and came with a gushing fulness 
upon the very margin of the quiet little house-yard 
that compassed the dwelling. And from the door, 
underneath cherry trees, one could catch glimpses 
of the great stretch of the Hudson into which the 
brook passed ; and the farther shores were so dis- 
tant, that the Hudson looked like a bay of the sea. 
A gaunt American who was in charge of the prem- 
ises did the honors of the place, and in the intervals 
of expressing the juices from a huge quid of tobacco 
that lay in his cheek, he enlarged upon the qualities 
of the soiL 

To him the view or situation was nothing, but the 
capacity for com or rye was the main "p'int." 

" Ef yer want a farm. Mister, yer want sile ; now 
this 'ere (turning up a turf with a back thrust of his 
heel) is what I call sile ; none o' yer dum leachy 
stuff ; you put manure into this 'ere, and it stays 

" Grows good crops, then," I threw in, by way of 

"I guess it dooz, Mister. Com, potatoes, garden 
sass — why, only look at this 'ere turf ; see them clo- 
vers, and this blue grass. Ef you was a farmer — 

30 MY FARM. 

doan't know but you be, but doan'i look jist like cmts 
— you'd know that 'tain't every farm can scare up 
such a turf as that." 

"Very true/* I remark ; while my lank friend ad- 
justs his quid for a new bit of comment. 

"Now here's Simmons on the lull — smart man 
enough, but doan't know nothing 'bout farmin' — 
them lulls he's bought doan't bear nothin' but 
pennyrial ; ten acres on't wouldn't keep a good cos- 
set sheep." And my friend expectorates with a good 
deal of emphasi& 

I suggested that many came into the country for 
good views and a fine situation. 

" I know it, sir," said my lank friend ; " this 's a 
free country, and a man can do as he likes, leastwise 
we used to think so ; but as for me, give me a good 
black sile 'bout seven inches thick, and good turf top 
on't^ and a good smart team, and I take out my 
views, along in the fall o' the year, in the com crib. 
Them's my sentiments." 

I think I won upon my tall friend by expressing 
my approval of so sound opinions ; and in the course 
of talk, we found ourselves again upon the dainty 
lawn by the doorstep, near to which the brook 
surged along, brimful and deep, to the river. Over- 
deep, indeed, it seemed, for so near neighborhood to 
the house. An expression of mine to this efiEect was 


amply confirmed by the tall farmer. Only a year or 
BO gone, a little child had tumbled in, and was 

And this was perhaps the reason why the family 
left so attractive a place, I suggested. 

"Oh Lord, no, sir ; 'twas a pesky little thing, be- 
longed down to the landin*. Fever-'nager 's what 
driv the folks off, in my 'pinion." 

" Ah, they do have the fever about here, then?" 

" Gosh — Smithers here — p'raps you doan't know 
Smithers — no ; waal, he's got it, got it bad ; that's 
so ; and what's wus, his chil'en s'got it, and his 
wife s'had it ; and my wife here, a spell ago, what 
does she do, but up and takes it, s'had s'enny on 
*em ; 'ts a dum curi's keind o' thing. You doan't 
know nothin' when 'ts comin' ; and you doan't know 
no more when 'ts goin' ; and arter 'ts dun, 'tain't no 
small shakes of a thing ; a feller keeps keinder ailin'." 

Upon a sudden the place took on a new aspect 
for me ; its cool shade seemed the murky parent of 
miasma ; the wind sighed through the leaves with a 
sickly sound, and the brook, that gave out a little 
while before a roistering cheerfulness in its dash, 
now surged along with only a quick succession of 
sullen plashes. 

I must recur to one other disappointment in re- 

32 MV FARM. 

spect of a couniary place, which possessed every one 
of the features I had desired in unmistakable type ; 
and yet all these so curiously distraught that they 
possessed no harmony or charm. I ought perhaps to 
except the sea view, which was wide to a fault, and 
so near that on turbulent days of storm, it must have 
created the illusion that you were fairly afloat. 

A sight of the sea, to temper a fair landscape, and 
lend it ravishing reach to a far-off line of glistening 
horizon, is a very different thing from that bold, 
broadside, every-day nearness, which outroars all the 
pleasant land sounds, making your country quietude 
a mere fiction, and the broad presence of ocean the 
engrossing reality. So it was with the place of which 
I speak ; beside this, the slope was slight and gradual 
— only one billowy lift — as if the land had some 
time caught the undulations of the sea after some 
heavy ground swell, and kept the uplift after the sea 
had settled to its fair-weather proportions. The 
brook was of an unnoticeable flow, that idled from a 
neighbor's grounds ; and the wood, such as it was, 
only a spur of silver poplars that had stolen through 
from the same neighbor's territory, and had shot up 
into a white and tangled wildnemess. 

The occupant and owner of the place — of may be 
seventy acres — was one of those wiry, energetic, 
restless young men of New England stock, thrifty, 


shrewd, spuming all courtesies, bound to push on in 
hf e ; a type of that nervous unrest by which God has 
peopled the West and Cahfomia, Never gaining, 
but always despising, the calm that comes of satisfied 
endeavor, whether in the establishment of a home, or 
the accumulation of money, these fast ones are very 
confident in their ability vdthal, and in their judg- 
ment ; making light of difficulties, full of contempt 
for all knowledge which has not shown practical and 
palpable conquesta The owner had planted his 
farm to vegetables — not an 'acre of it but bristled 
with some marketable crop ; nearness to the city had 
warranted it, and "there was money in the businesa" 
To talk vdth such a man about comparative views, or 
situations, would have been to talk French vdth him. 
An unknown advertiser had demanded the very fea- 
tures embraced in his farm ; there they were — the 
sea, the brook, the wood, and slope. If I vdshed 
them enough to pay his price, I could have them. He 
felt quite sure that I should find nothing that came 
nearer the mark, and he argued the matter with a 
strenuous, earnest vehemence, that fairly enchained 
my attention ; and while my admiring aspect seemed 
to yield assent to every presentation he made of the 
subject, and while, as in the case of the red-bearded 
German, there was a sort of magnetism that bound 
me to outer acquiescence, at the same time all my 

34 ^^y FARM. 

inner feeling was kindled into open revolt against 
the man's presumption, and bis turnips, and his 
lines of cabbages, and his poplars, and near breadth 
of sea. 

He did not sell to me ; but I have no doubt that 
he sold ; I have no doubt that he made money by 
his turnips, and more money by the sale of his land ; 
and it would not surprise me to see him some day, 
if I go in that direction, speaker of the house of rep- 
resentatives in the State of Iowa, or Minnesota. 
There are men who carry in their presuming, rest- 
less energy the brand of success — not always an 
enviable one, still less frequently a moral one, but 
always palpable and noisy. Such a man makes capi- 
tal fight with danger of all sorts ; he knows no yield- 
ing to fatigues — to any natural obstacles, or to con- 
science. It is hard to conceive of him as dying, 
without a sharp and nervous protest, which seems 
conclusive to his own judgment, against the absurd 
dispensations of Providence. Who does not see 
faces every day, whose eager, impassioned unrest is 
utterly irreconcilable with the calm long sleep we 
must all &11 to at last ? 

But this story of unsuccessful experiences grows 
wearisome to me, and, I doubt not, to the reader. 
One after another the hopes I had built upon my 


hatful of responses, failed me. June was bursting 
every day into fuller and more tempting leafiness. 
The stifling corridors of city hotels, the mouldy 
smell of country tayems, the dependence upon 
testy Jehus, who plundered and piloted me through 
all manner of out-of-the-way places, became fatigu- 
ing beyond measure. 

And it was precisely at this stage of my inquiry, 
that I happened accidentally to be passing a day at 
the Tontine inn, of the charming city of N — h — . (I 
use initials only, in way of respectful courtesy for 
the home of my adoption-) The old drowsy quie- 
tude of the place which I had known in other days, 
still lingered upon the broad green, while the mimic 
din of trade rattled down the tidy streets, or gave 
tongue in the shrill whistle of an engine. The col- 
lege still seemed dreaming out its classic beati- 
tudes, and the staring rectangularity of its enclos- 
ures and bmldings and paths appeared to me only a 
proper expression of its old geometric and educa- 
tional traditions. 

Most people know this town of which I speak, 
only as a scudding whirl of white houses, succeeded 
by a foul sluiceway, that runs along the reeking 
backs of shops, and ends presently in gloom. A 
stranger might consider it the darkness of a tunnel, 
if he did not perceive that the railway train had 

36 MV FARM. 

stopped ; and presently catch faint images of a sooty 
stairway, begrimed with smoke — up and down 
which dim figures pass to and fro, and from the foot 
of which, and the side of which, and all around 
which, a score of belching voices break out in a pas- 
sionate chorus of shouts ; as the eye gains upon the 
sootiness and gloom, it makes out the wispy, wavy 
lines of a few whips moving back and forth amid the 
uproar of voices ; it lights presently upon the star 
of a policeman, who seems altogether in his element 
in the midst of the hurly-burly. Becloaked and 
shawled figures enter and pass through the car- 
riages ; they may be black, or white, or gray, or kins- 
folk — you see nothing but becloaked figures pass- 
ing through ; portmanteaus fall with a slump, and 
huge dressing cases fall with a slam, upon what seems, 
by the ear, to be pavement ; luggage trucks keep up 
an uneasy rattle ; brakemen somewhere in still lower 
depths strike dinning blows upon the wheels, to test 
their soundness ; newsboys, moving about the murky 
shades like piebald imps, lend a shrill treble to the 
uproar ; the policeman's star twinkles somewhere in 
the foreground ; upon the begrimed stairway, figures 
flit mysteriously up and down ; there is the shriek of 
a steam whistle somewhere in the front ; a shock to 
the train ; a new deluge of smoke roUs back and 
around newsboys, police, cabmen, stairway, and all ; 


there is a crazy shout of some official, a jerk, a dash 
— figures still flitting up and down the sooty stair- 
way — and so, a progress into day (which seemed 
never more welcome). Again the backs of shops, 
of houses, heaps of debris, as if all the shop people 
and all the dwellers in all the houses were fed only 
on lobsters and other shellfish ; a widening of the 
sluice, a gradual recovery of position to the surface 
of the ground — in time to see a few tall chimneys, 
a great hulk of rock, with something glistening on 
its summit, a turbid river bordered vdth sedges, a 
clump of coquettish pine trees — and the conductor 
tells you all this is the beautiful city of N — h — J^ 

A friend called upon me shortly after my arrival, 
and learning the errand upon which I had been 
scouring no inconsiderable tract of country, pro- 
posed to me to linger a day more, and take a drive 
about the suburbs. I willingly complied vdth his 
invitation ; though I must confess that my idea of 
the suburbs, colored as it was by old recollections of 
college walks over dead stretches of level, in order 

* It is perhaps needless to say that the lapse of twenty years 
has made a change in the approaches ; and the traveller is 
now set down at a station which is flanked on one side by 
full sweep of the harbor waters and which should (and might) 
be flanked on the other, by a City Green, with its trees and 

38 MY FARM. 

to find some quiet copse, where I might band; 
screams with a bluejay, in rehearsal of some college 
theme — all this, I say, moderated my expectations. 
It seems but yesterday that I drove from among 
the tasteful houses of the town, which since my boy 
time had crept far out upon the margin of the plain. 
It seems to me that I can recall the note of an oriole, 
that sang gushingly from the limbs of an over-reach- 
ing elm as we passed. I know I remember the stately 
broad road we took, and its smooth, firm macadam. 
I have a fancy that I compared it in my own mind, 
and not unfavorably, with the metal of a road, which 
I had driven over only two months before in the en- 
virons of Liverpool. I remember a somewhat stately 
country house that we passed, whose architecture 
dissolved any illusions I might have been under, in 
regard to my whereabouts. I remember turning 
slightly, perhaps to the right, and threading the ways 
of a neat little manufacturing village, — catching 
views of waterfalls, of tall chimneys, of open pasture 
grounds ; and remember bridges, and other bridges, 
and how the village straggled on with its neat white 
palings, and whiter houses, with honeysuckles at the 
doors ; and how we skirted a pond, where the pads 
of lilies lay all idly afloat ; and how a great hulk of 
rock loomed up suddenly near a thousand feet, with 
dwarfed cedars and oaks tufting its crevices — tuft- 


ing its top, and how we drove almost beneath it, so 
that I seemed to be in Meyringen again, and to hear 
the dash of the foaming Beichenbach ; and how we 
ascended again, drifting through another limb of the 
village, where the little churches stood ; and how 
we sped on past neat white houses, — rising gently, 
— skirted by hedgerows of tangled cedars, and pres- 
ently stopped before a grayish-white farmhouse, 
where the air was all aflow with the perfume of great 
purple spikes of lilacs. And thence, though we had 
risen so little I had scarce noticed a hill, we saw all 
the spires of the city we had left, two miles away as 
a bird flies, and they deemed to stand cushioned on 
a broad bower of leaves ; and to the right of them, 
where they straggled and faded, there came to the 
eye a white burst of water which was an arm of the 
sea ; beyond the harbor and town was a purple hazy 
range of hills, — in the foreground a little dedivity, 
and then a wide plateau of level land, green and 
lusty, with all the wealth of June sunshine. I had 
excuse to be fastidious in the matter of landscape, 
for within three months I had driven on Richmond 
lull, and had luxuriated in the valley scene from the 
cote of St. Cloud. But neither one nor the other for- 
bade my open and outspoken admiration of the view 
before me. 
I have a recollection of making my way through 

40 MV FARM. 

the hedging lilacs, and ringing with nervous haste 
at the door bell ; and as 1 turned, the view from the 
step seemed to me even wider and more enchanting 
than from the carriage. I have a fancy that a middle- 
aged man, with iron-gray whiskers, answered my 
summons in his shirt sleeves, and proposed joining 
me directly under some trees which stood a little 
way to the north. I recollect dimly a little country 
coquetry of his, about unwillingness to sell, or to 
name a price ; and yet how he kindly pointed out to 
me the farm-lands, which lay below upon the flat, 
and the valley where his cows were feeding just 
'southward, and how the hills rolled up grandly 
westward, and were hemmed in to the north by a 
heavy belt of timber. 

I think we are all hypocrites at a bargain. I sus- 
pect I threw out casual objections to the house, and 
the distance, and the roughness ; and yet have an 
uneasy recollection of thanking my friend for having 
brought to my notice the most charming spot I had 
yet seen, and one which met my wish in nearly every 

It seems to me that the ride to town must have 
been very short, and my dinner a hasty one : I know 
I have a dear recollection of wandering over those 
hills, and that plateau of farm-land, afoot, that very 
afternoon. I remember tramping through the wood, 


and testing the turf after the manner of my lank 
friend upon the Hudson. I can recall distinctly the 
aspect of house, and hills, as they came into view on 
my second drive from the town ; how a great stretch 
of forest, which lay in common, flanked the whole, so 
that the farm could be best and most intelligibly 
described as — lying on the edge of the wood ; and 
it seemed to me, that if it should be mine, it should 
wear the name of — Edgewood. 

It is the name it bears now. I will not detail the 
means by which the coyness of my iron-gray-haired 
friend was won over to a sale ; it is enough to tell 
that vdthin six weeks from the day on which I had 
first sighted the view, and brushed through the lilac 
hedge at the door, the place, from having been the 
home of another, had become a home of mine, and a 
new stock of Ijire?^ was blooming in the Atrium. 

In the disposition of the landscape, and in the 
breadth of the land, there was all, and more than I 
had desii-ed. There was an eastern slope where^the 
orchard lay, which took the first burst of the morn- 
ing, and the first warmth of Spring ; there was an- 
other valley slope southward from the door, which 
took the warmth of the morning, and which keeps 
the sun till night. There was a wood, in which now 
the little ones gather anemones in spring, and in au- 
tumn, heaping baskets of nuts. There was a strip of 

42 MV FARM, 

sea in sight, on which I can trace the white sails, as 
they come and go, without leaving my Hbrary chair ; 
and each night I see the flame of a lighthouse kin- 
dled, and its reflection dimpled on the water. If the 
brook is out of sight, beyond the hills, it has its 
representative in the fountain that is gurgling and 
plashing at my door. 

And it is in full sight of that sea, where even now 
the smoky banner of a steamer trails along the sky, 
and in the hearing of the dash of that very fountain, 
and with the fragrance of those lilacs around me, 
that I close this initial chapter of my book, and lay 
down my pen. 




Around the House. 

A LTHOXJGH possessing all the special requisites 
"*-"^ of which I had been in search, yet the farm 
was by no means without its inaptitudes and rough- 
nesses. There was an accumulation of half-decayed 
logs in one quarter, of mouldering chips in another, 
— being monumental of the choppings and hewings 
of half a score of years. Old iron had its establish- 
ment in this spot ; cast-away carts and sleds in that ; 
walls which had bulged out with the upheaval of — 
I know not how many — frosts, had been ingeniously 
mended with discarded harrows or axles ; there was 
the usual debris of clam shells, and there were old 
outbuildings standing awry, and showing rhom- 
boidal angles in their outline. These approached 
the house very nearly, — so nearly, in fact, that in 

46 MY FARM. 

one direction at least, it was difficult to say where 
the province of the poultry and calves ended, and 
where the human occupancy began. 

There was a monstrous growth of dock and bur- 
dock about the outer doors, and not a few rank 
shoots of that valuable medicinal herb — Stramo- 
nium. There were the invariable clumps of purple 
lilacs, in most unmanageable positions ; a few strag- 
gling bunches of daffodils ; an ancient garden with 
its measly looking, mossy gooseberries ; a few 
strawberry plants, and currant bushes keeping up 
interruptedly the pleasant formality of having once 
been set in rows, and of having nodded their crim^ 
son tassels at each other across the walk. There 
were some half dozen huge old pear trees, immedi- 
ately in the rear of the house, mossy, and promising 
inferior native fruit ; but full of a vigor that I have 
since had the pleasure of transmuting into golden 
Bartletts. There were a few plum trees, loaded with 
black knot ; a score of peach trees in out of the way 
places, all showing unfortunate marks of that vege- 
table jaundice, the yeUows, which throughout New 
England has proven in so many instances the bane 
of this delicious fruit. 

There was the usual huge bam, a little wavy in 
its ridge, and with an aged settle to its big doors ; 
while under the eaves were jagged pigeon holes, cut 


by adventurous boys, ignorant of curvilinear har- 
monies. Upon the peak was a lively weather-cock 
of shingle, most preposterously active in its motions, 
and trimming to every flaw of wind with a nervous 
rapidity, that reminded me of nothing so much as of 
the alacrity of a small newspaper editor. There was 
the attendant company of farm sheds, — low sheds, 
high sheds, tumble-down sheds, one with a motley 
array of seasoned lumber, well dappled over with 
such domestic coloring as barn-yard fowls are in the 
habit of administering ; another, with sleds and 
and sleighs, — looking out of place in June — and 
submitted to the same domestic garniture. There 
was the cider mill with its old casks, and press, 
seamy and mildewed, both having musty taint A 
convenient mossy cherry tree was hung over with 
last year's scythes and bush-hooks, while two or 
three broken ox chains trailed from the stump of a 
limb, which had suffered amputation. Nor must I 
forget the shop, half home-made, half remnant of 
something better, with an old hat or two thrust into 
the broken sashes — with itsunhelved, gone-by axes, 
its hoes with half their blade gone, its dozen of in- 
firm rakes, its hospital shelf for broken swivels, heel- 
wedges and dried balls of putty. 

I remember passing a discriminating eye over the 
tools, bethinking me how I would swing the broad 

48 MY FARM. 

axe, or put the saws to sharp service ; for in bargain- 
ing for the farm, I had also bai'gained for the imple- 
ments of which there might be immediate need. 

Directly upon the roadway, before the house, rose 
a high wall, supporting the Httle terrace that formed 
the front yard ; the terrace was a wilderness of roses, 
syringas, and undipped box. The entrance way was 
by a flight of stone steps which led through the middle 
of the terrace, and of the wall ; while over the steps 
himg the remnants of an ancient archway, which 
had once supported a gilded lantern ; and I was 
told with an air of due reverence, that this gilded 
spangle of the town life, was a memento of the hos- 
pitalities of a certain warm-blooded West Indian, 
who in gone-by years had lighted up the country 
home with cheery festivities. I would have cher- 
ished the lantern if it had not long before disap- 
peared ; and the steps that may have once thronged 
under it, must be all of them heavy with years now, 
if they have not rested from their weary beat alto- 
gether. Both wall and terrace are now gone, and a 
gentle swell of green turf is in their place, skirted 
by a hedge and low rustic paling, and crowned by a 
gaunt pine tree, and a bowering elm. 

The same hospitable occupant, to whom I have 
referred, had made additions to the home itself, so 
as to divest it of the usual, stereotyped farm-house 


look, by a certain quamtness of outline. This he 
had done by extending the area of the lower story 
some ten feet, in both front and rear, while the roof 
of this annex was concealed by a hea^y balustrade, 
perched upon its eaves ; thus giving the effect of 
one large cube, surmounted by a lesser one ; the 
uppermost was topped with a roof of sharp pitch, 
through whose ridge protruded two enormous chim- 
ney stacks. But this alteration was of so old a date 
as not to detract from the venerable air of the house. 
Even the jaunty porch which jutted in front of aU, 
showed gaping seams, and stains of ancient leakage, 
that forbade any suspicion of newness. 

Within, the rooms had that low-browed look 
which belongs to country farm-houses ; and I will 
not disguise the matter by pretending that they are 
any higher now. I have occasional visitors whom I 
find it necessary to caution as they pass under the 
doorways ; and the stray wasps that vM float into 
the open casements of so old a country house, in the 
first warm days of Spring, are not out of reach of 
my boy, (just turned of five,) as he mounts a chair, 
and makes a cut at them with his dog-whip, upon 
the ceiling. 

I must confess that I do not dislike this old hu- 
mility of house-building ; if windows, open chimney- 
places, and situation give good air, what matters it 

50 MV FARM. 

that your quarters by night are three or four feet 
nearer to your quarters by day? In summer, if 
some simple trellised pattern of paper cover the 
ceiling, you enjoy the illusion of a low branching 
bower ; and of a winter evening, the play of the fire- 
light on the hearth flashes over it, with a kindly 

I know the outgoing parties found no pleasant 
task in the leave-taking. I am sure the old lady 
who was its mistress felt a pang that was but poorly 
concealed ; I have a recollection that on one of my 
furtive visits of observation, I unwittingly came upon 
her — at a stand-still over some bit of furniture that 
was to be prepared for the cart, — with her handker- 
chief fast to her eyes. It cannot be otherwise at 
parting with even the lowliest homes, where we have 
known of deaths, and births, and pleasures, and little 
storms that have had their sweep and lull ; and 
where slow-pacing age has declared itself in gray 
hair, and the bent figure. It is tearing leaf on leaf 
out of the thin book where our lives are written. 

Even the farmer's dog slipped around the angles 
of the house, as the change was going forward, with 
a fitful, frequent, uneasy trot, as if he were disposed 
to make the most of the last privileges of his home. 
The cat alone, of all the liying occupants, took mat- 
ters composedly, and paced eagerly about from one 


to another of her disturbed haunts in buttery and 
kitchen, with a philosophic indifference. I should 
not wonder indeed if she indulged in a little riotous 
exultation at finding access to nooks which had been 
hitherto cumbered with assemblages of firkins and 
casks. I have no faith in cats : they are a cold- 
blooded race ; they are the politicians among do- 
mestic animals ; they care little who is master, or 
what are the overtumings, if their pickings are se- 
cure; and what are their midnight caucuses but 
primary meetings? 

My Bees. 

A SHELF, on which rested five bee-hives with 
■^■^ their buzzing swarms, stood beside a clump 
of lilacs, not far from one of the side doors of the 
farm-house. These the outgoing occupant was in- 
disposed to sell ; it was " unlucky," he said, to give 
up ownership of an old-established colony. The idea 
was new to me, and I was doubly anxious to buy, 
that I might give his whimsey a fair test. So I 
overruled his scruples at length, moved the bees 
only a distance of a few yards, gave them a warm 
shelter of thatch, and strange to say, they all died 
within a year. 

I restocked the thatched house several times after- 

52 MY FARM. 

ward ; and there was plenty of marjoram and sweet 
clover to delight them ; whether it was that the mis- 
fortunes of the first colony haunted the place, I know 
not, but they did not thrive. Sometimes, I was told, 
it was the moth that found its way into their hives ; 
sometimes it was an invasion of piratical ants ; and 
every summer I observe that a few gallant king birds 
take up their station near by, and pounce upon the 
flying scouts, as they go back with their golden 

I have not the heart to shoot the king birds ; nor 
do I enter very actively into the battle of the bees 
against the moths, or the ants ; least of all, do I in- 
terfere in the wars of the bees among themselves, 
which I have found, after some observation, to be 
more destructive and ruinous, than any war with 
foreign foes.* I give them fair play, good lodging, 
limitless flowers, willows bending (as Virgil advises) 
into the quiet water of a near pool ; I have even read 
up the stories of poor blind Huber, who so loved 
the bees, and the poem of Giovanni Eucellai, for 

* The Rev. Charles Butler, in his ** Feminine Monarchie" 
(London, 1609), after speaking in Chapter VII. of '< Deir Ene- 
mies," continues: ^*But not anyone of des% nor all des* 
togeder, doo half so muc harm to de Bees, as de Bees. Apis 
api, ut homohominif Lupus. Dey mak de greatest spoil hot 
of bees and of hoonie. Dis robbing is practised all de year." 


their benefit: if they cannot hold th6ir sceptre 
against the tender-winged moths, who have no cruel 
stings, or against the ants, or the wasps, or give over 
their satanic quarrels with their kindred, let them 
abide the consequences. I will not say, however, 
but that the recollection of the sharp screams of a 
little " curl pate " that have once or twice pierced my 
ears, as she ventured into too close companionship, 
has indisposed me to any strong advocacy of the 

My experience enables me to say that hives should 
not be placed too near each other ; the bees have, as 
I have said, a very human propensity to quarrel^ and 
their quarrels are ruinous. They blunder into each 
other's homes, if near together, with a most wanton 
affectation of f orgetf ulness ; and they steal honey that 
has been carefully stored away in the cells of sister 
swarms, with a vicious energy that they rarely bestow 
upon a flower. In their field forays, I believe they 
are respectful of each other's rights ; but at home, 
if only the order is once disturbed, and a neighbor 
swarm shows signs of weakness, they are the most 
malignant pirates it is possible to conceive of. 

Again, let no one hope for success in their treat- 
ment, unless he is disposed to cultivate familiarity ; 
a successful bee-keeper loves his bees, and has a way 
of fondling them, and pushing his intimacy about 

54 MY FARM. 

the swarming time, which I would not counsel an 
inapt or a nervous person to imitate. 

G6lieu, a Swiss authority, and a rival of Huber in 
his enthusiasm, says : *' Beaucoup de gens aiment 
les abeilles ; je n'ai vu personne qui les almdt medvo- 
crement ; on se passionne pour eUes." 

I have a neighbor, a quiet old gentleman, who is 
possessed of this passion ; his swarms multiply in- 
definitely ; I see him holding frequent conversations 
with them through the backs of their hives ; all the 
stores of my little colony would be absorbed in a 
day, if they were brought into contact with his lusiy 

Many of the old writers tell pleasant stories of the 
amiable submission of their favorites to gentle hand- 
ling ; but I have never had the curiosity to put this 
submission to the test. I remember that Yan Am- 
burgh tells tender stories of the tigers. 

I have observed, however, that little people listen 
with an amused interest to those tales of the bees, 
and I have sometimes availed myself of a curious bit 
of old narrative, to staunch the pain of a sting. 

"Who will listen," I say, " to a story of M. Lom- 
bard's about a Httle girl, on whose hand a whole 
swarm of bees once alighted? " 

And all say "I" — save the sobbing one, who 
looks consent 


M. Lombard was a French lawyer, who was for a 
long time imprisoned in the dungeons of Eobe- 
spierre; and when that tyrant reformer was be- 
headed, this prisoner gained his liberty, and went 
into the country, where he became a farmer, and 
wrote three or four books about the bees : among 
other things he says, 

"A young girl of my acquaintance was greatly 
afraid of bees, but was completely cured of her fear 
by the following incident. A swarm having left a 
hive, I observed the queen alight by herself, at a 
little distance from the apiary. I immediately called 
my little friend, that I might show her this impor- 
tant personage ; she was anxious to have a nearer 
view of her majesty, and therefore, having first 
caused her to draw on her gloves, I gave the queen ^ 
into her hand. Scarcely had I done so, when we 
were surrounded by the whole bees of the swarm. 
In this emergency I encouraged the trembling girl 
to be steady, and to fear nothing, remaining myself 
dose by her, and covering her head and shoulders 
v^ith a thin handkerchiel I then made her stretch 
out the hand that held the queen, and the bees in- 
stantly alighted on it, and hung from her fingers as 
from the branch of a tree. The little girl, experienc- 
ing no injury, was delighted above measure at the 
novel sight, and so entirely freed from all fear, that 


she bade me tmcover her &>Ge. The spectators were 
charmed at the interesting spectacle. I at length 
brought a hive, and shaking the swarm from the 
child's hand, it was lodged in safety without inflict- 
ing a single sting." 

As I begin the story, there is a tear in the eye of 
the sobbing one, but as I read on, the tear is gone, 
and the eye dilates ; and when I have done, the sting 
is forgotten. 

I have written thus at length, at the suggestion of 
my thatch of a bee house, because I shall have noth- 
ing to s&y of my bees again, as co-partners with me 
in the flowers, and in the farm. I have to charge to 
their account a snug sum for purchase money, and 
for their straw housing — a good many hours of bad 
humor, and the recollection of those little screams 
to which I have already alluded. Thus far, I can 
only credit them with one or two moderately sized 
jars of honey, and a pleasant concerted buzzing with 
which they welcome the first warm weather of the 
Spring. Even as I write, I observe that a few of my 
winged workers are alight upon the mossy stones 
that lie half covered in the basin of the fountain, and 
are sedulously exploring the water. 


Clearing Up. 

/^F course one of the first aims, in taking posses- 
^-^ sion of such a homestead as I have partially de- 
scribed, was to make a clearance of debris, of unne- 
• cessarv palings, of luxuriant comer crops of nettles 
and burdocks, of mouldering masses of decayed 
vegetable matter, of old conchologic deposits, and 
ferruginous wreck ; all this clearance being not so 
much agricultural employment, as hygienic. There 
seems to have been a mania with the old New Eng- 
land householders, in the country, for multiplying 
enclosures, — front yards, back yards, south and 
north yards, — all with their palings and gates, 
which grow shaky with years, and give cover to rank 
and worthless vegetation in comers that no cultiva- 
tion can reach. Of this multitude of palings I made 
short work : good taste, economy, and all rules of 
good tillage, unite in favor of the fewest possible 
enclosures, and confirm the wisdom of making the 
palings for such as are necessary, as simple as their 
office of defence will allow. 

So it happened under my ruling that the little 
terrace yard of the front lost its identity, and was 
merged in the yard to the north, — with the little 

58 MV FARM. 

bewildered garden to the south, — with the strag- 
gling peach orchard in the rear ; and all these merged 
again, by the removal of a tottling wall, with the val- 
ley pasture that lay southward, where now clumps 
of evergreen, and azalias, and lilacs crown the little 
swells, and hide the obtrusive angles of barriers be- 
yond, — so that the children may race, from the door, 
over firm, dean, green sward, for a gunshot away. 
This change has not been only to the credit of the 
eye, but in every particular economic. The cost of 
establishing and repairing the division palings has 
been done away with; the inaccessible angles of 
enclosures which fed monstrous wild growth, are 
submitted to even culture and cropping ; an under 
drain through the bottom of the valley lawn, has 
absorbed the scattered stones and the tottling wall 
of the pasture, and given a rank growth of red-top 
and white clover, where before, through three 
months of the year, was almost a quagmire. This 
drain, fed by lesser branches laid on from time to 
time through the springy ground of the peach or- 
chard, and by the waste way of the fountain at the 
door, now discharges into a little pool (once a mud 
hole) at the extremity of the lawn, where a willow 
or two timidly dip their branches, and the frogs 
welcome every opening April with a riotous uproar 
of voices. Even the scattered clumps of trees stand 


upon declivities where cultivation would have been 
difficult, or they hide out-cropping rocks which were 
too heavy for the walls, or the drains. So it has 
come about that the old flimsy pasture, with its 
blotches of mulleins, thistles, wax myrtles, and the 
illnshapen yard, straggling peach orchard (long since 
gone by), have made my best grass field, which n^' 
needs only an occasional top dressing of ashes or 
compost, and a biennial scratching with a fine- 
toothed harrow, to yield me two tons to the acre of 
sweet-scented hay. 

I may remark here, in way of warning to those 
who undertake the renovation of slatternly country 
places, with exuberant spirits, that it is a task which 
often seems easier than it proves. More especially 
is this the case where there is an accumulation of / 
old walls, and of unsightly, clumsy-shaped rocks to 
be dealt with. They may indeed be transferred to 
new walls; but this involves an expenditure, often- 
times, which no legitimate estimate of a farm reve- 
nue will warrant ; and I propose to illustrate in this 
book no theories of improvement, whether as re- 
gards ornamentation or increased productiveness, 
which a soimd economy will not authorize. Agri- 
cultural successes which are the result of simple, 
lavish expenditure, without reference to agricultural 
returns, are but empty triumphs ; no success in any 

6o MV FARM. 

method of culture is thoroughly sound and praise- 
-worthjy except it be imitable, to the extent of his 
means, by the smallest farmer. The crop that is 
grown at twice its market value to the bushel, may 
possibly suggest a hint to the scientific theorist ; 
but it will never be. emulated by the man whose 
livelihood depends upon the product of his farm. 
Those who transfer the accumulated fortunes of the 
ciiy to the countiy, for the encouragement of agri- 
culture, should bear in mind, first of all, that their 
endeavors will have healthy influence, only so far as 
they are imitable ; and they will be imitable only so 
far as they are subordinated to the trade laws of 
profit and los& Farming is not a fanciful pursuit ; 
its aim is not to produce the largest possible crop at 
whatever cost ; but its aim is, or should be, taking a 
series of years together, to produce the largest crops 
at the least possible cost 

If my neighbor, by an expenditure of three or 
four hundred dollars to the acre in the removal of 
rocks and other impedimenta, renders his field equal 
to an adjoining smooth one, which will pay a fair 
farm rental on a valuation of only two hundred dol- 
lars per acre, he may be congratulated upon having 
extended his available agricultural area, but he can- 
not surely be congratulated on having made a profit- 
able transaction. 


The weazen-faced old gentlemen who drive by in 
their shirt sleeves, and call attention to the matter 
with a gracious wave of their hickory whipstocks, 
allow that — " it looks handsome ; but don't pay." 
Such observers — and they make up the bulk of those 
who have the country in their keeping — must be 
addressed through their notions of economy, or they 
will not be reached at alL 

In the case supposed, I have, of course, assumed 
that only ordinary fctrm culture was to be bestowed : 
although there may be conditions of high tillage, 
extraordinary nicety of culture, and nearness to a 
large market, which would warrant the expenditure 
of even a thousand dollars per acre with profitable 

But rocky farms, even away from markets, are 
not without their profits, and a certain wild, yet sub- 
dued order of their own. I have never seen sweeter 
or warmer pasture ground, than upon certain hill- 
sides strown thick with great granite boulders span- 
gled with mica, and green-gray mosses ; nor was the 
view unthrifty, with its fat, ruffle-necked merino 
ewes grazing in company ; nor yet unattractive to 
other than farm-eyes — with its brook bursting from 
under some ledge that is overhung with gnarled 
birches, and illuminated with nodding, crimson col- 
umbines — then yawing away between its green 

62 MV FARM. 

banks, with a new song for every stone that tripped 
its flow. 

One of the daintiest and most productive fruit 
gardens it was ever my pleasure to see, was in the 
midst of other gray rocks ; the grapevines so trained 
as to receive the full reflection of the sun from the 
sur&ce of the boulders, and the intervals occupied 
with rank growing gooseberries and plums, aU faith- 
fully subject to spade culture. The expense of the 
removal of the rocks would have been enormous; 
and I doubt very seriously if the productive capacity 
would have been increased. Again, I have seen a 
ridge of cHflf with its outlying slaty debris, in the 
very centre of a garden, which many a booby leveller 
would have been disposed to blast away, and trans- 
mute into walls, — yet under the hand of taste, so 
tressed over with delicate trailing plants, and so 
kindled up with flaming spikes of Salvia, and masses 
of scarlet geranium, as to make it the crowning at- 
traction of the place. All clearance is not judicious 

But I have not yet cleared the way to my own 
back door : though at a distance of only a few rods 
from the highway, I could reach it, on taking occu- 
pancy, only by skirting a dangerous-looking shed, 
and passing through two dropsical gates that were 
heavy with a mass of mouldy lumber. 


These gates opened upon a straggling cattle yard, 
whose surface was so high and dense, as to dis- 
tribute a powerful flow of yellow streamlets in very 
awkward directions after every shower. One angle 
of this yard it was necessary to traverse before reach- 
ing my door. My clearance here was decisive and 
prompt. The threatening shed came down upon the 
run; the mouldering gates and fences were splin- 
tered into kindling wood ; the convexity of the cattle 
yard was scooped into a dish, with provision for 
possible overflow in safe directions. A snug compact 
fence blinded it all, and conflned it vnthin reasonable 
limits. A broad, free, gravelly yard, with occasional 
obtrusive stones, now lay open, through which I 
ordered a loaded team to be driven by the easiest 
track from the highway to the door, and thence to 
make an easy and natural turn, and pass on to the 
stable-court This line of transit marked out my road: 
what was easiest for the cattle once, would be easiest 
alvmys. There is no better rule for laying down an 
approach over rolling ground — none so simple ; none 
which, in one instance out of six, will show more grace 
of outline. The obtrusive stones were removed ; the 
elliptical spaces described by the inner line of track, 
which were imtouched, and which would need never 
to be touched by any passage of teams, were dug 
over and stocked with evergreens, lilacs, and azalias^ 



64 MY FARM. 

These are now well established clumps, in which 
wild vines have intruded, and tmder which the brood 
of summer chickens find shelter from the sun, and 
the children a pretty cover for their hoydenish " hide 
and go seek." 

Thus far I have anticipated those changes and im- 
provements which immediately concerned the com- 
fort and the order of the home. With these pro- 
vided, and the paperers and painters aU fairly turned 
adrift, and the newly planted flowers abloom, the 
question occurs — What shall be done with the Farm? 

What to Do with the Farm. 

rr^HEKE are not a few entertaining people of the 
-^ cities, who imagine that a farm of one or two 
hundred acres has a way of managing itself ; and 
that it works out crops and cattle from time to time, 
very much as small beer works into a foamy ripeness, 
by a law of its own necessity. 

I wish vdth all my heart that it were true ; but it 
is not For successful farming, there must be a well 
digested plan of operations, and the faithful execu- 
tion of that plan. It is possible, indeed, to secure 
the services of an intelligent manager, upon whom 
shall devolve all the details of the business^ and who 


shall shape all the agricultural operations, by the 
rules of his own experience ; but however extended 
this experience may have been, the result will be, in 
nine cases out of ten, most unsatisfactory to one who 
wishes to have a clear and intimate knowledge of the 
capabilities of his land ; and very disagreeably un- 
satisfactory to one who has entertained the pleasing 
illusion that farm lands should not only be capable 
of paying their own way, but of making respecta- 
ble return upon the capital invested. Your accom- 
plished farm manager — usually of British birth and 
schooling, but of a later American finish, — is apt to 
entertain the conviction that an employer who gives 
over farm land to his control, regards such farm land 
only as a pleasant parade ground for fine cattle and 
luxuriant crops, which are to be placed on show 
without much regard to cost. And if he can estab- 
lish the owner in a conspicuous position on the prize 
lists of the County or State Societies, and excite the 
gaping wonderment of old-fashioned neighbors by 
the luxuriance of his crops, he is led to believe that 
he has achieved the desired success. 

The end of it is, that the owner enjoys the honors 
of official mention, without the fatigue of relieving 
himself of ignorance ; the manager is doubly sure of 
his stipend ; and the inordinate expense under a di- 
rection that is not limited by commercial proprieties 

66 MY FARM. 

or proportions, weakens the faith of all onlookers in 
" improved farming." 

I am satisfied that a great deal of hindrance is 
done in this way to agricultural progress, by those 
who have only the best intentions in the matter. 
My friend, Mr. Tallweed, for instance, after accumu- 
lating a fortune in the city, is disposed to put on the 
dignity of country pursuits^ and advance the inter- 
ests of agriculture. He purchases a valuable place, 
builds his villa, plants, refits, exhausts architectural 
resources in his outbuildings, aU under the advice 
of a shrewd Scotchman recommended by Thorbum, 
and can presently make such show of dainty cattle, 
and of mammoth vegetables, as excites the stare of 
the neighborhood, and leads to his enrolment among 
the dignitaries of the County Society. 

But the neighbors who stare, have their occasional 
chat with the canny Scot, from whom they learn that 
the expenses of the business are " gay large ; " they 
pass a quiet side wink from one to the other, as they 
look at the vaulted cellars, and the cumbrous ma- 
chinery ; they remark quietly that the multitude of 
implements does not forbid the employment of a 
multitude of farm " hands ; " they shake their heads 
ominously at the extraordinary purchases of grain ; 
they observe that the pet calves are usually indulged 
vdth a wet nurse, in the shape of some rawboned 


native cow, bonght specially to add to the resources 
of the fine-blooded dam ; and with these things in 
their mind — they reflect. 

If the results are large, it seems to them that the 
means are stiU more extraordinary ; if they wonder 
at the size of the crops, they wonder still more at the 
liberality of the expenditure ; it seems to them, after 
full comparison of notes with the "braw " Scot, that 
even their own stinted crops would show a better 
balance sheet for the farm. It appears to them that 
if premium crops and straight-backed animals can 
only be had by such prodigious appliances of men 
and money, that fine farming is not a profession to 
grow rich by. And yet, our doubtful friends of the 
homespun will enjoy the neighborhood of such a 
farmer, and profit by it ; they love to sell him " likely 
young colts ; " they eagerly furnish him with butter 
(at the town price), and possibly with eggs, — his own 
fowls being mostly fancy ones, bred for premiums, 
and indisposed to lay largely ; in short, they like to 
tap his superfluities in a hundred ways. They ad- 
mire Mr. Tallweed, particularly upon Fair days, 
when he appears in the dignity of manager for some 
special interest ; and remark, among themselves, 
that "the Squire makes a thunderin* better com- 
mittee-man, than he does farmer." And when they 
read of him in their agricultural journal — if they 

68 MY FARM. 

take one — as a progressive, and suooessfnl agri<ml'- 
turist, they laugh a little in their sleeves in a quiet 
way, and conceive, I am afraid, the same unforttmate 
distrust of the farm journal, which we all entertain 
— of the political ones. 

Yet the Squire is as innocent of aU deception, 
and of all ill intent in the matter, as he is of thrift 
in his farming. Whoever brings to so practical a 
business the ambition to astonish by the enormity 
of his crops, at whatever cost, is unwittingly doing 
discredit to those laws of economy, which alone jus- 
tify and commend the craft to a thoroughly earnest 

Having brought no ambition of this sort to my 
trial of country life, even if I had possessed the 
means to give it expression, I had also no desire to 
give over all plans of mani^ment to a bailiff, how- 
ever shrewd. The greatest charm of a country li£8 
seems to me to spring from that familiarity with the 
land, and its capabilities, which can come only from 
minute personal observation, or the successive devel- 
opments of one's own methods of culture. I can 
admire a stately crop wherever I see it ; but if I have 
directed the planting, and myself applied the dress- 
ing, and am testing my own method of tillage, I 
look upon it with a far keener relisL Every week it 
imf olds a charm ; if it puts on a lusty dark green, I 


Bee that it is taking hold upon the f ertHizers ; if it 
yellows in the cool nights, and grows pale, I bethiok 
meif Iwill not put off the planting for aweek in the 
season to come ; if it curl oyermuch in the heats of 
later June, I reckon up the depth of my ploughing ; 
and when the spindles begin to peep out from their 
green sheaths day after day, and lift up^ and finally 
from their feathery fingers shake down pollen upon 
the silk nestling coyly below, I see in it all a modest 
promise to me — repeated in every shower — of the 
golden ears that shall by and bystand blazing in the 
October sunshina 

But all this only answers negatively my question 
of — What to do with the Farm? 

At least) it shall not be banded over abscdutely to 
the control of a manager,, no matter what good char- 
acter he may bring ; and I will aim at a system of 
cropping, which shall make some measurable return 
for the cost of production. 


A NY judicious farm-system must be governed in 
^-^ a large degree by the character of the soil, and 
by the nearest available market It is not easy to 
create a demand for what is not wanted ; nor is it 

70 MY FARM. 

much easier so to transmute soils by culture or by 
dressings, as to produce profitably those crops to 
which the soils do not naturally incline. I am fully 
aware that in saying this, I shall start an angry buzz 
about my ears, of those progressive agriculturists, 
who allege that skilful tillage will enable a man to 
produce any crop he chooses : I am perfectly aware 
that lull, who was the great farm reformer of his 
day, ridiculed with imction what he regarded as 
those antiquated notions of Virgil, that soils had 
their antipathies and their likings, and that a farmer 
could not profitably impress ground to carry a crop 
against its inclination. But I strongly suspect that 
TuU, like a great many earnest reformers, in his ad- 
vocacy of the supreme benefit of tillage, shot beyond 
the mark, and assumed for his doctrine a universaHty 
of application which practice will not warrant. My 
observation warrants me in believing that no light 
and friable soil will carry permanent pasture or 
meadow, with the same profit which belongs to the 
old grass bottoms of the Hartford meadows, of the 
blue-grass region, and of Somersetshire. I am 
equally confident that no stiff clayey soil will pay so 
well for the frequent workings which vegetable cul- 
ture involves, as a light loam. 

Travellers who are trustworthy, tell us that the 
grape from which the famous Constantia wine is 


made, at the Cape of Good Hope, is grown from the 
identical stock which on the Bhine banks, makes an 
inferior and totally different wine : and my own ob- 
servation has shown me that the grapes which on 
the Lafitte estate make that ruby vintage whose 
aroma alone is equal to a draught of ordinary Medoc 
— only across the highway, and within gimshot, 
produce a wine for which the proprietor would be 
glad to receive a fourth only of the Lafitte price. 

Lands have their likings then, though Mr. TuU be 
of the contrary opinion. Any crop may indeed be 
grown wherever we supply the requisite conditions 
of warmth, moisture, depth of soil, and appropriate 
dressings ; but just in the proportion that we find 
these conditions absent in any given soil, and are 
compelled to supply them artificially, we diminish 
the chances of profit 

My own soil was of a light loamy character, and 
the ferm lay within two miles of a town of forty 
thousand inhabitants. 

Such being the facts, what should be the general 
manner of treatment ? 

Grazing, which is in many respects the most invit- 
ing of all modes of farming, was out of the question, 
for the reason that the soil did not incline to that 
firm, close turf-surface, which invites grazing, and 
renders it profitable. Nor do I mean to admit, what 

72 MV FARM, 

many old-fashioned gentlemen are disposed to affirm, 
that all land which does not so incHne, is necessarily 
inferior to that which does. If grazing were the 
chiefest of agricultural interests, it might be true. 
But it must be observed that strong grass lands have 
generally a ten&city and a retentiveness of moisture, 
which forbid that frequent and early tillage, that is 
essential to other growths ; and upon careful reckon- 
ing, I doubt very much, if it would not appear that 
some of the very light lands in the neighborhood of 
cities, pay a larger percentage upon the agricultural 
capital invested, than any purely grazing lands in the 
country. Again, even supposing that the soil were 
adapted to grazing, it is quite doubtful if the best of 
grazing lands will prove profitable in the neighbor- 
hood of large towns ; doubtful if beef and mutton 
cannot be made cheaper in out-of-the-way districts, 
where by reason of distance from an everyday mar- 
ket, hmds command a low price. 

For kindred reasons, no farm, so near a large town 
of the East, invites the growth of grain : on this 
score there can be no competition with the West, 
except in retired parts of the country, where land is 
of little marketable value. 

"What then ? Grazing does not promise well ; nor 
does grain-growing. Shall I stock my land with 
grass, and sell the hay ? Unfortunately, this ezperi- 


ment has been carried too far already. A near mar- 
ket, aad the small amount of labor inyolved, always 
encourage it. But I am of opinion that no Hght 
land will warrant this strain, except where manures S 
from outside sources are easily available, and are/ 
applied with a generous hand. Such, for instance, ) 
is the immediate neighborhood of the sei^shore,\ 
where fish and rockweed are accessible ; or, what j 
amounts to the same thing, such disposition ef the / 
land as admits of thorough irrigation. In my case,' 
both these were wanting. I must depend for ma- 
nurial resources upon the consumption of the grasses 
at home. 

And this suggests dairying : dairying in its ordi^ 
nary sense, indeed, as implying butter and cheese- 
making, involves grazing ; and can be most profit- 
ably conducted on natural grass lands, and at a large 
distance from market, since the transport of these 
commodities is easy. But there remains another 
branch of dairying — milk supply — which demands 
nearness to market, which is even more profitable, 
and which does not involve necessarily a large reach 
of grazing land : the most successful milk dairies 
in this country, as in. Great Britain, being now con- 
ducted upon the soiling principle — that is, the sup- 
ply of green food to the cows, in their enclosures or 

74 ^y FARM. 

What pUm then could be better than this ? Trans- 
portation to market was small; the demand con- 
stant ; the thorough tillage which the condition of 
the soil required, was encouraged ; an accumulation 
of fertilizing material secured. 

The near vicinity of a town suggests also to a 
good husbandman, the growth of those perishable 
products which will not bear distant transportation, 
such as the summer fruits and vegetables. These 
demand also a thorough system of tillage, and a 
light friable soil is> of all others, best adapted to 
their successful culture. But on the other hand, 
they do not in themselves furnish the means of re- 
cuperating lands which have suffered from injudi- 
cious overcropping. Their cultivation, unless upon 
fields which are already in a high state of tilth, in- 
volves a large outlay for fertilizing materials and for 
labor — which at certain seasons must be at abso- 
lute command. 

In view of these considerations, which I commend 
to the attention and to the criticism of the Agri- 
cultural Journals, I determined that I would have 
my herd of milch cows, and commence professional 
life as milkman ; keeping, however, the small fruits 
and the vegetables in reserve, against the time when 
the land by an effective recuperative system, should be 
able to produce whatever the market might demand. 


Happily, too, a country liver is not bound to a 
single farm adventure. If the cows stand sweltering 
in the reeking stables, it shall not forbid a combing 
down of the ancient pear trees, and the tufting of all 
their tops with an abounding growth of new wood, 
that shall presently be aglow with the Bonne de Jer- 
sey, or with luscious Bartletts. 

If there is a rattle of tins in the dairy, the blue- 
birds are singing in the maples. If an uneasy milker 
kicks over the pail, there is a patch of " Jenny lands " 
that makes a fragrant recompense. If the thunder 
sours the milk, the nodding flowers and the rejoicing 
grass give the shower a welcome. 


1 PAVING decided upon a plan, the next thing to 
"*— *- be considered is the personal agency for its 

There was once a time, if we may believe a great 
many tender pastorals and madrigals such as Kit 
Marlowe sang, when there were milkmaids : and the 
sweetest of Overbury's "Characters" is his little 
sketch of the " faire damsel," who hath such Angers 
" that in milking a cow, it seemes that so sweet a 
milk-presse makes the milk the whiter, or sweeter." 
But milkmaids nowadays are mostly Connaught- 

76 MV FARM. 

men, in eowhide boots and black satin waistcoats, 
who say " begorra," and beat the cows with the 

Overbury says of the ancient British type — " Her 
breath is her own, which sents all the yeare long of 
June, like a newmade haycock." 

And I may say of the present representative — 
His breath is his own, which " sents all the yeare 
long " of proof spirits, like a newmade stilL 

Overbury tenderly says — " Thus lives she, and all 
her care is she may die in the spring time, to have 
store of flowers stucke upon her winding sheet." 

And I, as pathetically : — Thus fares he, and all 
his care is he may get his fuU wage, and a good jol- 
lification " nixt St. Parthrick's day." 

This is only my way of introducing the labor ques- 
tion, which, in every aspect, is a serious one to a 
parly entering upon the management of country 
property. If such party is anticipating the employ- 
ment of one of Sir Thomas Overbury's milk-maydes, 
or of the pretty damsel who sang Marlowe's song to 
Izaak Walton, let him disabuse his mind In place 
of it all, he will sniff boots that remind of a damp 
cattle yard, and listen to sharp brogue that will be a 
souvenir of Donnybrook Fair. In briefest possible 
terms, the inferior but necessary labor of a &rm 
must be performed now, in the majority of cases, by 


the most inefficient of Americans, or by the rawest 
and most imcouth of Irish or Germans. 

There lived some twenty or thirty years ago in 
New England, a race of men, American bom, and 
who, having gone through a two winters' course of 
district school ciphering and reading, with cropped 
tow heads, became the most inde&ttigable and inge- 
nious of farm workers. Their hoeing was a sleight 
of hand ; they could make an ox yoke, or an ax helve 
on rainy days ; by adroit manipulation, they could 
relieve a choking cow, or as deftly, hive a swarm of 
bees. Their furrows indeed were not of the straight- 
est ; but their control of a long team of oxen was a 
miracle of guidance. They may have carried a bit 
of Cavendish twist in their waistcoat pockets ; they 
certainly did not waste time at lavations ; but as 
farm workers they had rare aptitude ; no tool came 
amiss to them ; they cradled ; they churned, if need 
were ; they chopped and piled their three cords of 
wood between sun and sun. With bare feet, and a 
keen-whetted six-pound Blanchard, they laid such 
clean and broad swathes through the fields of dewy 
herdsgrass, as made " old-coimtry-men " stare. By 
a kind of intuition, they knew the locality of every 
tree, and of every medicinal herb that grew in the 
woods. Barest of all which they possessed, was an 
acuteness of understanding, which enabled them to 

78 MV FARM. 

comprehend an order before it was half uttered, and 
to meet occasional and unforeseen difficulties, with a 
steady assurance, as if these had been an accepted 
part of the problem. It was possible to send a man 
of this sort into a wood with his team, to select a stick 
of timber, of chestnut or oak, that should measure a 
given amount ; he could be trusted to find such, — 
to cut it, to score it, to load it ; if the gearing broke, 
he could be trusted to mend it ; if the tree lodged, 
he could be trusted to devise some artifice for bring- 
ing it down ; and finally, — for its sure and prompt 
delivery at the point indicated. Your Irishman, on 
the other hand, balks at the first turn ; he must have 
a multitude of chains ; he needs a boy to aid him 
with the team, and another to carry a bar; he 
spends an hour in his doubtful estimate of dimen- 
sions; but "begorra, it's a lumpish tree," and he 
thwacks into the rind a foot or two from the ground, 
so as to leave a *'nate " Irish stump. Half through 
the bole, he begins to doubt if it be indeed a chest- 
nut or a poplar ; and casting his eye aloft to measure 
it anew, an ancient woodpecker drops something 
smarting in his eye ; and his howl starts the rumi- 
nating team into a confused entanglement among the 
young wood. Having eased his pain, and extricated 
his cattle, he pushes on with his axe, and presently, 
with a light crash of pliant boughs, his timber ia 


lodged in the top of an adjoining tree. He tugs, 
and strains, and swears, and splits the helve of his 
axe in adapting it for a lever, and presently, near to 
noon, comes back for three or four hands to give 
him a boost with the tree. You return — to find 
the team strayed through a gate left open, into a 
thriving cornfield, and one of your pet tulip trees 
lodged in a lithe young hickory, 

" Och ! and it's a toolip — it is ! and I was thinkin' 
'twas niver a chistnut ; begorra, it's lucky thin, it 
didn't come down intirely." 

These and other such, replace the New Englander 
bom, who long ago was paid off, wrapped his savings 
in a dingy piece of sheepskin, scratched his head re- 
flectingly, and disappeared from the stage. He has 
become the father of a race that is hewing its way in 
Oregon, or he is a dignitary in Wisconsin, or thwack- 
ing terribly among the foremost fighters of the war 

Here and there remains an aged representative of 
the class, with all his nasal twang and his aptitude 
for a score of different services ; but the chances are, 
if he has failed of placiag himself in the legislative 
chambers of the West, or of holding ownership of 
some rough farm of his own, that he has some moral 
obHquity which makes him an outcast 

Certain it is, that very few native Americans of 

8o AfV FARM. 

activity and of energy are to be decoyed into the 
traces of farm labor, unless they can assume the fuU 
direction. American blood is fast, and fast blood is 
impatient with a hoe among small carrots. It is well, 
perhaps that blood is so fast, and hopes so talL 
These tell grandly in certain directions, but they are 
not available for working over a heap of compost 
The American eagle is a fine bird, but he does not 
consume grasshoppers like a turkey. 

In view of the fact that dexterous labor is not now 
available, there is a satisfaction in knowing that the 
necessity for it is year by year diminishing. Under 
the old system of growing all that a man might need 
within his own grounds, a proper farm education 
embraced a considerable knowledge of a score of 
different crops and avocations. The tendency is 
now, however, to centralize attention upon that line 
of cropping which is best suited to the land ; this 
limits the range of labor, while the improved me- 
chanical appliances fill a thousand wants, which were 
once only to be met by a dexterous handicraft at 
home. None but a few sharp-faced old gentiemen 
of a veiy ancient school, think nowadays of making 
their own ox yokes or their own cheese presses ; or, 
if their crop be large, of pounding out their grain 
with a flail. And it is noticeable in this connection 
that the implements in the use of which the native 


workers were most unmatdiable, are precisely the 
ones which in practical farming are growing less and 
less important every year, — to wit, the axe and the 
scythe : the first being now confined mostly to clear- 
ings of timber, and the second is fast becoming 
merely a garden implement for the dressing of lawns. 

I perceive, very clearly, from all this, that I am 
not to be brought in contact with a race of Arca- 
dians. Meliboeus vnll not do the milking, nor Tity- 
rus, — though there shall be plenty of snoozing 
under the beech trees. It is also lamentably true 
that the uncouth and unkempt Irish or Germans, 
whom it becomes necessary to employ, place no pride 
or love in their calling like the English &xm laborers, 
or like that gone-by stock of New England farm 
workers at whom I have hinted. 

Tour Irish friend may be a good reaper, he may 
possibly be a respectable ploughman (though it is 
quite doubtful) ; but in no event will he cherish any 
engrossing attachment to coimtry labors ; nor will 
he come to have any pride in the successes that may 
grow out of them. 

Every month he is ready to drift away toward any 

employment which vnll bring increase of pay. He 

is your factotum to-day, and to-morrow may be 

shouldering a hod, or scraping hides for a soap 

boiler. The German, too, however accomplished a 

82 MV FARM. 

worker he may become, falls straightway into the same 
American passion of unrest, and becomes presently 
the dispenser of lager bier, or a forager "mit Sigel." 

There is then no American class of farm workers 
in the market — certainly not in the Eastern mar- 
kets. The native, if he possess rural instincts, is 
engrossed, as I have said, with some homestead of 
his own, or is trying his seed-cast among the Mor- 
mons, or on the prairies. AU other parties bring 
only a divided allegiance, and a kind of makeshift 
adhesion to the business ; in addition to which, they 
bring an innocency that demands the supervision of 
a good farm teacher. 

Such a teacher your foreman may be, or he may 
not be ; if the latter, and he have no capacity to con- 
vert into available workers, such motley materials, 
the sooner you discharge him the better ; but if he 
have this capacity, and is, besides, so far cognizant 
of your ownership, as not to take offence at your 
presence, and to permit of your suggestions — cher- 
ish him ; he has rare virtues. 

From the hints I have abeady dropped in regard 
to the qualities and characteristics of the available 
"milkmaids" and ploughmen, it will naturally be 
inferred that I would not be anxious to entertain a 
large squad of such, imder the low-browed ceilings 
of the country home I have described. 


And here comes under observatioB that romanti* 
cism about equality of condition and of tastes, which 
many kindly and poetically-disposed persons are in- 
clined to engraft upon their ideal of the farm life. 
There is, indeed, a current misjudgment on this 
head, which is quite common, and which the exag* 
gerated tone of rural literature generally, from Virgil 
down, has greatly encouraged. The rural writers 
dodge all the dirty work of the &rm, and regale us 
with the odors of the new-mown hay. The plain 
truth is, however, that if a man perspires largely in 
a cornfield of a dusty day, and washes* hastily in the 
horse trough, and eats in^hirt sleeves that date their 
cleanliness three days back, and loves fat pork and 
cabbage ''neat," he will not prove the Arcadian com- 
panion at dinner, which readers of SomerviUe im- 
agine, — neither on the score of conversation, or of 
transpiration. Active, every-day farm labor is cer- 
tainly not congruous with a great many of those 
cleanly prejudices which grow out of the refinements 
of civilization. We must face the bald tnith in this 
matter ; a man who has only an hour to his nooning, 
will not squander it upon toilet labors ; and a long 
day of close field-work leaves one in very unfit mood 
for appreciative study of either poetry or the natural 

The pastoral idea, — set off with fancies of earthen 

84 MV FARM. 

bowls, tables under trees, and appetites that are 
sated with bread and milk, or crushed berries and 
sugar, and with the kindred fancies of rural swains, 
who can do a good day's work and keep their linen 
clean, — is all a most wretched phantasm. Pork, and 
cabbage, and dirty wristbands, are the facts. 

Plainly, the milkmaids must have a home to them- 
selves, where no dreary etiquette shall oppress them. 
This home, which is properly the farmer's, lies some 
eighth of a mile southward, upon the same highway 
that passes my door. For a few rods the road keeps 
upon a gravelly ridge, from which, eastward, stretches 
away the wide-reaching view I have already noted ; 
and westward, in as full sight, is the little valley 
lawn, where the shadows of the copses lie splintered 
on the green. So it is, for a breathing space of level ; 
then ihQ gravelly road makes sudden plunge under 
a thicket of trees ; a rustic culvert is crossed, which 
is the wasteway of the pool at the foot of the lawn ; 
and opposite on a gentle lift of turf, all overshad- 
owed with trees, is the farmery. Here, as before 
described, were outlying sheds, and leaning gables, 
and a wreck of castaway ploughs and carts ; and the 
scene alive with the cluck of matronly hens, conduct- 
ing broods of gleesome chickens, and with the side- 
long waddle of a bevy of ducks. I have a recollec- 
tion, too, of certain long-necked turkeys, who eyed 


me curiously on my first visit, with an obKque twist 
of their heads, and of a red-tasselled Tom, who 
sounded a gobble of alarm, as I marched upon the 
premises, and met me with a formidable strut. 
These birds are very human. I never go to the town 
but I see men who remind me of the gobblers ; and 
I never see my gobblers but they remind me pleas- 
antly of men in the town. 

Immediately beyond the gates, which opened upon 
the farmery, was a quaint square box of red trimmed 
off with white (whose old-fashioned coloring I main- 
tain), being a tenant house of most venerable age, 
and standing in the middle of a wild and ragged 
garden. The road has made two easy curves up to 
this point, and skirts a great hill that rises boldly on 
the right ; on the left, and beyond the red tenant 
house with its clustering lilacs, and shading maples, 
is a mossy orchard ; and with the mossy orchard on 
the left, and the sudden hills piling to the right, the 
border of the land is reached. 

The wooden farmhouse, which lay so quietly 
under the trees, at the foot of the hiU, when I first 
saw the place, is long since burned and gone. It 
was the old story of ashes in a wooden kit — very 
lively ashes, that one night kindled the kit, and 
thence spread to the shed, and in a moment half the 
house was in flame. It was a picturesque sight fp^m 

86 MY FARM, 

my window on the hill ; but not a pleasant one. A 
wild, sweeping, gallant blaze, that wrapped old 
powder-post timbers in its roar, and licked through 
crashing sashes, and came crinkling through the 
roof in a hundred wilful jets, and then lashed and 
overlaid the whole with a tent of vermilion, above 
which there streamed into the night great, yellow, 
swaying pennants of flame. But the burnt house is 
long since replaced by another. It would have been 
a simple and easy task to restore it as before ; a few 
loads of lumber, the scheme of some country joiner, 
and the thing were done. But I was anxious to de- 
termine by actual trial how far the materials which 
nature had provided on the farm itself, could be 
made available. 

The needed timber could, of course, be readily 
obtained from the farm wood ; and from the same 
source might also be derived the saw logs for ex- 
terior covering. But from the fact that pine is very 
much more suitable and durable for cover, than the 
ordinary timber of New England woods, the economy 
of such a procedure would be very doubtful ; nor 
would it demonstrate so palpably and unmistakably, 
as I was desirous of doiog, that the building was of 
home growth, I had seen very charming little fe.rm- 
houses on the Downs of Hampshire, made almost 
entirely from the flints of the neighboring chalkbeds ; 


and in Cumberland and Westmoreland very substan- 
tial and serviceable, cottages are built out of the 
rudest stones, the farm laborers assisting in the 
work. Now, there were, scattered along the road- 
side, as along most country roadsides of New Eng- 
land a great quantity of small, ill-shapen stones, 
drawn thither in past years from the fields, and serv- 
ing only as the breeding ground for pestilent briers. 9 
These stones I determined to convert into a cottage. 

Of course, if such an experiment should involve a 
cost largely exceeding that of a simple wooden house 
of ordinary construction, its value would be partially 
negatived ; since I was particularly anxious to de- 
monstrate not only the possibility of employing the 
humblest materials at hand, but also of securing 
durability and picturesqueness in conjunction vdth 
a rigid economy. 

I need not say to any one who has attempted a 
similar task, that the builders discouraged me : the 
stones were too round or too smaU ; they had no 
face ; but I insisted upon my plan — only yielding 
the use of bricks for the corners, and for the window 

I further insisted that no stone should be touched 
with a hammer; and that, so far as feasible, the 
mossy or weather sides of the stones should be ex- 
posed. The cementing material was simple mortar. 

88 MV FARM. 

made of shell lime and sharp sand ; the only excep- 
tion being one course of five or aix inches in depth, 
laid in water cement, six inches above the ground, 
and intended to prevent the ascent of moisture 
through the mason work. The house walls were of 
the uniform height of t^n feet, covered with a roof 
of sharp pitch. The gables were carried up with 
plank laid on vertically, and thoroughly battened ; 
and to give picturesque effect as well as added space 
upon the garret floor, the gables overhang the walls 
by the space of a foot, and are supported by the 
projecting floor beams, which are rounded at their 
ends, but otherwise left rough. This feature, as 
well as the sharp pent roof, was an English one, and 
a pleasant reminder of old houses I had seen in the 
neighborhood of Gloucester. 

To avoid the expense of a great number of win- 
dow jambs, which, being of brick, were not of home 
origin, I conceived the idea of throwing two or three 
windows into one ; thus giving, for purely economic 
reasons, a ceriiain Swiss aspect to the building, and 
a pleasant souvenir of a sunny Sunday in Meyringen. 
These broad windows, it must be observed, have no 
cumbrous lintels of stone — for none such were to 
be found upon the farm ; but the superincumbent 
wall is supported by stanch timbers of oak, and 
these disguised or concealed by little protecting 


rooflets of plank. Thus far, simple economy gov- 
erned every part of the design ; but to give increased 
architectural effect, as weU as comfort, a porch, with 
peak corresponding in shape to the gable, was 
thrown out over the principal door to the south ; 
and this porch was constructed entirely, saving its 
roof, of cedar unstripped of its bark. If it has not 
been removed, .there is a parsonage house at Amble- 
side in the lake country of Westmoreland, which 
shows very much such another^ even to the diamond 
loophole in its peak. 

Again, the chimneys, of which there are two, in- 
stead of being completed in staring red, were carried 
up in alternate checkers of cobbles and brick, the 
whole surmounted by a projecting coping of mossy 
stones. In view of the fact that this architectural 
device demanded dexterous handling, I cannot al- 
lege its economy ; but its extra cost was so trifling, 
and its pleasant juxtaposition of tints was so sugges- 
tive of the particolored devices that I had seen on 
the country houses of Lombardy, that the chimneys 
have become cheap Uttle monuments of loitenngs in 

The plank of the gables, wholly unplaned, has 
been painted a neutral tint to harmonize with the 
stone, and the battens are white, to accord with the 
lines of mortar in the wall below ; the commingled 

90 MV FARM, 

brick and stone of the house, are repeated in the 
chimneys above ; the roof has now taken on a gray 
tint; the lichens are fast forming on the lower 
stones ; a few vines, — the Virginia creeper chief est 
(Ampelopsis Hederacea), — are fastening into the 
crevices, making wreaths about the windows all the 
summer through, and in autumn hang flaming on 
the wall. There is a May crimson, too, from the 
rose-bushes that are trailed upon the porch. It is all 
heavily shaded ; a long, low wall of gray, lighted 
with red-bordered embrasures, taking mellowness 
from every added year ; there are no blinds to re- 
pair ; there is but little paint to renew ; it is warm 
in winter ; it is cool in summer ; vines cling to it 
kindly ; the lichens love it ; I would not replace its 
homeliness with the jaimtiest green-blinded house 
in the country. 

Of course so anomalous a structure called out the 
witticisms of my country neighbors. " Was it a 
blacksmith's shop ? " " Was it a saw mill ? " and with 
a loud appredatory " guffaw " the critics pass by. 

Our country tastes are as yet very ambitious ; 
homeliness and simplicity are not appetizing enough. 
But in time we shall ripen into a wholesome severity, 
in this matter. I am gratified to perceive that the 
harshest observers of my poor cottage in the begin- 
ning, have now come to regard it with a kindly in- 


teresi It mates so fairly with the landscape, — it 
mates so fairly with its purpose ; it is so resolutely 
unpretending, and carries such air of permanence 
and durability, that it wins and has won upon the 
most arrant doubtera 

The country neighbors were inclined to look upon 
the affidr as a piece of stupidity, not comparable 
with a fine white house, set off by cupola, and green 
blind& But it was presently observed that culti- 
vated people from the town, in driving past, halted 
for a better view ; the halts became frequent ; it was 
intimated that So-and-so, of high repute, absolutely 
admired the homeliness. Whereupon the country 
critics undertook an inquiry into the causes of their 
distaste, and queried if their judgment might not 
have need of revision. Did their opinion spring 
from a discerning measurement of the real fitness of 
a countiy house, or out of a cherished and traditional 
regard for white and green ? 

The final question, however, in regard to it, as a 
matter of practical interest, is one of economy. Oan 
a house of the homely material and character de- 
scribed be built cheaply? Unquestionably. In my 
own case the cost of a cottage fifty feet by twenty-six, 
and with ten-feet walls — containing five serviceable 
rooms, besides closets on its main floor, and two 
large chambers of good height imder the roof, as 

92 MV FARM. 

well as dairy room in the east end of the cellar — 
was between eleven and twelve hundred dollars. 
The estimates given me for a wooden house, of the 
stereotyped aspect and similar dimensions, were 
within a few dollars of the same sum. 

It must be remembered, however, that any novelty 
of construction in a particular district, costs by rea- 
son of its novelty ; the stone mason charges for the 
possible difficulties of overcoming his inexperience 
in the material The carpenter rates the rough join- 
ing at the same figure with the old mouldings and 
finishing boards to which he is accustomed, and of 
which he may have a stock on hand. Yet, notwith- 
standing these drawbacks, the work v^as accom- 
plished within the limits of cost which the most 
economic would have reckoned essential to a build- 
ing of equal capacity. 

It is further to be considered that while I paid 
skilful masons for this rough work the same price 
which they exacted for the nice work of cities, it 
would have been quite possible for an intelligent 
proprietor to commit very much of it to an ordinary 
farm laborer, and so reduce the cost by at least one 

I have dwelt at length upon this little architectu- 
ral experience, because I believe that such meagre 
details of construction as I have given may be of 


service to those having occasion to erect similar ten- 
ant houses ; and again, because in view of the fact 
that w^e must in time have a race of farm laborers 
among us, v^ho shall also be householders, I coui^ 
it a duty to make such use of the homely materials 
at hand, as shall insure durability and comfort, v^hile 
the simplicity of detail vrill allow the ovmer to avail 
himself of his ovm labor and ingenuity in the con- 

A Sunny Frontage. 

QtUCH a farmhouse as I have described, should 
'^ have, in all northern latitudes, a sheltered posi- 
tion and a sunny exposiire. Of course, a situation 
convenient to the fields under tillage, and to other 
farm buildings, is to be sought ; but beyond this, no 
law of propriety, of good taste, or of comfort, is 
more imperative than shelter from bleak vdnds, and 
a frontage to the south. No neighbor can bring such 
cheer to a man's doorstep as the sun. 

There are absurd ideas afloat in regard to the 
front, and back side of a house, which infect village 
morals and manners in a most base and unmeaning 
way. In half the country tovms, and by half the 
farmers, it is considered necessary to retain a pre- 
tending* fronirside upon some dusty street or high- 

94 MV FARM. 

way, witli tightly closed blinds and bolted door; 
with parlors only ventured upon in an uneasy way 
from month to month, to consult some gilt-bound 
dictionary, or Museum, that lies there in state, like 
a king's coffin. The occupant, meantime, will be 
living in some back comer, — slipping in and out at 
back doors, never at ease save in his most uninviting 
room, and as much a stranger to the blinded parlor, 
which very likely engrosses the best half of his 
house, as his visitor, the country parson. All this 
is as arrant a sham, and affectation, as the worst 
ones of the cities. 

It is true that every man will wish to set aside a 
certain portion of his house for the offices of hospi- 
tality. But the easy and familiar hospitalities of a 
country village, or of the farmer, do not call for any 
exceptional stateliness ; the farmer invites his best 
friends to his habitual living room ; let him see to 
it then that his Hving room be the sunniest, and 
most cheerful of his house. So, his friends will come 
to love it, and he, and his children — to love it and 
to cherish it, so that it shall be the rallying point of 
the household affections through all time. No sea 
so distant, but the memory of a cheery, sunlit home- 
room, with its pictures on the wall, and its flame 
upon the hearth, shall haunt the voyager's thought ; 
and the flame upon the hearth, and the sunlit win- 


dow, will pave a white path over the iotervening 
waters, where tenderest foncieSy like angels, shall 
come and go. No soldier, wounded on these battle- 
fields of ourS) and feeling the mists of death gather- 
ing round him, but will call back with a gushing 
fondness such glimpse of a cheery and cherished 
hearthstone, and feel hope and heart lighted by the 
vision — bringing to his last hold on earth his most 
hallowed memories ; and so, binding by the tenderest 
of links, the heartiest of the Old life, to the bloody 
dawn of the New. 

There is a deeper philosophy in this than may at 
first sight appear. Who shall tell us how many a 
breakdown of a wayward son, is traceable to the 
cheerless aspect of his own home, and fireside ? 

But just now I am no moralist — only house- 
builder. In the farm cottage, whose principal feat- 
ures I have detailed, I have given fifty feet of front- 
age to the south, and only the gable end, with its 
windows, to the street As I enter the white wicket 
by the comer, under the elm tree which bowers it, 
the distribution counts thus: a miniature parlor 
with its lookout to the street, and a broad window 
to the south ; next is the rustic porch, and a door 
opening upon the hall ; next, a broad living-room or 
kitchen, with its generous chimney, and this fianked 
by a wash room, or scullery, from which a second 

96 MY FARM. 

outer door opens upon the southern front. To this 
latter door, which may have its show of tubs, tins, 
and drying mops, a screen of shrubbery gives all 
needed privacy from the street, and separates by a 
wall of flowering things from the modest pretensions 
of the entrance by the porch. At least, such was an 
available part of the design. If the good woman's 
poultry, loving so suimy a spot, will worry away the 
rootlets of the lower flowering shrubs, and leave only 
a tree or two for screen, it is an arrangement of the 
leafy furniture, over which the successive occupants 
have entire control. The noticeable fact is, that the 
best face of the cottage, and its most serviceable 
openings, whether of window or door, are given to 
the full flow of the sun, and not to the roadside. 
What is the road indeed, but a convenience ? Why 
build at it, or toward it, as if it were sovereign, or as 
if we owed it a duty or a reverence ? We owe it 
none ; indeed, under the ordering of most highway 
surveyors, we owe it only contempt. But the path 
of the sun, and of the seasons, is of God's ordering ; 
and a south window will print on every winter's 
morning a golden prayer upon the floor ; and every 
summer's morning the birds and bees will repeat it, 
among the flowers at the southern door. 


Farm %BuiMing8. 

"TTAVING looked after the farm cottage, I come 
-^-^ now to speak of the equally homely subject of 
bams and outbuildings. Of these, such as they 
were, I found abundance upon the premises, stand- 
ing at all imaginable angles, and showing that ex- 
traordinary confusion of arrangement for which 
many of our old-&shioned farmers have a wonderful 
aptitude. Should they all be swept away, and a new 
company of buildings erected ? The stanch timbers 
and the serviceable condition of many of them for- 
bade this, as well as considerations of prudence. 
Besides which, I have no admiration for that incon- 
gruity which often appears at the hands of those 
who are suddenly smitten with a love for the country 
— of expensive and jaunty farm architecture in con- 
trast with a dilapidated farm. I believe in a well- 
conditioned harmony between farm products and 
the roofs that shelter them, and that both should 
gain extent and fulness, by orderly progression. It 
has chanced to me to see here and there through 
the country very admirable appliances of machinery 
and buildings, which, on the score of both cost and 
needfulness, were out of all proportion to the f er- 

98 MY FARM. 

tility and the order of the fields. I see, too, not iin- 
frequently, very showy palings in the neighborhood 
of a country house, which axe flanked by the craziest 
of slatternly fences ; whereat it always occurs to me, 
that the expenditure would be far better distributed 
in giving a general neatness and effectiveness to all 
the enclosures, rather than lavished upon a little 
spurt of white splendor about the house. A fertility 
too gross for the buildings, so as to bubble over in 
ricks and temporary appliances, is to me a far more 
cheery sight agriculturally, than buildings so grand 
as utterly to outmatch and overshadow all productive 
capacity of the land. A kernel too big for the nut, 
promises to my taste a better relish than a nut too 
big for the kernel. 

These seem to me, at the worst, very plausible 
reasons, if there had been no final, prudential ones, 
for making the best of the old buildings at hand — 
by re-arrangement^ new grouping, and by shutting 
up such gaps between the disjointed parts, as should 
reduce the whole to a quadrangular order, and offer 
sunny courts for the cattle. 

If a sunny exposure, and grateful shelter from 
harsh winds be good for the temper of the farm wife 
and her household, ihey are even better for all the 
grosser domestic animals ; and it is an imperative 
condition of the arrangement of all farm buildings 


in our climate thst they offer a sheltering lee, and 
have their principal openings, specially of windows, 
to the south. Protection against summer heats, if 
needed for stalled animals, it is easy to supply ; but 
an equivalent for the warmth of the winter's sun, I 
know no name for. 

Another condition of all judicious arrangement^ 
which is even more important^ is such disposition 
of the yards and cellars, as shall prevent all waste of 
manurial resources of whatever kind, whether by 
undue exposure, or by leakage. And in this connec- 
tion, I may mention that it is a question seriously 
mooted, and worthy of full investigation — if the 
fertilizing material of a farm will not warrant special 
ehelt^ as fully as the crops. All experience cer« 
tainly confirms the fact that such as is taken from 
under cover, provided only the moisture is sufficient, 
is worth the double of that which has been exposed 
to storms. What chemical laws relating to agricul- 
ture confirm this fact, I may have occasion to speak 
of in another chapter ; at present I note only the 
results of practical observation, without reference to 
underlying causea 

The books would have recommended me to con- 
struct an expensive tank, to which drains should con* 
duct all the wash from the courts and stables. But 
this would involve water carts, and other appliancecf, 

loo MV FARM. 

liable to injuiy under rough handling — besides de* 
manding a nicety of tillage, and a regularity of dis- 
tribution which, at first, could not be depended on. 
That the liquid form is the one, under which znanu- 
rial material imder a complete system of culture, 
will work the most magical results, I have no doubt 
But until that fifystem is reached, very much can be 
done in the way of economizing the fertilizing elements 
of the farmyard, short of the tank and the water cart ; 
and this by modes so simple, and at an expense so 
small, as to be within the reach of every farmer. 

Let me illustrate, in the plainest possible manner, 
by my own experience. The bam, as I have said, 
was slatternly ; it had yielded a little to the pinch* 
ing northwesters, and by a list (as seamen say) to 
the southeast, gave threat of tumbling upon the 
cattle yard. This yard lay easterly and southerly, 
in a ragged, stony slope, ending on its eastern edge 
with a quagmire, which was fed by the joint wash of 
the yard and the leakage of a water trough supplied 
from a spring upon the hills. The flow from this 
quagmire, unctuous and fattening, slid away down 
a long slope into the meadow, — at first so strong, 
as to forbid all growth ; then feeding an army of 
gigantic docks and burdocks ; and after this giving 
luxuriant growth to a perch or two of stout English 
grass. But it was a waste of wealth ; it was like a 


private, staggering under the rations of a major- 
general. I cut off the rations. With the stones 
which were in and about the yard, I converted its 
lazy slope into two level courts ; and so arranged 
the surface, that the flow from the upper should 
traverse the lower one ; from which, in turn, the 
joint flow of fertilizing material fell through a few 
tiles in the lower terrace wall, upon the head of a 
long heap of compost, which was ordered to be al- 
ways replaced, as soon as removed. The leakage of 
the water trough being cured, its overflow was con- 
ducted to the pasture below, where the second over- 
flow, — for the stream was constantly running, — 
would do no injury, and would be available as a 
foraging mudpool for the ducks. By this simple 
re-adjustment of surface, and of the water flow, I 
have no question but I fully doubled the yearly value 
of the manures. 

I still further mended matters by carrying the 
cow stables along all the northern frontier of the 
yard, in such sort as to afford an ample sunny lee ; 
and extending this new pile of building over the 
eastern terrace wall, I gained an open cellar below 
for my store pigs, who range over the ground where 
the burdocks so thrived before, with occasional fur- 
tive examination of the compost heap which receives 
the flow from above. 

lot MY FARM. 

I do not name ibis disposition of buildings and of 
surfaces, as one to be copied, or as the one which I 
should have chosen to make, in the event of a thor- 
ough reconstruction ; but only as one of those sim- 
ple, feasible improvements of the old conditions 
which are met with everywhere ; improvements^ 
moreover, which involve little or no cost, beyond the 
farmer's own labor, and no commitment to the theo- 
ries of Mechi or of Liebig. A ragged-coated man 
should be grateful for a tight bit of linsey-woolsey 
to his back, until such time as he comes to the dig- 
nity of broadcloth. 

Four-fifths of those who undertake farming, — 
not as an amusement or simply as an occupation, but 
as the business of their life, and upon whom we are 
dependent for our potatoes, veal, and cider (to say 
nothing more), — are compelled to do tlie best they 
can with existing buildings ; and Stephens' plans of 
a "farmsteading" are as much Greek to them, as 
the "Works and Days" of Hesiod. A hint, there- 
fore, of judicious adaptation of old buildings, may 
be all they can digest with that practical relish with 
which a man accepts suggestions that are within the 
compass of his means and necessities. 

Again, the British or Continental needs in the 
matter of farm constructions, are totally dilBferent 
from American need, in all northern latitudes. The 


British farmer can graze his turnips into January ; 
and I have seen a pretty herd of Devon cows crop- 
ping a fair bite of grass, under the lee of the Devon 
Tors, into February. We, on the contrary, have 
need to store forage for at least six months in the 
year. Hay begins to go out of the bays with the 
first of November at the latest, and there is rarely a 
good bite upon the pastures until the tenth of May. 
For this reason there is required a great breadth of 
bam room. 

The high cost of labor, too, forbids that distribu- 
tion of the farm offices over a considerable area of 
surface, which is characteristic of the British stead- 
ing. The taU buildings, which are just now so much 
in vogue with enterprising American farmers, sit- 
uated by preference upon swiftly sloping land, and 
giving an upper floor for forage, a second and lower 
one for granary and cattle, and a third for manure 
pit, have been suggested and commended chiefly for 
their great economy of labor ; one man easily caring 
for a herd, under these conditions of lodgment, 
which upon the old system would demand two or 

Machinery, too, which must presently come to do 
most of the indoor work upon a well-managed farm 
of any considerable size, will require for its effective 
service compact buildings. 


Let me repeat the conditions of good American 
bams. They must suffice for ample protection of the 
harvested crops ; ample and warm shelter for the ani- 
mals ; security against waste of manurial resources ; 
and such compactness of arrangement as shall war- 
rant the fullest economy of labor. With these ends 
reached, they may be old or new, irregular or quad- 
rangular — they are all that a good farmer needs in 
the way of architecture, to command success. 

The Cattle. 

" II THAT sort o' cattle d'ye mean to keep, 
^ ^ Squire ? " said one of my old-fashioned 
neighbors, shortly after my establishment. '' Squire " 
used to be the New England title for whatever man, 
not a clergyman or doctor, indulged in the luxury of 
a black coat occasionally, upon work daya But in 
these levelling times, I am sorry to perceive that it is 
going by ; and I only wear the honor now, at a long 
distance from home, in the " up-country." 

To return to the cattle ; my neighbor's question 
was a pertinent one. Not what cattle did I admire 
most, or what cattle I thought the finest ; but what 
cattle shall I keep ? 

In this, as in the matter of the house, of the out- 


buildings and of the roadway, I believe thoroughly 
in adaptation to ends in view. If I had been under- 
taking the business of a cattle breeder, I should 
have sought for those of the purest blood, of what- 
ever name ; if I had counted upon sales to the 
butcher, my choice would have been different ; if, 
again, butter had been the aim, I am sure I should 
have made no great mistake in deciding for the sleek 
Jersey cattle. But for mere supply of milk, under 
ordinary conditions of feeding, I do not know that 
any breed has as yet established an unchallenged 
claim to the front rank. The Devons, Ayrshires, and 
Shorthorns each have their advocates ; for the lati- 
tude and pasturage of New England, if I were com- 
pelled to choose between the three, I should certainly 
choose the Ayrshires ; but I am satisfied that a more 
successful milk dairy can be secured by a motley 
herd of natives, half-bloods, and animals of good 
promise for the pail, than by limitation of stock to 
any one breed. I am confirmed in this view by the 
examples of most large dairies of this country, as 
well as by many in Great Britain. I particularly 
remember a nice little herd which I had the pleas- 
ure of seeing, some years since, at the excellently 
managed farm of Glas-Nevin in the environs of 
Dublin : sleek animals all, and thoroughly cared 
for ; but showing a medley of races ; the queen 

io6 MV FARM. 

milker of all — as it chanced — having lineage in 
. which the Ayrshire, the Shorthorn and Devon were 
aU blended. 

I know there are very many cattle fonciers, and 
stanch committee men, who will not approve this 
method of talking about mixed stables, and of a 
medley of different races, — as if a &rmer were at 
liberty to make his choice of cattle, with the same 
coolness with which he would make his choice of 
ploughs or wagons, and to tie up together, if the 
humor takes him, animals which the breeders have 
been keeping religiously apart for a few score of 

But I do not share in this punctiliousness. I be- 
lieve that these animals all, whether of the Herd- 
book or out of it^ must be measured at last, not by 
their pedigree or title, but by their fitness for 
humble farm services. A family name may be a good 
enough test of any animal — biped or other — from 
whom we look for no particular duty, save occasional 
exhibition of his parts before public assemblages ; 
but when our exigencies demand special and impor- 
tant service, we are apt to measure fitness by some- 
thing more intrinsic. 

The cattle breeders are unquestionably doing 
great benefit to the agricultural interests of the 
country ; but the essential distinction between the 


aims of the breeder and farmer should not be lost 
sight of. The first seeks to develop^ under the best 
possible conditions of food and shelter, those points 
in the animal which most of all make the distinction 
of the race. The farmer seeks an animal, or should, 
which in Tiew of climate, soil, .and his practice of 
husbandry, shall return him the largest profit, 
whether in the dairy, ui^der the yoke, or in the 
shamble& He has nothing to do with points, but 
the points that shall meet these ends. There is no 
reason why he should limit himself to one strain of 
blood, unless that strain meets and fills every office 
of his farm economy, any more than he should 
narrow his poultry range to peafowl, or to golden 

I think I may have talked somewhat in this strain 
to my old neighbor, who asked after the " squire's 
cattle " — but not at such a length ; and I think that 
he offered some such corollary as this : 

'' Squire, them English cows is handsome critturs 
enough to look at ; but ye have to keep a f ollerin' on 
'em up with a meal tub." 

It is very easy to lay down a charming set of rules 
for the establishment of a good herd (and for that 
matter — of a good life) ; but — to follow them ? 

I will be bound to say that there was never a pret- 
tier flock of milch cows gathered in any man's stables 

io8 MV FARM, 

than the superior one which I conjured up in my 
fancy, after an imaginative foray about the neighbor- 
hood. But it was not easy to make the fancy good. 
Mr. Flint, in his very capital book upon milch cows 
and dairy farming, gives a full elucidation of that 
theory of M. Gu6noji, by which the milking proper- 
ties of an animal can be determined by what is called 
the escutcheon, — being certain natural markings, 
around the udder upon the inner parts of the thighs. 
It is perhaps needless to say, that such minute ob- 
servation as would alone justify a decision based 
upon this theory, might sometimes prove awkward, 
and embarrassing. Upon the whole, I should coun- 
sel young farmers in summer clothing, and away 
from home, to judge of a cow by other indicia. 

Still, the theory of M. Qii6non * has its value ; and 
I am persuaded that he was worthily adjudged the 
gold medal at the hands of the Agricultural Society 
of Bordeaux. But with this» and all other aids — 
among which I may name the loose preemptory re- 
flections and suggestions of certain adjoining farmers 
— I was by no means proud of the appearance of the 
little herd of twelve or fourteen cows with which 
operations were to commence. 

* The interested agricultural reader may consult ** Cfioix des 
Vadies Laitieres, par M, Magne^ Paris,^^ for full exhibit of 
the system. 


The popular belief, that all jockeyism and cheatery 
is confined to horse dealings, is too limited. Who- 
ever will visit the cow stables in Eobinson street, or 
near to Third avenue, upon a market day, may ob- 
serve a score or two of animals with painfully dis- 
tended udders (the poor brutes have not been milked 
in the last forty-eight hours), throwing appealing 
glances about the enclosure, and eyeing askance cer- 
tain buUet-headed calves, which are tied in adjoining 
stalls, but which have no more claim upon the ma- 
ternal instincts of the elder animals, than the drovers 
themselves. It is all a bald fiction ; the true ofiOspnng 
have gone to the butchers months ago ; and if the 
poor, surcharged brutes accept of the offices of the 
little staggering foundlings, it is with a weary i)oke 
of the head, that is damning to the brutality of the 

It would be too much to say that I have never 
been deceived by these people ; too much to say that 
honest old gentlemen of innocent proclivities did 
never pass upon me certain venerable animals, with 
the tell-tale wrinkles rasped out of their horns. One 
of this class, of a really creditable figure, high hip 
bones, heavy quarters, well marked milk veins, I was 
incautious enough to test by a glance into her 
mouth. Not a tooth in her old head. 

I looked accusingly at the rural owner, who 

no MV FARM. 

was quietly cutting a notch in the top rail of his 

" Waal, yes — kind o' rubbed off; but she bites 
pooty well with her gooms." 

Among the early purchases, and among the ani- 
mals that promised well, was a dun cow, which it 
was found necessary, after a few weeks of full feed- 
ing, to cumber with a complicated piece of neck 
furniture, to forbid her filching surreptitiously what 
properly belonged to the pail. Self-milkers are not 
profitable. I have faith in the doctrine of rotation, 
and the quick reconversion of ferm products into 
the elements of new growth. But here was a case 
of reconversion so rapid, as to be fatal to all the 
laws of economy* It suggested nothing so strongly, 
as that rapid issue of government money, which 
finds immediate absorption among the governmental 
officials. Does the government really milk itself ; 
and can no preventive be found in the way of neck 
machinery, or other ? 

Another animal was admirable in every point of 
view ; I found her upon one of the North Biver 
wharves, and the perfect outline of her form and 
high-bred action, induced a purchase^ even at a 
long figure; but the beast proved an inveterate 

The books recommend gentleness for the cure 


of this propensity ; so does humanity ; I concurred 
with both in suggesting that treatment to Patrick. 

" Gintle is it ? And bedad, sir, she's too ould for 
a cure. Fm thinking we must tie her legs, sir ; but 
if ye orders it, bedad, it's meself can be gintle. 

"Sob, Moolly — soh — sob (and a kick); sob, ye 
baste (a little livelier), soh (and a kick) — soh, blast 
ye ! — «o/i, Moolly — son, Katy— SOH (and a crash) ; 
och, you ould baste ye — take that I " and there is a 
thud of the milking stool in the ribs. 

The " gintleness " of Patrick is unavailing. But 
the cow is an excellent animal, and not to be hastily 
discarded. Milker after milker imdertook the con- 
quest, but with no better success. The task became 
the measure of a man's long-suffering disposition ; 
some gave over, and lost their tempers before the 
first trial was finished ; others conjured down the 
spirit by all sorts of endearing epithets, and tender- 
ness, until the conquest seemed almost made ; when 
suddenly pail, stool, and man would lapse together, 
and a stream of curses carry away all record of the 
tenderness. We came back at last to Patrick's origi- 
nal suggestion ; the legs must be tied. A short bit 
of thick rope passed around one foot and loosely 
knotted, then passed around the second and tied 
tightly in double knot, rendered her powerless. 
There was a slight struggle, but it was soon at an 

112 MY FARM, 

end ; and she made no opposition to the remoTal of 
the thong after the milking was over. With this 
simple provision, the trouble was all done away ; and 
for a whole year matters went, well But after this, 
there came a reformer into control of the dairy. The 
rope was barbarous; he didn't believe in such 
things ; he had seen kicking cows before. A Uttie 
firmness and gentleness would accomplish the object 
better ; God didn't make cows' legs to be tied. The 
position was a humane one, if not logical And the 
thong was discarded. 

"Well, Patrick," said I, two days after, "how 
fares the cow ? " 

" And begorra, it's the same ould baste, sir." 

A few days later I inquired again after the new 
regimen of gentleness and firmnes& 

"Begorra," said Patrick, ^' she's kicked him 
again ! " 

A week passed ; and I repeated the inquiries. 

"Begorra, she's kicked him again!'' screamed 
Patrick ; " and it's a divil's own bating he's been giv- 
ing the ould baste." 

Sure enough, the poor cow was injured sadly ; 
her milking days were over ; and in a month she 
went to the butcher. And this advocate of gentle- 
ness and fumness was one of the warmest and most 
impassioned philanthropists I ever met with. 


The moral of the story is, — if a cow is an invet- 
erate kicker, tie her legs with a gentle hand, or kill 
her. Beating will never cure, whether it come in 
successive thuds, or in an explosive outbreak of out- 
rageous violence. I suspect that the same ruling is 
applicable to a great many disorderly members of 

Although the cases I have cited were exceptional, 
and although my little herd had its quiet, docile, 
profit-giving representatives, yet I cannot say that it 
was altogether even with my hopes or intentions. 

Two stout yoke of those sleek red cattle, for which 
southern New England is famous, had their part to 
bear in the farm programme, besides a sleek young 
Aldemey bull, and a pair of sturdy horses. There 
were pigs with just enough of the Suffolk blood in 
them to give a shapely outline, and not so much as 
to develop that red scurfy baldness, which is to my 
eye rather an objectionable feature of high breeding 
and feeding — whether in men or pigs. 

Ducks, turkeys, and hens, in a fluttering brood, 
brought up the rear. With these all safely bestowed 
about the farm buildings which I have briefly indi- 
cated, and with a rosy-nosed, dapper little Somerset- 
shire man, who wore his taU Sunday-beaver with a 
slight cant to one side, established as lieutenant-gov- 
ernor in the cottage, the reins seemed fairly in hand. 




The JSm Land. 

"D EFOEE we keep company farther — the reader 
-■-^ and I — let me spread before him, as well as 
I maji a map of the farm , land. I may describe it, 
in gross, as a great parallelogram, intersected by the 
quiet public highway, which divides it into two great 
squares. The eastern square is, for the most part,, 
as level as the carpet on my library floor, and its 
crops make checkers like the figures on the ingrain. 
The eastern half is toward the town ; and upon its 
edge, by the highway, are the farm buildings I have 
grouped around the stone cottage. The western 
half is rolling ; and beyond the whitey-gray farm- 
house, with which I entered upon my portraiture, it 
heaves up into a great billow of hill, half banded 
with woodland, and half green with pasture. 

ii8 MV FARM, 

This billow of hill, dipped down between my home 
and the stone cottage, into a little valley, which I 
have transmuted, as before described, into a lawn of 
grass land, with its clumps of native trees and flower- 
ing shrubs, and its little pool, under the willows, 
that receives the drainage. Elsewhere, beyond, and 
higher, the surface of the hill was scarred with stones 
of all shapes and sizes ; orderly geology would have 
been at fault amid its debris ; — there were boulders 
of trap, with clean sharp fissures breaking through 
them ; — there were great flat fragments of gneiss 
covered with gray lichens ; — there were pure gran- 
itic rocks worn round, — perhaps by the play of 
some waves that have been hushed these thousand 
years ; and there were exceptional fragments of 
coarse red sandstone, frittered half away by centu- 
ries of rain, and leaving protruding pimples of 
harder pebbles. In short, Professor Johnston, who 
advised (in Scotland) the determination of a farm 
purchase by the character of the subjacent and ad- 
joining rocks, would have been at fault upon my hill- 
side. A short way back, amid the woods, he would 
have found a huge ridge of intractable serpentine ; 
the boulders he would have discovered to be of most 
various quality ; and if he had dipped his spade, 
aided by a pick, he would have foimd a yellow, fer- 
ruginous conglomerate, which the rains convert into 


a mud that is all aflow, and which the suns bake 
into a surface, that with the sharpest of mattocks 
would start a flood of perspiration, before he had 
combed a square yard of it into a state of garden 

Lying above this, however, was a vegetable mould, 
with a shiny silicious intermixture (what precise 
people would call a sandy loam), well knitted to- 
gether by a compact mass of the roots of myrtles, 
of huckleberry bushes, and of ferns. Geologically, 
the hill was a "drift ;" agriculturally, considering 
the steep slopes and the matted roots, it was unin- 
viting ; pictorially, it was rounded into the most 
graceful of cumulated swells, and all glowing with 
its wild verdure ; practically, it was a coarse bit of 
neglected cow-pasture, with the fences down, and the 
bushes rampant. 

"What could be done with this ? It is a query that 
a great many landholders throughout New England 
will have occasion some day to submit to themselves, 
if they have not done so already. Overfeeding with 
starveling cows, and a lazy dash at the brush in the 
idle days of August, will not transform such hiUs 
into fields of agricultural wealth. Under such regir 
men they grow thinner and thinner. The annual 
excoriation of the brush above ground, seems only 
to provoke a finer and firmer distribution of the 


roots below ; and the depasturing by cows — par- 
ticularly of milch animals, folded, or stalled at night 
— will gradually and surely diminish the fertilizing 
capital of such grazing land. It is specially notice- 
able that the deterioration under these conditions, 
is much more marked upon hill lands than upon 
level meadows.* 

In the back country, such old pastures with their 
brush and scattered stones, will Tfeed sheep profit- 
ably, and will grow better under the cropping. But 
in the immediate neighborhood of towns, where 
every barkeeper has his half dozen dogs, and every 
Irish family their cur, and every vagabond his canine 
associate, sheep can only be kept at a serious risk of 
immolation for the benefit of these worthies. Proper 
legislation might interpose a bar, indeed, to such 
sacrifice of agricultural interests, — if legislation 
were not so largely in the hands of dog-fanciers. 

The sheep are not the only sujfferera 

Shall the hill be ploughed? It is not an easy task 
to lay a good furrow along a slope of forty-five de- 
grees, with its seams of old wintry torrents, its oc- 
casional boulders, and its matted myrtle roots ; and, 

* This is perhaps more apparent than real, from the fact 
that upon level lands the droppings are more evenly dis- 


if fairly accomplished, the winter's rains may drive 
new seams from top to bottom, carrying the light 
mould far down under walls, and into useless places, 
— leaving harsh yellow scars, that will defy the mel- 
lowest June sunshine. 

A city friend, with city aptitude, suggests — ter- 
races; and instances the pretty ones overhung with 
vines, which the traveller may see along the banks 
of the Bhina 

I answer kindly ; and in the same vein — suggest 
that such scattered rocks, as are not needed, may be 
thrown into the shape of an old watch tower — with 
Bishop Hatto's for a model — to mimic the Bhine 

" Charming I and when the grapes are ripe, 

drop me a line." And my city friend plucks a bit of 
penny-royal, and nips it complacently. 

Terracing might be done in a rude but substantial 
way, at the cost of about fifteen hundred dollars the 
acre. This might do at Johannisberg ; but hardly, 
in a large way, in Connecticut. Crops must needs 
be exceeding large upon such terraces, to compete 
Buccesfully with those of a thriving " forehanded " 
man, who farms upon a land capital of less than a 
hundred dollars to the acre. 

I abandoned the design of terraces. And yet, 
there are times when I regale myself for hours to- 

122 MV FARM. 

gether, with the pleasant fancy of my city friend. 
His terraces should be weU lichened over now ; and 
I seem to see brimming on the successive shelves of 
the hill, great festoons of vines, spotted with purple 
clusters ; amidst the foliage, there gleams, here and 
there, the broad hat of some vineyard dresser (as in 
German pictures), and crimson kirtles come and go, 
and songs flash into the summer stillness, and a soft 
purple haze wraps the scene, and thickens in the 
hoUows of the land, and swims fathoms deep around 
the ruin 

" Square, what d'ye ask apiece for them suck- 

It is my neighbor, who has clambered up, holding 
by the myrtle bushes, to buy a pig. 

The vexed question of the proper dressing and 
tillage of the hillside, is stiU in reserve. I resolved 
it in this wise : — Of the rocks most convenient, and 
least available for fencing purposes, I constructed an 
easy roadway, leading by gradual inclination from 
top to bottom ; other stones were laid up in a sub- 
stantial wall, which supplies the place of a stagger- 
ing and weakly fence, that every strong north- 
wester prostrated ; still others, of a size too small 
for any such purpose, were buried in drains, which 
diverted the standing moisture from one or two 
sedgy basins on the hiU, and discharged the flow 


upon the crown of a gravelly slope. There, I have 
now the pleasure of seeing a most luxuriant growth 
of white clover and red top, fertilized wholly by the 
flow of water which was only harmful in its old lo- 
cality. I next ordered, in the leisurely time of later 
autumn, the grubbing up of the patches of myrtles 
and briers, root and branch ; these with the mossy 
turf that cumbered them, after thorough drying, 
were set on fire, and burned slumberously, with a 
little careful watching and tending, for weeks to- 
gether. I was thus in possession of a comparatively 
smooth surface, not so far disintegrated as to be 
subject to damaging washes of storm, besides having 
a large stock of fertilizing material in the shape of 

In the following spring, these wei*e carefully 
spread ; a generous supply of hay-seed sown, and 
still further, an ample dressing of phosphatic guano. 
The hillside was then thoroughly combed with a 
fine-toothed Scotch harrow, and the result has been 
a compact lively sod, and a richer bite for the cattle. 

Again, upon one' or two salient points of the hill, 
where there were stubborn rocks which forbade re- 
moval, I have set little coppices of native evergreens, 
which, without detracting in any appreciable degree 
from the grazing surface, will, as they grow, have 
charming effect, and offer such modicum of shade 

124 MV FARM. 

as aJl exposed pasture lands need. One who looked 
only to simple farm results, would certainly never 
have planted the little coppices, or hedged them, as 
I have done, against injury. But it appears to mo 
that judicious management of land in the neighbor- 
hood of large towns, should not ignore whoUy, the 
conservation of those picturesque effects, which at 
no very remote time, may come to have a market- 
able value, greater even than the productive capacity 
of the soil 

I have even had the hardihood to leave upon cer- 
tain particularly intractable spots of the hill land, 
groups of myrtles, briers, scrubby oaks, wild grapes, 
and birches, to tangle themselves together as they 
will, in a wanton savagery of growtL Such a copse 
makes a round perch or two of wilderness about the 
sprawling wreck of an old cellar and chimney, which 
have traditional smack of former Indian occupancy ; 
and the site gives color to the tradition ; — for you 
look from it southeasterly over three square miles 
of wavy meadows, through which a river gleams, 
and over bays that make good fishing ground, and 
over a ten-mile reach of shimmering sea. A Httle 
never-failing spring bubbles up a few yards away ; 
and to the westward and northward, the land piles 
in easy slope, making sunny shelter, where, — first 
on all the hillside, — the snow vanishes in Spring. 


The Indian people had a quick eye for such adyan- 
tages of position. 

In still further confirmation, I have turned up an 
arrow-head or two in the neighborhood, chipped 
from white quartz, and as keen and sharp as on the 
day they were wrought 

I am aware that what are called " tidy farmers " 
would have brushed away these outlying copses, no 
matter what roughnesses they concealed ; but I sus- 
pect their rude autumn clippings with a bush-hook, 
would only have provoked a spread of the rootlets ; 
and if effectual, would have given them only a bit of 

Up-country farmers are overtaken from tim* to 
time, with what I may caU a spasmodic tidiness, 
which provokes a general onslaught veith bill-hooks 
and castaway scythes, upon hedge rows and wayside 
bushes, and pasture thickets, — veithout considering 
that these thickets may conceal idle stone heaps or 
decrepid walls, which are as sightless as the extermi- 
nated bush ; and their foray leaves a vigorous crop 
of harsh stubs, which, with the next season, shoot 
up vrith more luxuriance than ever, and leave no 
more available land within the farmer's grasp than 
before. Wherever it is profitable to remove such 
wild growth, it is profitable to exterminate it root 
and branch. Half doing the matter is of less worth 

126 MV FARM, 

than not doing it at all. But it is well to consider 
before entering upon such a campaign, if the end 
will justify the labor ; and if the recovered strips of 
land will carry remunerative crops. If otherwise, 
let the wild growth enjoy its wantonness. It may 
come to be a little scattered range of wood in time, 
and so have its value ; it may offer shelter against 
the sweep of vdnds ; it will give a nursing place 
for the birds, — and the birds are the farmer's 

I am loth to believe that the natural graces of 
woodland and shrubbery are incompatible vrith agri- 
cultural interests ; and a true farm economy seems 
to me better directed in malting more thorough the 
tillage of the open lands, than in making Quixotic 
foray upon the bushy fastnesses of outlying pas- 

When a dense population shall have rendered ne- 
cessary the employment of every foot of our area for 
food-growing purposes, it may be incumbent on us 
to cleave all the rocks, and to clear away all the 
copses : but until then, I shall love to treat with a 
tender consideration the green mantle — albeit of 
brambles f^nd wild vines — with which Nature covers 
her roughnesses; and I like to see in the stream- 
ing tendrils, and in the nodding tassels of bloom 
which bind and tuft these wild thickets of the hills. 


a sampler of vegetable luxuriance, which every 
Bummer's day provokes and defies all our rivalry of 
the fields. 

What is called 'tidiness, is by no means always 
taste ; and I am slow to believe that farm economy 
must be at eternal war with grace. I know well that 
no inveterate improver should ever tempt me to ex- 
tirpate the dandelions from the green carpet of my 
lawn, or to cut away the wild Kalmia bush which in 
yonder group among the rocks, is just now redden- 
ing into its crown of blossoms. 

The Farm Flat. 

TT is a different matter vrith the eighty acres of 
-^ meadow which lie stretched out in view from 
my door. There, at least, it seemed to me, must be 
a dean, dear sweep for the furrows. Yet I remem- 
ber there were long wavy lines of elder-bushes, and 
wild-cherries, groping beside the disorderly dividing 
fences. There were weakly old apple-trees, with 
blackened, dead tops, and with trunks half concealed 
by thickets of dwarfish shoots ; there were triplets 
of lithe elms, and hickory trees, scattered here and 
there; — in some fields, stunted, draggled cedar 
bushes, and masses of yellow-weed ; — a little patch 

128 MV FARM, 

of ploughed-land in the comer of one enclosure, and 
a waving half acre of rye in the middle of the next. 
The fences themselves were disjointed and twisted, 
— the fields vnthout uniformity in size, and vnth no 
order in their arrangement. 

'' I think we must mend the look of these mead- 
ows, Coombs ? " 

And the dapper Somersetshire man, with his hat 
defiantly on one side — '* Please God, and I think 
we vnll, sir." 

I must do him the justice to say that he was as 
good as his word. In looking over the scene now, 
I find no straggling cedars, no scattered shoots of 
elms ; the wayward eldets, and the vdld-cherries 
save one protecting and orderly hedgerow along the 
northern border of the farm — are gone. The de- 
crepid apple-trees are rooted up, or combed and 
pruned into more promising shape. Ten-acre fields, 
trim and true, are distributed over the meadow land, 
and each, for the most part, has its single engross- 
ing crop. 

As I look out from my library vrindow to-day — 
and the learned reader may guess the month from 
my description — I see one field reddened with the 
lusty bloom of clover, which stands trembling in its 
ranks, and which I greatly fear will be doubled on 
its knees vriththe first rain storm; another shovrs 


the yellowish waving green of full-grown rye, sway- 
ing and dimpling, and drifting as the idle winds 
will ; another is half in barley and half in oats — a 
bristling green beard upon the first, the oats just 
flinging out their fleecy, feathery tufts of blossom ; 
upon another field, are deep dark lines beneath 
which, in September, there are fair hopes of harvest- 
ing a thousand bushels of potatoes; yet another, 
shows fine lines of growing com, and a brown area^ 
where a closer look would reveal the delicate growth 
of fresh-starting carrots and mangel All the rest in 
waving grass ; not so clean as could be wished, for I 
see tawny stains of blossoming sorrel, and fields 
whitened like a sheet, with daisies. 

If there be any cure for daisies, short of a clean 
fallow every second year, I do not know it ; at least, 
not in a region where your good neighbors allow 
them to mature seed every year, and stock your fields 
with every strong wind, afresh. 

Heavy topdressing is recommended for their 
eradication, but it is not effective ; so far as I can 
see, the interlopers, if once established, enjoy heavy 
feeding. A rye crop is by many counted an exter- 
minator of this pest ; but it wiU find firm footing 
after rye. Thorough and clean tillage, with a sys- 
tem of rotation, afford the only security. 

It is not Bums' " wee-tipped " daisy that is to be 


dealt with ; it is a sturdier plant — our ox-eye daisy 
of the fields ; there is no modesty in its flaunting air 
and the bold uplift of its white and yellow face. 

I never thought there was a beauty in it, until, on 
a day — years ago — after a twelvemonth's wander- 
ing over the fields of the Continent, I came upon a 
little pot of it, under the wing of the Madeleine, on 
the streets of Paris. It was a dwarfish specimen, 
and the nodding blossoms (only a pair of them) gave 
a modest dip over the edge of the red crock, as if 
they felt themselves in a country of strangers. But 
it was the true daisy for all this, and I greeted it 
with a welcoming franc of purchase money, and caj> 
ried it to my rooms, and established it upon my 
balcony, where, while the flower lasted, I made a 
new Picciola of it. And as I watered it, and watched 
its green buttons of buds unfolding the white 
leaflets, wide visions of rough New England grass* 
lands came pouring with the sunshine into the Paris 
window, and with them, — the drowsy song of lo- 
custs, — the gushing melody of Bob-o'-Lincolns, — 
until the drum-beat at the opposite Caserne drowned 
it, and broke the dream. 

These living and growing souvenirs of far-away 
places, carry a wealth of interest and of suggestion 
about them, which no merely inanimate object can 
do. I have flowers fairly pressed, not having wholly 


lost their color, which I plucked from the walls of 
Eome, and others from a house-court of the buried 
Pompeii ; but they are as dead as the guide-books 
that describe the places. 

It is different wholly with a little potted Ivy which 
a friend has sent from the walls of Kenilworth. 
It clambers over a rustic frame within the window 

— a tiny, but a real offshoot of that great mass of 
vegetable life which is flaunting over the British 
ruin ; a little live bubble as it were, from that stock 
of vitality which is searching all the crannies of the 
masonry that belongs to the days of Elizabeth. 

I never look at it in times of idle musing, but its 
shiny leaflets seem to carry me to the gray wreck of 
castle : and the tramp through the meadows from 
Leamington comes back : — the wet grass, the gray 
walls, the broad-hatted English girls, hovering with 
gleeful laughter about the ruin, and the flitch of 
bacon hanging in the gatekeeper's house. Other- 
times, the dainty tendrils of the vine lead me still 
farther back ; and Leicester, Amy Robsart, Essex, 
and Queen Bess with her followers, and all her court, 

— come trooping to my eye in the trail of this poor 
little exiled creeper from Kenilworth. 

But this is not farming. 

" Coombs," said I, " what shall we plant upon the 
flat? " — not that I had no opinion on the subject, 

132 MV FARM. 

but because in farming, there is a value in the sug- 
gestions of every practical worker. 

The Somersetshire man leans his head a little, as 
if considering : — " We must have some artificial, sir, 

— for the cows — Mangel or pale Belgians, — both 
good, sir ; some oats for the 'osses, sir ; potatoes^ 
sir, is a tidy crop — " 

I observe that EngHshmen and Scotchmen are 
disposed to slight our standard crop of maize. They 
do not understand it. They fail of making a cred- 
itable show in comparison with the old-school native 
farmers, who, by dint of long experience, have ac- 
quired the habit (rather habit than capacity) of 
making a moderate crop of com with the least pos- 
sible amount of tillage and of skiU. To turn over a 
firm grass sward, and phmt directly upon the in- 
verted turf, without harrowing, or ridging, or drill- 
ing, is contrary to aU the old-country traditions. 

And yet the fact is notorious, that some of the 
best corn crops (I do not speak now of exceptional 
and premium crops), ai-e grown in precisely this 
primitive way ; given a good sod, and a good top- 
dressing turned under — with, perhaps, a little dash 
of superphosphate upon the hills to quicken germi- 
nation, and give vigorous start, — and the New Eng- 
land farmer, if he give clean and thorough culture 

— which, under such circumstances, involves little 


labor — can count upon his forty or fifty bushels of 
sound com to the acre. And the Scotchman or 
Englishman may tear the sod, or ridge the field, or 
drill it, or torment it as he wiU, before planting, 
and the chances are, he will reap, with the same 
amount of fertilizers, a smaller harvest. And it is 
precisely this imdervaluation of his traditional mode 
of labor, that makes him show a distaste for the crop. 
Com is a rank grower, and very largely, a surface 
feeder ; for these reasons, it accommodates itself bet- 
ter than most farm crops, to an awkward and care- 
less husbandry — provided only, abundance of gross 
fertilizers are present, and comparative cleanliness 
secured. It is not a crop which I should count a 
valuable assistant in bringing the sandy loam of a 
neglected farm into a condition of prime fertility. 
It has so rank an appetite for the inorganic riches 
of a soil, as to forbid any accumulation of that valu- 
able capital. Nor do I clearly perceive how, in the 
neighborhood of large towns, and upon light soils, 
it can be made a profitable crop at the East It has 
a traditional sanctity, to be sure ; and a great many 
pleasant old gentlemen of Nei?^ England, who count 
themselves shrewd farmers, would as soon think of 
abandoning their heavy ox-carts, or of adopting a 
long-handled shovel, as of abandoning their yearly 
growth of corn. 

134 MV FARM, 

I think I have given the matter a fair test, not- 
withstanding the objections of my Somersetshire 
friend, and have added to my own experience, very 
much observation of my neighbors' practice. And I 
am very confident that if only a fair valuation be 
placed upon the labor and manures required, that 
any average com crop grown upon light soils at the 
East^ will cost the producer four years out of five, 
ten per cent, more than the market price of the 
Western grain. In this estimate, I make due al- 
lowance for the value of the stalks and blades for 

I shall enter into no array of figures for the sake 
of proving this point ; figures can be made to prove, 
or seem to prove so many things. And however 
clearly the fact might be demonstrated, there are 
two classes at least, upon whom the demonstration 
would have no effect; the first being those over- 
shrewd old men, who keep imflinchingly to their 
accustomed ways, counting their own labor for Httle 
or nothing (in which they are not far wrong) ; and 
the other class consisting of those retired gentlemen 
who bring so keen a relish for farming to their work, 
that they rather enjoy producing a crop at a cost of 
twice its market value. I heartily wish I were able 
to participate in such pleasant triumpha 

But if the economy of maize growing for the 


grain product be questionable, there can be no ques- 
tion whatever of cultivating the crop as a forage 
plant, for green cutting, and for soiling purposes. 
In no way can a full supply of succulent food be fur- 
nished more cheaply for a herd of cows, during the 
heats of August and September. For this object, I 
have found the best results in drilling eighteen 
inches apart, upon inverted sod, thoroughly ma- 
nured ; to insure successive supplies, the sowing 
should be repeated at intervals of a month, from the 
twentieth of April to the twentieth of July. A later 
sowing than this last, will expose the blades to early 

The amount of green food which can be cut from 
an acre of well-grown com is immense ; but let no 
one hope for successful results, without a most ample 
supply of manure, and clean land. The practice has 
fallen into disfavor with many, from the fact that 
they have given all their best fertilizers to other 
crops, and then made the experiment of growing 
corn-fodder with a flimsy dressing, and no care. 
They deserved to fail. It is to be observed more- 
over, that as the crop matures no seed, it makes 
little drain upon the mineral wealth of the land, and 
can be followed by any of the cereals. This suggests 
a simple and short rotation : First, corn — grown for 
its blades and stalks only (the first cuttings being 

136 MY FARM, 

succeeded by turnips): Second, carrots, Mangel, or 
potatoes : Third, oats or other cereal : and Fourth, 
clover with grass seeds, to be mown so long as 
the interests of the dairy or the land may de- 

A professed grain-grower, or an English farmer, 
would smile at such an unstudied rotation ; but I 
name it in all confidence, as one adapted to dairy 
purposes, upon lands which need recuperation. It 
is, in fact, a succession of two fallow crops, and with 
proper culture and dressings, will insure accumulat- 
ing fertility. 

Such a simple course of green cropping is, more- 
over, admirably adapted to the system of soiling, 
which, upon all light and smooth lands, adapted to 
dairy purposes, in the neighborhood of towns, must 
sooner or later become the prevailing method ; and 
this, — because it is economic, — because it is sure, 
and because it supplies fourfold more of enriching 
material than belongs to any other system. I am 
not writing a didactic book, or offering any challenge 
to the agricultural critics (who, I am afraid, are as 
full of their little jealousies as the literary critics), — 
else I would devote a full chapter to this theory of 
soiling, and press strongly what I believe to be its 

The reader is spared this ; but he must pardon 


me a little fanciful illustration of the subject, in 
which I have sometimes indulged, and which may, 
possibly, at a future day, become real 

An lUustraiion of Soiling. 

"TpROM the eighty-acre flat below — so like a car- 
-^ pet, with its checkered growth — I order every 
line of division fence to be removed ; the best of the 
materisd being kept in reserve for making good the 
border fences, and the remainder cut, splits and piled 
for the fire. The neighbors, who cling to the old 
system of two-acre lots, and pinched door-yards, 
open their eyes and mouths very widely at thi& 
The novelty, like all novelties in a quiet coimtry 
region, is at once astounding and oppressive. As if 
the parish parson were suddenly to come out in the 
red stockings of a cardinal, or a sober-sided select- 
man to appear on the highway without some impor- 
tant article of his dress. 

I &n<^ two or three astute old gentlemen leaning 
over the border fence, as the work of demolition 
goes on. 

" The Squire 's makin' this ere farm inter a parade- 
ground, a'n't he ? " says one ; and there is a little, 
withering sarcastic laugh of approval 

138 MV FARM. 

Presently, another is charged with a reflection 
which he submits in this shape : *' Ef a crittur breaks 
loose in. sich a rannge as that, I raether guess hell 
have a time on'i" And there is another chimipy 
laugh, and significant noddings are passed back and 
forth between the astute old gentlemen — as if they 
were mandarin images, and nodded by reason of the^ 
gravity of some concealed dead weight — (as indeed 
they do). 

A third suggests that 'Hhere woant be no great 
expense for diggin' o' post holes," which remark is 
so obviously sound, that it is passed by in silence. 

The clearance, however, goes forward swimmingly. 
The new breadth which seems given to the land as 
the dwarfish fields disappear one after another, de- 
velops a beauty of its own. The Yellow-weeds, and 
withered wild-grasses, which had clung under the 
shelter of the fences, even with the best care, are all 
shorn away. The tortuous and irregular lines which 
the frosts had given to the reeling platoons of rails, 
perplex the eye no more. 

Near to the centre of these opened fields is a 
great feeding-shed, one hundred feet by forty, its 
ridge high, and the roof sloping away in swift pitch 
on either side to lines of posts, rising eight feet only 
from the ground. The gables are covered in with 
rough material, in such shape as to leave three sim- 


pie open arches at either end ; the middle opening, 
— high and broad, so that loaded teams may pass 
beneath ; the two flanking arches, — r lower, and 
opening upon two ranges of stalls which sweep down 
on either side the building. These stalls are so dis- 
posed that the cattle are fed directly from carts 
passing around the exterior. Behind either range 
of cattle is a walk Ave feet broad ; and between 
these walks, — an open space sixteen feet wide, 
traversing the whole length of the building, and 
serving at once as manure pit, and gangway for the 
teams which deposit from time to time their contri- 
butions of muck and turf. Midway of this central 
area is a covered cistern, from which, as occasion 
demands, the drainage of the stalls may be pumped 
up to drench the accumulating stock of fertilizing 

This simple building, which serves as the summer 
quarters of the dairy, is picturesque in its outline ; 
for I know no reason why economy should abjure 
grace, or why farm construction should be uncouth 
or tawdry. 

A small pasture-close, with strong fencing — with 
gates that will not swag, and with abundance of 
running water, supplied from the hills, serves as an 
exercising ground for the cows for two hours each 
day. Other times, throughout the growing season, 


they belong in the open and airy stalls. The crops 
which are to feed them, are pushing luxuriantly 
within a stone's throw of their quartera An active 
man with a sharp scythe, a light horse-cart and Cana- 
dian pony, will look after the feeding of a herd of fif ty, 
with time to spare for milking and stall cleaning. 

From the tenth of May to the first of June, per. 
haps nothing will contribute so much to a full flow 
of milk, as the freshnspringing grass upon some out- 
lying pasture on the hills. After this, the cows may 
take up their regular summer quarters in the build- 
ing I have roughly indicated. From the first to the 
tenth of June, there may be heavy cuttings of winter 
rye ; from the tenth of June to the twentieth, the 
lucerne (than which no better soiling crop can be 
found) is in full season ; after the twentieth, clover 
and orchard grass are in their best condition, and 
retain their succulence up to the first week in July, 
when, in ordinary seasons, the main reliance — maize 
which was sown in ndd-April, is fit for the scythe. 
Succeeding crops of this, keep the mangers of the 
cows full, up to an early week in October. After- 
ward may come cuttings of late-sown barley, or the 
leaves of the Mangel, or carrot-tops, with which, as 
a bonne bouche, the cattle are withdrawn to their 
winter quarters, for their dietary of cut-feed, oil- 
cake, occasional bran and roots. 


They leave behind them in their summer banquet- 
ing house, a little Ehigi of fertilizing material — not 
exposed to storms, neither too dry nor too moist, 
and of an unctuous fatness, which will make sundry 
surrounding fields, in the next season, carry a heav- 
ier burden than ever of purple Mangel, or of shining 

I perceive, too, very clearly, in furtherance of the 
illustration, that one acre will produce as much nu- 
tritive food, under this system, as four acres under 
the old plan of waste — by poaching — and by ex- 
posure of all manurial material to the fierce beat of 
the sun, and to the washings of rain storms. I per- 
ceive that the land, a^ well as cattle, are all fairly in 
hand, and better under control. If at any time the 
season, or the market, should indicate a demand for 
some special crop, I am not disturbed by any appre- 
hension that this or that enclosure may be needed 
for grazing, and so, bar the use. I perceive that a 
well-regulated system must govern all the farm 
labor, and that there will be no place for that loose- 
ness of method, and carelessness about times and 
details, which is invited by the old way of turning 
cattle abroad to shirk for themselves. 

No timid team will be thrashed, in order to wipe 
the fence posts with the clattering whiffletree, at 
the last bout around the headlands. There will be 

142 MV FARM. 

no worrying of the Buckeye in old and weedy cor- 
ners ; not a reed or a Gk>lden-rod can wave anywhere 
in triumph. The eye sweeps over one stretch of 
luxuriant field, where no foot of soil is wasted. The 
crops, in long even lines, are marked only by the 
successive stages of their growth, and by their col- 
oring. There are no crooked rows, no gores, no 

If the reader has ever chanced to sail upon a 
summer's day up the river Seine, he will surely re- 
member the beautiful checker-work of crops, which 
shine, in lustrous green, on either bank beyond the 
old Norman city of Eouen. Before yet the quaint 
and gorgeous towers of the to^ have gone down in 
the distance, these newer beauties of the cleanly 
cultivated shore-land challenge his wonder and ad- 
miration. I name the scene now, because it shows 
a cultivation without enclosures ; nothing but a tra- 
ditional line — which some aged poplar, or scar on 
the chalk cliff marks, — between adjoining proprie- 
tors ; a belt of wheat is fringed with long-bearded 
barley ; and next, the plume-like tufts of the French 
trefoil, make a glowing band of crimson. A sturdy 
peasant woman, in wooden sabots, is gathering up a 
bundle of the trefoil to carry to her pet cow, under 
the lee of the stone cottage that nestles by the river's 


An Old Orchard. 

A CERTAIN proportion of mossy, ragged or- 
"^-^ charding belongs to almost every New England 
farm. My own, in this respect, was no exception ; if 
exceptional at all, the exception lay in the fact that 
its orcharding was less ragged and mossy than most ; 
the trees were also, many of them, grafted with sorts 
approved twenty years ago. Eight acres of a some- 
what gravelly declivity, were devoted to this growth, 
of which four were in apple trees, two in cherries, 
and two in pears. Intervals of two acres each, on 
either idde the cherries, of unoccupied land, were in 
the old time planted respectively with plums and 
peaches. Of these, only a few ragged stumps, or 
fitful and black-knotted shoots, remained. Their 
life as well as their f ruitfulness had gone by ; and I 
only knew of them through the plaintive laments of 
many an old-time visitor, who tantalized me vnth his 
tales of the rare abundance of luscious stone-fruits, 
which once swept down the hillside. 

The whole enclosure of twelve acres had relapsed 
into a wild condition. The turf was made up of a 
promiscuous array of tussocks of wild-grass, dwarfed 
daisies, struggling sorrel, with here and there a 

144 ^y FARM. 

mullein lifting its yellow head, and domineering over 
the lesser wild growth. Occasional clumps of hick- 
ory, or of wild-cherry, had shot up, and exhibited a 
succulence and vigor which did not belong to the 
cultivated trees. 

And now I am going to describe fully — keeping 
nothing back — the manner in which I dealt with 
this wilderness of orchard. It was not in many re- 
spects the best way ; but the record of errors in so 
experimental a matter, often carries as good a lesson 
as the record of successes. This is as true in state- 
craft as with old orcharding. 

First, I extirpated every tree which was not a fruit 
tree — with the exception of one lordly sugar maple 
at the foot of the declivity, and standing within one 
of the unoccupied belts. Its stately, compact head, 
shading a full half acre of ground, still crowns the 
view. I am aware that it is an agricultural enormity. 
The mowers complain that the broken limbs, torn 
down by ice storms, are a pest; the tenant com- 
plains of its deep shade ; one or two neighboring 
sawyers have made enticing propositions for its stal- 
wart bole, yet I cannot forego my respect for its 
united age and grace. 

With this exception, I made full clearance, and 
turned under, by careful ploughing, all the wild sod. 
I dressed the whole field heavily with such fertilizers 


as could be brought together, from home resources 
and from town stables, with certain addenda of lime 
and phosphates. I removed all trees in a dying con- 
dition, of which there were at least twenty per cent 
of the gross number ; I pruned away all dead limbs, 
all interlacing boughs, and swamps of shoots from 
the roots. The mosses, cocoons, and scales of old 
bark were carefully scraped from the trunks and 
larger limbs, which were then washed thoroughly 
with a strong solution of potash. Even at this stage 
of the proceedings, I felt almost repaid by the air of 
neatness and cleanliness which the old orchard wore ; 
and I am sorry to say that in regard to very many 
of the trees, it was all the repayment I have ever 

Among the apple trees was a large number of 
that old favorite the Newtown pippin ; and these, 
I am sorry to say, were the most mossy and dilapi- 
dated of all ; nor did they improve. No scrapings 
or prunings tempted them to any luxuriance of 
growth. One by one they have been cut away, until 
now only two remain. The nurserymen tell us that 
the tree is not adapted to the soil and climate of 
New England. I can confirm their testimony with 

There was, also, a stalwart company of trees bear- 
ing that delightful little dessert fruit — the Lady 

146 MV FARM. 

apple. And I think my pains added somewhat to 
their thrift ; they are sturdy, and full of leaves every 
summer ; and every May, in its latter days sees them 
a great pyramid of blooming and blushing white. 
But after the bloom, the beauty is never fully re- 
stored. There is fruit indeed, but small, pinched, 
pierced with curculio stings, bored through and 
through with the worm of the apple-moth ; and oypr 
and above all, every apple is patched with a mouldy 
blight which forbids full growth, and gives it^ with 
its brilliant red cheek, a falsified promise of excel- 
lence. I have found in the books no illustration of 
this peculiar distemper which attacks the Lady 
apple ; but in my orchard, in the month of Novem- 
ber, the illustrations abound. 

The Esopus Spitzenberg, that red, spicy bit of 
apple-flesh, had its representatives among the old 
trees which came under my care ; I may give it the 
credit of showing grateful cognizance of the labor 
bestowed. The trees thrived ; they are thrifty now ; 
the bloom is like that of a gigantic, out-spread Wei- 
gelia. The fruit too (such as the curculio spares), is 
full and round ; but there is not a specimen of it 
which is not bored through by the inevitable grub 
of the apple-moth. 

Besides the varieties I have particularized, there 
were the Tallman and Pound Sweetings sparsely 


represented ; and the Ehode Island Greening, which 
I will fairly admit, has made a better struggle 
against adverse influences, than any winter fruit I 
have named. So fair a struggle, indeed, that if I 
could only forego the visitations of the curculio and 
of the moth, I might hope for an old-time fulness of 
crop. The Strawberry apple, by reason, I think, of 
its early maturity (and the same is true of the Bed 
Astrachan), has shown a more kindly recognition of 
care than the later fruits. The moth, if it attacks, 
does not destroy it. I count upon its brilliant color- 
ing, and its piquant acidity in the first days of Au- 
gust, as surely as I count upon the rains which fol- 
low the in-gathering of the hay. There remained a 
few trees of various old-fashioned sorts, such as the 
Fall-Pippin, the Pearmain, the Cheseborough Busset, 
and the black Gilliflower, which have shown little 
thrift, and borne no fruit of which a modest man 
would be inclined to boast. 

In short, *there appeared so little promise of emi- 
nent results, that after two or three years I gave 
over all special culture of the majority of the trees, 
and devoting the land to grass, left them to struggle 
against the new sod as they best could. Fruit 
growers and nursery men vnll object that the trial 
was not complete ; and they will, with good reason, 
aver that no fruit trees can make successful struggle 

14? . MY FARM. 

agtdnst firmly rooted grass. From all tilled crops^ 
within whose Hues there are spaces of the brown 
soil subject to the dews and atmospheric influences, 
trees will steal the nourishment ; but grass» with its 
serried spear-blades covering the ground, steals from 
the tree. An open fallow with crops in the inter- 
vals, would certainly, if sustained for a period of 
years, have contributed far greater thrift than the 
trees now possess. But an open fallow is no protec- 
tion against the curculio and the apple moth. If 
there be a protection so simple, and of such propor- 
tions as to admit of its application to a marketable 
crop, I am not yet informed of ii A few worthy 
old gentlemen of my acquaintance, catch a few mil- 
lers in a deep-necked bottle, baited with molasses, 
which is hung from the limbs of some favorite tree 
overshadowing their pig-pen ; and they point with 
pride to the resulta I certainly admire their suc- 
cesses, but have not been tempted to emulate them, 
on the extended scale which the mossy orchard 
would have afforded. 

Some persistent amateurs and pains-taking gentle- 
men do, I know, succeed in making the young fruit 
of a few favorite plum trees distasteful to the cur- 
culio, by repeated ejections of a foul mixture of to- 
bacco and whale-oil soap, — by which the tree has a 
weekly bath, and an odor of imcleanness. But in 


view of a large orchard, where apples make a leafy 
pyramid measured by cubic yards, and cherries carry 
their fine fruit sixty feet in the air, there would be 
needed a projectile of dirty water that would rival 
Alderman Mechi's of Tip-tree HaU. 

It is far easier to accomplish successful results 
with an old orchard of native, wild growth, than 
with one of grafted fruit ; — even as the Doctors 
find that a reprobate who has fallen away from 
grace and early good conduct, is a worse subject for 
reformation, than an unkempt savage. 

The grafted tree wants kn, abounding luxuriance 
of material, from which to elaborate its exceeding 
size and flavor ; and if by neglect, this material be 
wanting, the organs of its wonderful living labora- 
tory shrink — from inaction, and part with a share 
of their vitality. The native tree, on the other hand, 
having no special caU upon it for the elaboration of 
daintier juices than go to supply a cider vat, has 
steady normal development under all its mosses, and 
retains a stock of reserved vitality, which, if you 
humor with good tillage and dressings, and point 
with good grafts, will carry a good tale to the apple 

On the very orchard I have named, were some two 
or three imcouth, lumbering, unpromising trees, yet 
sound as a nut to their outermost twigs, which the 


simple dressings, tillage, and washings that were 
bestowed somewhat vainly upon the others, quick- 
ened into a marvellous luxuriance ; and the few 
shoots I set upon them are now supplying the best 
fruit of the orchard. Even these, however, are not 
free from the pestilent stings which the swarms of 
winged visitors inflict upon every crop. 

It is very questionable if ploughing is, upon the 
whole, the best way of reinstating a neglected and 
barren orchard. It is a harsh method ; trees strug- 
gling to keep up a good appearance under adverse 
circumstances — like men — use every imaginable 
shift ; their little spongiole feeders go off on wide 
search; they are multiplied by the diversity of 
labor ; and the plough cuts into them cruelly, mak- 
ing crude butcher work where the nicest surgery is 
demanded. I am inclined to believe that a deep 
trench, sunk around each tree, at the distance of 
from eight to ten feet from the trunk, and filled with 
good lime compost, is the surest way of redeeming 
a neglected orchard. Even then, however, the turf 
should be carefully removed within the enclosed 
circle, that the air and its influences may have pene- 
trative power upon the soil. The method is Bacon- 
ian (fodiendo et aperiendo terram circa radices ip- 
sarum) ; it is thorough, but it is expensive ; and a 
farmer must consider well — if his trees, soil, mar- 


ket, and the populousness of the insect world will 
warrant it. 

For my own part, so far as regards a market crop 
of winter fruit, I have decided very thoroughly in 
the negative. Not that it cannot be grown with 
sufficient care ; but that it can be grown far more 
cheaply, and of a better quality, in other regions. 
Summer fruit is not so long exposed to the depre- 
dations of insects, nor will it bear distant transpor- 
tation. Its freshness too, gives it a virtue, and a 
relishy smack, which warrant special pains-taking. 

I find in an old book of Oervase Markham's, 
" The Oountrie Farme " (based upon Liebault), that 
the apple tree " loveth to have the inward part of 
his wood moist and sweatie, so you must give him 
his lodging in a fat, black, and moist ground ; and 
if it be planted in a gravelly and sandie ground, it 
must be helped with watering, and batling with 
dung and smal moulde in the time of Autumne. It 
liveth and continueth in all desirable good estate in 
the hills and mountains where it may have fresh 
moisture, being the thing that it searcheth after, 
but even there it must stand in the open face of the 

The ruling is good now, with the exception per- 
haps of exposure to the South, in regions liable to 
late spring frosts. And whatever may be the advan* 

152 MY FARM. 

tages of soil and of position, let no man hope for 
large commercial results in apple-growing at the 
East, without reckoning upon as thorough and as- 
siduous culture as he would give to his com crop ; 
— as weU as a constant battle with the borers and 
bark lice, — intermittent campaigns against the cat- 
erpillar and canker-worm, and a great June raid 
upon the whole guerrilla band of curculios. 

The cherries, a venerable- company of trees, have 
borne the scrapings and dressings with great equa- 
nimity, — being too old to be pushed into any wan- 
ton luxuriance, and too sedate to show any great ex- 
hilaration from the ammoniacal salts. Pruning is 
not much recommended in the books ; yet I have 
succeeded in restoring a good rounded bead of fruit- 
bearing wood by severe amputation of begummed 
and black-stained limbs ; this is specially true of the 
Black-hearts and Tartarians, — of many of which I 
have made mere pollards. 

It is a delicate fruit to be counted among farm 
crops, and hands used to the plough are apt to 
grapple it too harshly. Pliny says it should be eaten 
fresh from the tree ; and it is as true of our best 
varieties, as it was of the Julian cherry in the first 
century. It will not tolerate long jogging in a coun- 
try wagon'; it will not "keep over " for a market ; 
and between these drawbacks, and the birds — who 


troop in flocks to the June feast, — and the boy 
pickers — who take toll as they dimb, — and the 
outstanding twigs, which shake defiance to all lad- 
ders and climbers — I think he is a fortunate man 
who can market from forty-year-old trees, one bushel 
in three. 

Of the position for a cherry orchard, and of its 
likings in the way of soil and climate, nothing better 
can be said, than Palladius wrote fourteen centuries 
ago : " Cerasus amat coeli statum frigidum, solum 
vera posiHonis humectce. In tepidis regionibus parva 
provenit. Cdlidum non potest sustinere. Montana, 
vel in coUibus constUvJta regione lastatur,'* * — which 
means that — cherries want a cool sir and moist land. 
Heat hurts them, and makes them small, and they 
delight in a hilly country. 

The Pears. 

rpHE condition of the pears was far wolnse than 
-^ that of either cherries or apples. Had they 
been seedlings of the native fruit, they would have 
shown more stalwart size, and better promise from 
good treatment There was, I remember, a long 

♦ Lib. xi., Tit. 12. 

154 J^y FARM, 

weakly row of the Madeleine, shrouded in lichens, 
and with their lank frail limbs aU tipped with dead 
wood. It is an enticing fruit, by reason of its early 
ripening, and its pleasant sprightly flavor ; but its 
persistent inclination to rot at the core, in most soils, 
makes it a very unprofitable one. I forthwith cut 
away their dying, strajggling tops, and by repeated 
diggings about the roots, stimulated a growth of 
new wood, upon which luxuriant grafts are now (six 
years after commencement of operations) bearing 
full crops of more approved varieties. The Jargo- 
nelles were almost past cure. Long struggle with 
neglect had nearly paralyzed their vegetative power ; 
but by setting a few scions of such rank growers as 
the Buffam upon the most promising of the purple 
shoots, I have met with fair success. The Jargo- 
nelle itself, I may remark in passing, seems to me 
not fltly appreciated in the race after new French 
varieties. It has a juiciness, a crispness, and a vinous 
flavor, which however scorned by the later pomolo- 
gists, are exceedingly grateful on a hot August 

There was a great rank of Yirgouleuse (white 
Doyenne) — pinched in their foliage, with bark 
knotted like that of forest trees^ and bearing only 
cracked, meagre, woody fruit. For New England it 
is a lost variety. Happily, however, its boughs take 


grafts with great kindliness ; and I have now the 
pleasure of seeing fair full heads upon every one of 
these out-lived stocks, of the Bartlett, Flemish 
Beauty, Bonne de Jersey, and Lawrence. 

There were not a few Buffum trees in the ranks, 
which were in a state of most extraordinary dilapi- 
dation ; their trunks white with moss, their upright* 
shoots completely covered with a succession of 
crooked, gnarled, mossy fruit spurs, that crinkled 
under the scraper like dried brambles; the ex- 
tremity of every upright bough was reduced to a 
shrivelled point of blackened and sun-dried wood, 
and the fruit so dwarfed as to puzzle the most astute 
of the pomologists. 

I made a clean sweep of the old fruit spurs, — 
docked the limbs, — scraped the bark to the quick, 
— washed with an imctuous soapy mixture, — dug 
about and enriched the roots, and in three years' 
time, there were new leading shoots, all garnished 
with fresh fruit spurs — which in September fairly 
broke away with the weight of the glowing pear& 

The Seckels, of which there were several trees, 
have not come so promptly "to time." The fertil- 
izers and the cleaning process, which have given ram- 
pant vigor to the BufPums, have scarce lent to the 
dwindled Seckels any appreciable increase of size or 
of succulence. The same is true, in a less degree, 

156 MV FARM. 

of certaiii old stocks, grafted some fifteen years ago 
with Bonne de Jersey, and since left to struggle 
with choking mosses, and wild sod. 

It is unnecessary to enumerate all the varieties 
which I found stifling in my orchard, — from the 
bright little Harvest pear to the crimson-cheeked 
Bon-Chr6tien. Here and there I have religiously 
guarded some old variety of Sugar-pear, or of Ber- 
gamot, — by reason of the pleasant associations of 
their names, and by reason of an old-fashioned re- 
gard which I still entertain for their homeliness of 
flavor. I sometimes have a visit from a pear-fancier, 
who boasts of his fifty or hundred varieties, — who 
confounds me with his talk of a Beurre St Nicholas, 
or a Beurre of Waterloo, and a Doyenne Gtoubault, 
or a Doyenne Bobin ; I try to listen, as if I appre- 
ciated his learning ; but I do not. My tastes are 
simple in this direction ; and I feel a blush of con- 
scious humility when he comes upon one of my old- 
time trees, staggering under a load of fruit — which 
is not in the books. It is very much as if a gentle- 
man of the Universities, full of his book lore, were to 
stroll into my library, — talking of his Dibdins, and 
Elzevirs, and Brunets ; — with what a blush I should 
see his eye fall upon certain thumb-worn copies of 
Tom Jones, or the Vicar of Wakefield, or Defoe ! 

Yet these gentlemen of the special knowledges 


have their uses — the pear-mongers with the rest. 
Not a season passes, but they discover and label for 
us a host of worthless varieties. I only object to the 
scornful way in which they ignore a great many 
established favorites, which people vnU persist in 
buying and eating. I remember that I once had the 
hardihood, in a little group of pomological gentle- 
men, to express a modest opinion in praise of the 
flavor of the Bartlett pear. 

The gentlemen did not deign a reply ; but I was 
looked upon very much as a greenhorn might be, 
who at a political caucus should venture a word or 
two, in favor of — honesty. 

Quince stocks for pear trees have their advocates ; 
and there has been a very pretty war between the 
battlers for the standards, and the battlers for the 
dwarfs. Having made trial of both, and consider- 
ing that most human opinions are fallible, I plant 
myself upon neutral ground, and venture to affirm 
that each mode of culture has its advantages. There 
are, for instance, varieties of the pear, which, in cer- 
tain localities, will not thrive, or produce fair speci- 
mens, without incorporation upon the quince stock. 
Such, in my experience, are the Duchess d'Angou- 
leme, and the Vicar of Winkfield. The finest fruit of 
the Belle Lucrative, and the Bonne de Jersey, I also 
invariably take from dwarf growth. 

158 MV FARM. 

The dwarf trees, however, demand very special 
and thorough culture ; if the season is dry, they 
must be watered ; if the ground is baked^ it must be 
stirred. I look upon them as garden pets, which 
must be fondled and himiored ; and like other pets, 
they are sure to be attacked by noxious diseases 
They take the leaf-blight as easily as a child takes 
the mumps; they are capricious and uncertain — 
sometimes repaying you for your care well ; and 
other times, dropping all their fruit in a green state, 
in the most petulant way imaginable. And worst of 
all, after two or three years of devoted nursing, 
without special cause, and vdth all their leaves laugh- 
ing on them, some group of two or three together 
— suddenly die. 

Early bearing, and brilliant specimens favor the 
quince ; but hardiness, long life, and full crops favor 
the pear upon its own roots. If a man plant the 
latter, he must needs wait for the fruit. Moeris puts 
it very prettily in the Eclogue : — 

** Insere, Daphni, pyros: carpent tua poma nepotes." 

But if a man with only a few perches of garden, 
and with an aptitude for nursing, desires fruit the 
second or third year after planting, let him by all 
means — plant the dwarfs. Yet even then his sue- 


cess is uncertain, — particularly if he indulges in the 
^ ' latest varieties." I am compelled to say that I have 
known several cautious old gentlemen, who — vdth 
a garden f uU of dwarf trees, — have been seen in the 
month of September, to slip into a fruit shop at the 
edge of evening, with suspicious-looking, limp pan- 
niers on their arms. Nay, — I have myself met them 
returning from such furtive errand, with a basket 
laden from the fruiterer's stock, carefully hidden 
under their skirts ; and I have gone my way — (pre- 
tending not to see it all), humming to myself, 

carpent tua poma nepotes I 

Want of success in orcharding is more often at- 
tributable to want of care, than to any other want 
whatever. There are, indeed, particular belts of 
land which seem to favor the apple, — where, with 
only moderate cultivation, they are free from leaf 
blight, — comparatively free from insect depredat- 
ors, and fruit with certainty. There are other re- 
gions, — and these, so far as I have observed, warm 
soils inclining to a sandy or gravelly loam, in which 
the apple does not show vigor, except under extra- 
ordinaiy attention, and in which the whole insect 
tribe seems doubly pestiferous. 

The pear is by no means so capricious ; it will 

l6o MV FARM, 

thrive in a heavy loam ; it will thrive in light sand ; 
the borer does not attack its root ; the caterpillar 
moth does not fasten its eggs (or very rarely) upon 
its twigs ; the apple-moth spares a large proportion 
of its fruit. But even the pear, without care and 
cultivation, will disappoint; and the farmer who neg- 
lects any crop, will find, sooner or later, that what- 
ever is worth planting, is worth planting well ; what- 
ever is worth cultivating, is worth cultivating well ; 
and that nothing is worth harvesting, that is not 
worth harvesting with care. 

My Garden. 

T" ENTER upon my garden by a little, crazy, rustic 
-*- wicket, over which a Virginia creeper has tossed 
itself into a careless tangle of festoons. The en- 
trance is overshadowed by a cherry-tree, which must 
be nearly half a century old, and which, as it filches 
easily very much of the fertilizing material that is 
bestowed upon the garden, makes a weightier show 
of fruit than can be boasted by any of the orchard 

A broad walk leads down the middle of the gar- 
den, — bordered on either side by a range of stout 
box, and interrupted midway of its length by a box- 


edged circle, that is filled and crowned with one 
cone-shaped Norway-Spruce. These lines, and this 
drdet of idle green, are its only ornamentation. 
Easterly of the walk is a sudden terrace slope, 
stocked with currants, raspberries, and aU the lesser 
fruits, in a maze of belts and curve& Westward is 
a level open space, devoted to long parallel lines of 
garden vegetables The slope, by reason of its sur- 
fEuse and its crops, is subject only to fork-culture ; the 
western half, on the other hand, has the economy of 
deep and thorough trench-ploughing, every autumn 
and spring. 

Nor is this an economy to be overlooked by a 
farmer. Very many, without pretensions to that 
nicety of culture which is supposed to belong to 
spade husbandry alone, so overstock their gardens 
with confused and intercepting lines of fruit shrub- 
bery, and perennial herbs, as to forbid any thorough 
action of the plough. By the simple device, how- 
ever, of giving to the garden the shape of a long 
parallelogram, and arranging its trees, shrubbeiy, 
and walks, in Hues parallel -with its length, and by 
establishing easy modes of ingress and egress at 
either end, the plough will prove a great econo- 
mizer; and under careful handling, will leave as 
even a surface, and as fine a tilth as follows the 
spade. I make this suggestion in the interest of 

i62 MY FARM. 

those farmers who are compelled to measure nar- 
rowly the cost of tillage, and who cannot indulge in 
the amateur weakness of wasted labor. 

I have provided also a leafy protection for this 
garden against the sweep of winds from the north- 
west : northward, this protection consists of a wild 
belt of tangled growth — sumacs, hickories, cedars, 
wild-cherries, oaks — separated from the northern 
walk of the garden, by a trim hedge-row of hemlock- 
spruce. This tangled belt is of a spontaneous 
growth, and has shot up upon a strip of the neg- 
lected ];)asture-land, from which, seven years since, I 
trenched the area of the garden. Thus it is not 
only a protection, but offers a pleasant contrast of 
what the whole field might have been, with what the 
garden now is. I must confess that I love these 
savage waymarks of progressive tillage — as I love 
to meet here and there, some stolid old-time thinker, 
whom the rush of modem ideas has left in pictu- 
resque isolation. 

Time and again some enterprising gardener has 
begged the privilege of uprooting this strip of wild- 
ness, and trenching to the skirt of the wall beyond 
it ; but I have guarded the waste as if it were a 
crop ; the cheewits and thrushes make their nesta 
undisturbed there. The long, firm gravel-alley which 
traverses the garden from north to south, traverses 


also this bit of savage shrubbery, and by a latticed 
gate, opens upon smooth grass-lands beyond, which 
are skirted with forest. 

Within this tangle- wood, I have set a few graft- 
lings upon a wild-crab, and planted a peach or two 
— only to watch the struggle which these artificial 
people will make with their wild neighbors. And 
so yarious is the growth within this limited belt, that 
my children pick there, in their seasons, — luscious 
dew-berries, huckle-berries, wild raspberries, bill- 
berries, and choke-cherries ; and in autumn, gather 
bouquets of Golden-rod and Asters, set off with crim- 
son tufts of Sumac, and the scarlet of maple boughs. 
And when I see the brilliancy of these, and smack 
the delicate flavor of the wild-fruit, it makes mo 
doubt if our progress is, after all, as grand as it 
should be, or as we vainly believe it to be ; and (to 
renew my parallel) — it seems to me that the old- 
time and gone-by thinkers may possibly have given 
us as piquant, and marrowy suggestions upon what- 
ever subject of himian knowledge they touched, as 
the hot-house philosophers of to-day. I never open, 
of a Sunday afternoon, upon the yellowed pages of 
Jeremy Taylor, but his flavor and affluence, and 
homely wealth of allusions, suggest the tangled wild 
of the garden — with its starry flowers, its piquant 
berries, its scorn of human rulings, its unkempt vig- 

i64 MY FARM. 

Gty its bonghs and tendrils stretching heaven-ward ; 
and I never water a reluctant hill of yellowed cucum- 
bers, and coax it with all manner of concentrated 
fertilizers into bearings — but I think of the elegant 
education of the dapper Dr. , and of the sap- 
py, and flavorless results. 

To the westward of the garden, and concealing a 
decrepit mossy wall, that is covered with blackberry 
vines and creepers, is the flanking shelter of another 
hemlock hedge of wanton luxuriance. A city gar- 
den could never yield the breadth it demands, but 
upon the farm, the complete and graceful protection 
it gives, is well purchased^ at the cost of a few feet 
of land. Nor is much time required for its growth ; 
Ave years since, and this hedge of four feet in 
height, by two hundred yards in length, was all 
brought away from the wood in a couple of market 

The importance of garden shelter is by no means 
enough considered. I do not indeed name my own 
method as the best to be pursued ; flanking build- 
ings or high enclosures may give it more conven- 
iently in many situations ; a steep, sudden hillside 
may give it best of all ; but it should never be f oiv 
gotten that while we humor the garden soil with 
what the plants and trees best love, we should also 
give their foliage the protection against storms 


which thej covet ; and which, in an almost equal de- 
gree, contributes to their luxuriance. 

To the dwarf fruit, as well as to the gn^, this 
shelter is absolutely essential ; if they are compelled 
to fortify against aggressive blasts, — they may do it 
indeed ; but they will, in this way, dissipate a large 
share of the vitality which would else go to the fruit 
Young cattle may bear the exposure of winter, but 
they win be sufferers under it, and take on a pinched 
look of age, and expend a great stock of vital energy 
in the contest 

Fine TUth makes Fine Crops. 

TTTTIH a good situation, the secret of success 
^ ^ with garden crops, lies in the richness of the 
soil, and in its deep and fine tilth ; the last being far 
' oftener wanting than the former. A farm crop of 
potatoes or even of com, will make a brave struggle 
amid coarse nuggets of earth, if only fertilizers are 
present ; but such fine feeders as belong to the gar- 
den can lay no hold upon them ; they want delicate 
diet. Farmers are often amazed by the extraordi- 
nary vegetable results upon the sandy soil of a city 
dooryord, which they would count comparatively 
worthless; not considering, that — aside from the 

i66 MY FARM, 

shelter of brick waUs, which make the san do double 
duty — the productive capacity of such city gardens, 
lies veiy much in the extreme and almost perfect 
comminution of the soil 

What is true of garden earth, is true also of its 
fertilizers ; they must be triturated, fine, easily di- 
gestible. Masses of unbroken farm-yard material 
are no more suited to the delicate organization of 
garden-plants, than a roasted side of bacon is suited 
to a child's diet They may struggle with it indeed. 
Possibly they may reduce it to subjection ; but their 
growth will be rank and flavorless, whatever size 
they may gain. 

It is a common mistake to suppose that garden 
products are good in proportion to their size. The 
horticultural societies have done great harm in bol- 
stering the admiration for mere grossness. Smooth- 
ness, roundness, perfect development of all the parts, 
and delicacy of flavor, are the true tests. I remem- 
ber once offering for exhibition a little tray of gar- 
den products, in which every specimen of fruit and 
vegetable — though by no means all it should have 
been — was perfect in outline, well developed, free 
from every sting of insect or excrescence, and of that 
deHcate and tender fibre which belongs only to swift 
and imchecked growth ; yet my poor tray was over- 
slaughed entirely by an adjoining show of monster 


vegetables, with warty excrescences, and of rank 
and wholly abnormal development The committee 
would have been properly punished if they had been 
compelled to eat them. 

In the same way, and with equal fatuity, the so- 
cieties for agriculture encouragement persist in 
giving premiums to — so called — fat cattle; mere 
monsters — not of good, wholesome, muscular fibre, 
well-mottled — but mountains of adipose substance, 
which no Christian can eat, and which are only dis- 
posed of profitably, by serving as an advertisement 
to some venturesome landlord, from whose table the 
reeking fat goes to the soap-poi 

Qrossness does not absorb excellence, or even 
imply it — either in the animal or vegetable world. 
I have never yet chanced to taste the monstrosities 
which the generous Californians sometimes send us 
in the shape of pears ; but without knowing, I would 
venture the wager of a bushel of Bartletts, that one 
of our own, little, jolly, red-cheeked Seckels would 
outmatch them thoroughly — in flavor, in piquancy, 
and in vinous richness. 

Shall the flaunting DahHa match us a Eose ? Yet 
the dahlia has its place too ; it gives scenic effect ; 
its taQ stifibiess tells in the distance ; but we have a 
thousand roses at every hand. 

I son^etime^ fear that thi^ disposition to set the 

i68 MY FARM. 

mere grossness of a thing above its finer qualities, 
is an American weakness. We do not forget, so 
often as we might to advantage — that we are a 
great people. That eagle which our Fourth of July 
orators paint for our delighted optics, dipping his 
wings in both oceans, is the merest buzzard of a 
bird, except he have more virtue in him than mere 

Seeding and Trenching, 

IFF there is one fault above another in all the gar- 
-^ dening books, it is the lack of those simplest of 
directions and suggestions, without which the novice 
is utterly at fauli Thus, we are told in what month 
to sow a particular seed — that it must have a loamy 
soil ; and are favored with some special learning in 
regard to its varieties, and its Linnsean classification. 

•'Pat," we say, "this seed must be planted in a 
loamy soil" 

Pat, (scratching his head reflectively) : " And 
shure, isn't it in the garden thin, ye'd be afther 
planting the seed ? " 

Pat's observation is a just one ; of course we buy 
our seed to plant in the garden, no matter what soil 
it may love. The more important information in 
regard to the depth of sowing it, the mode of apply- 


ing any needed dressing, the requisite thinning, the 
insect depredators, and the mode of defeating them 
— is, for the most part, withheld. That the matter 
is not without importance, one will understand who 
finds, year after year, his more delicate seeds failing, 
and the wild and attentive Irishman declaring, — 
" And, begorra thin, it's the ould seed." 
" But did you sow it properly, Patrick ?" 
" Didn't I, faith ? I byried 'em an inch if I byried 
'em at alL" 

An inch of earth wiU do for some seeds, but for 
others, it is an Irish burial — without the wake. 

The conditions of germination are heat^ air, and 
moisture. Covering should not be so shallow as to 
forego the last, nor so deep as to sacrifice the other 
essential influences. Heat alone will not do ; air and 
moisture alone will not do. A careful gardener will 
be guided by the condition of his soil, and the cha]> 
acter of his seed. If this have hard woody covering 
like the seed of the beet, he will understand that it 
demands considerable depth to secure the moisture 
requisite to swell the kernel ; or that it should be 
aided by a steep, before sowing. If, on the other 
hand, it be a Hght fleecy seed, like the parsnip, he 
will perceive the necessity of bringing the earth 
firmly in contact with it. 
As a general rule, the depth of covering should 


not exceed two or three times the shortest diameter 
of the seed ; this plainly involves so light a covering 
for the lettuces, parsley, and celery, that a judicious 
gardener will effect it by simply sifting over them a 
sprinkling of fine loam, which he will presently wet 
down thoroughly (unless the sun is at high noon), 
with his water-pot — medicined with a slight pinch 
of guano. 

For a good garden, as I have said, a deep rich soil 
is essential ; and to this end trenching is desirable ; 
but trenching will not always secure it^ for the pal- 
pable reason that subsoil is not soil I have met with 
certain, awkward confirmatory experiencee^ — where 
a delicate garden mould of some ten inches in depth, 
which would have made fair show of the lesser vege- 
tables, has been, by the frenzy of trenching, buried 
tmder fourteen inches of villainous gravelly hard- 
pan, brought up from below, in which all seeds sick- 
ened, and all plants turned pale. Whatever be the 
depth of tillage, it is essential that the surface show 
a fine tilth of friable, Hght, unctuous mould ; the 
young plants need it to gain strength for a foray 
below. And yet I have seen inordinate sums ex- 
pended, for the sake of burying a few inches of such 
choice moulds, under a foot-thick coverlid of the 
dreariest and rawest yellow gravel that ever held its 
cheerless face to the sun. 


The amateur farmer, however, is not staggered by 
any such difficulties ; indeed, he courts them, and 
delights in making conquest They me^e good seed- 
bed for his theories — far better than for his carrots. 
Let me do no discredit, however, to "trenching," 
which in the right place, and rightly performed, by 
thorough admixture, is most elBfective and judicious ; 
nor should any thoroughly good garden be estab- 
lished upon soil which will not admit of it, and jus- 
tify it. If otherwise, my advice is, not to trench, 
but — sell to an amateur. 

How a Garden should Look, 

rriHE sesthetic element does not abound in the 
-■- minds of country farmers ; and there is not 
one in a thousand who has any conception of a gar- 
den, save as a patch (always weedy) where the good- 
wife can pluck a few condiments for dinner. If you 
visit one, he may possibly take you to see a " likely 
yearling," or a com crop, but rarely to his garden. 
Yet there is no economic reason why a farmer's gar- 
den should not me^e as good and as orderly a show, 
as his field crops. 

A straight line is not greatly more difficult to 
make than a crooked one. The absurd borders, in- 

172 MY FARM, 

deed, where dirt is thrown into line, and beaten 
with a spade, is a mere caprice, which there is no 
need to imitate ; but the neatness which belongs to 
true lines of plants, regular intervals between crops, 
perfect cleanliness, is another matter ; and is so 
feasible and so telling in effect, that no farmer has 
good excuse for neglecting it Effective groupings, 
again, of dwarf trees and fruit shrubbery, whether 
in rows, curves, or by gradations of size, give points 
of interest, and contribute to the attractions of a 

It is not a little odd that the back-coimtry gentle- 
man, who replies to all such suggestions, that he 
cares nothing for appearances — shall yet never ven- 
ture to a militia muster, or a town meeting, without 
slipping into the ''press " for the old black*coat, and 
the black beaver (giving it a coquettish wipe vdth 
his elbow) — to say nothing of the startling shirt- 
collars, whose poise he studies before the keeping* 
room mirror. 

He contracts too for a staring white coat of paint 
upon his house and palings, and a mahogany-col- 
ored door, oat of the same irresistible regard to 
"what people wiU say." But in all this, he does 
not do one half so much for the education of his 
children into a perception of order and elegance, as 
if he bestowed the same care upon the neatness of 


his yard and garden, where their little feet wander 
every day. 

It would be hard to estimate the educating effect 
of the gardens of the Tuileries and Luxembourg 
upon the minds of those artisans of Paris, who, liv- 
ing in garrets, and too poor for anything more than 
a little rustic tray of flowers upon their window 
ledge, are yet "possessed of a perception of grace, 
which shines in all their handiwork And if you 
transport them to the country — their own Auvergne 
pr Normandy — they cannot, if they would, make 
slatternly gardens : they will not indeed repeat the 
brilliant tints of Paris flowers ; they cannot rival the 
variety ; but they can stamp lines of grace, and har- 
mony of arrangement upon the merest dooi^yard of 
vegetables and pot-herbs. 

Here let me outline, in brief, what a farmer's gar- 
den may be made, without other than home-labor. 
A broad walk shall run down the middle of either a 
square enclosure, or long parallelogram. A box 
edging upon either side is of little cost, and contrib- 
utes eminently to neatness; it will hold good for eight 
years, without too great encroachment, and at that 
time, will often sell to the nurserymen for more than 
enough to pay the cost of resetting. On either side 
of this walk, in a border of six feet wide, the farmer 
may plant his dwarf-fruit, with grapes at intervals to 

174 ^y FARM, 

climb upon a home-made cedar trellis, that shall 
overarch and embower the walk. If he love an 
evening pipe in his garden, he may plant some 
simple seat under one or more of these leafy 

At least one-half of the garden, as I before sug- 
gested, he may easily arrange, to till, — spring and 
autumn, — - with the plough ; and whatever he places 
there in the way of tree and shrub, must be in lines 
parallel with the walk. On the other half, he vnll 
be subjected to no such limitations ; there, he will^ 
estabhsh his perennials — his asparagus, his thyme, 
his sage, and parsley ; his rhubarb, his gooseberries, 
strawberries, and raspberries ; and in an angle — 
hidden if he choose by a belt of shrubbery — he 
may have his hotbed and compost heap. Fork-cul- 
ture, which all these crops demand, will admit of 
any arrangement he may prefer, and he may enliven 
the groupings, and win the goodwife's fevor, by here 
and there a little circlet of such old-fashioned 
flowers as tulips — yellow lilies and white, with 
roses of all shades. 

Upon the other half he may make distribution of 
parts, by banding the various crops with border lines 
of China or Eefugee beans ; and he may split the 
whole crosswise, by a walk overarched with climbing 
lamas, or the London Horticultural — setting off the 


two ends with an abutment of Scarlet-runners, and 
a surbase of fiery Nasturtium. 

There are also available and pretty devices for 
making the land do double duty. The border lines 
of China-beans, which will be ripened in early Au- 
gust, may have Swedes sown in their shadow in the 
first days of July, so that when the Chinas have ful- 
filled their mission, there shall be a new line of pur- 
ple green in their place. The early radishes and 
salads may have their little circlets of cucumber pits, 
no way interfering with the first, and covering the 
ground when the first are done. The early Bassano 
beets will come away in time to leave space for the 
full flow of the melons that have been planted at 
intervals among them. The cauliflower will find 
grateful shade under the lines of sweet com, and the 
newly-set winter cabbages, a temporary refuge from 
the Sim, under shelter of the ripened peas. I do not 
me^e these suggestions at random, but as the results 
of actual and successful experience. 

With such simple and orderly arrangement, in- 
volving no excessive labor, I think every farmer and 
country- Hver may take pleasure in his garden as an 
object of beauty; — making of it a Httle farm in 
miniature, with its coppices of dwarf-trees, its hedge- 
rows of currants and gooseberries, and its meadows 
of strawberries and thyme. From the very day on 

176 MV FARM, 

which, in spring, he sees the first, faint, upheaving, 
tufted lines of green from his Dan-0'Eourkes, to the 
day when the dangling Limas, and sprawling, bloody 
tomatoes are smitten by the frost, it offers a field of 
constant progress, and of successive triumphs. Line 
by line, and company by company, the army of green 
things take position ; the little flowery banners are 
flung to the wind ; and lo I presently every soldier 
of them all — plundering only the earth and the sun- 
shine — is loaded with booty. 

The Lesser Fruits. 

TjlBOM the time when I read of Mistress Doctor 
-^ Primrose's gooseberry wine, which the Doctor 
celebrates in his charming autobiography, I have 
entertained a kindly regard for that fruii But my 
efforts to grow it successfully have been sadly 
baffled. The English climate alone, I think, will 
bring it to perfection. I know not how many ven- 
tures I have made with " Boaring-Lion," "Brown 
Bob," " Conquerors," and other stupendous varie- 
ties ; but without infinite care, after the first crop — 
the mildew will catch and taint them. Our native 
varieties, — such, for instance, as the Houghton- 
seedling, make a better show, and with ordinary 


care, can be fruited well for a succession of seasons. 
But it is not, after all, the stanch old English berry, 
which pants for the fat English gardens, for the 
scent of hawthorn, and for the lowering fog-banks 
of Lancashire. 

Garden associations (with those who entertain 
them) inevitably have English coloring. Is it strange 
— when so many old gardens are blooming through 
so many old books we know? 

No fruit is so thoroughly English in its associa- 
tions ; and I never see a plump Boaring-Lion, but I 
think of a burly John Bull, with waistcoat strained 
over him like the bursting skin of his gooseberry, 
and muttering defiance to all the world. There is, 
too, another point of resemblance ; the fruit is liable 
to take the mildew when removed from British soil, 
just as John gets the blues, and wraps himself in a 
veil of his own foggy hiunors, whenever he goes 
abroad. My experience suggests that this capri- 
cious fruit be planted under the shadow of a north 
wall, in soil compact and deep ; it should be thor- 
oughly enriched, pruned severely, watered abun- 
dantly, and mulched (if possible) with kelp, fresh 
from the sea shore. These conditions and appli- 
ances may give a clean cheek, even to the Conquer- 

But it is not so much for any piquancy of flavor 

178 MV FARM. 

that I prize the fruit, as because its English bloat ia 
pleasantly suggestive of little tartlets (smothered in 
clotted cream) eaten long ago under the lee of Dart- 
moor hills — of Lancashire gardens, where prize 
berries reposed on miniature scaffoldings, or swam 
in porcelain saucers — and of bristling thickets in 
Cowper's " Wilderness" by Olney. 

Is it lonely in my garden of a summer^s evening? 
Have the little pattering feet gone their ways — to 
bed ? Then I people the gooseberry alley with old 
Doctor Primrose, and his daughters Sophia and 
Olivia; Squire Burchell comes, and sits upon the 
bench with me under the arbor, as I smoke my 
pipe. How shall we measure our indebtedness to 
such pleasant books, that people our solitude so 
many years after they are written I Oliver Gold- 
smith, I thank you ! Crown-Bob, I thank you. 
Gooseberries, like the English, are rather indigest- 

Of strawberries^ I shall not speak as a committee- 
man, but as a simple lover of a luscious dish. I am 
not learned in kinds ; and have even had the niaiserie 
in the presence of cultivators, to confound Crimson 
Cone vrith Boston-Pine ; and have blushed to my 
eyelids, when called upon to name the British-Queen 
in a little collection of only four mammoth varieties. 
With strawberries, as with people, I believe in old 


Mends. The early Scarlet, if a litUe piquant, is 
good for the fbrst pickings ; and the Hovey, with a 
neighbor bed of Pines, or McAvoy, and Black 
Prince, if you please, give • good flavor, and a well- 
rounded dish. The spicy Alpines should bring up 
the rear ; and as they send out but few runners, are 
admirably adapted for borders. The Wilson is a 
great bearer, and a fine berry ; but with the tweak 
of its acidity in my mouth, I can give its flavor no 
commendation. Supposing the land to be in good 
vegetable-bearing condition, and deeply dug, I know 
no dressing which will so delight the strawberry, as 
a heavy coat of dark forest-mould. They are the 
children of the wilderness, force them as we will ; 
and their little fibrous rootlets never forget their 
longing for the dark, unctuous odor of mouldering 
forest leavea 

Three great traveller's dishes of strawberries are 
in my mind. 

.The first was at an inn in the quaint Dutch town 
of Broek : I can see now the heaped dish of mam- 
moth crimson berries, — the mug of luscious cream 
standing sentry, — the round red cheese upon its 
platter, — the tidy hostess, with arms akimbo, look- 
ing proudly on it all : the leaves flutter idly at the 
latticed window, through which I see wide stretches 
of level meadow, — broad-armed windmills flapping 

i8o J/K FARM. 

their sails leisurely, — cattle lying in lazy groups 
under the shade of scattered trees ; and there is no 
sound to break the June stillness, except the buzzing 
of the bees that are feeding upon the blossoms of the 
linden which oveiiuuigs the inn. 

I thought I had nerer eaten finer berries than the 
Dutch berries. 

The second dish was at the Douglas-Hotel in the 
city of Edinboro' ; a most respectable British tavem, 
with a heavy solid sideboard in its parlor ; heavy 
solid silver upon its table ; heavy and solid chairs 
with cushions of shining mohair ; a heavy and solid 
figure of a landlord ; and heavy and solid figures in 
the reckoning. 

The berries were magnificent ; served upon quaint 
old India-china, with stems upon them, and to be 
eaten as one might eat a fig, with successive bites, 
and successive dips in the sugar. The Scotch &uit 
was acid, I must admit, but the size was monumen- 
tal I wonder if the stout landlord is living yet, and 
if the little pony that whisked me away to Salisbury 
crag, is still nibbling his vetches in the meadow by 
Holyrood ? 

The third dish was in Switzerland, in the month 
of October. I had crossed that day the Scheideck 
from Meyringen, had threaded the valley of Grindel- 
wald^ and had just accomplished the first lift of the 


Wengem Alp — tired and thirsty — when a little 
peasant girl appeared with a tray of blue saucers, 
brimming with Alpine berries — so sweet, so musky, 
so remembered, that I never eat one now but the 
great valley of Ghdndelwald, with its sapphire show 
of glaciers, its guardian peaks, and its low meadows 
flashing green, is rolled out before me like a 

In those old days when we school-boys were ad- 
mitted to the garden of the head-master twice in a 
season -^ only twice — to eat our M of currants (his 
maid having gathered a stock for jellies two days 
before), I thought it '' most-a-splendid " fruit ; but I 
think far less of it now. My bushes are burdened 
with both white and red clusters, but the spurs are 
somewhat mossy and the boughs have a straggling, 
dejected air. With a little care, severe pruning, 
due enrichment, and a proper regard to varieties 
(Cherry and White-Grape being the best), it may be 
brought to make a very pretty show as a dessert 
fruit But as I never knew it to be eaten very freely 
at dessert, however finely it might look, I have not 
thought it worth while to push its proportions for a 
mere show upon the exhibition tables. The ama- 
teurs would smile at those I have ; but I console 
myself with reflecting that they smile at a great deal 
of goodness which is not their own. They are full 

iSor MY FARM. 

of conceit — I say it charitably. I like to upset their 

There was one of them, an excellent fellow (if he 
had not been pomologically starched and jaundiced), 
who paid me a visit in my garden not long ago, 
bringing his little son, who had been educated 
strictly in the belief that aU fine fruit was made — 
not to be enjoyed, but for pomological considera- 
tion. The dilettante papa was tip-toeing along with 
a look of serene and well-bred contempt for my 
mildewed gooseberries and scrawny currants, when 
I broke off a brave bough loaded with Tartarian 
cherries, and handed it to the lad, with — " Here, 
Harry, my boy, — we farmers grow these things to 

What a grateful look of wonderment in his clear 
gray eyes I 

The broken limb, the heresy of the action, the 
suddenness of it aU, were too much for my fine 
friend. I do not think that for an hour he recovered 
from the shock to his sensibilities. 

Of raspberries, commend me to the Bed-Antwerp, 
and the Brinckle's Orange ; but to insure good fruit- 
age, they should be protected from high winds, and 
should be lightly buried, or thoroughly " strawed 
over " in winter. The Perpetual, I have found a 
perpetual nuisance. 


The New-Eochelle or Lawton blackberry has been 
despitef uUy spoken of by many ; first, because the 
market-fruit is generally bad, being plucked before 
it is fully ripened ; and next^ because in rich clayey 
grounds, the briers, unless severely cut-back, and 
again back, grow into a tangled, unapproachable for- 
est, with all the juices exhausted in wood. But 
upon a soil moderately rich, a little gravelly and 
warm, protected from wind, served with occasional 
top-dressings and good hoeings, the Lawton brier 
bears magnificent burdena 

Even then, if you would enjoy the richness of the 
fruit, you must not be hasty to pluck it. When the 
children say with a shout, — " The blackberries are 
ripe ! " I know they are black only, and I can wait. 

When the children report — "The birds are eat- 
ing the berries," I know I can stiU wait. But when 
they say — "The bees are on the berries," I know 
they are at full ripeness. 

Then, with baskets we sally out ; I taking the 
middle rank, and the children the outer spray of 
boughs. Even now we gather those only which 
drop at the touch ; these, in a brimming saucer, with 
golden Aldemey cream, and a souppon of powdered 
sugar, are Olympian nectar ; they melt before the 
tongue can measure their full roimdness, and seem 
to be mere bloated bubbles of forest honey. 

i84 MV FARM, 

There is a scratch here and there, which calls 
from the children a half-scream ; but a big berry on 
the lip cures the smart ; and for myself, if the thorns 
draggle me, I rather fancy the rough caresses, and 
rex)eat with the garden poet * (humming it half 
aloud) : 

Bind me, je woodbines, in joor twines ; 
Curl me about, je gadding vines ; 
And oh t so close jour circles lace, 
That I may never leave this place ; 
But, lest your fetters prove too weak, 
Ere I jour silken bondage break, 
Do jou, O brambles, chain me too. 
And, courteous briers, nail me through. 


TP the associations of the gooseberry are British, 
-■- those of the vine are thoroughly Judsean. 
There is not a fruit that we grow, which has so 
venerable and so stately a history. Who does not 
remember the old Biblical picture in all the primers, 
of the stupendous cluster which the spies brought 
away from the brook Eshcol ? And I am afraid that 
many a youngster, comparing it with the milder 

♦Andrew MarvelL 


growth which capped his dessert, has viewed it with 
a little of the Bishop-Colenso scepticism. 

Upon a certain day- 1 give to my boy, — who has 
worked some mischief, — the smallest bunch of the 
dish. He poises it in his hand awhile, looking 
askance — doubtful if he will fling it down in a pet, 
or enjoy even so little. The latter feeling wins upon 
him, but is spiced with a bit of satire, that relieres 
itself in this way : 

*'I think, papa (he is fresh from ''Line upon 
line "), that the spies wouldn't put a staff on their 
shoulders to carry such a bunch as that ! " 

By this admeasurement, indeed, no portion of New 
England can be counted equal to the land of Canaan. 
There are grapes, however, which yield gracefully to 
the requisitions of the climate, and furnish abundant 
clusters, if not large onea As yet, for out-of-door 
culture — such as every farmer may plant with faith, 
and without trembling for the early frosts — the two 
most desirable are the Concord and Diana. The 
first the more hardy and sure ; the latter the more 
delicate and luscious. Indeed, few dessert fruits can 
outmatch a well-ripened, sun-freckled, fully devel- 
oped and closely compacted bunch of the Diana 

The Catawba has its advocates, and it is really a 
dainty fruit if it have good range of sun, and is not 

1 86 MV FARM, 

hurried in its ripening ; but in delicacy of flavor it 
must yield to the Diana. The Catawba crop is also 
exceedingly uncertain in this latitude, by reason of 
the shortness of the season. A gaunt old vine of 
this variety, which stands behind the farmhouse, has 
giyen me only two crops in the six years past ; the 
frosts have garnered the promise of the others. I 
have now, however, contrived to conduct its trailing 
mantle upon a rude trellis, so as completely to 
embower the roof of the little outlying kitchen ; and 
the fumes and warmth of this latter, from its open 
skylights, have given to the old vine such a wonder- 
ful vigor and precocity, that I have promise of a full 
burden of well-ripened fruit in advance even of the 
Isabella. Can the reek of a kitchen be put to better 
service ? 

The Isabella escapes ordinary frosts, and is a pro- 
digious bearer ; but it has no rare piquancy of flavor ; 
and the same is to be said of its earlier congener, 
the Hartf ord-Ptolific. 

Of all fruits, the grape is the one which, to insure 
perfection, will least tolerate neglect I do not speak 
of those half-wild and flavorless crops, which hang 
their clusters up and down old elms, in neglected 
farm-yards, — but of that compact, dose array of 
sunny bunches, where every berry is fully rounded, 
and every cluster symmetrical It must have care in 


fhe planting, that its fibrous roots may take hold 
readily upon their new quarters ; care in position, 
which must, — first of all, be sheltered — next, have 
ample moisture — next, be utterly free from stagnant 
water, whether above ground or below — and finally, 
have fair and open exposure to the sun. It must 
have care in the training, that every spur and cluster 
may have its share of air and sunshine ; care in the 
winter pruning, to cut away all needless wood ; care 
in the simimer pruning, to pinch down its affluence 
— to drive the juices into the fruit, and to restrain . 
the vital forces from wasting themselves in a riotous 
life of leaves and tendrila 

But the care required is not engrossing or fatigu* 
ing. Any country-liver may bestow it upon the 
score of vines which will abundantly supply his 
wants, without feeling the task. Nay, more ; this 
coy guidance of the luxuriant tendrils^ — this delicate 
fettering of its abounding green life, — this opening 
of the clusters to the gladness of the sunshine, will 
make a man feel tenderly to the vine, and breed a 
fellowship that shall make aU his restraints, and the 
plucking away of the waste shoots, seem to be mere 
offices of friendship. 

There is not» anywhere, a country house about 
which positions do not abound, where a vine may 
clamber, and feed upon resources that are worse 

1 88 AfV FARM. 

than lost The southern or eastern front of an old 
out-building ; a staring, naked wall (on which grapes 
ripen admirably) ; a great unseemly boulder, from 
under which the rootlets will pluck out the elements 
of the fEurest fruit ; a back-court, where washings 
of sinks are wasting ; the palings of a poultiy-yard — 
all these are positions, where, with small temptation, 
the mantHng-vine will '* creep luxuriant" 

I have not aUuded to the Delaware, because, thus 
far, my plants have been poor ones, and my experi- 
ence unsuccessful. At best, however, the vine is of a 
more delicate temper than those named, and requires 
larger care and richer dressing. Under these con- 
ditions, I believe the grape to be all, which its 
friends claim — of a delicate and highly aromatic 
flavor, — so early as to be secure against frosts, and 
giving a better promise than any other, of a really 
good domestic vrine. 

I am surprised to find in the course of my drives 
back in the country, how many of our old-time farm- 
ers are applying themselves, in a modest and some* 
what furtive way, to wine-making. It is true that 
they bring under contribution a great many foxy 
swamp varieties, and are not over-careful in regard 
to ripeness ; but faults of acidity they correct by a 
heavy sugaring, which gives an innocent and bounc- 
ing percentage of alcohol. 


The practice is not, I fear, entered upon with a 
purely horticultural love, and I suspect they bring a 
more lively stomachic fondness to it, than do the 
pomologists to their science of fruiting. I think the 
deyelopment of this home manu&cture has been 
quickened by Maine-laws, heavy import duties, and 
by a growing reluctance on the part of the heads of 
families — to carry a demijohn in the wagon. I also 
hear the home product commended by the old gen- 
tlemen manufacturers, as ^^ warming to the in'ards;" 
and in large doses, I should think it might be. Their 
town customers for this beverage are mostly exceed- 
ingly serious and sedate people, who have a comical 
way of calling homemade wines — " prnre juice." 

And pray, why should not sedate people eiijoy the 
good things of life, — call them by what names they 
wiU ? I know an exceedingly worthy man who never 
buys his cider except of a deacon ; and then only by 
the cask ; and he buys it very often. 

Plums, Apricots, and Pectches, 

T" AM sorry to give so poor an account, as I needs 
-*- must, of these stone-fruits. As respects the 
plum, there is, indeed, an incompatibility of soil 
upon my farm, to be contended against ; but this 
difficulty is trifling, in comparison with the mischiefs 


of the arch-enemy, the curculio. The few trees 
which I found suffering under black-knot in its 
most aggravated form, I am sorry to say, died under 
surgical treatment Others have been planted to 
supply their places ; — planted in the poultry yard — 
planted in positions where the earth would be hard 
trampled, — planted in shelter and out of shelter; 
but although showing fair vigor, and a pretty array 
of blossoms, no device thus far adopted has suc- 
ceeded in arresting the spoliations of the curculio. 
Paving the ground is vain ; the forage of poultry is 
vain ; underlying water is vain ; and there remain 
only three resources — to jar off the vermin, gather 
them and kill them ; or second, to deluge the young 
fruit with a wash that shall nauseate the enemy ; or 
third, to shield the trees or fruit with a gauze cover- 
ing, that shall forbid attack. They are good devices 
against any enemy; but extermination is a slow 
process ; if you nauseate the enemy, you are nause- 
ated in turn; and the gauze protection involves a 
greater sacrifice than the sacrifice of the fruit. 

These reasons, though coimting against the plum 
as a market product, do not, of course, forbid its 
growth as a luxury, — which, like many other lux- 
uries, must be paid for in fourfold its value. 

I would by no means undervalue the plum ; least 
of all, that prince or princess of plums, Bmne-Glaude 


(Green-Gage), of which, in the sunny towns along 
the Loire, I have ptirchased a golden surfeit for a 
few sous : when I remember those, and their lus* 
cious and cheap perfection, crowning the peasants' 
gardens, I am a little dishearted at thought of the 
tobacco washes, and whale-oil soap and syringes, 
with which we must enter into combat with the cur- 
culio, for only a most flimsy supply. 

The nectarine is subject to the same blight ; and 
the apricot furnishes only a very dismal residuimi of 
a crop. As an espalier, it is not, I think, so subject 
to the ravages of the curculio as in its unfettered 
condition ; i)ut upon the wall (particularly if one of 
southern exposure), it is exceedingly liable to injury 
from the late frosts of Spring. I succeed in saving 
a few from all enemies every year ; but they are so 
wan — so pinched, as hardly to serve for souvenir of 
the golden Moor-parks which crown an August dinner 
at Vefour's, or the Trois-Frhres, It is an old fruit ; 
the Persians had it ; the Egyptians have gloried in 
it these centuries past ; Columella names it in his 
garden poem ; andPalladius advises that it be grafted 
upon the almond : * will the nurserymen make trial ? 

* It occurs in Tit. vii., Novem., where he discourses of the 
peach. " Inseritwr in w, in amygdalOf in pruno : sed Arme- 
nia, vd FR^coQUA prunis, duracina amygdaUs meUm ad- 
TuBreacuntt^* etc. 

192 MY FAEM, 

It will be remembered that in an early chapter 1 
made mention of certain dilapidated peach trees 
upon the premises, which were even then showing 
unfailing signs of the "yellowa" This vegetable dys- 
pepsia has long since carried them off Indeed, 
there are but few belts of land throughout New 
England where a man may hope successful culture 
of this fruit* The borer is an ugly enemy to b^n 
with; but with close watchfulness, the attadks of 
this insect may be prevented. Next» comes a curi- 
ous, foul twisting of the leaves, due — may be — to 
some minute family of aphides ; but this can be 
mitigated by judicious pruning ; after these escapes, 

* Since the original publication of this book, peach cul- 
ture has made great advances in Southern New England, and 
there are shrewd fruit growers who make large and profitable 
crops in many districts of Connecticut and Massachusetts. 
Tlie dmdei'oia for success would seem to be — a site for or- 
chard secure from late spring frosts — selection of vigorous 
stock — a free cultivation of the ground in early summer, 
with subsequent mulching of the entire surface — untiring 
watchfulness against the borer — judicious heading in of the 
top (in late autumn or very early spring), and liberal supply 
of potash and bone material in way of dressing. 

Prof. Penhallow*s observations and experiments at Hough- 
ton Farm, N. J., would seem to promise full conquest of that 
old foe, the "Yellows." 

April, 1884. 


and when your mouth is watering in view of a lus- 
cious harvest, there appear symptoms of a new dis- 
ease ; the leaves cease to expand ; the fruit takes on 
a premature bloom, and a multitude of little shoots 
start here and there from the bark, being weakly at- 
tempts to struggle against the consuming ''yellow&" 
And if all these difficulties be fairly escaped or over- 
come, there remains the damaging fact, that in two 
winters out of five, in many New England exposures, 
the extreme cold will utterly destroy the germ of 
the fruit buds. 

Notwithstanding these drawbacks, however, I con- 
tinue to put out from year to year, a few young 
trees ; not making regular plantations, but dotting 
them about, in shrubberies, and in unoccupied gar- 
den comers, grouping them in the lee of old walls 
— in the poultry yard, — upon the north side of 
buildings, — in every variety of position and of soiL 
In this way I contrive — except the January temper- 
ature shows ten below zero — to secure a fair table 
supply. Even amid the shrubbery of the lawn, 
where I coimted their bloom and foliage a sufficient 
return, there have been gathered scores of delicious 

I know that it is disorderly, and shocking to all 
the prejudices of the learned, to plant fruit trees in 
this hap-hazard way. But I love these offences 

194 J^y FARM. 

against system (particularly when system is barren 
of triumphs). I loye to test Nature's own ruling, 
and give her margin for wide demonstration. 

The FouUry. 

T KNOW not whether to begin my discourse of 
-^ poultiy with a terrific onslaught upon all 
feathered creation, or to speak the praises of the 
matronly fowls, which supply delicate spring chick- 
ens to the table, and profusion of egga When, on 
some ill-fated day, a pestilent, painstaking hen, with 
her brood of eager chicklings, has found her way 
into my hot-bed, and has utterly despoiled the most 
cherished plants ; or a marauding drove of young 
turkeys has cropped all the late cauliflowers, I am 
madly bent upon extermination of the whole tribe. 

But reflection comes — with a nice fresh egg to my 
breakfast, or a delicate grilled fowl to my dinner — 
and the feathered people take a new lease of life. 
They give a sociable, habitable air, moreover, to a 
country dwelling. The contented, good-humored 
cluck of the hens, breeds contentment in the on- 
looker. They are rare philosophers, taking the 
world as they find it ; — now a blade of grass, now a 
lurking worm ; here a stray kernel of grain, and 


tiiere some tid-bit of a butterfly ; taking their siesta 
with a -wing and a leg stretched out in the sun, and 
like the rest of us, warning awaj from their own 
feeding ground, birds less strong than themselves, 
with an authoritative dab of their bills. Although 
amenable to laws of habit, — traversing regular beats 
for their supply of wild food, and collecting at regu- 
lar hours for such as the mistress may have to be- 
stow, they are yet rebellious against undue or extra- 
ordinary show of authority. It is quite impossible 
to exercise any safe control over the locality where 
the hens choose to execute their maternal dutie& 
They insist upon freedom of the will in the matter, 
as obstreperously, and, I dare say, as logically, as 
ever any old-school dialectician in his metaphysical 

Nothing could be more charming than the ar- 
rangement^ matured with the co-operation of an in- 
genious country carpenter, by which my fowls were 
to lay in one set of boxes, carefully darkened, and 
to carry on their incubation in another set of boxes, 
made cheery (against the long confinement), with 
sky-light ; there were admirable little architectural 
galleries through which they were to promenade in 
the intervals of these maternal duties — adroit dis- 
position of courts, and feeding troughs, so that 
there should be no ill-advised collision, — but it was 

196 MV FARM. 

all in Tain. Hens persisted in laying where they 
should not lay, and in setting, with badly directed 
instinct, upon the dreariest of porcelain eggs. The 
fowls of my Somersetshire neighbor, meantime, at 
the stone cottage, with nothing more orderly in the 
way of nests than a stray lodgement in the haymow, 
or a castaway basket looped under the rafters of a 
shed, brought out brood after brood, so full, and 
fresh, and lusty, as to put my architectural deviccQ 
to shame. 

At certain times, when the condition of the gar- 
den or crops allow it, I permit my fowls free forage ; 
and as they stroll off over the lawn and among the 
shrubberies, it sometimes happens that they come in 
contact with the more vagabond birds of the laiger 
farm family. The hens take the meeting philosophi- 
cally, with a well-bred lack of surprise, and are not 
deterred for a moment from their forage employ ; 
perhaps (if with a brood), giving an admonitory 
cluck to their chicks, to keep near them, — even as 
old ladies with daughters, in a strange place, advise 
caution, without enjoining positive non-intercourse. 

The ducks, on the contrary, in a very low-bred 
manner, give way to a world of surprises, and gad 
about each other, dipping their heads, and quacking, 
and bickering, like old gossips long time apart, who 
pour interminable scandal in each other's eara The 


oocks make an honest, fair fight of it, and one goes 
home draggled, confining himself thereafter to his 
own quarters. 

The turkeys meet as fine ladies do, tip-toeing 
round and round, and eyeing each other with earn- 
est scrutiny, and abundant curvetings of the neck — 
very stately, dignified, and impudent — stooping to 
browse perhaps (ladies sniff thus at vinaigrettes), as 
if no strange fowl were near, — which is merest af- 
fectation. They summon their httle famiHes into 
dose order, as if fearing contagion, and eyeing each 
other, wander apart, without a sign of companion- 
ship, or a gobble of leave-taking. 

I must not forget the groups of Guinea-fowl, who 
fraternize charmingly, and threaten to become one 
family. These birds, unlike all other feathered 
animals, show no marked difference of appearance 
between the sexes ; so slight is this indeed, that 
even the naturalists have blundered into errors, and 
left us in the dark.* Even a fighting propensity 
does not distinguish the cock, I observe; for the 
female bird is an arrant termagant, and has under- 
taken, in my own flock, a fierce battle with a tom- 
turkey, in which, though worsted, and eventually 
killed^ she showed a fine chivalrous pluck They 

*Baffon: DelaPintade, 

198 MV FARM. 

are not, however, qimrrelsome among themselves; 
although flocking together in communities, the male 
birds are strictly faithful to their mates, and mani- 
fest none of the sultanic propensities which so de- 
plorably mislead the other domestic fowls. 

Notwithstanding their harsh cry, to which the 
Greeks gave a special descriptive name,* I like the 
Guinea-fowl ; they are excellent layers, enormous 
devourers of insects — a little over-fond, it is true, 
of young cauliflowers, and grapes, — yet a stanch, 
lively, self-possessed bird ; and notwithstanding the 
sneers of Yarro,! whose taste must have been poor 
in the matter of poultry, — excellent eating. 

The young Ghiineas, like the young turkeys, are 
delicate, however, and suffer from sudden changes 
of temperature. Give them what care you wUl, and 
all the dietetic luxuries of the books, and on some 
fine morning, you shall find the half of a brood 
moping and staggering, and drooping out of life. 
The young turkeys are even more subject to infan* 
tile ailments, and their invalid caprices outmatch all 
the nostrums of the doctors. Yet some old specta* 
ded lady in the back country, with nothing better 

* Ka7«cfi£^civ. 

f Lib. m., De Be Bust Ha noylBsimffi in tricliniam 
ganearinm introiemnt h culina propter fastidium hominum. 
Veneunt propter penuriam magno* 


than a tumed-up barrel in the way of shelter, will 
by an easy and indescribable ' knack ' of treatment, 
rear such broods as cannot be rivalled by any literal 
execution of the rules of Boswell and Doyle. 

Beyond the age of six weeks, however, danger 
mostly ceases, and the poults have a good chance — 
barring the foxes — of coming to the honors of de- 
capitation; and I know few prettier farm sights, 
than a squadron of pure white turkeys, marching 
over new mown grass-land, with their skirmishers 
deployed on either flank, and rioting among the 
grasshoppers. It is essential that both Guinea-fowl 
and tiurkeys have free and wide range ; they are 
natural wanderers; my hens submit to a curtail- 
ment of their liberties with more cheerfulness ; but 
there is after all, no biped of which I have knowl- 
edge, that does not glory in freedom. The Black 
Spanish fowls, Dorkings, and Polish top-knots (for 
these make up my variety, and are, I believe, the 
best), form no exception ; and if confinement is nec- 
essary, the enclosing palings should be of generous 
width. A safe rule is — to make the enclosure so 
large (whatever the number of the flock), that the 
fowls win not wholly subdue the grass, or forbid its 
healthful vegetation. If too smaU for this, it is im- 
peratively necessary for thrift, that they have a run 
of an hour each day before sunset 

200 MY FARM, 

The oldest English writer upon the subject of 
poultry was a certain Leonard Mascall, who wrote 
about the year 1581 — when Queen Mary was fret- 
ting in her long confinement, and Sir Francis Drake 
was voyaging around the world. He had been 
farmer to King James, and calls his little black-letter 
book, " The husbandrye, ordring, and govemmente 
of poultrie.*' Among his headings are "How to 
keepe egges long," — " How to have egges all win- 
ter," — "Of hennes that hatches abroad,' as in 
bushes," — " Of turquie hennes, profite and also dis- 

For winter eggs, he advises "to take the croppes 
of nettles when ready to seed, dry them, and mix 
them with bran and hemp-seed, and give it to the 
hens in the morning, and also to give them the 
seedes of cow-make" (whatever that may be). I 
have never ventured trial of his advices ; but find 
full supply in giving hens warm quarters — a closed 
house, with double walls, and its front entirely of 
glass ; here, with water constantly running, an 
ample ash box and gravel bed, full feeding, — not 
forgetting scraps of meat^ and occasional vegetable 
diet — the hens make a summer of the winter, and 
reward all care. If the weather be very warm, they 
are allowed a little run in the adjoining barn-yard 
(their winter home being, in fact, a rustic transmuta- 


tion of an ancient cow-shed). Any considerable 
chilliness of the atmosphere, however, — if they are 
long exposed to it, — checks their laying propensi- 
ties, and two or three days of housing are needed to 
restore the due equilibrium. 

lie Roman writers give us cruel hints in regard 
to the fattening of fowls, which I have never had 
the heart to try. They go beyond the rules of the 
Strasburg poulterers in harshness ; and that elegant 
heathen Columella, has the effrontery to advise that 
the legs of young doves be broken, in order to cram 
them the more quickly. Such suggestions belonged, 
of right, to a period when Boman ladies — Sabina, 
and Delia, and Octavia — looked down coolly on 
gladiators, gashing their lives out with bare sabres, 
and then lolled home in chariots, to dine on thrush- 
es, fatted in the dark. We, — good Christians that 
we are, — shudder at thought of such barbarism ; 
we pit no bare-backed gladiators against each other, 
with drawn swords^ in our very presence ; but we 
send armies out, of a hundred thousand in blue and 
gray, and look at their butchery of each other, very 
coolly, — through the newspapers, — and dine on 
'pd.i^ de foie gras. Of course we have improved 
somewhat in all these ages, since Columella broke 
pigeons' legs; of course we are civilized 3 but the 
Devil is very strong in us still. 

202 MV FARM. 

Is U Profitable t 

TTTHEN I have shown some carious city visitor 
^^ all these belongings of the farm — have en- 
listed his admiration for my crested, golden, Polish 
fowls, — for my garden, for the fruits ; — for the 
wide stretch of fields, and the herd of cows loitering 
under the shadow of the scattered apple trees, he 
turns upon me, in his city way, with the abrupt 
questioning, ''Isn't it confoundedly expensive, 
though, getting land smoothed out in this style — 
what with your manures, and levelling, and planting 

And I answer — "N — n — no; no; (somewhat 
bolder.) There's a certain amount of labor involved, 
to be sure, and labor has to be paid for, you know. 
But there are the vegetables, the chickens, the eggs, 
the milk, and the fruit, which must come out of the 
shops, unless a man have a home supply." 

" To be sure, you're quite right ; " and I think he 
admitted the observation, as many city people in- 
cline to, as a new idea. '' But," he added, with an 
awkward inquisitiveness, "Do you ever get any 
money back ? " 


My friend was not a reader of the Agricultural 
Journals, or he could not have failed to notice the 
pertinacity with which the profitableness of farming 
is urged and re-urged. Indeed, with all considera- 
tion for the calling, I think it is somewhat too per- 
sistently pressed. It suggests — rather too strongly 
the urgence of the recruiting sergeant, in setting 
forth the profitableness of soldiering. I do not ob- 
serve that army contractors magnify the gains of 
their craft very noisily. The hens that lay golden 
eggs never cackle ; at least, I never heard them. 

The question of my friend remains however, 

" Do you ever get any money back, — eh ? " 
What an odious particularity many of these city 
people have I What a crucial test they bring to the 
delightful surroundings of a country home ! Have 
they no admiration for such stretch of fields, such 
herds, and the shrubberies, on whose skirts the 
flowers are gleaming? Somebody has suggested 
that the forbidden fruit with which the Devil tempt- 
ed Eve, and which Eve plucked to the sorrow of 
her race, was — money. A tree whose fruit carries 
knowledge of good and evil, is surely not an inapt 
figure of the capabilities of money — by which all 
men and women stand tempted to-day. The Para- 
dise tree is not popularly supposed to grow largely 
on the farms of amateurs. 

204 MY FARM. 

But the question returns — ''Do you get any 
money back ? " 

I think it must be fairly admitted that with most 
amateur farmers, the business (if we reckon it busi- 
ness) is only an elegant luxury ; absorbing in a quite 
illimitable manner, all loose funds at the disposal of 
the adyenturer, and returning — smooth fields, sleek 
cattle, delicious fruits, and possibly, a few annual 
premiums We never get at their "memoranda." 
Mr. Mechi, indeed, of the Tip-tree Hall, gave us an 
exhibit of his expenses and his sales ; but he found 
it necessary to support the statement with sundry 
affidavits ; people showed wanton distrust ; and I 
think there is an earnest belief among shrewd ob- 
servers, that the razor straps, soaps, and dressiQg- 
cases of Leaden-Hall street (where his original busi- 
ness lies), are, in a large degree, creditors of the 
Tip-tree Hall farming. 

But Mr. Mechi is something more than an ama- 
teur ; he is an innovator ; and has sustained )iis in- 
novations with a rare business capacity, and that 
inexorable system, which can make even weak ideas 
exhibit a compaefced strength. Amateurs then, 
cannot take shelter under cover of Mr. Mechi's fig- 
ures. Farming remains an elegant amusement only, 
for those who can afford to buy all that they need, 
and to sell nothing that they raise ; and a profitable 


employment only (in the majority of instances), for 
those who can afford to sell all that they raise, and 
buy nothing that they need. 

" Does any money come back, eh ? " 

The question of my persistent friend must be 
met And I do not know how it can be more fairly 
met) than by giving an abstract of accounts for the 
first year, third year, and fifth year of occupancy. 

Debit and Credit. 

T" ET us count first all extraordinary repairs and 
"^"^ necessary implements on taking possession, as 
part of the farm investment ; next, let us set off the 
interest upon investment, against house rent, and all 
home consumption. Thus, — if a farm cost $12,000, 
(and I use illustrative figures only), and if the 
needed repairs and implements at the start involve 
an outlay of $3,000 more — we have a total of 
$15,000, upon which the interest ($900), may be 
fairly set off against rent, and the poultry, dairy 
products, fuel, vegetables, etc., consumed upon the 
place. A shrewd working farmer would say that 
this implied altogether too large a home consump- 
tion, for reasonable profit ; but to those who come 
from the city to the country, with the determination 
to enjoy its bounties to the full, it will appear very 



moderate. In any eyent, it will simplify the oomr 
parison I wish to make between the actual working 
expenses of a farm, and the results of positive sale& 
But let us come to figures : 



To Valuation of live stock, 

. $1,200 00 

" Interest on do., . 

72 00 

*' Purchase of new stock, 

300 00 

•* Labor, 

1,200 00 

'* Hay and grain bought, 

150 00 

'* Seeds, trees, etc.. 

150 00 

" Manures, 

250 00 

" Wear and tear of implements, . 

100 00 

** Taxes, insurance, and incidentals, 

100 00 

$3,522 00 


By Valuation stock, close of jr., . 

$1,400 00 

•• Sales do., 

250 00 

** do. milk, .... 

600 00 

** do. butter, .... 

60 00 

** do. vegetables, 

60 00 

•* do. fruits 

10 00 

" do. eggs and poultry, 

25 00 

** do. sundries, . . . , 

75 00 

$2,470 00 

<< Balance (loss), 

1,052 00 

$3,522 00 



JHrst years of any adyentore do not offer a very 
appetizing show — least of all the adventure of re- 
storing a neglected farm. 

If this record does not prove entertaining to the 
reader, I can frankly say that he has my heartiest 
sympathies. The great enormity lies in the labor 
accoimt — always the enormiiy in any reckoning of 
American farming, as compared with British or 
Continental It must be remembered, however, that 
a large proportion of the sum named, went to ^e 
execution of permanent improvements, and that 
two-thirds of it would have been amply sufficient 
for the exigencies of the farm- work proper. 

Let us slip on now to the 

tbird year, 
To Valaation of stock, . 
'* Interest on do., . 
" Purchase of new stock, 
" Labor bills, 
" Manures, . 
** Hay and grain bought, 
" Seeds, trees, etc., 
" Wear and tear of implements, 
*' Taxes, insurance, and incidentals, 

$1,500 00 

90 00 

200 00 

1,100 00 

150 00 

120 00 

60 00 

100 00 

100 00 

$3,410 00 
'' Balance (gain), 615 00 

$4,025 00 




By Valnation stock, close of jr., . . $1,600 00 

«* Sales do., 200 00 

«* do. milk, 1,650 00 

** do. vegetables, .... 250 00 

** do. fruits, . . . . 125 00 

«• do. poultry, 100 00 

** do. sundries, 100 00 

(4,025 00 

This has a more cheerful look, but is not gor- 
geous ; yet the fields are wearing a trim look, and 
there is a large percentage of increased productive 
capacity, which if not put down in figures, has yet a 
very seductive air for the eye of an imaginative pro- 
prietor. Two years later the account stands thus : — 

fifth: year. 

To Valuation of stock, 

'* Interest on do., . 

'* Purchase of new stock, 

«• Labor bills, 

<' Manures, . 

" Grain purchased, 

'' Seeds, trees, etc., 
-'* Wear and tear of implements, 

'* Insurance, taxes, and incidentals. 

'* Balance (gain)* 

$1,700 00 
102 00 
180 00 
1,000 00 
100 00 
130 00 
60 00 
100 00 
120 00 

$3,492 00 
988 00 

$4,480 00 



By Valuation stock, close of jr., ■ . $1,700 00 

*' Sales do., 230 00 

" do. milk 1,900 00 

" do. vegetables, . . . . 250 00 

*' do. fruit, 150 00 

" do. poultry, 130 00 

" do. sundries, 120 00 

(4,480 00 

These figures, though imtten roundly, are (frao- 
tions apart) essentially true ; I would match them 
for honesty (though not for largeness), against any 
official report I have latterly seen — not excepting 
the "Quicksilver mining," or the Quartermaster 

If we analyze these accounts, we shall find the 

Average interest upon investment, (say) . $1,000 00 
Average working expenses, . . . 1,800 00 

Total, $2,800 00 

On the other side the 

Average cash sales are, . • • . $2,600 00 

House rent and home consumption, . 900 00 

Total $3,500 00 



Leaying profit of $700, which is equiyalent to ten 
per cent upon the supposed capital; — all this, un- 
der the cheerful hypothesis that personal super- 
vision is a mere amusement, and is not justly 
chargeable to the farm. If otherwise, and the over- 
look be rated as Oovemment or corporate o£Q.cials 
rate such service, the credit balance becomes igno- 
miniously f ^TniLn^ 

It is to be considered, however, that the growing 
productive capacity of the doil, under generous 
management, may be estimated at no small per- 
centage ; and the inevitable increase in value of 
all lands in the close neighborhood of growing 
towns, may be counted in the light of another per- 

AU this is not certainly very Ophir like, nor yet 
very dreary. 

Again, it is to be remarked that the entries for 
labor, and incidental expenses in the accounts given^ 
are for those expenses only, which contributed di- 
rectly either to the farm culture, or conditions of 
culture — not all essential perhaps, but all contrib- 
utory, n, however, the Bucolic citizen have a taste 
to gratify — in architectural dovecots, in hewn walls, 
in removal of ledges, in graperies, in the planting of 
long ranges of Osage- Orange (which the winter 
mice consume), the poor little credit balance of the 


farm account is quite lost in the blaze of agricult- 
ural splendor. 

I do not at all deny the charm of such luxuries 
I only say — that they are luxuries ; and in the pres- 
ent state of the butter and Bgg markets, must be 
paid for as such. And the life that is lived amid 
such luxuries is not so much a farm life, as it is a 
life — a long way from town« 

Bub hoc vocari debety cm damns longif 

It is the irony of Martial in the concluding line of 
his Faustine epigram ; and with it, I whip my chap- 
ter of figures to a close. 

Money-Making Farmers, 

TTTHEBE are the men th^i, who have grubbed 
^^ out of the reluctant eastern soil, their 
stocking-legs of specie, and their funds at the bank? 
They are not wholly myths ; there are such. Find 
me a man, who, by aptitude at bargaining (let us 
not call it jockeyism), can reduce the labor esti- 
mates in the foregoing accounts by a third ; and 
who, by a kindred quality, can add to the amount of 
sales by a third ; who can, by dint of early rising 
and perpetual presence, stretch the ten-hour system 

212 MY FARM, 

into twelve or fourteen ; who, by a conquest of all 
finer appetites, can reduce the home consumption to 
a third of the figure named in my estimates, and 
you have a type of one clas& A union of tremen- 
dous energy and shrewdness; keenly alive to the 
phases of the market ; an ally of all the hucksters ; 
sharp to pounce upon some poor devil of an emi- 
grant, before he has learned the current rate ol 
wages ; gifted with a quick scent for all ofGoI, which 
may be had for the cartage, and which goes to pig 
food, or the fermentation of compost 

I think I have hinted at a character which those 
will recognize, who know the neighborhood of large 
New England towns : a prompt talker — not bashful, 
— full of life — selectman, perhaps ; great in corner 
groceries, '^ forehanded," indefatigable, trenchant, 
with an eye always to windward. 

If I were to sketch another type of a New Eng- 
land farmer, who is, in a small way, successful, — it 
would be a sharp-nosed man, thin, wiry, with a 
blueness about the complexion, that has come from 
unlimited bufifetings of northwesters ; one who has 
been "moderator" at town meetings, in his day, and 
upon school committees over and over; one who 
has sharpened his tongue by occasional talk at 
"society meetings" — to say nothing of domestic 


I think of him as Hying in a two-story, white 
house, with green blinds (abutting closely upon the 
road), and whose front rooms he knows only by 
half-yearly summations to a minister's tea-drinking, 
or the severer ordeal of the sewing circle. His 
hands are sti£f and bony ; all the callosities of axe 
and scythe and hoe, have blended into one homy 
texture, the whole of the epidermis ; yet his eye has 
a keen shrewd flash in it, from the depths of sixiy 
years ; and under the hair of his temple, you may 
see a remaining bit of bleached skin, which shows 
that he was — fif iy odd years ago — a fair-complex- 
ioned boy. 

He has grown gray upon his straggling farm of 
one or two hundred acres ; yet it is doubtful if the 
farm will produce more now, than on the day he 
entered into possession. Some walls have been re- 
newed, and the old ones are tottering. Broken bar- 
ways have been replaced by new ones; the wood 
pile has its stock year after year ; and every tenth 
year, when oil is down, the house has its coat of 
paint — himself being mixer and painter — save un- 
der the eaves, for which ladder work, he employs a 
country journeyman, who takes half pay in pork or 
grain. When "help" is low, he clears some out- 
standing rye field, and commences a new bit of wall 
— a disunited link, which possibly his heirs may 

214 ^y J^ARM. 

complete. Every year, six, ten, or twelve bc^ grow 
into plethoric proportions; evoy year they are 
butchered, under a great excitement of hot water, 
lard-tryingB, unctuous fatty smells — sausage stuff- 
ing, and sales to the " packer " of the town. Every 
year he tells their weight to his neighbors, between 
services, at meeting — with his thumb and fore- 
finger in the pocket of his black waistcoat, and the 
same sly twinkle in his eye. 

Every spring he has his " veals " — four, six, ten, 
— as the case may be ; and every spring he higgles 
in much the same way with the town butcher, in 
regard to age, to price, and to fatness. Every sum-> 
mer I see him in black hat and black dress coat, on 
his wagon box, vdth butter firkins behind (the 
covers dosed on linen towels by the mistress at 
home), driving to the market And if I trot behind 
him on his return, I see that his exchange has pro- 
cured him a two-gallon jug of molasses, a savory 
bundle of dried codfish, a moisty paper parcel of 
brown sugar, a tight little bag of timothy seed, and 
a new hoe, or dung fork But he never allows his 
spendings to take up the gross sum of his receipts ; 
always there goes home a modicum, which grows by 
slow and gradual accretions into notes (secured by 
mortgage), of some imthrifty neighbor, or an entry 
upon the columns of his book at the Saving& 


There is no amateur of them all, who receives as 
much into a third, for what he may have to sell ; 
nor any one who spends as little, by two-thirds, for 
what he may have to buy. It is incredible what 
such a man will save in the way of barter ; and 
equally incredible how rarely he finds occasion to 
pay out money at all. Yet he is observant of pro- 
prieties ; his pew-rent at the meeting house, and 
tax bills are punctually honored. If I bargain with 
him, he loves deliberation ; he has an opinion, but it 
only appears after long travail, and comparison of 
views — in the course of which, he has whittled a 
stout billet of wood to a very fine point If I ad- 
dress him in the field, he stops — leans on his hoe 
— and is willing to lavish upon me the only valua- 
ble commodity for which he makes no charge, to 
wit — his time. 

Such a farmer repairs his bam promptly, when 
the siUs are giving way ; he does not hesitate at the 
purchase of a " likely pair of cattle " at a bargain ; 
he will buy occasional bags of guano, upon proof in 
his turnip patch, or on his winter rye ; but if a sub- 
soil plow is recommended, he gives a sly twinkle to 
that gray eye of his, and a complimentary allusion 
to the old ''Eagle No. 4," which settles the business. 

Such men are in their way — money-makers ; but 
rather by dint of not spending, than by large 

2i6 MV FARM, 

profits. These back-country gentlemen have their 
families — educated (thanks to our school system) ; — 
boys, lank at the first, in short-armed coats, and with 
a pinch of the vowel sounds in their speech ; but 
they do not linger around such a homestead ; they 
come to the keeping of hotels, or of woodyards on 
the Mississippi ; the names of many are written dovm 
in the dead-books of the virar. 

Our money-saving farmer has his daughter too, 
with her Chrysanthemums and striped-grass at the 
door, and her pink monster of a Hydrangea. She 
has her Lady's Book, and her Ledger, and on such 
literary food grows apace ; but such reading does 
not instil a healthy admiration for the dairy or 
butter-making; rosy cheeks and incarmined arms 
do no belong to the heroines of her dreams. I do 
not think she ever heard of Kit Marlowe's song : — 

'* Come live with me, and be my love." 

The faint echoes of the town in &shion plates and 
sensation stories, make a weird, intoxicating music, 
in listening to which, in weary bewilderment, she 
has no ear for a brisk bird-song. No wild flowers 
from the wood are domesticated at her door. I 
catch no sight of sun bonnets, or of garden trowels. 
Out-of-door life is shunned ; and hence, come sal- 


lowness, unhealthmess, narrowness — not even the 
well-developed physique of the town girl, who has 
the payements for her marches and countermarches. 
I hear, indeed, in summer weather, the tinkle of a 
piano ; but it frights away the wrens ; and of the 
two, I must say that I prefer the wrens. 

All this unfits for thorough sympathy with the 
every-day life of the father; and when common 
sympathies do not unite a family, its career breaks 
at the death of the patron. If there be nothing in 
the country life which can call out and sustain the 
pride of all members of the country family, it can 
never offer tempting career to the young. 

From these causes it is, that Dorothy will very 
likely grow into a wrinkle-faced old maid, hopeful 
of anything but the tender longing of Overbury's 
"Faire Milke-Maide." Too instructed to admire the 
sharp roughnesses of her wiry papa ; too liberalized, 
it may be, by her reading, to bear mildly his peevish 
closeness ; not kindling into a love of the beauties 
of nature, because none will sympathize with that 
love — dreaming over books that carry her to a land 
of mirage, and make her still more unfit for the 
every day duties of life ; — not recognizing the hero- 
ism of successful struggle with mediocrity and 
homely duties; — yearning for what is not to be 
hers, she is the ready victim of illnesses against 


which die has neither the vigor nor the wish to 

''So, Dorothy is gone I Squire," says the country 
parson ; ''Let us pray to God for his blessing." 

The darkened parlors are opened now ; the for- 
mer's daughter is a bride, and death is the groom. 

The gilt-backed books are dusted; the cobwebs 
swept away ; the black dress-suit rebrushed ; the 
twinkle of the eye is temporarily banished ; the 
neighbors are gathered ; the warning spoken ; the 
procession moves ; and the grave closes it all. 

The Artemisias bbom on, and the purple tufts of 
Hydrangea ; — poor Dorothy's flowers ! 

It is a little picture from the life of certain 
money-making farmers, who pinch — to save. There 
is a jingling resonance of money at the end, but it 
is not tempting ; it has come upon a barren Hfe, 
without glow or reach — a life whose parlors have 
been always closed. 

Does Farming Pay f 

A ND now let us priciser the whole matter, and 
-^■-■^ get rid, if we can, of that interminable ques- 
tion — does Farming pay ? 

Will shop-keeping pay? Will tailoring or Doc- 
toring pay? Will life pay? How do these quea- 


tions sound ? And yet they are as reasonable as the 
one we come to consider. Tell me of the capacity 
of the Doctor — of the tailor ; tell me of his location, 
and of his aptitude for the business, and I can 
answer. Tell me of what material you propose to 
make a &rmer, tell me of his habits, and of the con- 
dition of his soil and markets, and I can tell you if 
he will find a profit or none ; and this, without re- 
gard to Liebig, Short-horns, or the mineral theory. 

Successful farming, it must be understood, is not 
that which secures a large moneyed result this year, 
and the next year, and the year after ; but it is that 
which insures to the land a constantly accumulating 
fertility, in connection with remuneratiye results. 
The theory of the agricultural doctors^ that every 
year, as much of the nutritive elements of land 
should be restored, as the annual cropping removes, 
may be good ruling for virgin soil, or for the Lo- 
thians, or Belgian gardens; but for neglected (h* 
poor soil, a larger restoration is needed ; — if not by 
manures, then by tillage or drainage. Exact equi- 
poise is difficult, and implies no advance. It is nei- 
ther easy nor desirable to be forever balancing one- 
self upon a tight-rope. If progressive farming will 
not pay, it is quite certain that no other farming 

I know there are many quiet old gentlemen 

220 MY FARM. 

among the hills, who have a sleepy way of putting 
in their com patch year after year, and a sleepy way 
of clearing out their meagre pittance of drenched 
manure, and a sleepy way of never spending, who 
drop off some day, leaving money in their purse ; 
but such success does not tempt the young ; it gives 
no promise of a career. "Pork and cabbage for 
dinner, and the land left lean," — might be written 
on their gravestones. 

The faculty of not-spending, is cultivated by 
many farmers, a great deal more &dthfully than 
their lands ; but the faculty of right-spending {fa- 
cultas impendendi)* is at the bottom of all signal 
success in agriculture, as in other business pursuits. 
This kind of enterprise is what &rmers specially 
lack ; and the lack is due to the secure tenure by 
which they hold their property. The shopkeeper 
who turns his capital three or four times in a year, 
and who knows that an old stock of goods will in- 
volve heavy losses, is stimulated to constant activity 
and watchfulnesa The farmer, on the other hand, 
inheriting his littie patch of land, and feeling rea- 
sonably sure of his com and bacon, and none of 

*The language of Columella, which is as keen and as 
much to the point now as in the time of Tiberius : — *' Qui 
studium agricoUUioni dederit, sdat hoc nbi advoeanda : pru- 
dentiam rei^ facvltatem impendendif voluntatem agendV^ 


that incentiye which attends risk, yields hhnself to a 
stolid indifference, that overlays all his &iculties. 
Yet some of the Agricultural papers tell us with 
pride, that bankruptcies among fanners are rare. 
Pray why should they not be rare? The man who 
never mounts a ladder, will most surely never have 
a ^Jl from one. Dash, enterprise, spirit, wakeful- 
ness, have their hazards, and always will ; but if a 
man sleep, the worst that can befall him is only a 
bad dream. This lethargy on the part of so many 
who are content with their pork dinners and small 
spendings, is very harmful to the Agricultural in- 
terests of the country. Young America abhors 
sleepiness, and does not gravitate, of choice, toward 
a pursuit which seems to encourage it. The conclu- 
sion and the conviction have been, with earnest 
young men, that a profession which did not stimu- 
late to greater activity and larger triumphs, and a 
more Christian amplitude of life, could not be worth 
the following. Nothing about it or in it seemed to 
have affinity with the great springs of human prog- 
ress otherwheres; a lumpish, serf life, it seemed-^ 
bound to the glebe, and cropping its nourishment 
thence, like kine. 

Again, the extravagance of those who have under- 
taken farming as a mere amusement, has greatly 
damaged its character as a pursuit worthy the en- 

222 AfV FARM, 

listment of earnest workers. Our friend, Mr. Tall- 
weed, who, with his Wall-street honors fresh upon 
him, oomes to the country to grow tomatoes at a 
cost of five doUars the dozen, and who puts a sack 
of superphosphate to a garden row of sweet com, 
may make monstrosities for the exhibition tables^ 
but he is not inviting emulation ; he is simply com- 
mitting an Agricultural debauch. And an Agricult- 
ural debauch pays no better than any other. 

But between these extremes, there is room for a 
sober business faculty, and for an array of good 
sense. With these two united, success may be 
counted on ; not brilliant perhaps, for in farming 
there are no opportunities for sudden or explosive 
success. The farmer digs into no gold lead. He 
springs no trap, like the lawyer or tradesmen. His 
successes, when most decided, are orderly, normal, 
and cumulative. He must needs bring a cool tern* 
per, and the capacity — to wait K he plant a thou- 
sand guineas — however judiciously, — they will not 
sprout to-morrow. There have been, I know, Multi- 
caulis fevers, and Peabody seedlings ; but these are 
exceptional; and the prizes which come through 
subornation of the Patent Office, are rare, and 
dearly paid for. 

Again, it must be remembered, that all success 
depends more on the style of the man, than on the 


style of his business. For one who is thoroughly in 
earnest, farming offers a fair field for effort. But 
the man who is only half in earnest, who thinks that 
costly bams, and imported stock, and jaunty fenc- 
ing, and a nicely-roUed lawn are the great objects of 
attainment, may accomplish pretty results ; but they 
will be small ones, 

So the dilettante farmer, who has a smattering 
of science, whose head is filled with nostrums, who 
thinks his salts will do it all ; who doses a crop — 
now to feebleness, and now to an unnatural exuber- 
ance ; who dawdles over his fermentations, while the 
neighbor's oxen are breaking into his rye field ; who 
has no managing capacity — no breadth of vision, — 
who sends two men to accomplish the work of one 
— let such give up all hope of making farming a 
lucrative pursuit. If, however, a man be entirely in 
earnest, if he have the sagacity to see all over his 
farm — to systematize his labor, to carry out his 
plans punctually and thoroughly ; if he is not above 
economies, nor heedless of the teachings of science, 
nor unobservant of progress otherwheres — let him 
worky — for he will have his reward. 

But even such an one may, very likely, never 
come to his "four in hand," except they be colts 
of his own raising; or to private concerts in his 
grounds — except what the birds make. 




The Argument. 

"FT will be perceived by the reader who has been 
-^ kind enough to follow me thus far, that this 
book neither professes to be wholly practical, nor 
yet wholly fanciful. It is — if I may use a profes- 
sional expression — the fruit from a graft of the 
fanciful, set upon the practical ; and this is a style 
of grafting which is of more general adoption in the 
world than we are apt to imagine. Commercial life 
is not wholly free from this easy union, — nor yet 
the clerical. All speculative forays, whether in the 
southern seas or on the sea of metaphysics, are to 
be credited to the graft Fancy; and all routine, 
whether of ledger or of liturgy, go to the stock- 
account of the Practical. Nor is the last necessarily 

228 My FARM. 

always profit, and the other always losa There are, 
I am sure, a great many Practical failures in the 
world, and the number of Fanciful successes is un- 

I have endeavored more especially to meet and to 
guide, so far as I may, the mental drift of those who 
think of rural life, either present or prospective, — 
not as a mere money-making career (like a dip into 
mining) — nor yet as the idle gratification of a ca- 
price. No sensible man who establishes himself in a 
country home, desires that the acres about him 
should prove wholly unremunerative, and simple 
conduits of his money ; nor yet does he wish to 
drive such a sharp bargain with his land as will 
cause his home to be shorn of all the luxuries, and 
the legitimate charms of a country life. It is need- 
less to say that I hope for sensible readers, and 
direct my observations accordingly. With this in- 
tent I propose, in this last division of my book, to 
review all the helps and hindrances to the success 
and the rational enjoyment of a farm-life. I shall 
not reason the matter so closely as I might do, if I 
were addressing the attendants upon a County-Fair, 
but shall scatter my hints and experiences through 
a somewhat ample margin of illustrative text, from 
which the practical man may excerpt his little nug- 
gets of information or suggestion, — as the case may 


be ; and the reader who is pastorally inclined, may 
find frequent dashes of country perfume, that shall 
deftly cover the ammoniacal scent& 

Agricultural Chemistry. 

TTTHEN a man buys clean copies of Liebig and 
^ ^ of Boussingault, and walks into possession 
of his land with the books under his arm, and an 
assured conviction that with their aid, he is about 
to supplant altogether the old practice, and commit 
havoc with old theories, and raise stupendous crops, 
and drive all his old-fashioned neighbors to the 
wall, — he is laboring under a mistake. His calves 
will very likely take the " scours ; '* the cut-worms 
will sUce off his phosphated com ; the Irish maid 
will pound his cream into a frothy chowder ; — in 
which events he wiU probably lose his temper ; or, 
if a cool man, will retire under a tree, and read a 
fresh chapter out of Liebig. 

There are a great many contingencies about farm- 
ing, which chemistry does not cover, and probably 
never wilL People talk of agricultural chemistry as 
if it were a special chemistry for the farmer's advan- 
tage. The truth is (and it was well set forth, I re- 
member, in a lecture of Professor Johnson's), there 

230 MV FARM. 

is no such thing as agricultaral chemistry ; and the 
term is not only a misnomer, but misleads egregi- 
ously. There is no more a chemistry of agriculture 
than there is a chemistry of horse-flesh, or a con- 
chology of egg-shells. Chemistry concerns all or- 
ganic and inorganic matters ; and, if you haye any 
of these about your barn-yards, it concerns them ; it 
tells you — if your observation and experience can't 
determine — what they are. Of course it may be an 
aid to agriculture ; and so are wet-weather, and a 
good hoe, and grub, and common-sense, and indus- 
try. It may explain things you would not otherwise 
understand ; it may correct errors of treatment ; it 
may protect you from harpies who vend patented 
manures — not because it is agricultural chemistry ; 
but, I should say rather, looking to a good deal of 
farm practice — because it is not agricultural, and 
because it deals in certainties, and not plausibilities. 
There is such a thing as religion, and it helps, some- 
times, to purify Democrats and sometimes Bepubli- 
cans; but who thinks of talking — unless his head 
is turned — about democratic religion, or republican 
Christianity ? 

The error of the thing works ill, as all errors do 
in the end. It indoctrinates weak cultivators with 
the belief that the truths they find set down in agri- 
cultural chemistries, are agricultural truths, as well 


as chemioal truths; and thereupon, they mqunt a 
promising one as a hobby, and go riding to the waUL 
Chemistry is an exact science, and Agriculture is an 
experimental art, and always will be, until rains 
stop, and bread grows full-baked. A chemical truth 
is a truth for all the world and the ages to come ; 
and if you can use it in the making of shoe-blacking, 
or to dye your whiskers, — do so ; but don't for that 
reason call it Whisker-chemistry. 

It is a chemical truth that an alkali will neutralize 
an acid if you furnish enough of it; and if, with that 
truth festering in your brain, you can contrive to 
neutralize your entire f uod of oxalic add, so that no 
sorrel shall thenceforth grow, — pray do so. But I 
do not think you can ; and first, because the soil — 
to which quarter you would very naturally direct 
your alkaline attack — may be utterly free of any 
oxalic acid whatever ; its presence in the plant, is no 
evidence of its presence in the soil Pears have a 
modicum of pectic acid at a certain stage of their 
ripeness, but I suspect it would puzzle a sharp 
chemist to detect any in the soil of a x)ear-orchard. 
And even if the acid were a mineral acid, and were 
neutralized — it must be remembered — that to 
neutralize, is only to establish change of condition, 
and not to destroy ; — how know you that the little 
fibrous rootlets will not presently be laying their 

232 MV FARM. 

fine mouths to the neutral base, and by a subtle 
alchemy of their own, work out such restoration as 
shall mock at your efforts — in all their rampant 
green, and their red or white tassels of bloom ? 

The presence of any particular substance in a 
crop, does not ipso facto, warrant the application of 
the same substance to the soil as the condition of 
increased vigor. The man who, — having retired to 
the shade for a fresh chapter of liebig, — finds that 
cellulose enters largely into the structure of his 
plants, and thereupon gives his crops a dressing of 
clean, pine saw-dust, would very likely have his 
labor for his pains. That wonderful vital laboratory 
of the plant, has its own way of effecting combina- 
tions ; and stealing, as it does, the elements of its 
needed cellulose, in every laughing toss of its leaves 
— it scorns your offering. 

It is a chemical truth that the starch in potatoes 
or wheat, is the same thing with the woody fibre of 
a tree ; but it is not an agricultural fact — differs as 
widely from it, in short, as a stiffened shirt-collar 
from the main-mast of a three-decker ship. A farm- 
er comes to the chemist with some dust or bolus 
from a far-away place, and asks what is in it ; he 
can tell upon examination, and if, after such exam- 
ination he finds it to possess a large percentage of 
soluble phosphoric acid, he will advise its use as a 


manure, and can promise that it will contribute 
largely to the vigor of a wheat crop ; all this — not 
simply because phosphoric acid is a constituent part 
of the grain, but because he knows that other dress- 
ings containing a like element, have invariably so 
contributed ; the fact being established by repeated 
f arm-triala But it is not a result determinable, so 
far as a field-crop is concerned, by simple chemical 
investigation ; nor could it be so determinable, un- 
less you could establish the crop and feed it, under 
those conditions of alienation from all other in- 
fluences, by which or under which alone, the chem- 
ist is enabled to estabUsh the severity of his conclu- 

The power of the chemist to decomx)Qse, to un- 
ravel, to tear in pieces, and to name and classify 
every separate part, is something wonderful; but 
his power to combine is less miraculou& Give him 
all the carbonic acid in the world and he cannot 
make us a diamond, or a lump of charcoal. And 
when, with the natural combination is associated a 
vital principle, (as in plants), controlling, amplifying, 
decomposing at its will, his power shrinks into still 
smaller dimensions Faithful and long-continued 
observation of the mysterious processes of nature, 
will alone justify a theory of plant nutrition. A 
large part of this observation is supplied by the his- 

234 MV FARM. 

tory of farm-experienoes, and another part is sup- 
plied by the earnest inyestigations of special 8cien« 
tific inquirera Where the two tally and sustain 
each other, — one may be sure of standing upon 
safe ground. But where they are antagonistic, one 
has need to weigh conflicting evidence well, not pre« 
suming hastily that either practical experience, or a 
special science has, as yet, a monopoly of all the 
truths which lie at the base of the '' mystery of hus- 
bandry." For these reasons it is, that I say, — let 
no man rashly hope to reyolutionize &rming, upon 
the strength of dean copies of Idebig and Boussin- 

A Gypseous lUustraiion. 

rpiHE fanning community has a great respect for 
-^ men of science ; it never thinks of distrusting 
any of their dicta, so long as they are conveyed in 
scientific and only half-intelligible language. The 
working- farmer is altogether too busy and shrewd a 
man to controvert a statement of which he has only 
vague and muddy comprehension. His dignity is 
saved, by bowing acquiescence, and passing it un- 
challenged. Thus, — if the Professor, talking in the 
interests of agriculture, says : " Gypsum is very ser- 
viceable in fixing the ammonia which is brought 


down from the atmosphere by ohowersy" the com- 
mon-sense form-listener is disposed to admit so airy 
a truth. But if the Professor, meeting him over the 
fence, says : '* Plaster is an excellent manure/' the 
conunon-sense man retorts : 

"Waal — d'n'know; depends a leetle upon the 
sile, in my opinion." 

But as the scientific man confines himself mostly 
to the language of the desk, and meets with an ad<- 
miring assent, he is apt, I think, to generalize some- 
what too loosely and rashly in his theories of ap- 
plied science. Naturally enough, confident in the 
results of his own investigation, he entertams a cer- 
tain contempt for a merely empirical art ; he under- 
values the experience and practices of its patrons, 
and proposes to lay down a law for them, which, 
having scientific truth for its basis, may work un- 
varying results. I do not know how I can better 
illustrate this, than by noticing some of the various 
theories which have obtained, in reject to the fer- 
tilizing action of gypsum. 

A farmer, for instance, finds himself within easy 
reach of a large supply of this salt, and being chem- 
ically inclined, he sets himself to the task of reading 
what has been written on the subject, — in the 
hope, possibly, of astounding the neighbors, and 
glutting the corn market 

236 MV FARM. 

At the outset I maj remark, that farm-experience 
has as yet found no law by which to govern the ap- 
plication of gypsum ; on one field it succeeds ; in 
another, to all appearance precisely the same, it 
fails; at one time it would seem as if its efficacy 
depended on showers following closely upon its ap- 
plication ; in other seasons, showers lose their effect 
In one locality, a few budhels to the acre work 
strange improvement, and in another, fifty bushels 
work no change whatever. Now — it is a hill past- 
ure that delights in it, and again — it is an alluvial 
meadow. Hence it offers peculiarly one of those 
cases, where an observant and earnest farmer would 
be desirous of calling in the aid of scientific 

And what will he find? 

Sir Humphry Davy, that devout old gentleman, 
who was as good an angler as he was chemist, ex- 
ploded the idea prevalent in his day — that gypsum 
was beneficial by promoting putrefaction of manu- 
rial substances — and expressed the opinion that it 
was absorbed by the plants bodily ; at least by those 
plants whose ash showed large percentage of sul- 
phate of lime. Sir Humphry was honest ; the theory 
was not too absurd ; the farmers were doubtless 
glad to get a handle to their talk about plaster ; and 
so for a dozen years or more, the lucerne and clover 


went on absorbing the gypsum. At last some in- 
quisitive party ascertained, by careful experiment, 
that a field of clover not treated with gypsum, con- 
tained as large a percentage of sulphate of lime in 
its ash, as another field which had been treated to 
the salt The inference was plain, that the superior 
vigor of the last was not attributable to simple ab- 
sorption of the sulphate, and the theory of Davy 
quietly lapsed. 

Chaptal, the French chemist, speaks of gypsum in 
a loose way as a stimulator ; but in what particular 
direction its stimulating qualities are supposed to 
work, he does not inform us. 

About the year 1840, 1 think. Dr. Dana, of Low- 
ell, published a bouncing little book called a Muck 
Manual, in which he affirmed very stoutly that gyp- 
sum was quietly decomposed by the roots of the 
plants, when its sulphiuic acid flew off at the sili- 
cates, and worried them into soluble shape ; and its 
lime, on the other side, flew off at the geine, pound- 
ing that into a good relish ; in short, he made out 
so charming a little theory, — so vivacious in its ac- 
tion, — so appetizing to turnips, and so authorita- 
tively stated, that we farmers must needs accept it 
at a glance, and take off our hats, with — "That's 
it," _ " I thought so," — " The very thing.'' 

But straight upon this, like a thunder-dap, comes 

238 MY FARM. 

liebig,* who declares, in his authoritatiYe way, that 
the yalue of gypsum " is due to its faculty of fixing 
the small quantity of carbonate of ammonia, brought 
down by the rain and the dew ; " at this, we farmers 
put on our hats again, and waited for the rain. 

Some two or three years after, M. Boussingault, 
who had gone through the South-American wars 
ujider Bolivar, and studied agriculture at Quito, as 
well as on his own country-estate of Bechelbron, 
entertains us with the report, — m. hU mildly au- 
thoritative way, and sustained by great weight of 
evidence, — that Dr. Liebig is utterly wrong in his 
theory, and that the value of gypsum is due entirely 
to the lime which it introduces into the soil ; — the 
sulphuric acid, which played such a lively game 
under the pen of Dr. Dana — counting for nothing. 

By the time this stage of the inquiry is reached, 
the investigating young farmer, with whom I entered 
upon this illustration, might be safely supposed to 
be slightly muddled ; and yet, with & comparatively 
dear recollection of the last-presented theory in 
his mind, he might farther be supposed to consider 
the propriety of buying lime at eight cents a bushel, 
rather than gypsum at sixty cents. 

But he has hardly formed this decision, and seen 

* His first book appeared in America, if I am not mistaken, 
in 1841. 


his lime dumped upon his clover-field, when he re- 
ceives a copy of Dr. Liebig*s final work upon the 
Natural Laws of Husbandry. Turning with nervous 
haste to the doctor's discussion of the sulphate of 
lime, he finds these startling statements : " It may be 
safely assumed that in cases where gypsum is found 
to be favorable to the growth of clover, the cause 
must w)t be sought for in the lime ; and since ara- 
ble soil has the property of absorbing ammonia 
from the air and rain water, and fixing it in a higher 
degree than salts of lime, there is only the sulphuric 
acid left to look to for an explanation of the favora- 
ble action of gypsum." 

And in this muddle I leave our young farmer, 
contemplating, in an abstracted manner, his lime 
heap, and reflecting upon the wonders of nature. 

Yet it is not altogether a muddle. Science has 
failed in substantiating a theory of action — only 
where all farm experience is equally at fault ; when 
the two march together, they pluck up triumphs by 
the roota The particular action of gypsum, with a 
safe rule for its application, remains one of the mys- 
teries of the craft; and there are a great many 
others. Science is not discredited, however, by the 
antagonism of such men as Liebig and Boussingault. 
Stout men will stagger, when they explore the way 
for us into the dark. The dignity of science will 

240 MV FARM, 

suffer more from the pestilent iteration of smat^ 
terers who presume to solve aU the riddles of nature 
in their own little retorts. And the danger is all 
the greater from the fact that iminstructed farmers 
render an instinctive respect and confidence to a 
man who professes familiarity with science. It is 
never imagined by them, that one who would write 
CgH^Og + 2H0 for malic acid, — would teU an un- 
truth or take airs upon himsell • Yet I think it may 
be safely conceded that a rash man, or a mischiev< 
ous man may cover falsehood under such formulae, 
as easily — as if he edited a morning paper. And 
I really do not know how I could put the matter 
more strongly. 

With respect to gypsum, — and in dose of this 
special topic, — I may say that I have foimd it some- 
times of service upon young clover, and sometimes 
of no service at all. Upon old pasture land, it has, 
with me, uniformly counted for nothing ; and again, 
I have never failed to find an appreciable increase 
of the crop of potatoes, where I have sown gypsum 
in the trenches at planting. It is certain that we 
have no right to condemn the salt, simply because 
we cannot detect the precise mode of its operation. 
That mode I am inclined to believe very complex, 
and that no uniform law will ever meet the require- 
ments of the case ; nor have I a doubt but that in 


process of time, and under the tests of a future and 
finer chemistry, and of a fuller experience, every 
one of the dilute theories named, will throw down 
its little flocculent precipitate of truth. 

Science and Practice, 

T BEMEMBER once, in company with a crowd 
-*- of interested auditors, listening to a justly dis- 
tinguished pomologist, who, in the course of his 
peroration in praise of scientific study, suggested 
the great advantage of analyzing all the different 
pears, and the different soils under culture, so that 
they might be minutely adjusted each to each. Of 
course the worthy old gentleman never did such a 
thing ; and (being a shrewd man) never means to. 
Yet it seemed not a very bad thing — to say. The 
lesser pomologists all wagged their heads approv- 
ingly, but without any serious thought of following 
the advice ; the embryo chemists fairly gushed over 
in approval ; and the only doubt expressed, was in 
the faces of certain earnest, honest, old farmers, — 
who had already paid their twenty-five dollars for a 
soil analysis, to the eminent Professor Mapes, — and 
of one or two scientific adepts, who, I thought, gave 
a twirl to their tongues in the left cheek, — rather 

242 MV FARM, 

evasively. In general, I find that the most modest 
opinions in regard to the agricultural aids of ap- 
plied science, come from the men of most distin- 
guished scientific attainment ; and the exaggerated 
promises and suggestions flow from those who are 
slightly indoctrinated, and who make up by uproar 
of words, and aggregation of pretentious claims, for 
the quiet confidence and far-sighted moderation of 
real science. Even so we find a General in com- 
mand — looking from end to end of the field — 
modest in his promises, doubtful by reason of his 
knowledge ; while some blatant Colonel, puflFy with 
regimental valor, and knowing the positions only 
by the confused roar of artillery, will pompously 
threaten to bag every man of the enemy I 

But aside from the exaggeration alluded to, — 
and of which I should reckon so minute a soil- 
analysis as to determine what ground would most 
favor the development of pectose in a baking pear, 
and of pectic add in a Bartlett, a fair sample, — 
there are other hindrances to the effective and 
profitable co-laboration of scientific men with the 
practical farmer. The latter has a wall about him 
of self-confidence, ignorance of technicals, great 
common-sense, and awkward prejudices, which the 
scientific man, with his precision, his fineness of ob- 
servation, his remote analogies, and his impatience 


of guess-work, is not accustomed or fitted to under- 
mine. He may breach indeed successfully all the 
old methods; but if the old methodist does not 
detect, or recognize the breach, what boots it? 
Science must stoop to the work, and show him a 
com crop that is larger and groxxm more cheaply 
than his own ; this is sending a shot home. 

Let me illustrate, by a little talk, which I think 
will have the twang of realism about it 

A shrewd chemist, devoting himself to the mis- 
sionary work of building up farming by the aid of 
his science, pays a parochial visit to one of the back- 
sliders whom he counts most needful of reforma- 
tion. The backslider, — I will call him Nathan, — 
is breaking up a field, and is applying the manure 
in an unfermented and unctuous state ; — the very 
act of sinning, according to the particular theory 
of our chemist, perhaps, who urges that manures 
should be applied only after thorough fermentation. 

He approaches our ploughing farmer with a 
" Good morning." 

"Momin*," returns Nathan (who never wastes 
words in compliment). 

"I S0e you use your manure unfermented." 

" Waal, I d'n'know — guess ifs about right ; 
smells pooty good, doan't it ? " 

"Yes, but don't you lose something in the smell?" 

244 J^y FARM. 

" Waal, d^nlnow ; — kind o' hard to bottle much 
of a smell, ain't it ? " 

"But why don't you compost it; pack up your 
long manure with turf and muck, so that they will 
absorb the ammonia ? " 

" The what ? — (Gee, Bright I) " 

" Ammonia ; precisely what makes tiie guano act 
so quickly." 

" Ammony, is it? Waal, — guanner has a pooty 
good smell tew ; my opinion is, that manure ought 
to have a pooty strong smell, or 'tain't good for 

Scientific gentleman a little on the hip ; but re- 
vives under the pungency of the manure. 

•* But if you were to incorporate your long ma- 
nure with turf and other material, you would make 
the turf good manure, and put fdl in a better state 
for plant food." 

"Waal — (considering) — Tve made compo*s afore 
now; — dooz pooty weU for garden aass and sich 
like, but it seems to me kind o' like puttin' water to 
half a glass o' sperit ; it makes a drink a plaguey 
sight stronger'n water, no doubt o' that ; but after 
all's said and dun, — 'tain't so strong as the rum. 
(Haw, Buck ; why don't ye haw ! ) " 

Scientific gentleman wipes his spectacles, but fol- 
lows after the plough. 


"Do you think, neighbor, you're ploughing this 
sod as deeply as it should be ? " 

" Waal — (Gee, Bright I) — it's as folks think ; I 
doan't like myself to turn up much o' the yaller ; it's 
a kind o' cold sile." 

" Yes, but if you exposed it to the air and light, 
wouldn't it change character, and so add to the 
depth of your land? " 

" Doan't know but it might ; but I ha'n't much 
opinion o' yaller dirt, nohow ; I kind o' like to put 
my com and potatoes into a good black sile, if I 
can get ii" 

*' But color is a mere accidental circumstance, and 
has no relation to the quality of the soil" 

("Gee, Bright! gee I") 

"There are a great many mineral elements of 
food lying below, which plants seek after ; don't you 
find your clover roots running down into the yellow 

"Waal, clover's a kind of a tap-rooted thing, — 
nateral for it to run down ; but if it runs down arter 
the yaller, what's the use o* bringin* on it up ? " 

The scientifk; gentleman sees his chance for a dig. 

" But if you can make the progress of the roots 
easier by loosening the sub-soil, or incorporating a 
portion of it with the upper soil, you increase the 
facilities for growth, and enlarge your cropa" 

246 MV FARM. 

" Waal, that's kind o' rash'nal ; and ef I could find 
a man that would undertake to do a little of the 
stirrin' of the yaller, without bringin' much on't up, 
and bord himself, I'd furnish half the team and let 
him go ahead." 

'' But wouldn't the increased product pay for aU 
the additional labor? " 

" Doan't blieve it would, nohow, between you and 
L Tou see, you gentlemen with your pockets full 
o' money (scientific gentleman coughs — slightly), 
talk about diggin' here and diggin' there, and 
tumin' up the yaUer, and making compo's, but all 
that takes a thunderin' sight o' work. (Gee, Bright ! 
— g'lang. Buck!)" 

The scientific gentleman wipes his spectacles, and 
tries a new entering wedge. 

" How do you feed your cattle, neighbor ? " 

'' Waal, good English hay ; now and then a bite 
o' oats, 'cordin' as the work is." 

" But do you make no beeves ? " 


" Do you fatten no cattle ? " 

" Yaas, long in the fall o' the year I put up four 
or five head, about the time tiumips are comin' in." 

" And have you ever paid any attention to their 
food with reference to its fat-producing qualities, or 
its albuminoids ? " 


« (Gee, Bright !) — bumy — what ? " 

"Albuminoids — name given to flesh producers, 
in distinction from oily food." 

" Oh, — never used 'em. Much of a feed ? 
(G'lang, Buck !) " 

"They are constituent parts of a good many 
varieties of food ; but they go only to make muscle ; 
it isn't desirable you know to lay on too much fatly 

" Heh ! —keep off the fat, do they ? (Gee, Bright !) 
Dum poor feed, then, in my opinion." 

By this time the end of the furrow is reached, 
and the scientiflc gentleman walks pensively toward 
the fence, while Nathan's dog that has been sleeping 
under a tree, wakes up, sniffs sharply at the bottom 
of the stranger's trowsers — meditating such hy- 
draulic comment as pushes the man of science into 
active retreat 

I have written thus much, in this vein, to show 
the defensible position of many of the old style 
farmers, crusted over with their prejudices — many 
of them well based, it must be admitted — and 
armed with an inextinguishable shrewdness. The 
only way to prick through the rind is to show them 
a big crop grown at small cost, and an orderly and 
profitable method, gradually out-ranking their slat- 
ternly husbandry. Nor can I omit to say in this 

248 MV FARM. 

connection, that the free interchange of questions 
and answers, and unstarched companionship of our 
State Agricultural Conventions, are among the best 
means of breaking down the walls of demarcation, 
and establishing chemical affinities between Science 
and Practice. 

Lack of Frecisioru 

riijULBi manufacturer, in ordinary times, can tell us 
-*- with a good deal of certainty how much work 
he can turn out in any given month, and what his 
profits will be. The farmer, whose crops are de- 
pendent in a greater or less degree upon contingen- 
cies of wet, or dryness, or cold, over which he has 
no control, is less positive ; and as a consequence, I 
think, he grows into an exceedingly loose habit of 
thought in all that regards his business affidrs. 
Notwithstanding his punctiliousness in moneyed de- 
tails, and his sharpness at a bargain, he has a more 
vague idea of his real whereabouts in the world of 
profit and loss, than any man of equal capital that 
you can find. If he has a little pile in stocking-legs 
or in Savings that grows, — it is Profit ; if he has a 
little debt at the grocer's or the bank that grows, — 
it is Loss. 


Th^re is not one in fifty who can tell with any- 
thing approaching to accuracy, how much his grain 
or roots cost him the bushel ; not one in fifty who 
can show anything like a passable balance sheet of 
a year's transactions. He may put down all the 
money he receives in stumpy figures, and all the 
money he pays out in other stumpy figures, and set 
his oldest boy to the Christmas reckoning. But his 
rent, his personal labor, the wear and tear, the 
waste, the consumption, the unmarketed growth, 
assume only a hazy indeterminate outline, within 
which the sum of the stumpy figures is lost 
Whether he is raising com at a price larger than 
the market one, or selling potatoes for a third less 
than they cost him, is an inquiry he never submits 
to the fatigue and precision of accurate investiga- 
tion. He thinks matters are about so and so ; his 
oxen are worth obovii so much ; his oats will turn 
about thirty bushels to the acre. Nay, he carries 
this looseness of language into matters of positive 
knowledge ; the straightest stick of timber in the 
world is only about straight, and the tricky politi- 
cians are ahoui as dishonest as they well can be. 

Suppose we try him upon his com crop ; we sub- 
mit that it looks a little yellow. 

"Waal — yes, kind o' yaller ; 'tain't fairly caught 
hold o* the dung yit" (pegging away with his hoe). 

250 MV FARM. 

" Do you think there's any profit in growing com, 

" Waal — don't know as there is much ; kind o' 
like to make a little pork, and have a little about for 
the hens." 

" But why not buy your com and raise something 
else, provided you can buy it, as you often can, for 
sixty or seventy cents the bushel ? " 

"Waal — kind o' like to have a little 'heater* 
piece ; the boys, you see, hoe it out in odd spells ; 
don't pay out much for help." 

"But the boys could earn their seventy-five cents 
a day, couldn't they ? " 

"Waal — s'pose they might — about; but kindo' 
like to have 'em about home." 

" Have you ever tried carrots ? " 

" Waal — no ; kind o' back-achin' work to weed 

And not only does this apathetic indifference to 
the relative profits of different crops prevail, but 
there is no proper business estimate of home labor. 

We often see it afi&rmed, admiringly, that such or 
such a farmer has built an enormous quantity of 
wall — so many feet high and broad — or dug out 
so many rocks, and mostly with his own hands, or 
in spare time with his own " help ; " in short, it is 
intimated that all is done at little expense. Now 


this is very absurd ; great work involves great -abor ; 
and great labor has its price. You may do it in the 
night, and call it no labor ; you may do it yourself, 
and call it no expense ; but there is, nevertheless, a 
great deal of positive expenditure of both muscle 
and time which, if not given to this work, might 
have been given to another. It may count much 
for your industry, but not one whit for your farm- 
ing, until we learn if the labor has been judiciously 
expended — has paid, in short. And to determine 
this, we must estimate the labor at its market value 
' — whether done in the night, or on holidays. 

If I see a house painted all over in diamonds of 
every hue, and express distaste for the wanton waste 
of labor, it is no answer to me to say — that the 
man did it in odd hours. What will not pay for 
doing in even hours, will never pay for doing in odd 
hours. It is no excuse for waste of time and mus- 
cle, to waste them in the dark. Every spade or 
hammer-stroke upon the farm — no matter whether 
done by the master or the master's son, or master's 
wife — no matter whether done after hours or be- 
fore hours — must be estimated at the sum such 
labor would command in the market 

The fallacy is only another indication of that 
woful lack of precision of which I have been speak- 
ing, and which, I am sorry to say, infects more or 


less the current agricultural literature. A well- 
meaning man gives some account of an experiment 
that he has undertaken, and is so loose in statement 
of details, so inexplicit, so neglectful to make known 
previous conditions of soil, or conditions of cost, 
that he might as well have burst a few soap-bubbles 
in the face of the public. 

Even in reports of State societies, the estimate of 
labor and other expenses on premium-crops is so 
Tarious, so conflicting, often so patently and egre- 
giously wrong, that it is quite impossible to arrive 
even at a safe average. I find among these reports, 
the calculation of some short-figured farmer, who 
has competed for a premium upon his carrots, and 
who has the effirontery to put dovm the cost of cul- 
tivating and harvesting an acre — at twenty dollars I 
Yet he won his premium, and the estimate stands 
recorded. The committee who audited and accepted 
such a report — if donkeys were on exhibition — 
should have been put around the track« 

Knowing too Much. 

nr SOMETIMES see in the papers, advertisements 

of gardeners, who can be seen at Thorbum's in 

John Street, on stated mornings, when they hold 


their levee, who insist upon " entire control" A 
modest man, going among them, and entreating the 
services of one at forty dollars a month, and " boord," 
feels very much as if he were hiring himself to him 
in some subordinate capacity, — with the privilege of 
occasionally Hniffing the perfume through the open 
doors of the green-house. There may be those 
country-lovers who enjoy this state of dependence 
upon the superior authority of a gardener ; but I do 
not care to be counted among them. I have too 

large an acquaintance among the sufferers. M ^ 

an amiable gentleman, and a friend of mine, and an 
extreme lover of flowers, dared no more to pick a 
rose without permission of "Wallace," than he dares 
to be caught reading an unpopular journal. " Wal- 
lace " is instructed ; but in the assertion of his au- 
thority, — impudent. And when at last my friend 
summoned resolution to dismiss him, there came a 
dray to the back-entrance, which was presently 
loaded down with the private cuttings and perqui- 
sites of the accompHshed gardener. 

When a gardener knows so much as to refuse any 
suggestions, and to disallow any right on the part 
of the proprietor to stamp his place with his own 
individuality of taste, — he knows altogether too 
much. This is the Scotch phase of knowing too 
much ; but there is an American one that is even 

254 ^y FARM. 

worse, and which puts a raw edge upon country so- 

I find no man so disagreeable to meet with, as 
one who knows everything. Of course we expect it 
in newspaper editors, and allow for it. But, to meet 
a man engaged in innocent occupations — over your 
fence, who is armed cap-a-pie against all new ideas, 
— who " knew it afore," or " has heerd so," or doubts 
it, or replies to your most truthful sally " 'tain't so, 
nuther," is aggravating in the extrema 

There is many a small farmer, scattered up and 
down in New Engloud, whose chief dijB&culty is — 
that he knows too much. I do not think a single 
charge against him could cover more ground, or 
cover it better. It is hard to make intelligible to a 
third party, his apparent inaccessibility to new ideas, 
his satisfied quietude, his invincible inertium, his 
stolid, and yet shrewd capacity to resist novelties, 
his self-assurance, his scrutinizing contempt for out- 
sidedness of whatever sort — his supreme and in- 
eradicable faith in his own peculiar doctrine, 
whether of politics, religion, ethnology, ham-curing, 
manuring, or farming generally. 

It is not alone that men of this class cling by a 
particular method of culture, because their neigh- 
borhood has followed the same for years, and the 
results are fair ; but it is their pure contempt for 


being taught; their undervaluation of what they 
do not know, as not worth knowing ; their convic- 
tion that their schooling, their faith, their principles, 
and their understanding are among God's best 
works; and that other peoples' schooling, faith, 
principles, and views of truth — whether human or 
Divine — are inferior and unimportant. 

Yet withal, there is a shrewdness about them 
which forces upon you the conviction that they do 
not so much dislike to be taught, as dislike to seem 
to be taught. They like to impress you with the 
notion that what you may tell them is only a new 
statement of what they know already. It is incon- 
ceivable that anything really worth knowing has not 
come within the range of their opportimities ; or if 
not theirs, then of their accredited teachers, the 
town school-master, the parson, the doctor, or the 
newspaper. In short, all that they do not know 
which may be worth knowing, is known in their 
town, and they are in some sort partners to it. 

Talk to a small farmer of this class about Mechi, 
or Lawes, or the new theory of liebig, and he gives 
a complacent, inexorable grin — as much as to say— r 
"Gan't come that stujQf over me ; Fm too old a 

So indeed he is ; and a tough bird at that. His 
mind is a rare psychological study ; so balanced on 

256 MV FARM. 

so fine a point, so immovable, — with such guys of 
prejudice staying him on every side, — so subtle and 
yet so narrow, — so shrewd and yet so small, — so 
intelligent and yet so short-sighted. If such men 
could bring themselves to think they knew less, I 
think they would &rm far better. 

Opportunity for Culture. 

rriEEERE is a plentiful crop of orators for all the 
-*- agricultural fairs (most of them city lawyers, 
not knowing a Devon from a Hereford), who delight 
in expatiating upon the opportunities for culture 
afforded by the quiet and serenity of a farm -life. 
Now there is no life in the world, which, well hus- 
banded, has not its opportunities for culture ; but 
to say that the working farmer's life is specially 
favored in this respect, is the grossest kind of an 

Long evenings, forsooth! And the orator 

who talks in this style is probably crawling out of 
his bed at eight in the morning, while the farmer is 
a-field since four. And are not these four hours to 
be made good to him in sleep or rest ? The man 
who rises at four, and works all day, as farmers 
work, or who is even a-field all day, is sleepy at nine 


P.M. It is not, perhaps, a graceful truth ; but it is 
a physiological one. Nothing provokes appetite for 
sleep so much as out-of-door life. You may over- 
strain the nervous system, and dodge the night ; but 
a strain upon the muscular system must have its 
balance of repose. There are, indeed, exceptional 
cases, where a working man with an undue prepon- 
derance of brain, wiU steal hours between his labor 
for intellectual cultivation ; but he does it under 
difSculties, which he is the first to recognize and de- 
plore. Even the most skilled of working farmers 
arrive at their conclusions by an intuitive sagacity, 
which is wholly remote from the logical processes 
of books ; and their straightforward common-sense, 
however correct in its judgments, grows into a dis- 
taste for the subtle arts of rhetoric. 

During the more leisure period of winter, the 
practical mind of the farmer will gravitate more 
easily toward mechanical employments, than toward 
those which are intellectual. He will have his agri- 
cultural journal and others, may be, to whose read- 
ing he will bring a ripe and hardy judgment. But 
his thoughts will be more among his cattle and his 
bins, than among books. " He cannot get wisdom 
that glorieth in the goad, and that driveth oxen." 
There may be a spice of exaggeration in the dogma 
of Eoclesiasticus ; but whoever undertakes the occu- 

258 MV FARM. 

pation of working farmer, must accept its fatigaes 
and engrossments, and honor them as he can. It 
is a business that will not be halved. Yulcan can 
make no Gkmjmede — strain as he wilL The homy 
hands, the tired body, the hay-dust and the scent of 
the stables are ineyitable. The fine young fellow, 
flush with Johnston's Elements, and buoyant with 
Thomson's Seasons, may rebel at this view of the 
case ; but let him take three hours in a hay-fleld 
of August — behind a revolver (rake), with the reins 
over his neck, the land being lumpy, and the colt 
dipping a foot over the traces at the end of every 
bout, and I think he will have a sweaty confirmation 
of its general trutL Or let him try a day at the 
tail of a Michigan plough, in a wiry and dusty last- 
year's stubble : '-^ the horses are fresh and well 
trained, and the plough enters bravely to its work — 
smoothly at first, but presently an ugly stone flings 
it cleanly from the furrow, and there is a backing, — 
' a heavy tug, and on he goes virith his mind all cen- 
tred in the plough-beam, and nervously watching 
its little pitches and yaws ; he lifts a hand cautiously 
to wipe the perspiration from his forehead (a great 
imprudence), and the plough sheers over gracefully, 
and is out once more. There is a new backing 
and straining, and the plough is again in place ; no 
more wiping of the forehead until the headlands are 


reached. Watery blistem are rising fast on his 
•hands, and a pebble in his shoe is pressing fearfully 
on a bunion ; but at the headland he finds temporary 
relief, and a small can of weak barley-water. Ee- 
freshed by this, but somewhat shaky in the legs, he 
pushes on with zeal — possibly thinking of Bums, 
«nd how he walked in glory and in joy, 

'* Behind his ploagh 
Upon the mountain side," 

— and wondering if he really did? There are no 
" wee-tipped " daisies to beguile him ; not a mouse 
is stirring ; only a pestilent mosquito is twanging 
.somewhere behind his left ear, and a fine aromatic 
2)owder rises from the dusty stubble and tickles his 
ii0Btril& So he comes to the headland once more 
and the can ; if he had a copy of Bums in his 
pocket, it might be pleasant for the fine young fel- 
low to lie off under the shade for a while, and " im- 
prove his mind." But he has no Bums — in fact, no 
pocket in his overalls ; besides which, the season is 
getting late ; he must finish his acre of ploughing. 
Over and over he eyes the sun — it is very slow of 
getting to its height, and when noon comes it finds 
him in a very draggled and wilty state ; but he 
mounts one of the horses, and the mate clattering 
after^ he leads off to the bam and the baiting. He 

26o ' My FARM, 

has a sharp appetite for the beef and the greens, but 
not much, at the nooning, for Boms or Bishop But- 
ler. The return to the field haunts him ; but the 
work is only half done. Rubbing his pu% hands 
with a raw onion (by the advice of Pat), he enters 
bravely upon a new bout of the ploughing. The 
sun is even more searching than in the morning ; 
the mosquitoes have come in flocks ; the bunion, ag- 
gravated by the morning's pebble, angers him sorely, 
and destroys all his confidence in the commentators 
upon Bums. 

At night, more draggled and vdlted than at noon, 
he turns out his team, and if he means systematic 
farm-work, will give the horses a thorough rubbing- 
down; afterward, if he cherish cleanly prejudices, 
— the fine young feUow wiU have need for a rub- 
bing-down of himself. This refreshes, and gives 
courage for the milking — which, with those pufiy 
fingers, is no way amusing. Again the appetite is 
good — even for a cut of salt-bee^ and dish of cold 
greena Thereupon Pat, the Irish lad, sits upon the 
doorstep and ruminates, — with a short, black pipe 
in his mouth. Our draggled young friend aims at 
something better ; it is wearily done ; but at least 
the show shall be made. The candle is lighted, and 
a book pulled down — possibly Prof. Johnson on 
Peats ; the millers dart into the flame ; peats, and 


hydrates, and oxides, and peats again, mix strangely ; 
a homed beetle dashes at his forehead, and makes 
him wakeful for a moment ; there is a frog droning 
in the near pond very drowsily — ''peats — peats — 
peats ; " the drift of the professor is lost ; Pat ru- 
minates on the step ; a big miller flaps out the flame 
of his candle; — it is no matter — our fine young 
fellow is in a sound snooze. 

So much for the working farmer ; and we cannot 
have armies without privates ; and privates are 
many of them ''fine young fellows." 

Isolation of Farmers, 

nr AM reminded that a farmer has no need to fag 
-■- himself with hard field work. To a certain ex- 
tent this is true ; but only "A master's eye fattens 
the horse, and only a master's foot the ground." 

If farming be undertaken as an amusement, ab- 
sence is possible ; indeed, the longer the absence, 
the greater the amusement — to the onlookers ; but 
if farming be imdertaken as a business, presence is 
imperative — presence, with its associations, and its 
comparative isolation. 

Of the more familiar associations, a type may be 
had in Pat, sitting on the doorstep at dusk, ruminat- 

262 MY FARM. 

ing and smoking a black-stemmed pipe. The isola- 
tion is less obvious, but more galling. Farms do 
not lie extensively in cities ; and tbe least fear we 
live imder, — is one of mobs. In fact, there is not 
even a habit of congregation in farmers. They meet 
behind the church, between services, — in a starched 
way ; they drive to town-meetings in their best tog- 
gery, and discuss ballotings and the weather — pos- 
sibly linger an hour or two about the tavern or a pet 
grocer's ; but they do not meet as townspeople meet 
— on the walk, over counters, on the railway, in the 
omnibus, and in each other's houses. I have al- 
ready taken occasion to dust out their darkened 
parlors ; but the dust will gather again. They have 
no Market-Fairs* which will bring them together 
with samples of their crops, to compare notes, and 
prices, and methods of culture. 

There is no coherence of the farmers as a body — 
no trade-guild — no banding of endeavor to work a 
common triumph, or to ferret out a common abuse. 
For years, in many parts of New England, the sheep 

* A strong effort, I am glad to see, is making to establish 
them in varioas parts of the country. In my own neighbor- 
hood the old town of Cheshire has made a bold stride in this 
direction, and I trust not in vain. They are worth more to 
the true interests of farming than all the horse-trotting fairs 
which could be packed into a season. 


culture has been entirely ruined by the ravages of 
lawless town-dogs ; and the farmers groan over it, 
and bury the dead sheep, and whisper valorously 
between church services about bludgeons and buck- 
shot, but never make a concerted urgent protest ; or 
if they rally so far as to send one of their own peo- 
ple to the Legislature, — he, poor fellow, does not 
pass ten days under the fingers of the lobbyists, but 
he sinks into the veriest dribblet of a politician ; and 
gives the last proof of it> by making a pompous 
speech on "Federal Kelations," — not worth the car- 
cass of a ewe lamb. 

Under these conditions, any new and valuable 
methods of farm-practice do not spread with any 
rapidity; they hobble lamely over innumerable 
flanking walls. It is possible they may get an airing 
in the agricultural journals ; but good and service- 
able as these journals are, their statements do not 
influence, like personal commimications. Keforms 
want the ring of spoken words, and some electric 
social chain traversing a whole district, and flashing 
vdth neighborly talk. 

The man of education, giving himself over to the 
retirement of a farm life, will find this isolation, 
sooner or later, grating sorely. Whatever love of 
the pursuit — its cares, indulgences, attractions, 
successes — may engross him, a certain attrition 

264 MY FARM, 

with the world is as necessary to his mental health, 
and briskness of thought — as a rubbing-post for his 
pig& He may let himself off in newspapers, or he 
may thumb his library and the journals, but these 
offer but dead contact^ and possess none of that 
kindling magnetism which comes from personal in- 
tercourse. Type grows wearisome at last, however 
stocked with information and gorgeous fancies ; and 
a man frets for the lively reboimd of discussion. 

Friends from the city may drop upon you from 
time to time, exercising this compassion for your re- 
tirement ; and they treat you compassionately. Of 
course the novelty of the scene and the life has 
charms for any metropolitan, whatever his tastes ; 
and he bears himself very briskly at first. The view 
is charming ; the well-water is charming ; the big 
oaks (they are all maples) are charming. And his 
eye falls upon a riotous hedge of Osage-orange, 
'' Dear me, that's the hawthorn ; how beautiful it 

Of course you do not correct him ; in fact, you 
partake of his exhilaration, and seem to see things 
with new eyes. 

" And, bless me, here's your boy (it's a girl) ; how 
old is he? " (patting her head,) 

What a fine flow of spirits he is in, to be sure ! 
You show him up and down your grounds (always 


"your grounds," he calls them, if it be only a potato 

Presently his eye lights upon a blooming Weigelia. 
" Ah, a dwarf apple ! and do you go largely into 
fruit ? " upon which you offer him a Ked-Astrachan, 
and remark that the Weigelia has not borne thus 
far ; it is a Chinese shrub, and little understood as 

"Is it possible — Chinese! so far; — it seems to 
thrive." And it does. 

And you stroU with him upon the hill ; though 
you cannot but see that his mind is warping back to 
"laryngeal affections," or " half-of-one-per-cent. off" 

A lucky interruption appears, in the shape of a 
fine Devon cow. You venture to call his attention 
to her, and ask if she is not a fine animal? 

"Admirable!" and with a kind interest, he asks 
— if she isn't a Short-hom? 

"Not a Short-hom," you reply; and in way of 
apology for his error, remark that she has broken 
off one of her horns in the fence. 

At which he says, — "Ah, I see now; — but re- 
sembles the Short-horns, doesn't she ? " 

"Yes — "you return, mildly — "a little; her 
legs are like ; and I think she carries her tail — a 
good deal in the Short-hom way." 

At which he is himself again, and is prepared for 

266 MV FARM, 

ft new fann venture. It comes presently, as a fine 
brood of Bremen geese waddle into sight 


"No, not ducks — geese — Bremen geese, but re- 
semble the Muscovies ; " (as unlike as they are to 
sea-fowl ; but shall not a host keep his guest in good 
humor ?) 

"I shouldn't have known 'em from Muscovies," 
he says. And I really don't suppose that he would. 

A good-natured city guest, who comes to see you 
in your retirement, is very apt to talk in this strain 
upon farming matters. It is engaging, but not im- 

Tou stroll, by and by, into the library, and leave 
him for a few moments lounging in the arm-chair, 
while you slip out to give some orders to the ditch- 
ers in the meadow. 

Upon your return, entering somewhat brusquely 
(expecting to find him deep in some book), you 
waken him out of a sound sleep. 

" Upon my word," he says, " this is a beautiful 
air ; if I lived here I should sleep half my time." 

The reflection is a somewhat dismal one, — though 
well meant 

All this, however, illustrates what I want to say 
— that the citizen engrossed in active professional 
or business pursuits, when he visits a farm friend, 


goes with the very sensible purpose and hope — of 
escaping for a While the interminable mental strain 
of the city, and of giving himself up to full relaxa- 
tion. And this fact makes the isolation of which I 
have spoken, more apparent than ever. 

And it is an isolation that cannot altogether be 
left behind one. On your visits to the city, friends 
will remark your seediness, not unkindly, but with 
an oblique eye-cast up and down your figure — as a 
jockey measures a stiff-limbed horse, long out to 
pasture. You may wear what toggery you will — 
keeping by the old tailors, and showing yourself 
hien gant&, and carefully read up to the latest dates ; 
still you shall betray yourself in some old dinner- 
joke — dead long ago. And the friends will say 
kindly, after you are gone, "How confoundedly 
seedy Rus. has grown I " 

Were this all, it were little. But the clash and 
alarum of cities have stirred things to their marrow, 
which you know only outsidedly. The great ner- 
vous sensorium of a continent, — with its vdry 
nerves raying like a spider's web, in all directions, 
— is packed with subtle and various meanings, 
which you, living on an outer strand of the web, can 
neither understand nor interpret Mere accidental 
contact will not establish affinity. In a dozen quar- 
ters a boy puts you right ; and some girl tells you 

268 MV FARM, 

newnesses you never suspected. The rust is on 
your sword ; thwack as hard as you may, you can- 
not flesh it, as when it had every day scouring into 


Ql OMETDdE or other, if a man enter upon farm 
r<J life — and it holds true in almost every kind 
of life — there will come to him a necessity for bar- 
gaining. It is a part of the curse, I think, entailed 
upon mankind, at the expulsion from Eden, — that 
they should sweat at a bargain. When a French- 
woman with her hand full of gloves, — behind her 
dainty counter, — asks the double of what her goods 
are worth, you are no way surprised. You accept 
the enormity, as a symptom of the depravity of her 
race, — which is balanced by the suavity of her man- 

But when a hard-faced, upright. Sabbath-keeping 
New-England bank-officer or select-man, asks you 
the double, or offers you the half, of what a thing is 
really worth, there is a revulsion of feeling, which 
no charm in his manner can drive away. Unlike 
the case of the French shop-woman, I feel like pass- 
ing him — on the other side of the street. 

And yet all this is to be met (and conquered, I 


suppose) by whoever has butter, or eggs, or hay, or 
fat cattle to sell I ventured once to express my 
surprise to a shrewd foreman who had charge of 
this business — for I manage it by proxy as much as 
I can — that a staid gentleman with his ten thou- 
sand a year income, should have insisted upon a 
deduction of two cents a bushel in the price of his 
potatoes, in view of a quart of small ones, that had 
insinuated themselves in the interstices : I think I 
hear his horse-laugh now, as he replied — "Why, 
sir, it's the way he grew rich." 

The idea struck me as novel ; but upon reflection 
I am inclined to think it was well based. As I said, 
— often as possible, I accomplish this business by 
proxy ; and, in consequence, have made some bad 
debts by proxy. But proxy is not always availa- 
ble. There are customers who insist upon chaffer- 
ing with the " boss." Such an one has dropped in, 
on a morning in which you happen to be deeply 
engaged. He wishes to "take a look" at a horse, 
which he has seen advertised for sala The stable 
is free to his observation, and the attentive Pat is 
at hand ; but the customer wants a talk with the 

It is a staunch Canadian horse, for which you 
have no further use. You paid for him, six months 
gone, a hundred and fifty dollars, and you now name 

270 MY FARAf. 

a hundred dollars as his price. I never jet mat a 
man who sold a horse for as much as he gave — 
unless he were a jockey ; I never ^peot to. 

"Momin', Squira" 

" Gbod morning." 

'' Bin a lookin' at /r hoss." 


<< Middlin' lump of a hosa" 

"Yes, a nice horse." 

** D'nlaiow as you know it, but sich hosses ain't 
so salable as they was a speU back." 


" They're gittin' a fancy for bigger bosses." 


" Put that pony to a heavy cart, and he wouldn't 
do nothin'." 

" You are mistaken ; he's a capital cart-hoise." 

"Well, I don't say but what he'd be handy 
with a Ughtish load. Don't call him spavined, do 

" No, perfectly sound." 

" That looks kind o' like a spavin" — rubbing his 
off hind leg. 

" An't much of a boss doctor, be ye?" 

"Not much." 

"Don't kick, dooz he?" 

"No." ^ 


'* Them little Kanucks is apt to kick." 

Silence, and an impatient movement, which I 
work off by pulling out my watch. 

" What time o' day 's got to be?" 


"Thunder! I must be a goin'; — should like to 
trade, Squire, but I guess we can't agree. I s'pose 
you'd be askin' as much as — sixty — or — seventy 
dollars for that air hoss — wouldn't ye ? " 

"A hundred dollars is the price, and I gave fifty 

"Don't say I Gave a thunderin' sight too much. 

" Pat, yott may put up the horse ; I don't think 
the gentleman wants him." 

"Look a-here, Squire; — ef you was to say — 
something — like — seventy, or — seventy-five dol- 
lars, now, — there might be some use in talkin'." 

"Not one bit of use," (impatiently) — turning on 
my heel 

*' Say, Squire, — ever had him to a plough?" 




" Fractious any ? Them Kanucks is contrary crit- 
ters when they've a mind to be." 

"He is quite gentle." 

272 MV FARM. 

" That's a good p'int ; but them that's worked till 
they git quiet, kind o' gits the spirit lost out on 'em 
— ain't so brisk when you put 'em to a waggin. 
Don't you find it so, Squire ? " 


"How old. Squire, did ye say he was?" (looking 
in his mouth again.) 


"Well — I guess he is; a good many figgers 
nigher that, than he is to tew — any way." 

"Patrick, you had better put this horse up." 

" Hold on. Squire," and taking out his purse, he 
counts out — " seventy — eighiy, — and a five, — 
and two, — and a fifty — there. Squire, 'tain't worth 
talkin' about ; 111 split the difference with ye, and 
take the hoss." 

" Patrick, put him up." 

At which the customer is puzzled, hesitates, and 
the horse is entering the stable again, when he 
breaks out explosively — 

" Well, Squire, here's your money; but 

you're the most thunderin' oneasy man for a dicker 
that I ever traded with — I'll say that for ye." 

And the horse is transferred to his keeping. 

"S'pose you throw in the halter and blanket. 
Squire, don't ye?" 

" Give him the halter and blanket, PatricL" 


" And, Patrick, you ain't nary old curry-comb you 
don't use, you could let me have ? " 

" Give him a curry-comb, Pat." 

" Squire, you're a cfeyer man. Got most through 


"WeU, I'm glad on'i Had kind o' ketchin' 
weather up our way." 

And with this return to general and polite con- 
versation, the bargaining is over. It may be amus- 
ing, but it is not inspiriting or elevating. Yet very 
much of the country trade is fuU of this miserable 
chaffering. If I have a few acres of woodland to 
sell, the purchaser spends an hour in impressing 
upon me his "idee" — that it is scattered and 
mangy, and has been pirated upon, and that wood 
is " dull," with no prospect of its rising ; if it is a 
cow that I venture in the market, the proposed 
purchaser is equally voluble in descriptive epithets, 
far from complimentary ; she is " pooty well on in 
years," rather scrawny, "not much for a bag," — 
and this, although she may be the identical Devon 
of my Short-horn friend. If it is a pig that I would 
convert into greenbacks — he is "flabby," " scruffy," 
— his "pork will waste in bilin'." In short if I 
were to take the opinions of my excellent friends 

the purchasers — for truth, I should be painfully 

274 ^y FARM. 

coDBcious of having possessed the most mangy hogs, 
the most aged cows, the scrubbiest veal, and the 
most diseased and stunted growth of chestnuts and 
oaks, with which a coimtry-liver was ever afflicted. 

For a time, in the early period of my novitiate, I 
was not a little disturbed by these damaging state- 
ments ; but have been relieved on learning, by 
farther experience, that the urgence of such Hvely 
falsehoods is only an ingenious mercenary device 
for the sharpening of a bargain. But while this 
knowledge puts me in good temper again with my 
own possessions, it sadly weakens my respect for 

Amateur farmers are fine subjects for these chaf- 
f erers ; they yield to them without serious struggle. 
The extent and manner of their losses, under the 
engineering abilities of those wiry old gentlemen 
who drive sharp bargains, is something quite be- 
yond their comprehension. It would be well if 
harm stopped here. But this huckstering spirit is 
very leprous to character. It bestializes ; it breaks 
down the trader's own respect for himself, as much 
as ours. The man who will school himself into the 
adoption of all manner of disguisements about the 
cow he has to sell, will adopt the same artifices and 
quibbles about the opinion he wishes to force upon 
your acceptance. Let him mend by showing all the 


epavins in the next horse he has for sale (there will 
be some, or he would never sell) ; and his refor- 
mation is not altogether hopeless. 

The Brighi Side. 

rpHIS far I have been dealing with the shadows 
-^ — heavily laid on; let me now, with a finer 
brush, touch in the lights upon my picture. The 
chemical puzzles, the disappointments, the isolation, 
the fatigues, the chaffering bargainers do not fully 
describe or give limit to the good old profession 
of farming. And even when these clouds — hin- 
drances I call them — most accumulate, the kindly 
Sim flashes through, warming all the fields below me 
into golden green, and a kindly air stirs all the 
poplars into silver plumes, and I am beguiled into a 
new and a more admiring estimate of the country 

Arcadia with its sylvan glories comes drifting to 
my vision, and the pleasant Elian fields sloping to 
the sea. A stately Greek gentleman — Xenophon 
— who has won great renown by his conduct of an 
army among the fastnesses of Armenia, and on the 
borders of the Caspian, has retired to his estates on 
the Ionian waters, and writes there a book of max- 

276 MV FARM. 

ims for fiEtrm management, which are not without 
their significance and value to every farmer to-daj. 
And hitherward, across the blue wash of the Adri- 
atic, in the midst of the Sabine country, which is 
northward and eastward of Borne, I know a Eoman 
farmer — Cato — who has been listened to with 
rapt attention in the Roman Senate, and who — 
centuries before the time when Horace was ama- 
teur agriculturist, and planted Soracte and Lucre- 
tilis in his poems — wrote so minutely, and with 
such rare sagacity, upon all that relates to country 
living, and to cotmtry thrift, that I might to-mor- 
row, in virtue of his instructions only, plant my 
bed of asparagus, and so dress and treat it (always 
in pursuance of his directions) as to insure me for 
the product a prize at the County Fair — if, indeed, 
the shoots did not rival those famous ones of Ra- 
venna — of which Pliny speaks — weighing three to 
the pound. 

I know a poet too, whose music floating over 
Italy, before yet the battle blasts of her direst civil 
strife were done, weaned soldiers from their blood 
scent to the tranquil offices of husbandry ; and that 
melody of the Georgics is floating still under all the 
ceUings of all the school-houses of New England. 
The most pretentious and the most ambitious of the 
later emperors of the East — Porphyrogenitus — has 


left no more enduring monument of his reign, than 
the Gompend of agricultural instructions, compiled 
under his order, and bearing title of " Geoponica 
Geoponicorum. " 

I observe, too, in m j card-basket, the address of 
a certain Pietro di Crescenzi, who has come all the 
way from the fourteenth-century Bologna to pay me 
a visit — in a tight little surtout of white vellum 
that smacks of the loves of Bembo, or of the wicked- 
ness of the Borgia ; and who has talked of horses 
and cattle, and wheat-growing, and vegetable-raising, 
as femiliarly as if he were justice of the peace in our 
town. Lord Bacon has contributed to our stock of 
information about garden culture, and the elegant 
pen of Lord Kames has illustrated the whole subject 
of practical husbandry. But I do not cite these 
names for the sake of making any idle boast of the 
antiquity and dignity of the craft ; we have too 
much of that, I think, in our agricultural addresses. 
We live in days when a calling — whatever it may 
be — cannot find establishment of its value or worth, 
in the echoes — however resonant and grateful — of 
what has once belonged to it, or of the dead voices 
that honored it. The charms of Virgil and the 
shrewd observations of Cato will go but a little way 
to recommend a country life in our time, except 
that life have charms in itself to pique a man's 

278 MV FARM. 

poetic sensibilities — and lessons in every field and 
season, to tempt and reward his closest observation. 

Yet it is very remarkable how nearly these old 
authorities have approached the best points of mod- 
em practice ; and again and again we are startled 
out of our vanities by the soundness of their sugges- 
tions. Rotation of crops, surface drainage, ridging 
of lands, composting of manures, irrigation, and the 
paring and burning of stubble-lands are aU hinted 
at» if not absolutely advised, in treatises written ten 
centuries ago. Nor have I a doubt but that a 
shrewd man acting upon the best advices which are 
to be found in the various books of the Geoponica 
(the latest not later than the sixth century), and 
with no other instructions whatever — save what 
regards the dexterous use of implements — would 
manage a grain field, a meadow, or an orchard, bet- 
ter than the half of New England farmers. 

At first blush, it seems very discouraging to think 
that we have put no wider gap between ourselves 
and those twilight times. The gap is, however, far 
wider than it seems ; for while those old gentlemen 
made good hits in their practice, they rarely an- 
nounced a principle on which good cultivation de- 
pended, but they were egregiously at fault. The 
centuries, with their science and added experience, 
have solved the rea;^(yn» of things ; not all of them. 


indeed — as Liebig in his last book needlessly tells 
us — but enough of them to enlist a more intelligent 
method of culture. The ancients recommended a 
rule of practice, because it had succeeded in a score 
or a hundred of trials ; but if some day it failed, 
they must have groped considerably in the dark for 
a cause. We lay down a rule of practice in obedi- 
ence to certain qlearly determined natural laws ; and 
if failure meets us, we know it is due — not to falsity 
of the laws — but to some one of a rather wide circle 
of contingencies, not foreseen or provided against 
And it is the due adjustment and measurement of 
precisely this circle of contingencies — whether be- 
longing to wee^s, weather, or markets — which most 
thoroughly tests the ^gac^ty of the modem farmer. 
This sagacity is of far larger service, than I think 
scientific farmers are willing to admit Over and 
over it happens that some uncouth, raw, strapping, 
unread man succeeds, year ^fter year, in making 
crops which astonish the neighborhood. You know 
he has no sdei^ce, — nitrogen is Greek to him ; sul- 
phuric acid, for all he c£p tell, might lie in the juice 
of an apple ; he kAOws nothing of fermentations — 
nothing of physiology, yet his crops are monstroua 
His tools are somethii^g old, though firm and com- 
pact ; his team is always in good order, although 
his bams may be somewhat shaky. 

28o MV FARM. 

He could not himself explain to you his success ; 
you perceive that he manures well, that he ploughs 
thoroughly, that he plants good seed, that he hoes 
in season. This is aU ; but all is so well timed by a 
native sagacity — by an instinctive sense (as would 
seem) of the wants and habits of the crop, growing 
out of close observation^ that the success is splen- 
did, A man sets up beside him, and buys guano 
and fish, and the best tools, and employs a chemist 
to analyze his soil — but his crops do not compare 
with those of his rude neighbor, who sneers at chem- 
istry and fine farming. Of qourse I do not mean to 
join him in his sneers ; I only mean to illustrate 
how a large sagacity, guided by its own instincts, 
has very much to do vdth good farming ; and in a 
way not clearly explicable — certainly not explicable 
by its possessor. 

Just so, you will sometimes find, &r back in the 
cotmtry, a shrewd old physician, utterly unread in 
the new books, who laughs at the Gazette des Hopi- 
taux and the ChirurgicaJ, and yet who has that rare 
insight which enables him to detect and wrestle 
vdth disease strangely well. His long observa- 
tion, his comparison of trifles, his estimate of the 
moral forces at work are so just and discriminat- 
ing, that he brings a tremendous power of judg- 
ment to the case. Put him in a room for consulta* 


tion, and his gray eye tweaks, his lips work ner- 
vously ; he cannot enter into the learned discourse 
of the younger men of the profession ; he is dazed 
by it all — wishing he were learned, if learning 
helps ; but when appeal is made to him, there is 
such clear, sagacious, homely cut-down into the 
very marrow of the difficulty, as absolutely con- 
founds the young doctors ; all this, not because he 
does not carry learning, but because he carries brain 
— and uses it 

Any man with good brains may succeed in farm- 
ing — if he uses them. By this, I mean that any 
man with a clear head — though not specially 
crammed with information — and who brings a cool, 
sagacious, unblinking outlook to the offices of hus- 
bandry, will succeed, without a knowledge of the 
principles on which its more important operations 
are based. And the practice of such a man, if faith- 
fully recorded in all its details, would be of more 
service in the illustration of scientific laws, than the 
halting experience of a half dozen neophytes, who 
work by the vague outline of some pet theory. I 
had rather have such a man for tenant than one 
fresh from the schools, bringing an exaggerated no- 
tion of salts, and a large contempt for sagacity. If 
on some day of latter summer the milch cows rap- 
idly fall away in their "yield," I should expect the 

282 MV FARM. 

latter to puzzle himself about the sudden exhaustion 
of some particular constituent of the milk food, and 
to multiply experiments with bran or bone-meal for 
its supply ; but I should expect the sagacious vet- 
eran, under the same circmnstances, with a bold 
philosophy, to attribute the shortcoming to the 
scorching suns of August, that have drunk up all 
the juices of the grass ; and I should expect hjTn to 
meet the want by a lush and succulent patch of 
pasturage, which his foresight has kept in reserve. 

Business Tact 

A KIN to this sagacity is a certain business tact^ 
"^^ which is a large helper to whoever would suc- 
cessfully engage in agricultural pursuits. It implies 
and demands adaptation of crops to soils, exposure, 
and the market wants. It is eminently opposed to 
the drowsiness in which a good many honest coun- 
try-livers are apt to indulge. It reckons time at its 
full value ; it does not lean long on a hoe-handle 
for gossip. 

The farmer who turns his capital very slowly, and 
only once in the year, is not apt to be quickened 
into business ways and methods. The retired 
trader, who plants himself some day beside him, 
bringing his old prompt habits of the counter, will 


very likely, if a shrewd observer, outmatch him in a 
com crop, — outmatch him in pork, — outmatch 
him in everything, if the year's balance were struck 
and shown. And all this in spite of the trader's 
comparative inexperience, and by reason only of his 
superior business tact 

The finest shows of fruits at the autumn fairs — 
excepting always those of the professed nurserymen 
— are made, in three cases out of five, by mechanics, 
or by business men, who have brought to this little 
episode in their life, the methodical habits, and the 
observance of details, which govern their ordinary 
business duties. Not being in the way of leaving 
book accounts, or stock on hand, to take care of 
themselves, they are no more inclined to leave an 
investment in trees or orcharding — to take care of 
itseli They reckon upon care at the outset, and 
they bestow it The farmer, who has complacently 
smiled at their inexperience in tillage, and is con- 
founded by the results, will loosely attribute them 
all to a lavish and thriftless expenditure of money. 
But the conclusion is neither logical, nor warranted, 
— in the majority of instances, — by the facts. No 
superior fruit can be grown without labor and ex- 
treme care, and if these be controlled by a business 
system, they will be far more economically bestowed, 
than when subject to no order in their application. 

284 MV FARM. 

From time to time I observe that some venerable 
old gentleman in mj neighborhood is overtskken by 
one of those sporadic fevers of improvement, which 
vnll sometimes, and very strangely, attack the most 
tranquil and self-satisfied of men. The attack is a 
slight one, of the orchard type. He consults far 
and near in regard to the best sorts of fruit He 
devotes to the experiment one of his best lots, re- 
serving the very best for his next year's patch of 
potatoes. The land he reckons in "good heart," 
since he has just taken off a heavy crop of com. 
He digs his holes, after an elaborate system of 
garden measurement and stake-driving, which, to 
his poor, fagged braini, seems the very climax of 
geometric endeavor. The young trees are care- 
fully staked, and for a year or two show a thrifty 
look. But the spring temptation to put a crop be- 
tween the roots is irresistible ; the ploughing oxen 
browse a few — knock over a few — break off a few. 
This maddens our friend into a " laying-down " of 
the orchard to grass ; he half promises himself, in- 
deed, that he will give hand-cultivation to the trees, 
— but he does not ; his fever is abating, and so is 
his orcharding. The mosses fEisten on the young 
trees, the borers play havoc, the caterpillars strip 
them, the rank grass strangles them. 

From beginning to end there has been no busi-r 


ness forecast of the requisite labor involyed, no 
method in its prosecution — no estimate of the 
scheme as a business operation. 

It is certain that by a special dispensation of 
Providence in favor of those who make up the bulk 
of the human family, a man may secure a simple 
livelihood in agricultural pursuits, with less of en- 
ergy, less of promptitude, less of calculation, and 
greater unthrift generally, than would be compat- 
ible with even this scanty aim, in any other calling 
of life. With a respectable crop insured by only 
a moderate amount of attention and activity, the 
temptation to a lazy indifference, and a sleepy pas- 
sivity, is immense. There are farmers who yield to 
the temptation gracefully and completely. The stir, 
the vrakefulness, the promptitude that seize upon 
new issues, develop new enterprises, create new de- 
mands, are as foreign to the majority of landholders, 
as a ringing discussion of new topics, or a juicy 
haunch of Southdown, to their tables. 

But whatever may be the triumphs of business 
tact — and of a just apportionment of capital, be- 
tween land and implements, or fertilizers, the real 
question with a man of any considerable degree of 
cultivation who meditates country life, — is not 
whether legitimate attention will secure a tolerable 
balance sheet, and the fattening of fine beeves, but 

286 MY FARM. 

whether the life and the rural occupations offer 
verge and scope for the development of his culture 
— whether land and landscape will ripen under 
assiduous care into graces that will keep his attach- 
ment strong, and enlist the activities of his thought? 
Let us inquire. 

Place for Science. 

"Ol^AUSE a man cannot revolutionize fanning 
-^-^ and its practice by dean copies of Boussin- 
gault and Liebig under his arm, or upon his table, 
it by no means follows that an intelligent person 
who is concerned in rural occupations may not 
profitably give days and nights to their study. Be- 
cause we cazmot conquer all diseases, and clearly 
explain all the issues of life and death by the best 
of medical theories, it by no means follows that the 
best medical practitioner should therefore abandon 
all the literature of the subject The scientific in- 
quirers who direct their view to agricultural in- 
terests, deal with problems which are within the 
farmer's domain ; and if their solutions are not al- 
ways final or directly available, the very intricacy of 
their nature must pique his wonder, and enlist his 
earnest inquiry. 
A magnificent mystery is lying under these green 


coverlets of the fields, and within every unfolding 
germ of the plant& The chemist is seeking to un- 
riddle it in his way ; while we farmers, — by grosser 
methods, — are unriddling it, in ours. Checks and 
hindrances meet us both; both need an intimate 
comparison of results for progress. If we sneer at 
the chemist for his shifting theories in regard to the 
nitrogenized manures — no one of which is suffi- 
ciently established for the direction of a fixed prac- 
tice — the chemist may return the sneer with in- 
terest, when he sees us making such application of 
a valuable salt, as shall lock up its solubility and 
utterly annul its efficacy. It is a pretty little duel 
for our intelligent observer to watch : the chemist 
fulminating his doctrines, based on formulas and an 
infinity of retorts ; and we, replying only with the 
retort — courteous and practical But always the 
unfathomable mystery of growth — vegetable and 
animal — remains ; the chemist seeking to explain 
it, and we only to promote it If the chemist could 
explain by promoting it, he would turn farmer ; and 
if farmers could promote it by trying to explain it, 
they would all turn chemists. 

Many good people, of a short range of inquiry, 
and a shorter range of refiection, imagine that when 
the agriculturist has, by the chemist's aid, deter- 
mined the elements of his crops, and by the same 

288 My FARM. 

aid, determined the merits of different bags of phos- 
phates or guanos, that nothing remains, but to match 
these chemical colors as he would match colts, — 
and the race is won. They fancy that the new an- 
alyses and experiments — so delicate and so elabo- 
rate — are by their revelations reducing the art of 
farming to a simple afEair of the mechanical adjust- 
ment of regularly billeted chemical forces. There 
could not be a greater mistake made ; so far from 
simplifying issues, the new investigations demand a 
larger practical skill, since the conditions under 
which it works are amplified and extended. The 
old bases of procedure, if faulty, were at least com- 
pact ; the experimental farmer dealt with but few, 
and those clearly defined ; but scientific investiga- 
tion, by its refining processes, has split the old bases 
of action into a hundred lesser truths, each one of 
which must be taken into the account, and modify 
our operations. 

There was a time, for instance, when science, ob- 
serving that a living plant built itself out of the 
debris of dead plants, declared for the primal ne- 
cessity of a large supply of decayed vegetable ma- 
terial. This at least was simple, and the farmer, if 
he had only his stock of humuSy left the further ful- 
filment of the miracle of growth to wind and weather. 
In process of time, however, science detected the 


rare luxuriance which ammonia imparts to plant foli- 
age, and after refining upon the observation, declared 
for nitrogen as the great needed element ; schedules 
were prepared and widely published, in which the 
various manures were graduated in value, in strict 
accordance vdth their respective admixtures of ni- 
trogenous material The quiet farmer accepts the 
theory, and considers the wonderful effects that 
follow the application of the droppings from his 
dovecot, a demonstration of its truth. 

But he has hardly nestled himself warmly into 
this belief, — modified to a degree by the humus doc- 
trine, — than a distinguished chemist comes down 
upon us all with the representation — supported by 
a large array of figures — that nitrogen is abready 
present in ample quantity in almost all soils, and 
that the vital necessity in the way of fertilizers, is 
the mineral element of the plant This splinters 
once again the compactness of our purpose, and 
puts us upon a keen scent for the soluble phos- 
phates; though without destroying our faith in 
good vegetable-mould and strong-smelling manures. 

And not only in this direction, but also in what 
relates to the feeding of animals, the germination of 
seeds, the comminution of soils, the chemical effects 
of air, and light, and warmth — we have a hundred 
minute truths by which to adjust our practical man- 

290 MY FARM. . 

agement, where we had formerly less than a score of 
gross ones. And in this adjustment — modified still 
further by a great many physiological and meteoro- 
logical considerations — I think a man of toler* 
able parts might find enough to lay his mind to 
very closely, and to encourage some activity of 

There will be disappointments — as in every 
sphere of life. I have felt them keenly and often. 
The hum\AB has baffled my expectations, and my po- 
tatoes; the nitrogenous riches have shot up into 
thickets of rank and watery luxuriance ; the phos- 
phoric acid has oozed into some unthrifty combina- 
tion, or has remained locked up in an unyielding 
nugget of Sombrero. But little disappointments 
count for nothing, when (as now) we are reckoning 
the pabulum which agricultural employments fur- 
nish for intellectual activity. The rural adventurer 
may not only regale himself with a considerable 
series of nice chemical puzzles at every cropping- 
time, but he may give his thoughts to original in- 
vestigation of the habits of the plants themselves ; 
the career of a Decandolle could have had no finer 
start-point than a country farm with its living her- 
baria, and its opportunities for observation; we 
want a good monograph of our great national CTop 
of maize — so soon as the man shall appear to make 


it We want^ too, some Buffon (without his foppery) 
to unearth our field-mice, and to put a great tribe of 
insect depredators to flight 

JEstketica of the Busmesa. 


HAT is needed, perhaps more than all else, in 
our agricultural regions, is — such intelligi- 
ble, imitable, and economic demonstrations of the 
laws of good taste, as shall provoke emulation, and 
redeem the small farmer — unwittingly, it may be — 
from his slovenly barbarities and his grossness of 
life. Here is verge, surely, for a man's cultivation, 
for his aptitude, and for those graces which shall 
fix his attachment while they plead their lessons of 

It seems hardly necessary to urge a necessity for 
this direction of effort. A certain stark neatness, 
confined mostly to kitchens, pantries, and such por- 
tions of the door-yard as are under the eye of the 
goodwife, mostly limits the accomplishment of New- 
England farmers in this direction. It may be that 
a staring coat of white paint upon the house com- 
pletes the investiture of charms; while, at every 
hand, heaps of rubbish — cumbering the public road 
— and piles of straggling wood, dissipate any illu- 

292 MV FARM, 

sion which a well-sciiibbed interior, or the fresh 
paint, may have created. 

Here and there we come upon a certain neatness 
and order in enclosures, buildings, and fields ; but 
ten to one the keeping of the picture is absolutely 
ruined by the slatternly condition of the highway, 
to which, — though it pass within ten feet of his 
door, — the farmer, by a strange inconsequence, 
pays no manner of heed. He makes it the recep- 
tacle of all waste material, and foists upon the pub- 
lic the offiJ, which he will not tolerate within the 
limits of his enclosure. And the highway purveyors 
are mostly as brutally unobservant of neatness as 
the farmer himself ; nay, they seem to put an offi- 
cious pride into the unseemliness and rawness of 
their work ; and it is only by most persistent watch- 
fulness that I have been able to prevent some bullet- 
headed road-mender from digging into the turf- 
slopes at my very door. 

Here and there I see, up and down the country, 
frequent attempts at what is counted ornamentation 
— fantastic trellises cut out of whitened planks, 
cumbrous balustrades, with a multitude of shapeless 
finials, or whimsical pagodas — imitations of what 
cannot be imitated, even if worthy ; — but of the 
hundred nameless graces, wrought of home material, 
delighting you by their unexpectedness, piquing you 


by their simplicity, and winning upon every passer- 
by, by their thorough agreement with landscape, 
and surroundings, and the offices of the farmer, I 
see far less. The only idea of elegance and beauty 
which finds footing, is of something extraneous — 
outside his life — not mating with his opportunities 
or purposes — and only to be compassed, as a special 
extravagance, upon which some town joiner must 
lavish his "ogees," and which shall serve as a blatant 
type of the farmer's "forehandedness." This is all 
very pitiful ; it gives no charm ; it educates to no 
sense of the tender graces of those simple, honest 
adornments which ought to refine the country-liver, 
and to refine the tastes of his children. I am not 
writing in any spirit of sentimental romanticism. If 
Arcadia and its pastorals have gone by (and I think 
they have), God, and nature, and sunshine, have not 
gone by : nor yet the trees, and the flowers, or 
green turf, or a thousand kindred charms, which the 
humblest &rmer has in his keeping, and may spend 
around his door and homestead, with such simple 
grace, such affluence, such economy of labor, such 
unity of design, as shall enchain regard, ripen the 
instincts of his children to a finer sense of the boun- 
ties they enjoy, and kindle the admiration of every 
intelligent observer. 

A neglect of these attractions, which are so con- 

294 ^^y FARM. 

spicuous along aU the by-wajs of England, and in 
many portions of the continent, is attributable per- 
haps in some degree to the unrest of much of our 
rural population. The man who pitches his white 
tent beside the road, for what forage he may easily 
gather up, and is ready always for a sale, will care 
littie for any of the more delicate graces of home. 
And with those who have some permanent establish- 
ment, I think the root of the difficulty may lie yety 
much in that proud and sensitive individuality 
which is the growth of our democratic institutions. 
There is an absolute and charming fittingness about 
most of these humble rural adornments, of which I 
speak, which our progressive friend does not like to 
adopt, by reason of their fMmgnesa^ and because 
they give quasi indication of limited means and 
humble estate. When, therefore, such an one makes 
blundering effort to accomplish something in the 
way of decorative display, it is very apt to take a 
grandiose type, showing vulgar strain toward those 
adornments of the town which are wholly unsuited 
to his habits and surroundings. Thus a thriving 
ruralist with a family of two, vnll build a house as 
large as a church, and perch a cupola upon it» from 
which he may review the flat country for miles 
while he contents himself with occupancy of the 
back-kitchen. If contented with small space, why 


not, in the name of honesty, declare it boldly, in- 
stead of covering the truth, under such lumbering 
falsehood? What forbids giving to the country 
home a simple propriety of its own, with its own 
wealth of rural decoration — its shrubbery, its vines, 
its arbors, instead of challenging unfavorable com- 
parison VTith an entirely different class of homes? 
If a man is disposed to advertise by flaming archi- 
tecture and appointments — "I am only farmer by 
accident, and competent (as you see) to live in a 
grand way," there is little hope that he will ever do 
anything to the credit of farming interests, or con- 
tribute very largely to the best charms of our rural 
landscape. The attempt to better one's condition is 
always praiseworthy ; but it is only base and ignoble 
to attempt to cover one's condition with an idle 
smack of something larger. 

There will always be in every moderately free 
country a great class of small landholders, in whose 
hands will lie for the most part, the control of our 
rural landscape, and the fashioning of our wayside 
homes, and when they shall take pride, as a body, in 
giving grace to these homes, the country will have 
taken a long step forward in the refinements of civ- 
ilization. If I have no coaches and horses, I can at 
least hang a tracery of vine leaves along my porch, 
so exquisitely delicate that no sculpture can match 

296 MV FARM. 

it ; if I have no conservatories with their wonders, 
yet the sun and I together can build up a little 
tangled coppice of blooming things in my door- 
yard, of which every tiny floral leaflet shall be a 
miracle. Nay, I may make my home, however small 
it be, so complete in its simplicity, so fitted to its 
offices, so governed by neatness, so embowered by 
wealth of leaf and flower, that no riches in the world 
could add to it, without damaging its rural grace ; 
and my gardeners — Simshine, Erost, and Showers 
are their names — shall work for me with no crusty 
reluctance, but with an abandon and a zeal that ask 
only gratitude for pay. 
But let us come to details. 


A WALK is, first of all, a convenience ; whether 
-^^ leading from door to highway, or to the 
stable court, or through gardens, or to the wood, it 
is essentially, and most of aU — a convenience ; and 
to despoil it of this quality, by interposing circles 
or curves, which have no meaning or sufficient 
cause, is mere affectation. Not to say, however, 
that all paths should be straight ; the farmer whose 
home is at a considerable remove from the highway, 
and who drives his team thither, avoiding rock, and 


tree, and hillock, will give to his line of approach a 
grace that it would be hard to excel by counterfeit 
Pat, staggering from the orchard, under a bushel of 
Bartlett pears, and seizing upon every accidental aid 
in the surface of the decHvity to relieve the fatigue 
of his walk — zigzagging, as it were in easy curves, 
is unconsciously laying down — though not a grace- 
ful man — a very graceful line of march. And it is 
the dehcate interpretation of these every-day de- 
flexities, and this instinctive tortuousness (if I may 
so say), which supplies, or should supply, the land- 
scape gardeners with their best f ormulsB. 

There is no liver in the country so practical, or of 
80 humble estate, but he will have his half dozen 
paths divergent from his door ; and these he may 
keep dry, and in always serviceable condition, by 
simply removing the soil from them to the depth of 
eighteen or twenty inches, and burying in them the 
scattered stones and debris, which are feeding weed- 
crops in idle comers ; he will thus reheve himself 
of the useless material that might cumber the high- 
way, besides possessing himself of the greater part 
of the top soil removed, for admixture with his 
composts. And this substitution may progress, 
season by season ; as the garden rakings or refuse 
material accumulate, he has only' to remove a few 
cubic yards of earth from his paths, bury the waste, 

298 AfV FARM. 

and reserve the more aYailable portions of the 

The same rules of construction are good for aU 
road-ways, more especially for the farmer who 
wants unyielding metal beneath his heavy cartage of 
spring. The perfection of roads of course supposes 
perfect drainage, and a deep bed of stone material ; 
but I am only suggesting methods which are in 
keeping with ordinary farm eoonomiea 

There must needs be directness in all paths com* 
municating with out-buildings, and the exigencies 
of economic and effective culture demand the 
straight lines in the kitchen garden ; but when I 
take a friend to some pretty point of view, or a lit* 
tie parterre of flowers dropped in the turf, — we are 
not hurried ; the dainty curves make a pleasant 
cheatery of the approach. Thus there is charming 
accord between the best rules for landscape outlay, 
and the wants of the country-liver ; where economy 
of tillage or of labor demands directness, the paths 
should be direct ; and where economy of pleasure 
suggests loitering, the paths may loiter. And so, 
they loiter away through pleasant wooded coppices 
— doubling upon themselves on some rocky pitch 
of hill — short reaches, concealed each one from the 
other — blinded by thick underwood — wantoning 
in curves, imtil presently from under a low*branch« 


ing beech tree, there bursts on the eye a great view 
of farm, and forest, and city, and sea; always a 
charming view indeed, though we toiled straight 
toward it, in broad sunshine; but the vdnding 
through the coppice, unsuspecting, — busied with 
ferns and lichens, and shut in by dark overgrowth 
against any glimpse of sky, — makes it tenfold rav- 

What if such ws^s be not nicely gravelled — 
what if you come upon no grubbing gardeners ? If 
only they be easy and serviceable, I love their rain 
stains, and their fine mosses creeping into green 
mats ; I love their irregular borders, with a fern or 
a gentian nodding over the bounds — a pretty gfyl- 
van welcome to your tread. There are little foot- 
paths I know, — only beaten by the patter of yoimg 
feet> — winding away through lawn or orchard to 
some favorite apple tree, — frequented most, after 
some brisk wind-storm has passed over, — that I 
think I admire more than any gravelled walks in 
the world. 

And there are other simple foot-paths, which I 
remember loitering through day after day, in the 
rural districts of England, with a sense of enjoy- 
ment, that never belonged to saunterings in the 
alleys of Versailles. 

A man does not know England, or English land-* 

300 MV FARM. 

scape, or English ooimtry feeling, until he has 
broken away from railways, from cities, from towns, 
and clambered over stiles, and lost himself in the 

Talk of Chatsworth, and Blenheim, and 

Eaton Hall I Does a man know the pleasure oi 
healthy digestion by eating whip syllabub? Did 
Turner go to Belvoir Castle park for the landscapes 
which link us to Gk)d's earth ? 

What a joy and a delight in those field foot-pafhs 
of England I Not the paths of owners only ; not 
cautiously gravelled walks ; but all men's paths, 
where any way&rer may go ; worn smooth by poor 
feet and rich feet, idle feet and working feet ; open 
across the fields from time immemorial ; God's 
paths for his people, which no man may shut ; — 
winding — coiling over stiles — leaping on stepping- 
stones through brooks — with curves more graceful 
than Hogarth's — hieroglyphics of the Great Mastei 
written on the land, which, being interpreted, say — 
Love one another. 

We call ours a country of privilege, yet what rich 
man gives right of way over his grounds? What 
foot-path or stile to cheat the laborer of his fatigue? 



TPvOES the reader remember that upon the Jtine 
•^-^ day on which I first visited My Farm, I de- 
scribed the air as all aflow with the perfume of pur- 
ple lilacs ; and does he think that I would ungrate- 
fully forget it, or forget the lilacs? The Lilac is 
one of those old shrubs which I cling to with an 
admiration that is almost reverence. The Syringo 
{PkUadelphus) is another ; and the Guelder-rose 
{Vibumunx) is another. They are all infamously 
common ; but so is sunshine. 

The Mezereum, the Forsythia, and the Weigelia 
have their attractions ; — the Mezereum, because it 
is first comer in the spring, and shows its modest 
crimson tufts of blossoms, while the March snows 
are lingering ; the Forsythia follows hard upon it, 
with its graceful yellow bells ; and the Weigelia, 
though far later, is gorgeous in its pink and white 
— but neither of them is to be matched against 
the old favorites I have named. 

Yet it is after all more in the disposition of the 
shrubbery, than in the varieties, that a rational 
pleasure will be found. It is not a great burden of 
bloom from any particular shrub that I aim at I 

yoz MY FARM. 

do not want to prove what it may do at its best, and 
singly ; that is the office of the nurseiyman, who has 
his sales to make. Bat I want to marry together 
great ranks of individual beauties, so that May flow- 
ers shall hardly be upon the wane, when the blos- 
soms of June shall flame over their heads ; and June 
in its turn have hardly lost its miracles of color, 
when July shall commence its intermittent flres, and 
light up its trail of splendor around all the skirts of 
the shubbery. I want to see the delicate white of 
the Clematis {Virginica) hanging its graceful fe»* 
toons of August^ here and there in the thickets that 
have lost their summer flowers; and after this I 
welcome the black berries of the Ftivet, or the 
brazen ones of the twining Bitter-sweet. 

Or, it is some larger group with which we deal — 
half up the hill-side, screening some ragged nursery 
of rocks — and a tall Lombardy-poplar lifts from 
its centre, while shining, yellowish Beeches group 
aroimd it — crowding it, forcing all its leafy vigor 
(just where we wish it) into the topmost shoots ; and 
amid the Beeches are dark spots of young Hem- 
locks — as if the shadow of a doud lay just there, 
and the sun shone on all the rest ; and among the 
Hemlocks, and reaching in jagged bays above and 
below them are Sumacs (so beautiful, and yet so 
scorned) lifting out from all the tossing sea of 


leaves, their solid flame-jets of fiery crimson ber- 
ries. Skirting these, and shining under the dip of 
a Willow, are the glossy Elabnias which, at mid- 
summer, were a sheet of blossoms ; and the hem of 
the group is stitched in at last with purple Phloxes 
and gorgeous Golden-rod. 

I know no limit indeed to the combinations which 
a man may not affect who has an eye for color, and 
a heart for the light labor of the culture. There is, 
unfortunately, a certain stereotyped way of limiting 
these shrubberies to a few graceful exotics, — which, 
of dourse, the gardeners commend, — and of rating 
the value of foliage by its cost in the nursery. It is 
but a narrow and ungrateful way of dealing with 
the bounties of Providence. It may accomplish, un- 
der great care, very effective results ; but they will 
not open the eyes of men of humble estates to the 
beauties that are lurking in the forest all around 
them, and which only need a little humanizing care 
to rival the best products of the nurseries. Steering 
clear of this intolerance, I have domesticated the 
White-birch, and its milky bole is without a rival 
among all the exotics; the Hardbeam ((/arptnt^), 
¥dth its fine spray, and the Witch-hazel (Hamamelia 
virginica), with its unique bloom upon the bare 
twigs of November, are thriving in my thickets. 
The swamp Azalias, and the Kalmias I have trans* 

304 MV FARM, 

ferred successfully, in their season of flowering.* 
There are also to be named among the available 
native shrubs, — the Leather-wood {JDirca palustris) 
with delicate yellow bloom, glossy green leavegf, and 
an amazing flexibility of bough, on which once a 
year my boy forages for his whip-lashes ; the Spice- 
wood (Laurus benzoin) is always tempting to the 
children by reason of its aromatic bark, and in 
earliest spring it is covered with fairy golden flow- 
ers ; the black Alder (Ilex vertidllata) is a modest 
shrub through the summer, but in autunm it flames 
out in a great harvest of scarlet berries, which it 
carries proudly into the chills of December ; the 
red-barked Dog-wood {Comua sanguined) supplies 
annually a great stock of crimson whips, and a 
charming liveliness of color for any interior rustic 
ornamentation, which a wet day may put in hand ; 
the Swamp-willow is the very earliest of our native 
shrubs, to feel the heats of the March sun, and sea- 
son after season, the little ones bring in from its 
clump, its silvery strange tufts of bloom, and say : 
" The Willow mice have come, — and the spring." 

Nor must I forget the Barberry, beautiful in its 
bloom, and still more beautiful with its crimson 
fruit, — the May-flower, the Sumac, the Sweet-brier, 

* A much safer way is to give the young plants a season or 
two of domestication in a patch of nursery ground. 


the Bilberry, with its fadry bells, and the whole race 
of wild vines — among which not least, is the lux- 
uriant Frost-grape, tossing its tendrils with forest 
freedom from the tops of the tallest trees, and in 
later June filling the whole air with the exquisite 
perfume of its blossoms. 

It may seem that a great estate and wide reach of 
land maybe demanded for the aggregation of all 
these denizens of the wood, yet it is not so ; I have 
all these and more than these, with room for their 
own riotous luxuriance, in scattered groups and 
copses, without abstracting so much as an acre from 
the tillable surface of the land. The brambles, 
thickets, and unkempt hedge-rows which half the 
farmers of the country leave to encroach upon the 
fertility and order of their fields, work tenfold more 
of harm than the coppices which I have planted on 
rocky declivities, and on lands, else unserviceable ; 
or as a shelter to my garden or poultry yard, — as a 
screen from the too curious eyes of the public ; 
— tangled wildernesses, not without an order of 
their own, — offering types of all the forest growth, 
where the little ones may learn the forest names, 
and habit — a living book of botany, whose tender 
lessons are read and remembered, as the successive 
seasons waft us their bloom and perfume. 

These groups will, of coui*se, demand some care 

3o6 MY FARM. 

for their effective establishment ; care is a price we 
must all pay for whatever beautiful growth we se- 
cure — whether in our trees or our live& 

It is specially imperative that all turf be removed, 
wherever a group of shrubs or forest trees are to be 
planted; trenching is by no means essential, and 
with many of the forest denizens, promotes a woody 
luxuriance that delays bloom. My ovni practice has 
been to compost the turf as it was taken up, upon 
the ground, with lime, and possibly a castor-pomace, 
or other nitrogenous fertilizer ; this I reserved for a 
top-dressing, as the shrubs might seem to require, 
and no other application of manure is ever made. 
Three times, the first year, and twice, the second 
year, it may be necessary to give hoe-culture, in 
order to keep the grass and other foreign growth 
in abeyance. After this, a single dressing is amply 
sufficient; and on his after-dinner strolls to the 
thickets, the planter will not forget his pruning- 
knif e and his saw. 

A little patch of good, and thoroughly tilled nurs- 
ery ground is very convenient as a tender upon 
these wood-groups, as well as upon the orchard. 
Within a small one of my own — of less than an 
eighth of an acre, — I have now thriving hundreds of 
hemlocks, white-pines, birches, maples, alders, vine% 
beeches willows, kalmias, — with which I may at 


any time thicken up the skirts of the established 
groups to any color I like, or plant a new one upon 
some scurvy bit of land, which has proved itself un- 
remunerative under other croppings. 

Altogether, these shows of forest foliage, with 
here and there an exotic, or a fruit tree thrown in, 

— involve less cost than one would give to an ordin- 
ary crop of com ; and when the com is harvested, 
the crop is done ; but with my shrubberies — of 
which I know every tree from the day of its first 
struggle with the changed position — the weird, 
wild growth is every year progressing — every year 
presenting some new phase of color or of shape : — 
every spring I see my trees rejoicing in a flutter of 
young leaves, and then wantoning — like grown girls 

— in the lusty vigor of summer : in autumn I look 
wistfully on them, wearing gala-dresses, whose 
colors I dare not name, and when these are shivered 
by the frost, — tranquilly disrobing, and retiring to 
the sleep of winter. 

BuTol Decoration, 

A MONG the things which specially coi'aibute 
-^-^ to the charms of a country-home^ are those 
thousand little adornments, which a person of quick 
observation and ready tact can easily avail himself 

3o8 MY FARM. 

of ; and while gratifying his own artistic perceptiona, 
he can contribute to the growth of a humble art- 
love, which it is to be hoped will some day give a 
charm to every road-side, and to every country cot- 
tage. It is by no means true that a taste of this 
kind must necessarily — like Sir Visto's — prove a 
man's ruiiL The land is indeed a great absorbent; 
and if no discretion be brought to the direction of 
outlay in adornments and improvements, or if they 
be not ordered by a severe and inexorable simpli- 
city, it is quite incredible what amounts of money 
may be expended. . 

I have in an earlier portion of this volume, hinted 
at certain changes which may be made, in the throw- 
ing out of some half-dozen angular and unimportant 
enclosures, at the door, into open lawn — in the re- 
moval of unnecessary fences, and the establishment 
of groups of shrubbery to hide roughness, or to fur- 
nish shelter : all which involve little expenditure, 
and are not in violation of any rules of well-consid- 
ered economy. I may now add to these the eflfects 
of little unimportant architectural devices, not re- 
quiring a practical builder, and which while they 
lend a great charm to landscape, give an individ- 
uality to a man's home. 

The reader will perhaps allow me to particularize 
from my own experience. There were, to begin 


with, some four or fire disorderly buildings about 
the farm-house — sheds, shops, coal-houses, smoke- 
houses — built up of odds and ends of lumber — 
boards matching oddly, some half painted, others too 
rough for paint — altogether, scarcely bad enough 
for remoTal, and yet most slatternly and dismal 
in their general e£fect They were not worth new 
covering ; painting was impossible ; and whitewash- 
ing would only have lighted up the seams and in- 
equalities more staringly. A half a mile away was a 
littie mill, where cedar posts were squared by a cir- 
cular saw, and the slabs were packed away for fuel 
(and very poor fuel they made). One day, as my 
eye lighted upon them, an idea for their conver- 
sion to other uses struck me, and fructified at once. 
I bought a cord or two at a nominal cost, and com- 
menced the work of covering my disjointed and slat- 
ternly outbuildings with these rough slabs. It was 
a simple business, requiring only even nailing, with 
here and there a little '^ furring out " to bring the old 
angles to a square, with here and there the deft 
turning of a rude arch, with two crooked bits, over 
door or window. Farm laborers, under direction, 
were fully competent to the work ; and in a couple 
of days I had converted my unsightiy buildings into 
very tasteful, rustic affairs, harmonizing with the 
banks of foliage behind and over them, and giving 


capital foothold to the Tines which I planted around 

In keeping with their effect, I caused gates to be 
constructed of the cheapest material, from the cedar 
thickets ; varying these in design, and yet making 
each so simple as to admit of easy imitation, and to 
unite strength, solidity, and cheapness. If, indeed, 
these latter qualities could not be united, the work 
would not at all meet the end I had in view — which 
was not merely to produce a pretty effect, but to 
demonstrate the harmony of such decorative work 
with true farm economy. One often sees, indeed, 
rustic-work of most cumbrous and portentous di- 
mensions — overladen with extraordinary crooks and 
curves, and showing at a glance immense labor in 
selection and in arrangement All this may be 
pleasing, and often exceedingly beautiful ; but it is 
a mere affectation of rural simplicity ; it wears none 
of that fit and homely character which would at 
once commend it to the eye of a practical man as an 
available and imitable featiure. If I can give such 
arrangement to simple boughs, otherwise worthless, 
or to pine-pickets of little cost — in the paling of a 
yard, or the tracery of a gate, as shall catch the eye 
by its grace of outline, and suggest imitation by its 
eaEfy construction, and entire feasibility, there is 
some hope of leading country tastes in that direo- 


tion ; but if work shows great nicety of construc- 
tion, puzzling and complicated detail, immense ab- 
sorption of labor and material, it might as well have 
been — so far as intended to encourage farm rurali- 
ties — built of Carrara marble. 

Again a stone wall, or dyke, is not generally 
counted an object of much beauty, except it be laid 
up in hajnmered work ; this, of course, is out of the 
question for a farmer who studies economy: but 
suppose that to a substantial stone fence of ordinary 
construction, I am careful, by a choice of topping- 
stones, to give imbroken continuity of its upper line ; 
and suppose that the abutments, instead of wearing 
the usual form, are carried up a foot or more above 
this line in a rude square column, gradually taper- 
ing or "battering" toward the top; suppose upon 
this top I place a flat stone nearly, covering it^ and 
upon this a smaller stone some four inches in thick- 
ness, and again, upon the last, the largest and 
roundest boulder I can find ? At once there is cre- 
ated a graceful architectural effect, which gives a 
new air to the whole line of wall Tet the addi- 
tional labor involved is hardly to be reckoned. 

Gtetes, in all variety, dependent on position and 
service, offer charming opportunity for unpreten- 
tious and effective rural devices. Far away in the 
garden it may be worth while to throw a rude rooflet 

312 MV FARM. 

over one^ where a man may catch refuge from a 
shower ; in another quarter, you may carry up posts 
and link them across in rustic trellis, to carry the 
arms of some tossing vine ; a stile, too, where neigh- 
bors' children, forgetful of latches, are apt to stroll 
in for nuts or berries, or on some cross-path to 
school, naay, by simple adjustment of log steps and 
overhanging roof of thatch, or slabs^ take a chann- 
ing effect, and work somewhat toward the correction 
of that unflinching and inexorable insistence upon 
rights of property, which induces many a crabbed 
man to nail up his gates, and deny himself a con- 
venience, for the sake of circumventing the claims 
of an occasional stroller. 

Bustic seats are an old and very common device ; 
but with these as with gateways and paUngs, sim- 
plicity of construction is the grand essentiaL I see 
them not unfrequently so fine and elaborate, that 
one fears a shower may harm them ; and when so 
fine as to suggest this fear, they had much better be 
of rosewood and bamboo. A single bit of plank be- 
tween two hoary trunks — held firmly in place by 
the few bits of gnarled oak-limbs from which arms, 
legs, and back toe adroitly — hinted, rather than 
fashioned — is more agreeable to country landscape, 
fuller far of service and of suggestion, than any of 
the portentous rustic-work in city shops. 


The due adjustment of colors is also a thing to be 
considered in the reckoning of rural effects ; thus, 
with my old weather-stained house, I do not care to 
place new paint in contrast ; the old be-clouded tint 
harmonizes well with the rustic work of fences and 
out-buildings; while away, upon the lawn, or open- 
ing into green fields, or — better stiU — in the very 
bight of the wood, I give the contrast of a brilliant 
a^id flashing white. 

I am touching a very large subject here, with a 
very short chapter. Indeed, there is no end to the 
pretty and artistic combinations by which a man 
who loves the country with a fearless, demonstrative 
love, may not provoke its rarer beauties to appear. 
Flower, tree, fence, out-building — all wait upon his 
hands ; and the results of his loving labor do not 
end when his work is done ; but the vines> the trees, 
the mosses, the deepening shadows, are, year after 
year, mellowing his raw handiwork, and ripening a 
new harvest of charms. And in following these, I 
think there is an interest — not perhaps quotable on 
'Change, but which rallies a man's finer instincts, 
and binds him in leash — not wearisome or galling 
— to the great procession of the seasons, ever f uU of 
boimties, as of beauties. 

314 MV FARM. 


rriHEBE is a class of men who gravitate to the 
-^ country by a pure necessity of their nature ; 
who have such ineradicable love for springing grass, 
and fields, and woods, as to draw them irresistibly 
into companionship. Such men feel the confinement 
of a city like a prison. They are restive under its 
restramt. The grass of an area patch of greensward 
kindles their love into flame. They linger by flor- 
ists' doors, drawn and held by a magnetism they 
cannot explain, and which they make no effort to 
resist They are not necessarily amateurs, in the 
ordinary sense of that term. I think they are apt 
to be passionate lovers of only a few, and those the 
commonest flowers — flowers whose sweet home- 
names reach a key, at whose touch all their sympa- 
thies respond. 

They laugh at the florist's fondness for a well- 
rounded hollyhock, or a true-petalled tulip, and ad- 
mire as fondly the half-developed specimens, the 
careless growth of cast-away plants, or the acci- 
dental thrust of some misshapen bud or bulb. I 
suspect I am to be ranked with these ; my purchase 
of an ox-eye daisy on the streets of Paris will have 


already damaged my reputation past hope, in the 
eyes of the amateur florists. If these good people 
could see the homely company of plants that is 
gathered every winter in my library window, they 
would be shocked still farther. 

There is a careless group of the most common 
ferns; a Bose^geranium, a Daphne, a common 
Monthly-rose, are the rarest plants I boast ot But 
there are wood-mosses with a green sheen of velvet; 
they cover a broad tray of earth in rustic frame- 
work, in which the Oeraniums, the mosses, the 
Daphne, and a plant of Kenilworth-Ivy coquette 
together. An upper shelf is embossed with other 
mosses ; there is a stately Hyacinth or two lifting 
from among them, and wild ferns hang down their 
leaves for a careless tangle with the Geraniums and 
Ivy below. Above all, and as a drapery for the 
arched top, the Spanish moss hangs like a gray cur- 
tain of silvered lace. 

A stray acorn, I observe, has shot up in the tray, 
and is now in its third leaf of oak-hood ; in the 
comers, two wee Hemlock-spruces give a back- 
ground of green, and an air of deeper and wilder 
entanglement, to my little winter-garden. A bark 
covering, with bosses of acorn-cups, and pilasters of 
laurel-wood, sharpened to a point, make the lower 
tray a field of wildness, — fenced in with wildnesa 

3i6 MV FARM. 

The overhanging bridge (I called it an upper shelf), 
is a rustic gallery — its balcony of twisted osiers 
Med in with white mosses from old tree-stumps, 
and the whole supported by a rustic arch of crooked 
oaken twigs. Finally, the cornice from which the 
Spanish moss is pendant, is a long rod of Hazel, 
around which a vine of Bittei>sweet has twined it- 
self so firmly, that they seem incorporate together ; 
and to their rough bark the moss has taken so 
kindly, that it has bloomed two full years after the 
date of its first occupancy. There are daintier 
hands than mine that care for this little garden of 
wildness, and give, it its crowning grace ; but here — 
I may not speak their praise. 

The other southern window is at a farther remove 
from the open wood-fire ; its fioral show is, there- 
fore, somewhat different ; and the reader will, I 
trust, excuse me a little particularity of description, 
since it will enable me to show how much may be 
done with limited material and space. 

Upon the window-sill, — some eighteen inches in 
breadth by forty in length, — are placed four bits of 
oak-wood five inches in length, squarely sawn from 
a young forest tree, which serve as standards or 
supports, to a tray of plank five inches in depth, and 
covered with unbarked saplings, so graduated in 
size, as to make this base (or tray) appear like the 


plinth of a Goliimn. This is filled with fine garden- 
mould, and there are grooves in the plank-bottom 
communicating with one drainage hole, beneath 
which is placed an earthem saucer. Fitting upon 
this tray is a glazed case with top sloping to the 
sun, and with its quoins and edges covered with 
bark, and embossed with acorn-cups — to corre- 
spond with the base. The fitting is not altogether 
so perfect as that of a Wardian case, but quite suffi- 
cient for all practical purposes. 

Throughout the summer I keep this little window- 
garden stocked with the most brilliant of the wood 
mosses ; a slight sprinkling once in thirty days 
keeps them in admirable order ; and if I come upon 
some chrysalis in the garden whose family is un- 
known, I have only to lodge it upon my bed of 
mosses, and in 4ue time I have a butterfly captive 
for further examination. As the frosts approach I 
throw out my mosses, and re-stock my garden with 
fragrant violets and a few ferns. These keep up a 
lusty garden show until January, when again I 
change the order of my captives — this time incor- 
porating a large share of sand with the earth in the 
tray — and setting in it all my needed cuttings of 
Verbenas, of Fuchsias, and of Carnations. They 
thrive under the glass magically ; and by early March 
are so firm-rooted and rampant in growth, that I 

3i8 MY FARM. 

can pot them, for transfer to a fresh-laid pit out of 
doors. I now amend the soil, and sprinkling it 
with a dash of ammoniacal water, sow in it the 
Cockscomb, Peppers, ijgg-plants, and whatever fas- 
tidious plants require special care, while along the 
edges I prove my over-kept cabbage and clover seed. 
All these make their way, and in due time come to 
their season of potting, when I give up my little 
garden to a careless array of the first laughing flow- 
ers of spring. 

Can you tell me of so small a window anywhere 
that shows so many stages of growth ? Nor have I 
named all even yet. A rustic arch, steep as the Ei- 
alto at Venice, overleaps this tiny garden, and bears 
upon its centre a miniature Swiss chalet, while down 
either flank, upon successive steps, are little bronze 
mementos of travel — among which the delicate ten- 
drils of a German-ivy (planted upon a ledge of its 
own) intertwine and toss their tender leaflets into 
the doors and windows of the chalet 

But I am lingering in-doors, when my book is es- 
sentially an out-of-door book. 

I am not about to lay down any rules for flower- 
beds or for flower culture ; the gardening books are 
full of them ; and by their aid, and that of a dexter- 
ous gardener, any one may arrange his parterres 
and his graduated banks of flowers, quite secundum 


artem. And I suppose, that, when completed, these 
orderly arrays of the latest and newest floral won- 
ders are enjoyable. Yet I am no fair judge ; the 
appreciation of them demands a " booking-up " in 
floral science to which I can lay no claim. I some- 
times wander through the elegant gardens of my 
town friends, fairly dazzled by all the splendor and 
the orderly ranks of beauties ; but nine times in 
ten — if I do not guard my tongue with a prudent 
reticence, and allow my admiration to ooze out only 
in exclamations — I mortify the gardener by admir- 
ing some timid flower, which nestles under cover of 
the flaunting Dahlias or Peonies, and which proves 
to be only some dainty weed^ or an antiquated plant, 
which the florists no longer catalogue. Everybody 
knows how ridiculous it is to admire a picture by 
an imknown artist ; and I must confess to feeling 
the fear of a kindred ridicule, whenever I stroll 
through the gardens of an accomplished amateur. 

But I console myself with thinking that I have 
company in my mal-adroitness, and that there is a 
great crowd of people in the world, who admire 
spontaneously what seems to be beautiful, without 
waiting for the story of its beauty. K I were an 
adept, I should doubtless, like other adepts, reserve 
my admiration exclusively for floral perfection ; but 
I thank God that my eye is not as yet so bounded. 

320 MV FARM. 

The blazing Daffodils, Blue -bells, English-cowdips, 
and Striped-grass, with which some pains taking 
woman in an up-country niche of home, spots her 
little door-yard in April, have won upon me before 
now to a tender recognition of the true mission of 
flowers, as no gorgeous parterre could do. 

With such heretical views, the reader will not be 
surprised if I have praises and a weakness for the 
commonest of flowers. Every morning in August, 
from my chamber window, I see a great company of 
the purple Convolvulus, writhing and twisting, and 
over-running their rude trellis, while above and be- 
low, and on either flank of the wild arbor, their fairy 
chalices are beaded with the dew. A Scarlet-runner 
is lost — so far as its greenness goes — in the tangle 
of a hedge-row, and thrusts out its little candelabras 
of red and white into the highway, to puzzle the 
passers-by, who admire it, — because they do not 
know it. A sturdy growth of Nasturtium is rioting 
around the angle of a distant mossy wall, at the end 
of a woody copse — so far away from all parterres, 
that it seems to passers some strange, gorgeous 
wild-flower ; and yet its blaze of orange and crim- 
son is as common and vulgar as the wood-flre upon 
a farmer's heartL Holly-hocks — so far away you 
cannot tell if they be double or single (they are all 
single) — lift their stately yellows and whites in the 


edge of the shrubbery ; Phloxes, purple and pink, 
hem them in ; and at their season a wilderness of 
Eoses bloom m the tangled thicket 

Dotted about here and there, in unexpected places 
— yet places where their color will shine — are 
clumps of yellow Lilies, of Sweet-William, of crim- 
son Peonies, of Larkspur, or even (shall I be 
ashamed to tell it?) of Gblden-rod and of the Car- 
dinal flower (Lobelia). In a little bed scooped from 
the turf and bordering upon the nearer home-walks, 
are the old-fashioned Spider-wort, and that stately 
Lily, which Baphael makes the Virgin hold on 
the day of her espousals. And yet you may go 
through half the finest gardens of the country and 
never find this antiquated Lily I The sweet Violet 
and the Mignonette have their place in these near 
borders, as well as the rosea Cypress and Madeira 
vines twine, in leash with the German ivy, over a 
pile of stumps that have been brought down from 
the pasture ; under the lee of a thicket of pines, 
among lichened stones heaped together, is a group 
of ferns and Lycopodiums ; and the sweet Lily of 
the Valley, — true to its nature and quality, — 
thrives in a dark bit of ground half shaded between 
two spurs of a bushy thicket. 

Of course, there are the Verbenas, for which every 
year a fresh circlet of groxtnd is prepared from the 

322 MY FARM. 

turfy and a great tribe of GteraniumES to bandy scar- 
lets ivith the Salvias ; and the FuchEoas, too — though 
very likely not the latest named varieties ; nor are 
they petted into an isolated, pagoda-like show, but 
massed together in a little group below the edge of 
the fountain, where they will catch its spray, and 
where their odorless censers of purple and white 
and crimson may swing, or idle, as they will And 
among the mossy stones from amid which the foun- 
tain gurgles over, I find lodging places, not only for 
rampant wild-ferns, but for a stately Call% and for 
some showy type of the Amaryllidse. 

It is in scattered and unexpected places, that I 
like my children to ferret out the wild-flowers 
brought down from the woods — the frail Colom<- 
bine in its own deft of rock, — the Wild-turnip, 
with its quaint green flower in some dark nook, that 
is like its home in the forest — the Maiden's-hair 
thriving in the moist shadow of rocks ; and among 
these transplanted wild ones of the flower-fold, I 
like to drop such modest citizens of the tame coun- 
try as a tuft of Violets, or a green phalanx of the 
bristling Lilies of the Valley. 

Year by year, as we loiter among them, after the 
flowering season is over, we change their hdbikU, 
from a shade that has grown too dense, to some 
siunmer bay of the coppices ; and with the next year 


of bloom, the little ones come in with marvellous 
reports of Lilies, where Lilies were never seen be- 
fore — or of fragrant Violets, all in flower, upon the 
farthest skirt of the hill-side. It is very absurd, of 
course ; but I think I enjoy this more — and the 
rare intelligence which the little ones bring in with 
their flashing, eager eyes — than if the most gentle- 
manly gardener from Thorburn's were to show a 
Dahlia, with petals as regular as if they were 
notched by the file of a sawyer. 

Flowers and children are of near kin, and too 
much of restraint or too much of forcing, or too 
much of display, ruins their chiefest charms. I love 
to associate them, and to win the children to a love 
of the flowers. Some day they tell me that a Violet 
or a tuft of Lilies is dead ; but on a spring morning, 
they come, radiant with the story, — that the very 
same Violet is blooming sweeter than ever, upon 
some far-away cleft of the hill-side. So you, my 
child, if the great Master lifts you from us, shall 
bloom — as God is good — on some richer, simnier 
ground I 

We talk thus : but if the change really come, 

it is more grievous than the blight of a thousand 
flowers. She, who loved their search among the 
thickets — will never search them. She, whose glad 
eyes would have opened in pleasant bewilderment 

324 MY FARM, 

upon some bold change of shrubbery or of paths, 
will never open them again. She — whose feet 
would have danced along the new wood-path, carry- 
ing joy and merriment into its shady depths, — will 
never set foot upon these walks again. 

What matter how the brambles grow? — her dress 
will not be torn : what matter the broken paling by 
the water? — she will never topple over from the 
bank. The hatchet may be hung from a lower nail 
now — the little hand that might have stolen posses- 
sion of it, is stiff — is fast 

And when spring wakens all its echoes — of the 
wren's song — of the blue-bird's waxble, — of the 
plaintive cry of mistress cuckoo {ske daintily called 
her mistress cuckoo) from the edge of the wood — 
what eager, earnest, delighted listeners have we 
— lifting the blue eyes, — shaking back the curls — 
dancing to the melody ? And when the violets re- 
peat the sweet lesson they learned last year of the 
sun and of the warmth, and bring their fragrant 
blue petals forth — who shall give the rejoicing wel-r 
come, and be the swift and light-footed herald of 
the flowers ? Who shall gather them with the light 
fingers, she put to the task — who ? 

And the sweetest flowers wither, and the sweetest 
flowers wait — for the dainty fingers that shall pluck 
them, never again. 



T* HAYE now completed the task which I had as- 
-^ signed to myself ; and I do it with the burden- 
€K)me conviction that not one half of the questions 
which suggest themselves in connection with Farm- 
life in America^ can be discussed — much less re- 
solved — within so narrow a compass. Yet I have" 
endeavored to light up, vdth mj somewhat disor- 
derly array of hints and suggestions, those more 
salient topics which would naturally suggest them- 
selves to all who may have a rural life in prospect, 
or who may to-day be idling or planning, ,or toiling 
under the shadow of their own trees. 

There are no grand rules by which we may lay 
down the proportions of a life, or the vrisdom of this 
or that pursuit ; eveiy man is linked to his world 
of duties by capacities, opportunities, weaknesses, 
which will more or less constrain his choice. And I 
am slow to believe that a man who brings cultiva- 
tion, refinement, and even scientific attainment, may 
not find fit office for aU of them in country life, and 
so dignify that great ptursuit in which, by the neces- 
sity of the case, the majority of the world must be 
always engaged He may contribute to redeem it 

326 MY FARM. 

from those loose, unmethodical, ignorant practices, 
which are, in a large sense, due to the farmer's iso- 
lation, and to the necessities of his condition. And 
although careful investigation, study, and extended 
obserration in connection with husbandry, may fail 
of those pecuniary rewards, which seem to be their 
due, yet the cause in some measure ennobles the 
sacrifice. The cultivated farmer is leading a regi- 
ment in the great army whose foraging success is 
feeding the world ; and if he put down within the 
sphere of his influence — riotous pillage — wasteful 
excesses, and by his example give credit to order, 
discipline, and the best graces of manhood, — he is 
reaping honors that will endure : — not measured 
by the skuUs he piles on any Bagdad plains, but by 
the mouths he has fed — by the flowers he has 
taught to bloom, and by the swelling tide of har- 
vests which, year by year, he has pushed farther 
and farther up the flanks of the hills. 

I would not have my reader believe that I have 
carried out as yet within the limits of the farm 
herein described all that I have advised — whether 
in the things which relate to its productive capacity, 
or to its embellishment All this ripens by slow 
progression which we cannot unduly hasten. Nor 
do I know that full accomplishment would add to 
the charm ; I think that those who entertain the 


most keen enjoyment of a country homestead, are 
they who regard it always in the light of an unfin- 
ished picture — to which^ season by season, they 
add their little touches, or their broad, bold dashes 
of color ; and yet with a vivid and exquisite fore- 
sight of the future completed charm, beaming 
through their disorderly masses of pigments, like 
the slow unfolding of a summer's day. 

In all art, it is not so much the bald image that 
meets the eye, as it is the crowd of suggested images 
lying behind, and giving gallant chase to our &ncy 

— which gives pleasure. It is not the mere palaces 
in the picture of Venice before my eye, which de- 
light me, but the reach of imagination behind and 
back of them — the shadowy procession of Doges 

— the gold doth — the Bucintoro — the plash of 
green water kissing the marble steps, where the 
weeds of the Adriatic hang their tresses, and the 
dainty feet of Jessica go tripping from hall to gon- 
dola. It is not the shaggy. Highland cattle, vrith 
dewy nostrils lifted to the morning, that keep my 
regard in Eosa Bonheur; — but the aroma of the 
heather, and of a hundred Highland traditions, — a 
sound — as of Bruar water, — a sudden waking of 
all mountain memories and solitudes. 

Again it must be remembered by all those who 
have rural life in anticipation, that its finer charms, 

328 MY FARM. 

and those which grow oat of the adornments and 
accessories of home, are dependent much more upon 
the appreciative eye and taste of the mistress than 
of the master. If I have used the first person some- 
what freely in my descriptions, it has been from no 
oversight of what is justly due to another ; and I 
would have the reader believe — what is true — that 
all the more delicate graces which are set forth, and 
which spring from flowers or flowering shrubs, and 
their adroit disposition, are due to tenderer hands, 
and a more provident and appreciative eye than 

I think that I have not withheld from view the 
awkwardnesses and embarrassments which beset a 
country life in New England, — nor overstated its 
possible attractions. I have sought at any rate, to 
give a truthful picture, and to suffuse it all — so far 
as I might — with a coimtry atmosphere ; so that a 
man might read, as if the trees were shaking their 
leaves over his head, — the com rustling through all 
its ranks within hearing, and the flowers blooming 
at his elbow. 

Be this all as it may, — when, upon this charming 
morning of later August, I catch sight, from my 
window, of the distant water — where, as at the 
first — white sails come and go : — of the spires and 
belfries of the near city rising out of their bower of 


elms — of the farm lands freshened by late rains 
into unwonted greenness ; — of the coppices I have 
planted, shaking their silver leaves, and see the low 
fire of border flowers flaming round their skirts, 
and hear the water plashing at the door in its rocky 
pool, and the cheery voices of children, rejoicing in 
health and the country air, — I do not for a moment 
regret the first sight of the old farm house, imder 
whose low-browed ceiling, I give this finishing touch 
to the last chapter of Mt Fabm of Edgewood. 

I r