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THE great reputation which American cheese has gained abroad may be traced to the system of cheese factories, which may be regarded as a characteristic feature of our recent progress in dairy husbandry. A few facts will serve to show how rapid has been the growth of the dairy interest, owing chiefly to the uniform higher quality in the product.
In 1850, the total amount of cheese made in the country was estimated at only 105,000,000 pounds; in 1860, at 104,000.000 pounds; in 1870, at 235,000,000 pounds. The price of cheese in 1850 was from five to seven cents a pound. In 1860, the highest price in New York was eleven and a half cents, while the average price in 1870 was about fourteen cents. From 1850 to 1860, the average price to the farmer did not exceed seven cents a pound. From 1860 to 1870, the average price was not far from seventeen cents. In 1850, we exported about 12,000,000 pounds; in 1860, about 23,000,000 pounds; in 1870, about 61,000,000 pounds. From 1810, when the production of cheese for market may be said to have begun, to 1860, the growth and increase of this great interest were very slow, though steady. Since the latter date, it has been rapid and very striking, till it has now attained to great commercial importance, on account of the excellent marketable quality of the product, and the high standard of large and uniform lots which can be offered in the foreign market. This change is due chiefly to the system of associated dairies, which have enabled the manufacturers to apply to it the highest scientific and practical skill which the division of labor develops. Something very similar to our cheese factory system had existed in Switzerland for many years, but there appears to be no evidence that the originators of the plan were aware of the fact. A striking account of the origin of the system appears in a recent edition of a treatise on" Milch Cows and Dairy Farming," as follows:
"In the winter and spring of 1852, the first cheese factory was built, in the town of Rome, Oneida County, N. Y., by Jesse Williams, and his two sons, George and De Witt C. The circumstances leading to its erection were these:
"Jesse Williams began the cheese-making business in the spring of 1832 or 1833, and his eighteen or twenty years of experience had enabled him to make a superior article of cheese, which readily sold for seven cents a pound, while his neighbors, some of whom had been equally long in the business, sold for five cents a pound. This difference, of over one quarter in price, was due to the excellent quality of his cheese. His son George had just married, and made cheese one season on an adjoining farm. His wife chiefly attended the dairy, and George looked after the outdoor work. Their success in cheese-making had only been about the same as their neighbors. Like them, George sold his cheese for five cents a pound, while his father got seven. "It was the custom in those days to sell the season's make of cheese in advance or, as they called it, 'contract' it for a certain price per pound. When, in the winter of 1852, Jesse Williams went to Rome and contracted his cheese for seven cents a pound, he thought he would do George a favor by contracting his at the same price, he guaranteeing that the quality of George's cheese should equal that of his own. The desire of the father to help the son, who was just beginning in the world, prompted him to assume this responsibility.
"When Mr. Williams next met his son, he related what he had done. George shook his head, and told his father he was afraid he had taken a bad job on his hands. But the father urged that he should begin cheese-making first in the spring, and George's wife could come over and work with him, when he would teach her what he knew about cheese-making. Besides, when she got to work at home, he could run over occasionally, and keep her all right, if there should be any need of it. "George continued sceptical about the success of such a project, and the question was argued at some length. Finally, the father said, 'Well, you can bring your milk to me, and I cau make it up with mine, when there can be no doubt about the quality of the cheese being the same.' This suggestion was conclusive, and George at once replied, That is so; and if you can make up my milk in that way, why can't you make up the neighbors' milk, also, and have a full business of it??
"Here was the germ of the associated dairy system. The other son, De Witt C., was called into the council, and the plan was pronounced feasible. The difference in the price received by their neighbors and that obtained by Jesse Williams for his cheese, would constitute a handsome profit, while relieving the neighbors of the trouble and expense of manufacture, substituting therefor the trouble of drawing their milk to Mr. Williams's.
"But would the contractors take so much cheese at that price? A visit was made to Rome to ascertain. The answer was favorable. They would take all, of the quality specified, that Mr. Williams could deliver. This was enough. A bargain was made with the neighbors to give them five cents a pound for their pressed curd, or green cheese, and the milk of one hundred and sixty cows was secured. Jesse Williams and his two sons, George and De Witt C., associated themselves together for the purpose of manufacturing cheese on a grand scale. De Witt C. was to run the three farms, and George and his father were to attend to the cheese-making. Suitable buildings were erected, the necessary apparatus was procured, and, in due time, associated dairying in America was auspiciously inaugurated."
From this starting-point the system of associated dairies has spread throughout the great dairy section of the country, from Maine to Kansas, and the number of factories has grown up to nearly fifteen hundred. It has been efficient in bringing true commercial principles into the business, and in relieving the farmer's family of a vast amount of drudgery. It has substituted machinery for the slower processes of hand labor, and added largely, by the improvement of the quality of our dairy products, to the commercial prosperity of the country.
The requirements of a successful enterprise of this character are, a suitable location, within easy reach of the farmers who are to supply the milk, so that the distance of transportation shall not exceed two or three miles, and the milk of not less than three hundred cows. The milk of five or six hundred cows should be secured, if possible, as there is greater economy in a large operation. From six hundred to one thousand cows is still better. Plenty of the best water is essential, and good drainage is of the highest importance. Careful and honest management, both on the part of the superintendent and the parties who furnish the milk, is, of course, essential. Good executive ability is equally important in the business management, especially in effecting purchases and sales.
As the first century of the history of our country is so soon to draw to a close, we naturally recur to the early days of the fathers by whose struggles and sacrifices, by whose heroic endurance and triumphs, was founded a free government, which we claim to be the highest type of civil polity which the world has ever seen. Few of us, indeed, of the present generation can realize the hardships and privations which the early farmers had to endure. They were strangers to the climate as well as to the country. They could have had no experience of pioneer life. They knew little or nothing of the natural productions of the soil at the time of their arrival. All these they had first to learn the value of, and then to learn how to grow them, to meet their pressing necessities.
One of the chief obstacles they had to encounter to add to the hardship of their lot in the cultivation of the soil, was the difficulty of procuring suitable implements. A few, no doubt, were brought with them; but it is not likely that all could procure them in this way; while the only metal they had was made of bog-ore, and that was so brittle as to break easily, and put a stop to a day's work. Most of their tools were made of wood, rude enough in construction, heavy of necessity, and little fitted for the purposes for which they were made. The process of casting steel, it is to be borne in mind, was not discovered till the middle of the last century, and then it was kept a secret in Sheffield, England, for several years; nor were there any means of casting iron even, in this country, for many years after the settlement.
The few rude farming tools the colonists had were for the most part of home manufacture, or made by the neighboring blacksmith as a part of his multifarious business, there being little idea of the division of labor, and no machinery by which any particular implement could be exactly duplicated. Under these circumstances, it is wonderful that they got on so well as they did.
We are to consider, moreover, that no attention was paid to the culture of the grasses for the winter feeding of stock, even in England, in the early part of the seventeenth century, and but slight indeed till far along in the eighteenth, while but very few of the roots now cultivated and used as food for stock had been introduced there. The introduction of red clover into England did not take place till 1633; that of yellow clover, not till 1659; that of white clover, not till 1700.
Of the natural grasses now well known, timothy is supposed to have been first brought into cultivation in this country, and there is no evidence that it was ever cultivated in England till the year 1760, while the culture of orchard grass was first introduced there from Virginia in 1764. In fact, there is no evidence of any systematic or artificial cultivation of the grasses in the mother country till the introduction of perennial rye-grass in 1677, and no other variety of grass-seed appears to have been sown there for many years. The "Edinburgh Quarterly Journal of Agriculture," the highest authority in such matters, says the practice of sowing grass-seed was never known in Scotland previous to the year 1792. Such being the case in a climate so severe as that of Scotland, it is not at all surprising that the custom of seeding down land to grass in this country dates back only little more than a hundred years. If any one can imagine the whole system of grass culture to be stricken out of existence, and every farmer compelled to rely upon the natural production of our swamps and the salt marshes along the seashore for the support of his stock, he can form some idea of the position in which the early colonial farmer was placed.
To this is to be added that no systematic improvement in stock was undertaken, in England, till long after the settlement of this country. The cattle of those days were poor of their kind, as compared with the stock of the present day; while it is not probable that the colonists took any pains to procure even the best specimens then known. The difference in animals, what may be called the best points, were nowhere studied, appreciated, or understood, two centuries ago. The cattle of the settlers, like their owners, had to browse for themselves, and death from starvation and exposure was by no means uncommon. Farming, therefore, in the early days, was a hard struggle for existence.
Clover as a Fertilizer.
IT is not easy for many farmers to see how it is that clover should differ so much from other plants as to be regarded as a fertilizing rather than an exhaustive crop. To most people all crops seem to be exhaustive, as all crops must live and thrive, and they must have something to live and thrive on. They do not stop to think that it makes all the difference in the world where this something comes from.
Clover can be recommended, to be sure, for its intrinsic value as a forage crop; but it is more than this. It has the wonderful power of assimilating and storing up in its roots, its stems, and its leaves, a large amount of nitrogen. It sends its roots very deeply, and pumps up a portion of its food from great depths below the surface soil, while its leaves are broad and large, to absorb materials from the atmosphere. If, therefore, the stalks and leaves were allowed to remain and decay upon the soil, they would impart a still larger proportion of food to the plants that require large amounts of nitrogen, but have less power to seek it.
But let it be borne in mind that the roots of clover always remain in the soil, that they amount in extent or weight to two thirds of the stems and leaves, so that a heavy crop of clover must leave in the ground from a hundred and fifty to two hundred pounds of nitrogen to the acre, an amount quite sufficient to meet the wants of any crop which may follow it, which may not be able to get it so readily in any other way, as the wheat crop, for instance, or any other grain crop.
Let clover, therefore, have a prominent place in the rotation on all well-managed farms. It will improve rather than injure the soil, while it is, of itself, a very profitable and remunerative crop, especially for feeding to dairy stock.
Facts about Grafting.
THERE are many very curious facts about vegetable life that appear in the process of grafting and budding. We know, for instance, that we can graft the apricot on the plum, the peach on the apricot, and the almond on the peach, and thus we can produce a tree having plum roots and almond leaves. Of course, the wood of the stem or trunk will consist of four varieties of wood, each distinct in its characteristics, though formed of a continuous layer. We shall have a perfect peach wood and bark below the almond wood and bark, and then below that perfect apricot wood and bark, and at the bottom of all perfect plum wood and bark, with the roots of the plum to gather and supply nourishment to the whole series.
The intimate relation between the bark and the leaf is apparent; for, if we should cut off the almond branches, we could cause the different sets of wood to push out buds and leafy branches each of its own kind. The stem is compound, each section having its source of vitality in what is called the cambium layer, from which there grow annually a layer of wood and a layer of bark, each consisting of longitudinal, fibrous and vascular tissue, and of horizontal cellular tissue; and each section of this cambium layer makes cells of its own kind out of the compound fluid which nourishes the whole plant, being originally taken up from the soil by the plum roots. This may be regarded as one of the curiosities of plant life. The study of botany will develop many others. Botany ought to be introduced, under competent instruction, in our common schools. We hope the time will soon come when our children will be taught the names and properties of all the objects that come under their daily observation.
Labels for Trees.
IT is often very desirable to preserve the names of fruit trees, shrubs, and plants. The simplest, cheapest, and most durable label we know of for this purpose is a strip of corroded zinc, with the name written on it with black lead. Some chemical action takes place between the plumbago and the corroded zinc that makes the name perfectly durable and incapable of being easily erased. If no old pieces of corroded zinc are near at hand, take any zinc and cut it into the desirable shape, and expose the pieces some weeks to the atmosphere, and they are ready for use, and may be attached to the trees or shrubs with copper wire, which is almost as durable as the zinc itself.
When the name is first written on the corroded zinc, it can be erased without difficulty; but in a few weeks it becomes permanently fixed, and no ordinary rubbing can get it off. We know of labels that have been in use for thirty years, hanging on trees in Colonel Wilder's nursery, that are as perfect and as legible as the day they were put on. Sometimes the label will get coated over with a white, salty-looking substance, so as to obscure the name, but a slight rubbing with the moistened finger will bring out the name very distinctly.
This simple and permanent plan was discovered accidentally by Marshall P. Wilder, who had previously been using indelible ink; but, being in a hurry one day, and wishing to make sure of saving the names of a lot of new fruits he was setting out, he simply wrote on the labels hastily with a black lead pencil, intending to write them over with ink. To his surprise, they never needed mending.
The Poultry to Keep. •
THE question is often asked, "Which breeds of poultry are the best?" and it is a pretty difficult question to answer; for there are so many different conditions in which the fowls are to be kept, and so many different breeds of poultry, that almost each individual poultry-keeper will have requirements different from others, and in answering the question we can, therefore, speak in general terms only.
There are two chief classes of poultry-keepers, namely, those who, on considerable areas of land, have large flocks, and those who have but limited space, and generally keep their poultry in confinement. The requirements of these two classes are, of course, in a measure, different. Again, some large poultry-keepers raise but few chickens, and depend on eggs for profit, and others raise every chicken possible, looking to these for remuneration, while the village poultry-keeper is generally anxious to get eggs and chickens, and all he can of both.
Each breed of poultry has marked traits or characteristics, and these are so well known and understood that it is an easy matter to recommend a special breed to meet the wants of each individual.
The large breeds known as "Asiatic," in which are included the different "Cochins," "Shanghaes," "Brahmas," &c., are not generally distinguished as great layers, and from their strong setting proclivities are most valuable as breeders of chickens.
The Cochins are generally slow in maturing, and unless crossed with the common fowl are not very valuable to the economical poultry-breeder.
The Brahma is a valuable and favorite breed, but it is not so profitable when thorough-bred as it is when crossed; that is, when the raising of chickens is an object in view. We have had considerable experience with all the large breeds of poultry, and we have invariably found the half-breeds the most profitable. chicks of the thorough-breds do not mature so rapidly, and they are, from their nakedness of feathers at the most critical period of their lives, more subject to disease than the half-breeds.
The latter feather out much earlier than the others, and this is largely in their favor in this climate of sudden and great changes of temperature. To the poultrybreeder, then, who wishes quick-growing and early-maturing chickens, who cares more for two pounds in a "Fourth of July broiler" than five pounds in September, a cross between one of the varieties of the Brahma and the common fowl is most desirable. A very popular and profitable cross has been found between the Brahma and Leghorn, the offspring maturing quickly, and the pullets being early and good layers. To the large poultry-keeper, who wishes eggs more than chickens, of course the non-incubating breeds, or their grades, are most valuable. Crosses of Leghorns, Spanish, or Polish, with the common fowl, we have found to be, on the whole, about as profitable, or, rather, good layers, as the thorough-breds, and they stand our rough climate much better.
Of course, in the foregoing, we have not intended to include the breeders of fancy fowls, to be sold at "fancy prices," but we intended to treat simply of ordinary poultry-keepers.
There are not a few practical men who are of the opinion that good selections, that is, selections of perfectly sound, healthy dunghill fowls, are as valuable to the large poultry-keepers as are the thorough breds. Our common barn-yard fowl is a conglomeration, or rather mixture, of almost every breed that has been in existence here, and the "good points" of some of the thorough-bred ancestors are often apparent. We once owned a hen which had the five toes of the Dorking, the white face of the Spanish, the crown of the Polish, and the feathered legs of the Brahma breeds, Thus it would be a wonder if the birds uniting such a variety of good bloods were not sometimes as valuable as the carefully bred varieties. To the small poultry-keeper who wishes eggs only, the Brown Leghorn, Black Spanish, and White Leghorn breeds are most desirable, and most valuable in the order in which we have named them.
To the villager who wishes early chickens and early eggs, the Dark Brahma is, perhaps, the best, either full-bred or grade, and if he is not particular as to the purity of the blood, but wishes the greatest pecuniary returns, a cross between Brown Leghorns and White Brahmas, or White Leghorns and Dark Brahmas, will pay him better than any other stock. The half-breed feathers and matures earlier, begins to lay younger, and lays more eggs than the full-blood Brahma, is larger, more quiet and domestic than the full-blood Leghorn, and makes a good setter and mother, which the Leghorn rarely becomes.
The following table is a record, by an experienced poultry keeper, of the cost of food and returns from ten pullets, six months old, of five different breeds, each flock of ten being kept by itself:
(Corrected Sept., 1874, by William Brooks, P. O. Boston, from the latest information furnished by the P. O. Department.)
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