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essentially contribute, as the establishment of private or publick societies under the sanction and patronage of government. Such companies will possess an inherent influence and exercise a kind of agricultural jurisdiction over the country, which could not be felt by any number of disconnected individuals, however laudable might be their inquiries, or however successful their exertions.
The Philadelphia Society for promoting Agriculture, was formed in 1785, and after a few years of active exertions, it languished and remained inactive, until in 1804 it revived, and now promises a series of useful labours. In 1806, the second list of prize questions was given to the publick, the first having been published in 1791, and the earliest letter contained in this volume is dated June, 1805.
A preface, table of contents, the laws of the institution, list of members, outlines of a plan for establishing a state society of agriculture in Pennsyl. vania, a list of premiums, and a curious lecture, by Dr. Rush, on studying the diseases of animals, form the introduction. The petition for establishing the society was rejected by the legislature ; but, upon what grounds, we are unable to discover.
The writer of the preface has taken a very fair and general view of the several objects within the plan of the society, and we agree with him, that “ criticism is misapplied and out of place, on such occasions," if the objects of the undertaking are steadily pursued, and the contemplated advantages of the work realized. Accurate and intelligible descriptions, lucid and faithful statements of experiments, and simple, technical language are of the utmost consequence in works of this kind, and we are happy to notice, that this volume contains so large a share of these indispensable requisites, however deficient in style, and literary excellence, it may other
Breeding of sheep has lately occupied the attention of many practical farmers, particularly since the unfortunate interruption of our commerce with Europe ; but more especially since the patriotick example already given to the publick by Col. Humphreys. The Merino sheep, brought from Sp.in by that gentleman, have excited a spirit of inquiry and experiment, which promises great profits to the owner, and affords flattering prospects to the publick. In crossing the breed of animals, an accurate attention is requisite to the character, properties, and shape of the one whose qualities are designed to be preserved, as otherwise no beneficial result can be obtained, and the few individuals of the new kind will degenerate. We should, therefore, introduce the males of the finest species to the females whose breed we intend to improve, because the offspring, though it partakes of the nature of both parents, yet resembles most the character of the male, especially in live stock. We do not intend to give any disquisition upon the subject, but only to express a regret, that the work before us contains so little upon this very interesting department of rural economy. One letter, containing a few desultory remarks upon the expediency of introducing the breeding of sheep into Pennsylvania, on a more extensive scale than hitherto practised, and another letter upon the diseases of that animal, constitutes all the information that can be obtained from the first volume.
As it will not be possible for us to notice particularly all the several papers contained in this work, we shall select only such as, by the manner in which they are treated, and their obvious utility, merit attention. We notice a letter to the society from Mr. Algernon Roberts, upon the expenses and profits of a dairy, which is the only good instance, in the whole
work, where the result of several years practice is stated with accuracy and clearness. This method of describing experiments particularly, will contribute more than any other, to the diffusion of correct information.
Agreeably to the request of the society, 1 lay before them an account of the but. ter I sold from a dairy of twenty cows, during eight years, viz. from 1st of January, 1796, to 31st. December, 1803. The weight amounted to 27,835 pounds, being an annual average of 3479 pounds, or 173 pounds to each cow per year. Cash received for butter sold from twenty cows in eight
$ 8276 19 years, Consumed in family the milk of three ditto,
1506 Sucking pigs estimated at,
320 17 cwt. of pork at $6 per cwt. sustained by dairy,
816 20 calves at $4 each,
7748 In the above estimate, I suppose all the sustenance of thc pigs to proceed from the dairy, as any other food their dams had, is supposed not to exceed the amount of pigs used by the family, and of those sold alive; it is likewise supposed that one half the food of the other swine, consisted of the offal of the dairy. The calves were sold on the spot. The item of the family milk is founded on a supposition, that it would take three cows to give milk to a family of ten persons, a considerable proportion of which are children. It is also to be remarked, that in the autumn months of part of the years included in the calculation, there were some persons added to the family, in consequence of the epidemick fever, prevalent in the city of Philadelphia, and who caused a diminution in the quantity of butter sold. It is difficult to estimate the expenses. The interest is founded upon a supposition that each cow costs 30 dollars; and the winter keep is set down as equal to her full value. The dairy is supposed to be managed by a man and woman, who are thought fully equal to the task, and their wages as stated, a full reward. The marketing is supposed to be done by the man, who is allowed eight cents each time, for expenses, exclusive of horse standing at the city stable, ferriage and turnpike toll. Nothing is allowed for the bull, except his summer pasture, as it must be very bad management if he does not sell in the autumn, for more than he cost in the spring. His manure also is to be taken into consideration. The allowance for replacing dairy cattle is thought to be trifling, as they are most frequently sold, with proper manage. ment, when turned off for grazing, for more than their prime cost. Their manure is supposed equivalent to their summer pasture.
The neat profit then is $ 3810 19 for eight years ; this sum divided by 8 gives $ 476 27; which being again divided by 20' (the number of cows) will give the average per head, viz. twenty three dollars and eighty one cents.
Mr. Richard Peters, the president of the society, has certainly contributed his share to the formation of this volume, and his several letters on the different subjects to which he has turned his attention discover an anxious zeal for the promotion of agricultural knowledge. His letters “ On peach trees," “ Departure of pine timber," &c. Ön the injurious effects of
clover to orchards," “ On diseases of Cattle," “ On gypsum," "On the thickness, cement, and materials of walls of farm and other buildings,” « On orchards," "On coarse flour," &c. “ On herbage and shrubs spon. taneously produced," &c. “On trench ploughing,” “On hemlock for live fences," « On changes of timber and plants;" and his “ Observations on a stercorary,” merit the attention of every rural economist.
The practice of farming has long been, and we fear will long remain, a standing mark of the slow progress of the useful arts in the United States. Foreigners, who in other respects, notwithstanding their superficial observations, may receive favourable notions of our comforts, taste, and im. provements, cannot fail to observe the state of our fields, the agricultural productions, mode of farming, and the rural economy of the states ; and if on these subjects they could make the just allowance on comparing them with European advancement, American farming would not be degraded by the comparison.
Whatever importance may be attached to the study of agriculture as a science, an ordinary, intelligent farmer will principally attend to the nature of the soil he cultivates, and observe carefully how he may best improve it by the application of manure. In few cases will he be deceived in ploughing, if he turns up the soil only so deep as 10 admit the seed to a suitable depth, and leave sufficient room for the roots to spread. As vegetation receives its impulse from the black mould, which every where covers the eartlı with varying thickness, and which was formed and is continually increased by the successive decay of vegetables, and as this vegetating power is weakened and exhausted by successive crops, it must be again replenished by art. Manures, whether consisting of calcareous earth, or of vegetable compost manure, are of the greatest consequence, and with the preparation of the soil by ploughing, harrowing, rolling, &c. constitute the chief objects of employment for the agriculturalist.
On the subject of manures, there are two letters, one communicated by J. Mease, on the utility of a species of marle, found in Burlington county, This substance answers very well alone ; but two loads of it mixed with one of barn manure, is the best mode of using it. vir. Peters has also given a valuable paper on the employment and nature of gypsum, as a manure. His observations are the result of many years' practice, and merit confidence. The qualities of this article have been hitherto but little understood, and it will require much study to discover the manner in which it operates. Chymistry is of great importance to this branch of husbandry, and although few farmers are acquainted with the subject, yet they have a right to expect something like a scientifick investigation, from such a society as the authors of the present publication. The combination of gypsum or sulphate of lime with the dung from stables, and the vegetable manure in farm yards, forms a good compost, that can be procured at little expense, and is applicable to the greatest varieties of soil. Gypsum aids the putrefaction of the vegetable substances in manures, and in the decomposition produces hydrogen, carbonick acid, oxygen, and other gasses, of which plants are formed; and the warmth produced while the process is going on is one of the specifick properties of manure, and which when mixed with the soil, facilitates the absorption of nutriment by the roots of plants. Hence, that compound, which contains the most of the qualities and powers necessary in the vegetating process, should be procured. The improvements which have been so lately made in agriculture, among English farmers, are in a great degree to be attributed to the study of chymistry, as connected with agriculture,
Hydrogen is seen to escape from compost heaps during the decomposition, in form of a vapour; the carbon discovers itself in the manure, after an extensive putrefaction, and in the black hue assumed by the mould, wherever found, more distinctly, however, in those soils where composts, containing large quantities of this substance, have been employed. The liquor which drains from dunghills, unless mixed with some accidental, extraneous matter, is nothing but water strongly impregnated with carbon, and after standing a considerable time, the carbon will subside to the bottom of the water. Carbonick acid gas is often seen to escape in great quantities from soils where manure has been used, in which there was a large proportion of carbon. These being the principal agents in accelera. ting vegetation, the attention of agriculturalists should be directed to provide them from calcareous earths or compost manure, so as to apply them in the cheapest manner to the improvement of the soil.
The best means of preserving manure. is supposed to be a stercorary or compost pit, which is better calculated to permit the fermentation to go on, than any mode hitherto proposed Mr. Peters has given a very good description of one, which we shall insert.
A stercorary should be at some distance from the stables. It is best for its bed to rise about two feet in the centre, like the back of a tortoise, with channels round it, to conduct the sap into a small well, or reservoir, which may be pumped, or laded out; and the drainings returned on the heap. Those who choose it may have the bottom paved, and surrounded by a stone wall, three feet high ; on which the sills of the frame for the roof may lie. It should be covered by a roof of wood, or thatch, on posts ; open at the sides for air, and railed, or stripped round, high enough to prevent access by cattle ; whose treading or poaching the heap, impedes its regular fermentation. Spouts, or troughs, at the eves of the roof, may be fur. nished with small cross troughs, to lead in rain water occasionally; though it is sel. dom required; as its own juices are generally sufficient, for the supply of the necessary moisture to the dung. Under the pitch of the roof, over the heap, there may be a pigeon house ; and roosts for poultry, whose dung would increase, and meliorate the whole mass. The square of the frame should be about eight feet from the bed, that carts, &c. may be admitted to enter, with convenience. Those who experience its utility and value will never regret the expense. A parallelogram is the best ground plat.
The above description is taken from a note, in page 153, in preference to another, more particular, which cannot be clearly understood without the plate.
Within the last half century, husbandry has assumed an important character in England. Among the most striking effects agriculture has produced, is the method of preserving, by the rotation of crops, the powers and richness of tillage lands, and the consequent disuse of the deteriorating system of fallows. This is the “ most prominent feature in good farming,” and it is to be regretted that the present volume contains nothing upon this subject.
Wheat, however, has received more attention. The smut, blight, mildew, and a new disease, have all been discussed, and notwithstanding the judicious remarks and valuable experiments here related, together with the various examinations made by English and French agriculturalists, the origin of these diseases, particularly smut, remains concealed. Cautious and prudent farmers, wishing to avoid the loss of a crop, generally wash the seed in a brine containing saline matter. There is a letter from William Young, in which he says that well chosen seed, sown in a suitable and well prepared soil, are the only sure modes of avoiding smut; while, in the succeeding letter, by Dr. Mease, a contrary opinion is mains tained, and saline washes and steeps are the only preventives. Such
contradictory results are little calculated to excite confidence, or to lead common farmers, always unwilling to quit established habits, to adopt either expedient.
The remarks upon live fences are extremely interesting.* A substitute for the hawthorn of England, is found in our native locust, cedar, and hemlock; and a taste for rendering more beautiful the appearance of our farms, would be produced by the adoption of this mode of fencing. Plashing of hedges would supply a great proportion of the fuel used in farm houses, , and leave the fences almost impervious to cattle. Cold and bleak parts of a farm may be easily protected from winds, by suffering hedge rows to grow high, and by plashing and switching, the fence will be prevented from overshadowing much land. In some soils, hemlock will be preferred to any other tree, for it is the most susceptible of being cut, wove, and interlocked, and gives a rich and lively appearance to the fence. Cedar ofien becomes brown, and in many situations is pernicious to the fields enclosed by it.
The agricultural papers in this volume, except an appendix containing valuable extracts from foreign publications, are concluded by a memoir on clearing land, by John Taylor, Esq. who appears to be an intelligent and enterprising agriculturalist. As there seems to be a mania in the New England states for retiring to new and uncultivated districts, the good policy of which may be questionable, Mr. Taylor's observations deserve attention. The fertility of new lands, arises from the great quantities of vegetable matter which have been collecting and rotting for centuries, so that little. labour in manuring for several years, is requisite. Hence the reason why farmers seek new settlements. Clearing and recovering lands which once were cultivated, but which are again covered with a growth of wood and brush, require greater exertions, and demand the process of manuring, as they cannot, by any natural decay of vegetable matter, have recovered from their exhausted state.
We have thus taken a cursory view of the work before us. The indi. vidual character of a volume must be drawn from the design and circumstances of the publisher. A single author, having the exclusive management of his subject, may expose himself to censure and criticism, which are not commonly bestowed on a compilation like the present. We have omitted many articles which are worthy of notice, but which the limits of this review will not include, and passed unnoticed many faults, inseparable from the nature of the work.
The agricultural society of Philadelphia have given to the publick such a specimen of their talents and pursuits, that the community will look for. ward with pleasure to the publication of a second volume. We hope they will not forget that important problem in rural economy, hitherto unsatisfactorily solved, What is the best filan and arrangement of a farm house and farm yard ? Every thing that can contribute to the comfort of the farmer and his siock, and most usefully promote the mechanical department of husbandry, will, on many considerations, highly interest the publick, and come within the object of their institution. Economy, cleanliness, and good morals, are essential to the good order and happiness of the husbandman, and his prosperity depends on the cultivation of these domestick virtues. Neat husbandry and a productive system of culture are inseparable; and if the same work which a careless farmer expends upon a large number of acres, were bestowed upon half the quantity of land, the crop
Several species of them are common in New England.