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A Lesson Of To-day
About Tree-planting
Accounts In Farming
Agricultural Exhibitions
Alkalis Salt Ashes Lime
Bones Phosphates Guano
Buying A Farm
Buying A Farm
Buying A Farm
Buying A Farm
Buying A Farm
Buying A Farm
Co-operation In Farming
Commercial Fertilizers Gypsum
Draining Generally

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What I Know Of Farming

Accounts In Farming

Farmers, it is urged, sometimes fail; and this is unfortunately true of
them, as of all others. Some fail in integrity; others in sobriety; many
in capacity; most in diligence; but not a few in method or system. Quite
a number fail because they undertake too much at the outset; that is,
they run into debt for more land than they have capital to stock or
means to fertilize, and are forced into bankruptcy by the interest
ever-accruing upon land which they are unable to cultivate. If they
should get ahead a little by active exertion throughout the day, the
interest would overtake and pass them during the ensuing night.

Few of the unsuccessful realize the extent to which their ill fortune is
fairly attributable to their own waste of time. Men not naturally lazy
squander hours weekly in the village, or at the railroad station,
without a suspicion that they are thus destroying their chances of
success in life. To-day is given up to a monkey-show; half of to-morrow
is lost in attendance on an auction; part of next day is spent at a
caucus or a jury trial; and so on until one-third of the year is
virtually wasted.

Now, the men who have achieved eminent success, within my observation,
have all been rigid economists of time. They managed to transact their
business at the county-seat while serving there as grand or petit
jurors, or detained under subpoena as witnesses; they never attended
an auction unless they really needed something which was there to be
sold, and then they began their day's work earlier and ended it later in
order to redeem the time which they borrowed for the sale. I do not
believe that any American farmer who could count up three hundred full
days' work in every year between his twenty-first and his thirtieth ever
yet failed, except as a result of speculation, or endorsing, or
inordinate running into debt.

I would, therefore, urge every farmer to keep a rigid account current of
the disposal of his time, so as to be able to see at the year's end
exactly how many days thereof he had given to productive labor; how many
to such abiding improvements as fencing and draining; and how many to
objects which neither increased his crop nor improved his farm. I am
sure many would be amazed at the extent of this last category.

If every youth who expects to live by farming would buy a cheap
pocket-book or wallet which contains a diary wherein a page is allotted
to each day of the year, and would, at the close of that day, or at
least while its incidents were still fresh in his mind, set down under
its proper head whatever incidents were most noteworthy--as, for
instance, a soaking rain; a light or heavy shower; a slight or killing
frost; a fall of snow; a hurricane; a hail-storm; a gale; a decidedly
hot or notably cold temperature; the turning out of cattle to pasture or
sheltering them against the severity of Winter; also the planting or
sowing of each crop or field, and whether harm was done to it by frost
in its infancy or when it approached maturity--he would thus provide
himself with annual volumes of fact which would prove instructive and
valuable throughout his maturer years.

The good farmer will of course keep accounts with such of his neighbors
as he sees fit to deal with; and he ought to charge a lent or credit a
borrowed plow, harrow, reaper, log-chain, or other implement, precisely
as though it were meal or meat of an equal value. I judge that borrowed
implements, if regularly charged at cost, and credited at their actual
value when returned, would generally come home sooner and in better

But the farmer, like every one else, should be most careful to keep debt
and credit with himself and his farm. If a dollar is spent or lent, his
books should show it; and let items and sum total stare him in the face
when he strikes a balance at the close of the year. If there has been no
leakage either of dimes or of hours, he will seldom be poorer on the
31st of December than he was on the 1st of the preceding January.

Most farmers fail to keep accounts with their several fields and crops;
yet what could be more instructive than these? Here are ten acres of
Corn, with a yield of 20 to 40 bushels per acre--a like area and like
yield of Oats; a smaller or larger of Rye, Buckwheat, or Beans, as the
case may be. If the produce is sold, most farmers know how much it
brings; but how many know how much it cost? Say the Corn brings 75 cents
per bushel, and the Oats 50 cents: was either or both produced at a
profit? If so, at what profit? Here is a farmer who has grown from 100
to 800 bushels of Corn per annum for the last 20 years; ought he not to
know by this time what Corn costs him in the average, and whether it
could or could not with profit give place to something else? Most
farmers grow some crops at a profit, others at a loss; ought they not to
know, after an experience of five or ten years, what crops have put
money into their pockets, and what have made them poorer for the

Of course, there is complication and some degree of uncertainty in all
such account-keeping; for every one is aware that some crops take more
from the soil than others, and so leave it in a worse condition for
those that are to follow, and that some exact large reenforcements of
fertilizers, whereof a part only is fairly chargeable to the first
ensuing product, while a large share inures to the subsequent harvests.
Each must judge for himself how much is to be credited for such
improvement, and how much charged against other crops for
deterioration. He, for example, whose meadows will cut from two to three
tuns per acre of good English Hay may generally sell that Hay for twice
if not thrice the immediate cost of its production, and so seem to be
realizing a large profit; but, if he gives nothing to the soil in return
for the heavy draft thus made upon it, his crop will dwindle year by
year, until it will hardly pay for cutting; and the diminution in value
of his meadows will nearly or quite balance the seeming profit accruing
from his Hay. But account-keeping in every business involves essentially
identical calculations; and the merchant who this year makes no net
profit on his goods, but doubles the number of his customers and the
extent of his trade, has thriven precisely as has the farmer whose
profit on his crops has all been invested in drains permeating his bogs,
and in Lime, Plaster, and other fertilizers, applied to and permanently
enriching his dryer fields.

"To make each day a critic on the last," was the aspiration of a wise
man, if not a great poet. So the farmer who will keep careful and candid
accounts With himself, annually correcting his estimates by the light of
experience, will soon learn what crops he may reasonably expect to grow
at a profit, and to reject such as are likely to involve him in loss;
and he who, having done this, shall blend common sense with industry,
will have no reason to complain thereafter that there is no profit in
farming, and no chance of achieving wealth by pursuing it.

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