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MARCII, 1880.




The ptarmigan, unlike most of us, courts the cold and delights in such a winter as the past, but, like many of us, is not true to its colours, for in summer the plumage is of a light ashy grey, and in winter whiter than snow, at least London snow. In this country they are chiefly found in the most inaccessible mountains, such as Ben Lomond and other Bens, where little Ben our ruler, even if he were the most enthusiastic lover of the trigger, would not follow them, as they are dull on the wing, and consequently show little sport; therefore we conclude the sportsman in our plate, evidently one of the old school, with his ramrod, pointers, and 'water spaniel, must have had a chance shot. Scotland does not appear to be far north enough for the ptarmigan, which prefers the inhospitable shores of Sweden and Norway, where they are trapped for the


London market, and were to be had this winter from a shilling to three-and-sixpence a brace. They were, some years ago, also found in such plenty in the Northern parts of America that upwards of ten thousand were frequently caught or the use of the Hudson Bay settlement beween November and May. The water spaniel, with one in its mouth, appears to have gone out of fashion, and to have been ousted by the retriever, a favourite dog with sportsmen, and more especially with the Londoner, alongside of whom he may be seen carrying a walking stick, umbrella, or skates, until he meets with another dog and commences the dog's delight of rolling over one another in a gutter fight, proving that he is true to his colour and calling-a blackguard.


Few papers produced for the Central Farmers' Club have been more valuable than that on "American Production of Wheat and Meat" read by Mr.Finlay Dun on February 9. The subject is one of the greatest importance to British farmers at the present time, and it was dealt with in a very interesting and intelligible manner. Mr. Dun has had rare opportunities of studying it, as he has been recently travelling through the corn and cattle producing States of America in the capacity of special correspondent of the Times, and thus l'ad every source of information readily opened to him. That he made the best use of his opportunities his paper Lundantly proves.

A description of the agriculture of the United States, after three of the finest harvests in succes


sion that the country has ever been blessed with, cannot fail to be a glowing one. The crop of 1879, Mr. Dun stated, is now estimated by the American Board of Agriculture at the grand total of 56,000,000 qrs., produced on upwards of 32,000,000 acres of land, an area ten times the wheat area of the United Kingdom. The exact area of the crop, as given in the official returns published in our issue for January 19th, is 32,545,890 acres, and the estimated yield 448,755,118 bushels, or 56,094,390 qrs. This is upwards of 28,000,000 bushels in excess of the great crop of 1878, the largest produced in the United States up to that period. The average yield per acre is only 13.7 bushels, though the largest average but one ever chronicled, the exception being that of 1877,

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which was 13.9 bushels. We notice that Mr. Dun
says of the average yield per acre that "it oscillates
between 13 and 14 bushels." This is an error, as
the oscillation is between 10 and 139 bushels; for
although there has not been an average quite so
low as 10 bushels since 1866, there was one of 10:4
bushels as recently as 1876. The mean average
for sixteen years ending with 1878 was 12.2 bushels
per acre, as stated in the official Annual Report
for 1878, and it was the same for each of the two
periods of eight years of the sixteen, thus showing
that the yield has not increased, in spite of the
occupation of an immense area of virgin soil. It
is the more surprising that Mr. Dun made this
mistake, because the Annual Report is quoted from
in a letter which appeared in the Times of December
13th, written, if we are not mistaken, by Mr. Dun
himself. The mistake is the more important be-
cause throughout his paper Mr. Dun assumes that
the average vield is about 13 bushels. Even this
quantity would be considered a poor average yield,
one of the worst of English farms in the worst of
harvests, such as the last. It would be interesting
to ascertain whether the small yield of wheat in
America is partly to be accounted for by the small
quantity of seed sown. We are surprised to learn
from Mr. Dun that it is only from 1 to 13 bushels
per acre, which is very thin seeding in a country
which grows a large proportion of spring wheat.
On our best wheat soils in this country 1 bushels
is sufficient for autumn wheat got in early; but for
wheat sown in spring few farmers would be rash
enough to put in less than 2 bushels. It has some-
times been said that what British wheat-growers
have to compete with is, not the States which grow
such small crops as to bring down the average to
its low level, but those which produce, one year
with another, a mean average of from 15 to 18
bushels. We cannot agree with such a statement,
because if the exhauste i lands of the United States
are withdrawn from the cultivation of wheat, the
total produce will be less than it otherwise would
be, and if owing to the increased cultivation of rich
virgin soils it does not actually diminish, it will
diminish in proportion to the increase of popula-
tion. Whether the farmers of the Eastern and
Middle States can make it pay to keep up the fer-
tility of their wheat-growing soils by the use of
manures, or by the feeding or ploughing in of green
crops, remains to be seen.

Mr. Dun estimates the cost of producing wheat in the Western States at about 40s. per acre.

This seems very little; but when the small yield is borne in mind, it is quite enough. With an acreable return of 54s., yielding a profit of 14s. which we are told is a fair average for recent years, a farmer of 160 or even 320 acres would be a long time in getting rich. As a matter of fact, more money has been made in the United States by getting farms into cultivation and selling them after a few years than by farming itself. Nevertheless these small American farmers manage to live pretty comfortably and save a little money, though not by wheat-growing alone. Great wheat farms have not been considered profitable, though during the last two years the good crops have enabled some of their owners to show large returns. It

will be about time in the coming season, accord-
ing to the usual course of things, for the grass-
hoppers to devastate the crops. In that event the
large profits obtained on large farms from the
great yield and tolerably high prices of the crop
ow being sold will be reduced, if not entirely ab-
sorbed. Although Mr. Dun's estimate of the price
which must be obtained in this country for
American wheat, in order to remunerate growers
and middle men, is higher than that of some other
writers, we believe he is right in his conclusions,
The price he names is from 40s. to 42s. per qr,
against 36s., and even less, as estimated by the
writers referred to. We have often urged that
American farmers could not grow wheat to sell in
this country profitably at less than 40s. per quarter
in a good year, and we are glad to have Mr. Dun's
testimony to the same effect. Many people seem
to think that farmers in the United States will keep
on growing wheat whether they get a profit or not,
the theory being that they can live out of the pro
duce of their farms, and must sell their surplus
for what they can get. We do not believe in the
continuance of wheat-production in increasing
quantities-which is necessary for keeping down
prices to the level we have supposed-under such
circumstances. Especially if the revival of trade
and manufactures in America continues, we shall
expect to see the increase of the wheat area in that
continent cease, unless prices keep nearly up to
their present level. The increase in the wheat
area of 1879 over that of the preceding year was
only about 437,000 acres, whereas between 1877
and 1878 the increase was, in round numbers,
5,830,000 acres, being all the greater because the
crop of 1877 was less than that of 1876 by
in 1879, which was a surprise to most people, was
1,35,000,000 acres. The small increase in acreage
probably owing in some degree to the low prices
of 1878, as for the great harvest of that year
American farmers obtained comparatively small re-
turns. Any readers who will take the trouble to com-
pare the table showing the wheat acreage of the United
States which they will find on page 3 of our issue
for January 19th, with the table of average prices in
England which was printed on the last page of our
Supplement for the following week, will
see that there is striking proportionateness in
increased acreage following a year of high prices,
is some evidence in
this, we think, to show that American farmers are
very sensitive to the price which they get for their
crops, and that they are not at all likely to keep
on increasing their acreage of wheat if they do not
get a fair profit for growing that crop. There are,
of course, other causes which influence the
quantity of wheat grown, such as a bad seed-time,
or an unfavourable winter leading to the ploughing
up of a portion of the crop. There are also other
causes conducing to the opening up of fresh land,
such as the lack of sufficient employment in the
great towns, and diminished profits in trade. All
that we contend for is that the price in one year
exercises considerable influence over the wheat
acreage of the next, and that what we may term
the machine theory, as applied to American
farmers, is not a sound one."
We agree with Mr.
Dun, then, in thinking that, unless the cost of

and vice versa. There

transit should be considerably diminished, there is no reason to fear that the average price of wheat in this country will often be below 40s. a quarter, or very often as low as that. One year with another, he thinks the British farmer will have to grow wheat to sell at about 45s, per quarter, where he grows it at all, and he is right to urge the necessity of allowing the straw to be sold with the grain, in order to help the returns from the crop.

If Mr. Dun was considered by some of his audience to have spoken cheering words with respect to the prospects of wheat-growers in this country, he was far more conforting when he came to talk about meat. In the production of mutton he thinks that British graziers can hold their own against Americans, and it was not within the scope of his paper to refer to probable competition from Australia. Even with respect to beef he had nothing worse to predict than that it would have to be produced here at 74d. or 7d. per lb.-prices, it will be observed, higher than those now current for middling beef by the carcase. He does not seem to fear that American graziers can send beef here to sell at less than 6d. per lb., and he concludes that home-grown beef will command from 1d. to 2d. per lb. more than American. We are less sanguine than Mr. Dun as to future competi ion in meat; but we cannot on the present occasion enter into detail upon the subject.


It is desirable that every British farmer should have an opportunity of reading Mr. Dun's paper, and as, unfortunately, every farmer does not see either an agricultural journal or the issued by the Farmers' Club, we suggest that the valuable contribution to a subject now uppermost in the thoughts of the agricultural community should be published in pamphlet form and sold at a low price. There would undoubtedly be a large demand for it.


Probably a brief description of a grazing farm in Illinois may be interesting to your readers. Mr. Tom Ponting, of Stonington Park, Christian County (as he was christened "Tom" he objects to be called Thomas), owns some twelve hundred acres, and rents twelve hundred more, adjoining. He has been a feeder and dealer in cattle for thirty years, and a breeder about ten years. He has now about fifty head of Shorthorns of various families. Although the herd is not sufficiently uniform to be called a good bull-breeding herd, there are many good animals in it. These Shorthorns are fed upon the pastures, with corn on the stalks, which is drawn from the fields in which it grew. There are about 1,000 shucks in the field at this date, January 6th. When this is all fed he will feed from his wheat straw and corn in the ear, giving them plenty of the former, so that the cattle can feed on the best and lie on the remainder. He will consume during the winter 25,000 bushels of corn, 2,000 bushels of oats, and 1,000 bushels of bran. He has now on the place, in addition to the Shorthorns, six Hereford heifers and a bull. He has also a lot of Montana cattle of 150 head, purchased in the Union Stock Yards, Chicago. After travelling 1.500 miles as stockers they averaged at that time 1,363 lb., and cost 355 dollars per hundred, delivered home in June. Although the summer was very dry, they did tolerably well on their scanty pas

tures, although they were coarse. Had the grass been more abundant they would have gone to market in January. Under the circumstances they will have to remain until March to get ripe. They have corn in their cribs constantly to resort to according to inclination, and they consume a little over half a bushel a day each on an average. They do not consume any more by this course of feeding than if fed in small quantities three times a day, as, when satisfied, they do not remain at the trough to blow over their feed, but lie down to rest, or feed a little on the wheat straw. Mr. Ponting says corn is his cheapest feed, and the more they eat the more flesh they put on. The cob being eaten with the corn adds to its bulk, and is equivalent to hay. The winters are mild in this part of Illinois, and cattle do better under such treatment than in stalls, and fed on ground feed. As there is a hog or more to each animal, to eat up the dropping and scattered corn, nothing is wasted, and the principal labour is done with the teams, the economy of which is a desideratum and where the profit lies. Expensive feeding would not pay the grazier, even for the English market, at present prices of beef, expense, and risk of transportation. When these cattle get to the Chicago market in March, they will average about 1,850 lb. live weight, while the hogs will yield about 150 lb. of pork to each steer. There are 250 younger and smaller steers of native production, which have been fed on corn from the shuck in two separate lots. They are on the pastures on more limited allowance, and will be fed on corn until July or August, when they will be sent to market, if the prospect is encouraging for summer beef. The hogs are all ringed, and follow these cattle as before. Spring water is abundant in most of the lots, and the land is equal for grazing purposes to the feeding soil of Buckinghamshire. Mr. Ponting thinks it well adapted for the dairy, and believes that butter or hundred-acre farm he rents is about equal to his own, with cheese might be produced to advantage. The twelve

the exception of the buildings, having an excellent orchard,


with plenty of valuable timber, fine springs, and rich old sod, which can be purchased at 30 dols. per acre. Ponting thinks that a better dairy farm could not be found in America. It is 80 miles from St. Louis, 180 from Chicago, and has a railroad running through it to both places. He has 500 sheep, which he has been breeding up from the common sheep of the country for many years, using Cotswold rams. Many are of the Cotswold character, and cut last year about nine pounds of unwashed wool. He feeds them in the pastures, on shock corn in winter, will shear them about the first week in May, and send the wethers to market fat. Mrs. Ponting raises an abundance of poultry, the eggs and bodies of which are consumed in the house by the family and the numerous friends who visit them.

Mr. Ponting was born at Radstock, Somersetshire, and left England in 1847. He has been dealing in cattle ever since, and has had many ups and downs, but is now settled down on his own soil free from encumbrance, his stock all paid for. He says he has met with many cloudy days, but the majority have been sunny. He attributes much of his success to the help of his wife.-W. II. SOTHAM.

COLERIDGE when a young man was lecturing to a critical andience, and was violently hiseed on account of some of his novel propositions, but nothing daunted, he retorted: "When a cold stream of truth is poured on red hot prejudices, no wonder they hiss."

Farmers' Clubs.



A meeting of this Club was held on February 6, the subject for discussion being "The effect of the Elucation Acts upon the Agricultural Interest," introduced by Mr. Rowland Holt Wilson, of Bury. The chair was occupied by Mr. B. B. Hunter Rodwell, M.P.

The Chairman briefly introduced

Mr. R. H. WILSON, who read the following paper:

In introducing the subject for discussion at this Club I do so with considerable diffilence and under some difficulty With diffidence, because I am conscious that there are many in this Club who understand this important subject better than I do, and are more intimately connected with it. With difficulty, Owing to the short notice I have had, and the little time I have been able to give to it. I will not attempt to do more than give an outline of the subject, and offer such suggestions. There is no doubting the fact that this country has made up its mind to give all classes the opportunity of obtaining education, and they have, I think, wisely gone further and decided to enforce it. That education is an advantage to the community at large has been a recognised fact in some of the European countries and America for a long period, and in this they are in advance of us. I can understand our being behind a new and rich country like America in this instance, but do not see why we should be behind any European country like Germany, as is undoubtedly the case. Previous to the passing of the Act of 1870 the education of the class in whose special interest the Act was passed was affected by a voluntary system, assisted by annual grants from the Government for results ascertained by their Inspectors. Too much cannot be said in praise of the education so carried on, in the sacrifice it entailed in many instances on its principal supporters, and the really good work it did. The Education Act of 1870 found the country insufficiently provided with means of education, and a system of raising the necessary funds for and of carrying out a general education was instituted with the following result: Voluntary and Board schools have been erected in many parishes, voluntary schools in obedience to the declared intention of the Act being also assisted to meet the requirements of the Act. In 1869-70, before the Act of 1870 came into force, the Voluntary system had provided school accommodation for 1,765,944 children, and had an average attendance of 1,062,999 children. In 1878-79 the accommodation supplied

by the two systems was

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Provided places. Average attendance. 3,052,173 1,846,119 890,164 559,078 3,912,337


It will thus be seen that the Voluntary system is a much more powerful factor than the Board School system. A comparison of the cost of the two systems is still more remarkable. Previous to 1870 voluntary schools had raised for building purposes about eight millions, and since then the amount has been increased to thirteen millions, of which the Government have provided £1,761,868. The average cost per scholar has been 12. The School Boards have spent ten and a half millions in building, and the average cost per scholar is 12 guineas, as against 128., and then the amount borrowed has to be repaid out of the rates. Still, although the difference of cost between the two systems is so great, it is difficult to see how the intention of the Act of 1870 could have been carried out other wise than by some such institution as a School Board. cannot, however, shut my eyes to the fact that more money has been spent in architectural design in many buildings than the circumstances of the case justified. From a perusal of the various Acts passed from 1870 to the present time, and the Education Code of 1876, it would seem that the following are the regulations in force as to the attendance of children at school and their proficiency. For the present year, 1880, every child-a child meaning a boy or girl between five and 14 years of age-must, in order to justify his being employed, have attended 250 times in not more than two schools during each of the four previous years, and be able to pass the 3rd Standard, which


means reading with intelligence, writing a sentence s'owly dictated from some book, and copy books (showing smail.hand capital letters and figures), notation and numeration up to one million, long division, and compound addition and subtraction (money). After 1880 the attendance must be 250 times in not more than two schools for each of five years, whether consecutive or not, and, for proficiency, Standard IV. is fixed, which is a slightly higher educational test. "For the purpose of payment of fees," otherwise obtaining the Government grant, the standard of attendance for 1880 is 350 for each of the previous four years; after that the same attendance must be made for five years after, and in each case Standard IV must be passed. Thus it will be seen that "for the purpose of payment of fees' a child must attend 100 days more in the year than he need for the purpose of employment, but as loss practically be 350 days a year after 1889. of grant means extra charge on the rates, the attendance must The Government grant, on examination, does not exc ed 17s. 6d. per head, with extra allowances for special subjects, which I believe are not "The agricultural interest commonly obtained.

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may be sai to consist of three classes, landowner, tenant, and labourer. The Acts profess to proceed on the basis that each of these classes shall contribute directly or indirectly to the cost of education and the community at large other than these classes contribute their quota too. With regard to the advantage of this improved education to these classes, and the community at large, the following ideas occur to me :-The land-owners and tenants, intelligent members of society, have a large property stake, and it must be more to their advantage to be surrounded by a large and lower class more or less educated, and able to decide for themselves matters affecting their own interests, than to have the same class guided and influenced to a great extent by men, who, either from a wrong or exaggerated view of the matter or for private or political purposes, intentionally mislead them. Then again, as regards the tenant, in very many cases he is a small holder, and cannot afford to send his children to expensive schools as boarders or otherwise, and the existence of a school in his own parish, where a cheap and sound, and, for his purpose, sufficient education can be obtained is a great advantage. As regards the labourer, it is of immense advantage to him to be able to compete in the labour market of the world, where, without education, many of the openings at present presenting themselves to him would be shut-for both in our English towns, and in America, and in our colonies, he has to compete with men who have received in many instances a better education than himself, The better education of the labourer may lead to his increased thrift, as suggested by Lord Derby in his recent admirable speech on Savings Banks, and his lordship shows how this is a practical advantage to the community at large in helping to discharge our immense National Debt. With the funds to employ, and the increased intelligence to use them for his advantage and the benefit of the community, why should he not become a small proprietor, which many consider the panacea for the present agricultural difficulties ? I am inclined to think small proprietorship will be adopted to a limited extent in most districts, only the labouring classes must fit themselves for it. Education assists a class in making its wants known, and surely it must aid the governing powers to know from the class itself its requirements. It is admitted that on the whole the Education Acts have worked well, but at the same time they undoubtedly require some amendment as regards the agricul tural interest. In this part of my subject, I would start with the hypothesis that whatever injures one of the classes of the agricultural interest affects the others. We have seen that from the age of 5 to 14 a child is subject to the provisions of the Education Acts. Still if the child can pass a certain standard at the age of 10, that child can be employed in labour on the land-the effect of this will be that most of them will be at liberty at that age. As regards the child, I fear this works to his disadvantage, as in many cases he loses his education in the sphere in which he afterwards moves, and he also loses the discipline and moral drill at a time when most important to him. Here I must record my disappoitment and pain that the jealousy of religious sects should have furnished such an instance as the Birmingham School Board in regard to their exclusion of the Bible. This withdrawal of juvenile labour from the land is a very serious question, and affects the agricultural interest very materially. The tenant has to substitute adult labour for juvenile labour, which in many cases increases his

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