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Title: The Fat of the Land - The Story of an American Farm
Author: Streeter, John Williams
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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THE FAT OF THE LAND


[Illustration]



THE FAT OF THE LAND

The Story of an American Farm

BY

JOHN WILLIAMS STREETER



New York

THE MACMILLAN COMPANY

LONDON: MACMILLAN & CO., Ltd.

1904

_All rights reserved_

copyright, 1904.

by THE MACMILLAN COMPANY.

Set up, electrotyped, and published February, 1904. Reprinted March,
April, May, 1904.

Norwood Press

J.S. Cushing & Co.--Berwick & Smith Co. Norwood, Mass., U.S.A.



To POLLY



CONTENTS

CHAPTER                                        PAGE

I. MY EXCUSE      3

II. THE HUNTING OF THE LAND      11

III. THE FIRST VISIT TO THE FARM      14

IV. THE HIRED MAN      25

V. BORING FOR WATER      31

VI. WE TAKE POSSESSION      36

VII. THE HORSE-AND-BUGGY MAN      45

VIII. WE PLAT THE FARM      49

IX. HOUSE-CLEANING      54

X. FENCED IN      61

XI. THE BUILDING LINE      67

XII. CARPENTERS QUIT WORK      70

XIII. PLANNING FOR THE TREES      78

XIV. PLANTING OF THE TREES      88

XV. POLLY'S JUDGMENT HALL      94

XVI. WINTER WORK      101

XVII. WHAT SHALL WE ASK OF THE HEN?      103

XVIII. WHITE WYANDOTTES      110

XIX. FRIED PORK      116

XX. A RATION FOR PRODUCT      121

XXI. THE RAZORBACK      126

XXII. THE OLD ORCHARD      135

XXIII. THE FIRST HATCH      138

XXIV. THE HOLSTEIN MILK MACHINE      144

XXV. THE DAIRYMAID      150

XXVI. LITTLE PIGS      155

XXVII. WORK ON THE HOME FORTY      158

XXVIII. DISCOUNTING THE MARKET      164

XXIX. FROM CITY TO COUNTRY      169

XXX. AUTUMN RECKONING      174

XXXI. THE CHILDREN      178

XXXII. THE HOME-COMING      183

XXXIII. CHRISTMAS EVE      189

XXXIV. CHRISTMAS      194

XXXV. WE CLOSE THE BOOKS FOR '96      199

XXXVI. OUR FRIENDS      202

XXXVII. THE HEADMAN'S JOB      210

XXXVIII. SPRING OF '97      217

XXXIX. THE YOUNG ORCHARD      225

XL. THE TIMOTHY HARVEST      230

XLI. STRIKE AT GORDON'S MINE      236

XLII. THE RIOT      250

XLIII. THE RESULT      260

XLIV. DEEP WATERS      268

XLV. DOGS AND HORSES      274

XLVI. THE SKIM-MILK TRUST      282

XLVII. NABOTH'S VINEYARD      285

XLVIII. MAIDS AND MALLARDS      294

XLIX. THE SUNKEN GARDEN      298

L. THE HEADMAN GENERALIZES      303

LI. THE GRAND-GIRLS      308

LII. THE THIRD RECKONING      313

LIII. THE MILK MACHINE      317

LIV. BACON AND EGGS      328

LV. THE OLD TIME FARM-HAND      337

LVI. THE SYNDICATE      342

LVII. THE DEATH OF SIR TOM      346

LVIII. BACTERIA      352

LIX. MATCH-MAKING      355

LX. "I TOLD YOU SO"      362

LXI. THE BELGIAN FARMER      367

LXII. HOME-COMING      375

LXIII. AN HUNDRED FOLD      378

LXIV. COMFORT ME WITH APPLES      383

LXV. THE END OF THE THIRD YEAR      388

LXVI. LOOKING BACKWARD      394

LXVII. LOOKING FORWARD      402


THE FAT OF THE LAND



CHAPTER I

MY EXCUSE


My sixtieth birthday is a thing of yesterday, and I have, therefore,
more than half descended the western slope. I have no quarrel with life
or with time, for both have been polite to me; and I wish to give an
account of the past seven years to prove the politeness of life, and to
show how time has made amends to me for the forced resignation of my
professional ambitions. For twenty-five years, up to 1895, I practised
medicine and surgery in a large city. I loved my profession beyond the
love of most men, and it loved me; at least, it gave me all that a
reasonable man could desire in the way of honors and emoluments. The
thought that I should ever drop out of this attractive, satisfying life,
never seriously occurred to me, though I was conscious of a strong and
persistent force that urged me toward the soil. By choice and by
training I was a physician, and I gloried in my work; but by instinct I
was, am, and always shall be, a farmer. All my life I have had visions
of farms with flocks and herds, but I did not expect to realize my
visions until I came on earth a second time.

I would never have given up my profession voluntarily; but when it gave
me up, I had to accept the dismissal, surrender my ambitions, and fall
back upon my primary instinct for diversion and happiness. The dismissal
came without warning, like the fall of a tree when no wind shakes the
forest, but it was imperative and peremptory. The doctors (and they were
among the best in the land) said, "No more of this kind of work for
years," and I had to accept their verdict, though I knew that "for
years" meant forever.

My disappointment lasted longer than the acute attack; but, thanks to
the cheerful spirit of my wife, by early summer of that year I was able
to face the situation with courage that grew as strength increased.
Fortunately we were well to do, and the loss of professional income was
not a serious matter. We were not rich as wealth is counted nowadays;
but we were more than comfortable for ourselves and our children, though
I should never earn another dollar. This is not the common state of the
physician, who gives more and gets less than most other men; it was
simply a happy combination of circumstances. Polly was a small heiress
when we married; I had some money from my maternal grandfather; our
income was larger than our necessities, and our investments had been
fortunate. Fate had set no wolf to howl at our door.

In June we decided to take to the woods, or rather to the country, to
see what it had in store for us. The more we thought of it, the better I
liked the plan, and Polly was no less happy over it. We talked of it
morning, noon, and night, and my half-smothered instinct grew by what it
fed on. Countless schemes at length resolved themselves into a factory
farm, which should be a source of pleasure as well as of income. It was
of all sizes, shapes, industries, and limits of expenditure, as the
hours passed and enthusiasm waxed or waned. I finally compromised on
from two hundred to three hundred acres of land, with a total
expenditure of not more than $60,000 for the building of my factory. It
was to produce butter, eggs, pork, and apples, all of best quality, and
they were to be sold at best prices. I discoursed at some length on
farms and farmers to Polly, who slept through most of the harangue. She
afterward said that she enjoyed it, but I never knew whether she
referred to my lecture or to her nap.

If farming be the art of elimination, I want it not. If the farmer and
the farmer's family must, by the nature of the occupation, be deprived
of reasonable leisure and luxury, if the conveniences and amenities must
be shorn close, if comfort must be denied and life be reduced to the
elemental necessities of food and shelter, I want it not. But I do not
believe that this is the case. The wealth of the world comes from the
land, which produces all the direct and immediate essentials for the
preservation of life and the protection of the race. When people cease
to look to the land for support, they lose their independence and fall
under the tyranny of circumstances beyond their control. They are no
longer producers, but consumers; and their prosperity is contingent upon
the prosperity and good will of other people who are more or less alien.
Only when a considerable percentage of a nation is living close to the
land can the highest type of independence and prosperity be enjoyed.
This law applies to the mass and also to the individual. The farmer, who
produces all the necessities and many of the luxuries, and whose
products are in constant demand and never out of vogue, should be
independent in mode of life and prosperous in his fortunes. If this is
not the condition of the average farmer (and I am sorry to say it is
not), the fault is to be found, not in the land, but in the man who
tills it.

Ninety-five per cent of those who engage in commercial and professional
occupations fail of large success; more than fifty per cent fail
utterly, and are doomed to miserable, dependent lives in the service of
the more fortunate. That farmers do not fail nearly so often is due to
the bounty of the land, the beneficence of Nature, and the
ever-recurring seed-time and harvest, which even the most thoughtless
cannot interrupt.

The waking dream of my life had been to own and to work land; to own it
free of debt, and to work it with the same intelligence that has made me
successful in my profession. Brains always seemed to me as necessary to
success in farming as in law, or in medicine, or in business. I always
felt that mind should control events in agriculture as in commercial
life; that listlessness, carelessness, lack of thrift and energy, and
waste, were the factors most potent in keeping the farmer poor and
unreasonably harassed by the obligations of life. The men who cultivate
the soil create incalculable wealth; by rights they should be the
nation's healthiest, happiest, most comfortable, and most independent
citizens. Their lives should be long, free from care and distress, and
no more strenuous than is wholesome. That this condition is not general
is due to the fact that the average farmer puts muscle before mind and
brawn before brains, and follows, with unthinking persistence, the crude
and careless traditions of his forefathers.

Conditions on the farm are gradually changing for the better. The
agricultural colleges, the experiment stations, the lecture courses
which are given all over the country, and the general diffusion of
agricultural and horticultural knowledge, are introducing among farming
communities a more intelligent and more liberal treatment of land. But
these changes are so slow, and there is so much to be done before even
a small percentage of our six millions of farmers begin to realize their
opportunities, that even the weakest effort in this direction may be of
use. This is my only excuse for going minutely into the details of my
experiment in the cultivation of land. The plain and circumstantial
narrative of how Four Oaks grew, in seven years, from a poor,
ill-paying, sadly neglected farm, into a beautiful home and a profitable
investment, must simply stand for what it is worth. It may give useful
hints, to be followed on a smaller or a larger scale, or it may arouse
criticisms which will work for good, both to the critic and to the
author. I do not claim experience, excepting the most limited; I do not
claim originality, except that most of this work was new to me; I do not
claim hardships or difficulties, for I had none; but I do claim that I
made good, that I arrived, that my experiment was physically and
financially a success, and, as such, I am proud of it, and wish to give
it to the world.

I was fifty-three years old when I began this experiment, and I was
obliged to do quickly whatever I intended to do. I could devote any part
of $60,000 to the experiment without inconvenience. My desire was to
test the capacity of ordinary farm land, when properly treated, to
support an average family in luxury, paying good wages to more than the
usual number of people, keeping open house for many friends, and at the
same time not depleting my bank account. I wished to experiment in
_intensive farming_, using ordinary farm land as other men might do
under similar or modified circumstances. I believed that if I fed the
land, it would feed me. My plan was to sell nothing from the farm except
finished products, such as butter, fruit, eggs, chickens, and hogs. I
believed that best results would be attained by keeping only the best
stock, and, after feeding it liberally, selling it in the most favorable
market. To live on the fat of the land was what I proposed to do; and I
ask your indulgence while I dip into the details of this seven years'
experiment.

You may say that few persons have the time, inclination, taste, or money
to carry out such an experiment; that the average farmer must make each
year pay, and that the exploiting of this matter is therefore of
interest to a very limited number. Admitting much of this, I still claim
that there is a lesson to every struggling farmer in this narrative. It
should teach the value of brain work on the farm, and the importance of
intelligent cultivation; also the advantages of good seed, good tilth,
good specimens of well-bred stock, good food, and good care. Feed the
land liberally, and it will return you much. Permit no waste in space,
product, time, tools, or strength. Do in a small way, if need be, what I
have done on a large scale, and you will quickly commence to get good
dividends. I have spent much more money than was really necessary on
the place, and in the ornamentation of Four Oaks. This, however, was
part of the experiment. I asked the land not only to supply immediate
necessities, but to minister to my every want, to gratify the eye, and
please the senses by a harmonious fusion of utility and beauty. I wanted
a fine country home and a profitable investment within the same ring
fence.

Will you follow me through the search for the land, the purchase, and
the tremendous house-cleaning of the first year? After that we will take
up the years as they come, finding something of special interest
attaching naturally to each. I shall have to deal much with figures and
statistics, in a small way, and my pages may look like a school book,
but I cannot avoid this, for in these figures and statistics lies the
practical lesson. Theory alone is of no value. Practical application of
the theory is the test. I am not imaginative. I could not write a
romance if I tried. My strength lies in special detail, and I am willing
to spend a lot of time in working out a problem. I do not claim to have
spent this time and money without making serious mistakes; I have made
many, and I am willing to admit them, as you will see in the following
pages. I do claim, however, that, in spite of mistakes, I have solved
the problem, and have proved that an intelligent farmer can live in
luxury on the fat of the land.



CHAPTER II

THE HUNTING OF THE LAND


The location of the farm for this experiment was of the utmost
importance. The land must be within reasonable distance of the city and
near a railroad, consequently within easy touch of the market; and if
possible it must be near a thriving village, to insure good train
service. As to size, I was somewhat uncertain; my minimum limit was 150
acres and 400 the maximum. The land must be fertile, or capable of being
made so.

I advertised for a farm of from two hundred to four hundred acres,
within thirty-five miles of town, and convenient to a good line of
transportation. Fifty-seven replies came, of which forty-six were
impossible, eleven worth a second reading, and five worth investigating.
My third trip carried me thirty miles southwest of the city, to a
village almost wholly made up of wealthy people who did business in
town, and who had their permanent or their summer homes in this village.
There were probably twenty-seven or twenty-eight hundred people in the
village, most of whom owned estates of from one to thirty acres,
varying in value from $10,000 to $100,000. These seemed ideal
surroundings. The farm was a trifle more than two miles from the
station, and 320 acres in extent. It lay to the west of a
north-and-south road, abutting on this road for half a mile, while on
the south it was bordered for a mile by a gravelled road, and the west
line was an ordinary country road. The lay of the land in general was a
gentle slope to the west and south from a rather high knoll, the highest
point of which was in the north half of the southeast forty. The land
stretched away to the west, gradually sloping to its lowest point, which
was about two-thirds of the distance to the western boundary. A
straggling brook at its lowest point was more or less rampant in
springtime, though during July and August it contained but little water.

Westward from the brook the land sloped gradually upward, terminating in
a forest of forty to fifty acres. This forest was in good condition. The
trees were mostly varieties of oak and hickory, with a scattering of
wild cherry, a few maples, both hard and soft, and some lindens. It was
much overgrown with underbrush, weeds, and wild flowers. The land was
generally good, especially the lower parts of it. The soil of the higher
ground was thin, but it lay on top of a friable clay which is fertile
when properly worked and enriched.

The farm belonged to an unsettled estate, and was much run down, as
little had been done to improve its fertility, and much to deplete it.
There were two sets of buildings, including a house of goodly
proportions, a cottage of no particular value, and some dilapidated
barns. The property could be bought at a bargain. It had been held at
$100 an acre; but as the estate was in process of settlement, and there
was an urgent desire to force a sale, I finally secured it for $71 per
acre. The two renters on the farm still had six months of occupancy
before their leases expired. They were willing to resign their leases if
I would pay a reasonable sum for the standing crops and their stock and
equipments.

The crops comprised about forty acres of corn, fifty acres of oats, and
five acres of potatoes. The stock was composed of two herds of cows
(seven in one and nine in the other), eleven spring calves, about forty
hogs, and the usual assortment of domestic fowls. The equipment of the
farm in machinery and tools was meagre to the last degree. I offered the
renters $700 and $600, respectively, for their leasehold and other
property. This was more than their value, but I wanted to take
possession at once.



CHAPTER III

THE FIRST VISIT TO THE FARM


It was the 8th of July, 1895, when I contracted for the farm; possession
was to be given August 1st. On July 9th, Polly and I boarded an early
train for Exeter, intending to make a day of it in every sense. We
wished to go over the property thoroughly, and to decide on a general
outline of treatment. Polly was as enthusiastic over the experiment as
I, and she is energetic, quick to see, and prompt to perform. She was to
have the planning of the home grounds--the house and the gardens; and
not only the planning, but also the full control.

A ride of forty-five minutes brought us to Exeter. The service of this
railroad, by the way, is of the best; there is hardly a half-hour in the
day when one cannot make the trip either way, and the fare is moderate:
$8.75 for twenty-five rides,--thirty-five cents a ride. We hired an open
carriage and started for the farm. The first half-mile was over a
well-kept macadam road through that part of the village which lies west
of the railway. The homes bordering this street are of fine proportions,
and beautifully kept. They are the country places of well-to-do people
who love to get away from the noise and dirt of the city. Some of them
have ten or fifteen acres of ground, but this land is for breathing
space and beauty--not for serious cultivation. Beyond these homes we
followed a well-gravelled road leading directly west. This road is
bordered by small farms, most of them given over to dairying interests.

Presently I called Polly's attention to the fact that the few apple
trees we saw were healthy and well grown, though quite independent of
the farmer's or the pruner's care. This thrifty condition of unkept
apple orchards delighted me. I intended to make apple-growing a
prominent feature in my experiment, and I reasoned that if these trees
did fairly well without cultivation or care, others would do excellently
well with both.

As we approached the second section line and climbed a rather steep
hill, we got the first glimpse of our possession. At the bottom of the
western slope of this hill we could see the crossing of the
north-and-south road, which we knew to be the east boundary of our land;
while, stretching straight away before us until lost in the distant
wood, lay the well-kept road which for a good mile was our southern
boundary. Descending the hill, we stopped at the crossing of the roads
to take in the outline of the farm from this southeast corner. The
north-and-south road ran level for 150 yards, gradually rose for the
next 250, and then continued nearly level for a mile or more. We saw
what Jane Austen calls "a happy fall of land," with a southern exposure,
which included about two-thirds of the southeast forty, and high land
beyond for the balance of this forty and the forty lying north of it.
There was an irregular fringe of forest trees on this southern slope,
especially well defined along the eastern border. I saw that Polly was
pleased with the view.

"We must enter the home lot from this level at the foot of the hill,"
said she, "wind gracefully through the timber, and come out near those
four large trees on the very highest ground. That will be effective and
easily managed, and will give me a chance at landscape gardening, which
I am just aching to try."

"All right," said I, "you shall have a free hand. Let's drive around the
boundaries of our land and behold its magnitude before we make other
plans."

We drove westward, my eyes intent upon the fields, the fences, the
crops, and everything that pertained to the place. I had waited so many
years for the sense of ownership of land that I could hardly realize
that this was not another dream from which I would soon be awakened by
something real. I noticed that the land was fairly smooth except where
it was broken by half-rotted stumps or out-cropping boulders, that the
corn looked well and the oats fair, but the pasture lands were too well
seeded to dock, milkweed, and wild mustard to be attractive, and the
fences were cheap and much broken.

The woodland near the western limit proved to be practically a virgin
forest, in which oak trees predominated. The undergrowth was dense,
except near the road; it was chiefly hazel, white thorn, dogwood, young
cherry, and second growth hickory and oak. We turned the corner and
followed the woods for half a mile to where a barbed wire fence
separated our forest from the woodland adjoining it. Coming back to the
starting-point we turned north and slowly climbed the hill to the east
of our home lot, silently developing plans. We drove the full half-mile
of our eastern boundary before turning back.

I looked with special interest at the orchard, which was on the
northeast forty. I had seen it on my first visit, but had given it
little attention, noting merely that the trees were well grown. I now
counted the rows, and found that there were twelve; the trees in each
row had originally been twenty, and as these trees were about
thirty-five feet apart, it was easy to estimate that six acres had been
given to this orchard. The vicissitudes of seventeen years had not been
without effect, and there were irregular gaps in the rows,--here a sick
tree, there a dead one. A careless estimate placed these casualties at
fifty-five or sixty, which I later found was nearly correct. This left
180 trees in fair health; and in spite of the tight sod which covered
their roots and a lamentable lack of pruning, they were well covered
with young fruit. They had been headed high in the old-fashioned way,
which made them look more like forest trees than a modern orchard. They
had done well without a husbandman; what could not others do with one?

The group of farm buildings on the north forty consisted of a one-story
cottage containing six rooms--sitting room, dining room, kitchen, and a
bedroom opening off each--with a lean-to shed in the rear, and some
woe-begone barns, sheds, and out-buildings that gave the impression of
not caring how they looked. The second group was better. It was south of
the orchard on the home forty, and quite near the road.

Why does the universal farm-house hang its gable over the public road,
without tree or shrub to cover its boldness? It would look much better,
and give greater comfort to its inmates, if it were more remote. A lawn
leading up to a house, even though not beautiful or well kept, adds
dignity and character to a place out of all proportion to its waste or
expense. I know of nothing that would add so much to the beautification
of the country-side as a building line prohibiting houses and barns
within a hundred yards of a public road. A staring, glaring farm-house,
flanked by a red barn and a pigsty, all crowding the public road as
hard as the path-master will permit, is incongruous and unsightly. With
all outdoors to choose from, why ape the crowded city streets? With much
to apologize for in barn and pigsty, why place them in the seat of
honor? Moreover, many things which take place on the farm gain
enchantment from distance. It is best to leave some scope for the
imagination of the passer-by. These and other things will change as
farmers' lives grow more gracious, and more attention is given to
beautifying country houses.

The house, whose gables looked up and down the street, was two stories
in height, twenty-five feet by forty in the main, with a one-story ell
running back. Without doubt there was a parlor, sitting room, and four
chambers in the main, with dining room and kitchen in the ell.

"That will do for the head man's house, if we put it in the right place
and fix it up," said Polly.

"My young lady, I propose to be the 'head man' on this farm, and I wish
it spelled with a capital H, but I do not expect to live in that house.
It will do first-rate for the farmer and his men, when you have placed
it where you want it, but I intend to live in the big house with you."

"We'll not disagree about that, Mr. Headman."

The barns were fairly good, but badly placed. They were not worth the
expense of moving, so I decided to let them stand as they were until we
could build better ones, and then tear them down.

We drove in through a clump of trees behind the farm-house, and pushed
on about three hundred yards to the crest of the knoll. Here we got out
of the carriage and looked about, with keen interest, in every
direction. The views were wide toward three points of the compass. North
and northwest we could see pleasant lands for at least two miles;
directly west, our eyes could not reach beyond our own forest; to the
south and southwest, fruitful valleys stretched away to a range of
wooded hills four miles distant; but on the east our view was limited by
the fringe of woods which lay between us and the north-and-south road.

"This is the exact spot for the house," said Polly. "It must face to the
south, with a broad piazza, and the chief entrance must be on the east.
The kitchens and fussy things will be out of sight on the northwest
corner; two stories, a high attic with rooms, and covered all over with
yellow-brown shingles." She had it all settled in a minute.

"What will the paper on your bedroom wall be like?" I asked.

"I know perfectly well, but I shan't tell you."

Seating myself on an out-cropping boulder, I began to study the
geography of the farm. In imagination I stripped it of stock, crops,
buildings, and fences, and saw it as bald as the palm of my hand. I
recited the table of long measure: Sixteen and a half feet, one rod,
perch, or pole; forty rods, one furlong; eight furlongs, one mile. Eight
times 40 is 320; there are 320 rods in a mile, but how much is 16-1/2.
times 320? "Polly, how much is 16-1/2 times 320?"

"Don't bother me now; I'm busy."

(Just as if she could have told in her moment of greatest leisure!) I
resorted to paper and pencil, and learned that there are 5280 feet in
each and every mile. My land was, therefore, 5280 feet long and 2640
feet wide. I must split it in some way, by a road or a lane, to make all
parts accessible. If I divided it by two lanes of twenty feet each, I
could have on either side of these lanes lots 650 feet deep, and these
would be quite manageable. I found that if these lots were 660 feet
long, they would contain ten acres minus the ten feet used for the lane.
This seemed a real discovery, as it simplified my calculations and
relieved me of much mental effort.

"Polly, I am going to make a map of the place,--lay it out just as I
want it."

"You may leave the home forty out of your map; I will look after that,"
said the lady.

In my pocket I found three envelopes somewhat the worse for wear. This
is how one of them looked when my map was finished.

[Illustration:]

I am not especially haughty about this map, but it settled a matter
which had been chaotic in my mind. My plan was to make the farm a
soiling one; to confine the stock within as limited a space as was
consistent with good health, and to feed cultivated forage and crops. In
drawing my map, the forty which Polly had segregated left the northeast
forty standing alone, and I had to cast about for some good way of
treating it. "Make it your feeding ground," said my good genius, and
thus the wrath of Polly was made to glorify my plans.

This feeding lot of forty acres is all high land, naturally drained. It
was near the obvious building line, and it seemed suitable in every way.
I drew a line from north to south, cutting it in the middle. The east
twenty I devoted to cows and their belongings; the west twenty was
divided by right lines into lots of five acres each, the southwest one
for the hens and the other three for hogs.

Looking around for Polly to show her my work, I found she had
disappeared; but soon I saw her white gown among the trees. Joining her,
I said,--

"I have mapped seven forties; have you finished one?"

"I have not," she said. "Mine is of more importance than all of yours; I
will give you a sketch this evening. This bit of woods is better than I
thought. How much of it do you suppose there is?"

"About seven acres, I reckon, by hook and by crook; enough to amuse you
and furnish a lot of wild-flower seed to be floated over the rest of the
farm."

"You may plant what seeds you like on the rest of the farm, but I must
have wild flowers. Do you know how long it is since I have had them? Not
since I was a girl!"

"That is not very long, Polly. You don't look much more than a girl
to-day. You shall have asters and goldenrod and black-eyed Susans to
your heart's content if you will always be as young."

"I believe Time will turn backward for both of us out here, Mr. Headman.
But I'm as hungry as a wolf. Do you think we can get a glass of milk of
the 'farm lady'?"

We tried, succeeded, and then started for home. Neither of us had much
to say on the return trip, for our minds were full of unsolved problems.
That evening Polly showed me this plat of the home forty.

[Illustration:]



CHAPTER IV

THE HIRED MAN


Modern farming is greatly handicapped by the difficulty of getting good
help. I need not go into the causes which have operated to bring about
this condition; it exists, and it has to be met. I cannot hope to solve
the problem for others, but I can tell how I solved it for myself. I
determined that the men who worked for me should find in me a
considerate friend who would look after their interests in a reasonable
and neighborly fashion. They should be well housed and well fed, and
should have clean beds, clean table linen and an attractively set table,
papers, magazines, and books, and a comfortable room in which to read
them. There should be reasonable work hours and hours for recreation,
and abundant bathing facilities; and everything at Four Oaks should
proclaim the dignity of labor.

From the men I expected cleanliness, sobriety, uniform kindness to all
animals, cheerful obedience, industry, and a disposition to save their
wages. These demands seemed to me reasonable, and I made up my mind to
adhere to them if I had to try a hundred men.

The best way to get good farm hands who would be happy and contented, I
thought, was to go to the city and find men who had shot their bolts and
failed of the mark; men who had come up from the farm hoping for easier
or more ambitious lives, but who had failed to find what they sought and
had experienced the unrest of a hand-to-mouth struggle for a living in a
large city; men who were pining for the country, perhaps without knowing
it, and who saw no way to get back to it. I advertised my wants in a
morning paper, and asked my son, who was on vacation, to interview the
applicants. From noon until six o'clock my ante-room was invaded by a
motley procession--delicate boys of fifteen who wanted to go to the
country, old men who thought they could do farm work, clerks and
janitors out of employment, typical tramps and hoboes who diffused very
naughty smells, and a few--a very few--who seemed to know what they
could do and what they really wanted.

Jack took the names of five promising men, and asked them to come again
the next day. In the morning I interviewed them, dismissed three, and
accepted two on the condition that their references proved satisfactory.
As these men are still at Four Oaks, after seven years of steady
employment, and as I hope they will stay twenty years longer, I feel
that the reader should know them. Much of the smooth sailing at the
farm is due to their personal interest, steadiness of purpose, and
cheerful optimism.

William Thompson, forty-six years of age, tall, lean, wiry, had been a
farmer all his life. His wife had died three years before, and a year
later, he had lost his farm through an imperfect title. Understanding
machinery and being a fair carpenter, he then came to the city, with
$200 in his pocket, joined the Carpenter's Union, and tried to make a
living at that trade. Between dull business, lock-outs, tie-ups, and
strikes, he was reduced to fifty cents, and owed three dollars for room
rent. He was in dead earnest when he threw his union card on my table
and said:--

"I would rather work for fifty cents a day on a farm than take my
chances for six times as much in the union."

This was the sort of man I wanted: one who had tried other things and
was glad of a chance to return to the land. Thompson said that after he
had spent one lonesome year in the city, he had married a sensible woman
of forty, who was now out at service on account of his hard luck. He
also told of a husky son of two-and-twenty who was at work on a farm
within fifty miles of the city. I liked the man from the first, for he
seemed direct and earnest. I told him to eat up the fifty cents he had
in his pocket and to see me at noon of the following day. Meantime I
looked up one of his references; and when he came, I engaged him, with
the understanding that his time should begin at once.

The wage agreed upon was $20 a month for the first half-year. If he
proved satisfactory, he was to receive $21 a month for the next six
months, and there was to be a raise of $1 a month for each half-year
that he remained with me until his monthly wage should amount to
$40,--each to give or take a month's notice to quit. This seemed fair to
both. I would not pay more than $20 a month to an untried man, but a
good man is worth more. As I wanted permanent, steady help, I proposed
to offer a fair bonus to secure it. Other things being equal, the man
who has "gotten the hang" of a farm can do better work and get better
results than a stranger.

The transient farm-hand is a delusion and a snare. He has no interest
except his wages, and he is a breeder of discontent. If the hundreds of
thousands of able-bodied men who are working for scant wages in cities,
or inanely tramping the country, could see the dignity of the labor
which is directly productive, what a change would come over the face of
the country! There are nearly six million farms in this nation, and four
millions of them would be greatly benefited by the addition of another
man to the working force. There is a comfortable living and a minimum of
$180 a year for each of four million men, if they will only seek it and
honestly earn it. Seven hundred millions in wages, and double or treble
that in product and added values, is a consideration not unworthy the
attention of social scientists. To favor an exodus to the land is, I
believe, the highest type of benevolence, and the surest and safest
solution of the labor problem.

Besides engaging Thompson, I tentatively bespoke the services of his
wife and son. Mrs. Thompson was to come for $15 a month and a
half-dollar raise for each six months, the son on the same terms as the
father.

The other man whom I engaged that day was William Johnson, a tall, blond
Swede about twenty-six years old. Johnson had learned gardening in the
old country, and had followed it two years in the new. He was then
employed in a market gardener's greenhouse; but he wanted to change from
under glass to out of doors, and to have charge of a lawn, shrubs,
flowers, and a kitchen garden. He spoke brokenly, but intelligently, had
an honest eye, and looked to me like a real "find." Polly, who was to be
his immediate boss, was pleased with him, and we took him with the
understanding that he was to make himself generally useful until the
time came for his special line of work. We now had two men engaged (with
a possible third) and one woman, and my _venire_ was exhausted.

Two days later I again advertised, and out of a number of applicants
secured one man. Sam Jones was a sturdy-looking fellow of middle age,
with a suspiciously red nose. He had been bred on a farm, had learned
the carpenter's trade, and was especially good at taking care of
chickens. His ambition was to own and run a chicken plant. I hired him
on the same terms as the others, but with misgivings on account of the
florid nose. This was on the 19th or 20th of July, and there were still
ten days before I could enter into possession. The men were told to
report for duty the last day of the month.



CHAPTER V

BORING FOR WATER


The water supply was the next problem. I determined to have an abundant
and convenient supply of running water in the house, the barns, and the
feeding grounds, and also on the lawn and gardens. I would have no
carrying or hauling of water, and no lack of it. There were four wells
on the place, two of them near the houses and two stock wells in the
lower grounds. Near the well at the large house was a windmill that
pumped water into a small tank, from which it was piped to the barn-yard
and the lower story of the house. The supply was inadequate and not at
all to my liking.

My plan involved not only finding, raising, and distributing water, but
also the care of waste water and sewage. Inquiring among those who had
deep wells in the village, I found that good water was usually reached
at from 180 to 210 feet. As my well-site was high, I expected to have to
bore deep. I contracted with a well man of good repute for a six-inch
well of 250 feet (or less), piped and finished to the surface, for $2 a
foot; any greater depth to be subject to further agreement.

It took nearly three months to finish the water system, but it has
proved wonderfully convenient and satisfactory. During seven years I
have not spent more than $50 for changes and repairs. We struck bed-rock
at 197 feet, drilled 27 feet into this rock, and found water which rose
to within 50 feet of the surface and which could not be materially
lowered by the constant use of a three-inch power-pump. The water was
milky white for three days, in spite of much pumping; and then, and ever
after, it ran clear and sweet, with a temperature of 54° F. Well and
water being satisfactory, I cheerfully paid the well man $448 for the
job.

Meantime I contracted for a tank twelve by twelve feet, to be raised
thirty feet above the well on eight timbers, each ten inches square,
well bolted and braced, for $430,--I to put in the foundation. This
consisted of eight concrete piers, each five feet deep in the clay,
three feet square, and capped at the level of the ground with a
limestone two feet square and eight inches thick. These piers were set
in octagon form around the well, with their centres seven feet from the
middle of the bore, making the spread of the framework fourteen feet at
the ground and ten at the platform. The foundation cost $32. A Rider
eight-inch, hot-air, wood-burning, pumping engine (with a two-inch pipe
leading to the tank, and a four-inch pipe from it), filled the tank
quickly; and it was surprising to see how little fuel it consumed. It
cost $215.

I have now to confess to a small extravagance. I contracted with a
carpenter to build an ornamental tower, fifty-five feet high, twenty
feet across at the base, and fifteen feet at the top, sheeted and
shingled, with a series of small windows in spiral and a narrow stairway
leading to a balcony that surrounded the tower on a level with the top
of the tank. This tower cost $425; but it was not all extravagance,
because a third of the expense would have been incurred in protecting
the engine and making the tank frost-proof.

To distribute the water, I had three lines of four-inch pipe leading
from the tank's out-flow pipe. One of these went 250 feet to the house,
with one-inch branches for the gardens and lawn; another led east 375
feet, past the proposed sites of the cottage, the farm-house, the dairy,
and other buildings in that direction; while the third, about 400 feet
long, led to the horse barn and the other projected buildings. From near
the end of this west pipe a 1-1/2-inch pipe was carried due north
through the centre of the five-acre lot set apart for the hennery, and
into the fields beyond. This pipe was about 700 feet long. Altogether I
used 1100 feet of four-inch, and about 2200 feet of smaller pipe, at a
total cost of $803. All water pipes were placed 4-1/2 feet in the ground
to be out of the reach of frost, and to this day they have received no
further attention.

The trenches for the pipes were opened by a party of five Italians whom
a railroad friend found for me. These men boarded themselves, slept in
the barn, and did the work for seventy-five cents a rod, the job costing
me $169.

Opening the sewer trenches cost a little more, for they were as deep as
those for the water, and a little wider. Eight hundred feet of main
sewer, a three-hundred-foot branch to the house, and short branches from
barns, pens, and farm-houses, made in all about fourteen hundred feet,
which cost $83 to open. The sewer ended in the stable yard back of the
horse barn, in a ten-foot catch-basin near the manure pit. A few feet
from this catch-basin was a second, and beyond this a third, all of the
same size, with drain-pipes connecting them about two feet below the
ground. These basins were closely covered at all times, and in winter
they were protected from frost by a thick layer of coarse manure. They
were placed near the site of the manure pit for convenience in cleaning,
which had to be done every three months for the first one, once in six
months for the second and rarely for the third; indeed, the water
flowing from the third was always clear. This waste water was run
through a drain-pipe diagonally across the northwest corner of the big
orchard to an open ditch in the north lane. Opening this drain of forty
rods cost $30. Later I carried this closed drain to the creek, at an
additional expense of $67. The connecting of the water pipes and the
laying of the sewer was done by a local plumber for $50; the drain-pipe
and sewer-pipe cost $112; and the three catch-basins, bricked up and
covered with two-inch plank, cost $63. The filling in of all these
trenches was done by my own men with teams and scrapers, and should not
be figured into this expense account. It must be borne in mind that
while this elaborate water system was being installed, no buildings were
completed and but few were even begun; the big house was not finished
for more than a year. The sites of all the buildings had been decided
on, and the farm-house and the cottage had been moved and remodelled, by
the middle of October, at which date the water plant was completed. An
abundant supply of good water is essential to the comfort of man and
beast, and the money invested in securing it will pay a good interest in
the long run. My water plant cost me a lot of money, $2758; but it
hasn't cost me $10 a year since it was finished.



CHAPTER VI

WE TAKE POSSESSION


My barn was full of horses, but none of them was fit for farm work; so I
engaged a veterinary surgeon to find three suitable teams. By the 25th
of the month he had succeeded, and I inspected the animals and found
them satisfactory, though not so smooth and smart-looking as I had
pictured them. When I compared them, somewhat unfavorably, with the
teams used for city trucks and delivery wagons, he retorted by saying:
"I did not know that you wanted to pay $1200 a pair for your horses.
These six horses will cost you $750, and they are worth it." They were a
sturdy lot, young, well matched, not so large as to be unwieldy, but
heavy enough for almost any work. The lightest was said to weigh 1375
pounds, and the heaviest not more than a hundred pounds more. Two of the
teams were bay with a sprinkling of white feet, while the other pair was
red roan, and, to my mind, the best looking.

Four of these horses are still doing service on the farm, after more
than seven years. One of the bays died in the summer of '98, and one of
the roans broke his stifle during the following winter and had to be
shot. The bereaved relicts of these two pairs have taken kindly to each
other, and now walk soberly side by side in double harness. I sometimes
think, however, that I see a difference. The personal relation is not
just as it was in the old union,--no bickerings or disagreements, but
also no jokes and no caresses. The soft nose doesn't seek its neighbor's
neck, there is no resting of chin on friendly withers while half-closed
eyes see visions of cool shades, running brooks, and knee-deep clover;
and the urgent whinney which called one to the other and told of
loneliness when separated is no longer heard. It is pathetic to think
that these good creatures have been robbed of the one thing which gave
color to their lives and lifted them above the dreary treadmill of duty
for duty's sake. The kindly friendship of each for his yoke-fellow is
not the old sympathetic companionship, which will come again only when
the cooling breezes, running brooks, and knee-deep pastures of the good
horse's heaven are reached.

A horse is wonderfully sensitive for an animal of his size and strength.
He is timid by nature and his courage comes only from his confidence in
man. His speed, strength, and endurance he will willingly give, and give
it to the utmost, if the hand that guides is strong and gentle, and the
voice that controls is firm, confident, and friendly. Lack of courage in
the master takes from the horse his only chance of being brave; lack of
steadiness makes him indirect and futile; lack of kindness frightens him
into actions which are the result of terror at first, and which become
vices only by mismanagement. By nature the horse is good. If he learns
bad manners by associating with bad men, we ought to lay the blame where
it belongs. A kind master will make a kind horse; and I have no respect
for a man who has had the privilege of training a horse from colt-hood
and has failed to turn out a good one. Lack of good sense, or cruelty,
is at the root of these failures. One can forgive lack of sense, for men
are as God made them; but there is no forgiveness for the cruel: cooling
shades and running brooks will not be prominent features in their
ultimate landscapes.

For harness and farm equipments, tools and machinery, I went to a
reliable firm which made most and handled the rest of the things that
make a well-equipped farm. It is best to do much of one's business
through one house, provided, of course, that the house is dependable.
You become a valued customer whom it is important to please, you receive
discounts, rebates, and concessions that are worth something, and a
community of interest grows up that is worth much.

My first order to this house was for three heavy wagons with four-inch
tires, three sets of heavy harness, two ploughs and a subsoiler, three
harrows (disk, spring tooth, and flat), a steel land-roller, two
wheelbarrows, an iron scraper, fly nets and other stable equipment,
shovels, spades, hay forks, posthole tools, a hand seeder, a chest of
tools, stock-pails, milk-pails and pans, axes, hatchets, saws of various
kinds, a maul and wedges, six kegs of nails, and three lanterns. The
total amount was $488; but as I received five per cent discount, I paid
only $464. The goods, except the wagons and harnesses, were to go by
freight to Exeter. Polly was to buy the necessary furnishings for the
men's house, the only stipulation I made being that the beds should be
good enough for me to sleep in. On the 25th of July she showed me a list
of the things which she had purchased. It seemed interminable; but she
assured me that she had bought nothing unnecessary, and that she had
been very careful in all her purchases. As I knew that Polly was in the
habit of getting the worth of her money, I paid the bills without more
ado. The list footed up to $495.

Most of the housekeeping things were to be delivered at the station in
Exeter; the rest were to go on the wagons. On the afternoon of the 30th
the wagons and harnesses were sent to the stable where the horses had
been kept, and the articles to go in these wagons were loaded for an
early start the following morning. The distance from the station in the
city to the station at Exeter is thirty miles, but the stable is three
miles from the city station, the farm two and a half miles from Exeter
station, and the wagon road not so direct as the railroad. The trip to
the farm, therefore, could not be much less than forty miles, and would
require the best part of two days. The three men whom I had engaged
reported for duty, as also did Thompson's son, whom we are to know
hereafter as Zeb.

Early on the last day of the month the men and teams were off, with
cooked provisions for three days. They were to break the journey
twenty-five miles out, and expected to reach the farm the next
afternoon. Polly and I wished to see them arrive, so we took the train
at 1 P.M. August 1st, and reached Four Oaks at 2.30, taking with us Mrs.
Thompson, who was to cook for the men.

Before starting I had telephoned a local carpenter to meet me, and to
bring a mason if possible. I found both men on the ground, and explained
to them that there would be abundant work in their lines on the place
for the next year or two, that I was perfectly willing to pay a
reasonable profit on each job, but that I did not propose to make them
rich out of any single contract.

The first thing to do, I told them, was to move the large farm-house to
the site already chosen, about two hundred yards distant, enlarge it,
and put a first-class cellar under the whole. The principal change
needed in the house was an additional story on the ell, which would give
a chamber eighteen by twenty-six, with closets five feet deep, to be
used as a sleeping room for the men. I intended to change the sitting
room, which ran across the main house, into a dining and reading room
twenty feet by twenty-five, and to improve the shape and convenience of
the kitchen by pantry and lavatory. There must also be a well-appointed
bathroom on the upper floor, and set tubs in the kitchen. My men would
dig the cellar, and the mason was to put in the foundation walls (twelve
inches thick and two feet above ground), the cross or division walls,
and the chimneys. He was also to put down a first-class cement floor
over the whole cellar and approach. The house was to be heated by a
hot-water system; and I afterward let this job to a city man, who put in
a satisfactory plant for $500.

We had hardly finished with the carpenter and the mason when we saw our
wagons turning into the grounds. We left the contractors to their
measurements, plans, and figures, while we hastened to turn the teams
back, as they must go to the cottage on the north forty. The horses
looked a little done up by the heat and the unaccustomed journey, but
Thompson said: "They're all right,--stood it first-rate."

The cottage and out-buildings furnished scanty accommodations for men
and beasts, but they were all that we could provide. I told the men to
make themselves and the horses as comfortable as they could, then to
milk the cows and feed the hogs, and call it a day.

While the others were unloading and getting things into shape, I called
Thompson off for a talk. "Thompson," I said, "you are to have the
oversight of the work here for the present, and I want you to have some
idea of my general plan. This experiment at farming is to last years. We
won't look for results until we are ready to force them, but we are to
get ready as soon as possible. In the meantime, we will have to do
things in an awkward fashion, and not always for immediate effect. We
must build the factory before we can turn out the finished product. The
cows, for instance, must be cared for until we can dispose of them to
advantage. Half of them, I fancy, are 'robber cows,' not worth their
keep (if it costs anything to feed them), and we will certainly not
winter them. Keep your eye on the herd, and be able to tell me if any of
them will pay. Milk them carefully, and use what milk, cream, and butter
you can, but don't waste useful time carting milk to market--feed it to
the hogs rather. If a farmer or a milkman will call for it, sell what
you have to spare for what he will give, and have done with it quickly.
You are to manage the hogs on the same principle. Fatten those which are
ready for it, with anything you find on the place. We will get rid of
the whole bunch as soon as possible. You see, I must first clear the
ground before I can build my factory. Let the hens alone for the
present; you can eat them during the winter.

"Now, about the crops. The hay in barns and stacks is all right; the
wheat is ready for threshing, but it can wait until the oats are also
ready; the corn is weedy, but it is too late to help it, and the
potatoes are probably covered with bugs. I will send out to-morrow some
Paris green and a couple of blow-guns. There is not much real farm work
to do just now, and you will have time for other things. The first and
most important thing is to dig a cellar to put your house over; your
comfort depends on that. Get the men and horses with plough and scraper
out as early as you can to-morrow morning, and hustle. You have nothing
to do but dig a big hole seven feet deep inside these lines. I count on
you to keep things moving, and I will be out the day after to-morrow."

The mason had finished his estimate, which was $560. After some
explanations, I concluded that it was a fair price, and agreed to it,
provided the work could be done promptly. The carpenter was not ready to
give me figures; he said, however, that he could get a man to move the
house for $120, and that he would send me by mail that night an itemized
estimate of costs, and also one from a plumber. This seemed like doing a
lot of things in one afternoon, so Polly and I started for town content.

"Those people can't be very luxurious out there," said Polly, "but they
can have good food and clean beds. They have all out-doors to breathe
in, and I do not see what more one can ask on a fine August evening, do
you, Mr. Headman?"

I could think of a few things, but I did not mention them, for her first
words recalled some scenes of my early life on a backwoods farm: the log
cabin, with hardly ten nails in it, the latch-string, the wide-mouthed
stone-and-stick chimney, the spring-house with its deep crocks, the
smoke-house made of a hollow gum-tree log, the ladder to the loft where
I slept, and where the snows would drift on the floor through the rifts
in the split clapboards that roofed me over. I wondered if to-day was so
much better than yesterday as conditions would warrant us in expecting.



CHAPTER VII

THE HORSE-AND-BUGGY MAN


August 3 found me at Four Oaks in the early afternoon. A great hollow
had been dug for the cellar, and Thompson said that it would take but
one more full day to finish it. Piles of material gave evidence that the
mason was alert, and the house-mover had already dropped his long
timbers, winch, and chains by the side of the farm-house.

While I was discussing matters with Thompson, a smart trap turned into
the lot, and a well-set-up young man sprang out of the stylish runabout
and said,--

"Dr. Williams, I hear you want more help on your farm."

"I can use another man or two to advantage, if they are good ones."

"Well, I don't want to brag, but I guess I am a good one, all right. I
ain't afraid of work, and there isn't much that I can't do on a farm.
What wages do you pay?"

I told him my plan of an increasing wage scale, and he did not object.
"That includes horse keep, I suppose?" said he.

"I do not know what you mean by 'horse keep.'"

"Why, most of the men on farms around here own a horse and buggy, to use
nights, Sundays, and holidays, and we expect the boss to keep the horse.
This is my rig. It is about the best in the township; cost me $280 for
the outfit."

"See here, young man, this is another specimen of farm economics, and it
is one of the worst in the lot. Let me do a small example in mental
arithmetic for you. The interest on $280 is $14; the yearly depreciation
of your property, without accidents, is at least $40; horse-shoeing and
repairs, $20; loss of wages (for no man will keep your horse for less
than $4 a month), $48. In addition to this, you will be tempted to spend
at least $5 a month more with a horse than without one; that is $60
more. You are throwing away $182 every year without adding $1 to your
value as an employee, one ounce of dignity to your employment, or one
foot of gain in your social position, no matter from what point you view
it.

"Taking it for granted that you receive $25 a month for every month of
the year (and this is admitting too much), you waste more than half on
that blessed rig, and you can make no provision for the future, for
sickness, or for old age. No, I will not keep your horse, nor will I
employ any man whose scheme of life doesn't run further than the
ownership of a horse and buggy."

"But a fellow must keep up with the procession; he must have some
recreation, and all the men around here have rigs."

"Not around Four Oaks. Recreation is all right, but find it in ways less
expensive. Read, study, cultivate the best of your kind, plan for the
future and save for it, and you will not lack for recreation. Sell your
horse and buggy for $200, if you cannot get more, put the money at
interest, save $200 out of your wages, and by the end of the year you
will be worth over $400 in hard cash and much more in self-respect. You
can easily add 1200 a year to your savings, without missing anything
worth while; and it will not be long before you can buy a farm, marry a
wife, and make an independent position. I will have no horse-and-buggy
men on my farm. It's up to you."

"By Jove! I believe you may be right. It looks like a square deal, and
I'll play it, if you'll give me time to sell the outfit."

"All right, come when you can. I'll find the work."

That day being Saturday, I told Thompson that I would come out early
Monday morning, bringing with me a rough map of the place as I had
planned it, and we would go over it with a chain and drive some
outlining stakes. I then returned to Exeter, found the carpenter and the
plumber, and accepted their estimates,--$630 and $325, respectively. The
farm-house moved, finished, furnished, and heated, but not painted or
papered, would cost $2630. Painting, papering, window-shades, and odds
and ends cost $275, making a total of $2905. It proved a good
investment, for it was a comfortable and convenient home for the men and
women who afterward occupied it. It has certainly been appreciated by
its occupants, and few have left it without regret. We have always tried
to make it an object lesson of cleanliness and cheerfulness, and I don't
think a man has lived in it for six months without being bettered. It
seemed a good deal of money to put on an old farm-house for farm-hands,
but it proved one of the best investments at Four Oaks, for it kept the
men contented and cheerful workers.



CHAPTER VIII

WE PLAT THE FARM


On Monday I was out by ten o'clock, armed with a surveyor's chain.
Thompson had provided a lot of stakes, and we ran the lines, more or
less straight, in general accord with my sketch plan. We walked,
measured, estimated, and drove stakes until noon. At one o'clock we were
at it again, and by four I was fit to drop from fatigue. Farm work was
new to me, and I was soft as soft. I had, however, got the general lay
of the land, and could, by the help of the plan, talk of its future
subdivisions by numerals,--an arrangement that afterward proved definite
and convenient. We adjourned to the shade of the big black oak on the
knoll, and discussed the work in hand.

"You cannot finish the cellar before to-morrow night," I said, "because
it grows slower as it grows deeper; but that will be doing well enough.
I want you to start two teams ploughing Wednesday morning, and keep them
going every day until the frost stops them. Let Sam take the plough, and
have young Thompson follow with the subsoiler. Have them stick to this
as a regular diet until I call them off. They are to commence in the
wheat stubble where lots six and seven will be. I am going to try
alfalfa in that ground, though I am not at all sure that it will do
well, and the soil must be fitted as well as possible. After it has had
deep ploughing it is to be crossed with the disk harrow; then have it
rolled, disk it again, and then use the flat harrow until it feels as
near like an ash heap as time will permit. We must get the seed in
before September."

"We will need another team if you keep two ploughing and one on the
harrow," said Thompson.

"You are right, and that means another $400, but you shall have it. We
must not stop the ploughs for anything. Numbers 10, 11, 14, 1, 2, 3, 4,
5, and much of the home lot, ought to be ploughed before snow flies.
That means about 160 acres,--80 odd days of steady work for the
ploughmen and horses. You will probably find it best to change teams
from time to time. A little variety will make it easier for them. As
soon as 6 and 7 are finished, turn the ploughs into the 40 acres which
make lots 1 to 5. All that must be seeded to pasture grass, for it will
be our feeding-ground, and we'll be late with it if we don't look sharp.

"We must have more help, by the way. That horse-and-buggy man, Judson,
is almost sure to come, and I will find another. Some of you will have
to bunk in the hay for the present, for I am going to send out a woman
to help your wife. Six men can do a lot of work, but there is a
tremendous lot of work to do. We must fit the ground and plant at least
three thousand apple trees before the end of November, and we ought to
fence this whole plantation. Speaking of fences reminds me that I must
order the cedar posts. Have you any idea how many posts it will take to
fence this farm as we have platted it? I suppose not. Well, I can tell
you. Twenty-two hundred and fifty at one rod apart, or 1850 at twenty
feet apart. These posts must be six feet above and three feet below
ground. They will cost eighteen cents each. That item will be $333, for
there are seven miles of fence, including the line fence between me and
my north neighbor. I am going to build that fence myself, and then I
shall know whose fault it is if his stock breaks through. Of course some
of the old posts are good, but I don't believe one in twenty is long
enough for my purpose."

"What do you buy cedar posts for, when you have enough better ones on
the place?" asked Thompson.

"I don't know what you mean."

"Well, down in the wood yonder there's enough dead white oak, standing
or on the ground, to make three thousand, nine-foot posts, and one
seasoned white oak will outlast two cedars, and it is twice as strong."

"Well, that's good! How much will it cost to get them out?"

"About five cents apiece. A couple of smart fellows can make good wages
at that price."

"Good. We will save thirteen cents each. They will cost $93 instead of
$333. I don't know everything yet, do I, Thompson?"

"You learn easy, I reckon."

"Keep your eyes and ears open, and if you find any one who can do this
job, let him have it, for we are going to be too busy with other things
at present. It's time for me to be off. I cannot be out again till
Thursday, for I must find a man, a woman, and a team of horses and all
that goes with them. I'll see you on the 8th at any rate."

I was dead tired when I reached home; but there wasn't a grain of
depression in my fatigue,--rather a sense of elation. I felt that for
the first time in thirty years real things were doing and I was having a
hand in them. The fatigue was the same old tire that used to come after
a hard day on my father's farm, and the sense was so suggestive of youth
that I could not help feeling younger. I have never gotten away from the
faith that the real seed of life lies hidden in the soil; that the man
who gives it a chance to germinate is a benefactor, and that things done
in connection with land are about the only real things. I have grown
younger, stronger, happier, with each year of personal contact with the
soil. I am thankful for seven years of it, and look forward to twice
seven more. I have lost the softness which nearly wilted me that 5th day
of August, and with the softness has gone twenty or thirty pounds of
useless flesh. I am hard, active, and strong for a man of sixty, and I
can do a fair day's work. To tell the truth, I prefer the moderate work
that falls to the lot of the Headman, rather than the more strenuous
life of the husbandman; but I find an infinite deal to thank the farm
for in health and physical comfort.



CHAPTER IX

HOUSE-CLEANING


After dinner I telephoned the veterinary surgeon that I wanted another
team. He replied that he thought he knew of one that would suit, and
that he would let me know the next day. I also telephoned two "want
ads." to a morning paper, one for an experienced farm-hand, the other
for a woman to do general housework in the country. Polly was to
interview the women who applied, and I was to look after the men. That
night I slept like a hired man.

Out of the dozen who applied the next day I accepted a Swede by the name
of Anderson. He was about thirty, tall, thin, and nervous. He did not
fit my idea of a stockman, but he looked like a worker, and as I could
furnish the work we soon came to terms.

A few words more about Anderson. He proved a worker indeed. He had an
insatiable appetite for work, and never knew when to quit. He was not
popular at the farm, for he was too eager in the morning to start and
too loath in the evening to stop. His unbridled passion for work was a
thing to be deplored, as it kept him thin and nervous. I tried to
moderate this propensity, but with no result. Anderson could not be
trusted with horses, or, indeed, with animals of any kind, for he made
them as nervous as himself; but in all other kinds of work he was the
best man ever at Four Oaks. He worked for me nearly three years, and
then suddenly gave out from a pain in his left chest and shortness of
breath. I called a physician for poor Anderson, and the diagnosis was
dilatation of the heart from over-exercise.

"A rare disease among farm-hands, Dr. Williams," said Dr. High, but my
conscience did not fully forgive me. I asked Anderson to stay at the
farm and see what could be done by rest and care. He declined this, as
well as my offer to send him to a hospital. He expressed the liveliest
gratitude for kindnesses received and others offered, but he said he
must be independent and free. He had nearly $1200 in a savings bank in
the city, and he proposed to use it, or such portion of it as was
necessary. I saw him two months later. He was better, but not able to
work. Hearing nothing from him for three years, a year ago I called at
the bank where I knew he had kept his savings. They had sent sums of
money to him, once to Rio Janeiro and once to Cape Town. For two years
he had not been heard from. Whether he is living or dead I do not know.
I only know that a valuable man and a unique farm-hand has disappeared.
I never think of Anderson without wishing I had been more severe with
him,--more persistent in my efforts to wean him from his real passion.
Peace to his ashes, if he be ashes.

That same day I telephoned the Agricultural Implement Company to send me
another wagon, with harness and equipment for the team. The veterinary
surgeon reported that he had a span of mares for me to look at, but I
was too much engaged that day to inspect the team, and promised to do so
on the next.

When I reached home, Polly said she had found nothing in the way of a
general housework girl for the country. She had seen nine women who
wished to do all other kinds of work, but none to fit her wants.

"What do they come for if they don't want the place we described? Do
they expect we are to change our plans of life to suit their personal
notions?" she asked.

"It's hard to say what they came for or what they want. Their ways are
past finding out. We will put in another 'ad.' and perhaps have better
luck."

Wednesday, the 7th, I went to see the new team. I found a pair of
flea-bitten gray Flemish mares, weighing about twenty-eight hundred
pounds. They were four years old, short of leg and long of body, and
looked fit. The surgeon passed them sound, and said he considered them
well worth the price asked,--$300. I was pleased with the team, and
remembered a remark I had heard as a boy from an itinerant Methodist
minister at a time when the itinerant minister was supposed to know all
there was to know about horse-flesh. This was his remark: "There was
never a flea-bitten mare that was a poor horse." In spite of its
ambiguity, the saying made an impression from which I never recovered. I
always expected great things from flea-bitten grays.

The team, wagon, harness, etc., added $395 to the debit account against
the farm. Polly secured her girl,--a green German who had not been long
enough in America to despise the country.

"She doesn't know a thing about our ways," said Polly, "but Mrs.
Thompson can train her as she likes. If you can spend time enough with
green girls, they are apt to grow to your liking."

On Thursday I saw Anderson and the new team safely started for the farm.
Then Polly, the new girl, and I took train for the most interesting spot
on earth.

Soon after we arrived I lost sight of Polly, who seemed to have business
of her own. I found the mason and his men at work on the cellar wall,
which was almost to the top of the ground. The house was on wheels, and
had made most of its journey. The house mover was in a rage because he
had to put the house on a hole instead of on solid ground, as he had
expected. "I have sent for every stick of timber and every cobbling
block I own, to get this house over that hole; there's no money in this
job for me; you ought to have dug the cellar after the house was
placed," said he.

I made friends with him by agreeing to pay $30 more for the job. The
house was safely placed, and by Saturday night the foundation walls were
finished.

Sam and Zeb had made a good beginning on the ploughing, the teams were
doing well for green ones, and the men seemed to understand what good
ploughing meant. Thompson and Johnson had spent parts of two days in the
potato patches in deadly conflict with the bugs.

"We've done for most of them this time," said Thompson, "but we'll have
to go over the ground again by Monday."

The next piece of work was to clear the north forty (lots 1 to 5) of all
fences, stumps, stones, and rubbish, and all buildings except the
cottage. The barn was to be torn down, and the horses were to be
temporarily stabled in the old barn on the home lot. Useful timbers and
lumber were to be snugly piled, the manure around the barns was to be
spread under the old apple trees, which were in lot No. 1, and
everything not useful was to be burned. "Make a clean sweep, and leave
it as bare as your hand," I told Thompson. "It must be ready for the
plough as soon as possible."

Judson, the man with the buggy, reported at noon. He came with bag and
baggage, but not with buggy, and said that he came to stay.

"Thompson," said I, "you are to put Judson in charge of the roan team to
follow the boys when they are far enough ahead of him. In the meantime
he and the team will be with you and Johnson in this house-cleaning. By
to-morrow night Anderson and the new team will get in, and they, too,
will help on this job. I want you to take personal charge of the gray
team,--neither Johnson nor Anderson is the right sort to handle horses.
The new team will do the trucking about and the regular farm work, while
the other three are kept steadily at the ploughs and harrows."

The cleaning of the north forty proved a long job. Four men and two
teams worked hard for ten days, and then it was not finished. By that
time the ploughmen had finished 6 and 7, and were ready to begin on No.
1. Judson, with the roans and harrows, was sent to the twenty acres of
ploughed ground, and Zeb and his team were put at the cleaning for three
days, while Sam ploughed the six acres of old orchard with a
_shallow-set_ plough. The feeding roots of these trees would have been
seriously injured if we had followed the deep ploughing practised in the
open. By August 24 about two hundred loads of manure from the
barn-yards, the accumulation of years, had been spread under the apple
trees, and I felt sure it was well bestowed. Manuring, turning the sod,
pruning, and spraying, ought to give a good crop of fruit next year.

We had several days of rain during this time, which interfered somewhat
with the work, but the rains were gratefully received. I spent much of
my time at Four Oaks, often going every day, and never let more than two
days pass without spending some hours on the farm. To many of my friends
this seemed a waste of time. They said, "Williams is carrying this fad
too far,--spending too much time on it."

Polly did not agree with them, neither did I. Time is precious only as
we make it so. To do the wholesome, satisfying thing, without direct or
indirect injury to others, is the privilege of every man. To the charge
of neglecting my profession I pleaded not guilty, for my profession had
dismissed me without so much as saying "By your leave." I was obliged to
change my mode of life, and I chose to be a producer rather than a
consumer of things produced by others. I was conserving my health,
pleasing my wife, and at the same time gratifying a desire which had
long possessed me. I have neither apology to make nor regret to record;
for as individuals and as a family we have lived healthier, happier,
more wholesome, and more natural lives on the farm than we ever did in
the city, and that is saying much.



CHAPTER X

FENCED IN


On the 26th, when I reached the station at Exeter, I found Thompson and
the gray team just starting for the farm with the second load of wire
fencing. I had ordered fifty-six rolls of Page's woven wire fence, forty
rods in each roll. This fence cost me seventy cents a rod, $224 a mile,
or $1568 for the seven miles. Add to this $37 for freight, and the total
amounted to $1605 for the wire to fence my land. I got this facer as I
climbed to the seat beside Thompson. I did not blink, however, for I had
resolved in the beginning to take no account of details until the 31st
day of December, and to spend as much on the farm in that time as I
could without being wasteful. I did not care much what others thought. I
felt that at my age time was precious, and that things must be rushed as
rapidly as possible.

I was glad of this slow ride with Thompson, for it gave me an
opportunity to study him. I wondered then and afterward why a man of his
general intelligence, industry, and special knowledge of the details of
farming, should fail of success when working for himself. He knew ten
times as much about the business as I did, and yet he had not succeeded
in an independent position. Some quality, like broadness of mind or
directness of purpose, was lacking, which made him incapable of carrying
out a plan, no matter how well conceived. He was like Hooker at
Chancellorsville, whose plan of campaign was perfect, whose orders were
carried out with exactness, whose army fell into line as he wished, and
whose enemy did the obvious thing, yet who failed terribly because the
responsibility of the ultimate was greater than he could bear. As second
in command, or as corps leader, he was superb; in independent command he
was a disastrous failure.

Thompson, then, was a Joe Hooker on a reduced plane,--good only to
execute another man's plans. Thompson might have rebutted this by saying
that I too might prove a disastrous failure; that as yet I had shown
only ability to spend,--perhaps not always wisely. Such rebuttal would
have had weight seven years ago, but it would not be accepted to-day,
for I have made my campaign and won my battle. The record of the past
seven years shows that I can plan and also execute.

Thompson told me that he had found two woodsmen (by scouting around on
Sunday) who were glad to take the job of cutting the white-oak posts at
five cents each, and that they were even then at work; and that Nos. 6
and 7 would be fitted for alfalfa by the end of the week. He added that
the seed ought to be sown as soon thereafter as possible and that a
liberal dressing of commercial fertilizer should be sown before the seed
was harrowed in.

"I have ordered five tons of fertilizer," I said, "and it ought to be
here this week. Sow four bags to the acre."

"Four bags,--eight hundred pounds; that's pretty expensive. Costs, I
suppose, $35 to $40 a ton."

"No; $24."

"How's that?"

"Friend at court; factory price; $120 for five tons; $5 freight, making
in all $125. We must use at least eight hundred pounds this fall and
five hundred in the spring. Alfalfa is an experiment, and we must give
it a show."

"Never saw anything done with alfalfa in this region, but they never
took no pains with it," said Thompson.

"I hope it will grow for us, for it is great forage if properly managed.
The seed will be out this week, and you had best sow it on Monday, the
2d."

"How are you going to seed the north forty?"

"Timothy, red top, and blue grass; heavy seeding, to get rid of the
weeds. These lots will all be used as stock lots. Small ones, you think,
but we will depend almost entirely upon soiling. I hope to keep a fair
sod on these lots, and they will be large enough to give the animals
exercise and keep them healthy. I hope the carpenter is pushing things
on the house. I want to get you into better quarters as soon as
possible, and I want the cottage moved out of the way before we seed the
lot."

"They're pushing things all right, I guess; that man Nelson is a
hustler."

When I reached the farm I found Johnson and Anderson tearing down the
old fence that was our eastern boundary. None of the posts were long
enough for my purpose, so all were consigned to the woodpile.

My neighbor on the north owned just as much land as I did. He inherited
it and a moderate bank account from his father, who in turn had it from
his. The farm was well kept and productive. The house and barns were
substantial and in good repair. The owner did general farming, raised
wheat, corn, and oats to sell, milked twenty cows and sent the milk to
the creamery, sold one or two cows and a dozen calves each year, and
fattened twenty or thirty pigs. He was pretty certain to add a few
hundred dollars to his bank account at the end of each season. He kept
one man all the time and two in summer. He was a bachelor of
twenty-eight, well liked and good to look upon: five feet ten inches in
height, broad of shoulder, deep of chest, and a very Hercules in
strength. His face was handsome, square-jawed and strong. He was
good-natured, but easily roused, and when angry was as fierce as fire.
He had the reputation of being the hardest fighter in the country. His
name was William Jackson, so he was called Bill. I had met Jackson
often, and we had taken kindly to each other. I admired his frank manner
and sturdy physique, and he looked upon me as a good-natured tenderfoot,
who might be companionable, and who would certainly stir up things in
the neighborhood. I went in search of him that afternoon to discuss the
line fence, a full mile of which divided our lands.

"I want to put a fence along our line which nothing can get over or
under," I said. "I am willing to bear the expense of the new fence if
you will take away the old one and plough eight furrows,--four on your
land and four on mine,--to be seeded to grass before the wires are
stretched. We ought to get rid of the weeds and brush."

"That is a liberal proposition, Dr. Williams, and of course I accept,"
said Jackson; "but I ought to do more. I'll tell you what I'll do. You
are planning to put a ring fence around your land,--three miles in all.
I'll plough the whole business and fit it for the seed. I'll take one of
my men, four horses, and a grub plough, and do it whenever you are
ready."

This settled the fence matter between Jackson and me. The men who cut
the posts took the job of setting them, stretching the wire, and hanging
the gates, for $400. This included the staples and also the stretching
of three strands of barbed wire above the woven wire; two at six-inch
intervals on the outside, and one inside, level with the top of the
post. Thus my ring fence was six feet high and hard to climb. I have a
serious dislike for trespass, from either man or beast, and my boundary
fence was made to discourage trespassers. I like to have those who enter
my property do so by the ways provided, for "whoso climbeth up any other
way, the same is a thief and a robber."

The ring fence was finished by the middle of October. The interior
fences were built by my own men during soft weather in winter and
spring; and, as I had already paid for the wire and posts, nothing more
should be charged to the fence account. In round numbers these seven
miles of excellent fence cost me $2100. A lot of money! But the fence is
there to-day as serviceable as when it was set, and it will stand for
twice seven years more. One hundred dollars a year is not a great price
to pay for the security and seclusion which a good fence furnishes.
There was no need of putting up so much interior fence. I would save a
mile or two if I had it to do again; however, I do not dislike my
straight lanes and tightly fenced fields.



CHAPTER XI

THE BUILDING LINE


Before leaving Four Oaks that day I had a long conversation with Nelson,
the carpenter. I had taken his measure, by inquiry and observation, and
was willing to put work into his hands as fast as he could attend to it.
The first thing was to put him in possession of my plan of a building
line.

Two hundred feet south of the north line of the home lot a street or
lane was to run due west from the gate on the main road. This was to be
the teaming or business entrance to the farm. Commencing three hundred
feet from the east end of this drive, the structures were to be as
follows: On the south side, first a cold-storage house, then the
farm-house, the cottage, the well, and finally the carriage barn for the
big house. On the north side of the line, opposite the ice-house, the
dairy-house; then a square with a small power-house for its centre, a
woodhouse, a horse barn for the farm horses, a granary and a forage barn
for its four corners. Beyond this square to the west was the fruit-house
and the tool-house--the latter large enough to house all the farm
machinery we should ever need. I have a horror of the economy that
leaves good tools to sky and clouds without protection. This sketch
would not be worked out for a long time, as few of the buildings were
needed at once. It was made for the sake of having a general design to
be carried out when required; and the water and sewer system had been
built with reference to it.

I told Nelson that a barn to shelter the horses was the first thing to
build, after the house for the men, and that I saw no reason why two or
even three buildings should not be in process of construction at the
same time. He said there would be no difficulty in managing that if he
could get the men and I could get the money. I promised to do my part,
and we went into details.

I wanted a horse barn for ten horses, with shed room for eight wagons in
front and a small stable yard in the rear; also a sunken manure vat, ten
feet by twenty, with cement walls and floor, the vat to be four feet
deep, two feet in the ground and two feet above it. A vat like this has
been built near each stable where stock is kept, and I find them
perfectly satisfactory. They save the liquid manure, and thus add fifty
per cent to the value of the whole. Open sheds protect from sun and
rain, and they are emptied as often as is necessary, regardless of
season, for I believe that the fields can care for manure better than a
compost heap.

I also told Nelson to make plans and estimates for a large forage barn,
75 by 150 feet, 25 feet from floor to rafter plate, with a driving floor
through the length of it and mows on either side. A granary, with a
capacity of twenty thousand bushels, a large woodhouse, and a small
house in the centre of this group where the fifteen horse-power engine
could be installed, completed my commissions for that day.

Plans for these structures were submitted in due time, and the work was
pushed forward as rapidly as possible. The horse barn made a comfortable
home for ten horses, if we should need so many, with food and water
close at hand and every convenience for the care of the animals and
their harness. The forage barn was not expensive,--it was simply to
shelter a large quantity of forage to be drawn upon when needed. The
woodhouse was also inexpensive, though large. Wood was to be the
principal fuel at Four Oaks, since it would cost nothing, and there must
be ample shelter for a large amount. The granary would have to be built
well and substantially, but it was not large. The power-house also was a
small affair. The whole cost of these five buildings was $8550. The
itemized amount is, horse barn, $2000, forage barn, $3400, granary,
$2200, woodhouse, $400, power-house, $550.



CHAPTER XII

CARPENTERS QUIT WORK


On Friday, August 30, I was obliged to go to a western city on business
that would keep me from four to ten days. I turned my face away from the
farm with regret. I could hardly realize that I had spent but one month
in my new life, the old interests had slipped so far behind. I was
reluctant to lose sight, even for a week, of the intensely interesting
things that were doing at Four Oaks. Polly said she would go to Four
Oaks every day, and keep so watchful an eye on the farm that it could
not possibly get away.

"You're getting a little bit maudlin about that farm, Mr. Headman, and
it will do you good to get away for a few days. There are _some other_
things in life, though I admit they are few, and we are not to forget
them. I am up to my ears in plans for the house and the home lot; but I
can't quite see what you find so interesting in tearing down old barns
and fences and turning over old sods."

"Every heart knoweth its own sorrow, Polly, and I have my troubles."

Friday evening, September 6, I returned from the west. My first
greeting was,--

"How's the farm, Polly?"

"It's there, or was yesterday; I think you'll find things running
smoothly."

"Have they sowed the alfalfa and cut the oats?"

"Yes."

"Finished the farm-house?"

"No, not quite, but the painters are there, and Nelson has commenced
work on two other buildings."

"What time can I breakfast? I must catch the 8.10 train, and spend a
long day where things are doing."

Things were humming at Four Oaks when I arrived. Ten carpenters besides
Nelson and his son were pounding, sawing, and making confusion in all
sorts of ways peculiar to their kind. The ploughmen were busy. Thompson
and the other two men were shocking oats. I spent the day roaming around
the place, watching the work and building castles. I went to the alfalfa
field to see if the seed had sprouted. Disappointed in this, I wandered
down to the brook and planned some abridgment of its meanderings. It
could be straightened and kept within bounds without great expense if
the work were done in a dry season. Polly had asked for a winding brook
with a fringe of willows and dogwood, but I would not make this
concession to her esthetic taste. This farm land must be useful to the
sacrifice of everything else. A winding brook would be all right on the
home lot, if it could be found, but not on the farm. A straight ditch
for drainage was all that I would permit, and I begrudged even that. No
waste land in the cultivated fields, was my motto. I had threshed this
out with Polly and she had yielded, after stipulating that I must keep
my hands off the home forty.

Over in the woods I found two men at work splitting fence posts. They
seemed expert, and I asked them how many they could make in a day.

"From 90 to 125, according to the timber. But we must work hard to make
good wages."

"That applies to other things besides post-splitting, doesn't it?"

Closer inspection of the wood lot gratified me exceedingly. Little had
been done for it except by Nature, but she had worked with so prodigal a
hand that it showed all kinds of possibilities, both for beauty and for
utility. Before leaving the place, I had a little talk with Nelson.

"Everything is going on nicely," he said. "I have ten carpenters, and
they are a busy lot. If I can only hold them on to the job, things will
go well."

"What's the matter? Can't you hold them?"

"I hope so, but there is a hoisters' strike on in the city, and the
carpenters threaten to go out in sympathy. I hope it won't reach us,
but I'm afraid it will."

"What will you do if the men go out?"

"Do the best I can. I can get two non-union men that I know of. They
would like to be on this job now, but these men won't permit it. My son
is a full hand, so there will be four of us; but it will be slow work."

"See here, Nelson, I can't have this work slack up. We haven't time.
Cold weather will be on before we know it. I'm going to take this bull
by the horns. I'll advertise for carpenters in the Sunday papers. Some
of those who apply will be non-union men, and I'll hold them over for a
few days until we see how the cat jumps. If it comes to the worst, we
can get some men to take the place of Thompson and Sam, who are
carpenters, and set them at the tools. I will not let this work stop,
strike or no strike."

"If you put non-union men on you will have to feed and sleep them on the
place. The union will make it hot for them."

"I will take all kinds of care of every man who gives me honest work,
you may be sure."

When I returned to town I sent this "ad." to two papers: "Wanted: Ten
good carpenters to go to the country." The Sunday papers gave a lurid
account of the sentiment of the Carpenters' Union and its sympathetic
attitude toward the striking hoisters. The forecast was that there would
not be a nail driven if the strike were not settled by Tuesday night.
It seemed that I had not moved a day too soon. On Monday thirty-seven
carpenters applied at my office. Most of them had union tickets and were
not considered. Thirteen, however, were not of the union, and they were
investigated. I hired seven on these conditions: wages to begin the next
day, Tuesday, and to continue through the week, work or no work. If the
strike was ordered, I would take the men to the country and give them
steady work until my jobs were finished. They agreed to these
conditions, and were requested to report at my office on Wednesday
morning to receive two days' pay, and perhaps to be set to work.

I did not go to the farm until Tuesday afternoon. There was no change in
the strike, and no reason to expect one. The noon papers said that the
Carpenters' Union would declare a sympathetic strike to be on from
Wednesday noon.

On reaching Four Oaks I called Nelson aside and told him how the land
lay and what I had done.

"I want you to call the men together," said I, "and let me talk to them.
I must know just how we stand and how they feel."

Nelson called the men, and I read the reports from two papers on the
impending strike order.

"Now, men," said I, "we must look this matter in the face in a
businesslike fashion. You have done good work here; your boss is
satisfied, and so am I. It would suit us down to the ground if you
would continue on until all these jobs are finished. We can give you a
lot of work for the best part of the year. You are sure of work and sure
of pay if you stay with us. That is all I have to say until you have
decided for yourselves what you will do if the strike is ordered."

I left the men for a short time, while they talked things over. It did
not take them long to decide.

"We must stand by the union," said the spokesman, "but we'll be damned
sorry to quit this job. You see, sir, we can't do any other way. We have
to be in the union to get work, and we have to do as the union says or
we will be kicked out. It is hard, sir, not to do a hit of a hammer for
weeks or months with a family on one's hands and winter coming; but what
can a man do? We don't see our way clear in this matter, but we must do
as the union says."

"I see how you are fixed," said I, "and I am mighty sorry for you. I am
not going to rail against unions, for they may have done some good; but
they work a serious wrong to the man with a family, for he cannot follow
them without bringing hardships upon his dependent ones. It is not fair
to yoke him up with a single man who has no natural claims to satisfy,
no mouth to feed except his own; but I will talk business.

"You will be ordered out to-morrow or next day, and you say you will
obey the order. You have an undoubted right to do so. A man is not a
slave, to be made to work against his will; but, on the other hand, is
he not a slave if he is forced to quit against his will? Freedom of
action in personal matters is a right which wise men have fought for and
for which wise men will always fight. Do you find it in the union? What
shall I do when you quit work? How long are you going to stay out? What
will become of my interests while you are following the lead of your
bell-wethers? Shall my work stop because you have been called out for a
holiday? Shall the weeds grow over these walls and my lumber rot while
you sit idly by? Not by a long sight! You have a perfect right to quit
work, and I have a perfect right to continue.

"The rights which we claim for ourselves we must grant to others. One
man certainly has as defensible a right to work as another man has to be
idle. In the legitimate exercise of personal freedom there is no effort
at coercion, and in this case there shall be none. If you choose to
quit, you will do so without let or hindrance from me; but if you quit,
others will take your places without let or hindrance from you. You will
be paid in full to-night. When you leave, you must take your tools with
you, that there may be no excuse for coming back. When you leave the
place, the incident will be closed so far as you and I are concerned,
and it will not be opened unless I find some of you trying to interfere
with the men I shall engage to take your places. I think you make a
serious mistake in following blind leaders who are doing you material
injury, for sentimental reasons; but you must decide this for
yourselves. If, after sober thought, any of you feel disposed to return,
you can get a job if there is a vacancy; but no man who works for me
during this strike will be displaced by a striker. You may put that in
your pipes and smoke it. Nelson will pay you off to-night."

The strike was ordered for Wednesday. On the morning of that day the
seven carpenters whom I had engaged arrived at my office ready for work.
I took them to the station and started for Four Oaks. At a station five
miles from Exeter we quitted the train, hired two carriages, and were
driven to the farm without passing through the village.

We arrived without incident, the men had their dinners, and at one
o'clock the hammers and saws were busy again. We had lost but one half
day. The two non-union men whom Nelson had spoken of were also at work,
and three days later the spokesman of the strikers threw up his card and
joined our force. We had no serious trouble. It was thought wise to keep
the new men on the place until the excitement had passed, and we had to
warn some of the old ones off two or three times, but nothing
disagreeable happened, and from that day to this Four Oaks has remained
non-unionized.



CHAPTER XIII

PLANNING FOR THE TREES


The morning of September 17th a small frost fell,--just enough to curl
the leaves of the corn and show that it was time for it to be laid by.
Thompson, Johnson, Anderson, and the two men from the woods, who were
diverted from their post-splitting for the time being, went gayly to the
corn fields and attacked the standing grain in the old-fashioned way.
This was not economical; but I had no corn reaper, and there was none to
hire, for the frost had struck us all at the same time. The five men
were kept busy until the two patches--about forty-three acres--were in
shock. This brought us to the 24th. In the meantime the men and women
moved from the cottage to the more commodious farm-house. Polly had
found excuses for spending $100 more on the furnishings of this
house,--two beds and a lot of other things. Sunday gave the people a
chance to arrange their affairs; and they certainly appreciated their
improved surroundings.

The cottage was moved to its place on the line, and the last of the
seeding on the north forty was done. Ten tons of fertilizer were sown on
this forty-acre tract (at a cost of $250), and it was then left to
itself, not to be trampled over by man or beast, except for the
stretching of fences or for work around some necessary buildings, until
the middle of the following May.

We did not sow any wheat that year,--there was too much else to be done
of more importance. There is not much money in wheat-farming unless it
be done on a large scale, and I had no wish to raise more than I could
feed to advantage. Wheat was to be a change food for my fowls; but just
then I had no fowls to feed, and there were more than two hundred
bushels in stacks ready for the threshers, which I could hold for future
hens.

The ploughmen were now directed to commence deep ploughing on No.
14,--the forty acres set apart for the commercial orchard. This tract of
land lay well for the purpose. Its surface was nearly smooth, with a
descent to the west and southwest that gave natural drainage. I have
been informed that an orchard would do better if the slope were to the
northeast. That may be true, but mine has done well enough thus far,
and, what is more to the point, I had no land with a northeast slope.
The surface soil was thin and somewhat impoverished, but the subsoil was
a friable clay in which almost anything would grow if it was properly
worked and fed. It was my desire to make this square block of forty
acres into a first-class apple orchard for profit. Seven years from
planting is almost too soon to decide how well I have succeeded, but the
results attained and the promises for the future lead me to believe that
there will be no failure in my plan.

The three essentials for beginning such an orchard are: prepare the land
properly, get good stock (healthy and true to name), and plant it well.
I could do no more this year than to plough deep, smooth the surface,
and plant as well as I knew how. Increased fertility must come from
future cultivation and top dressing. The thing most prominent in my plan
was to get good trees well placed in the ground before cold weather set
in. At my time of life I could not afford to wait for another autumn, or
even until spring. I had, and still have, the opinion that a
fall-planted tree is nearly six months in advance of one planted the
following spring. Of course there can be no above-ground growth during
that time, but important things are being done below the surface. The
roots find time to heal their wounds and to send out small searchers
after food, which will be ready for energetic work as soon as the sun
begins to warm the soil. The earth settles comfortably about these roots
and is moulded to fit them by the autumn rains. If the stem is well
braced by a mound of earth, and if a thick mulch is placed around it,
much will be done below ground before deep frosts interrupt the work;
and if, in the early spring, the mulch and mound are drawn back, the
sun's influence will set the roots at work earlier by far than a spring
tree could be planted.

Other reasons for fall planting are that the weather is more settled,
the ground is more manageable, help is more easily secured, and the
nurserymen have more time for filling your order. Any time from October
15 until December 10 will answer in our climate, but early November is
the best. I had decided to plant the trees in this orchard twenty-five
feet apart each way. In the forty acres there would be fifty-two rows,
with fifty-two trees in each row,--or twenty-seven hundred in all. I
also decided to have but four varieties of apples in this orchard, and
it was important that they should possess a number of virtues. They must
come into early bearing, for I was too old to wait patiently for
slow-growing trees; they must be of kinds most dependable for yearly
crops, for I had no respect for off years; and they must be good enough
in color, shape, and quality to tempt the most fastidious market. I
studied catalogues and talked with pomologists until my mind was nearly
unsettled, and finally decided upon Jonathan, Wealthy, Rome Beauty, and
Northwestern Greening,--all winter apples, and all red but the last. I
was helped in my decision, so far as the Jonathans and Rome Beauties
were concerned, by the discovery that more than half of the old orchard
was composed of these varieties.

There is little question as to the wisdom of planting trees of kinds
known to have done well in your neighborhood. They are just as likely to
do well by you as by your neighbor. If the fruit be to your liking, you
can safely plant, for it is no longer an experiment; some one else has
broken that ground for you.

In casting about for a reliable nurseryman to whom to trust the very
important business of supplying me with young trees, I could not long
keep my attention diverted from Rochester, New York. Perhaps the reason
was that as a child I had frequently ridden over the plank road from
Henrietta to Rochester, and my memory recalled distinctly but three
objects on that road,--the house of Frederick Douglass, Mount Hope
Cemetery, and a nursery of young trees. Everything else was obscure. I
fancy that in fifty years the Douglass house has disappeared, but Mount
Hope Cemetery and the tree nursery seem to mock at time. The soil and
climate near Rochester are especially favorable to the growing of young
trees, and my order went to one of the many reliable firms engaged in
this business. The order was for thirty-four hundred
trees,--twenty-seven hundred for the forty-acre orchard and seven
hundred for the ten acres farthest to the south on the home lot. Polly
had consented to this invasion of her domain, for reasons. She said:--

"It is a long way off, rather flat and uninteresting, and I do not see
exactly how to treat it. Apple trees are pretty at most times, and
picturesque when old. You can put them there, if you will seed the
ground and treat it as part of the lawn. I hate your old straight rows,
but I suppose you must have them."

"Yes, I guess I shall have to have straight rows, but I will agree to
the lawn plan after the third year. You must give me a chance to
cultivate the land for three years."

Your tree-man must be absolutely reliable. You have to trust him much
and long. Not only do you depend upon him to send you good and healthy
stock, but you must trust, for five years at least, that this stock will
prove true to name. The most discouraging thing which can befall a
horticulturist is to find his new fruit false to purchase labels. After
wait, worry, and work he finds that he has not what he expected, and
that he must begin over again. It is cold comfort for the tree-man to
make good his guarantee to replace all stock found untrue, for five
years of irreplaceable time has passed. When you have spent time, hope,
and expectation as well as money, looking for results which do not come,
your disappointment is out of all proportion to your financial loss, be
that never so great. In the best-managed nurseries there will be
mistakes, but the better the management the fewer the mistakes. Pay good
prices for young trees, and demand the best. There is no economy in
cheap stock, and the sooner the farmer or fruit-grower comprehends this
fact, the better it will be for him. I ordered trees of three years'
growth from the bud,--this would mean four-year-old roots. Perhaps it
would have been as well to buy smaller ones (many wise people have told
me so), but I was in such a hurry! I wanted to pick apples from these
trees at the first possible moment. I argued that a sturdy
three-year-old would have an advantage over its neighbor that was only
two. However small this advantage, I wanted it in my business--my
business being to make a profitable farm in quick time. The ten acres of
the home lot were to be planted with three hundred Yellow Transparent,
three hundred Duchess of Oldenburg, and one hundred mixed varieties for
home use. I selected the Transparent and the Duchess on account of their
disposition to bear early, and because they are good sellers in a near
market, and because a fruit-wise friend was making money from an
eight-year-old orchard of three thousand of these trees, and advised me
not to neglect them.

My order called for thirty-four hundred three-year-old apple trees of
the highest grade, to be delivered in good condition on the platform at
Exeter for the lump sum of $550. The agreement had been made in August,
and the trees were to be delivered as near the 20th of October as
practicable. Apple trees comprised my entire planting for the autumn of
1895. I wanted to do much other work in that line, but it had to be left
for a more convenient season. Hundreds of fruit trees, shade trees, and
shrubs have since been planted at Four Oaks, but this first setting of
thirty-four hundred apple trees was the most important as well as the
most urgent.

The orchard was to be a prominent feature in the factory I was building,
and as it would be slower in coming to perfection than any other part,
it was wise to start it betimes. I have kicked myself black and blue for
neglecting to plant an orchard ten years earlier. If I had done this,
and had spent two hours a month in the management of it, it would now be
a thing of beauty and an income-producing joy forever,--or, at least, as
long as my great-grandchildren will need it.

There is no danger of overdoing orcharding. The demand for fruit
increases faster than the supply, and it is only poor quality or bad
handling that causes a slack market. If the general farmer will become
an expert orchardist, he will find that year by year his ten acres of
fruit will give him a larger profit than any forty acres of grain land;
but to get this result he must be faithful to his trees. Much of the
time they are caring for themselves, and for the owner, too; but there
are times when they require sharp attention, and if they do not get it
promptly and in the right way, they and the owner will suffer. Fruit
growing as a sole occupation requires favorable soil, climate, and
market, and also a considerable degree of aptitude on the part of the
manager, to make it highly profitable. A fruit-grower in our climate
must have other interests if he would make the most of his time. While
waiting for his fruit he can raise food for hens and hogs; and if he
feeds hens and hogs, he should keep as many cows as he can. He will then
use in his own factory all the raw material he can raise. This will
again be returned to the land as a by-product, which will not only
maintain the fertility of the farm, but even increase it. If his cows
are of the best, they will yield butter enough to pay for their food and
to give a profit; the skim milk, fed to the hogs and hens, will give
eggs and pork out of all proportion to its cost; and everything that
grows upon his land can thus be turned off as a finished product for a
liberal price, and yet the land will not be depleted. The orchard is
better for the hens and hogs and cows, and they are better for the
orchard. These industries fit into each other like the folding of hands;
they seem mutually dependent, and yet they are often divorced, or, at
best, only loosely related. This view may seem to be the result of _post
hoc_ reasoning, but I think it is not. I believe I imbibed these notions
with my mother's milk, for I can remember no time when they were not
mine. The psalmist said, "Comfort me with apples"; and the psalmist was
reputed a wise man. With only sufficient wisdom to plant an orchard, I
live in high expectation of finding the same comfort in my old age.



CHAPTER XIV

PLANTING OF THE TREES


September proved as dry as August was wet,--only half an inch of water
fell; and the seedings would have been slow to start had they depended
for their moisture upon the clouds. By October 1, however, green had
taken the place of brown on nearly all the sixty acres we had tilled.
The threshers came and threshed the wheat and oats. Of wheat there were
311 bushels, of oats, 1272. We stored this grain in the cottage until
the granary should be ready, and stacked the straw until the forage barn
could receive it. My plan from the first has been to shelter all forage,
even the meanest, and bright oat straw is not low in the scale.

On the 10th the horse stable was far enough advanced to permit the
horses to be moved, and the old barn was deserted. A neighbor who had
bought this barn at once pulled it down and carted it away. In this
transaction I held out several days for $50, but as my neighbor was
obdurate I finally accepted his offer. The first entry on the credit
side of my farm ledger is, By one old barn, $45. The receipts for
October, November, and December, were:--

By one old barn      $45.00

By apples on trees (153 trees at $1.85 each)      283.00

By 480 bushels of potatoes at 30 cents per bushel      144.00

By five old sows, not fat      35.00

One cow      15.00

Three cows      70.00

Two cows      35.00

Three cows, two heifers, nine calves      187.00

Forty-three shoats and gilts, average 162 lb., at 2 cents
per lb      139.00

Total      $953.00

The young hogs had eaten most of my small potatoes and some of my corn
before we parted with them in late November. These sales were made at
the farm, and at low prices, for I was afraid to send such stuff to
market lest some one should find out whence it came. The Four Oaks brand
was to stand for perfection in the future, and I was not willing to
handicap it in the least. Top prices for gilt-edged produce is what
intensive farming means; and if there is money in land, it will be found
close to this line.

The potatoes had been dug and sold, or stored in the cellar of the
farm-house; the apples from the trees reserved for home use had been
gathered, and we were ready for the fall planting. While waiting for the
stock to arrive, we had time to get in all the hay and most of the straw
into the forage barn, which was now under roof.

On Saturday, the 26th, word came that sixteen immense boxes had arrived
at Exeter for us. Three teams were sent at once, and each team brought
home two boxes. Three trips were made, and the entire prospective
orchard was safely landed. Monday saw our whole force at work planting
trees. Small stakes had been driven to give the exact centre for each
hole, so that the trees, viewed from any direction, would be in straight
lines. Sam, Zeb, and Judson were to dig the holes, putting the surface
dirt to the right, and the poor earth to the left; I was to prune the
roots and keep tab on the labels; Johnson and Anderson were to set the
trees,--Anderson using a shovel and Johnson his hands, feet, and eyes;
while Thompson was to puddle and distribute the trees. The puddling was
easily done. We sawed an oil barrel in halves, placed these halves on a
stone boat, filled them two-thirds full of water, and added a lot of
fine clay. Into this thin mud the roots of each tree were dipped before
planting.

My duty was to shorten the roots that were too long, and to cut away the
bruised and broken ones. The top pruning was to be done after the trees
were all set and banked. The stock was fine in every respect,--fully up
to promise. Watching Johnson set his first tree convinced me that he
knew more about planting than I did. He lined and levelled it; he pawed
surface dirt into the hole, and churned the roots up and down; more
dirt, and he tamped it; still more dirt, and he tramped it; yet more
dirt, and he stamped it until the tree stood like a post; then loose
dirt, and he left it. I was sure Johnson knew his business too well to
need advice from a tenderfoot, so I went back to my root pruning.

We were ten days planting these thirty-four hundred trees, but we did it
well, and the days were short. We finished on the 7th of November. The
trees were now to be top pruned. I told Johnson to cut every tree in the
big orchard back to a three-foot stub, unless there was very good reason
for leaving a few inches (never more than six), and I turned my back on
him and walked away as I said these cruel words. It seemed a shame to
cut these bushy, long-legged, handsome fellows back to dwarfish
insignificance and brutish ugliness, but it had to be done. I wanted
stocky, thrifty, low-headed business trees, and there was no other way
to get them. The trees in the lower, or ten-acre, orchard, were not
treated so severely. Their long legs were left, and their bushy tops
were only moderately curtailed. We would try both high and low heading.

On the night of November 11 the shredders came and set up their great
machine on the floor of the forage barn, ready to commence work the next
morning. There were ten men in the shredding gang. I furnished six more,
and Bill Jackson came with two others to change work with me; that is,
my men were to help him when the machine reached his farm. We worked
nineteen men and four teams three and a half days on the forty-three
acres of corn, and as a result, had a tremendous mow of shredded corn
fodder and an immense pile of half-husked ears. For the use of the
machine and the wages of the ten men I paid $105. Poor economy! Before
next corn-shredding time I owned a machine,--smaller indeed, but it did
the work as well (though not as quickly), and it cost me only $215, and
was good for ten years.

The weather had favored me thus far. The wet August had put the ground
into good condition for seeding, and the dry September and October had
permitted our buildings to be pushed forward, but now everything was to
change. A light rain began on the morning of the 15th (I did not permit
it to interrupt the shredding, which was finished by noon), and by night
it had developed into a steady downpour that continued, with
interruptions, for six weeks. November and December of 1895 gave us rain
and snow fall equal to twelve and a half inches of water. Plans at Four
Oaks had to be modified. There was no more use for the ploughs. Nos. 10
and 11, and much of the home lot were left until spring. I had planned
to mulch heavily all the newly set trees, and for this purpose had
bought six carloads of manure (at a cost of $72); but this manure could
not be hauled across the sodden fields, and must needs be piled in a
great heap for use in the spring. The carpenters worked at disadvantage,
and the farm men could do little more than keep themselves and the
animals comfortable. They did, however, finish one good job between
showers. They tile-drained the routes for the two roads on the home
lot,--the straight one east and west through the building line, about
1000 feet, and the winding carriage drive to the site of the main house,
about 1850 feet. The tile pipe cost $123. They also set a lot of fence
posts in the soft ground.

Building progressed slowly during the bad weather, but before the end of
December the horse barn, the woodshed, the granary, the forage barn, and
the power-house were completed, and most of the machinery was in place.
The machinery consisted of a fifteen horse-power engine, with shafting
running to the forage barn, the granary, and the woodshed. A power-saw
was set in the end of the shed, a grinding mill in the granary, and a
fodder-cutter in the forage barn. The cost of these items was:--

Engine and shafting      $187.00

Saw      24.00

Mill      32.00

Feed-cutter and carrier      76.00

Total      $319.00

I gave the services of my two carpenters, Thompson and Sam, during most
of this time to Nelson, for I had but little work for them, and he was
not making much out of his job.

The last few days of 1895 turned clear and cold, and the barometer set
"fair." The change chirked us up, and we ended the year in good spirits.



CHAPTER XV

POLLY'S JUDGMENT HALL


Before closing the books, we should take account of stock, to see what
we had purchased with our money. Imprimis: 320 acres of good land,
satisfactory to the eye, well fenced and well groomed; 3400 apple trees,
so well planted as to warrant a profitable future; a water and sewer
system as good as a city could supply; farm buildings well planned and
sufficient for the day; an abundance of food for all stock, and to
spare; an intelligent and willing working force; machinery for more than
present necessity; eight excellent horses and their belongings; six
cows, moderately good; two pigs and two score fowls, to be eaten before
spring, and _a lot of fun_. What price I shall have to put against this
last item to make the account balance, I can tell better when I foot the
other side of the ledger.

But first I must add a few items to the debit account. Moving the
cottage cost $30. I paid $134 for grass seed and seed rye. The wage
account for six men and two women for five months was $735. Their food
account was $277. Of course the farm furnished milk, cream, butter,
vegetables, some fruit, fresh pork, poultry, and eggs. There were also
some small freight bills, which had not been accounted for, amounting to
$31, and $8 had been spent in transportation for the men. Then the farm
must be charged with interest on all money advanced, when I had
completed my additions. The rate was to be five per cent, and the time
three months.

On the last day of the year I went to the farm to pay up to date all
accounts. I wished to end the year with a clean score. I did not know
what the five months had cost me (I would know that evening), but I did
know that I had had "the time of my life" in the spending, and I would
not whine. I felt a little nervous when I thought of going over the
figures with Polly,--she was such a judicious spender of money. But I
knew her criticism would not be severe, for she was hand-in-glove with
me in the project. I tried to find fault with myself for wastefulness,
but some excellent excuse would always crop up. "Your water tower is
unnecessary." "Yes, but it adds to the landscape, and it has its use."
"You have put up too much fencing." "True, but I wanted to feel secure,
and the old fences were such nests of weeds and rubbish." "You have
spent too much money on the farm-house." "I think not, for the laborer
is worthy of his hire, and also of all reasonable creature comforts."
And thus it went on. I would not acknowledge myself in the wrong; nor,
arguing how I might, could I find aught but good in my labors. I
devoutly hoped to be able to put the matter in the same light when I
stood at the bar in Polly's judgment hall.

The day was clear, cool, and stimulating. A fair fall of snow lay on the
ground, clean and wholesome, as country snow always is. I wished that
the house was finished (it was not begun), and that the family was with
me in it. "Another Christmas time will find us here, God willing, and
many a one thereafter."

I spent three hours at the farm, doing a little business and a lot of
mooning, and then returned to town. The children were off directly after
dinner, intent on holiday festivities, so that Polly and I had the house
to ourselves. I felt that we needed it. I invited my partner into the
den, lighted a pipe for consolation, unlocked the drawer in which the
farm ledger is kept, gave a small deprecatory cough, and said:--

"My dear, I am afraid I have spent an awful lot of money in the last
five months. You see there is such a quantity of things to do at once,
and they run into no end of money. You know, I--"

"Of course I know it, and I know that you have got the worth of it,
too."

Wouldn't that console you! How was I to know that Polly would hail from
that quarter? I would have kissed her hand, if she would have permitted
such liberty; I kissed her lips, and was ready to defend any sum total
which the ledger dare show.

"Do you know how much it is?" said Polly.

"Not within a million!" I was reckless then, and hoped the total would
be great, for had not Polly said that she knew I had got the worth of my
money? And who was to gainsay her? "It is more than I planned for, I
know, but I do not see how I could use less without losing precious
time. We started into this thing with the theory that the more we put
into it, without waste, the more we would ultimately get out of it. Our
theory is just as sound to-day as it was five months ago."

"We will win out all right in the end, Mr. Headman, for we will not put
the price-mark on health, freedom, happiness, or fun, until we have seen
the debit side of the ledger."

"How much do you want to spend for the house?" said I.

"Do you mean the house alone?"

"No; the house and carriage barn. I'll pay for the trees, shrubs, and
kickshaws in the gardens and lawns."

"You started out with a plan for a $10,000 house, didn't you? Well, I
don't think that's enough. You ought to give me $15,000 for the house
and barn and let me see what I can do with it; and you ought to give it
to me right away, so that you cannot spend it for pigs and foolish farm
things."

"I'll do it within ten days, Polly; and I won't meddle in your affairs
if you will agree to keep within the limit."

"It's a bargain," said Polly, "and the house will be much more livable
than this one. What do you think we could sell this one for?"

"About $33,000 or $34,000, I think."

"And will you sell it?"

"Of course, if you don't object."

"Sell, to be sure; it would be foolish to keep it, for we'll be country
folk in a year."

"I have a theory," said I, "that when we live on the farm we ought to
credit the farm with what it costs us for food and shelter
here,--providing, of course, that the farm feeds and shelters us as
well."

"It will do it a great deal better. We will have a better house, better
food, more company, more leisure, more life, and more everything that
counts, than we ever had before."

"We'll fix the value of those things when we've had experience," said I.
"Now let's get at the figures. I tell you plainly that I don't know what
they foot up,--less than $40,000, I hope."

"Don't let's worry about them, no matter what they say."

This from prudent, provident Polly!

"Certainly not," said I, as bold as a lion.

"There are thirty-five items on the debit side of the ledger and a few
little ones on the credit side. Hold your breath while I add them.

"I have spent $44,331 and have received $953, which leaves a debit
balance of $43,378."

"That isn't so awfully bad, when you think of all the fun you've had."

"Fun comes high at this time of the year, doesn't it, Polly?"

"Much depends on what you call high. You have waited and worked a long
time for this. I won't say a word if you spend all you have in the
world. It's yours."

"Mine and yours and the children's; but I won't spend it all. Seventy or
seventy-five thousand dollars, besides your house and barn money, shall
be my limit. There is still an item of interest to be added to this
account.

"Interest! Why, John Williams, do you mean to tell me that you borrowed
this money? I thought it was your own to do as you liked with. Have you
got to pay interest on it?"

"It was mine, but I loaned it to the farm. Before I made this loan I was
getting five per cent on the money. I must now look to the farm for my
five per cent. If it cannot pay this interest promptly, I shall add the
deferred payment to the principal, and it shall bear interest. This must
be done each year until the net income from the farm is greater than the
interest account. Whatever is over will then be used to reduce the
principal."

"That's a long speech, but I don't think it's very clear. I don't see
why a man should pay interest on his own money. The farm is yours, isn't
it? You bought it with your own money, didn't you? What difference does
it make whether you charge interest or not?"

"Not the least difference in the world to us, Polly, but a great deal to
the experiment."

"Oh, yes, I forgot the experiment. And how much interest do you add?"

"Five hundred and forty-two dollars. Also, $75 to the lawyer and $5 for
recording the deed, making the whole debt of the farm to me $44,000
even."

"Does it come out just even $44,000? I believe you've manipulated the
figures."

"Not on your life! Add them yourself. They were put down at all sorts of
times during the past five months. My dear, I wish you a good-night and
a happy New Year. You have given me a very happy ending for the old
one."



CHAPTER XVI

WINTER WORK


The new year opened full of all sorts of interests and new projects.
There were so many things to plan for and to commence at the farm that
we often got a good deal mixed up. I can hardly expect to make a
connected narrative of the various plans and events, so will follow each
one far enough to launch it and then leave it for future development.

Little snow fell in January and February '96. The weather was average
winter weather, and a good deal of outdoor work was done. On the 2d I
went to the farm to plan with Thompson an outline for the two months. I
had decided to make Thompson the foreman, for I had watched him
carefully for five months and was satisfied that I might go farther and
fare a great deal worse. Indeed, I thought myself very fortunate to have
found such a dependable man. He was temperate and good-natured, and he
had a bluff, hearty way with the other men that made it easy for them to
accept his directions. He was thorough, too, in his work. He knew how a
job should be done, and he was not satisfied until it was finished
correctly. He was not a worker for work's sake, as was Anderson, but he
was willing to put his shoulder to the wheel for results.

"Wait till I get my shoulder under it," was a favorite expression with
him, and I am frank to say that when this conjunction took place there
was apt to be something doing. Thompson is still at Four Oaks, and it
will be a bad day for the farm when he leaves.

"Thompson," said I, "you are to be working foreman out here, and I want
you to put your mind on the business and keep it there. I cannot raise
your wages, for I have a system; but you shall have $50 as a Christmas
present if things go well. Will you stay on these terms?"

"I will stay, all right, Dr. Williams, and I will give the best I've
got. I like the looks of this place, and I want to see how you are going
to work it out."

That being settled, I told Thompson of some things that must be done
during January and February.

"You must get out a great lot of wood, have it sawed, and store it in
the shed, more than enough for a year's use. The wood should be taken
from that which is already down. Don't cut any standing trees, even
though they are dead. Use all limbs that are large enough, but pile the
brushwood where it can be burned. We must do wise forestry in these
woods, and we will have an unlimited supply of fuel. I mean that the
wood lot shall grow better rather than worse as the years go by. We
cannot do much for it now, but more in time. You must see to it that the
men are not careless about young trees,--no breaking or knocking down
will be in order. Another thing to look after is the ice supply. I will
get Nelson to build an ice-house directly, and you must look around for
the ice. Have you any idea as to where it can be had?"

"A big company is getting ice on Round Lake three miles west, and I
suppose they will sell you what you want," said Thompson, "and our teams
can haul it all right."

"What do you suppose they will charge per ton on their platform?"

"From twenty-five to forty cents, I reckon."

"All right, make as good a bargain as you can, and attend to it at the
best time. When the teams are not hauling ice or wood, let them draw
gravel from French's pit. It will be hard to get it out in the winter,
but I guess it can be done, and we will need a lot of it on these roads.
Have it dumped at convenient places, and we will put it on the drives in
the spring.

"Another thing,--we must have a bridge across the brook on each lane.
You will find timbers and planks enough in the piles from the old barns
to make good bridges, and the men can do the work. Then there is all
that wire for the inside fences to stretch and staple; but mind, no
barbed wire is to be put on top of inside fences.

"These five jobs will keep you busy for the next two months, for
there'll be only four men besides yourself to do them. I am going to set
Sam at the chicken plant. I'll see you before long, and we'll go over
the cow and hog plans; but you have your work cut out for the next two
months. By the way, how much of an ice-house shall I need?"

"How many cows are you going to milk?"

"About forty when we run at full speed; perhaps half that number this
year."

"Well, then you'd better build a house for four hundred tons. That won't
be too big when you are on full time, and it's a mighty bad thing to run
short of ice."

I saw Nelson the same day and contracted with him for an ice-house
capable of holding four hundred tons, for $900. The walls of the house
to be of three thicknesses of lumber with two air spaces (one four
inches, the other two) without filling. As a result of the conference
with Thompson, I had, before the first of March, a wood-house full of
wood, which seemed a supply for two years at full steam; an ice-house
nearly full of ice; two serviceable bridges across the brook; the wire
fencing almost completed; and eighty loads of gravel,--about one-third
of what I needed. The whole cash outlay was,--

300 tons of ice at 30 cents per ton        $90.00
80 tons of gravel at 25 cents per load      20.00
Fence staples                               19.00
                                           ------
              Total                       $129.00

The conference with Sam Jones, the hen man, was deferred until my next
visit, and my plans for the cow barn, dairy-house, and hog-house were
left to Nelson for consideration, he promising to give me estimates
within a few days.



CHAPTER XVII

WHAT SHALL WE ASK OF THE HEN?


Sam Jones, the chicken-loving man, was as pleased as a boy with a new
top when I began to talk of a hen plant. He had a lot of practical
knowledge of the business, for he had _failed_ in it twice; and I could
furnish any amount of theory, and enough money to prevent disaster.

In his previous attempts he had invested nearly all his small capital in
a plant that might yield two hundred eggs a day; he had to buy all foods
in small quantities, and therefore at high prices; and he had to give
his whole time to a business which was too small and too much on the
hand-to-mouth order to give him a living profit. My theory of the
business was entirely different. I could plan for results, and, what was
more to the point, I could wait for them. Mistakes, accidents, even
disasters, were disarmed by a bank account; my bread and butter did not
depend upon the temper of a whimsical hen. The food would cost the
minimum. All grains and green food, and most of the animal food, in the
form of skim milk, would be furnished by the farm. I meant also to
develop a plant large enough to warrant the full attention of an
able-bodied man. I felt no hesitation about this venture, for I did not
intend to ask more of my hens than a well-disposed hen ought to be
willing to grant.

I do not ask a hen to lay a double-yolk every day in the year. That is
too much to expect of a creature in whom the mother instinct is
prominent, and who wishes also to have a new dress for herself at least
once in that time. I do not wish a hen to work overtime for me. If she
will furnish me with eight dozen of her finished product per annum, I
will do the rest. Whatever she does more than that shall redound to her
credit. Two-hundred-eggs-a-year hens are scarcer than hens with teeth,
and I was not looking for the unusual. A hen can easily lay one hundred
eggs in three hundred and sixty-five days, and yet find time for
domestic and social affairs. She can feel that she is not a subject for
charity, while at the same time she retains her self-respect as a hen of
leisure.

I have the highest regard for this domestic fowl, and I would not for a
great deal impose a too arduous task upon her. I feel like encouraging
her in her peculiar industry, for which she is so eminently fitted, but
not like forcing her into strenuous efforts that would rob her of
vivacity and dull her social and domestic impulses. No; if the hen will
politely present me with one hundred eggs a year, I will thank her and
ask no more. Some one will say: "How can you make hens pay if they don't
lay more than eight dozen eggs a year? Eggs sometimes sell as low as
twelve cents per dozen."

Four Oaks hens never have laid one-cent eggs, and never will. They would
quit work if such a price were suggested. Ninety per cent of the eggs
from Four Oaks have sold for thirty cents or more per dozen, and the
demand is greater than the supply. The Four Oaks certificate that the
egg is not thirty-six hours old when it reaches the egg cup, makes two
and a half cents look small to those who can afford to pay for the best.
To lack confidence in the egg is a serious matter at the breakfast
table, and a person who can insure perfect trust will not lack
patronage. If, therefore, a hen will lay eight dozen eggs, she is
welcome to say to an acquaintance: "I have just handed the Headman a
two-dollar bill," for she knows that I have not paid fifty cents for her
food.

Of course the wages of the hen man and his food and the interest on the
plant must be counted, but I do not propose to count them twice. Four
Oaks is a factory where several things are made, each in a measure
dependent on, and useful to, the others, and we cannot itemize costs of
single products because of this mutual dependence. I feel certain that I
could not drop one of the factory's industries without loss to each of
the others. For this reason I kept a very simple set of books. I charged
the farm with all money spent for it, and credited it with all moneys
received. Even now I have no very definite knowledge of what it costs
to keep a hen, a hog, or a cow; nor do I care. Such data are greatly
influenced by location, method of getting supplies, and market
fluctuations. I furnish most of my food, and my own market. My crops
have never entirely failed, and I take little heed whether they be large
or small. They are not for sale as crops, but as finished products. I am
not willing to sell them at any price, for I want them consumed on the
place for the sake of the land.

Corn has sold for eighty cents a bushel since I began this experiment,
yet at that time I fed as much as ever and was not tempted to sell a
bushel, though I could easily have spared five thousand. When it went
down to twenty-eight cents, I did not care, for corn and oats to me are
simply in transition state,--not commodities to be bought or sold. They
cost me, one year with another, about the same. An abundant harvest
fills my granaries to overflowing; a bad harvest doesn't deplete them,
for I do not sell my surplus for fear that I, too, may have to buy out
of a high market. I have bought corn and oats a few times, but only when
the price was decidedly below my idea of the feeding value of these
grains. I can find more than twenty-eight cents in a bushel of corn, and
more than eighteen cents in thirty-two pounds of oats. But I am away off
my subject. I began to talk about the hen plant, and have wandered to my
favorite fad,--the factory farm.



CHAPTER XVIII

WHITE WYANDOTTES


"Sam," said I, "I am going to start this poultry plant from just as near
the beginning of things as possible. I want you to dispose of every hen
on the place within the next twenty days, and to burn everything that
has been used in connection with them. We've cleared this land of
disease germs, if there were germs in it, by turning it bottom-side up;
now let's start free from the pestiferous vermin that make a hen's life
unhappy. No stock, either old or young, shall be brought here. When we
want to change our breeding, we'll buy eggs from the best fanciers and
hatch them in our own incubators. It will then be our own fault if we
don't keep our chickens comfortable and free from their enemies. This is
sound theory, and we'll try how it works out in practice. Certainly it
will be easier to keep clean if we start clean. Not one board or piece
of lumber that has been used for any other purpose shall find place in
my hen-houses. Eternal vigilance makes a full egg basket; and a full egg
basket means a lot of money at the year's end. I will never find fault
with you for being too careful Attend to the details in such way as
suits you best, provided the result is thorough and everlasting
cleanliness. Nothing less will win out, and nothing less will meet the
requirements of our factory rules.

"The first thing to do is to get the incubating cellar made. It ought to
be four feet in the ground and four feet out of it. Make it ten feet by
fifteen, inside measure, and you can easily run five two-hundred-egg
incubators. Build it near the south fence in No. 4,--that's the lot for
the hens. The walls are to be of brick, and we'll have a brick floor put
in, for it's too cold to concrete it now. Gables are to point east and
west, and each is to have a window; put the door in the middle of the
south wall, and shingle the roof. Digging through three feet of frost
will be hard, but it must be done, and done quickly. I want you to start
your incubator lamps before the 3d of February."

"I can dig the hole without much trouble,--big fire on the ground for
two or three hours will help,--and I can put on the roof and do all the
carpenter work, but I can't lay the brick."

"I'll look out for that part of the job, but I want you to see that
things are pushed, for I shall have a thousand eggs here by February 1st
and another thousand by the 25th, and these eggs mean money."

"What do you have to pay for them?"

"Ten cents apiece,--$200 for two thousand eggs."

"Well, I should say! Are they hand-painted? I wouldn't have had to quit
business if I could have sold my eggs at a quarter of that price."

"That's all right, Sam, but you didn't sell White Wyandotte eggs for
hatching. I've contracted with two of the best-known fanciers of
Wyandottes in the country to send me five hundred eggs apiece February
1st and 25th. I don't think the price is high for the stock."

"Have you decided to keep 'dottes? I hoped you would try Leghorns;
they're great layers."

"Yes, they're great summer layers, but the American birds will beat them
hollow in winter; and I must have as steady a supply of eggs as
possible. My customers don't stop eating eggs in winter, and they'll be
willing to pay more for them at that season. The Leghorn is too small to
make a good broiler, and as half the chicks come cockerels, we must look
out for that."

"Why do you throw down the Plymouth Rocks? They're bigger than 'dottes,
and just as good layers."

"I threw down the barred Plymouth Rocks on account of color; I like
white hens best. It was hard to decide between White Rocks and
Wyandottes, for there's mighty little difference between them as
all-around hens. I really think I chose the 'dottes because the first
reply to my letters was from a man who was breeding them."

"They are 'beauts,' all of them, and I'll give them a good chance to
spread themselves," said Sam.

"What percentage of hatch may we expect from purchased eggs?"

"About sixty chicks out of every hundred eggs, I reckon."

"That would be doing pretty well, wouldn't it? If we had good luck with
the sixty chicks, how many would grow up?"

"Fifty ought to."

"Of these fifty, can we count on twenty-five pullets?"

"Yes."

"That's what I was getting at. You think we might, by good luck, raise
twenty-five pullets from each hundred eggs. I'll cut that in the middle
and be satisfied with twelve, or even with ten. At that rate the two
thousand eggs that cost $200 will give me two hundred pullets to begin
the egg-making next November. That's not enough; we ought to raise just
twice that number. I'll spend as much more on eggs to be hatched by the
middle of April or the first of May, and then we can reasonably expect
to go into next winter with four hundred pullets. They will cost the
farm a dollar apiece, but the farm will have four hundred cockerels to
sell at fifty cents each, which will materially reduce the cost."

"I think you put that pretty low, sir; we ought to raise more than four
hundred pullets out of four thousand eggs."

"Everything more will be clear gain. I shall be satisfied with four
hundred. We must also get at the brooder house. This is the order in
which I want the buildings to stand in the chicken lot: first, the
incubating house, 10 feet from the south line; 40 feet north of this,
the brooder house; and 120 feet north of that, the first hen-house, with
runs 100 feet deep. We'll build other houses for the birds as we need
them. They are all to face to the south. If the brooder house is 50 feet
long and 15 feet wide, it can easily care for the eight hundred chicks,
and for half as many more, if we are lucky enough to get them.

"We'll have a five-foot walk against the north wall of this house, and a
ten-foot space north and south through the centre for heating plant and
food. This will leave a space at each side ten by twenty feet, to be cut
into five pens four feet by ten, each of which will mother a hundred
chicks or more. There must be plenty of glass in the south wall, and
we'll use overhead water pipes in each hover.

"There's no hurry about the poultry-houses. You can build one in the
early summer, and perhaps another in the fall. I expect you to do the
carpenter work on these houses. I'll see the mason at once and have him
ready by the time you've dug the hole. The incubators will be here in
good time, and we want everything ready for work as soon as the eggs
arrive."

Sam was pleased with his job; it was exactly to his liking. He took real
delight in caring for fowls, and he was especially anxious to prove to
me that it was not so much lack of knowledge as lack of capital that had
caused the downfall of his previous efforts. Sam could not then
understand why one man could sell his eggs at thirty-six cents a dozen
when his neighbor could get only sixteen; he found out later.

The mason's work for the incubator house and the foundation wall for the
brooder house cost $290. The lumber bill for these two, including doors
and windows, was $464. The five incubators, $65, and the hot-water
heater for the brooder house, $68, made the total $897. Add to this $400
paid during two months for eggs, and we have $1297 as the cost of
starting the poultry plant.



CHAPTER XIX

FRIED PORK


I had given Nelson this sketch as a guide in working out the plan for
the cow barn: Length over all, 130 feet; width, 40 feet. This
parallelogram was to be divided lengthwise into three equal spaces, one
in the centre for a driveway, and one on each side for the cow platforms
and feeding mangers. Twenty feet at the west end of the barn was
partitioned off, one corner for a small granary, the other for a kitchen
in which the food was to be prepared. These rooms were each thirteen
feet by twenty. At the other end of the building, ten feet on each side
was given over to hospital purposes,--a lying-in ward ten feet by
thirteen being on each side of the driveway.

The foundation for this building was to be of stone, and the entire
floor of cement; and the walls were to be sealed within and sheeted
without, and then covered with ship lap boards, making three thicknesses
of boards. It was to be one story high. An east-and-west passage,
cutting the main drive at right angles, divided the barn at its middle.
At the south end of this passage was a door leading to the dairy-house,
which was on the building line 150 feet away. The four spaces made by
these passages were each subdivided into ten stalls five feet wide. Two
doors on the north and two on the south gave exit for the cows. I had
placed my limit at forty milch cows, and I thought this stable would
furnish suitable quarters for that number. If I had to rebuild, I would
make some modifications. Experience is a good teacher; but the stable
has served its purpose, and I cannot quarrel with the results. The chief
defect is in the distribution of water. The supply is abundant, but it
is let on only in the kitchen, whence it is supplied to the cows by
means of a hose or a barrel swung between wheels.

[Illustration]

In the kitchen are appliances for mixing and cooking food, and for
warming the drinking water in winter. Nelson and I discussed the sketch
plan given below, and he found some fault with it. I would not be
dissuaded from my views, however, and Nelson had to yield. I was as
opinionated in those days as a theoretical amateur is apt to be; and it
was hard to give up my theories at the suggestion of a person who had
only experience to guide him. The best plan, as I have long since
learned, is to mix the two and use the solid substance that results from
their combination.

We located the site of the building, and talked plans until the low sun
of January 8th disappeared in the west. Then we adjourned to the sitting
room of the farm-house to finish the matter so far as was possible. An
hour and a half passed, and we were in fair accord, when Mrs. Thompson
came into the room to say that supper was ready, and to ask us to join
the men at table before starting homeward. I was glad of the
opportunity, for I was curious to know if Mrs. Thompson set a good
table. We went into the dining room just as the farm family was ready to
sit down. There were ten of us,--two women, six men, Nelson, and myself;
and as we sat down, I noticed with pleasure that each had evidently
taken some thought of the obligations which a table ought to impose. The
table was clothed in clean white, and there was a napkin at each plate.
Nelson and I had the only perfectly fresh ones, and this I took as
evidence that napkins were usual. The food was all on the table, and was
very satisfactory to look at. Thompson sat at one end, and before him,
on a great platter, lay two dozen or more pieces of fried salt pork,
crisp in their shells of browned flour, and fit for a king. On one side
of the platter was a heaping dish of steaming potatoes. A knife had
been drawn once around each, just to give it a chance to expand and show
mealy white between the gaping circles that covered its bulk. At the
other side was a boat of milk gravy, which had followed the pork into
the frying-pan and had come forth fit company for the boiled potatoes. I
went back forty years at one jump, and said,--

"I now renew my youth. Is there anything better under the sun than fried
salt pork and milk gravy? If there is, don't tell me of it, for I have
worshipped at this shrine for forty years, and my faith must not be
shaken."

Such a supper twice or thrice a week would warm the cockles of my old
heart; but Polly says, "No modern cook can make these things just right;
and if not just right, they are horrid." That is true; it takes an
artist or a mother to fry salt pork and make milk gravy.

There were other things on the table,--quantities of bread and butter,
apple sauce (in a dish that would hold half a peck), stacks of fresh
ginger-bread, tea, and great pitchers of milk; but naught could distract
my attention from the _pièce de résistance_. Thrice I sent my plate
back, and then could do no more. That meal convinced me that I could
trust Mrs. Thompson. A woman who could fry salt pork as my mother did,
was a woman to be treasured.

I left the farm-house at 7, and reached home by 8.45. Polly was not
quite pleased with my late hours; she said it did not worry her not to
know where I was, but it was annoying.

"Can't you have a telephone put into the farm-house? It would be
convenient in a lot of ways."

"Why, of course; I don't see why it can't be done at once. I'll make
application this very night."

It was six weeks before we really got a wire to the farm, but after that
we wondered how we ever got along without it.



CHAPTER XX

A RATION FOR PRODUCT


Nelson was to commence work on the cow-house at once; at least, the
mason was. I left the job as a whole to Nelson, and he made some sort of
contract with the mason. The agreement was that I should pay $4260 for
the barn complete. The machinery we put into it was very simple,--a
water heater and two cauldrons for cooking food. All three cost about
$60.

Thompson had selected six cows, from those bought with the place, as
worth wintering. They were now giving from six to eight quarts each, and
were due to come in in April and May. An eight-quart-a-day cow was not
much to my liking, but Thompson said that with good care they would do
better in the spring. "Four of those cows ought to make fine milkers,"
he said; "they are built for it,--long bodies, big bags, milk veins that
stand out like crooked welts, light shoulders, slender necks, and lean
heads. They are young, too; and if you'll dehorn them, I believe they'll
make your thoroughbreds hump themselves to keep up with them at the milk
pail. You see, these cows never had more than half a chance to show
what they could do. They have never been 'fed for milk.' Farmers don't
do that much. They think that if a cow doesn't bawl for food or drink
she has enough. I suppose she has enough to keep her from starving, and
perhaps enough to hold her in fair condition, but not enough to do this
and fill the milk pail, too. I read somewhere about a ration for
'maintenance' and one for 'product,' and there was a deal of difference.
Most farmers don't pay much attention to these things, and I guess
that's one reason why they don't get on faster."

"You've got the whole matter down fine in that 'ration for product,'
Thompson, and that's what we want on this farm. A ration that will
simply keep a cow or a hen in good health leaves no margin for profit.
Cows and hens are machines, and we must treat them as such. Crowd in the
raw material, and you may look for large results in finished product.
The question ought always to be, How much can a cow eat and drink? not,
How little can she get on with? Grain and forage are to be turned into
milk, and the more of these foods our cows eat, the better we like it.
If these machines work imperfectly, we must get rid of them at once and
at any price. It will not pay to keep a cow that persistently falls
below a high standard. We waste time on her, and the smooth running of
the factory is interrupted. I'm going to place a standard on this farm
of nine thousand pounds a year for each matured cow; I don't think that
too high. If a cow falls much below that amount, she must give place to
a better one, for I'm not making this experiment entirely for my health.
The standard isn't too high, yet it's enough to give a fine profit. It
means at least three hundred and fifty pounds of butter a year, and in
this case the butter means at least thirty cents a pound, or more than
$100 a year for each cow. This is all profit, if one wishes to figure it
by itself, for the skimmed milk will more than pay for the food and
care. But why did you say dehorn the cows?"

"Well, I notice that a man with a club is almost sure to find some use
for it. If he isn't pounding the fence or throwing it at a dog, he's
snipping daisies or knocking the heads off bull-thistles. He's always
doing something with it just because he has it in his hand. It's the
same way with a cow. If she has horns, she'll use them in some way, and
they take her mind off her business. No, sir; a cow will do a lot better
without horns. There's mighty little to distract her attention when her
clubs are gone."

"What breeds of cows have you handled, Thompson?"

"Not any thoroughbreds that I know of; mostly common kinds and grade
Jerseys or Holsteins."

"I'm going to put a small herd of thorough bred Holsteins on the place."

"Why don't you try thoroughbred Jerseys' They'll give as much butter,
and they won't eat more than half as much."

"You don't quite catch my idea, Thompson. I want the cow that will eat
the most, if she is, at the same time, willing to pay for her food. I
mean to raise a lot of food, and I want a home market for it. What comes
from the land must go back to it, or it will grow thin. The Holstein
will eat more than the Jersey, and, while she may not make more butter,
she will give twice as much skimmed milk and furnish more fertilizer to
return to the land. Fresh skimmed milk is a food greatly to be prized by
the factory-farm man; and when we run at full speed, we shall have three
hundred thousand pounds of it to feed.

"I have purchased twenty three-year-old Holstein cows, in calf to
advanced registry bulls, and they are to be delivered to me March 10. I
shall want you to go and fetch them. I also bought a young bull from the
same herd, but not from the same breeding. These twenty-one animals will
cost, by the time they get here, $2200. I shall give the bull to my
neighbor Jackson. He will be proud to have it, and I shall be relieved
of the care of it. Be good to your neighbor, Thompson, if by so doing
you can increase the effectiveness of the factory farm. We will start
the dairy with twenty thoroughbreds and six scrubs. I shall probably buy
and sell from time to time; but of one thing I am certain: if a cow
cannot make our standard, she goes to the butcher, be she mongrel or
thoroughbred. What do you think of Judson as a probable dairyman?"

"I shouldn't wonder if he would do first-rate. He's a quiet fellow, and
cows like that. He has those roans tagging him all over the place; and
if a horse likes a man, it's because he's nice and quiet in his ways. I
notice that he can milk a cow quicker than the other men, and it ain't
because he don't milk dry--I sneaked after him twice. The cow just gives
down for him better than for the others."



CHAPTER XXI

THE RAZORBACK


We have now launched three of the four principal industries of our
factory farm. The fourth is perhaps the most important of all, if a
single member of a group of mutually dependent industries can have this
distinction. There is no question that the farmer's best friend is the
hog. He will do more for him and ask less of him than any other animal.
All he asks is to be born. That is enough for this non-ruminant
quadruped, who can find his living in the earth, the roadside ditch, or
the forest, and who, out of a supply of grass, roots, or mast, can
furnish ham and bacon to the king's taste and the poor man's
maintenance. The half-wild razorback, with never a clutch of corn to his
back, gives abundant food to the mountaineer over whose forest he
ranges. The cropped or slit ear is the only evidence of human care or
human ownership. He lives the life of a wild beast, and in the autumn he
dies the death of a wild beast; while his flesh, made rich with juices
of acorns, beechnuts, and other sweet masts, nourishes a man whose only
exercise of ownership is slaughter. The hog that can make his own
living, run like a deer, and drink out of a jug, has done more for the
pioneer and the backwoodsman than any other animal.

Take this semi-wild beast away from his wild haunts, give him food and
care, and he will double his gifts. Add a hundred generations of careful
selection, until his form is so changed that it is beyond recognition,
and again the product will be doubled. The spirit of swine is not
changed by civilization or good breeding; such as it was on that day
when the herd "ran down a steep place and was drowned in the sea," such
it is to-day. A fixed determination to have its own way dominated the
creature then, and a pig-headed desire to be the greatest food-producing
machine in the world is its ruling passion now. That the hog has
succeeded in this is beyond question; for no other food animal can
increase its own weight one hundred and fifty fold in the first eight
months of its life.

All over the world there is a growing fondness for swine flesh, and the
ever increasing supply doesn't outrun the demand. Since the dispersion
of the tribes of Israel there has been no persistent effort to
depopularize this wonderful food maker. Pig has more often been the food
of the poor than of the rich, but now rich and poor alike do it honor.
Old Ben Jonson said:--

"Now pig is meat, and a meat that is nourishing and may be desired, and
consequently eaten: it may be eaten; yea, very exceedingly well eaten."

Hundreds have praised the rasher of ham, and thousands the flitch of
bacon; it took the stroke of but one pen to make roast pig classical.

The pig of to-day is so unlike his distant progenitor that he would not
be recognized; if by any chance he were recognized, it would be only
with a grunt of scorn for his unwieldy shape and his unenterprising
spirit. Gone are the fleet legs, great head, bulky snout, terrible jaws,
warlike tusks, open nostrils, flapping ears, gaunt flanks, and racing
sides; and with these has gone everything that told of strength,
freedom, and wild life. In their place has come a cuboidal mass, twice
as long as it is broad or high, with a place in front for mouth and
eyes, and a foolish-looking leg under each corner. A mighty fall from
"freedom's lofty heights," but a wonderfully improved machine. The
modern hog is to his progenitor as the man with the steam-hammer to the
man with the stone-hammer,--infinitely more useful, though not so free.

It is not easy to overestimate the value of swine to the general farmer;
but to the factory farmer they are indispensable. They furnish a
profitable market for much that could not be sold, and they turn this
waste material into a surprising lot of money in a marvellously short
time. A pig should reach his market before he is nine months old. From
the time he is new-born until he is 250 days old, he should gain at
least one pound a day, which means five cents, in ordinary times.
During this time he has eaten, of things which might possibly have been
sold, perhaps five dollars' worth. At 250 days, with a gain of one pound
a day, he is worth, one year with another, $12.50. This is putting it
too low for my market, but it gives a profit of not less than $6 a head
after paying freight and commissions. It is, then, only a question of
how many to keep and how to keep them. To answer the first half of this
question I would say, Keep just as many as you can keep well. It never
pays to keep stock on half rations of food or care, and pigs are not
exceptions. In answering the other half of the question, how to keep
them, I shall have to go into details of the first building of a piggery
at Four Oaks.

As in the case of the hens, I determined to start clean. Hogs had been
kept on the farm for years, and, so far as I could learn, there had been
no epizoötic disease. The swine had had free range most of the time, and
the specimens which I bought were healthy and as well grown as could be
expected. They were not what I wanted, either in breed or in
development, so they had been disposed of, all but two. These I now
consigned to the tender care of the butcher, and ordered the sty in
which they had been kept to be burned.

I had planned to devote lot No. 2 to a piggery. There are five acres in
this lot, and I thought it large enough to keep four or five hundred
pigs of all sizes in good health and good condition for forcing. Some of
the swine, not intended for market, would have more liberty; but close
confinement in clean pens and small runs was to be the rule. To crowd
hogs in this way, and at the same time to keep them free from disease,
would require special vigilance. The ordinary diseases that come from
damp and draughts could be fended off by carefully constructed
buildings. Cleanliness and wholesome food ought to do much, and
isolation should accomplish the rest. I have established a perfect
quarantine about my hog lot, and it has never been broken. After the
first invoices of swine in the winter and spring of 1896, no hog, young
or old, has entered my piggery, save by the way of a sixty-day
quarantine in the wood lot, and very few by that way.

My pigs are several hundred yards from the public roads, and my
neighbor, Jackson, has planted a young orchard on his land to the north
of my hog lots, and permits no hogs in this planting. I have thus
secured practical isolation. I have rarely sent swine to fairs or stock
shows. In the few instances in which I have broken this rule I have sold
the stock shown, never returning it to Four Oaks.

Isolation, cleanliness, good food, good water, and a constant supply of
ashes, charcoal, and salt, have kept my herd (thus far) from those
dreadfully fatal diseases that destroy so many swine. If I can keep the
specific micro-organism that causes hog-cholera off my place, I need not
fear the disease. The same is true of swine plague. These diseases are
of bacterial origin, and are communicated by the transference of
bacteria from the infected to the non-infected. I propose to keep my
healthy herd as far removed as possible from all sources of infection. I
have carried these precautions so far that I am often scoffed at. I
require my swineherd, when returning from a fair or a stock show, to
take a full bath and to disinfect his clothing before stepping into the
pig-house. This may seem an unnecessary refinement in precautionary
measures, but I do not think so. It has served me well: no case of
cholera or plague has shown itself at Four Oaks.

What would I do if disease should appear? I do not know. I think,
however, that I should fight it as hard as possible at close quarters,
killing the seriously ill, and burning all bodies. After the scourge had
passed I would dispose of all stock as best I could, and then burn the
entire plant (fences and all), plough deep, cover the land white as snow
with lime, leave it until spring, plough again, and sow to oats. During
the following summer I would rebuild my plant and start afresh. A whole
year would be lost, and some good buildings, but I think it would pay in
the end. There would be no safety for the herd while a single colony of
cholera or plague bacteria was harbored on the place; and while neither
might, for years, appear in virulent form, yet there would be constant
small losses and constant anxiety. One cannot afford either of these
annoyances, and it is usually wise to take radical measures. If we apply
sound business rules to farm management, we shall at least deserve
success.

I chose to keep thoroughbred swine for the reason that all the standard
varieties are reasonably certain to breed true to a type which, in each
breed, is as near pork-making perfection as the widest experience can
make it. Most of our good hogs are bred from English or Chinese stock.
Modifications by climate, care, crossing, and wise selection have
procured a number of excellent varieties, which are distinct enough to
warrant separate names, but which are nearly equal as pork-makers.

In color one could choose between black, black and white, and white and
red. I wanted white swine; not because they are better than swine of
other colors, for I do not think they are, but for æsthetic reasons. My
poultry was to be white, and white predominated in my cows; why should
not my swine be white also,--or as white as their habits would permit? I
am told on all sides that the black hog is the hardiest, that it fattens
easier, and that for these reasons it is a better all-round hog. This
may be true, but I am content with my white ones. When some neighbor
takes a better bunch of hogs to market, or gets a better price for them,
than I do, I may be persuaded to think as he talks. Thus far I have sold
close to the top of the market, and my hogs are never left over.

Perhaps my hogs eat more than those of my neighbors. I hope they do, for
they weigh more, on a "weight for age" scale, and I do not think they
are "air crammed," for "you cannot fatten capons so." I am more than
satisfied with my Chester Whites. They have given me a fine profit each
year, and I should be ungrateful if I did not speak them fair.

I wished to get the hog industry started on a liberal scale, and scoured
the country, by letter, for the necessary animals. I found it difficult
to get just what I wanted. Perhaps I wanted too much. This is what I
asked for: A registered young sow due to farrow her second litter in
March or April. By dint of much correspondence and a considerable outlay
of money, I finally secured nineteen animals that answered the
requirements. I got them in twos and threes from scattered sources, and
they cost an average price of $31 per head delivered at Four Oaks. A
young boar, bred in the purple, cost $27. My foundation herd of Chester
Whites thus cost me $614,--too much for an economical start; but, again,
I was in a hurry.

The hogs began to arrive in February, and were put into temporary
quarters pending the building of the house for the brood sows, which
house must now be described.

It was a low building, 150 by 30 feet, divided by a six-foot alley-way
into halves, each 150 by 12 feet. Each of these halves was again divided
into fifteen pens 10 by 12 feet, with a 10 by 30 run for each pen. This
was the general plan for the brood-house for thirty sows. At the east
end of this house was a room 15 by 30 feet for cooking food and storing
supplies for a few days. The building was of wood with plank floors. It
stands there yet, and has answered its purpose; but it was never quite
satisfactory. I wanted cement floors and a more sightly building. I
shall probably replace it next year. When it was built the weather was
unfavorable for laying cement, and I did not wish to wait for a more
clement season. The house and the fences for the runs cost $2100.

On the 6th of March Thompson called me to one of the temporary pens and
showed me a family of the prettiest new-born animals in the world,--a
fine litter of no less than nine new-farrowed pigs. I felt that the
fourth industry was fairly launched, and that we could now work and
wait.



CHAPTER XXII

THE OLD ORCHARD


March was unusually raw even for that uncooked month. The sun had to
cross the line before it could make much impression on the deep frost.
After the 15th, however, we began to find evidences that things were
stirring below ground. The red and yellow willows took on brighter
colors, the bark of the dogwood assumed a higher tone, and the catkins
and lilac buds began to swell with the pride of new sap.

If our old orchard was to be pruned while dormant, it must be done at
once. Thompson and I spent five days of hard work among the trees,
cutting out all dead limbs, crossing branches, and suckers. We called
the orchard old, but it was so only by comparison, for it was not out of
its teens; and I did not wish to deal harshly with it. A good many
unusual things were being done for it in a short time, and it was not
wise to carry any one of them too far. It had been fertilized and
ploughed in the fall, and now it was to be pruned and sprayed,--all
innovations. The trees were well grown and thrifty. They had given a
fair crop of fruit last year, and they were well worth considerable
attention. They could not hereafter be cultivated, for they were all in
the soiling lot for the cows, but they could be pruned and sprayed. The
lack of cultivation would be compensated by the fertilization incident
to a feeding lot. The trees would give shade and comfort to the cows,
while the cows fed and nourished the trees,--a fair exchange.

The crop of the year before, though half the apples were stung, had
brought nearly $300. With better care, and consequently better fruit, we
could count on still better results, for the varieties were excellent
(Baldwins, Jonathans, and Rome Beauties); so we trimmed carefully and
burned the rubbish. This precaution, especially in the case of dead
limbs, is important, for most dead wood in young trees is due to
disease, often infectious, and should be burned at once.

I bought a spraying-pump (for $13), which was fitted to a sound oil
barrel, and we were ready to make the first attack on fungus disease
with the Bordeaux mixture. This was done by Johnson and Anderson late in
the month. Another vigorous spraying with the same mixture when the buds
were swelling, another when the flower petals were falling, and still
another when the fruit was as large as peas (the last two sprayings had
Paris green added to the Bordeaux mixture), and the fight against apple
enemies was ended for that year.

Thompson had gone for the cows. He left March 9, and returned with the
beauties on Friday the 17th. They were all my fancy had painted
them,--large, gentle-eyed, with black and white hair over soft
butter-yellow skin, and all the points that distinguish these marvellous
milk-machines. They were bestowed as needs must until the cow barn was
completed. One of them had dropped a bull calf two days before leaving
the home farm. The calf had been left, and the mother was in an
uncomfortable condition, with a greatly distended udder and milk
streaming from her four teats, though Thompson had relieved her thrice
while _en route_.

I was greatly pleased with the cows, but must not spend time on them
now, for things are happening in my factory faster than I can tell of
them. Johnson had built some primitive hotbeds for early vegetables out
of old lumber and oiled muslin. He had filled them with refuse from the
horse stable and had sown his seeds.



CHAPTER XXIII

THE FIRST HATCH


On February 3 the incubator lamps were lighted under the first invoice
of one thousand eggs. The incubating cellar was to Sam's liking, and he
felt confident that three weeks of strict attention to temperature,
moisture, and the turning of eggs, would bring results beyond my
expectations.

After the seventh day, on which he had tested or candled the eggs, he
was willing to promise almost anything in the way of a hatch, up to
seventy-five or eighty per cent. In the intervals of attendance on the
incubators he was hard at work on the brooder-house, which must be ready
for its first occupants by the 25th. Everything went smoothly until the
18th. That morning Sam met me with a long face.

"Something went wrong with one of my lamps last night," said he. "I
looked at them at ten o'clock and they were all right, but at six this
morning one of the thermometers was registering 122°, and the whole
batch was cooked."

"Not the whole thousand, Sam!"

"No, but 170 fertile eggs, and that spoils a twenty-dollar bill and a
lot of good time. What in the name of the black man ever got into that
lamp of mine is more than I know. It's just my luck!"

"It's everybody's luck who tries to raise chickens by wholesale, and we
must copper it. Don't be downed by the first accident, Sam; keep
fighting and you'll win out."

The brooder-house was ready when the first chicks picked the shells on
the 24th, and within thirty-six hours we had 503 little white balls of
fluff to transfer from the four incubators to the brooder-house. We put
about a hundred together in each of five brooders, fed them cut oats and
wheat with a little coarse corn meal and all the fresh milk they could
drink, and they throve mightily.

The incubators were filled again on the 26th, and from that hatch we got
552 chicks. On the 21st of March they were again filled, and on the 13th
of April we had 477 more to add to the colony in the brooder-house. For
the last time we started the lamps April 15th, and on the 6th of May we
closed the incubating cellar and found that 2109 chicks had been hatched
from the 4000 eggs. The last hatch was the best of all, giving 607. I
don't think we have ever had as good results since, though to tell the
truth I have not attempted to keep an exact count of eggs incubated. My
opinion is that fifty per cent is a very good average hatch, and that
one should not expect more.

In September, when the young birds were separated, the census report was
723 pullets and 764 cockerels, showing an infant mortality of 622, or
twenty-nine per cent. The accidents and vicissitudes of early
chickenhood are serious matters to the unmothered chick, and they must
not be overlooked by the breeder who figures his profits on paper.

After the first year I kept no tabs on the chickens hatched; my desire
was to add each year 600 pullets to my flock, and after the third season
to dispose of as many hens. It doesn't pay to keep hens that are more
than two and a half years old. I have kept from 1200 to 1600 laying hens
for the past six years. I do not know what it costs to feed one or all
of them, but I do know what moneys I have received for eggs, young
cockerels, and old hens, and I am satisfied.

There is a big profit in keeping hens for eggs if the conditions are
right and the industry is followed, in a businesslike way, in connection
with other lines of business; that is, in a factory farm. If one had to
devote his whole time to the care of his plant, and were obliged to buy
almost every morsel of food which the fowls ate, and if his market were
distant and not of the best, I doubt of great success; but with food at
the lowest and product at the highest, you cannot help making good
money. I do not think I have paid for food used for my fowls in any one
year more than $500; grits, shells, meat meal, and oil meal will cover
the list. I do not wish to induce any man or woman to enter this
business on account of the glowing statements which these pages contain.
I am ideally situated. I am near one of the best markets for fine food;
I can sell all the eggs my hens will lay at high prices; food costs the
minimum, for it comes from my own farm; I utilize skim-milk, the
by-product from another profitable industry, to great advantage; and I
had enough money to carry me safely to the time of product. In other
words, I could build my factory before I needed to look to it for
revenue. I do not claim that this is the only way, but I do claim that
it is the way for the fore-handed middle-aged man who wishes to change
from city to country life without financial loss. Younger people with
less means can accomplish the same results, but they must offset money
by time. The principle of the factory farm will hold as well with the
one as with the other.

To intensify farming is the only way to get the fat of the land. The
nations of the old world have nearly reached their limit in food
production. They are purchasers in the open market. This country must be
that market; and it behooves us to look to it that the market be well
stocked. There is land enough now and to spare, but will it be so fifty
or a hundred years hence? Our arid lands will be made fertile by
irrigation, but they will add only a small percentage to the amount
already in quasi-cultivation. Our future food supplies must be drawn
largely from the six million farms now under fences. These farms must be
made to yield fourfold their present product, or they will fall short,
not only of the demands made upon them, but also of their possibilities.
That is why I preach the gospel of intensive farming, for grain, hay,
market, and factory farm alike.

I will put the chickens out of the way for the present, referring to
them from time to time and indicating their general management, the cost
of their houses and food, and the amount of money received for eggs and
fowls. I do not think my plant would win the approval of fanciers, and
it is not in all ways up to date; but it is clean, healthy, and
commodious, and the birds attend as strictly to business as a reasonable
owner could wish. I shall be glad to show it to any one interested
enough to search it out, and to go into the details of the business and
show how I have been able to make it so remunerative.

Sam is with me no longer. For three years he did good service and saved
money, and the lurid nose grew dim. There is, however, a limit to human
endurance. Like victims of other forms of circular insanity, the
dipsomaniac completes his cycle in an uncertain period and falls upon
bad times. For a month before we parted company I saw signs of relapse
in Sam. He was loquacious at times, at other times morose. He talked
about going into business for himself, and his nose took on new color. I
labored with him, but to no purpose; the spirit of unrest was upon him,
and it had to work its own. I held him firm long enough to secure
another man, and then we parted, he to do business for himself, I to get
on as best I could. Sam painted his nose and raised chickens and other
things until his savings had flown; then he got a position with a woman
who runs a broiler plant, and for two years he has given good service.
He will probably continue in ways of well-doing until the next cycle is
complete, when the beacon light will blaze afresh and he will follow it
on to the rocks. Such a man is more to be pitied than condemned, for his
anchor is sure to drag at times.



CHAPTER XXIV

THE HOLSTEIN MILK MACHINE


During the month of March the teams hauled more gravel. They also
distributed the manure that had been purchased in the fall for mulching
the trees. While the ground was still frozen this mulch was placed near
the trees, to be used as soon as the sun had warmed the earth. The mound
of dirt at the base of each tree was of course levelled down before this
dressing was applied. I never afterward purchased stable or stock-yard
manure, though I could often have used it to advantage; for I did not
think it safe to purchase this kind of fertilizer for a farm where large
numbers of animals are kept. The danger from infection is too great.
Large quantities of barnyard manure were furnished yearly out of my own
pits, and I supplemented it with a good deal of the commercial variety.
I try to turn back to the land each year more than I take from it, but I
do not dare to go to a stock-yard for any part of my supply. It was not
until I had mentally established a quarantine for my hogs that I
realized the danger from those six carloads of manure; and I promised
myself then that no such breach of quarantine should again occur.

The cows arrived on St. Patrick's Day. Our herd was then composed of the
twenty Holstein heifers (coming three years old), and six of the best of
the common cows purchased with the farm. Within forty days the herd was
increased by the addition of twenty-three calves. Twenty-five were born,
but two were dead. Of this number, eighteen were Holsteins eligible for
registration, ten heifers, and eight bulls. Each calf was taken from its
mother on the third day and fed warm skim-milk from a patent feeder
three times a day, all it would drink. When three weeks old, seven of
the Holstein calves and the five from the common cows were sent to
market. They brought $5.25 each above the expense of selling, or $63 for
the bunch. The ten Holstein heifer calves were of course held; and one
bull calf, which had a double cross of Pieterje 2d and Pauline Paul, and
which seemed an unusually fair specimen, was kept for further
development.

The cow barn was finished about April 1st, and shortly after that the
herd was established in permanent quarters. As the dairy-house was
unfinished, and there was no convenient way of disposing of the milk
which now flowed in abundance, I bought a separator (for $200) and sent
the cream to a factory, using the fresh skim-milk for the calves and
young pigs and chickens.

From March 22, when I began to sell, until May 10, when my dairy-house
was in working order, I received $203 for cream. Thompson had sold milk
from the old cows, from August to December, 1895, to the amount of $132.
This item should have been entered on the credit side for the last year,
but as it was not, we will make a note of it here. These are the only
sales of milk and cream made from Four Oaks since I bought the land.

The milk supply from my herd started out at a tremendous rate,
considering the age of the cows. It must be borne in mind that none of
the thoroughbreds was within three years of her (probable) best; yet
they were doing nobly, one going as high as fifty-two pounds of milk in
one day, and none falling below thirty-six as a maximum. The common cows
did nearly as well at first, four of them giving a maximum of thirty-two
pounds each in twenty-four hours. It was easy to see the difference
between the two sorts, however. The old ones had reached maturity and
were doing the best they could; the others were just beginning to
manufacture milk, and were building and regulating their machinery for
that purpose. The Holsteins, though young, were much larger than the old
cows, and were enormous feeders. A third or a half more food passed
their great, coarse mouths than their less aristocratic neighbors could
be coaxed to eat. Food, of course, is the one thing that will make
milk; other things being equal, then the cow that consumes the most food
will produce the most milk. This is the secret of the Holsteins'
wonderful capacity for assimilating enormous quantities of food without
retaining it under their hides in the shape of fat. They have been bred
for centuries with the milk product in view, and they have become
notable machines for that purpose. They are not the cows for people to
keep who have to buy feed in a high market, for they are not easy
keepers in any sense; but for the farmer who raises a lot of grain and
roughage which should be fed at his own door, they are ideal. They will
eat much and return much.

As to feeding for milk, I have followed nearly the same plan through my
whole experiment. I keep an abundance of roughage, usually shredded
corn, before the cows all the time. When it has been picked over
moderately well, it is thrown out for bedding, and fresh fodder is put
in its place. The finer forages, timothy, red-top, clover, alfalfa, and
oat straw, are always cut fine, wetted, and mixed with grain before
feeding. This food is given three times a day in such quantities as will
be eaten in forty-five minutes. Green forage takes the place of dry in
season, and fresh vegetables are served three times a week in winter.
The grain ration is about as follows: By weight, corn and cob meal,
three parts; oatmeal, three parts; bran, three parts; gluten meal, two
parts; linseed meal, one part. The cash outlay for a ton of this mixture
is about $12; this price, of course, does not include corn and oats,
furnished by the farm. A Holstein cow can digest fifteen pounds of this
grain a day. This means about two and a half tons a year, with a cash
outlay of $30 per annum for each head. Fresh water is always given four
times a day, and much of the time the cows have ready access to it. In
cold weather the water is warmed to about 65° F. The cows are let out in
a twenty-acre field for exercise every day, except in case of severe
storms. They are fed forage in the open when the weather is fine and
insects are not troublesome, and they sometimes sleep in the open on hot
nights; but by far the largest part of their time is spent in their own
stalls away from chilling winds and biting flies. In their stables they
are treated much as fine horses are,--well bedded, well groomed, and
well cared for in all ways.

A quiet, darkened stable conduces rumination. Loud talking, shouting, or
laughing are not looked upon with favor in our cow barn. On the other
hand, continuous sounds, if at all melodious, seem to soothe the animals
and increase the milk flow. Judson, who has proved to be our best
herdsman, has a low croon in his mouth all the time. It can hardly be
called a tune, though I believe he has faith in it, but it has a
fetching way with the herd. I have never known him to be quick, sharp,
or loud with the cows. When things go wrong, the crooning ceases. When
it is resumed, all is well in the cow world. The other man, French, who
is an excellent milker, and who stands well with the cows, has a half
hiss, half whistle, such as English stable-boys use, except that it runs
up and down five notes and is lost at each end. The cows like it and
seem to admire French for his accomplishment even more than Judson, for
they follow his movements with evident pleasure expressed in their great
ox eyes.

Rigid rules of cleanliness are carried out in every detail with the
greatest exactness. The house and the animals are cared for all the time
as if on inspection. Before milking, the udders are carefully brushed
and washed, and the milker covers himself entirely with a clean apron.
As each cow is milked, the milker hangs the pail on a spring balance and
registers the exact weight on a blackboard. He then carries the milk
through the door that leads to the dairy-house, and pours it into a tank
on wheels. This ends his responsibility. The dairymaid is then in
charge.



CHAPTER XXV

THE DAIRYMAID


Of course I had trouble in getting a dairymaid. I was not looking for
the bouncing, buxom, red-cheeked, arms-akimbo, butter-colored-hair sort.
I didn't care whether she were red-cheeked and bouncing or not, but for
obvious reasons I didn't want her hair to be butter-colored. What I did
want was a woman who understood creamery processes, and who could and
would make the very giltest of gilt-edged butter.

I commenced looking for my paragon in January. I interviewed applicants
of both sexes and all nationalities, but there was none perfect; no, not
one. I was not exactly discouraged, but I certainly began to grow
anxious as the time approached when I should need my dairymaid, and need
her badly. One day, while looking over the _Rural New Yorker_ (I was
weaned on that paper), I saw the following advertisement. "Wanted:
Employment on a dairy-farm by a married couple who understand the
business." If this were true, these two persons were just what I needed;
but, was it true? I had tried a score of greater promise and had not
found one that would do. Was I to flush two at once, and would they
fall to my gun?

A small town in one of the Middle Western states was given as the
address, and I wrote at once. My letter was strong in requirements, and
asked for particulars as to experience, age, references, and
nationality. The reply came promptly, and was more to my liking than any
I had received before. Name, French; Americans, newly married,
twenty-eight and twenty-six respectively; experience four and three
years in creamery and dairy work; references, good; the couple wished to
work together to save money to start a dairy of their own. I was pleased
with the letter, which was an unusual one to come from native-born
Americans. Our people do not often hunt in couples after this manner. I
telegraphed them to come to the city at once.

It was late in April when I first saw the Frenches. The man was tall and
raw-boned, but good-looking, with a frank manner that inspired
confidence. He was a farmer's son with a fair education, who had saved a
little money, and had married his wife out of hand lest some one else
should carry her off while he was building the nest for her.

"I took her when I could get her," he said, "and would have done it with
a two-dollar bill in my pocket rather than have taken chances."

The woman was worthy of such an extreme measure, for she looked capable
of caring for both. She was a fine pattern of a country girl, with a
head full of good sense, and very useful-looking hands and arms. Her
face was good to look upon; it showed strength of character and a
definite object in life. She said she understood the creamery processes
in all their niceties, and that she could make butter good enough for
Queen Victoria.

The proposition offered by this young couple was by far the best I had
received, and I closed with them at once. I agreed to pay each $25 a
month to start with, and explained my plan of an increasing wage of $1 a
month for each period of six months' service. They thought they ought to
have $30 level. I thought so, too, if they were as good as they
promised. But I had a fondness for my increasing scale, and I held to
it. These people were skilled laborers, and were worth more to begin
with than ordinary farm hands. That is why I gave them $25 a month from
the start. Six hundred dollars a year for a man and wife, with no
expense except for clothing, is good pay. They can easily put away $400
out of it, and it doesn't take long to get fore-handed. I think the
Frenches have invested $500 a year, on an average, since they came to
Four Oaks.

It is now time to get at the dairy-house, since the dairy and the
dairymaid are both in evidence. The house was to be on the building
line, and both Polly and I thought it should have attractive features.
We decided to make it of dark red paving brick. It was to be eighteen
feet by thirty, with two rooms on the ground. The first, or south room,
ten feet by eighteen, was fitted for storing fruit, and afforded a
stairway to the rooms above, which were four in number besides the bath.
The larger room was of course the butter factory, and was equipped with
up-to-date appliances,--aërator, Pasteurizer, cooler, separator, Babcock
tester, swing churn, butter-worker, and so on. The house was to have
steep gables and projecting eaves, with a window in each gable, and two
dormer windows in each roof. The walls were to be plastered, and the
ground floor was to be cement. It cost $1375.

As motive power for the churn and separator, a two-sheep-power treadmill
has proved entirely satisfactory. It is worked by two sturdy wethers who
are harbored in a pleasant house and run, close to the power-house, and
who pay for their food by the sweat of their brows and the wool from
their backs. They do not appear to dislike the "demnition grind," which
lasts but an hour twice a day; they go without reluctance to the tramp
that leads nowhere, and the futile journey which would seem foolish to
anything wiser than a sheep. This sheep-power is one of the curios of
the place. My grand-girls never lose their interest in it, and it has
been photographed and sketched more times than there are fingers and
toes on the sheep.

The expenditure for equipment, from separator to sheep, was $354. I
made an arrangement with a fancy grocer in the city to furnish him
thirty pounds, more or less, of fresh (unsalted) butter, six days in the
week, at thirty-three cents a pound, I to pay express charges. I bought
six butter-carriers with ice compartments for $3.75 each, $23 in all,
and arranged with the express company to deliver my packages to the
grocer for thirty cents each. The butter netted me thirty-two cents a
pound that year, or about $60 a week.

In July I bought four thoroughbred Holsteins, four years old, in fresh
milk, and in October, six more, at an average price of $120 a
head,--$1200 in all. These reënforcements made it possible for me to
keep my contract with the middleman, and often to exceed it.

The dairy industry was now fairly launched and in working order. It had
cost, not to be exact, $7000, and it was reasonably sure to bring back
to the farm about $60 a week in cash, besides furnishing butter for the
family and an immense amount of skim-milk and butter-milk to feed to the
young animals on the place.



CHAPTER XXVI

LITTLE PIGS


By April 1st all my sows had farrowed. There was much variation in the
number of pigs in these nineteen litters. One noble mother gave me
thirteen, two of which promptly died. Three others farrowed eleven each,
and so down to one ungrateful mother who contributed but five to the
industry at Four Oaks. The average, however, was good; 154 pigs on April
10th were all that a halfway reasonable factory man could expect.

These youngsters were left with their mothers until eight weeks old;
then they were put, in bunches of thirty, into the real hog-house, which
was by that time completed. It was 200 feet long and 50 feet wide, with
a 10-foot passageway through the length of it. On either side were 10
pens 20 feet by 20, each connected with a run 20 feet by 120. The house
stood on a platform or bed of cement 90 by 200 feet, which formed the
floor of the house and extended 20 feet outside of each wall, to secure
cleanliness and a dry feeding-place in the open. The cement floor was
expensive ($1120 as first cost), but I think it has paid for itself
several times over in health and comfort to the herd. The structure on
this floor was of the simplest; a double wall only five feet high at the
sides, shingled roof, broken at the ridge to admit windows, and strong
partitions. It cost $3100. As in the brood-sow house, there is a kitchen
at the west end. The 150 little pigs made but a small showing in this
great house, which was intended to shelter six hundred of all sizes,
from the eight-weeks-old baby pig to the nine-months-old
three-hundred-pounder ready for market.

Pigs destined for market never leave this house until ripe for killing.
At six or seven months a few are chosen to remain on the farm and keep
up its traditions; but the great number live their ephemeral lives of
eight months luxuriously, even opulently, until they have made the ham
and bacon which, poor things, they cannot save, and then pass into the
pork barrel or the smoke-house without a sigh of regret. They toil not,
neither do they spin; but they have a place in the world's economy, and
they fit it perfectly. So long as one animal must eat another, the man
animal should thank the hog animal for his generosity.

Now that my big hog-house seemed so empty, I would gladly have sent into
the highways and byways to buy young stock to fill it; but I dared not
break my quarantine. I could easily have picked up one hundred or even
two hundred new-weaned pigs, within six or eight miles of my place, at
about $1.50 each, and they would have grown into fat profit by fall; but
I would not take a risk that might bear ill fruit. I had slight
depressions of spirits when I visited my piggery during that summer; but
I chirked up a little in the fall, when the brood sows again made good.
But more of that anon.



CHAPTER XXVII

WORK ON THE HOME FORTY


April and May made amends for the rudeness of March, and the ploughs
were early afield. Thompson, Zeb, Johnson, and sometimes Anderson,
followed the furrows, first in 10 and 11, and lastly in 13. Number 9 had
a fair clover sod, and was not disturbed. We ploughed in all about 114
acres, but we did not subsoil. We spent twenty days ploughing and as
many more in fitting the ground for seed. The weather was unusually warm
for the season, and there was plenty of rain. By the middle of May, oats
were showing green in Nos. 8, 10, 11, 12, and 13,--sixty-two acres. The
corn was well planted in 15 and the west three-quarters of
14,--eighty-two acres. The other ten acres in the young orchard was
planted to fodder corn, sown in drills so that it could be cultivated in
one direction.

The ten-acre orchard on the south side of the home lot was used for
potatoes, sugar beets, cabbages, turnips, etc., to furnish a winter
supply of vegetables for the stock.

The outlook for alfalfa was not bright. In the early spring we
fertilized it again, using five hundred pounds to the acre, though it
seemed like a conspicuous waste. The warm rains and days of April and
May brought a fine crop of weeds; and about the middle of May I turned
Anderson loose in the fields with a scythe, and he mowed down everything
in sight.

After that things soon began to look better in the alfalfa fields. As
the season was favorable, we were able to cut a crop of over a ton to
the acre early in July, and nearly as much in the latter part of August.
We cut forty tons from these twenty acres within a year from seeding,
but I suspect that was unusual luck. I had used thirteen hundred pounds
of commercial fertilizer to the acre, and the season was very favorable
for the growth of the plant. I have since cut these fields three times
each year, with an average yield of five tons to the acre for the whole
crop.

I like alfalfa, both as green and as dry forage. When we use it green,
we let it lie in swath for twenty-four hours, that it may wilt
thoroughly before feeding. It is then fit food for hens, hogs, and, in
limited quantities, for cows, and is much relished. When used dry, it is
always cut fine and mixed with ground grains. In this shape it is fed
liberally to hens and hogs, and also to milch cows; for the latter it
forms half of the cut-food ration.

While the crops are growing, we will find time to note the changes on
the home lot. Nearly in front of the farm-house, and fifty yards
distant, was a space well fitted for the kitchen garden. We marked off a
plat two hundred feet by three hundred, about one and a half acres,
carted a lot of manure on it, and ploughed it as deep as the subsoiler
would reach. This was done as soon as the frost permitted. We expected
this garden to supply vegetables and small fruits for the whole colony
at Four Oaks. An acre and a half can be made exceedingly productive if
properly managed.

Along the sides of this garden we planted two rows of currant and
gooseberry bushes, six feet between rows, and the plants four feet apart
in the rows. The ends of the plat were left open for convenience in
horse cultivation. Ten feet outside these rows of bush fruit was planted
a line of quince trees, thirty on each side, and twenty feet beyond
these a row of cherry trees, twenty in each row.

Near the west boundary of the home lot, and north of the lane that
enters it, I planted two acres of dwarf pear trees--Bartlett and
Duchess,--three hundred trees to the acre. I also planted six hundred
plum trees--Abundance, Wickson, and Gold--in the chicken runs on lot 4.
After May 1, when he was relieved from his farm duties, Johnson had
charge of the planting and also of the gardening, and he took up his
special work with energy and pleasure.

The drives on the home lot were slightly rounded with ploughs and
scraper, and then covered with gravel. The open slope intended for the
lawn was now to be treated. It comprised about ten acres, irregular in
form and surface, and would require a good deal of work to whip it into
shape. A lawn need not be perfectly graded,--in fact, natural
inequalities with dips and rises are much more attractive; but we had to
take out the asperities. We ploughed it thoroughly, removed all stumps
and stones, levelled and sloped it as much as pleased Polly, harrowed it
twice a week until late August, sowed it heavily to grass seed, rolled
it, and left it.

Polly had the house in her mind's eye. She held repeated conversations
with Nelson, and was as full of plans and secrets as she could hold. By
agreement, she was to have a free hand to the extent of $15,000 for the
house and the carriage barn. I never really examined the plans, though I
saw the blue prints of what appeared to be a large house with a driving
entrance on the east and a great wide porch along the whole south side.
I did not know until it was nearly finished how large, convenient, and
comfortable it was to be. A hall, a great living-room, the dining room,
a small reception room, and an office, bedroom, and bath for me, were
all on the ground floor, besides a huge wing for the kitchen and other
useful offices.

Above stairs there was room for the family and a goodly number of
friends. We had agreed that the house should be simple in all ways, with
no hard wood except floors, and no ornamentation except paint and paper.
It must be larger than our needs, for we looked forward to delightful
visits from many friends. We were to have more leisure than ever before
for social life, and we desired to make the most of our opportunities.

A country house is by all odds the finest place to entertain friends and
to be entertained by them. They come on invitation, not as a matter of
form, and they stay long enough to put by questions of weather, clothes,
and servant-girls, and to get right down to good old-fashioned visiting.
Real heart-to-heart talks are everyday occurrences in country visits,
while they are exceptional in city calls. We meant to make much of our
friends at Four Oaks, and to have them make much of us. We have
discovered new values even in old friends, since we began to live with
them, weeks at a time, under the same roof. Their interests are ours,
and our plans are warmly taken up by them. There is nothing like it
among the turmoils and interruptions of town life, and the older we grow
the more we need this sort of rest among our friends. The guest book at
the farm will show very few weeks, in the past six years, when friends
haven't been with us, and Polly and I feel that the pleasure we have
received from this source ought to be placed on the credit side of the
farm ledger.

Another reason for a company house was that Jack and Jane would shortly
be out of school. It was not at all in accord with our plan that they
should miss any pleasure by our change. Indeed, we hoped that the change
would be to their liking and to their advantage.



CHAPTER XXVIII

DISCOUNTING THE MARKET


We broke ground for the house late in May, and Nelson said that we
should be in it by Thanksgiving Day. Soon after the plans were settled
Polly informed me that she should not spend much money on the stable.

"Can't do it," she said, "and do what I ought to on the house. I will
give you room for six horses; the rest, if you have more, must go to the
farm barn. I cannot spend more than $1100 or $1200 on the barn."

Polly was boss of this department, and I was content to let her have her
way. She had already mulcted me to the extent of $436 for trees, plants,
and shrubs which were even then grouped on the lawn after a fashion that
pleased her. I need not go into the details of the lawn planting, the
flower garden, the pergola, and so forth. I have a suspicion that Polly
has in mind a full account of the "fight for the home forty," in a form
greatly better than I could give it, and it is only fair that she should
tell her own story. I am not the only one who admires her landscape, her
flower gardens, and her woodcraft. Many others do honor to her tastes
and to the evidence of thought which the home lot shows. She disclaims
great credit, for she says, "One has only to live with a place to find
out what it needs."

As I look back to the beginning of my experiment, I see only one bit of
good luck that attended it. Building material was cheap during the
months in which I had to build so much. Nothing else specially favored
me, while in one respect my experiment was poorly timed. The price of
pork was unusually low. For three years, from 1896, the price of hogs
never reached $5 per hundred pounds in our market,--a thing
unprecedented for thirty years. I never sold below three and a half
cents, but the showing would have been wonderfully bettered could I have
added another cent or two per pound for all the pork I fattened. The
average price for the past twenty-five years is well above five cents a
pound for choice lots. Corn and all other foods were also cheap; but
this made little difference with me, because I was not a seller of
grain.

In 1896 I was, however, a buyer of both corn and oats. In September of
that year corn sold on 'Change at 19-1/2 cents a bushel, and oats at
14-3/4. These prices were so much below the food value of these grains
that I was tempted to buy. I sent a cash order to a commission house for
five thousand bushels of each. I stored this grain in my granary,
against the time of need, at a total expense of $1850,--21 cents a
bushel for corn and 16 for oats. I had storage room and to spare, and I
knew that I could get more than a third of a cent out of each pound of
corn, and more than half a cent out of each pound of oats. I recalled
the story of a man named Joseph who did some corn business in Egypt a
good many years ago, much in this line, and who did well in the
transaction. There was no dream of fat kine in my case; but I knew
something of the values of grains, and it did not take a reader of
riddles to show me that when I could buy cheaper than I could raise, it
was a good time to purchase.

As I said once before, there have been no serious crop failures at Four
Oaks,--indeed, we can show better than an average yield each year; but
this extra corn in my cribs has given me confidence in following my plan
of very liberal feeding. With this grain on hand I was able to cut
twenty acres of oats in Nos. 10 and 11 for forage. This was done when
the grain was in the milk, and I secured about sixty tons of excellent
hay, much loved by horses. We got from No. 9 a little less than twelve
tons of clover,--alfalfa furnished forty tons; and there was nearly
twenty tons of old hay left over from that originally purchased. With
all this forage, good of its kind, there was, however, no timothy or red
top, which is by all odds the best hay for horses. I determined to
remedy this lack before another year. As soon as the oats were off lots
10 and 11, they were ploughed and crossed with the disk harrow. From
then until September 1, these fields were harrowed each week in half
lap, so that by the time we were ready to seed them they were in
excellent condition and free from weeds. About September 1 they were
sown to timothy and red top, fifteen pounds each to the acre,
top-dressed with five hundred pounds of fertilizer, harrowed once more,
rolled, and left until spring, when another dose of fertilizer was used.

I wished to establish twenty acres of timothy and as much alfalfa, to
furnish the hay supply for the farm. With one hundred tons of alfalfa
and sixty of timothy, which I could reasonably expect, I could get on
splendidly.

From the first I have practised feeding my hay crop for immediate
returns. The land receives five hundred pounds of fertilizer per acre
when it is sown, a like amount again in the spring, and, as soon as a
crop is cut, three hundred pounds an acre more. This usually gives a
second crop of timothy about September 1, if the season is at all
favorable. The alfalfa is cut at least three times, and for each cutting
it receives three hundred pounds of plant food per acre. In the course
of a year I spend from $10 to $12 an acre for my grass land. In return I
get from each acre of timothy, in two cuttings, about three and a half
tons; worth, at an average selling price, $12 a ton. The alfalfa yields
nearly five tons per acre, and has a feeding value of $10 a ton. I have
sold timothy hay a few times, but I feel half ashamed to say so, for it
is against my view of justice to the land. I find oat hay cheaper to
raise than timothy, and, as it is quite as well liked by the horses, I
have been tempted to turn a part of my timothy crop into money directly
from the field.



CHAPTER XXIX

FROM CITY TO COUNTRY


In early July I went through my young orchard, which had been cut back
so ruthlessly the previous autumn, and carefully planned a head for each
tree. Quite a bunch of sprouts had started from near the top of each
stub, and were growing luxuriantly. Out of each bunch I selected three
or four to form the head; the rest were rubbed off or cut out with a
sharp knife or pruning shears. It surprised me to see what a growth some
of these sprouts had made; sixteen or eighteen inches was not uncommon.
Big roots and big bodies were pushing great quantities of sap toward the
tops.

Of course I bought farm machinery during this first season,--mower,
reaper, corn reaper, shredder, and so on. In October I took account of
expenditures for machinery, grass seed, and fertilizer, and found that I
had invested $833. I had also, at an expense of $850, built a large shed
or tool-house for farm implements. It is one of the rules at Four Oaks
to grease and house all tools when not in actual use. I believe the
observation of this rule has paid for the shed.

In October 1896 I had a good offer for my town house, and accepted it.
I had purchased the property eleven years before for $22,000, but, as it
was in bad condition, I had at once spent $9000 on it and the stable. I
sold it for $34,000, with the understanding that I could occupy it for
the balance of the year if I wished.

After selling the house, I calculated the cost of the elementary
necessities, food and shelter, which I had been willing to pay during
many years of residence in the city. The record ran about like this:--

Interest at 5% on house valued at $34,000   $1700.00
Yearly taxes on same                          340.00
Insurance                                      80.00
Fuel and light                                250.00
Wages for one man and three women            1200.00
Street sprinkling, watchman, etc.              90.00
Food, including water, ice, etc.             1550.00
                                            ________
     Making a total of                      $5210.00

It cost me $100 a week to shelter and feed my family in the city. This,
of course, took no account of personal expenses,--travel, sight-seeing,
clothing, books, gifts, or the thousand and one things which enter more
or less prominently into the everyday life of the family.

If the farm was to furnish food and shelter for us in the future, it
would be no more than fair to credit it with some portion of this
expenditure, which was to cease when we left the city home. What portion
of it could be justly credited to the farm was to be decided by
comparative comforts after a year of experience. I did not plan our
exodus for the sake of economy, or because I found it necessary to
retrench; our rate of living was no higher than we were willing and able
to afford. Our object was to change occupation and mode of life without
financial loss, and without moulting a single comfort. We wished to end
our days close to the land, and we hoped to prove that this could be
done with both grace and profit. I had no desire to lose touch with the
city, and there was no necessity for doing so. Four Oaks is less than an
hour from the heart of town. I could leave it, spend two or three hours
in town, and be back in time for luncheon without special effort; and
Polly would think nothing of a shopping trip and friends home with her
to dinner. The people of Exeter were nearly all city people who were so
fortunate as not to be slaves to long hours. They were rich by work or
by inheritance, and they gracefully accepted the _otium cum dignitate_
which this condition permitted. Social life was at its best in Exeter,
and many of its people were old acquaintances of ours. A noted country
club spread its broad acres within two miles of our door, and I had been
favorably posted for membership. It did not look as though we should be
thrust entirely upon our own resources in the country; but at the worst
we had resources within our own walls and fences that would fend off all
but the most violent attacks of ennui.

We were both keenly interested in the experiment. Nothing that happened
on the farm went unchallenged. The milk product for the day was a thing
of interest; the egg count could not go unnoted; a hatch of chickens
must be seen before they left the incubator; a litter of new-born pigs
must be admired; horses and cows were forever doing things which they
should or should not do; men and maids had griefs and joys to share with
mistress or Headman; flowers were blooming, trees were leafing, a robin
had built in the black oak, a gopher was tunnelling the rose bed,--a
thousand things, full of interest, were happening every day. As a place
where things the most unexpected do happen, recommend me to a quiet
farm.

But we were not to depend entirely upon outside things for diversion.
Books we had galore, and we both loved them. Many a charming evening
have I spent, sometimes alone, more often with two or three congenial
friends, listening to Polly's reading. This is one of her most
delightful accomplishments. Her friends never tire of her voice, and her
voice never tires of her friends. We all grow lazy when she is about;
but there are worse things than indolence. No, we did not mean to drop
out of anything worth while; but we were pretty well provisioned against
a siege, if inclement weather or some other accident should lock us up
at the farm.

To keep still better hold of the city, I suggested to Tom and Kate that
they should keep open house for us, or any part of us, whenever we were
inclined to take advantage of their hospitality. This would give us city
refuge after late functions of all sorts. The plan has worked admirably.
I devote $1200 a year out of the $5200 of food-and-shelter money to the
support of our city shelter at Kate's house, and the balance, $4000, is
entered at the end of each year on the credit side of the farm ledger.
Nor do I think this in any way unjust. We do not expect to get things
for nothing, and we do not wish to. If the things we pay for now are as
valuable as those we paid for six or eight years ago, we ought not to
find fault with an equal price. I have repeatedly polled the family on
this question, and we all agree that we have lost nothing by the change,
and that we have gained a great deal in several ways. Our friends are of
like opinion; and I am therefore justified in crediting Four Oaks with a
considerable sum for food and shelter. We have bettered our condition
without foregoing anything, and without increasing our expenses. That is
enough.



CHAPTER XXX

AUTUMN RECKONING


We harvested the crops in the autumn of 1896, and were thankful for the
bountiful yield. Nearly sixteen hundred bushels of oats and twenty-seven
hundred bushels of corn made a proud showing in the granary, when added
to its previous stock. The corn fodder, shredded by our own men and
machine, made the great forage barn look like an overflowing cornucopia,
and the only extra expense attending the harvest was $31 paid for
threshing the oats.

Three important items of food are consumed on the farm that have to be
purchased each year, and as there is not much fluctuation in the price
paid, we may as well settle the per capita rate for the milch cows and
hogs for once and all. At each year's end we can then easily find the
cash outlay for the herds by multiplying the number of stock by the cost
of keeping one.

My Holstein cows consume a trifle less than three tons of grain each per
year,--about fifteen pounds a day. Taking the ration for four cows as a
matter of convenience, we have: corn and cob meal, three tons, and
oatmeal, three tons, both kinds raised and ground on the farm, and not
charged in this account; wheat bran, three tons at $18, $54; gluten
meal, two tons at $24, $48; oil meal, one ton, $26; total cash outlay
for four cows, $128, or $32 per head. This estimate is, however, about
$2 too liberal. We will, hereafter, charge each milch cow $30, and will
also charge each hog fattened on the place $1 for shorts and middlings
consumed. This is not exact, but it is near enough, and it greatly
simplifies accounts.

As I kept twenty-six cows ten months, and ten more for an average of
four and a half months, the feeding for 1896 would be equivalent to one
year for thirty cows, or $900. To this add $120 for swine food and $25
for grits and oyster shells for the chickens, and we have $1045 paid for
food for stock. Shoeing the horses for the year and repairs to machinery
cost $157. The purchased food for eight employees for twelve months and
for two additional ones for eight months, amounted to $734. The wage
account, including $50 extra to Thompson, was $2358.

A second hen-house, a duplicate of the first, was built before October.
It was intended that each house should accommodate four hundred laying
hens. We have now on the place five of these houses; but only two of
them, besides the incubator and the brooder-house, were built in 1896.
As offset to the heavy expenditure of this year, I had not much to show.
Seven hundred cockerels were sold in November for $342. In October the
pullets began laying in desultory fashion, and by November they had
settled down to business; and that quarter they gave me 703 dozen eggs
to sell. As these eggs were marketed within twenty-four hours, and under
a guarantee, I had no difficulty in getting thirty cents a dozen, net.
November eggs brought $211, and the December out-put, $252. I sold 600
bushels of potatoes for $150, and the apples from 150 of the old trees
(which, by the way, were greatly improved this year) brought $450 on the
trees.

The cows did well. In the thirty-three weeks from May 12 to December 31,
I sold a little more than 6600 pounds of butter, which netted me $2127.

We had 122 young hogs to sell in December. They had been crowded as fast
as possible to make good weight, and they went to market at an average
of 290 pounds a head. The price was low, but I got the top of the
market,--$3.55 a hundred, which amounted to $1170 after paying charges.
I had reserved twenty-five of the most likely young sows to stay on the
farm, and had transferred eight to the village butcher, who was to
return them in the shape of two barrels of salt pork, thirty-two smoked
hams and shoulders, and a lot of bacon.

The old sows farrowed again in September and early October, and we went
into the winter with 162 young pigs. I get these details out of the way
now in order to turn to the family and the social side of life at Four
Oaks.



CHAPTER XXXI

THE CHILDREN


The house did not progress as fast as Nelson had promised, and it was
likely to be well toward Christmas before we could occupy it. As the
days shortened, Polly and I found them crowded with interests. Life at
Four Oaks was to mean such a radical change that we could not help
speculating about its influence upon us and upon the children. Would it
be satisfactory to us and to them? Or should we find after a year or two
of experiment that we had been mistaken in believing that we could live
happier lives in the country than in town? A year and a half of outdoor
life and freedom from professional responsibilities had wrought a great
change in me. I could now eat and sleep like a hired man, and it seemed
preposterous to claim that I was going to the country for my health. My
medical adviser, however, insisted that I had not gotten far enough away
from the cause of my breakdown, and that it would be unwise for me to
take up work again for at least another year. In my own mind there was a
fixed opinion that I should never take it up again. I loved it dearly;
but I had given long, hard service to it, and felt that I had earned the
right to freedom from its exacting demands. I have never lost interest
in this, the noblest of professions, but I had done my share, and was
now willing to watch the work of others. In my mind there was no doubt
about the desirability of the change. I have always loved the thought of
country life, and now that my thoughts were taking material shape, I was
keen to push on. Polly looked toward the untrammelled life we hoped to
lead with as great pleasure as I.

But how about the children? Would it appeal to them with the same force
as to us? The children have thus far been kept in the background. I
wanted to start my factory farm and to get through with most of its dull
details before introducing them to the reader, lest I should be diverted
from the business to the domestic, or social, proposition.

The farm is laid by for the winter, and most of the details needed for a
just comprehension of our experiment have been given. From this time on
we will deal chiefly with results. We will watch the out-put from the
factory, and commend or find fault as the case may deserve.

The social side of life is quite as important as the commercial, for
though we gain money, if we lose happiness, what profit have we? Let us
study the children to see what chances for happiness and good fellowship
lie in them.

Kate is our first-born. She is a bright, beautiful woman of
five-and-twenty, who has had a husband these six years, one daughter for
four years, and, wonderful to relate, another daughter for two years.
She is quick and practical, with strong opinions of her own, prompt with
advice and just as prompt with aid; a woman with a temper, but a friend
to tie to in time of stress. She has the education of a good school, and
what is infinitely better, the cultivation of an observing mind. She is
quick with tongue and pen, but her quickness is so tempered by
unquestioned friendliness that it fastens people to her as with a cord.
She overflows with interests of every description, but she is never too
busy to listen sympathetically to a child or a friend. She is the
practical member of the family, and we rarely do much out of the
ordinary without first talking it over with Kate.

Tom Hamilton, her husband, is a young man who is getting on in the
world. He is clever in his profession, and sure to succeed beyond the
success of most men. He is quiet in manner, but he seems to have a way
of managing his quick, handsome wife, which is something of a surprise
to me, and to her also, I fancy. They are congenial and happy, and their
children are beings to adore. Tom and Kate are to live in town. They are
too young for the joys of country life, and must needs drag on as they
are, loved and admired by a host of friends. They can, and will,
however, spend much time at Four Oaks; and I need not say they approved
our plans.

Jack is our second. He was a junior at Yale, and I am shy of saying much
about him lest I be accused of partiality. Enough to say that he is
tall, blond, handsome, and that he has gentle, winning ways that draw
the love of men and women. He is a dreamer of dreams, but he has a
sturdy drop of Puritan blood in his veins that makes him strong in
conviction and brave in action. Jack has never caused me an hour of
anxiety, and I was ever proud to see him in any company.

Concerning Jane, I must be pardoned in advance for a father's
favoritism. She is my youngest, and to me she seems all that a father
could wish. Of fair height and well moulded, her physique is perfect.
Good health and a happy life had set the stamp of superb womanhood upon
her eighteen years. Any effort to describe her would be vain and
unsatisfactory. Suffice it to say that she is a pure blonde, with eyes,
hair, and skin just to my liking. She is quiet and shy in manner,
deliberate in speech, sensitive beyond measure, wise in intuitive
judgment, clever in history and literature, but always a little in doubt
as to the result of putting seven and eight together, and not
unreasonably dominated by the rules of orthography. She is fond of
outdoor life, in love with horses and dogs, and withal very much of a
home girl. Every one makes much of Jane, and she is not spoiled, but
rather improved by it. She was in her second year at Farmington, and,
like all Farmington students, she cared more for girls than for boys.

These were the children whom I was to transport from the city, where
they were born, to the quiet life at Four Oaks. After carefully taking
their measures, I felt little hesitation about making the change. They,
of course, had known of the plan, and had often been to the farm; but
they were still to find out what it really meant to live there. A saddle
horse and dogs galore would square me with Jane, beyond question; but
what about Jack? Time must decide that. His plan of life was not yet
formed, and we could afford to wait. We did not have much time in which
to weigh these matters, for the Christmas holidays were near, and the
youngsters would soon be home. We planned to be settled in the new house
when they arrived.



CHAPTER XXXII

THE HOME-COMING


In arranging to move my establishment I was in a quandary as to what it
was best to do for a coachman. Lars had been with me fifteen years. He
came a green Swedish lad, developed into a first-class coachman, married
a nice girl--and for twelve years he and his wife lived happily in the
rooms above my stable. Two boys were born to them, and these lads were
now ten and twelve years of age. Shortly after I bought the farm Lars
was so unfortunate as to lose his good wife, and he and the boys were
left forlorn. A relative came and gave them such care as she could, but
the mother and wife was missed beyond remedy. In his depression Lars
took to drink, and things began to go wrong in the stable. He was not
often drunk, but he was much of the time under the influence of alcohol,
and consequently not reliable. I had done my best for the poor fellow,
and he took my lectures and chidings in the way they were intended, and,
indeed, he tried hard to break loose from the one bad habit, but with no
good results. His evil friends had such strong hold on him that they
could and would lead him astray whenever there was opportunity. Polly
and I had many talks about this matter. She was growing timid under his
driving, and yet she was attached to him for long and faithful service.

"Let's chance it," she said. "If we get him away from these people who
lead him astray, he may brace up and become a man again."

"But what about the boys, Polly?" said I.

"We ought to be able to find something for the boys to do on the farm,
and they can go to school at Exeter. Can't they drive the butter-cart
out each morning and home after school? They're smart chaps, you know,
and used to doing things."

Polly had found a way, and I was heartily glad of it, for I did not feel
like giving up my hold on the man and the boys. Lars was glad of the
chance to make good again, and he willingly agreed to go. He was to
receive $23 a month. This was less than he was getting in the city, but
it was the wage which we were paying that year at the farm, and he was
content; for the boys were each to receive $5 a month, and to be sent to
school eight months a year for three years.

This matter arranged, we began to plan for the moving. I had five horses
in my stable,--a span of blacks for the carriage and three single
drivers. Besides the horses, harness, and equipment, there was a large
carriage, a brougham, a Goddard phæton, a runabout, and a cart. I
exchanged the brougham and the Goddard for a station wagon and a park
phæton, as more suitable for country use.

The barn equipment was all sent in one caravan, Thompson and Zeb coming
into town to help Lars drive out. Our lares and penates were sent by
freight on December 17. Polly had managed to coax another thousand
dollars out of me for things for the house; and these, with the
furniture from our old home, made a brave showing when we gathered
around the big fire in the living room, December 22, for our first night
in the country.

Tom, Kate, and the grand-girls were with us to spend the holidays, and
so, too, was the lady whom we call Laura. I shall not try to say much
about Laura. She was a somewhat recent friend. How we ever came to know
her well, was half a mystery; and how we ever got on before we knew her
well, was a whole one.

Roaring fires and shaded lamps gave an air of homelike grace to our new
house, and we decided that we would never economize in either wood or
oil; they seemed to stir the home spirit more than ever did coal or
electricity.

The day had been a busy one for the ladies, but they were pleased with
results as they looked around the well-ordered house and saw the work of
their hands. Before separating for the night, Kate said:--

"I'm going to town to-morrow, and I'll pick up Jane and Jack in time to
take the four o'clock train out. Papa will meet us at the station, and
Momee will greet us at the doorstep. Make an illumination, Momee, and we
will carry them by storm. Tom will have to take a later train, but he
will be here in time for dinner."

The afternoon of the 23d, the children came, and there was no failure in
Kate's plan. The youngsters were delighted with everything. Jane said:--

"I always wanted to live on a farm. I can have a saddle horse now, and
keep as many dogs as I like, can't I, Dad?"

"You shall have the horse, and the dogs, too, when you come to stay."

"Daddy," said Jack, "this will be great for you. Let me finish at an
agricultural college, so that I can be of some practical help."

"Not on your life, my son! What your daddy doesn't know about farming
wouldn't spoil a cup of tea! While you are at home I will give you daily
instruction in this most wholesome and independent business, which will
be of incalculable benefit to you, and which, I am frank to say, you
cannot get in any agricultural college. College, indeed! I have spent
thousands of hours in dreaming and planning what a farm should be like!
Do you suppose I am going to let these visions become contaminated by
practical knowledge? Not by a long way! I have, in the silent watches
of the night, reduced the art to mathematical exactness, and I can show
you the figures. Don't talk to me about colleges!"

After supper we took the children through the house. Every part was
inspected, and many were the expressions of pleasure and admiration.
They were delighted with their rooms, and apparently with everything
else. We finally quieted down in front of the open fire and discussed
plans for the holidays. The children decided that it must be a house
party.

"Florence Marcy is with an aunt for whom she doesn't particularly care,
and Minnie will just jump at the chance of spending a week in the
country," said Jane.

"You can invite three girls, and Jack can have three men. Of course
Jessie Gordon will be here. We will drive over in the morning and make
sure of her."

"Jack, whom will you ask? Get some good men out here, won't you?"

"The best in the world, little sister, and you will have to keep a sharp
lookout or you will lose your heart to one of them. Frank Howard will
count it a lark. He has stuck to the "business" as faithfully as if he
were not heir to it, and he will come sure to-morrow night. Dear old
Phil--my many years' chum--will come because I ask him. These two are
all right, and we can count on them. The other one is Jim Jarvis,--the
finest man in college."

"Tell us about him, Jack."

"Jarvis's father lives in Montana, and has a lot of gold mines and other
things to keep him busy. He doesn't have time to pay much attention to
his son, who is growing up after his own fashion. Jim's mother is dead,
and he has neither brother nor sister,--nothing but money and beauty and
health and strength and courage and sense and the stanchest heart that
ever lifted waistcoat! He has been on the eleven three years. They want
him in the boat, but he'll not have it; says it's not good work for a
man. He's in the first division, well toward the front, too, and in the
best society. He's taken a fancy to me, and I'm dead gone on him. He's
the man for you to shun, little woman, unless you wish to be led
captive."

"There are others, Jack, so don't worry about me. But do you think you
can secure this paragon?"

"Not a doubt of it! I'll wire him in the morning, and he'll be here as
soon as steam can bring him; he's my best chum, you know."

This would make our party complete. We were all happy and pleased, and
the evening passed before we knew it.



CHAPTER XXXIII

CHRISTMAS EVE


The next day was a busy one for all of us. Polly and Jane drove to the
Gordons and secured Miss Jessie, and then Jane went to town to fetch her
other friends. Jack went with her, after having telegraphed to Jim
Jarvis. They all came home by mid-afternoon, just as a message came from
Jarvis: "Will be on deck at six."

Florence Marcy and Minnie Henderson were former neighbors and
schoolmates of Jane's. They were fine girls to look at and bright girls
to talk with; blondes, eighteen, high-headed, full of life, and great
girls for a house party. Phil and Frank were good specimens of their
kinds. Frank was a little below medium height, slight, blond, vivacious
to a degree, full of fun, and the most industrious talker within miles;
he would "stir things up" at a funeral. Phil Stone was tall, slender,
dark, quiet, well-dressed, a good dancer, and a very agreeable fellow in
the corner of the room, where his low musical voice was most effective.

Jessie Gordon came at five o'clock. We were all very fond of Jessie, and
who could help it? She was tall (considerably above the average
height), slender, straight as an arrow, graceful in repose and in
motion. She carried herself like a queen, with a proud kind of shyness
that became her well. Her head was small and well set on a slender neck,
her hair dark, luxurious, wavy, and growing low over a broad forehead,
her eyes soft brown, shaded by heavy brows and lashes. She had a Grecian
nose, and her mouth was a shade too wide, but it was guarded by
singularly perfect and sensitive lips. Her chin was pronounced enough to
give the impression of firmness; indeed, save for the soft eyes and
sensitive mouth, firmness predominated. She was not a great talker, yet
every one loved to listen to her. She laughed with her eyes and lips,
but rarely with her voice. She enjoyed intensely, and could, therefore,
suffer intensely. She was a dear girl in every way.

All was now ready for the début of Jack's paragon. Jack had driven to
the station to fetch him, and presently the sound of wheels on the
gravel drive announced the arrival of the last guest. I went into the
hall to meet the men.

"Daddy, I want you to know my chum, Jim Jarvis,--the finest all-round
son of old Eli. Jarvis, this is my daddy,--the finest father that ever
had son!"

"I'm right glad to meet you, Mr. Jarvis; your renown has preceded you."

"I fear, Doctor, it has _exceeded_ me as well. Jack is not to be
trusted on all subjects. But, indeed, I thank you for your hospitality;
it was a godsend to me."

As we entered the living room, Polly came forward and I presented Jarvis
to her.

"You are more than welcome, Mr. Jarvis! Jack's 'best friend' is certain
of a warm corner at our fireside."

"Madam, I find no word of thanks, but I _do_ thank you. I have envied
Jack his home letters and the evidences of mother care more than
anything else,--and God knows there are enough other things to envy him
for. I have no mother, and my father is too busy to pay much attention
to me. I wish you would adopt me; I'll try to rival Jack in all that is
dutiful."

She did adopt him then and there, for who could refuse such a son! Brown
hair, brown eyes, brown skin, a frank, rugged, clean-shaven face,
features strong enough to excite criticism and good enough to bear it;
broad-shouldered, deep-chested, strong in arm and limb, he carried his
six feet of manhood like an Apollo in tweeds. He was introduced to the
girls,--the men he knew,--but he was not so quick in his speeches to
them. Our Hercules was only mildly conscious of his merits, and was
evidently relieved when Jack hurried him off to his room to dress for
dinner. When he was fairly out of hearing there was a chorus of
comments. The girls all declaimed him handsome, and the boys said:--

"That isn't the best of it,--he's a _trump_! Wait till you know him."

Jane was too loyal to Jack to admit that his friend was any handsomer or
in any way a finer fellow than her brother.

"Who said he was?" said Frank, "Jack Williams is out and out the finest
man I know. We were sizing him up by such fellows as Phil and me."

"Jack's the most popular man at Yale," said Phil, "but he's too modest
to know it; Jarvis will tell you so. He thinks it's a great snap to have
Jack for his chum."

These things were music in my ears, for I was quite willing to agree
with the boys, and the mother's eyes were full of joy as she led the way
to the dining room. That was a jolly meal. Nothing was said that could
be remembered, and yet we all talked a great deal and laughed a great
deal more. City, country, farm, college, and seminary were touched with
merry jests. Light wit provoked heavy laughter, and every one was the
better for it. It was nine o'clock before we left the table. I heard
Jarvis say:--

"Miss Jane, I count it very unkind of Jack not to have let me go to
Farmington with him last term. He used to talk of his 'little sister' as
though she were a miss in short dresses. Jack is a deep and treacherous
fellow!"

"Rather say, a very prudent brother," said Jane. "However, you may come
to the Elm Tree Inn in the spring term, if Jack will let you."

"I'll work him all winter," was Jarvis's reply.



CHAPTER XXXIV

CHRISTMAS


Christmas light was slow in coming. There was a hush in the air as if
the earth were padded so that even the footsteps of Nature might not be
heard. Out of my window I saw that a great fall of snow had come in the
night. The whole landscape was covered by fleecy down--soft and white as
it used to be when I first saw it on the hills of New England. No wind
had moved it; it lay as it fell, like a white mantle thrown lightly over
the world. Great feathery flakes filled the air and gently descended
upon the earth, like that beautiful Spirit that made the plains of Judea
bright two thousand years ago. It seemed a fitting emblem of that nature
which covered the unloveliness of the world by His own beauty, and
changed the dark spots of earth to pure white.

It was an ideal Christmas morning,--clean and beautiful. Such a wealth
of purity was in the air that all the world was clothed with it. The
earth accepted the beneficence of the skies, and the trees bent in
thankfulness for their beautiful covering. It was a morning to make one
thoughtful,--to make one thankful, too, for home and friends and
country, and a future that could be earned, where the white folds of
usefulness and purity would cover man's inheritance of selfishness and
passion.

For an hour I watched the big flakes fall; and, as I watched, I dreamed
the dream of peace for all the world. The brazen trumpet of war was a
thing of the past. The white dove of peace had built her nest in the
cannon's mouth and stopped its awful roar. The federation of the world
was secured by universal intelligence and community of interest. Envy
and selfishness and hypocrisy, and evil doing and evil speaking, were
deeply covered by the snowy mantle that brought "peace on earth and good
will to men."

My dream was not dispelled by any rude awakening. As the house threw off
the fetters of the night and gradually struggled into activity, it was
in such a fresh and loving manner and with such thoughtful solicitude
for each member of our world, that I walked in my dream all day.

The snow fell rapidly till noon, and then the sun came forth from the
veil of clouds and cast its southern rays across the white expanse with
an effect that drew exclamations of delight from all who had eyes to
see. No wind stirred the air, but ever and anon a bright avalanche would
slide from bough or bush, sparkle and gleam as the sun caught it, and
then sink gently into the deep lap spread below. The bough would spring
as if to catch its beautiful load, and, failing in this, would throw up
its head and try to look unconcerned,--though quite evidently conscious
of its bereavement.

The appearance of the sun brought signs of life and activity. The men
improvised a snow-plough, the strong horses floundering in front of it
made roads and paths through the two feet of feathers that hid the
world.

After lunch, the young people went for a frolic in the snow. Two hours
later the shaking of garments and stamping of feet gave evidence of the
return of the party. Stepping into the hall I was at once surrounded by
the handsomest troupe of Esquimaux that ever invaded the temperate zone.
The snow clung lovingly to their wet clothing and would not be shaken
off; their cheeks were flushed, their eyes bright, and their voices
pitched at an out-of-doors key.

"Away to your rooms, every one of you, and get into dry clothes," said
I. "Don't dare show yourselves until the dinner bell rings. I'll send
each of you a hot negus,--it's a prescription and must be taken; I'm a
tyrant when professional."

We saw nothing more of them until dinner. The young ladies came in
white, with their maiden shoulders losing nothing by contact with their
snow-white gowns. All but Miss Jessie, whose dress was a pearl velvet,
buttoned close to her slender throat. I loved this style best, but I
could never believe that anything could be prettier than Jane's white
shoulders.

The table was loaded, as Christmas tables should be, and, as I asked
God's blessing on it and us, the thought came that the answer had
preceded the request and that we were blessed in unusual degree.

After dinner the rugs in the great room were rolled up, and the young
folks danced to Laura's music, which could inspire unwilling feet. But
there were none such that night. Tom and Kate led off in the newest and
most fantastic waltz, others followed, and Polly and I were the only
spectators. An hour of this, and then we gathered around the hearth to
hear Polly read "The Christmas Carol." No one reads like Polly. Her low,
soft voice seems never to know fatigue, but runs on like a musical
brook. When the reading was over, a hush of satisfied enjoyment had
taken possession of us all. It was not broken when Miss Jessie turned to
the piano and sang that glorious hymn, "Lead, Kindly Light." Jack was
close beside her, his blue eyes shining with an appreciation of which
any woman might be proud, and his baritone in perfect harmony with her
rich contralto. The young ladies took the higher part, Frank added his
tenor, and even Phil and I leaned heavily on Jarvis's deep bass. My
effort was of short duration; a lump gathered in my throat that caused
me to turn away. Polly was searching fruitlessly for something to dry
the tears that overran her eyes, and I was able to lend her aid, but the
accommodation was of the nature of a "call loan."

As we separated for the night, Jarvis said: "Lady mother, this day has
been a revelation to me. If I live a hundred years, I shall never forget
it." I was slow in bringing it to a close. As I loitered in my room, I
heard the shuffling of slippered feet in the hall, and a timid knock at
Polly's door. It was quickly opened for Jane and Jessie, and I heard
sobbing voices say:--

"Momee, we want to cry on your bed," and, "Oh, Mrs. Williams, why can't
all days be like this!"

Polly's voice was low and indistinct, but I know that it carried strong
and loving counsel; and, as I turned to my pillow, I was still dreaming
the dream of the morning.



CHAPTER XXXV

WE CLOSE THE BOOKS FOR '96


The morning after Christmas broke clear, with a wind from the south that
promised to make quick work of the snow. The young people were engaged
for the evening, as indeed for most evenings, in the hospitable village,
and they spent the day on the farm as pleased them best.

There were many things to interest city-bred folk on a place like Four
Oaks. Everything was new to them, and they wanted to see the workings of
the factory farm in all its detail. They made friends with the men who
had charge of the stock, and spent much time in the stables. Polly and I
saw them occasionally, but they did not need much attention from us. We
have never found it necessary to entertain our friends on the farm. They
seem to do that for themselves. We simply live our lives with them, and
they live theirs with us. This works well both for the guests and for
the hosts.

The great event of the holiday week was a New Year Eve dance at the
Country Club. Every member was expected to appear in person or by proxy,
as this was the greatest of many functions of the year.

Sunday was warm and sloppy, and little could be done out of doors. Part
of the household were for church, and the rest lounged until luncheon;
then Polly read "Sonny" until twilight, and Laura played strange music
in the half-dark.

The next day the men went into town to look about, and to lunch with
some college chums. As they would not return until five, the ladies had
the day to themselves. They read a little, slept a little, and talked
much, and were glad when five o'clock and the men came. Tea was so hot
and fragrant, the house so cosey, and the girls so pretty, that Jack
said:--

"What chumps we men were to waste the whole day in town!"

"And what do you expect of men, Mr. Jack?" said Jessie.

"Yes, I know, the old story of pearls and swine, but there are pearls
and pearls."

"Do you mean that there are more pearls than swine, Mr. Jack? For, if
you do, I will take issue with you."

"If I am a swine, I will be an æsthetic one and wear the pearl that
comes my way," said Jack, looking steadily into the eyes of the
high-headed girl.

"Will you have one lump or two?"

"One," said Jack, as he took his cup.

The last day of the year came all too quickly for both young and old at
Four Oaks. Polly and I went into hiding in the office in the afternoon
to make up the accounts for the year. As Polly had spent the larger
lump sum, I could face her with greater boldness than on the previous
occasion. Here is an excerpt from the farm ledger:--

Expended in 1896                            $43,309
Interest on previous account                  2,200
                                            _______
         Total                              $45,509
Receipts                                      5,105
                                            _______
Net expense                                 $40,404
Previous account                             44,000
                                            _______
                                            $84,404

The farm owes me a little more than $84,000. "Not so good as I hoped,
and not so bad as I feared," said Polly. "We will win out all right, Mr.
Headman, though it does seem a lot of money."

"Like the Irishman's pig," quoth I. "Pat said, 'It didn't weigh nearly
as much as I expected, but I never thought it would.'"

There was little to depress us in the past, and nothing in the present,
so we joined the young people for the dance at the Club.



CHAPTER XXXVI

OUR FRIENDS


After our guests had departed, to college or school or home, the house
was left almost deserted. We did not shut it up, however. Fires were
bright on all hearths, and lamps were kept burning. We did not mean to
lose the cheeriness of the house, though much of the family had
departed. For a wonder, the days did not seem lonesome. After the fist
break was over, we did not find time to think of our solitude, and as
the weeks passed we wondered what new wings had caused them to fly so
swiftly. Each day had its interests of work or study or social function.
Stormy days and unbroken evenings were given to reading. We consumed
many books, both old and new, and we were not forgotten by our friends.
The dull days of winter did not drag; indeed, they were accepted with
real pleasure. Our lives had hitherto been too much filled with the
hurry and bustle inseparable from the fashionable existence-struggle of
a large city to permit us to settle down with quiet nerves to the real
happiness of home. So much of enjoyment accompanies and depends upon
tranquillity of mind, that we are apt to miss half of it in the turmoil
of work-strife and social-strife that fill the best years of most men
and women.

It is a pity that all overwrought people cannot have a chance to relax
their nerves, and to learn the possibilities of happiness that are
within them. Most of the jars and bickerings of domestic life, most of
the mental and moral obliquities, depend upon threadbare nerves, either
inherited or uncovered by friction incident to getting on in the world.
I never understood the comforts that follow in the wake of a quiet,
unambitious life, until such a life was forced upon me. When you
discover these comforts for the first time, you marvel that you have
foregone them so long, and are fain to recommend them to all the world.

Polly and I had gotten on reasonably well up to this time; but before we
became conscious of any change, we found ourselves drawn closer together
by a multitude of small interests common to both. After twenty-five
years of married life it will compensate any man to take a little time
from business and worry that he may become acquainted with his wife. A
few fortunate men do this early in life, and they draw compound interest
on the investment; but most of us feel the cares of life so keenly that
we take them home with us to show in our faces and to sit at our tables
and to blight the growth of that cheerful intercourse which perpetuates
love and cements friendship in the home as well as in the world.

There were no serious cares nowadays, and time passed so smoothly at
Four Oaks that we wondered at the picnic life that had fallen to us. The
village of Exeter was alive in all things social. The city families who
had farms or country places near the village were so fond of them that
they rarely closed them for more than two or three months, and these
months were as likely to come in summer as in winter.

Our friends the Gordons made Homestead Farm their permanent residence,
though they kept open house in town. Beyond the Gordons' was the modest
home of an Irish baronet, Sir Thomas O'Hara. Sir Tom was a bachelor of
sixty. He had run through two fortunes (as became an Irish baronet) in
the racing field and at Homburg, and as a young man he had lived ten
years at Limmer's tavern in London. When not in training to ride his own
steeple-chasers, he was putting up his hands against any man in England
who would face him for a few friendly rounds. He was not always
victorious, either in the field, before the green cloth, or in the ring;
but he was always a kind-hearted gentleman who would divide his last
crown with friend or foe, and who could accept a beating with grace and
unruffled spirit.

He could never ride below the welter weight, and after a few years he
outgrew this weight and was forced to give up the least expensive of
his diversions. The green cloth now received more of his attention,
and, as a matter of course, of his money. Things went badly with him,
and he began to see the end of his second fortune before he called a
halt. Bad times in Ireland seriously reduced his rents, and he was
forced to dispose of his salable estates. Then he came to this country
in the hope of recouping himself, and to get away from the fast set that
surrounded him.

"I can resist anything but temptation," this warm-hearted Irishman would
say; and that was the keynote of his character.

Though Sir Tom was only sixty years old, he looked seventy. He was much
broken in health by gout and the fast pace of his early manhood. But his
spirit was untouched by misfortune, disease, or hardship. His courage
was as good as when he served as a subaltern of the Guards in the
trenches before Sebastopol, or presented his body as a mark for the
sledge-hammer blows of Tom Sayers, just for diversion. His constitution
must have been superb, for even in his decrepitude he was good to look
upon: five feet ten, fine body, slightly given to rotundity, legs a
little shrunken in the shanks, but giving unmistakable signs of what
they had been ("not lost, but gone before," as he would say of them),
hands and feet aristocratic in form and well cared for, and a fine head
set on broad shoulders. His hair was thin, and he parted it with great
exactness in the middle. His eyes were brown, large, and of exceeding
softness. His nose was straight in spite of many a contusion, and his
whole expression was that of a high-bred gentleman somewhat the worse
for wear. Sir Tom was perfectly groomed when he came forth from his
chamber, which was usually about ten in the morning.

Those of us who had access to his rooms often wondered how he ever got
out of them looking so immaculate, for they were a perfectly impassable
jungle to the stranger. Such a tangle of trunks, hand-bags, rug bundles,
clothes, boots, pajamas, newspapers, scrap-books, B. & S. bottles, could
hardly be found anywhere else in the world. He had a fondness for
newspaper clippings, and had trunks of them, sorted into bundles or
pasted in scrap-books. Old volumes of Bell's _Life_ filled more than one
trunk, and on one occasion when he and I were spending a long evening
together, in celebration of his recent recovery from an attack of gout,
and when he had done more than usual justice to the B. & S. bottles and
less than usual justice to his gout, he showed me the record of a
long-gone year in which this same Bell's _Life_ called him the "first
among the gentlemen riders in the United Kingdom," and proved this
assertion by showing how he had won most of the great steeple-chases in
England and Ireland, riding his own horses. This was the nearest
approach to boasting that ever came to my knowledge in the years of our
close friendship, and I would never have thought of it as such had I
not seen that he regarded it as unwarrantable self-praise.

I have never known a more simple, kind-hearted, agreeable, and lovable
gentleman than this broken-down sporting man and gambler. I loved him as
a brother; and though he has passed out of my life, I still love the
memory of his genial face, his courtesy, his unselfish friendship, more
than words can express. A tender heart and a gentle spirit found strange
housing in a body given over to reckless prodigality. The combination,
tempered by time and exhaustion, showed nothing that was not lovable;
and it is scant praise to say that Sir Thomas was much to me.

He was just as acceptable to Polly. No woman could fail to appreciate
the homage which he never failed to show to the wife and mother. Many
winter evenings at Four Oaks were made brighter by his presence, and we
grew to expect him at least three nights each week. His plate was placed
on our round table these nights, and he rarely failed to use it; and the
B. & S. bottles were near at hand, and his favorite brand of cigars
within easy reach.

"I light a 'baccy' by your permission, Mrs. Williams," and a courtly bow
accompanied the words.

At 9.30 William came to bring Sir Tom home. The leave-taking was always
formal with Polly, but with me it was, "Ta-ta, Williams--see you
later," and our guest would hobble out on his poor crippled feet, waving
his hand gallantly, with a voice as cheery as a boy's.

Another family whom I wish the reader to know well is the Kyrles. For
more than twenty-five years we have known no joys or sorrows which they
did not feel, and no interests that touched them have failed to leave a
mark on us. We could not have been more intimate or better friends had
the closest blood tie united us. The acquaintance of young married
couples had grown into a friendship that was bearing its best fruit at a
time when best fruit was most appreciated. We do not consider a pleasure
more than half complete until we have told it to Will and Frances Kyrle,
for their delight doubles our happiness.

They were among the earliest of my patients, and they are easily first
among our friends. I have watched more than a half-dozen of their
children from infancy to adult life, and this alone would be a strong
bond; but in addition to this is the fact that the whole family, from
father to youngest child, possess in a wonderful degree that subtle
sense of true camaraderie which is as rare as it is charming.

The Kyrles lived in the city, but they were foot-free, and we could
count on having them often. Four Oaks was to be, if we had our way, a
country home for them almost as much as for us. Indeed, one of the
rooms was called the Kyrles' room, and they came to it at will. Enough
about our friends. We must go back to the farm interests, which are,
indeed, the only excuse for this history.



CHAPTER XXXVII

THE HEADMAN'S JOB


Our life at Four Oaks began in earnest in January, 1897. Even during the
winter months there was no lack of employment and interest for the
Headman. I breakfasted at seven, and from that time until noon I was as
busy as if I were working for $20 a month. The master's eye is worth
more than his hand in a factory like mine. My men were, and are, an
unusual lot,--intelligent, sober, and willing,--but they, like others,
are apt to fall into routine ways, and thereby to miss points which an
observing proprietor would not overlook.

The cows, for instance, were all fed the same ration. Fifteen pounds of
mixed grains was none too much for the big Holstein milk-makers, who
were yielding well and looking in perfect health; but the common cows
were taking on too much flesh and falling off in milk. I at once changed
the ration for these six cows by leaving out the corn entirely and
substituting oat straw for alfalfa in the cut feed. The change brought
good results in five of the cows; the other one did not pick up in her
milk, and after a reasonable trial I sold her.

The herd was doing excellently for mid-winter,--the yield amounted to a
daily average of 840 pounds throughout the month, and I was able to make
good my contract with the middleman. I could see breakers ahead,
however, and it behooved me to make ready for them. I decided to buy ten
more thoroughbreds in new milk, if I could find them. I wrote to the
people from whom I had purchased the first herd, and after a little
delay secured nine cows in fresh milk and about four years old. This
addition came in February, and kept my milk supply above the danger
point. Since then I have bought no cows. Thirty-four of these
thoroughbreds are still at Four Oaks--two of them have died, and three
have been sold for not keeping up to the standard--and are doing grand
service. Their numbers have been reënforced by twenty of their best
daughters, so there are at this writing fifty-four milch cows and five
yearling heifers in the herd. Most of the calves have been disposed of
as soon as weaned. I have no room for more stock on my place, and it
doesn't pay to keep them to sell as cows. Four Oaks is not a breeding
farm, but a factory farm, and everything has to be subordinated to the
factory idea.

My thoroughbred calves have brought me an average price of $12 each at
four to six weeks, sold to dairymen, and I am satisfied to do business
in that way. The nine milch cows which I bought to complete the herd
cost, delivered at Four Oaks, $1012.

All the grain fed to cows, horses, and hogs, and a portion of that fed
to chickens, is ground fine before feeding. The grinding is done in the
granary by a mill with a capacity of forty bushels an hour. We make corn
meal, corn and cob meal, and oatmeal enough for a week's supply in a few
hours. All hay and straw is cut fine, before being fed, by a power
cutter in the forage barn, and from thence is taken by teams in box
racks to the feeding rooms, where it is wetted with hot water and mixed
with the ground feed for the cows and horses, and steamed or cooked with
the ground feed for the hogs and hens.

Alfalfa is the only hay used for the hens, and wonderfully good it is
for them. Besides feed for the hogs, we have to provide ashes, salt, and
charcoal for them. These three things are kept constantly before them in
narrow troughs set so near the wall that they cannot get their feet into
them.

We carefully save all wood ashes for the hogs and hens, and we burn our
own charcoal in a pit in the wood lot. Five cords of sound wood make an
abundant supply for a year. I think this side dish constantly before
swine goes a long way toward keeping them healthy. Clean pens,
well-balanced and well-cooked food, pure water, and this medicine can
be counted on to keep a growing and fattening herd healthy during its
nine months of life.

It is claimed that it is unnatural and artificial to confine these young
things within such narrow limits, and so it is; but the whole scheme is
unnatural, if you please. The pig is born to die, and to die quickly,
for the profit and maintenance of man. What could be more unnatural?
Would he be better reconciled to his fate after spending his nine months
between field and sty? I wot not. The Chester White is an indolent
fellow, and I suspect he loves his comfortable house, his cool stone
porch, his back yard to dig in, his neighbors across the wire fence to
gossip with, and his well-balanced, well-cooked food served under his
own nose three times a day. At least he looks content in his piggery,
and grows faster and puts on more flesh in his 250 days than does his
neighbor of the field. If the hog's profitable life were twice or thrice
as long, I would advocate a wider liberty for the early part of it; but
as it doesn't pay to keep the animal after he is nine months old, the
quickest way to bring him to perfection is the best. One cannot afford
to graze animals of any kind when one is trying to do intensive farming.
It is indirect, it is wasteful of space and energy, and it doesn't force
the highest product. Grazing, as compared with soiling, may be
economical of labor, but as I understand economics that is the one
thing in which we do not wish to economize. The multiplication of
well-paid and well-paying labor is a thing to be specially desired. If
the soiling farm will keep two or three more men employed at good wages,
and at the same time pay better interest than the grazing farm, it
should be looked upon as much the better method. The question of
furnishing landscape for hogs is one that borders too closely on the
æsthetic or the sentimental to gain the approval of the factory-farm
man. What is true of hogs is also true of cows. They are better off
under the constant care of intelligent and interested human beings than
when they follow the rippling brook or wind slowly o'er the lea at their
own sweet pleasure.

The truth is, the rippling brook doesn't always furnish the best water,
and the lea furnishes very imperfect forage during nine months of the
year. A twenty-acre lot in good grass, in which to take the air, is all
that a well-regulated herd of fifty cows needs. The clean, cool, calm
stable is much to their liking, and the regular diet of a first-class
cow-kitchen insures a uniform flow of milk.

What is true of hogs and cows is true also of hens. The common opinion
that the farm-raised hen that has free range is healthier or happier
than her sister in a well-ordered hennery is not based on facts. Freedom
to forage for one's self and pick up a precarious living does not always
mean health, happiness, or comfort. The strenuous life on the farm
cannot compare in comfort with the quiet house and the freedom from
anxiety of the well-tended hen. The vicissitudes of life are terrible
for the uncooped chicken. The occupants of air, earth, and water lie in
wait for it. It is fair game for the hawk and the owl; the fox, the
weasel, the rat, the wood pussy, the cat, and the dog are its sworn
enemies. The horse steps on it, the wheel crushes it; it falls into the
cistern or the swill barrel; it is drenched by showers or stiffened by
frosts, and, as the English say, it has a "rather indifferent time of
it." If it survive the summer, and some chickens do, it will roost and
shiver on the limb of an apple tree. Its nest will be accessible only to
the mink and the rat; and, like Rachel, it will mourn for its children,
which are not.

No, the well-yarded hen has by all odds the best of it. The wonder is
that, with three-fourths of the poultry at large and making its own
living, hens still furnish a product, in this country alone,
$100,000,000 greater in value than the whole world's output of gold. Our
annual production of eggs and poultry foots up to $280,000,000,--$4
apiece for every man, woman, and child,--and yet people say that hens do
not pay!

Each flock of forty hens at Four Oaks has a house sixteen feet by
twenty, and a run twenty feet by one hundred. I hear no complaints of
close quarters or lack of freedom, but I do hear continually the song
of contentment, and I see results daily that are more satisfactory than
those of any oil well or mine in which I have ever been interested.



CHAPTER XXXVIII

SPRING OF '97


Sam began to make up his breeding pens in January. He selected 150 of
his favorites, divided them into 10 flocks of 15, added a fine cockerel
to each pen (we do not allow cocks or cockerels to run with the laying
hens), and then began to set the incubator house in order.

He filled the first incubator on Saturday, January 30, and from that day
until late in April he was able to start a fresh machine about every six
days. Sam reports the total hatch for the year as 1917 chicks, out of
which number he had, when he separated them in the early autumn, 678
pullets to put in the runs for laying hens, and 653 cockerels to go to
the fattening pens. These figures show that Sam was a first-class
chicken man.

We secured 300 tons of ice at the side of the lake for $98, having to
pay a little more that year than the last, on account of the heavy fall
of snow.

The wood-house was replenished, although there was still a good deal of
last year's cut on hand. We did not fell any trees, for there was still
a considerable quantity of dead wood on the ground which should be used
first. I wanted to clear out much of the useless underbrush, but we had
only time to make a beginning in this effort at forestry. We went over
perhaps ten acres across the north line, removing briers and brush.
Everything that looked like a possible future tree was left. Around oak
and hickory stumps we found clumps of bushes springing from living
roots. These we cut away, except one or possibly two of the most
thrifty. We trimmed off the lower branches of those we saved, and left
them to make such trees as they could. I have been amazed to see what a
growth an oak-root sprout will make after its neighbors have been cut
away. There are some hundreds of these trees in the forest at Four Oaks,
from five to six inches in diameter, which did not measure more than one
or two inches five years ago.

As the underbrush was cleared from the wood lot, I planned to set young
trees to fill vacant spaces. The European larch was used in the first
experiment. In the spring of 1897 I bought four thousand seedling
larches for $80, planted them in nursery rows in the orchard, cultivated
them for two years, and then transplanted them to the forest. The larch
is hardy and grows rapidly; and as it is a valuable tree for many
purposes, it is one of the best for forest planting. I have planted no
others thus far at Four Oaks, as the four thousand from my little
nursery seem to fill all unoccupied spaces.

Fresh mulching was piled near all the young fruit trees, to be applied
as soon as the frost was out of the ground. Several hundreds of loads of
manure were hauled to the fields, to be spread as soon as the snow
disappeared. I always return manure to the land as soon as it can be
done conveniently. The manure from the hen-house was saved this year to
use on the alfalfa fields, to see how well it would take the place of
commercial fertilizer. I may as well give the result of the experiment
now.

It was mixed with sand and applied at the rate of eight hundred pounds
an acre for the spring dressing over a portion of the alfalfa, against
four hundred pounds an acre of the fertilizer 3:8:8. After two years I
was convinced that, when used alone, it is not of more than half the
value of the fertilizer.

My present practice is to use five hundred pounds of hen manure and two
hundred pounds of fertilizer on each acre for the spring dressing, and
two hundred pounds an acre of the fertilizer alone after each cutting
except the last. We have ten or twelve tons of hen manure each year, and
it is nearly all used on the alfalfa or the timothy as spring dressing.
It costs nothing, and it takes off a considerable sum from the
fertilizer account. I am not at all sure that the scientists would
approve this method of using it; I can only give my experience, and say
that it brings me satisfactory crops.

There was much snow in January and February, and in March much rain.
When the spring opened, therefore, the ground was full of water. This
was fortunate, for April and May were unusually dry months,--only 1.16
inches of water.

The dry April brought the ploughs out early; but before we put our hands
to the plough we should make a note of what the first quarter of 1897
brought into our strong box.

Sold:
   Butter . . . .  $842.00
   Eggs   . . . .   401.00
   Cow    . . . .    35.00
   Two sows . . .    19.00
     Total  . . . $1297.00

Fifteen of the young sows farrowed in March, and the other 9 in April,
as also did 18 old ones. The young sows gave us 147 pigs, and the old
ones 161, so that the spring opened with an addition to our stock of 300
head of young swine.

Between March 1 and May 10 were born 25 calves, which were all sold
before July 1. The population of our factory farm was increasing so
rapidly that it became necessary to have more help. We already had eight
men and three women, besides the help in the big house. One would think
that eight men could do the work on a farm of 320 acres, and so they
can, most of the time; but in seed-time and harvest they are not
sufficient at Four Oaks. We could not work the teams.

Up to March, 1897, Sam had full charge of the chickens, and also looked
after the hogs, with the help of Anderson. Judson and French had their
hands full in the cow stables, and Lars was more than busy with the
carriage horses and the driving. Thompson was working foreman, and his
son Zeb and Johnson looked after the farm horses during the winter and
did the general work. From that time on Sam gave his entire time to the
chickens, Anderson his entire time to the hogs, and Johnson began
gardening in real earnest. This left only Thompson and Zeb for general
farm work.

Again I advertised for two farm hands. I selected two of the most
promising applicants and brought them out to the farm. Thompson
discharged one of them at the end of the first day for persistently
jerking his team, and the other discharged himself at the week's end, to
continue his tramp. Once more I resorted to the city papers. This time I
was more fortunate, for I found a young Swede, square-built and
blond-headed, who said he had worked on his father's farm in the old
country, and had left it because it was too small for the five boys.
Otto was slow of speech and of motion, but he said he could work, and I
hired him. The other man whom I sent to the farm at the same time proved
of no use whatever. He stayed four days, and was dismissed for
innocuous desuetude. Still another man whom I tried did well for five
weeks, and then broke out in a most profound spree, from which he could
not be weaned. He ended up by an assault on Otto in the stable yard. The
Swede was taken by surprise, and was handsomely bowled over by the first
onslaught of his half-drunk, half-crazed antagonist. As soon, however,
as his slow mind took in the fact that he was being pounded, he gathered
his forces, and, with a grunt for a war-cry, rolled his enemy under him,
sat upon his stomach, and, flat-handed, slapped his face until he
shouted for aid. The man left the farm at once, and I commended the
Swede for having used the flat of his hand.

In spite of bad luck with the new men we were able to plough and seed
144 acres by May 10. Lots Nos. 8, 12, 13, and 14 were planted to corn,
and No. 15 sowed to oats, and the 10 acres on the home lot were divided
between sweet fodder corn, potatoes, and cabbage. The abundant water in
the soil gave the crops a fair start, and June proved an excellent
growing month, a rainfall of nearly four inches putting them beyond
danger from the short water supply of July and August. Indeed, had it
not been for the generosity of June we should have been in a bad way,
for the next three months gave a scant four inches of rain.

The oats made a good growth, though the straw was rather short, and the
corn did very well indeed,--due largely to thorough cultivation. Twelve
acres of oats were cut for forage, and the rest yielded 33 bushels to
the acre,--a little over 1300 bushels.

The alfalfa and timothy made a good start. From the former we cut, late
in June, 2¼ tons to the acre, and from the timothy, in July, 2½
tons,--50 tons of timothy and 45 of alfalfa. Each of these fields
received the usual top-dressing after the crop was cut; but the timothy
did not respond,--the late season was too dry. We cut two more crops
from the alfalfa field, which together made a yield of a little more
than 2 tons. The alfalfa in that dry summer gave me 95 tons of good hay,
proving its superiority as a dry-weather crop.

Johnson started the one-and-one-half-acre vegetable and fruit garden in
April, and devoted much of his time to it. His primitive hotbeds
gradually emptied themselves into the garden, and we now began to taste
the fruit of our own soil, much to the pleasure of the whole colony. It
is surprising what a real gardener can do with a garden of this size. By
feeding soil and plants liberally, he is able to keep the ground
producing successive crops of vegetables, from the day the frost leaves
it in the spring until it again takes possession in the fall, without
doing any wrong to the land. Indeed, our garden grows better and more
prolific each year in spite of the immense crops that are taken from
it. This can be done only by a person who knows his business, and
Johnson is such a person. He gave much of his time to this practical
patch, but he also worked with Polly among the shrubs on the lawn, and
in her sunken flower garden, which is the pride of her life. We shall
hear more about this flower garden later on.

The accounts for the second quarter of the year show these items on the
income side:--

Butter             $1052.00
Eggs                 379.00
Twenty-five calves   275.00
                   --------
Total              $1706.00



CHAPTER XXXIX

THE YOUNG ORCHARD


One of the most enjoyable occupations of a farmer's life is the care of
young trees. Until your experience in this work is of a personal and
proprietary nature, you will not realize the pleasure it can afford. The
intimate study of plant life, especially if that plant life is yours, is
a never failing source of pleasurable speculation, and a thing upon
which to hang dreams. You grow to know each tree, not only by its shape
and its habit of growth, but also by peculiarities that belong to it as
an individual. The erect, sturdy bearing of one bespeaks a frank, bold
nature, which makes it willing to accept its surroundings and make the
most of them; while the crooked, dwarfish nature of another requires the
utmost care of the husbandman to keep it within the bounds of good
behavior. And yet we often find that the slow-growing, ill-conditioned
young tree, if properly cared for, will bring forth the finest fruit at
maturity.

To study the character and to watch the development of young trees is a
pleasing and useful occupation for the man who thinks of them as living
things with an inheritance that cannot be ignored. That seeds in all
appearance exactly alike should send forth shoots so unlike, is a wonder
of Nature; and that young shoots in the same soil and with the same care
should show such dissimilarity in development, is a riddle whose answer
is to be found only in the binding laws of heredity. That a tiny bud
inserted under the bark of a well-grown tree can change a sour root to a
sweet bough, ought to make one careful of the buds which one grafts on
the living trunk of one's tree of life. The young orchard can teach many
lessons to him who is willing to be taught; in the hands of him who is
not, the schoolmaster has a very sorry time of it, no matter how he sets
his lessons.

The side pockets of my jacket are usually weighted down with
pruning-shears, a sharp knife, and a handled copper wire,--always,
indeed, in June, when I walk in my orchard. June is the month of all
months for the prudent orchardist to go thus armed, for the apple-tree
borer is abroad in the land. When the quick eye of the master sees a
little pile of sawdust at the base of a tree, he knows that it is time
for him to sit right down by that tree and kill its enemy. The sharp
knife enlarges the hole, which is the trail of the serpent, and the
sharp-pointed, flexible wire follows the route until it has reached and
transfixed the borer.

This is the only way. It is the nature of the borer to maim or kill the
tree; it is for the interest of the owner that the tree should live. The
conflict is irrepressible, and the weakest must go to the wall. The
borer evil can be reduced to a minimum by keeping the young trees banked
three or four inches high with firm dirt or ashes; but borers must be
followed with the wire, once they enter the bark.

The sharp knife and the pruning-shears have other uses in the June
orchard. Limbs and sprouts will come in irregular and improper places,
and they should be nipped out early and thus save labor and mutilation
later on. Sprouts that start from the eyes on the trunk can be removed
by a downward stroke of the gloved hand. All intersecting or crossing
boughs are removed by knife or scissors, and branches which are too
luxuriant in growth are cut or pinched back. Careful guidance of the
tree in June will avoid the necessity of severe correction later on.

A man ought to plant an orchard, if for no other reason, that he may
have the pleasure of caring for it, and for the companionship of the
trees. This was the second year of growth for my orchard, and I was
gratified by the evidences of thrift and vigor. Fine, spreading heads
adorned the tops of the stubs of trees that had received such
(apparently) cruel treatment eighteen months before. The growth of these
two seasons convinced me that the four-year-old root and the
three-year-old stem, if properly managed, have greater possibilities of
rapid development than roots or stems of more tender age. I think I made
no mistake in planting three-year-old trees.

As I worked in my orchard I could not help looking forward to the time
when the trees would return a hundred-fold for the care bestowed upon
them. They would begin to bring returns, in a small way, from the fourth
year, and after that the returns would increase rapidly. It is safe to
predict that from the tenth to the fortieth year a well-managed orchard
will give an average yearly income of $100 an acre above all expenses,
including interest on the original cost. A fifty-acre orchard of
well-selected apple trees, near a first-class market and in intelligent
hands, means a net income of $5000, taking one year with another, for
thirty or forty years. What kind of investment will pay better? What
sort of business will give larger returns in health and pleasure?

I do not mean to convey the idea that forty years is the life of an
orchard; hundreds of years would be more correct. As trees die from
accident or decrepitude, others should take their places. Thus the lease
of life becomes perpetual in hands that are willing to keep adding to
the soil more than the trees and the fruit take from it. Comparatively
few owners of orchards do this, and those who belong to the majority
will find fault with my figures; but the thinking few, who do not expect
to enjoy the fat of the land without making a reasonable return, will
say that I am too conservative,--that a well-placed, well-cared-for,
well-selected, and well-marketed orchard will do much better than my
prophecy. Nature is a good husbandman so far as she goes, but her scheme
contemplates only the perpetuation of the tree, by seeds or by other
means. Nature's plan is to give to each specimen a nutritive ration.
Anything beyond this is thrown away on the individual, and had better be
used for the multiplying of specimens. When man comes to ask something
more than germinating seeds from a plant, he must remove it from the
crowded clump, give it more light and air, _and feed it for product_. In
other words, he must give it more nitrogen, phosphoric acid, and potash
than it can use for simple growth and maintenance, and thus make it
burst forth into flower-or fruit-product. Nature produces the apple
tree, but man must cultivate it and feed it if he would be fed and
comforted by it. People who neglect their orchards can get neither
pleasure nor profit from them, and such persons are not competent to sit
in judgment upon the value of an apple tree. Only those who love,
nourish, and profit by their orchards may come into the apple court and
speak with authority.



CHAPTER XL

THE TIMOTHY HARVEST


On Friday, the 25th, the children came home from their schools, and with
them came Jim Jarvis to spend the summer holidays. Our invitation to
Jarvis had been unanimous when he bade us good-by in the winter. Jack
was his chum, Polly had adopted him, I took to him from the first, and
Jane, in her shy way, admired him greatly. The boys took to farm life
like ducks to water. They were hot for any kind of work, and hot, too,
from all kinds. I could not offer anything congenial until the timothy
harvest in July. When this was on, they were happy and useful at the
same time,--a rare combination for boys.

The timothy harvest is attractive to all, and it would be hard to find a
form of labor which contributes more to the æsthetic sense than does the
gathering of this fragrant grass. At four o'clock on a fine morning,
with the barometer "set fair," Thompson started the mower, and kept it
humming until 6.30, when Zeb, with a fresh team, relieved him. Zeb tried
to cut a little faster than his father, but he was allowed no more
time. Promptly at nine he was called in, and there was to be no more
cutting that day. At eleven o'clock the tedder was started, and in two
hours the cut grass had been turned. At three o'clock the rake gathered
it into windrows, from which it was rolled and piled into heaps, or
cocks, of six hundred or eight hundred pounds each. The cutting of the
morning was in safe bunches before the dew fell, there to go through the
process of sweating until ten o'clock the next day. It was then opened
and fluffed out for four hours, after which all hands and all teams
turned to and hauled it into the forage barn.

The grass that was cut one morning was safely housed as hay by the
second night, if the weather was favorable; if not, it took little harm
in the haycocks, even from foul weather. It is the sun-bleach that takes
the life out of hay.

This year we had no trouble in getting fifty tons of as fine timothy hay
as horses could wish to eat or man could wish to see. We began to cut on
Tuesday, the 6th of July, and by Saturday evening the twenty-acre crop
was under cover. The boys blistered their hands with the fork handles,
and their faces, necks, and arms with the sun's rays, and claimed to
like the work and the blisters. Indeed, tossing clean, fragrant hay is
work fit for a prince; and a man never looks to better advantage or more
picturesque than when, redolent with its perfume, he slings a jug over
the crook in his elbow and listens to the gurgle of the home-made ginger
ale as it changes from jug to throat. There may be joys in other drinks,
but for solid comfort and refreshment give me a July hay-field at 3
P.M., a jug of water at forty-eight degrees, with just the amount of
molasses, vinegar, and ginger that is Polly's secret, and I will give
cards and spades to the broadest goblet of bubbles that was ever poured,
and beat it to a standstill. Add to this a blond head under a broad hat,
a thin white gown, such as grasshoppers love, and you can see why the
emptying of the jug was a satisfying function in our field; for Jane was
the one who presided at these afternoon teas. Often Jane was not alone;
Florence or Jessie, or both, or others, made hay while the sun shone in
those July days, and many a load went to the barn capped with white and
laughter. The young people decided that a hay farm would be ideal--no
end better than a factory farm--and advised me to put all the land into
timothy and clover. I was not too old to see the beauties of
haying-time, with such voluntary labor; but I was too old and too much
interested with my experiment to be cajoled by a lot of youngsters. I
promised them a week of haying in each fifty-two, but that was all the
concession I would make. Laura said:--

"We are commanded to make hay while the sun shines; and the sun always
shines at Four Oaks, for me."

It was pretty of her to say that; but what else would one expect from
Laura?

The twelve acres from which the fodder oats had been cut were ploughed
and fitted for sugar beets and turnips. I was not at all certain that
the beets would do anything if sown so late, but I was going to try. Of
the turnips I could feel more certain, for doth not the poet say:--

    "The 25th day of July,
    Sow your turnips, wet or dry"?

As the 25th fell on Sunday, I tried to placate the agricultural poet by
sowing half on the 24th and the other half on the 26th, but it was no
use. Whether the turnip god was offended by the fractured rule and
refused his blessing, or whether the dry August and September prevented
full returns, is more than I can say. Certain it is that I had but a
half crop of turnips and a beggarly batch of beets to comfort me and the
hogs.

Some little consolation, however, was found in Polly's joy over a small
crop of currants which her yearling bushes produced. I also heard rumors
of a few cherries which turned their red cheeks to the sun for one happy
day, and then disappeared. Cock Robin's breast was red the next morning,
and on this circumstantial evidence Polly accused him. He pleaded "not
guilty," and strutted on the lawn with his thumbs in the armholes of his
waistcoat and his suspected breast as much in evidence as a pouter
pigeon's. A jury, mostly of blackbirds, found the charge "not proven,"
and the case was dismissed. I was convinced by the result of this trial
that the only safe way would be to provide enough cherries for the birds
and for the people too, and ordered fifty more trees for fall planting.
I found by experience, that if one would have bird neighbors (and who
would not?), he must provide liberally for their wants and also for
their luxuries. I have stolen a march as to the cherries by planting
scores of mulberry trees, both native and Russian. Birds love mulberries
even better than they do cherries, and we now eat our pies in peace. To
make amends for this ruse, I have established a number of drinking
fountains and free baths; all of which have helped to make us friends.

In August I sold, near the top of a low market, 156 young hogs. At $4.50
per hundred, the bunch netted me $1807. They did not weigh quite as much
as those sold the previous autumn, and I found two ways of accounting
for this. The first and most probable was that fall pigs do not grow so
fast as those farrowed in the spring. This is sufficient to account for
the fact that the herd average was twenty pounds lighter than that of
its predecessor. I could not, however, get over the notion that
Anderson's nervousness had in some way taken possession of the swine (we
have Holy Writ for a similar case), and that they were wasted in growth
by his spirit of unrest. He was uniformly kind to them and faithful
with their food, but there was lacking that sense of cordial sympathy
which should exist between hog and man if both would appear at their
best. Even when Anderson came to their pens reeking with the rich savor
of the food they loved, their ears would prick up (as much as a Chester
White's ears can), and with a "woof!" they would shoot out the door,
only to return in a moment with the greatest confidence. I never heard
that "woof" and saw the stampede without looking around for the "steep
place" and the "sea," feeling sure that the incident lacked only these
accessories to make it a catastrophe.

Anderson was good and faithful, and he would work his arms and legs off
for the pigs; but the spirit of unrest entered every herd which he kept,
though neither he nor I saw it clearly enough to go and "tell it in the
city." With other swineherds my hogs averaged from fifteen to eighteen
pounds better than with faithful Anderson, and I am, therefore,
competent to speak of the gross weight of the spirit of contentment.



CHAPTER XLI

STRIKE AT GORDON'S MINE


Frank Gordon owned a coal mine about six miles west of the village of
Exeter, and four miles from Four Oaks. A village called Gordonville had
sprung up at the mouth of the mine. It was the home of the three hundred
miners and their families,--mostly Huns, but with a sprinkling of
Cornishmen.

The houses were built by the owner of the mine, and were leased to the
miners at a small yearly rental. They were modest in structure, but they
could be made inviting and neat if the occupants were thrifty. No one
was allowed to sell liquor on the property owned by the Gordons, but
outside of this limit was a fringe of low saloons which did a thriving
business off the improvident miners.

There had never been a strike at Gordonville, and such a thing seemed
improbable, for Gordon was a kind master, who paid his men promptly and
looked after their interests more than is usual for a capitalist.

It was, therefore, a distinct surprise when the foreman of the mine
telephoned to Gordon one July morning that the men had struck work.
Gordon did not understand the reason of it, but he expressed himself as
being heartily glad, for financial reasons, that the men had gone out.
He had more than enough coal on the surface and in cars to supply the
demand for the next three months, and it would be money in his pocket to
dispose of his coal without having to pay for the labor of replacing it.

During the day the reason for the strike was announced. From the
establishment of the mine it had been the custom for the miners to have
their tools sharpened at a shop built and run by the property. This was
done for the accommodation of the men, and the charge for keeping the
tools sharp was ten cents a week for each man, or $5 a year. For twenty
years no fault had been found with the arrangement; it had been looked
upon as satisfactory, especially by the men. A walking delegate, mousing
around the mine, and finding no other cause for complaint, had lighted
upon this practice, and he told the men it was a shame that they should
have to pay ten cents a week out of their hard-earned wages for keeping
their tools sharp. He said that it was the business of the property to
keep the tools sharp, and that the men should not be called upon to pay
for that service; that they ought, in justice to themselves and for the
dignity of associated labor, to demand that this onerous tax be removed;
and, to insure its removal, he declared a strike on. This was the
reason, and the only reason, for the strike at Gordon's mine. Three
hundred men quit work, and three hundred families suffered, many of them
for the necessities of life, simply because a loud-mouthed delegate
assured them that they were being imposed upon.

Things went on quietly at the mine. There was no riot, no disturbance.
Gordon did not go over, but simply telephoned to the superintendent to
close the shaft houses, shut down the engines, put out the fires, and
let things rest, at the same time saying that he would hold the
superintendent and the bosses responsible for the safety of the plant.

The men were disappointed, as the days went by, that the owner made no
effort to induce them to resume work. They had believed that he would at
once accede to their demand, and that they would go back to work with
the tax removed. This, however, was not his plan. Weeks passed and the
men became restless. They frequented the saloons more generally, spent
their remaining money for liquor, and went into debt as much as they
were permitted for more liquor. They became noisy and quarrelsome. The
few men who were opposed to the strike could make no headway against
public opinion. These men held aloof from the saloons, husbanded their
money, and confined themselves as much as possible to their own houses.

Things had gone on in this way for six weeks. The men grew more and
more restless and more dissipated. Again the walking delegate came to
encourage them to hold out. Mounted on an empty coal car, he made an
inflammatory speech to the men, advising them not only to hold out
against the owner, but also to prevent the employment of any other help.
If this should not prove sufficient, he advised them to wreck the mining
property and to fire the mine,--anything to bring the owner to terms.

Jack and Jarvis went for a long walk one day, and their route took them
near Gordonville. Seeing the men collected in such numbers around a coal
car, they approached, and heard the last half of this inflammatory
speech. As the walking delegate finished, Jack jumped up on the car, and
said:--

"McGinnis has had his say; now, men, let me have mine. There are always
two sides to a question. You have heard one, let me give you the other.
I am a delegate, self-appointed, from the amalgamated Order of Thinkers,
and I want you to listen to our view of this strike,--and of all
strikes. I want you also to think a little as well as to listen.

"You have been led into this position by a man whose sole business is to
foment discords between working-men and their employers. The moment
these discords cease, that moment this man loses his job and must work
or starve like the rest of you. He is, therefore, an interested party,
and he is more than likely to be biassed by what seems to be his
interest. He has made no argument; he has simply asserted things which
are not true, and played upon your sympathies, emotions, and passions,
by the use of the stale war-cries--'oppression,' 'down-trodden
working-man,' 'bloated bond-holders,' and, most foolish of all, 'the
conflict between Capital and Labor.' You have not thought this matter
out for yourselves at all. That is why I ask you to join hands for a
little while with the Order of Thinkers and see if there is not some
good way out of this dilemma. McGinnis said that the Company has no
right to charge you for keeping your tools sharp. In one sense this is
true. You have a perfect right to work with dull tools, if you wish to;
you have the right to sharpen your own tools; and you also have the
right to hire any one else to do it for you. You work 'by the ton,' you
own your pickaxes and shovels from handle to blade, and you have the
right to do with them as you please.

"There are three hundred of you who use tools; you each pay ten cents a
week to the Company for keeping them sharp,--that is, in round numbers,
$1500 a year. There are two smiths at work at $50 a month (that is
$1200), and a helper at $25 a month ($300 more), making just $1500 paid
by the Company in wages. If you will think this matter out, you will see
that there is a dead loss to the Company of the coal used, the wear and
tear of the instruments, and the interest, taxes, insurance, and
degeneration of the plant. Is the Company under obligation to lose this
money for you? Not at all! The Company does this as an accommodation and
a gratuity to you, but not as a duty. Just as much coal would be taken
from the Gordon mine if your tools were never sharpened, only it would
require more men, and you would earn less money apiece. You could not
get this sharpening done at private shops so cheaply, and you cannot do
it yourselves. You have no more right to ask the Company to do this work
for nothing than you have to ask it to buy your tools for you. It would
be just as sensible for you to strike because the Company did not send
each of you ten cents' worth of ice-cream every Sunday morning, as it is
for you to go out on this matter of sharpening tools.

"But, suppose the Company were in duty bound to do this thing for you,
and suppose it should refuse; would that be a good reason for quitting
work? Not by any means! You are earning an average of $2 a day,--nearly
$16,000 a month. You've 'been out' six weeks. If you gain your point, it
will take you fifteen years to make up what you've already lost. If you
have the sense which God gives geese, you will see that you can't afford
this sort of thing.

"But the end is not yet. You are likely to stay out six weeks longer,
and each six weeks adds another fifteen years to your struggle to catch
up with your losses. Is this a load which thinking people would impose
upon themselves? Not much! You will lose your battle, for your strike is
badly timed. It seems to be the fate of strikes to be badly timed; they
usually occur when, on account of hard times or over-supply, the
employers would rather stop paying wages than not. That's the case now.
Four months of coal is in yards or on cars, and it's an absolute benefit
to the Company to turn seventy or eighty thousand dollars of dead
product into live money. Don't deceive yourselves with the hope that you
are distressing the owner by your foolish strike; you are putting money
into his pockets while your families suffer for food. There is no great
principle at stake to make your conduct seem noble and to call forth
sympathy for your suffering,--only foolishness and the blind following
of a demagogue whose living depends upon your folly.

"McGinnis talked to you about the conflict between capital and labor.
That is all rot. There is not and there cannot be such a conflict. Labor
makes capital, and without capital there would be no object in labor.
They are mutually dependent upon each other, and there can be no quarrel
between them, for neither could exist after the death of the other. The
capitalist is only a laborer who has saved a part of his wages,
--either in his generation or in some preceding one. Any man with a
sound mind and a sound body can become a capitalist. When the laborer
has saved one dollar he is a capitalist,--he has money to lend at
interest or to invest in something that will bring a return. The second
dollar is easier saved than the first, and every dollar saved is earning
something on its own account. All persons who have money to invest or to
lend are capitalists. Of course, some are great and some are small, but
all are independent, for they have more than they need for immediate
personal use.

"I am going to tell you how you may all become capitalists; but first I
want to point out your real enemies. The employer is not your enemy,
capital is not your enemy, but the saloonkeeper is,--and the most deadly
enemy you can possibly have. In that fringe of shanties over yonder live
the powers that keep you down; there are the foes that degrade you and
your families, forcing you to live little better than wild beasts. Your
food is poor, your clothing is in rags, your children are without shoes,
your homes are desolate, there are no schools and no social life. Year
follows year in dreary monotone, and you finally die, and your neighbors
thrust you underground and have an end of you. Misery and wretchedness
fill the measure of your days, and you are forgotten.

"This dull, brutish condition is self-imposed, and to what end? That
some dozen harpies may fatten on your flesh; that your labor may give
them leisure; that your suffering may give them pleasure; that your
sweat may cool their brows, and your money fill their tills!

"What do you get in return? Whiskey, to poison your bodies and pervert
your minds; whiskey, to make you fierce beasts or dull brutes; whiskey,
to make your eyes red and your hands unsteady; whiskey, to make your
homes sties and yourselves fit occupants for them; whiskey, to make you
beat your wives and children; whiskey, to cast you into the gutter, the
most loathsome animal in all the world. This is cheap whiskey, but it
costs you dear. All that makes life worth living, all that raises man
above the brute, and all the hope of a future life, are freely given for
this poor whiskey. The man who sells it to you robs you of your money
and also of your manhood. You pay him ten times (often twenty times) as
much as it cost him, and yet he poses as your friend.

"I'm not going to say anything against beer, for I don't think good beer
is very likely to hurt a man. I will say this, however,--you pay more
than twice what it is worth. This is the point I would make: beer is a
food of some value, and it should be put on a food basis in price. It
isn't more than half as valuable as milk, and it shouldn't cost more
than half as much. You can have good beer at three or four cents a
quart, if you will let whiskey alone.

"I promised to tell you how to become capitalists, each and every one of
you, and I'll keep my word if you'll listen to me a little longer."

While Jack had been speaking, some of the men had shown considerable
interest and had gradually crowded their way nearer to the boy. Thirty
or forty Cornishmen and perhaps as many others of the better sort were
close to the car, and seemed anxious to hear what he had to say. Back of
these, however, were the large majority of the miners and the hangers-on
at the saloons, who did not wish to hear, and did not mean that others
should hear, what the boy had to say. Led by McGinnis and the
saloon-keepers, they had kept up such a row that it had been impossible
for any one, except those quite near the car, to hear at all. Now they
determined to stop the talk and to bounce the boy. They made a vigorous
rush for the car with shouts and uplifted hands.


A gigantic Cornishman mounted the car, and said, in a voice that could
easily be heard above the shouting of the crowd:--

"Wait--wait a bit, men! The lad is a brave one, and ye maun own to that!
There be small 'urt in words, and mebbe 'e 'ave tole a bit truth. Me and
me mates 'ere are minded to give un a chance. If ye men don't want to
'ear 'im, you don't 'ave to stay; but don't 'e dare touchen with a
finger, or, by God! Tom Carkeek will kick the stuffin' out en 'e!"

This was enough to prevent any overt act, for Tom Carkeek was the
champion wrestler in all that county; he was fiercer than fire when
roused, and he would be backed by every Cornishman on the job.

Jack went on with his talk. "The 'Order of Thinkers' claim that you men
and all of your class spend one-third of your entire wages for whiskey
and beer. There are exceptions, but the figures will hold good. I am
going to call the amount of your wages spent in this way, one-fourth.
The yearly pay-roll of this mine is, in round numbers, $200,000. Fifty
thousand of this goes into the hands of those harpies, who grow rich as
you grow poor. You are surprised at these figures, and yet they are too
small. I counted the saloons over there, and I find there are eleven of
them. Divide $50,000 into eleven parts, and you would give each saloon
less than $5000 a year as a gross business. Not one of those places can
run on the legitimate percentage of a business which does not amount to
more than that. Do you suppose these men are here from charitable
motives or for their health? Not at all. They are here to make money,
and they do it. Five or six hundred dollars is all they pay for the vile
stuff for which they charge you $5000. They rob you of manhood and money
alike.

"Now, what would be the result if you struck on these robbers? I will
tell you. In the first place, you would save $50,000 each year, and you
would be better men in every way for so doing. You would earn more
money, and your children would wear shoes and go to school. That would
be much, and well worth while; but that is not the best of it. I will
make a proposition to you, and I will promise that it shall be carried
out on my side exactly as I state it.

"This is a noble property. In ten years it has paid its owner
$500,000,--$50,000 a year. It is sure to go on in this way under good
management. I offer, in the name of the owner, to bond this property to
you for $300,000 for five years at six per cent. Of course this is an
unusual opportunity. The owner has grown rich out of it, and he is now
willing to retire and give others a chance. His offer to you is to sell
the mine for half its value, and, at the same time, to give you five
years in which to pay for it. I will add something to this proposition,
for I feel certain that he will agree to it. It is this: Mr. Gordon will
build and equip a small brewery on this property, in which good,
wholesome beer can be made for you at one cent a glass. You are to pay
for the brewery in the same way that you pay for the other property; it
will cost $25,000. This will make $325,000 which you are to pay during
the next five years. How? Let me tell you.

"The property will give you a net income of $40,000 or $50,000, and you
will save $50,000 more when you give up whiskey and get your beer for
less than one-fourth of what it now costs you. The general store at
which you have always traded will be run in your interests, and all that
you buy will be cheaper. The market will be a cooperative one, which
will furnish you meat, fattened on your own land, at the lowest price.
Your fruit and vegetables will come from these broad acres, which will
be yours and will cost you but little. You will earn more money because
you will be sober and industrious, and your money will purchase more
because you will deal without a middleman. You will be better clothed,
better fed, and better men. Your wives will take new interest in life,
and there will be carpets on your floors, curtains at your windows,
vegetables behind your cottages, and flowers in front of them.

"All these things you will have with the money you are now earning, and
at the same time you will be changing from the laborer to the
capitalist. The mine gives you a profit of $40,000, and you save
one-fourth of your wages, which makes $50,000 more,--$90,000 in all.
What are you to do with this? Less than $20,000 will cover the interest.
You will have $70,000 to pay on the principal. This will reduce the
interest for the next year more than $3000. Each year you can do as
well, and by the time the five years have passed you will own the mine,
the land, the brewery, the store, the market, and this blessed
blacksmith shop about which you have had so much fuss, and also a bank
with a paid-up capital of $50,000. You are capitalists, every one of
you, at the end of five years, if you wish to be, and if you are willing
to give up the single item,--whiskey.

"Do you like the plan? Do you like the prospect? Turn it over and see
what objections you can find. If you are willing to go into it, come
over to Four Oaks some day and we will go more into details. McGinnis
gave you one side of the picture: I have given you the other. You are at
liberty to follow whichever you please."

Jack and Jarvis jumped off the car and struck out for home. Carkeek and
his Cornishmen followed the lads until they were well clear of the
village, to protect them, and then Carkeek said:--"Me and the others
like for to hear 'e talk, mister, and we like for to 'ear 'e talk more."

"All right, Goliath," said Jack. "Come over any time and we'll make
plans."



CHAPTER XLII

THE RIOT


Two days later the boys, returning from the city, were met by Jane and
Jessie in the big carriage to be driven home. Halfway to Four Oaks the
carriage suddenly halted, and a confused murmur of angry voices gave
warning of trouble. Jack opened the door and stood upon the step.

"Fifteen or twenty drunken miners block the way,--they are holding the
horses," said he.

"Let me out; I'll soon clear the road," said Jarvis, trying to force his
way past Jack.

"Sit still, Hercules; I am slower to wrath than you are. Let me talk to
them," and Jack took three or four steps forward, followed closely by
Jarvis.

"Well, men, what do you want? There is no good in stopping a carriage on
the highroad."

"We want work and money and bread," said a great bearded Hun who was
nearest to Jack.

"This is no way to get either. We have no work to offer, there is no
bread in the carriage, and not much money. You are dead wrong in this
business, and you are likely to get into trouble. I can make some
allowance when I remember the bad whiskey that is in you, but you must
get out of our way; the road is public and we have the right to use it."

"Not until you have paid toll," said the Hun.

"That's the rooster who said we drank whiskey and didn't work. He's the
fellow who would rob a poor man of his liberty," came a voice in the
crowd.

"Knock his block off!"

"Break his back!"

"Let me at him," and a score of other friendly offers came from the
drunken crowd.

Jack stood steadily looking at the ruffians, his blue eyes growing black
with excitement and his hands clenched tightly in the pockets of his
reefer.

"Slowly, men, slowly," said he. "If you want me, you may have me. There
are ladies in the carriage; let them go on; I'll stay with you as long
as you like. You are brave men, and you have no quarrel with ladies."

"Ladies, eh!" said the Hun, "ladies! I never saw anything but _women_.
Let's have a look at them, boys."

This speech was drunkenly approved, and the men pressed forward. Jack
stood firm, his face was white, but his eyes flamed.

"Stand off! There are good men who will die for those ladies, and it
will go hard but bad men shall die first."

The Hun disregarded the warning.

"I'll have a look into--"

"Hell!" said the slow-of-wrath Jack, and his fist went straight from the
shoulder and smote the Hun on the point of the jaw. It was a terrible
blow, dealt with all the force of a trained athlete, and inspired by
every impulse which a man holds dear; and the half-drunken brute fell
like a stricken ox. Catching the club from the falling man, Jack made a
sudden lunge forward at the face of the nearest foe.

"Now, Jim!" he shouted, as the full fever of battle seized him. His
forward lunge had placed another miner _hors de combat_, and Jarvis
sprang forward and secured the wounded man's bludgeon.

"Back to back, Jack, and mind your guard!"

The odds were eighteen to two against the young men, but they did not
heed them. Back to back they stood, and the heavy clubs were like
feathers in their strong hands. Their skill at "single stick" was of
immense advantage, for it built a wall of defence around them. The
crazy-drunk miners rushed upon them with the fierceness of wild beasts;
they crowded in so close as to interfere with their own freedom of
movement; they sought to overpower the two men by weight of numbers and
by showers of blows. Jack and Jim were kept busy guarding their own
heads, and it was only occasionally that they could give an aggressive
blow. When these opportunities came, they were accepted with fierce
delight, and a miner fell with a broken head at every blow. Two fell in
front of Jack and three went down under Jarvis's club. The battle had
now lasted several minutes, and the strain on the young men was telling
on their wind; they struck as hard and parried as well as at first, but
they were breathing rapidly. The young men cheered each other with
joyous words; they felt no need of aid.

"Beats football hollow!" panted Jarvis.

"Go in, old man! you're a dandy full-back!" came between strokes from
Jack.

Let us leave the boys for a minute and see what the girls are doing.
When Jarvis got out of the carriage, he said:--

"Lars, if there is trouble here, you drive on as soon as you can get
your horses clear. Never mind us; we'll walk home. Get the ladies to
Four Oaks as soon as possible."

When the battle began, the miners left the horses to attack the men.
This gave a clear road, and Lars was ready to drive on, but the girls
were not in the carriage. They had sprung out in the excitement of the
first sound of blows; and now stood watching with glowing eyes and white
faces the prowess of their champions. For minutes they watched the
conflict with fear and pride combined. When seven or eight minutes had
passed and the champions had not slain all their enemies, some degree of
terror arose in the minds of the young ladies,--terror lest their
knights be overpowered by numbers or become exhausted by slaying,--and
they looked about for aid. Lars, remembering what Jarvis had said, urged
the ladies to get into the carriage and be driven out of danger. They
repelled his advice with scorn. Jane said:--"I won't stir a step until
the men can go with us!"

Jessie said never a word, but she darted forward toward the fighting
men, stooped, picked up a fallen club, and was back in an instant.
Mounting quickly to the box, she said:--"I can hold the horses. Don't
you think you can help the men, Lars?"

"I'd like to try, miss," and the coachman's coat was off in a trice and
the club in his hand. He was none too soon!

Jane, who had mounted the box with Jessie, cried, "Look out, Jack!"
just as a heavy stone crashed against the back of his head. Some brute
in the crowd had sent it with all his force. The stone broke through the
Derby hat and opened a wide gash in Jack's scalp, and sent him to the
ground with a thousand stars glittering before his eyes. Jane gave a sob
and covered her eyes. Jessie swayed as though she would fall, but she
never took her eyes from the fallen man; her lips moved, but she said
nothing; and her face was ghastly white. Jarvis heard the dull thud
against Jack's head and knew that he was falling. Whirling swiftly, he
stopped a savage blow that was aimed at the stricken man, and with a
back-handed cut laid the striker low.

"All right, Jack; keep down till the stars are gone." He stood with one
sturdy leg on each side of Jack's body and his big club made a charmed
circle about him. It was not more than twenty seconds before the wheels
were out of Jack's head and he was on his feet again, though not quite
steady.

Jack's fall had given courage to the gang, and they made a furious
attack upon Jarvis, who was now alone and not a little impeded by the
friend at his feet. As Jack struggled to his legs, a furious blow
directed at him was parried by Jarvis's left arm,--his right being busy
guarding his own head. The blow was a fearful one; it broke the small
bone in the forearm, beat down the guard, and came with terrible force
upon poor Jack's left shoulder, disabling it for a minute. At the same
time Jarvis received a nasty blow across the face from an unexpected
quarter. He was staggered by it, but he did not fall. Jack's right arm
was good and very angry; a savage jab with his club into the face of the
man who had struck Jarvis laid him low, and Jack grinned with
satisfaction.

Things were going hard with the young men. They had, indeed,
disqualified nine of the enemy; but there were still eight or ten more,
and through hard work and harder knocks they had lost more than half
their own fighting strength. At this rate they would be used up
completely while there were still three or four of the enemy on foot.
This was when they needed aid, and aid came.

No sooner had Lars found himself at liberty and with a club in his hands
than he began to use it with telling effect. He attacked the outer
circle, striking every head he could reach, and such was his
sprightliness that four men fell headlong before the others became aware
of this attack from the rear. This diversion came at the right moment,
and proved effective. There were now but six of the enemy in fighting
condition, and these six were more demoralized by the sudden and unknown
element of a rear attack than by the loss of their thirteen comrades.
They hesitated, and half turned to look, and two of them fell under the
blows of Jack and Jarvis. As the rest turned to escape, the Swede's club
felled one, and the other three ran for dear life. They did not escape,
however, for the long legs of the young men were after them. Young blood
is hot, and the savage fight that had been forced upon these boys had
aroused all that was savage in them. In an instant they overtook two of
the fleeing men, but neither could strike an enemy in the back. Throwing
aside their clubs, each seized his enemy by the shoulder, turned him
face to face and smote him sore, each after his fashion. Then they
laughed, took hold of hands, and walked wearily back to the carriage.
Jarvis's face was covered with blood, and Jack's neck and shoulders were
drenched,--his wound had bled freely. Lars had relieved the ladies on
the box after administering kicks and blows in generous measure to the
dazed and crippled miners, who were crawling off the road or staggering
along it. The Swede had a strain of fierce North blood which was not
easily laid when once aroused, and he glared around the battle-field,
hoping to find signs of resistance. When none were to be seen, he donned
his coachman's coat and sat the box like a sphinx.

The girls went quickly forward to meet the men. They said little, but
they put their hands on their battered champions in a way to make the
heart of man glad. The men were flushed and proud, as men have been, and
men will be, through all time, when they have striven savagely against
other savages in the sight of their mistresses, and have gained the
victory. Their bruises were numb with exultation and their wounds dumb
with pride. There was no regret for blows given or received,--no
sympathy for fallen foe. The male fights, in the presence of the female,
with savage delight, from the lowest to the highest ranks of creation,
and we must forgive our boys for some cruel exultation as they looked on
the field of strife. Better feelings will come when the blood flows less
rapidly in their veins!

"We must hurry home," said Jane, "and let papa mend you." Then she
burst into tears. "Oh, I am so sorry and so frightened! Do you feel
_very_ bad, Jack? I know you are suffering dreadfully, Mr. Jarvis. Can't
I do something for you?"

"My arm is bruised a bit," said Jarvis; "if you don't mind, you can
steady it a little."

Jane's soft hands clasped themselves tenderly over Jarvis's great fist,
and she felt relieved in the thought that she was doing something for
her hero. She held the great right hand of Hercules tenderly, and Jarvis
never let her know that it was the _left_ arm that had been broken. She
felt certain that he must be suffering agony, for ever and anon his
fingers would close over hers with a spasmodic grip that sent a thrill
of mixed joy and pain to her heart.

While I was bandaging the broken arm I saw the young lady going through
some pantomimic exercises with her hands, as if seeking to revive the
memory of some previous position; then her face blazed with a light,
half pleasure and half shame, and she disappeared.

When the carriage arrived at Four Oaks, the story was told in few words,
and I immediately set to work to "mend" the boys. Jack insisted that
Jarvis should receive the first attention, and, indeed, he looked the
worse. But after washing the blood off his face, I found that beyond a
severe bruise, which would disfigure him for a few days, his face and
head were unhurt. His arm was broken and badly contused. After I had
attended to it, he said:--

"Doctor, I'm as good as new; hope Jack is no worse."

I carefully washed the blood off Jack's head and neck, and found an ugly
scalp wound at least three inches long. It made me terribly anxious
until I fairly proved that the bone was uninjured. After giving the boy
the tonsure, I put six stitches into the scalp, and he never said a
word. Perhaps the cause of this fortitude could be found in the blazing
eyes of Jessie Gordon, which fixed his as a magnet, while her hands
clasped his tightly. Miss Jessie was as white as snow, but there was no
tremor in hand or eye. When it was all over, her voice was steady and
low as she said:--

"Jack Williams, in the olden days men fought for women, and they were
called knights. It was counted a noble thing to take peril in defence of
the helpless. I find no record of more knightly deed than you have done
to-day, and I know that no knight could have done it more nobly. I want
you to wear this favor on your hand."

She kissed his hand and left the room. Jack didn't seem to mind the
wound in his head, but he gave great attention to his hand.



CHAPTER XLIII

THE RESULT


As soon as the first report of the battle reached me, I telephoned to
Bill Jackson, asking him to come at once to Four Oaks and to bring a man
with him. When he arrived, attended by his big Irishman, my men had
already put one of the farm teams to a great farm wagon, and had filled
the box nearly full of hay. We gave Jackson a hurried account of the
fight and asked him to go at once and offer relief to the wounded,--if
such relief were needed. Jackson was willing enough to go, but he was
greatly disappointed that he had missed the fight; it seemed unnatural
that there should be a big fight in his neighborhood and he not in it.

"I'd give a ten-acre lot to have been with you, lads," said the big
farmer as he started off.

Word had been sent to Dr. High to be ready to care for some broken
heads. Two hours later I drove to the Inn at Exeter and found the doctor
just commencing the work of repair. Thirteen men had been brought in by
the wagon, twelve of them more or less cut and bruised about the head,
and all needing some surgical attention. The thirteenth man was stone
dead. A terrific blow on the back of the head had crushed his skull as
if it had been an egg-shell, and he must have died instantly. After
looking this poor fellow over to make sure that there was no hope for
him, we turned our attention to the wounded. The barn had been turned
into a hospital, and in two hours we had a dozen sore heads well cared
for, and their owners comfortably placed for the night on soft hay
covered by blankets from the Inn. Mrs. French brought tea and gruels for
the thirsty, feverish fellows, and we placed Otto and the big Irishman
on duty as nurses for the night. The coroner had been summoned, and
arrived as we finished our work. He was an energetic official, and lost
no time in getting a jury of six to listen to the statements which the
wounded men would give. To their credit be it said that every one who
gave testimony at all, gave it to the effect that the miners were
crazy-drunk, that they stopped the carriage, provoked the fight, and did
their utmost to disable or destroy the enemy. The coroner would listen
to no further testimony, but gave the case to the jury. In five minutes
their verdict was returned, "justifiable and commendable homicide by
person unknown to the jury."

The news of a fight and the death of a miner had reached Gordonville,
where it created intense excitement. By the time the inquest was over a
crowd of at least fifty miners had collected near the barn. Much
grumbling and some loud threats were heard. Jackson took it upon himself
to meet these angry men, and no one could have done better. Stepping
upon a box which raised him a foot or two above the crowd, he said:--

"See here, fellows, I want to say a word to you. My name's Jackson--Bill
Jackson; perhaps some of you know me. If you don't, I'll introduce
myself. I wasn't in this fight,--worse luck for me! but I am wide open
for engagements in that line. Some one inside said that this gang must
be conciliated, and I thought I would come out and do it. I understand
that you feel sore over this affair,--it's natural that you should,--but
you must remember that those boys out at Four Oaks couldn't accommodate
all of you. If you wouldn't mind taking me for a substitute, I'll do my
level best to make it lively for you. You don't need cards of
introduction to me; you needn't be American citizens; you needn't speak
English; all you have to do is to put up your hands or cock your hats,
and I'll know what you mean. If any of you thinks he hasn't had his
share of what's been going on this afternoon, he may just call on Bill
Jackson for the balance. I want to conciliate you if I can! I'm a
good-tempered man, and not the kind to pick a quarrel; but if any of you
low-lived dogs are looking for a fight, I'm not the man to disappoint
you! I came out here to satisfy you in this matter and to send you home
contented, and, by the jumping Jews! I'll do it if I have to break the
head of every dog's son among you! They told me to speak gently to you,
and by thunder, I've done it; but now I'm going to say a word for
myself!

"A lot of your dirty crowd attacked two of the decentest men in the
county when they were riding with ladies; one of the gang got killed and
the rest got their skulls cracked. Would these boys fight for the girls
they had with them? Hell's blazes! I'll fight for just thinking of it!
Just one of you duffers say 'boo' to me! I'm going right through you!"

Jackson sprang into the crowd, which parted like water before a strong
swimmer. He cocked his hat, smacked his fists, and invited any or all to
stand up to him. He was crazy for a fight, to get even with Jack and
Jarvis; but no one was willing to favor him. He marched through the gang
lengthways, crossways, and diagonally, but to no purpose. In great
disgust he returned to the barn and reported that the crowd would not be
"conciliated." When we left, however, there were no miners to be seen.

It was after one o'clock in the morning when I reached home. Going
directly to the room occupied by the boys, I met Polly on the stairs.

"I'm glad you've come," said she, "for I can't do a thing with those
boys; they are too wild for any use."

Entering the room, I found the lads in bed, but hilarious. They had
sent for Lars and had filled him full of hot stuff and commendation. He
was sitting on the edge of a chair between the two beds, his honest eyes
bulging and his head rolling from the effects of unusual potations. The
lads had tasted the cup, too, but lightly; their high spirits came from
other sources. Victories in war and in love deserve celebration; and
when the two are united, a bit of freedom must be permitted. They sat
bolt upright against the heads of their beds with flushed faces and
shining eyes. They shouted Greek and Latin verse at the bewildered
Swede; they gave him the story of Lars Porsena in the original, and then
in bad Swedish. They called him Lars Porsena,--for had he not fought
gallantly? Then he was Gustavus Adolphus,--for had he not come to the
aid of the Protestants when they were in sore need? And then things got
mixed and the "Royal Swede" was Lars Adolphus or Gustavus Porsena Viking
all in one. The honest fellow was more than half crazed by strong
waters, incomprehensible words, and "jollying up" which the young chaps
had given him.

"See here, boys, don't you see that you're sending your noble Swede to
his Lutzen before his time,--not dead, indeed, but dead drunk? This
isn't the sort of medicine for either of you; you should have been
asleep three hours ago. I'll take your last victim home."

We heard no more from any of the fighters until nine in the morning. In
looking them over I found that the Swede had as sore a head as either of
the others, though he had never taken a blow.

Many friends came to see the boys during the days of their seclusion, to
congratulate them on their fortunate escape, and to compliment them on
their skill and courage. The lads enjoyed being made much of, and their
convalescence was short and cheerful. Of course Sir Tom was the most
constant and most enthusiastic visitor. The warm-hearted Irishman loved
the boys always, but now he seemed to venerate them. The successful club
fight appealed to his national instincts as nothing else could have
done.

"With twenty years off and a shillalah in me hand I would have been
proud to stand with you. By the Lord, I'm asking too much! I'll yield
the twenty years and only ask for the stick!" And his cane went whirling
around his head, now guarding, now striking, and now with elaborate
flourishes, after the most approved Donny-brook fashion.

"But, me friend Jarvis, what is this you have on your face? Pond's
Extract! Oh, murder! What is the world coming to when fresh beef and
usquebaugh are crowded to the wall by bad-smelling water! Look at me
nose; it is as straight as God made it, and yet many a time it has been
knocked to one side of me face or spread all over me features. Nothing
but whiskey and raw beef could ever coax it back! It's God's mercy if
you are not deformed for life, me friend. Such privileges are not to be
neglected with impunity. Let me bathe your face with whiskey and put a
beef-steak poultice after it, and I'll have you as handsome as a girl in
three days."

"Give me the steak and whiskey inside and I'll feel handsome at once,"
said Jarvis.

"Oh, the rashness of youth!" said Sir Tom. "But I'll not say a word
against it. Youth is the greatest luck in the world, and I'll not copper
it."

And then our sporting friend grew reminiscent and told of a time at
Limmer's when the marquis and he occupied beds in the same room, not
unlike our boys' room--only smoky and dingy--and poulticed their
battered faces with beef, and used usquebaugh inside and outside, after
ten friendly rounds.

"Queensbary's nose never resumed entirely after that night, but mine
came back like rubber. Maybe it was the beef--maybe it was usquebaugh;
me own preference is in favor of the latter."

Sir Tom came every day so long as the boys were confined to the place,
and each day he was able to develop some new incident connected with the
battle which called for applause. After hearing Lars tell his story for
the fourth time, he gave him a ten-dollar note, saying:--

"You did nobly for a Swede, Mr. Gustavus Adolphus, but I would give ten
tenners to have had your place and your shillalah,--a Swede for a
match-lock, but an Irishman for a stick."

Jack had hardly recovered when he was waited on by a committee from the
mine with a request that he would make another speech. He was asked to
make good his offer of bonding the property, and also to formulate a
plan of cooperation for the guidance of the men. Jack had the plans for
a cooperative mining village well digested, and was anxious to get them
before the miners. As soon as he was fit he went to Gordonville to try
to organize the work. Jarvis of course went with him, and Bill Jackson
and Sir Tom would not be denied; they did not say so, but they looked as
if they thought some diversion might be found. In spite of the influence
of strong whiskey, however, the meeting passed off peacefully. The
results that grew from this effort at reformation were so great and so
far-reaching that they deserve a book for their narration.



CHAPTER XLIV

DEEP WATERS


For sharp contrasts give me the dull country. The unexpected is the
usual in small and in great things alike as they happen on a farm, and I
make no apology to the reader for entering them in my narrative. I only
ask him, if he be a city man, to take my word for the truth as to the
general facts. To some elaboration and embellishment I plead guilty, but
the groundwork is truth, and the facts stated are as real as the
foundations of my buildings or the cows in my stalls. If the fortunate
reader be a country man, he will need no assurance from me, for his eyes
have seen and his ears have heard the strange and startling episodes
with which the quiet country-side is filled. I do not dare record all
the adventures which clustered around us at Four Oaks. People who know
only the monotonous life of cities would not believe the half if told,
and I do not wish to invite discredit upon my story of the making of the
factory farm.

The incidents I have given of the strike at Gordon's mine are
substantially correct, and I would love to follow them to their
sequel,--the coöperative mine; but as that is a story by itself, I
cannot do it now. I promise myself, however, the pleasure of writing a
history of this innovation in coal-mining at an early date. It is worth
the world's knowing that a copartnership can exist between three hundred
equal partners without serious friction, and that community in business
interests on a large scale can be successfully managed without any
effort to control personal liberty, either domestic, social, or
religious. Indeed, I believe the success of this experiment is due
largely to the absence of any attempt to superintend the private
interests of its members,--the only bond being a common financial one,
and the one requisite to membership, ability to save a portion of the
wages earned.

But to go back to farm matters. In August the ground was stirred for the
second time around the young trees. To do this, the mulch was turned
back and the surface for a space of three feet all around the tree was
loosened by hoe or mattock, and the mulch was then returned. The trees
were vigorous, and their leaves had the polish of health, in spite of
the dry July and August. The mulching must receive the credit for much
of this thrift, for it protected the soil from the rays of the sun and
invited the deep moisture to rise toward the surface. Few people realize
the amount of water that enters into the daily consumption of a tree. It
is said that the four acres of leaf surface of a large elm will
transpire or yield to evaporation eight tons of water in a day, and that
it takes more than five hundred tons of water to produce one ton of hay,
wheat, oats, or other crop. This seems enormous; but an inch of rain on
an acre of ground means more than a hundred tons of water, and
precipitation in our part of the country is about thirty-six inches per
annum, so that we can count on over thirty-six hundred tons of water per
acre to supply this tremendous evaporation of plant life.

Water-pot and hose look foolish in the face of these figures; indeed,
they are poor makeshifts to keep life in plants during pinching times. A
much more effective method is to keep the soil loose under a heavy
mulch, for then the deep waters will rise. In our climate the tree's
growth for the year is practically completed by July 15, and fortunately
dry times rarely occur so early. We are, therefore, pretty certain to
get the wood growth, no matter how dry the year, since it would take
several years of unusual drought to prevent it. Of course the wood is
not all that we wish for in fruit trees; the fruit is the main thing,
and to secure the best development of it an abundant rainfall is needed
after the wood is grown. If the rain doesn't come in July and August,
heavy mulching must be the fruit-grower's reliance, and a good one it
will prove if the drought doesn't continue more than one year. After
July the new wood hardens and gets ready for the trying winter. If July
and August are very wet, growth may continue until too late for the wood
to harden, and it consequently goes into winter poorly prepared to
resist its rigors. The result is a killing back of the soft wood, but
usually no serious loss to the trees. The effort to stimulate late
summer growth by cultivation and fertilization is all wrong; use manures
and fertilizers freely from March until early June, but not later. The
fall mulch of manure, if used, is more for warmth than for fertility; it
is a blanket for the roots, but much of its value is leached away by the
suns and rains of winter.

I felt that I had made a mistake in not sowing a cover crop in my
orchard the previous year. There are many excellent reasons for the
cover crop and not one against it. The first reason is that it protects
the land from the rough usage and wash of winter storms; the second,
that it adds humus to the soil; and the third, if one of the legumes is
used, that it collects nitrogen from the air, stores it in each knuckle
and joint, and holds it there until it is liberated by the decay of the
plant. As nitrogen is the most precious of plant foods, and as the
nitrate beds and deposits are rapidly becoming exhausted, we must look
to the useful legumes to help us out until the scientists shall be able
to fix the unlimited but volatile supply which the atmosphere contains,
and thus to remove the certain, though remote, danger of a nitrogen
famine. That this will be done in the near future by electric forces,
and with such economy as to make the product available for agricultural
purposes, is reasonably sure. In the meantime we must use the vetches,
peas, beans, and clovers which are such willing workers.

The legumes fulfil the three requisites of the cover crop: protection,
humus, and the storing of nitrogen. That was why, when the corn in the
orchard was last cultivated in July, I planted cow peas between the
rows. The peas made a fair growth in spite of the dry season, and after
the corn was cut they furnished fine pasture for the brood sows, that
ate the peas and trampled down the vines. In the spring ploughing this
black mat was turned under, and with it went a store of fertility to
fatten the land. Cow peas were sowed in all the corn land in 1897, and
the rule of the farm is to sow corn-fields with peas, crimson clover, or
some other leguminous plant. As my land is divided almost equally each
year between corn and oats, which follow each other, it gets a cover
crop turned under every two years over the whole of it. Great quantities
of manure are hauled upon the oat stubble in the early spring, and these
fields are planted to corn, while the corn stubble is fertilized by the
cover crop, and oats are sown. The land is taxed heavily every year, but
it increases in fertility and crop-making capacity. For the past two
years my oats have averaged forty-seven bushels and my corn nearly
sixty-eight bushels per acre. There is no waste land in my fields, and
we have made such a strenuous fight against weeds that they no longer
seriously tax the land. The wisdom of the work done on the fence rows is
now apparent. The ploughing and seeding made it easy to keep the brush
and weeds down; hay gathered close to the fences more than pays us for
the mowing; and we have no tall weed heads to load the wind with seeds.
This is a matter which is not sufficiently considered by the majority of
farmers, for weeds are allowed to tax the land almost as much as crops
do, and yet they pay no rent. Fence lines and corners are usually
breeding beds for these pests, and it will pay any landowner to suppress
them.



CHAPTER XLV

DOGS AND HORSES


It was definitely decided in August that Jane was not to go back to
Farmington. We had all been of two minds over this question, and it was
a comfort to have it settled, though I always suspect that my share of
it was not beyond the suspicion of selfishness.

Jane was just past nineteen. She had a fair education, so far as books
go, and she did not wish to graduate simply for the honor of a diploma.
Indeed, there were many studies between her and the diploma which she
loathed. She could never understand how a girl of healthy mind could
care for mathematics, exact science, or dead languages. English and
French were enough for her tongue, and history, literature, and
metaphysics enough for her mind.

"I can learn much more from the books in your library and from the dogs
and horses than I can at school, besides being a thousand times happier;
and oh, Dad, if you will let me have a forge and workshop, I will make
no end of things."

This was a new idea to me, and I looked into it with some interest. I
knew that Jane was deft with her fingers, but I did not know that she
had a special wish to cultivate this deftness or to put it to practical
use.

"What can you do with a forge?" said I. "You can't shoe the horses or
sharpen the ploughs. Can you make nails? They are machine-made now, and
you couldn't earn ten cents a week, even at horse-shoe nails."

"I don't want to make nails, Dad; I want to work in copper and brass,
and iron, too, but in girl fashion. Mary Town has a forge in Hartford,
and I spent lots of Saturdays with her. She says that I am cleverer than
she is, but of course she was jollying me, for she makes beautiful
things; but I can learn, and it's great fun."

"What kind of things does this young lady make, dear?"

"Lamp-shades, paper-knives, hinges, bag-tops, buckles, and lots of
things. She could sell them, too, if she had to. It's like learning a
trade, Dad."

"All right, child, you shall have a forge, if you will agree not to burn
yourself up. Do you roll up your sleeves and wear a leather apron?"

"Why, of course, just like a blacksmith; only mine will be of soft brown
leather and pinked at the edges."

So Jane was to have her forge. We selected a site for it at once in the
grove to the east of the house and about 150 yards away, and set the
carpenter at work. The shop proved to be a feature of the place, and
soon became a favorite resort for old and young for five o'clock teas
and small gossiping parties. The house was a shingled cottage, sixteen
by thirty-two, divided into two rooms. The first room, sixteen by
twenty, was the company room, but it contained a work bench as well as
the dainty trappings of a girl's lounging room. In the centre of the
wall that separated the rooms was a huge brick chimney, with a fireplace
in the front room and a forge bed in the rear room, which was the forge
proper.

I suppose I must charge the $460 which this outfit cost to the farm
account and pay yearly interest on it, for it is a fixture; but I
protest that it is not essential to the construction of a factory farm,
and it may be omitted by those who have no daughter Jane.

There were other things hinging on Jane's home-staying which made me
think that, from the standpoint of economy, I had made a mistake in not
sending her back to Farmington. It was not long before the dog
proposition was sprung upon me; insidiously at first, until I had half
committed myself, and then with such force and sweep as to take me off
my prudent feet. My own faithful terrier, which had dogged my heels for
three years, seemed a member of the family, and reasonably satisfied my
dog needs. That Jane should wish a terrier of some sort to tug at her
skirts and claw her lace was no more than natural, and I was quite
willing to buy a blue blood and think nothing of the $20 or $30 which it
might cost. We canvassed the list of terriers,--bull, Boston, fox,
Irish, Skye, Scotch, Airedale, and all,--and had much to say in favor of
each. One day Jane said:--

"Dad, what do you think of the Russian wolf-hound?"

"Fine as silk," said I, not seeing the trap; "the handsomest dog that
runs."

"I think so, too. I saw some beauties in the Seabright kennels. Wouldn't
one of them look fine on the lawn?--lemon and white, and so tall and
silky. I saw one down there, and he wasn't a year old, but his tail
looked like a great white ostrich feather, and it touched the ground.
Wouldn't it be grand to have such a dog follow me when I rode. Say, Dad,
why not have one?"

"What do you suppose a good one would cost?"

"I don't know, but a good bit more than a terrier, if they sell dogs by
size. May I write and find out?"

"There's no harm in doing that," said I, like the jellyfish that I am.

Jane wasted no time, but wrote at once, and at least seventeen times
each day, until the reply came, she gave me such vivid accounts of the
beauties of the beasts and of the pleasure she would have in owning
one, that I grew enthusiastic as well, and quite made up my mind that
she should not be disappointed. When the letter came, there was
suppressed excitement until she had read it, and then excitement
unsuppressed.

"Dad, we can have Alexis, son of Katinka by Peter the Great, for $125!
See what the letter says: 'Eleven months old, tall and strong in
quarters, white, with even lemon markings, better head than Marksman,
and a sure winner in the best of company.' Isn't that great? And I don't
think $125 is much, do you?"

"Not for a horse or a house, dear, but for a dog--"

"But you know, Dad, this isn't a common dog. We mustn't think of it as a
dog; it's a barzoi; that isn't too much for a barzoi, is it?"

"Not for a barzoi, or a yacht either; I guess you will have to have one
or the other."

"The Seabright man says he has a girl dog by Marksman out of Katrina
that is the very picture of Alexis, only not so large, and he will sell
both to the same person for $200; they are such good friends."

"Break away, daughter, do you want a steam launch with your yacht?"

"But just think, Dad, only $75 for this one. You save $50, don't you
see?"

"Dimly, I must confess, as through a glass darkly. But, dear, I may
come to see it through your eyes and in the light of this altruistic dog
fancier. I'm such a soft one that it's a wonder I'm ever trusted with
money."

The natural thing occurred once more; the fool and his money parted
company, and two of the most beautiful dogs came to live on our lawn. To
live on our lawn, did I say? Not much! Such wonderful creatures must
have a house and grounds of their own to retire to when they were weary
of using ours, or when our presence bored them. The kennel and runs were
built near the carriage barn, the runs, twenty by one hundred feet,
enclosed with high wire netting. The kennel, eight by sixteen, was a
handsome structure of its kind, with two compartments eight by eight
(for Jane spoke for the future), and beds, benches, and the usual
fixtures which well-bred dogs are supposed to require.

The house for these dogs cost $200, so I was obliged to add another $400
to the interest-bearing debt. "If Jane keeps on in this fashion,"
thought I, "I shall have to refund at a lower rate,"--and she did keep
on. No sooner were the dogs safely kennelled than she began to think how
fine it would look to be followed by this wonderful pair along the
country roads and through the streets of Exeter. To be followed, she
must have a horse and a saddle and a bridle and a habit; and later on I
found that these things did not grow on the bushes in our neighborhood.
I drew a line at these things, however, and decided that they should not
swell the farm account. Thus I keep from the reader's eye some of the
foolishness of a doting parent who has always been as warm wax in the
hands of his, nearly always, reasonable children.

In my stable were two Kentucky-bred saddlers of much more than average
quality, for they had strains of warm blood in their veins. There is no
question nowadays as to the value of warm blood in either riding or
driving horses. It gives ability, endurance, courage, and docility
beyond expectation. One-sixteenth thorough blood will, in many animals,
dominate the fifteen-sixteenths of cold blood, and prove its virtue by
unusual endurance, stamina, and wearing capacity.

The blue-grass region of Kentucky has furnished some of the finest
horses in the world, and I have owned several which gave grand service
until they were eighteen or twenty years old. An honest horseman at
Paris, Kentucky, has sold me a dozen or more, and I was willing to trust
his judgment for a saddler for Jane. My request to him was for a
light-built horse; weight, one thousand pounds; game and spirited, but
safe for a woman, and one broken to jump. Everything else, including
price, was left to him.

In good time Jane's horse came, and we were well pleased with it, as
indeed we ought to have been. My Paris man wrote: "I send a bay mare
that ought to fill the bill. She is as quiet as a kitten, can run like a
deer, and jump like a kangaroo. My sister has ridden her for four
months, and she is not speaking to me now. If you don't like her, send
her back."

But I did like her, and I sent, instead, a considerable check. The mare
was a bright bay with a white star on her forehead and white stockings
on her hind feet, stood fifteen hands three inches, weighed 980 pounds,
and looked almost too light built; but when we noted the deep chest,
strong loins, thin legs, and marvellous thighs, we were free to admit
that force and endurance were promised. Jane was delighted.

"Dad, if I live to be a hundred years old, I will never forget this day.
She's the sweetest horse that ever lived. I must find a nice name for
her, and to-morrow we will take our first ride, you and Tom and Aloha
and I--yes, that's her name."

We did ride the next day, and many days thereafter; and Aloha proved all
and more than the Kentuckian had promised.



CHAPTER XLVI

THE SKIM-MILK TRUST


The third quarter of the year made a better showing than any previous
one, due chiefly to the sale of hogs in August. The hens did well up to
September, when they began to make new clothes for themselves and could
not be bothered with egg-making. There were a few more than seven
hundred in the laying pens, and nearly as many more rapidly approaching
the useful age. The chief advantage in early chickens is that they will
take their places at the nests in October or November while the older
ones are dressmaking. This is important to one who looks for a steady
income from his hens,--October and November being the hardest months to
provide for. A few scattered eggs in the pullet runs showed that the
late February and early March chickens were beginning to have a
realizing sense of their obligations to the world and to the Headman,
and that they were getting into line to accept them. More cotton-seed
meal was added to the morning mash for the old hens, and the corn meal
was reduced a little and the oatmeal increased, as was also the red
pepper; but do what you will or feed what you like, the hen will insist
upon a vacation at this season of the year. You may shorten it, perhaps,
but you cannot prevent it. The only way to keep the egg-basket full is
to have a lot of youngsters coming on who will take up the laying for
October and November.

We milked thirty-seven cows during July, August, and September, and got
more than a thousand pounds of milk a day. The butter sold amounted to a
trifle more than $375 a month. I think this an excellent showing,
considering the fact that the colony at Four Oaks never numbered less
than twenty-four during that time, and often many more.

I ought to say that the calves had the first claim to the skim-milk; but
as we never kept many for more than a few weeks, this claim was easily
satisfied. It was like the bonds of a corporation,--the first claim, but
a comparatively small one. The hens came next; they held preferred
stock, and always received a five-pound, semi-daily dividend to each pen
of forty. The growing pigs came last; they held the common stock, which
was often watered by the swill and dish-water from both houses and the
buttermilk and butter-washing from the dairy. I hold that the feeding
value of skim-milk is not less than forty cents a hundred pounds, as we
use it at Four Oaks. This seems a high price when it can often be bought
for fifteen cents a hundred at the factories; but I claim that it is
worth more than twice as much when fed in perfect freshness,--certainly
$4 a day would not buy the skim-milk from my dairy, for it is worth more
than that to me to feed. This by-product is essential to the smooth
running of my factory. Without it the chickens and pigs would not grow
as fast, and it is the best food for laying hens,--nothing else will
give a better egg-yield. The longer my experiment continues, the
stronger is my faith that the combination of cow, hog, and hen, with
fruit as a filler, are ideal for the factory farm. With such a plant
well-started and well-managed, and with favorable surroundings, I do not
see how a man can prevent money from flowing to him in fair abundance.
The record of the fourth quarter is as follows:--

Butter       $1126.00
Eggs           351.00
Hogs          1807.00
             --------
   Total     $3284.00



CHAPTER XLVII

NABOTH'S VINEYARD


>One hazy, lazy October afternoon, as my friend Kyrle and I sat on the
broad porch hitting our pipes, sipping high balls, and watching the men
and machines in the corn-fields, as all toiling sons of the soil should
do, he said:--

"Doctor, I don't think you've made any mistake in this business."

"Lots of them, Kyrle; but none too serious to mend."

"Yes, I suppose so; but I didn't mean it that way. It was no mistake
when you made the change."

"You're right, old man. It's done me a heap of good, and Polly and the
youngsters were never so happy. I only wish we had done it earlier."

"Do you think I could manage a farm?"

"Why, of course you can; you've managed your business, haven't you?
You've grown rich in a business which is a great sight more taxing. How
have you done it?"

"By using my head, I suppose."

"That's just it; if a man will use his head, any business will
go,--farming or making hats. It's the gray matter that counts, and the
fellow that puts a little more of it into his business than his neighbor
does, is the one who'll get on."

"But farming is different; so much seems to depend upon winds and rains
and frosts and accidents of all sorts that are out of one's line."

"Not so much as you think, Kyrle. Of course these things cut in, but one
must discount them in farming as in other lines of business. A total
crop failure is an unknown thing in this region; we can count on
sufficient rain for a moderate crop every year, and we know pretty well
when to look for frosts. If a man will do well by his land, the harvest
will come as sure as taxes. All the farmer has to do is to make the best
of what Nature and intelligent cultivation will always produce. But he
must use his gray matter in other ways than in just planning the
rotation of crops. When he finds his raw staples selling for a good deal
less than actual value,--less than he can produce them for, he should go
into the market and buy against higher prices, for he may be absolutely
certain that higher prices will come."

"But how is one to know? Corn changes so that one can't form much idea
of its actual value."

"No more than other staples. You know what fur is worth, because you've
watched the fur market for twenty years. If it should fall to half its
present price, you would feel safe in buying a lot. You know that it
would make just as good hats as it ever did, and that the hats, in all
probability, would give you the usual profit. It's the same with corn
and oats. I know their feeding value; and when they fall much below it,
I fill my granary, because for my purpose they are as valuable as if
they cost three times as much. Last year I bought ten thousand bushels
of corn and oats at a tremendously low price. I don't expect to have
such a chance again; but I shall watch the market, and if corn goes
below thirty cents or oats below twenty cents, I will fill my granary to
the roof. I can make them pay big profits on such prices."

"Will you sell this plant, Williams?"

"Not for a song, you may be sure."

"What has it cost you to date?"

"Don't know exactly,--between $80,000 and $90,000, I reckon; the books
will show."

"Will you take twenty per cent advance on what the books show? I'm on
the square."

"Now see here, old man, what would be the good of selling this factory
for $100,000? How could I place the money so that it would bring me half
the things which this farm brings me now? Could I live in a better
house, or have better food, better service, better friends, or a better
way of entertaining them? You know that $5000 or $6000 a year would not
supply half the luxury which we secure at Four Oaks, or give half the
enjoyment to my family or my friends. Don't you see that it makes little
difference what we call our expenses out here, so long as the farm pays
them and gives us a surplus besides? The investment is not large for one
to get a living from, and it makes possible a lot of things which would
be counted rank extravagance in the city. Here's one of them."

A cavalcade was just entering the home lot. First came Jessie Gordon on
her thoroughbred mare Lightfoot, and with her, Laura on my Jerry.
Laura's foot is as dainty in the stirrup as on the rugs, and she has
Jerry's consent and mine to put it where she likes. Following them were
Jane and Bill Jackson, with Jane's slender mare looking absolutely
delicate beside the big brown gelding that carried Jackson's 190 pounds
with ease. The horses all looked as if there had been "something doing,"
and they were hurried to the stables. The ladies laughed and screamed
for a season, as seems necessary for young ladies, and then departed,
leaving us in peace. Jackson filled his pipe before remarking:--

"I've been over the ridge into the Dunkard settlement, and they have the
cholera there to beat the band. Joe Siegel lost sixty hogs in three
days, and there are not ten well hogs in two miles. What do you think of
that?"

"That means a hard 'fight mit Siegel,'" said Kyrle.

"It ought to mean a closer quarantine on this side of the ridge," said
I, "and you must fumigate your clothes before you appear before your
swine, Jackson. It's more likely to be swine plague than cholera at this
time of the year, but it's just as bad; one can hardly tell the
difference, and we must look sharp."

"How does the contagion travel, Doctor?"

"On horseback, when such chumps as you can be found. You probably have
some millions of germs up your sleeve now, or, more likely, on your
back, and I wouldn't let you go into my hog pen for a $2000 note. I'm so
well quarantined that I don't much fear contagion; but there's always
danger from infected dust. The wind blows it about, and any mote may be
an automobile for a whole colony of bacteria, which may decide to picnic
in my piggery. This dry weather is bad for us, and if we get heavy winds
from off the ridge, I'm going to whistle for rain."

"I say, Williams, when you came out here I thought you a tenderfoot,
sure enough, who was likely to pay money for experience; but, by the
jumping Jews! you've given us natives cards and spades."

"I _was_ a tenderfoot so far as practical experience goes, but I tried
to use the everyday sense which God gave me, and I find that's about all
a man needs to run a business like this."

"You run it all right, for returns, and that's what we are after; and
I'm beginning to catch on. I want you to tell me, before Kyrle here,
why you gave me that bull two years ago."

"What's the matter with the bull, Jackson? Isn't he all right?"

"Sure he's all right, and as fine as silk; but why did you give him to
me? Why didn't you keep him for yourself?"

"Well, Bill, I thought you would like him, and we were neighbors, and--"

"You thought I would save you the trouble of keeping him, didn't you?"

"Well, perhaps that did have some influence. You see, this is a factory
farm from fence to fence, except this forty which Polly bosses, and the
utilitarian idea is on top. Keeping the bull didn't exactly run with my
notion of economy, especially when I could conveniently have him kept so
near, and at the same time be generous to a neighbor."

"That's it, and it's taken me two years to find it out. You're trying to
follow that idea all along the line. You're dead right, and I'm going to
tag on, if you don't mind. I was glad enough for your present at the
time, and I'm glad yet; but I've learned my lesson, and you may bet your
dear life that no man will ever again give me a bull."

"That's right, Jackson. Now you have struck the key-note; stick to it,
and you will make money twice as fast as you have done. Have a mark, and
keep your eye on it, and your plough will turn a straight furrow."

Jackson sent for his horse, and just before he mounted, I said, "Are
you thinking of selling your farm?"

"I used to think of it, but I've been to school lately and can 'do my
sums' better. No, I guess I won't sell the paternal acres; but who wants
to buy?"

"Kyrle, here, is looking for a farm about the size of yours, and to tell
you the truth I should like him for a neighbor. It's dollars to
doughnuts that I could give him a whole herd of bulls."

"Indeed, you can't do anything of the kind! I wouldn't take a gold
dollar from you until I had it tested. I'm on to your curves."

"But seriously, Jackson, I must have more land; my stock will eat me out
of house and home by the time the factory is running full steam. What
would you say to a proposition of $10,000 for one hundred acres along my
north line?"

"A year ago I would have jumped at it. Now I say 'nit.' I need it all,
Doctor; I told you I was going to tag on. But what's the matter with the
old lady's quarter across your south road?"

"Nothing's the matter with the land, only she won't sell it at any
price."

"I know; but that drunken brute of a son will sell as soon as she's
under the sod, and they say the poor old girl is on her last legs,--down
with distemper or some other beastly disease. I'll tell you what I'll
do. I'll sound the renegade son and see how he measures. Some one will
get it before long, and it might as well be you."

Jackson galloped off, and Kyrle and I sat on the porch and divided the
widow's 160-acre mite. It was a good strip of land, lying a fair mile on
the south road and a quarter of a mile deep. The buildings were of no
value, the fences were ragged to a degree, but I coveted the land. It
was the vineyard of Naboth to me, and I planned its future with my
friend and accessory sitting by. I destroyed the estimable old lady's
house and barns, ran my ploughshares through her garden and flower beds,
and turned the home site into one great field of lusty corn, without so
much as saying by your leave. Thus does the greed of land grow upon one.
But in truth, I saw that I must have more land. My factory would require
more than ten thousand bushels of grain, with forage and green foods in
proportion, to meet its full capacity, and I could not hope to get so
much from the land then under cultivation. Again, in a few years--a very
few--the fifty acres of orchard would be no longer available for crops,
and this would still further reduce my tillable land. With the orchards
out of use, I should have but 124 acres for all crops other than hay. If
I could add this coveted 160, it would give me 250 acres of excellent
land for intensive farming.

"I should like it on this side of the road," said I, "but I suppose that
will have to do."

"What will have to do?" asked Kyrle.

"The 160 acres over there."

"You unconscionable wretch! Have you evicted the poor widow, and she on
her deathbed? For stiffening the neck and hardening the heart, commend
me to the close-to-nature life of the farmer. I wouldn't own a farm for
worlds. It risks one's immortality. Give me the wicked city for
pasturage--and a friend who will run a farm, at his own risk, and give
me the benefit of it."



CHAPTER XLVIII

MAIDS AND MALLARDS


We have so rarely entered our house with the reader that he knows little
of its domestic machinery. So much depends upon this machinery that one
must always take it into consideration when reckoning the pleasures and
even the comforts of life anywhere, and this is especially true in the
country. We have such a lot of people about that our servants cannot
sing the song of lonesomeness that makes dolor for most suburbanites.
They are "churched" as often as they wish, and we pay city wages; but
still it is not all clear sailing in this quarter of Polly's realm. I
fancy that we get on better than some of our neighbors; but we do not
brag, and I usually feel that I am smoking my pipe in a powder magazine.
There is something essentially wrong in the working-girl world, and I am
glad that I was not born to set it right. We cannot down the spirit of
unrest and improvidence that holds possession of cooks and waitresses,
and we needs must suffer it with such patience as we can.

Two of our house servants were more or less permanent; that is, they
had been with us since we opened the house, and were as content as
restless spirits can be. These were the housekeeper and the cook,--the
hub of the house. The former is a Norwegian, tall, angular, and capable,
with a knot of yellow hair at the back of her head,--ostensibly for
sticking lead pencils into,--and a disposition to keep things snug and
clean. Her duties include the general supervision of both houses and the
special charge of store-rooms, food cellars, and table supplies of all
sorts. She is efficient, she whistles while she works, and I see but
little of her. I suspect that Polly knows her well.

The cook, Mary, is small, Irish, gray, with the temper of a pepper-pod
and the voice of a guinea-hen suffering from bronchitis, but she can
cook like an angel. She is an artist, and I feel as if the
seven-dollar-a-week stipend were but a "tip" to her, and that sometime
she will present me with a bill for her services. My safeguard, and one
that I cherish, is an angry word from her to the housekeeper. She
jeeringly asserted that she, the cook, got $2 a week more than she, the
housekeeper, did. As every one knows that the housekeeper has $5 a week,
I am holding this evidence against the time when Mary asks for a lump
sum adequate to her deserts. The number of things which Mary can make
out of everything and out of nothing is wonderful; and I am fully
persuaded that all the moneys paid to a really good cook are moneys put
into the bank. I often make trips to the kitchen to tell Mary that "the
dinner was great," or that "Mrs. Kyrle wants the receipt for that
pudding," or that "my friend Kyrle asks if he may see you make a salad
dressing;" but "don't do it, Mary; let the secret die with you." The
cook cackles, like the guinea-hen that she is, but the dishes are none
the worse for the commendation.

The laundress is just a washerwoman, so far as I know. She undoubtedly
changes with the seasons, but I do not see her, though the clothes are
always bleaching on the grass at the back of the house.

The maids are as changeable as old-fashioned silk. There are always two
of them; but which two, is beyond me. I tell Polly that Four Oaks is a
sprocket-wheel for maids, with two links of an endless chain always on
top. It makes but little difference which links are up, so the work goes
smoothly. Polly thinks the maids come to Four Oaks just as less
independent folk go to the mountains or the shore, for a vacation, or to
be able to say to the policeman, "I've been to the country." Their
system is past finding out; but no matter what it is, we get our dishes
washed and our beds made without serious inconvenience. The wage account
in the house amounts to just $25 a week. My pet system of an increasing
wage for protracted service doesn't appeal to these birds of passage,
who alight long enough to fill their crops with our wild rice and
celery, and then take wing for other feeding-grounds. This kind of life
seems fitted for mallards and maids, and I have no quarrel with either.
From my view, there are happier instincts than those which impel
migration; but remembering that personal views are best applied to
personal use, I wish both maids and mallards _bon voyage_.



CHAPTER XLIX

THE SUNKEN GARDEN


Extending directly west from the porch for 150 feet is an open pergola,
of simple construction, but fast gaining beauty from the rapid growth of
climbers which Polly and Johnson have planted. It is floored with brick
for the protection of dainty feet, and near the western end cluster
rustic benches, chairs, tables, and such things as women and gardeners
love. Facing the west 50 feet of this pergola is Polly's sunken flower
garden, which is her special pride. It extends south 100 feet, and is
built in the side of the hill so that its eastern wall just shows a
coping above the close-cropped lawn. Of course the western wall is much
higher, as the lawn slopes sharply; but it was filled in so as to make
this wall-enclosed garden quite level. The walls which rise above the
flower beds 4½ feet, are beginning to look decorated, thanks to creeping
vines and other things which a cunning gardener and Polly know. Flowers
of all sorts--annuals, biennials (triennials, perhaps), and
perennials--cover the beds, which are laid out in strange, irregular
fashion, far indeed from my rectangular style. These beds please the
eye of the mistress, and of her friends, too, if they are candid in
their remarks, which I doubt.

While excavating the garden we found a granite boulder shaped somewhat
like an egg and nearly five feet long. It was a big thing, and not very
shapely; but it came from the soil, and Polly wanted it for the base of
her sun-dial. We placed it, big end down, in the mathematical centre of
the garden (I insisted on that), and sunk it into the ground to make it
solid; then a stone mason fashioned a flat space on the top to
accommodate an old brass dial that Polly had found in Boston. The dial
is not half bad. From the heavy, octagonal brass base rises a slender
quill to cast its shadow on the figured circle, while around this circle
old English characters ask, "Am I not wise, who note only bright hours?"
A plat of sod surrounds the dial, and Polly goes to it at least once a
day to set her watch by the shadow of the quill, though I have told her
a hundred times that it is seventeen minutes off standard time. I am
convinced that this estimable lady wilfully ignores conventional time
and marks her cycles by such divisions as "catalogue time," "seed-buying
time," "planting time," "sprouting time," "spraying time," "flowering
time," "seed-gathering time," "mulching time," and "dreary time," until
the catalogues come again. I know it seemed no time at all until she had
let me in to the tune of $687 for the pergola, walls, and garden. She
bought the sun-dial with her own money, I am thankful to say, and it
doesn't enter into this account. I think it must have cost a pretty
penny, for she had a hat "made over" that spring.

Polly has planted the lawn with a lot of shade trees and shrubs, and has
added some clumps of fruit trees. Few trees have been planted near the
house; the four fine oaks, from which we take our name, stand without
rivals and give ample shade. The great black oak near the east end of
the porch is a tower of strength and beauty, which is "seen and known of
all men," while the three white oaks farther to the west form a clump
which casts a grateful shade when the sun begins to decline. The seven
acres of forest to the east is left severely alone, save where the
carriage drive winds through it, and Polly watches so closely that the
foot of the Philistine rarely crushes her wild flowers. Its sacredness
recalls the schoolgirl's definition of a virgin forest: "One in which
the hand of man has never dared to put his foot into it." Polly wanders
in this grove for hours; but then she knows where and how things grow,
and her footsteps are followed by flowers. If by chance she brushes one
down, it rises at once, shakes off the dust, and says, "I ought to have
known better than to wander so far from home."

She keeps a wise eye on the vegetable garden, too, and has stores of
knowledge as to seed-time and harvest and the correct succession of
garden crops. She and Johnson planned a greenhouse, which Nelson built,
for flowers and green stuff through the winter, she said; but I think it
is chiefly a place where she can play in the dirt when the weather is
bad. Anyhow, that glass house cost the farm $442, and the interest and
taxes are going on yet. I as well as Polly had to do some building that
autumn. Three more chicken-houses were built, making five in all. Each
consists in ten compartments twenty feet wide, of which each is intended
to house forty hens. When these houses were completed, I had room for
forty pens of forty each, which was my limit for laying hens. In
addition was one house of ten pens for half-grown chickens and fattening
fowls. It would take the hatch of another year to fill my pens, but one
must provide for the future. These three houses cost, in round numbers,
$2100,--five times as much as Polly's glass house,--but I was not going
to play in them.

I also built a cow-house on the same plan as the first one, but about
half the size. This was for the dry cows and the heifers. It cost $2230,
and gave me stable room enough for the waiting stock, so that I could
count on forty milch cows all the time, when my herd was once balanced.
Forty cows giving milk, six hundred swine of all ages, putting on fat or
doing whatever other duty came to hand, fifteen or sixteen hundred hens
laying eggs when not otherwise engaged, three thousand apple trees
striving with all their might to get large enough to bear fruit,--these
made up my ideal of a factory farm; and it looked as if one year more
would see it complete.

No rain fell in October, and my brook became such a little brook that I
dared to correct its ways. We spent a week with teams, ploughs, and
scrapers, cutting the fringe and frills away from it, and reducing it to
severe simplicity. It is strange, but true, that this reversion to
simplicity robbed it of its shy ways and rustic beauty, and left it
boldly staring with open eyes and gaping with wide-stretched mouth at
the men who turned from it. We put in about two thousand feet of tile
drainage on both sides of what Polly called "that ditch," and this
completed the improvements on the low lands. The land, indeed, was not
too low to bear good crops, but it was lightened by under drainage and
yielded more each after year.

The tiles cost me five cents per foot, or $100 for the whole. The work
was done by my own men.



CHAPTER L

THE HEADMAN GENERALIZES


Jackson's prophecy came true. The old lady died, and before the ground
was fairly settled around her the improvident son accepted a cash offer
of $75 per acre for his homestead, and the farm was added to mine. This
was in November. I at once spent $640 for 2-1/2 miles of fencing to
enclose it in one field, charging the farm account with $12,640 for the
land and fence.

This transaction was a bargain, from my point of view; and it was a good
sale, from the standpoint of the other man, for he put $12,000 away at
five per cent interest, and felt that he need never do a stroke of work
again. A lazy man is easily satisfied.

In December I sold 283 hogs. It was a choice lot, as much alike as peas
in a pod, and gave an average weight of 276 pounds; but the market was
exceedingly low. I received the highest quotation for the month, $3.60
per hundred, and the lot netted $2702.

It seems hard luck to be obliged to sell fine swine at such a price, and
a good many farmers would hold their stock in the hope of a rise; but I
do not think this prudent. When a pig is 250 days old, if he has been
pushed, he has reached his greatest profit-growth; and he should be
sold, even though the market be low. If one could be certain that within
a reasonable time, say thirty days, there would be a marked advance, it
might do to hold; but no one can be sure of this, and it doesn't usually
pay to wait. Market the product when at its best, is the rule at Four
Oaks. The young hog is undoubtedly at his best from eight to nine months
old. He has made a maximum growth on minimum feed, and from that time on
he will eat more and give smaller proportionate returns. There is
danger, too, that he will grow stale; for he has been subjected to a
forcing system which contemplated a definite time limit and which cannot
extend much beyond that limit without risks. Force your swine not longer
than nine months and sell for what you can get, and you will make more
money in the long run than by trying to catch a high market. I sold in
December something more than four hundred cockerels, which brought $215.
The apples from the old trees were good that year, but not so abundant
as the year before, and they brought $337,--$2.25 per tree. The hens
laid few eggs in October and November, though they resumed work in
December; but the pullets did themselves proud. Sam said he gathered
from fourteen to twenty eggs a day from each pen of forty, which is
better than forty per cent. We sold nearly eighteen hundred dozen eggs
during this quarter, for $553. The butter account showed nearly
twenty-eight hundred pounds sold, which brought $894, and the sale of
eleven calves brought $180. These sales closed the credit side of our
ledger for the year.

Apples               $337.00
Calves                130.00
Cockerels             215.00
1785 doz. eggs        553.00
2790 lb. butter       894.00
283 hogs             2702.00
                    --------
    Total           $4831.00

In making up the expense account of that year and the previous one, I
found that I should be able in future to say with a good deal of
exactness what the gross amount would be, without much figuring. The
interest account would steadily decrease, I hoped, while the wage
account would increase as steadily until it approached $5500; that year
it was $4662. Each man who had been on the farm more than six months
received $18 more that year than he did the year before, and this
increase would continue until the maximum wage of $40 a month was
reached; but while some would stay long enough to earn the maximum,
others would drop out, and new men would begin work at $20 a month. I
felt safe, therefore, in fixing $5500 as the maximum wage limit of any
year. Time has proven the correctness of this estimate, for $5372 is the
most I have paid for wages during the seven years since this experiment
was inaugurated.

The food purchased for cows, hogs, and hens may also be definitely
estimated. It costs about $30 a year for each cow, $1 for each hog, and
thirty cents for each hen. Everything else comes from the land, and is
covered by such fixed charges as interest, wages, taxes, insurance,
repairs, and replenishments. The food for the colony at Four Oaks,
usually bought at wholesale, doesn't cost more than $5 a month per
capita. This seems small to a man who is in the habit of paying cash for
everything that enters his doors; but it amply provides for comforts and
even for luxuries, not only for the household, but also for the stranger
within the gates. In the city, where water and ice cost money and the
daily purchase of food is taxed by three or four middlemen, one cannot
realize the factory farmer's independence of tradesmen. I do not mean
that this sum will furnish terrapin and champagne, but I do not
understand that terrapin and champagne are necessary to comfort, health,
or happiness.

Let us look for a moment at some of the things which the factory farmer
does not buy, and perhaps we shall see that a comfortable existence need
not demand much more. His cows give him milk, cream, butter, and veal;
his swine give roast pig, fresh pork, salt pork, ham, bacon, sausages,
and lard; his hens give eggs and poultry; his fields yield hulled corn,
samp, and corn meal; his orchards give apples, pears, peaches, quinces,
plums, and cherries; his bushes give currants, gooseberries,
strawberries, raspberries, blackberries; his vines give grapes; his
forests give hickory nuts, butternuts, and hazel nuts; and, best of all,
his garden gives more than twenty varieties of toothsome and wholesome
vegetables in profusion. The whole fruit and vegetable product of the
temperate zone is at his door, and he has but to put forth his hand and
take it. The skilled housewife makes wonderful provision against winter
from the opulence of summer, and her storehouse is crowded with
innumerable glass cells rich in the spoils of orchard and garden. There
is scant use for the grocer and the butcher under such conditions. I am
so well convinced that my estimate of $5 a month is liberal that I have
taxed the account with all the salt used on the farm.



CHAPTER LI

THE GRAND-GIRLS


The click of Jane's hammer began to be heard in November, and hardly a
day passed without some music from this "Forge in the Forest." Sir Tom
made a permanent station of the workshop, where he spent hours in a
comfortable chair, drawing nourishment from the head of his cane and
pleasure from watching the girl at the anvil. I suspect that he planted
himself in the corner of the forge to safeguard Jane; for he had an
abiding fear that she would take fire, and he wished to be near at hand
to put her out. He procured a small Babcock extinguisher and a
half-dozen hand-grenades, and with these instruments he constituted
himself a very efficient volunteer fire department. He made her promise,
also, that she would have definite hours for heavy work, that he might
be on watch; and so fond was she of his company, or rather of his
presence, for he talked but little, that she kept close to the schedule.

Laura had a favorite corner in the forge, where she often turned a hem
or a couplet. She was equally dexterous at either; and Sir Tom watched
her, too, with an admiring eye. I once heard him say:--

"Milady Laura, it is the regret of me life that I came into the world a
generation too soon."

Laura sometimes went away--she called it "going home," but we scoffed
the term--and the doldrums blew until she returned. Sir Tom dined with
us nearly every evening through the fall and early winter; and when he,
and Kate and Tom and the grand-girls, and the Kyrles, and Laura were at
Four Oaks, there was little to be desired. The grand-girls were nearly
five and seven now, and they were a great help to the Headman. My
terrier was no closer to my heels from morning to night than were these
youngsters. They took to country life like the young animals they were,
and made friends with all, from Thompson down. They must needs watch the
sheep as they walked their endless way on the treadmill night and
morning; they thrust their hands into hundreds of nests and placed the
spoils in Sam's big baskets; they watched the calves at their patent
feeders, which deceived the calves, but not the girls; they climbed into
the grain bins and tobogganed on the corn; they haunted the cow-barn at
milking time and wondered much; but the chiefest of their delights was
the beautiful white pig which Anderson gave them. A little movable pen
was provided for this favorite, and the youngsters fed it several times
a day with warm milk from a nursing-bottle, like any other motherless
child. The pig loved its foster-mothers, and squealed for them most of
the time when it was not eating or sleeping; fortunately, a pig can do
much of both. It grew playful and intelligent, and took on strange
little human ways which made one wonder if Darwin were right in his
conclusion that we are all ascended from the ape. I have seen features
and traits of character so distinctly piggish as to rouse my suspicions
that the genealogical line is not free from a cross of _sus scrofa_. The
pig grew in stature and in wisdom, but not in grace, from day to day,
until it threatened to dominate the place. However, it was lost during
the absence of its friends,--to be replaced by a younger one at the next
visit.

"Do _your_ pigs get lost when you are away?" asked No. 1.

"Not often, dear."

"It's only pet pigs that runds away," said No. 2, "and I don't care, for
it rooted me."

The pet pig is still a favorite with the grand-girls, but it always runs
away in the fall.

Kate loved to come to Four Oaks, and she spent so much time there that
she often said:--

"We have no right to that $1200; we spend four times as much time here
as you all do in town."

"That's all right daughter, but I wish you would spend twice as much
time here as you do, and I also wish that the $1200 were twice as much
as it is."

Time was running so smoothly with us that we "knocked on wood" each
morning for fear our luck would break.

The cottage which had once served as a temporary granary, and which had
been moved to the building line two years before, was now turned into an
overflow house against the time when Jack should come home for the
winter vacation. Polly had decided to have "just as many as we can hold,
and some more," and as the heaviest duties fell upon her, the rest of us
could hardly find fault. The partitions were torn out of the cottage,
and it was opened up into one room, except for the kitchen, which was
turned into a bath-room. Six single iron beds were put up, and the place
was made comfortable by an old-fashioned, air-tight, sheet-iron stove
with a great hole in the top through which big chunks and knots of wood
were fed. This stove would keep fire all night, and, while not up to
latter-day demands, it was quite satisfactory to the warm-blooded boys
who used it. The expense of overhauling the cottage was $214. Tom, Kate,
and the grand-girls were to be with us, of course, and so were the
Kyrles, Sir Tom, Jessie Gordon, Florence, Madeline, and Alice Chase.
Jack was to bring Jarvis and two other men besides Frank and Phil of
last year's party.

The six boys were bestowed in the cottage, where they made merry
without seriously interrupting sleep in the main house. The others found
comfortable quarters under our roof, except Sir Tom, who would go home
some time in the night, to return before lunch the next day.

With such a houseful of people, the cook was worked to the bone; but she
gloried in it, and cackled harder than ever. I believe she gave warning
twice during those ten days; but Polly has a way with her which Mary
cannot resist. I do not think we could have driven that cook out of the
house with a club when there was such an opportunity for her to
distinguish herself. Her warnings were simply matters of habit.

The holidays were filled with such things as a congenial country
house-party can furnish--the wholesomest, jolliest things in the world;
and the end, when it came, was regretted by all. I grew to feel a little
bit jealous of Jarvis's attentions to Jane, for they looked serious, and
she was not made unhappy by them. Jarvis was all that was honest and
manly, but I could not think of giving up Jane, even to the best of
fellows. I wanted her for my old age. I suspect that a loving father can
dig deeper into the mud of selfishness than any other man, and yet feel
all the time that he is doing God service. It is in accord with nature
that a daughter should take the bit in her teeth and bolt away from this
restraining selfishness, but the man who is left by the roadside cannot
always see it in that light.



CHAPTER LII

THE THIRD BECKONING


On the afternoon of December 31 I called a meeting of the committee of
ways and means, and Polly and I locked ourselves in my office. It was
then two and a half years since we commenced the experiment of building
a factory farm, which was to supply us with comforts, luxuries, and
pleasures of life, and yet be self-supporting: a continuous experiment
in economics.

The building of the factory was practically completed, though not all of
its machinery had yet been installed. We had spent our money
freely,--too freely, perhaps; and we were now ready to watch the
returns. Polly said:--

"There are some things we are sure of: we like the country, and it likes
us. I have spent the happiest year of my life here. We've entertained
more friends than ever before, and they've been better entertained, so
that we are all right from the social standpoint. You are stronger and
better than ever before, and so am I. Credit the farm with these things,
Mr. Headman, and you'll find that it doesn't owe us such an awful amount
after all."

"Are these things worth $100,000?"

"Now, John, you don't mean that you've spent $100,000! What in the world
have you done with it? Just pigs and cows and chickens--"

"And greenhouses and sunken gardens and pergolas and kickshaws," said I.
"But seriously, Polly, I think that we can show value for all that we
have spent; and the whole amount is not three times what our city house
cost, and that only covered our heads."

"How do you figure values here?"

"We get a great deal more than simply shelter out of this place, and we
have tangible values, too. Here are some of them: 480 acres of excellent
land, so well groomed and planted that it is worth of any man's money,
$120 per acre, or $57,600; buildings, water-plant, etc., all as good as
new, $40,000; 44 cows, $4400; 10 heifers nearly two years old, $500; 8
horses, $1200; 50 brood sows, $1000; 350 young pigs, $1700; 1300 laying
hens, $1300; tools and machinery, $1500; that makes well over $100,000
in sight, besides all the things you mentioned before."

"You haven't counted the six horses in my barn."

"They haven't been charged to the farm, Polly."

"Or the trees you've planted?"

"No, they go with the land to increase its value."

"And my gardens, too?"

"Yes, they are fixtures and count with the acres. You see, this, land
didn't cost quite $75 an acre, but I hold it $50 better for what we've
done to it; I don't believe Bill Jackson would sell his for less. I
offered him $10,000 for a hundred acres, and he refused. We've put up
the price of real estate in this neighborhood, Mrs. Williams."

"Well, let's get at the figures. I'm dying to see how we stand."

"I have summarized them here:--

"To additional land and development of plant  $20,353.00
To interest on previous investment              4,220.00
Wages                                           4,662.00
Food for twenty-five people                     1,523.00
Food for stock                                  2,120.00
Taxes and insurance                               207.00
Shoeing and repairs                               309.00
                                              ----------
      "Making in all                          $33,394.00

spent this year.

"The receipts are:--

"First quarter                                 $1,297.00
Second quarter                                  1,706.00
Third quarter                                   3,284.00
Fourth quarter                                  4,831.00
                                               ---------
        "Making                               $11,118.00

"But we agreed to pay $4000 a year to the farm for our food and shelter,
if it did as well by us as the town house did. Shall we do it, Polly?"

"Why, of course; we've been no end more comfortable here."

"Well, if we don't expect to get something for nothing, I think we
ought to add it. Adding $4000 will make the returns from the farm
$15,118, leaving $18,276 to add to the interest-bearing debt. Last year
this debt was $84,404. Add this year's deficit, and we have $102,680. A
good deal of money, Polly, but I showed you well over $100,000 in
assets,--at our own price, to be sure, but not far wrong."

"Will you ever have to increase the debt?"

"I think not. I believe we shall reduce it a little next year, and each
year thereafter. But, supposing it only pays expenses, how can you put
on as much style on the interest of $100,000 anywhere else as you can
here? It can't be done. When the fruit comes in and this factory is
running full time, it will earn well on toward $25,000 a year, and it
will not cost over $14,000 to run it, interest and all. It won't take
long at that rate to wipe out the interest-bearing debt. You'll be rich,
Polly, before you're ten years older."

"You are rich now, in imagination and expectation, Mr. Headman, but I'll
bank with you for a while longer. But what's the use of charging the
farm with interest when you credit it with our keeping?"

"There isn't much reason in that, Polly. It's about as broad as it is
long. I simply like to keep books in that way. We charge the farm with a
little more than $4000 interest, and we credit it with just $4000 for
our food and shelter. We'll keep on in this way because I like it."



CHAPTER LIII

THE MILK MACHINE


In opening the year 1898 I was faced by a larger business proposition
than I had originally planned. When I undertook the experiment of a
factory farm, I placed the limit of capital to be invested at about
$60,000. Now I found that I had exceeded that amount by a good many
thousand dollars, and I knew that the end was not yet. The factory was
not complete, and it would be several years before it would be at its
best in output. While it had cost me more than was originally
contemplated, and while there was yet more money to be spent, there was
still no reason for discouragement. Indeed, I felt so certain of
ultimate profits that I was ready to put as much into it as could
possibly be used to advantage.

The original plan was for a soiling farm on which I could milk thirty
cows, fatten two hundred hogs, feed a thousand hens, and wait for
thirty-five hundred fruit trees to come to a profitable age. With this
in view, I set apart forty acres of high, dry land, for the
feeding-grounds, twenty acres of which was devoted to the cows; and I
now found that this twenty-acre lot would provide an ample exercise
field for twice that number. It was in grass (timothy, red-top, and blue
grass), and the cows nibbled persistently during the short hours each
day when they were permitted to be on it; but it was never reckoned as
part of their ration. The sod was kept in good condition and the field
free from weeds, by the use of the mowing-machine, set high, every ten
or twenty days, according to the season. Following the mower, we use a
spring-tooth rake which bunched the weeds and gathered or broke up the
droppings; and everything the rake caught was carted to the manure vats.
Our big Holsteins do not suffer from close quarters, so far as I am able
to judge, neither do they take on fat. From thirty minutes to three
hours (depending on the weather), is all the outing they get each day;
but this seems sufficient for their needs. The well-ventilated stable
with its moderate temperature suits the sedentary nature of these milk
machines, and I am satisfied with the results. I cannot, of course,
speak with authority of the comparative merits of soiling _versus_
grazing, for I have had no experience in the latter; but in theory
soiling appeals to me, and in practice it satisfies me.

When I found I could keep more cows on the land set apart for them, I
built another cow stable for the dry cows and the heifers, and added
four stalls to my milk stable by turning each of the hospital wards into
two stalls.

The ten heifers which I reserved in the spring of 1896 were now nearly
two years old. They were expected to "come in" in the early autumn, when
they would supplement the older herd. The cows purchased in 1895 were
now five years old, and quite equal to the large demand which we made
upon them. They had grown to be enormous creatures, from thirteen
hundred to fourteen hundred pounds in weight, and they were proving
their excellence as milk producers by yielding an average of forty
pounds a day. We had, and still have, one remarkable milker, who thinks
nothing of yielding seventy pounds when fresh, and who doesn't fall
below twenty-five pounds when we are forced to dry her off. I have no
doubt that she would be a successful candidate for advanced registration
if we put her to the test. For ten months in each year these cows give
such quantities of milk as would surprise a man not acquainted with this
noble Dutch family. My five common cows were good of their kind, but
they were not in the class with the Holsteins. They were not "robber"
cows, for they fully earned their food; but there was no great profit in
them. To be sure, they did not eat more than two-thirds as much as the
Holsteins; but that fact did not stand to their credit, for the basic
principle of factory farming is to consume as much raw material as
possible and to turn out its equivalent in finished product. The common
cows consumed only two-thirds as much raw material as the Holsteins,
and turned out rather less than two-thirds of their product, while they
occupied an equal amount of floor space; consequently they had to give
place to more competent machines. They were to be sold during the
season.

Why dairymen can be found who will pay $50 apiece for cows like those I
had for sale (better, indeed, than the average), is beyond my method of
reckoning values. Twice $50 will buy a young cow bred for milk, and she
would prove both bread and milk to the purchaser in most cases. The
question of food should settle itself for the dairyman as it does for
the factory farmer. The more food consumed, the better for each, if the
ratio of milk be the same.

My Holsteins are great feeders; more than 2 tons of grain, 2-1/2 tons of
hay, and 4 or 5 tons of corn fodder, in addition to a ton of roots or
succulent vegetables, pass through their great mouths each year. The hay
is nearly equally divided between timothy, oat hay, and alfalfa; and
when I began to figure the gross amount that would be required for my 50
Holstein gourmands, I saw that the widow's farm had been purchased none
too quickly. To provide 100 tons of grain, 125 tons of hay, and 200 or
300 tons of corn fodder for the cows alone, was no slight matter; but I
felt prepared to furnish this amount of raw material to be transmuted
into golden butter. The Four Oaks butter had made a good reputation, and
the four oak leaves stamped on each mould was a sufficient guarantee of
excellence. My city grocer urged a larger product, and I felt safe in
promising it; at the same time, I held him up for a slight advance in
price. Heretofore it had netted me 32 cents a pound, but from January 1,
1898, I was to have 33-1/3 cents for each pound delivered at the station
at Exeter, I agreeing to furnish at least 50 pounds a day, six days in a
week.

This was not always easily done during the first eight months of that
year, and I will confess to buying 640 pounds to eke out the supply for
the colony; but after the young heifers came in, there was no trouble,
and the purchased butter was more than made up to our local grocer.

It will be more satisfactory to deal with dairy matters in lump sums
from now on. The contract with the city grocer still holds, and, though
he often urges me to increase my herd, I still limit the supply to 300
pounds a week,--sometimes a little more, but rarely less. I believe that
38 to 44 cows in full flow of milk will make the best balance in my
factory; and a well-balanced factory is what I am after.

I am told that animals are not machines, and that they cannot be run as
such. My animals are; and I run them as I would a shop. There is no
sentiment in my management. If a cow or a hog or a hen doesn't work in a
satisfactory way, it ceases to occupy space in my shop, just as would
an imperfect wheel. The utmost kindness is shown to all animals at Four
Oaks. This rule is the most imperative one on the place, and the one in
which no "extenuating circumstances" are taken into account. There are
two equal reasons for this: the first is a deep-rooted aversion to
cruelty in all forms; and the second is, _it pays_. But kindness to
animals doesn't imply the necessity of keeping useless ones or those
whose usefulness is below one's standard. If a man will use the
intelligence and attention to detail in the management of stock that is
necessary to the successful running of a complicated machine, he will
find that his stock doesn't differ greatly from his machine. The trouble
with most farmers is that they think the living machine can be neglected
with impunity, because it will not immediately destroy itself or others,
and because it is capable of a certain amount of self-maintenance; while
the dead machine has no power of self-support, and must receive careful
and punctual attention to prevent injury to itself and to other
property. If a dairyman will feed his cows as a thresher feeds the
cylinder of his threshing-machine, he will find that the milk will flow
from the one about as steadily as the grain falls from the other.

Intensive factory farming means the use of the best machines pushed to
the limit of their capacity through the period of their greatest
usefulness, and then replaced by others. Pushing to the limit of
capacity is in no sense cruelty. It is predicated on the perfect health
of the animal, for without perfect condition, neither machine nor animal
can do its best work. It is simply encouraging to a high degree the
special function for which generations of careful breeding have fitted
the animal.

That there is gratification in giving milk, no well-bred cow or mother
will deny. It is a joyous function to eat large quantities of pleasant
food and turn it into milk. Heredity impels the cow to do this, and it
would take generations of wild life to wean her from it. As well say
that the cataleptic trance of the pointer, when the game bird lies close
and the delicate scent fills his nostrils, is not a joy to him, or that
the Dalmatian at the heels of his horse, or the foxhound when Reynard's
trail is warm, receive no pleasure from their specialties.

Do these animals feel no joy in the performance of service which is bred
into their bones and which it is unnatural or freakish for them to lack?
No one who has watched the "bred-for-milk" cow can doubt that the joys
of her life are eating, drinking, sleeping, and giving milk. Pushing her
to the limit of her capacity is only intensifying her life, though,
possibly, it may shorten it by a year or two. While she lives she knows
all the happiness of cow life, and knows it to the full. What more can
she ask? She would starve on the buffalo grass which supports her
half-wild sister, "northers" would freeze her, and the snow would bury
her. She is a product of high cow-civilization, and as such she must
have the intelligent care of man or she cannot do her best. With this
care she is a marvellous machine for the making of the only article of
food which in itself is competent to support life in man. If my
Holsteins are not machines, they resemble them so closely that I will
not quarrel with the name.

What is true of the cow, is true also of the pork-making machine that we
call the hog. His wild and savage progenitor is lost, and we have in his
place a sluggish animal that is a very model as a food producer. His
three pleasures are eating, sleeping, and growing fat. He follows these
pleasures with such persistence that 250 days are enough to perfect him.
It can certainly be no hardship to a pig to encourage him in a life of
sloth and gluttony which appeals to his taste and to my profit.

Custom and interest make his life ephemeral; I make it comfortable. From
the day of his birth until we separate, I take watchful care of him.
During infancy he is protected from cold and wet, and his mother is
coddled by the most nourishing foods, that she may not fail in her duty
to him. During childhood he is provided with a warm house, a clean bed,
and a yard in which to disport himself, and is fed for growth and bone
on skim-milk, oatmeal, and sweet alfalfa. During his youth, corn meal is
liberally added to his diet, also other dainties which he enjoys and
makes much of; and during his whole life he has access to clean water,
and to the only medicine which a pig needs,--a mixture of ashes,
charcoal, salt, and sulphur.

When he has spent 250 happy days with me, we part company with feelings
of mutual respect,--he to finish his mission, I to provide for his
successor.

My early plan was to turn off 200 of this finished product each year,
but I soon found that I could do much better. One can raise a crop of
hogs nearly as quickly as a crop of corn, and with much more profit, if
the food be at hand. There was likely to be an abundance of food. I was
more willing to sell it in pig skins than in any other packages. My plan
was now to turn off, not 200 hogs each year, but 600 or more. I had 60
well-bred sows, young and old, and I could count on them to farrow at
least three times in two years. The litters ought to average 7 each, say
22 pigs in two years; 60 times 22 are 1320, and half of 1320 is 660.
Yes, at that rate, I could count on about 600 finished hogs to sell each
year. But if my calculations were too high, I could easily keep 10 more
brood sows, for I had sufficient room to keep them healthy.

The two five-acre lots, Nos. 3 and 5, had been given over to the brood
sows when they were not caring for young litters in the brood-house.
Comfortable shelters and a cemented basin twelve feet by twelve, and one
foot deep, had been built in each lot. The water-pipe that ran through
the chicken lot (No. 4) connected with these basins, as did also a
drain-pipe to the drain in the north lane, so that it was easy to turn
on fresh water and to draw off that which was soiled. Through this
device my brood sows had access to a water bath eight inches deep,
whenever they were in the fields. My hogs, young or old, have never been
permitted to wallow in mud. We have no mud-holes at Four Oaks to grow
stale and breed disease. The breeding hogs have exercise lots and baths,
but the young growing and fattening stock have neither. They are kept in
runs twenty feet by one hundred, in bunches of from twenty to forty,
according to age, from the time they are weaned until they leave the
place for good. This plan, which I did not intend to change, opened a
question in my mind that gave me pause. It was this: Can I hope, even
with the utmost care, to keep the house for growing and fattening swine
free from disease if I keep it constantly full of swine?

The more I thought about it the less probable it appeared. The pig-house
had cost me $4320. Another would cost as much, if not more, and I did
not like to go to the expense unless it were necessary. I worked over
this problem for several days, and finally came to the conclusion that
I should never feel easy about my swine until I had two houses for them,
besides the brood-house for the sows. I therefore gave the order to
Nelson to build another swine-house as soon as spring opened. My plan
was, and I carried it out, to move all the colonies every three months,
and to have the vacant house thoroughly cleaned, sprayed with a powerful
germicide, and whitewashed. The runs were to be turned over, when the
weather would permit, and the ground sown to oats or rye.

The new house was finished in June, and the pigs were moved into it on
July 1st with a lease of three months. My mind has been easy on the
question of the health of my hogs ever since; and with reason, for there
has been no epizoötic or other serious form of disease in my piggery, in
spite of the fact that there are often more than 1200 pigs of all
degrees crowded into this five-acre lot. The two pig-houses and the
brood-house, with their runs, cover the whole of the lot, except the
broad street of sixty feet just inside my high quarantine fence, which
encloses the whole of it.



CHAPTER LIV

BACON AND EGGS


Each hog turned out from my piggery weighing 270 pounds or more, has
eaten of my substance not less than 500 pounds of grain, 250 pounds of
chopped alfalfa, 250 pounds of roots or vegetables, and such quantities
of skimmed milk and swill as have fallen to his share. I could reckon
the approximate cost of these foods, but I will not do so. All but the
middlings and oil meal come from the farm and are paid for by certain
fixed charges heretofore mentioned. The middlings and oil meal are
charged in the "food for animals" account at the rate of $1 a year for
each finished hog.

The truth is that a large part of the food which enters into the making
of each 300 pounds of live pork, is of slow sale, and that for some of
it there is no sale at all,--for instance, house swill, dish-water,
butter-washings, garden weeds, lawn clippings, and all sorts of coarse
vegetables. A hog makes half his growth out of refuse which has no
value, or not sufficient to warrant the effort and expense of selling
it. He has unequalled facilities for turning non-negotiable scrip into
convertible bonds, and he is the greatest moneymaker on the farm. If
the grain ration were all corn, and if there were a roadside market for
it at 35 cents a bushel, it would cost $3.12; the alfalfa would be worth
$1.45, and the vegetables probably 65 cents, under like conditions,
making a total of $5.22 as a possible gross value of the food which the
hog has eaten. The gross value of these things, however, is far above
their net value when one considers time and expense of sale. The hog
saves all this trouble by tucking under his skin slow-selling remnants
of farm products and making of them finished assets which can be turned
into cash at a day's notice.

To feed the hogs on the scale now planned, I had to provide for
something like 7000 bushels of grain, chiefly corn and oats, 100 tons of
alfalfa, and an equal amount of vegetables, chiefly sugar beets and
mangel-wurzel. Certainly the widow's land would be needed.

The poultry had also outgrown my original plans, and I had built with
reference to my larger views. There were five houses on the poultry lot,
each 200 feet long, and each divided into ten equal pens. Four of these
houses were for the laying hens, which were divided into flocks of 40
each; while the other house was for the growing chickens and for
cockerels being fattened for market.

There were now on hand more than 1300 pullets and hens, and I instructed
Sam to run his incubator overtime that season, so as to fill our houses
by autumn. I should need 800 or 900 pullets to make our quota good, for
most of the older hens would have to be disposed of in the autumn,--all
but about 200, which would be kept until the following spring to breed
from.

I believe that a three-year-old hen that has shown the egg habit is the
best fowl to breed from, and it is the custom at Four Oaks to reserve
specially good pens for this purpose. The egg habit is unquestionably as
much a matter of heredity as the milk or the fat producing habit, and
should be as carefully cultivated. With this end in view, Sam added
young cockerels to four of his best-producing flocks on January 1, and
by the 15th he was able to start his incubators.

Breeding and feeding for eggs is on the same principle as feeding and
breeding for milk. It is no more natural for a hen to lay eggs for human
consumption than it is for the robin to do so, or for the cow to give
more milk than is sufficient for her calf. Man's necessity has made
demands upon both cow and hen, and man's intelligence has converted
individualists into socialists in both of these races. They no longer
live for themselves alone. As the cow, under favorable conditions, finds
pleasure in giving milk, so does the hen under like conditions take
delight in giving eggs,--else why the joyous cackle when leaving her
nest after doing her full duty? She gloats over it, and glories in it,
and announces her satisfaction to the whole yard. It is something to be
proud of, and the cackling hen knows it better than you or I. It can be
no hardship to push this egg machine to the limit of its capacity. It
adds new zest to the life of the hen, and multiplies her opportunities
for well-earned self-congratulation.

Our hens are fed for eggs, and we get what we feed for. I said of my
hens that I would not ask them to lay more than eight dozen eggs each
year, and I will stick to what I said. But I do not reject voluntary
contributions beyond this number. Indeed, I accept them with thanks, and
give Biddy a word of commendation for her gratuity. Eight dozen eggs a
year will pay a good profit, but if each of my hens wishes to present me
with two dozen more, I slip 62 cents into my pocket and say, "I am very
much obliged to you, miss," or madam, as the case may be. Most of my
hens do remember me in this substantial way, and the White Wyandottes
are in great favor with the Headman.

The houses in which my hens live are almost as clean as the one I
inhabit (and Polly is tidy to a degree); their food is as carefully
prepared as mine, and more punctually served; their enemies are fended
off, and they are never frightened by dogs or other animals, for the
five-acre lot on which their houses and runs are built is enclosed by a
substantial fence that prevents any interloping; book agents never
disturb their siestas, nor do tree men make their lives hideous with
lithographs of impossible fruit on improbable trees. Whether I am
indebted to one or to all of these conditions for my full egg baskets, I
am unable to say; but I do not purpose to make any change, for my egg
baskets are as full as a reasonable man could wish. As nearly as I can
estimate, my hens give thirty per cent egg returns as a yearly
average--about 120 eggs for each hen in 365 days. This is more than I
ask of them, but I do not refuse their generosity.

Every egg is worth, in my market, 2-1/2 cents, which means that the
yearly product of each hen could be sold for $3. Something more than two
thousand dozen are consumed by the home colony or the incubators; the
rest find their way to the city in clean cartons of one dozen each, with
a stencil of Four Oaks and a guarantee that they are not twenty-four
hours old when they reach the middleman.

In return for this $3 a year, what do I give my hens besides a clean
house and yard? A constant supply of fresh water, sharp grits, oyster
shells, and a bath of road dust and sifted ashes, to which is added a
pinch of insect powder. Twice each day five pounds of fresh skim-milk is
given to each flock of forty. In the morning they have a warm mash
composed of (for 1600 hens) 50 pounds of alfalfa hay cut fine and soaked
all night in hot water, 50 pounds of corn meal, 50 pounds of oat meal,
50 pounds of bran, and 20 pounds of either meat meal or cotton-seed
meal. At noon they get 100 pounds of mixed grains--wheat and buckwheat
usually--with some green vegetables to pick at; and at night 125 to 150
pounds of whole corn. There are variations of this diet from time to
time, but no radical change. I have read much of a balanced ration, but
I fancy a hen will balance her own ration if you give her the chance.

Milk is one of the most important items on this bill of fare, and all
hens love it. It should be fed entirely fresh, and the crocks or earthen
dishes from which it is eaten should be thoroughly cleansed each day.
Four ounces for each hen is a good daily ration, and we divide this into
two feedings.

Our 1600 hens eat about 75 tons of grain a year. Add to this the 100
tons which 50 cows will require, 200 tons for the swine, and 25 tons for
the horses, and we have 400 tons of grain to provide for the stock on
the factory farm. Nearly a fourth of this, in the shape of bran, gluten
meal, oil meal, and meat meal, must be purchased, for we have no way of
producing it. For the other 300 tons we must look to the land or to a
low market. Three hundred tons of mixed grains means something like
13,000 bushels, and I cannot hope to raise this amount from my land at
present.

Fortunately the grain market was to my liking in January of 1898; and
though there were still more than 7000 bushels in my granary, I
purchased 5000 bushels of corn and as much oats against a higher market.
The corn cost 27 cents a bushel and the oats 22, delivered at Exeter,
the 10,000 bushels amounting to $2450, to be charged to the farm
account.

I was now prepared to face the food problem, for I had more than 17,000
bushels of grain to supplement the amount the farm would produce, and to
tide me along until cheap grain should come again, or until my land
should produce enough for my needs. The supply in hand plus that which I
could reasonably expect to raise, would certainly provide for three
years to come, and this is farther than the average farmer looks into
the future. But I claim to be more enterprising than an average farmer,
and determined to keep my eyes open and to take advantage of any
favorable opportunity to strengthen my position.

In the meantime it was necessary to force my trees, and to secure more
help for the farm work. To push fruit trees to the limit of healthy
growth is practical and wise. They can accomplish as much in growth and
development in three years, when judiciously stimulated, as in five or
six years of the "lick-and-a-promise" kind of care which they usually
receive.

A tree must be fed first for growth and afterward for fruit, just as a
pig is managed, if one wishes quick returns. To plant a tree and leave
it to the tenderness of nature, with only occasional attention, is to
make the heart sick, for it is certain to prove a case of hope deferred.
In the fulness of time the tree and "happy-go-lucky" nature will prove
themselves equal to the development of fruit; but they will be slow in
doing it. It is quite as well for the tree, and greatly to the advantage
of the horticulturist, to cut two or three years out of this
unprofitable time. All that is necessary to accomplish this is: to keep
the ground loose for a space around the tree somewhat larger than the
spread of its branches; to apply fertilizers rich in nitrogen; to keep
the whole of the cultivated space mulched with good barn-yard manure,
increasing the thickness of the mulch with coarse stuff in the fall, so
as to lengthen the season of root activity; and to draw the mulch aside
about St. Patrick's Day, that the sun's rays may warm the earth as early
as possible. Moderate pruning, nipping back of exuberant branches, and
two sprayings of the foliage with Bordeaux mixture, to keep fungus
enemies in check, comprise all the care required by the growing tree.
This treatment will condense the ordinary growth of five years into
three, and the tree will be all the better for the forcing.

As soon as fruit spurs and buds begin to show themselves, the treatment
should be modified, but not remitted. Less nitrogen and more phosphoric
acid and potash are to be used, and the mulch should _not_ be removed
in the early spring. The objects now are, to stimulate the fruit buds
and to retard activity in the roots until the danger from late frosts is
past. As a result of this kind of treatment, many varieties of apple
trees will give moderate crops when the roots are seven, and the trunks
are six years old. Fruit buds showed in abundance on many of my trees in
the fall of 1897, especially on the Duchess and the Yellow Transparent,
and I looked for a small apple harvest that year.



CHAPTER LV

THE OLD TIME FARM-HAND


With all my industries thus increasing, the necessity for more help
became imperative. French and Judson had their hands more than full in
the dairy barns, and had to be helped out by Thompson. Anderson could
not give the swine all the attention they needed, and was assisted by
Otto, who proved an excellent swineherd. Sam had the aid of Lars's boys
with the poultry, and very efficient aid it was, considering the time
they could give to it. They had to be off with the market wagon at 7.40,
and did not return from school until 4 P.M. Lars was busy in the
carriage barn; and though we spared him as much as possible from
driving, he had to be helped out by Johnson at such times as the latter
could spare from his greenhouse and hotbeds. Zeb took care of the farm
teams; but the winter's work of distributing forage and grain, getting
up wood and ice, hauling manure, and so forth, had to be done in a
desultory and irregular manner. The spring work would find us wofully
behindhand if I did not look sharp. I had been looking sharp since
January set in, and had experienced, for the first time, real
difficulties in finding anything like good help. Hitherto I had been
especially fortunate in this regard. I had met some reverses, but in the
main good luck had followed me. I had nine good men who seemed contented
and who were all saving money,--an excellent sign of stability and
contentment. Even Lars had not fallen from grace but once, and that
could hardly be charged against him, for Jack and Jarvis had tempted him
beyond resistance; while Sam's nose was quite blanched, and he was to
all appearances firmly seated on the water wagon. Really, I did not know
what labor troubles meant until 1898, but since then I have not had
clear sailing.

From my previous experience with working-men, I had formed the opinion
that they were reasoning and reasonable human beings,--with
peculiarities, of course; and that as a class they were ready to give
good service for fair wages and decent treatment. In early life I had
been a working-man myself, and I thought I could understand the feelings
and sympathize with the trials of the laborer from the standpoint of
personal experience. I was sorely mistaken. The laboring man of to-day
is a different proposition from the man who did manual labor "before the
war." That he is more intelligent, more provident, happier, or better in
any way, I sincerely doubt; that he is restless, dissatisfied, and less
efficient, I believe; that he is unreasonable in his demands and
regardless of the interests of his employer, I know. There are many
shining exceptions, and to these I look for the ultimate regeneration of
labor; but the rule holds true.

I do not believe that the principles of life have changed in forty
years. I do not believe that an intelligent, able-bodied man need be a
servant all his life, or that industry and economy miss their rewards,
or that there is any truth in the theory that men cannot rise out of the
rut in which they happen to find themselves. The trouble is with the
man, not with the rut. He spends his time in wallowing rather than in
diligently searching for an outlet or in honestly working his way up to
it. Heredity and environment are heavy weights, but industry and
sobriety can carry off heavier ones. I have sympathy for weakness of
body or mind, and patience for those over whom inheritance has cast a
baleful spell; but I have neither patience nor sympathy for a strong man
who rails at his condition and makes no determined effort to better it.

The time and money wasted in strikes, agitations, and arbitrations, if
put to practical use, would better the working-man enough faster than
these futile efforts do. I have no quarrel with unions or combinations
of labor, so far as they have the true interests of labor for an object;
but I do quarrel with the spirit of mob rule and the evidences of
conspicuous waste, which have grown so rampant as to overshadow the
helpful hand and to threaten, not the stability of society--for in the
background I see six million conservative sons of the soil who will look
to the stability of things when the time comes--but the unions
themselves.

I remember my first summer on a farm. It lasted from the first day of
April to the thirty-first day of October, and on the evening of that day
I carried to my father $28, the full wage for seven months. I could not
have spent one cent during that time, for I carried the whole sum home;
but I do not remember that I was conscious of any want. The hours on the
farm were not short; an eight-hour day would have been considered but a
half-day. We worked from sun to sun, and I grew and knew no sorrow or
oppression. The next year I received the munificent wage of $6 a month,
and the following year, $8.

In after years, in brick-yards, sawmills, lumber woods, or harvest
fields, there was no arbitrary limit put upon the amount of work to be
done. If I chose to do the work of a man and a half, I got $1.50 for
doing it, and it would have been a bold and sturdy delegate who tried to
hold me from it. I felt no need of help from outside. I was fit to care
for myself, and I minded not the long hours, the hard work, or the hard
bed. This life was preliminary to a fuller one, and it served its use.
I know what tired legs and back mean, and I know that one need not have
them always if he will use the ordinary sense which God gives. Genius,
or special cleverness, is not necessary to get a man out of the rut of
hard manual labor. Just plain, everyday sense will do. But before I had
secured the three men for whom I was in search, I began to feel that
this common sense of which we speak so glibly is a rare commodity under
the working-man's hat. I advertised, sent to agencies and intelligence
offices, interviewed and inspected, consulted friends and enemies, and
so generally harrowed my life that I was fit to give up the whole
business and retire into a cave.

By actual count, I saw more than one hundred men, of all ages, sizes,
and colors. Eight of these were tried, of whom five were found wanting.
Early in February I had settled upon three sober men to add to our
colony. As none of these lasted the year out, I may be forgiven for not
introducing them to the reader. They served their purpose, and mine too,
and then drifted on.



CHAPTER LVI

THE SYNDICATE


I do not wish to take credit for things which gave me pleasure in the
doing, or to appear altruistic in my dealings with the people employed
at Four Oaks. I tell of our business and other relations because they
are details of farm history and rightfully belong to these pages. If I
dealt fairly by my men and established relations of mutual confidence
and dependence, it was not in the hope that my ways might be approved
and commended, but because it paid, in more ways than one. I wanted my
men to have a lively interest in the things which were of importance to
me, that their efforts might be intelligent and direct; and I was glad
to enter into their schemes, either for pleasure or for profit, with
such aid as I could give. Cordial understanding between employee and
employer puts life into the contract, and disposes of perfunctory
service, which simply recognizes a definite deed for a definite
compensation. Uninterested labor leaves a load of hay in the field to be
injured, just because the hour for quitting has come, while interested
labor hurries the hay into the barn to make it safe, knowing that the
extra half-hour will be made up to it in some other way.

It pays the farmer to take his help into a kind of partnership, not
always in his farm, but always in his consideration. That is why my
farm-house was filled with papers and magazines of interest to the men;
that is why I spent many an evening with them talking over our
industries; that is why I purchased an organ for them when I found that
Mrs. French, the dairymaid, could play on it; that is why I talked
economy to them and urged them to place some part of each month's wage
in the Exeter Savings Bank; and that is why, early in 1898, I formulated
a plan for investing their wages at a more profitable rate of interest.
I asked each one to give me a statement of his or her savings up to
date. They were quite willing to do this, and I found that the aggregate
for the eight men and three women was $2530. Anderson, who saved most of
his wages, had an account in a city savings bank, and did not join us in
our syndicate, though he approved of it.

The money was made up of sums varying from $90, Lena's savings, to $460
owned by Judson, the buggy man. My proposition was this: Pool the funds,
buy Chicago, Rock Island, and Pacific stock, and hold it for one or two
years. The interest would be twice as much as they were getting from
the bank, while the prospect of a decided advance was good. I said to
them:--

"I have owned Chicago, Rock Island, and Pacific stock for more than
three years. I commenced to buy at fifty-seven, and I am still buying,
when I can get hold of a little money that doesn't have to go into this
blessed farm. It is now eighty-one, and it will go higher. I am so sure
of this that I will agree to take the stock from each or all of you at
the price you pay for it at any time during the next two years. There is
no risk in this proposition to you, and there may be a very handsome
return."

They were pleased with the plan, and we formed a pool to buy thirty
shares of stock. Thompson and I were trustees, and the certificate stood
in our names; but each contributor received a pro-rata interest; Lena,
one thirtieth; Judson, five-thirtieths; and the others between these
extremes. The stock was bought at eighty-two. I may as well explain now
how it came out, for I am not proud of my acumen at the finish. A little
more than a year later the stock reached 122, and I advised the
syndicate to sell. They were all pleased at the time with the handsome
profit they had made, but I suspect they have often figured what they
might have made "if the boss hadn't been such a chump," for we have seen
the stock go above two hundred.

This was not the only enterprise in which our colony took a small share.
The people at Four Oaks are now content to hold shares in one of the
great trusts, which they bought several points below par, and which pay
1¾. per cent every three months. Even Lena, who held only one share of
the C., R.I., & P. five years ago, has so increased her income-bearing
property that she is now looked upon as a "catch" by her acquaintances.
If I am correctly informed, she has an annual income of $105,
independent of her wages.



CHAPTER LVII

THE DEATH OF SIR TOM


At 7.30 on the morning of March 16, Dr. High telephoned me that Sir
Thomas O'Hara was seriously ill, and asked me to come at once. It took
but a few minutes to have Jerry at the door, and, breasting a cold, thin
rain at a sharp gallop, I was at my friend's door before the clock
struck eight. Dr. High met me with a heavy face.

"Sir Tom is bad," said he, "with double pneumonia, and I am awfully
afraid it will go hard with him."

I remembered that my friend's pale face had looked a shade paler than
usual the evening before, and that there had been a pinched expression
around the nose and mouth, as if from pain; but Sir Tom had many twinges
from his old enemy, gout, which he did not care to discuss, and I took
little note of his lack of fitness. He touched the brandy bottle a
little oftener than usual, and left for home earlier; but his voice was
as cheery as ever, and we thought only of gout. He was taken with a hard
chill on his way home, which lasted for some time after he was put to
bed; but he would not listen to the requests of William and the faithful
cook that the doctor be summoned. At last he fell into a heavy sleep
from which it was hard to rouse him, and the servants followed their own
desire and called Dr. High. He came as promptly as possible, and did all
that could be done for the sick man.

A hurried examination convinced me that Dr. High's opinion of the
gravity of the case was correct, and we telephoned at once for a
specialist from the city, and for a trained nurse. After a short
consultation with Dr. High I reëntered my friend's room, and I fear that
my face gave me away, for Sir Tom said:--

"Be a man, Williams, and tell the whole of it."

"My dear old man, this is a tough proposition, but you must buck up and
make a game fight. We have sent for Dr. Jones and a nurse, and we will
pull you through, sure."

"You will try, for sure, but I reckon the call has come for me to cash
in me checks. When that little devil Frost hit me right and left in me
chest last night, I could see me finish; and I heard the banshee in me
sleep, and that means much to a Sligo man."

"Not to this Sligo man, I hope," said I, though I knew that we were in
deep waters.

The wise man and the nurse came out on the 10.30 train, the nurse
bringing comfort and aid, but the physician neither. After thoroughly
examining the patient, he simply confirmed our fears.

"Serious disease to overcome, and only scant vital forces; no reasonable
ground for hope."

Sir Tom gave me a smile as I entered the room after parting from the
specialist.

"I've discounted the verdict," said he, "and the foreman needn't draw
such a long face. I've had my fling, like a true Irishman, and I'm ready
to pay the bill. I won't have to come back for anything, Williams;
there's nothing due me; but I must look sharp for William and the old
girl in the kitchen,--faithful souls,--for they will be strangers in a
strange land. Will you send for a lawyer?"

The lawyer came, and a codicil to Sir Thomas's will made the servants
comfortable for life. All that day and the following night we hung
around the sick bed, hoping for the favorable change that never came. On
the morning of the 17th it was evident that he would not live to see the
sun go down. We had kept all friends away from the sick chamber; but
now, at his request, Polly, Jane, and Laura were summoned, and they
came, with blanched faces and tearful eyes, to kiss the brow and hold
the hands of this dear man. He smiled with contentment on the group, and
said:--

"Me friends have made such a heaven of this earth that perhaps I have
had me full share."

"Sir Tom," said I, "shall I send for a priest?"

"A priest! What could I do with a priest? Me forebears were on the
Orange side of Boyne Water, and we have never changed color."

"Would you like to see a clergyman?"

"No, no; just the grip of a friend's hand and these angels around me.
Asking pardon is not me long suit, Williams, but perhaps the time has
come for me to play it. If the good God will be kind to me I will thank
Him, as a gentleman should, and I will take no advantage of His
kindness; but if He cannot see His way clear to do that, I will take
what is coming."

"Dear Sir Tom," said Jane, with streaming eyes, "God cannot be hard with
you, who have been so good to every one."

"If there's little harm in me life, there's but scant good, too; I can't
find much credit. Me good angel has had an easy time of it, more's the
pity; but Janie, if you love me, Le Bon Dieu will not be hard on me. He
cannot be severe with a poor Irishman who never stacked the cards,
pulled a race, or turned his back on a friend, and who is loved by an
angel."

I asked Sir Tom what we should do for him after he had passed away.

"It would be foine to sleep in the woods just back of Janie's forge,
where I could hear the click of her hammer if the days get lonely; but
there's a little castle, God save the mark, out from Sligo. Me forebears
are there,--the lucky ones,--and me wish is to sleep with them; but I
doubt it can be."

"Indeed it can be, and it shall be, too," said Polly. "We will all go
with you, Sir Tom, when June comes, and you shall sleep in your own
ground with your own kin."

"I don't deserve it, Mrs. Williams, indeed I don't, but I would lie
easier there. That sod has known us for a thousand years, and it's the
greenest, softest, kindest sod in all the world; but little I'll mind
when the breath is gone. I'll not be asking that much of you."

"My dear old chap, we won't lose sight of you until that green sod
covers the stanchest heart that ever beat. Polly is right. We'll go with
you to Sligo,--all of us,--Polly and Jane and Jack and I, and Kate and
the babies, too, if we can get them. You shall not be lonesome."

"Lonesome, is it? I'll be in the best of company. Me heart is at rest
from this moment, and I'll wait patiently until I can show you Sligo.
This is a fine country, Mrs. Williams, and it has given me the truest
friends in all the world, but the ground is sweet in Sligo."

His breath came fainter and faster, and we could see that it would soon
cease. After resting a few minutes, Sir Tom said:--

"Me lady Laura, do you mind that prayer song, the second verse?"

Laura's voice was sobbing and uncertain as it quavered:--

    "Other refuge have I none,"

but it gained courage and persuasiveness until it filled the room and
the heart of the man with,--

    "Cover my defenceless head,
    With the shadow of Thy wing."

A gentle smile and the relaxing of closed hands completed the story of
our loss, though the real weight of it came days and months later.

It was long before we could take up our daily duties with anything like
the familiar happiness. Something had gone out of our lives that could
never be replaced, and only time could salve the wounds. The dear man
who had gone was no friend to solemn faces, and living interests must
bury dead memories; but it was a long time before the click of Jane's
hammer was heard in her forge; not until Laura had said, "It will please
_him_, Jane."



CHAPTER LVIII

BACTERIA


January, February, and March passed with more than the usual snow and
rain,--fully ten inches of precipitation; but the spring proved neither
cold nor late. During these three months we sold butter to the amount of
$1283, and $747 worth of eggs; in all, $2030.

The ploughs were started in the highest land on the 11th of April, and
were kept going steadily until they had turned over nearly 280 acres.

I decided to put the whole of the widow's field into corn, lots 8, 12,
and 15 (84 acres) into oats, and 50 acres of the orchards into roots and
sweet fodder corn. Number 13 was to be sown with buckwheat as soon as
the rye was cut for green forage. I decided to raise more alfalfa, for
we could feed more to advantage, and it was fast gaining favor in my
establishment. It is so productive and so nutritious that I wonder it is
not more generally used by farmers who make a specialty of feeding
stock. It contains as much protein as most grains, and is wholesome and
highly palatable if properly cured. It should be cut just as it is
coming into flower, and should be cured in the windrow. The leaves are
the most nutritious part of the plant, and they are apt to fall off if
the cutting be deferred, or if the curing be _done carelessly_.

Lot No. 9 was to be fitted for alfalfa as soon as the season would
permit. First, it must receive a heavy dressing of manure, to be
ploughed under. The ordinary plough was to be followed in this case by a
subsoiler, to stir the earth as deep as possible. When the seed was
sown, the land was to receive five hundred pounds an acre of high-grade
fertilizer, and one hundred pounds an acre of infected soil.

The peculiar bacterium that thrives on congenial alfalfa soil is
essential to the highest development of the plant. Without its presence
the grass fails in its chief function--the storing of nitrogen--and
makes but poor growth. When the alfalfa bacteria are abundant, the plant
flourishes and gathers nitrogen in knobs and bunches in its roots and in
the joints of its stems.

I sent to a very successful alfalfa grower in Ohio for a thousand pounds
of soil from one of his fields, to vaccinate my field with. This is not
always necessary,--indeed, it rarely is, for alfalfa seed usually carry
enough bacteria to inoculate favorable soils; but I wished to see if
this infected soil would improve mine. I have not been able to discover
any marked advantage from its use; the reason being that my soil was so
rich in humus and added manures that the colonies of bacteria on the
seeds were quite sufficient to infect the whole mass. Under less
favorable conditions, artificial inoculation is of great advantage.

Wonderful are the secrets of nature. The infinitely small things seem to
work for us and the infinitely large ones appear suited to our use; and
yet, perhaps, this is all "seeming" and "appearing." We may ourselves be
simply more advanced bacteria, working blindly toward the solution of an
infinite problem in which we are concerned only as means to an end.

"Why should the spirit of mortal be proud," until it has settled its
relative position with both Sirius and the micro-organisms, or has
estimated its stature by view-points from the bacterial world and from
the constellation of Lyra. Until we have been able to compare opinions
from these extremes, if indeed they be extremes, we cannot expect to
make a correct estimate of our value in the economy of the universe. I
fancy that we are apt to take ourselves too seriously, and that we will
sometime marvel at the shadow which we did not cast.



CHAPTER LIX

MATCH-MAKING


The home lot took on a home look in the spring of 1898. The lawn lost
its appearance of newness; the trees became acquainted with each other;
the shrubs were on intimate terms with their neighbors, and broke into
friendly rivalry of blossoms; the gardens had a settled-down look, as if
they had come to stay; and even the wall flowers were enjoying
themselves. These efforts of nature to make us feel at ease were
thankfully received by Polly and me, and we voted that this was more
like home than anything else we had ever had; and when the fruit trees
put forth their promise of an autumn harvest in great masses of
blossoms, we declared that we had made no mistake in transforming
ourselves from city to country folk.

"Aristocracy is of the land," said Polly. "It always has been and
always will be the source of dignity and stability. I feel twice as
great a lady as I did in the tall house on B---- Street."

"So you don't want to go back to that tall house, madam?"

"Indeed I don't. Why should I?"

"I don't know why you should, only I remember Lot's wife looked back
toward the city."

"Don't mention that woman! She didn't know what she wanted. You won't
catch me looking toward the city, except once a week for three or four
hours, and then I hurry back to the farm to see what has happened in my
garden while I've been away."

"But how about your friends, Polly?"

"You know as well as I that we haven't lost a friend by living out here,
and that we've tied some of them closer. No, sir! No more city life for
me. It may do for young people, who don't know better, but not for me.
It's too restricted, and there's not enough excitement."

"Country life fits us like paper on the wall," said I, "but how about
the youngsters? If we insist on keeping children, we must take them into
our scheme of life."

"Of course we must, but children are an unknown quantity. They are _x_
in the domestic problem, and we cannot tell what they stand for until
the problem is worked out. I don't see why we can't find the value of
_x_ in the country as easily as in the city. They have had city and
school life, now let them see country life; the _x_ will stand for wide
experience at least."

"Jane likes it thus far," said I, "and I think she will continue; but I
don't feel so sure about Jack."

"You're as blind as a bat--or a man. Jane loves country life because
she's young and growing; but there's a subconscious sense which tells
her that she's simply fitting herself to be carried off by that handsome
giant, Jim Jarvis. She doesn't know it, but it's the truth all the same,
and it will come as sure as tide; and when it does come, her life will
be run into other moulds than we have made, no matter how carefully."

"I wonder where this modern Hercules is most vulnerable. I'll slay him
if I find him mousing around my Jane."

"You will slay nothing, Mr. Headman, and you know it; you will just take
what's coming to you, as others have done since the world was young."

"Well, I give fair warning; it's 'hands off Jane,' for lo, these many
years, or some one will be brewing 'harm tea' for himself."

"You bark so loud no one will believe you can bite," said this saucy,
match-making mother.

"How about Jack?" said I. "Have you settled the moulds he is to be run
in?"

"Not entirely; but I am not as one without hope. Jack will be through
college in June, and will go abroad with us for July and August; he will
be as busy as possible with the miners from the moment he comes back; he
is much in love with Jessie, the Gordon's have no other child, the
property is large, Homestead Farm is only three miles, and--"

"Slow up, Polly! Slow up! Your main line is all right, but your
terminal facilities are bad. Jack is to be educated, travelled,
employed, engaged, married, endowed with Homestead Farm, and all that;
but you mustn't kill off the Gordons. I swing the red lantern in front
of that train of thought. Let Jack and Jessie wait till we are through
with Four Oaks and the Gordons have no further use for Homestead Farm,
before thinking of coupling that property on to this."

"Don't be a greater goose than you can help," said Polly. "You know what
I mean. Men are so short-sighted! Laura says, 'the Headman ought to have
a small dog and a long stick'; but no matter, I'll keep an eye on the
children, and you needn't worry about country life for them. They'll
take to it kindly."

"Well, they ought to, if they have any appreciation of the fitness of
things. Did you ever see weather made to order before? I feel as if I
had been measured for it."

"It suits my garden down to the ground," said Polly, who hates slang.

"It was planned for the farmer, madam. If it happens to fit the
rose-garden mistress, it is a detail for you to note and be thankful
for, but the great things are outside the rose gardens. Look at that
corn-field! A crow could hide in it anywhere."

"What have crows hiding got to do with corn, I'd like to know?"

"When I was a boy the farmers used to say, 'If it will cover a crow's
back on the Fourth of July, it will make good corn,' and I am farmering
with old saws when I can't find new ones."

"It's all of three weeks yet to the Fourth of July, and your corn will
cover a turkey by that time."

"I hope so, but we shan't be here to see it, more's the pity, as Sir Tom
would say."

"Do you know, Kate says she won't go over. She doesn't think it would
pay for so short a trip. Why do you insist upon eight weeks?"

"Well, now, I like that! When did I ever insist on anything, Mrs.
Williams? Not since I knew you well, did I? But be honest, Polly. Who
has done the cutting down of this trip? You and the youngsters may stay
as long as you please, but I will be back here September 1st unless the
_Normania_ breaks a shaft."

"I wish we could go _over_ on a German boat. I hate the Cunarders."

"So do I, but we must land at Queenstown. We must put Sir Tom under the
sod at that little castle out from Sligo. Then we can do Holland and
Belgium, and have a week or ten days in London."

"That will be enough. I do hope Johnson will take good care of my
flowers; it's the very most important time, you know, and if he neglects
them--"

"He won't neglect them, Polly; even if he does, they can be easily
replaced. But the hay harvest, now, that's different; if they spoil the
timothy or cut the alfalfa too late!"

"Bother your alfalfa! What do I care for that? Kate's coming out with
the babies, and I'm going to put her in full charge of the gardens.
She'll look after them, I'm sure. I'll tell you another bit of news: Jim
Jarvis is bound to go with us, Jack says, and he has asked if we'll let
him."

"How long have you had that up your sleeve, young woman? I don't like it
a little bit! That is why you talked so like an oracle a little while
ago! What does Jane say?"

"She doesn't say much, but I think she wouldn't object."

"Of course she can't object. You sick a big brute of a man on to a
little girl, and she don't dare object; but I'll feed him to the fishes
if he worries her."

"To be sure you will, Mr. Ogre. Anybody would be sure of that to hear
you talk."

"Don't chaff me, Polly. This is a serious business. If you sell my girl,
I'm going to buy a new one. I'll ask Jessie Gordon to go with us and, if
Jack is half the man I take him to be, he'll replenish our stock of
girls before we get back."

"Who is match-making now?"

"I don't care what you call it. I shall take out letters of marque and
reprisal. I won't raise girls to be carried off by the first privateer
that makes sail for them, without making some one else suffer. If
Jarvis goes, Jessie goes, that's flat."

"I think it will be an excellent plan, Mr. Bad Temper, and I've no doubt
that we can manage it."

"Don't say 'we' when you talk of managing it. I tell you I'm entirely on
the defensive until some one robs me, then I'll take what is my
neighbor's if I can get it. If it were not for my promise to Sir Tom, I
wouldn't leave the farm for a minute! And I would establish a quarantine
against all giants for at least five years."

"You know you like Jarvis. He is one of the best."

"That's all right, Polly. He's as fine as silk, but he isn't fine enough
for our Jane yet."



CHAPTER LX

"I TOLD YOU SO"


It may be the limitless horizon, it may be the comradery of confinement,
it may be the old superstition of a plank between one and eternity, or
it may be some occult influence of ship and ocean; but certain it is
that there is no such place in all the world as a deck of a
transatlantic liner for softening young hearts, until they lose all
semblance of shape, and for melting them into each other so that out of
twain there comes but one. I think Polly was pleased to watch this
melting process, as it began to show itself in our young people, from
the safe retreat of her steamer chair and behind the covers of her book.
I couldn't find that she read two chapters from any book during the
whole voyage, or that she was miserable or discontented. She just
watched with a comfortable "I told you so" expression of countenance;
and she never mentioned home lot or garden or roses, from dock to dock.

It is as natural for a woman to make matches as for a robin to build
nests, and I suppose I had as much right to find fault with the one as
with the other. I did not find fault with her, but neither could I
understand her; so I fretted and fumed and smoked, and walked the deck
and bet on everything in sight and out of sight, until the soothing
influence of the sea took hold of me, and then I drifted like the rest
of them.

No, I will not say "like the rest of them," for I could not forgive this
waste of space given over to water. In other crossings I had not noted
the conspicuous waste with any feeling of loss or regret; but other
crossings had been made before I knew the value of land. I could not get
away from the thought that it would add much to the wealth of the world
if the mountains were removed and cast into the sea. Not only that, but
it would curb to some extent the ragings of this same turbulent sea,
which was rolling and tossing us about for no really good reason that I
could discover. The Atlantic had lost much of its romance and mystery
for me, and I wondered if I had ever felt the enthusiasm which I heard
expressed on all sides.

"There she spouts!" came from a dozen voices, and the whole passenger
list crowded the port rail, just to see a cow whale throwing up streams
of water, not immensely larger than the streams of milk which my cow
Holsteins throw down. The crowd seemed to take great pleasure in this
sight, but to me it was profitless.

I have known the day when I could watch the graceful leaps and dives of
a school of porpoises, as it kept with easy fin, alongside of our ocean
greyhound, with pleasure unalloyed by any feeling of non-utility. But
now these "hogs of the sea" reminded me of my Chester Whites, and the
comparison was so much in favor of the hogs of the land, that I turned
from these spectacular, useless things, to meditate upon the price of
pork. Even Mother Carey's chickens gave me no pleasure, for they
reminded me of a far better brood at home, and I cheerfully thanked the
noble Wyandottes who were working every third day so that I could have a
trip to Europe. To be sure, I had European trips before I had
Wyandottes; to have them both the same year was the marvel.

Before we reached Queenstown, Jarvis had gained some ground by twice
picking me out of the scuppers; but as I resented his steadiness of foot
and strength of hand, it was not worth mentioning. I could see, however,
that these feats were great in Jane's eyes. The double rescue of a
beloved parent, from, not exactly a watery grave, but a damp scupper,
would never be forgotten. The giant let her adore his manly strength and
beauty, and I could only secretly hope that some wave--tidal if
necessary--would take him off his feet and send him into the scuppers.
But he had played football too long to be upset by a watery wave, and I
was balked of my revenge.

Jack and Jessie were rather a pleasure to me than otherwise. They
settled right down to the heart-softening business in such
matter-of-fact fashion that their hearts must have lost contour before
the voyage was half over. Polly dismissed them from her mind with a sigh
of satisfaction, and I then hoped that she would find some time to
devote to me, but I was disappointed. She assured me that those two were
safely locked in the fold, but that she could not "set her mind at rest"
until the other two were safe. After that she promised to take me in
hand; whether for reward or for punishment left me guessing.

The six and a half days finally came to an end, and we debarked for
Queenstown. The journey across Ireland was made as quickly as slow
trains and a circuitous route would permit, and we reached Sligo on the
second day. Sir Thomas's agent met us, and we drove at once to the
"little castle out from Sligo." It proved to be a very old little
castle, four miles out, overlooking the bay. It was low and flat, with
thick walls of heavy stone pierced by a few small windows, and a broad
door made of black Irish oak heavily studded with iron. From one corner
rose a square tower, thirty feet or more in height, covered with wild
vines that twined in and out through the narrow, unglazed windows.

Within was a broad, low hall, from which opened four rooms of nearly
equal size. There was little evidence that the castle had been inhabited
during recent years, though there was an ancient woman care-taker who
opened the great door for us, and then took up the Irish peasant's wail
for the last of the O'Haras. She never ceased her crooning except when
she spoke to us, which was seldom; but she placed us at table in the
state dining room, and served us with stewed kid, potatoes, and goat's
milk. The walls of the dining room were covered with ancient pictures of
the O'Haras, but none so recent as a hundred years. We could well
believe Sir Tom's words, "the sod has known us for a thousand years,"
when we looked upon the score of pictures, each of which stood for at
least one generation.

The agent told us that our friend had never lived at the castle, but
that he had visited the place as a child, and again just before leaving
for America. A wall-enclosed lot about two hundred feet square was "the
kindest sod in all the world to an O'Hara," and here we placed our dear
friend at rest with the "lucky ones" of his race. No one of the race
ever deserved more "luck" than did our Sir Tom. The young clergyman who
read the service assured us that he had found it; and our minds gave the
same evidence, and our hearts said Amen, as we turned from his peaceful
resting-place by the green waters of Sligo Bay.

Two days later we were comfortably lodged at The Hague, from which we
intended to "do" the little kingdom of Holland by rail, by canal, or on
foot, as we should elect.



CHAPTER LXI

THE BELGIAN FARMER


Leaving Holland with regret, we crossed the Schelde into Belgium, the
cockpit of Europe. It is here that one sees what intensive farming is
like. No fences to occupy space, no animals roaming at large, nothing
but small strips of land tilled to the utmost, chiefly by hand. Little
machinery is used, and much of the work is done after primitive
fashions; but the land is productive, and it is worked to the top of its
bent.

The peasant-farmer soils his cows, his sheep, his swine, in a way that
is economical of space and food, if not of labor, and manages to make a
living and to pay rent for his twenty-acre strip of land. His methods do
not appeal to the American farmer, who wastes more grain and forage each
year than would keep the Netherlander, his family, and his stock; but
there is a lesson to be learned from this subdivision and careful
cultivation of land. Belgian methods prove that Mother Earth can care
for a great many children if she be properly husbanded, and that the
sooner we recognize her capacity the better for us.

Abandoned farms are not known in Belgium and France, though the soil
has been cultivated for a thousand years, and was originally no better
than our New England farms, and not nearly so good as hundreds of those
which are practically given over to "old fields" in Virginia.

It is neglect that impoverishes land, not use. Intelligent use makes
land better year by year. The only way to wear out land is to starve and
to rob it at the same time. Food for man and beast may be taken from the
soil for thousands of years without depleting it. All it asks in return
is the refuse, carefully saved, properly applied, and thoroughly worked
in to make it available. If, in addition to this, a cover crop of some
leguminous plant be occasionally turned under, the soil may actually
increase in fertility, though it be heavily cropped each year.

It would pay the young American farmer to study Belgian methods, crude
though they are, for the insight he could gain into the possibilities of
continuous production. The greatest number of people to the square mile
in the inhabited globe live in this little, ill-conditioned kingdom, and
most of them get their living from the soil. It has been the
battle-field of Europe: a thousand armies have harrowed it; human blood
has drenched it from Liège to Ostend; it has been depopulated again and
again. But it springs into new life after each catastrophe, simply
because the soil is prolific of farmers, and they cannot be kept down.
Like the poppies on the field of Waterloo, which renew the blood-red
strife each year, the Belgian peasant-farmer springs new-born from the
soil, which is the only mother he knows.

After two weeks in Holland, two in Belgium, and two in London, we were
ready to turn our faces toward home.

We took the train to Southampton, and a small side-wheel steamer carried
us outside Southampton waters, where we tossed about for thirty minutes
before the _Normania_ came to anchor. The wind was blowing half a gale
from the north, and we were glad to get under the lee of the great
vessel to board her.

The transfer was quickly made, and we were off for New York. The wind
gained strength as the day grew old, but while we were in the Solent the
bluff coast of Devon and Cornwall broke its force sufficiently to permit
us to be comfortable on the port side of the ship.

As night came on, great clouds rolled up from the northwest and the wind
increased. Darkness, as of Egypt, fell upon us before we passed the
Lizard, and the only things that showed above the raging waters were the
beacon lights, and these looked dim and far away. Occasionally a flash
of lightning threw the waters into relief, and then made the darkness
more impenetrable. As we steamed beyond the Lizard and the protecting
Cornish coast, the full force of the gale, from out the Irish Sea,
struck us. We were going nearly with it, and the good ship pitched and
reared like an angry horse, but did not roll much. Pitching is harder to
bear than rolling, and the decks were quickly vacated.

I turned into my stateroom soon after ten o'clock, and then happened a
thing which will hold a place in my memory so long as I have one. I did
not feel sleepy, but I was nervous, restless, and half sick. I lay on my
lounge for perhaps half an hour, and then felt impelled to go on deck. I
wrapped myself in a great waterproof ulster, pulled my storm cap over my
ears, and climbed the companionway. Two or three electric bulbs in
sheltered places on deck only served to make the darkness more intense.
I crawled forward of the ladies' cabin, and, supporting myself against
the donkey-engine, peered at the light above the crow's-nest and tried
to think that I could see the man on watch in the nest. I did see him
for an instant, when the next flash of lightning came, and also two
officers on the bridge; and I knew that Captain Bahrens was in the chart
house. When the next flash came, I saw the other lookout man making his
short turns on the narrow space of bow deck, and was tempted to join
him; why, I do not know. I crept past the donkey-engine, holding fast to
it as I went, until I reached the iron gate that closes the narrow
passage to the bow deck. With two silver dollars in my teeth I staggered
across this rail-guarded plank, and when the next flash came I was
sitting at the feet of the lookout man with the two silver dollars in my
outstretched hand. He took the money, and let me crawl forward between
the anchors and the high bulwark of the bows.

The sensations which this position gave me were strange beyond
description. Darkness was thick around me; at one moment I was carried
upward until I felt that I should be lost in the black sky, and the next
moment the downward motion was so terrible that the blacker water at the
bottom of the sea seemed near. I cannot say that I enjoyed it, but I
could not give it up.

When the great bow rose, I stood up, and, looking over the bulwark,
tried to see either sky or water, but tried in vain, save when the
lightning revealed them both. When the bow fell, I crouched under the
bulwark and let the sea comb over me. How long I remained at this weird
post, I do not know; but I was driven from it in such terror as I hope
never to feel again.

An unusually large wave carried me nearer the sky than I liked to be,
and just as the sharp bow of the great iron ship was balancing on its
crest for the desperate plunge, a glare of lightning made sky and sea
like a sheet of flame and curdled the blood in my veins. In the trough
of the sea, under the very foot of the immense steamship, lay a delicate
pleasure-boat, with its mast broken flush with its deck, and its
helpless body the sport of the cruel waves.

The light did not last longer than it would take me to count five, but
in that time I saw four figures that will always haunt me. Two sailors
in yachting costume were struggling hopelessly with the tiller, and the
wild terror of their faces as they saw the huge destruction that hung
over them is simply unforgettable.

The other two were different. A strong, blond man, young, handsome, and
brave I know, stood bareheaded in front of the cockpit. With a sudden,
vehement motion he drew the head of a girl to his breast and held it
there as if to shut out the horrible world. There was no fear in his
face,--just pain and distress that he was unable to do more. I am
thankful that I did not see the face of the girl. Her brown hair has
floated in my dreams until I have cried out for help; what would her
face have done?

In the twinkling of an eye it was over. I heard a sound as when one
breaks an egg on the edge of a cup,--no more. I screamed with horror,
ran across the guarded plank, climbed the gate, and fell headlong and
screaming over the donkey-engine. Picking up my battered self, I
shouted:

"Bahrens! Bahrens! for God's sake, help! Man overboard! Stop the ship!"

I reached the ladder to the bridge just as the captain came out of the
chart house.

"For God's sake, stop the ship! You've run down a boat with four
people! Stop her, can't you!"

"It can't be done, man. If we've run down a boat, it's all over with it
and all in it. I can't risk a thousand lives without hope of saving one.
This is a gale, Doctor, and we have our hands full."

I turned from him in horror and despair. I stumbled to my stateroom,
dropped my wet clothing in the middle of the floor, and knew no more
until the trumpet called for breakfast. The rush of green waters was
pounding at my porthole; the experience of the night came back to me
with horror; the reek of my wet clothes sickened my heart, and I rang
for the steward.

"Take these things away, Gustav, and don't bring them back until they
are dry and pressed."

"What things does the Herr Doctor speak for?"

"The wet things there on the floor."

"Excuse me, but I have seen no things wet."

"You Dutch chump!" said I, half rising, "what do you mean by
saying--Well, I'll be damned!" There were my clothes, dry and folded, on
the couch, and my ulster and cap on their hook, without evidence of
moisture or use.

"Gustav, remind me to give you three rix-dollars at breakfast."

"Danke, Herr Doctor."

Of such stuff are dreams made. But I will know those terror-stricken
sailors if I do not see them for a hundred years; and I am glad the
dark-haired girl did not realize the horror, but simply knew that the
man loved her; and I often think of the man who did the nice thing when
no one was looking, and whose face was not terrorized by the crack of
doom.



CHAPTER LXII

HOME-COMING


Even Polly was satisfied with our young people before we entered New
York Bay. If anything in their "left pulmonaries" had remained
unsoftened during the voyage out and the comradery of the Netherlands,
it was melted into non-resistance by the homeward trip. I could not long
hold out against the evidence of happiness that surrounded me, and I
gave a half-grudging consent that Jarvis and Jane might play together
for the next three or four years, if they would not ask to play "for
keeps" until those years had passed. They readily gave the promise, but
every one knows how such promises are kept. The children wore me out in
time, as all children do in all kinds of ways, and got their own ways in
less than half the contract period. I cannot put my finger on any
punishment that has befallen them for this lack of filial consideration,
and I am fifteen-sixteenths reconciled.

I was downright glad that Jack "made good" with Jessie Gordon. She was
the sort of girl to get out the best that was in him, and I was glad to
have her begin early. Try as I might, I could not feel unhappy that
beautiful September morning as we steamed up the finest waterway to the
finest city in the world. Deny it who will, I claim that our Empire City
and its environments make the most impressive human show. There is more
life, vigor, utility, gorgeousness about it than can be found anywhere
else; and it has the snap and elasticity of youth, which are so
attractive. No man who claims the privilege of American citizenship can
sail up New York Bay without feeling pride in his country and
satisfaction in his birthright. One doesn't disparage other cities and
other countries when he claims that his own is the best.

We were not specially badly treated at the custom-house,--no worse,
indeed, than smugglers, thieves, or pirates would have been; and we
escaped, after some hours of confinement, without loss of life or
baggage, but with considerable loss of dignity. How can a
self-respecting, middle-aged man (to be polite to myself) stand for
hours in a crowded shed, or lean against a dirty post, or sit on the
sharp edge of his open trunk, waiting for a Superior Being with a gilt
band around his hat, without losing some modicum of dignity? And how,
when this Superior Being calls his number and kicks his trunk, is he to
know that he is a free-born American citizen and a lineal descendant of
Roger Williams? The evidence is entirely from within. How is he to
support a countenance and mien of dignity while the secrets of his
chest are laid bare and the contents of his trunk dumped on the dirty
floor? And how must his eyes droop and his face take on a hang-dog look
when his second-best coat is searched for diamonds, and his favorite
(though worn) pajamas punched for pearls.

There are concessions to be made for one's great and glorious country,
and the custom-house is one of them. Perhaps we will do better sometime,
and perhaps, though this is unlikely, the customs inspectors of the
future will disguise themselves as gentlemen. We finally passed the
inquisition, and, with stuffed trunks and ruffled spirits, took cabs for
the station, and were presently within the protecting walls at Four
Oaks, there to forget lost dignities in the cultivation of land and new
ones.



CHAPTER LXIII

AN HUNDRED FOLD


Kate declared that she had had the time of her life during her nine
weeks' stay at Four Oaks. "People here every day, and the house full
over Sunday. We've kept the place humming," said she, "and you may be
thankful if you find anything here but a mortgage. When Tom and I get
rich, we are going to be farm people."

"Don't wait for that, daughter. Start your country home early and let it
grow up with the children. It doesn't take much money to buy the land
and to get fruit trees started. If Tom will give it his care for three
hours a week, he will make it at least pay interest and taxes, and it
will grow in value every year until you are ready to live on it. Think
how our orchards would look now if we had started them ten years ago!
They would be fit to support an average family."

"There, Dad, don't mount your hobby as soon as ever you get home. But we
_have_ had a good time out here. Do you really think farming is all beer
and skittles?"

"It has been smooth sailing for me thus far, and I believe it is simply
a business with the usual ups and downs; but I mean to make the ups the
feature in this case."

"Are you really glad to get back to it? Didn't you want to stay longer?"

"I had a fine trip, and all that, but I give you this for true; I don't
think it would make me feel badly if I were condemned to stay within
forty miles of this place for the rest of my life."

"I can't go so far as that with you, Dad, but perhaps I may when I'm
older."

"Yes, age makes a difference. At forty a man is a fool or a farmer, or
both; at fifty the pull of the land is mighty; at sixty it has full
possession of him; at seventy it draws him down with other forces than
that which Newton discovered, and at eighty it opens for him and kindly
tucks the sod around him. Mother Earth is no stepmother, but warm and
generous to all, and I think a fellow is lucky who comes to her for long
years of bounty before he is compelled to seek her final hospitality."

"But, Dad, we can't all be farmers."

"Of course not, and there's the pity of it; but almost every man can
have a plot of ground on which each year he can grow some new thing, if
only a radish or a leaf of lettuce, to add to the real wealth of the
world. I tell you, young lady, that all wealth springs out of the
ground. You think that riches are made in Wall Street, but they are
not; they are only handled and manipulated. Stop the work of the farmer
from April to October of any year, and Wall Street would be a howling
wilderness. The Street makes it easier to exchange a dozen eggs for
three spools of silk, or a pound of butter for a hat pin, but that's
all; it never created half the intrinsic value of twelve eggs or sixteen
ounces of butter. It's only the farmer who is a wealth producer, and
it's high time that he should be recognized as such. He's the husbandman
of all life; without him the world would be depopulated in three years.
You don't half appreciate the profession which your Dad has taken up in
his old age."

"That sounds all right, but I don't think the farmer would recognize
himself from that description. He doesn't live up to his possibilities,
does he?"

"Mighty few people do. A farmer may be what he chooses to be. He's under
no greater limitations than a business or a professional man. If he be
content to use his muscle blindly, he will probably fall under his own
harrow. So, too, would the merchant or the lawyer who failed to use his
intelligence in his business. The farmer who cultivates his mind as well
as his land, uses his pencil as often as his plough, and mixes brains
with brawn, will not fall under his own harrow or any other man's. He
will never be the drudge of soil or of season, for to a large extent he
can control the soil and discount the season. No other following gives
such opportunity for independence and self-balance."

"Almost thou persuadest me to become a farmer," said Kate, as we left
the porch, where I had been admiring my land while I lectured on the
advantages of husbandry.

Polly came out of the rose garden, where she had been examining her
flowers and setting her watch, and said:--

"Kate, you and the grand-girls must stay this month out, anyway. It
seems an age since we saw you last."

"All right, if Dad will agree not to fire farm fancies and figures at me
every time he catches me in an easy-chair."

"I'll promise, but you don't know what you're missing."

Four Oaks looked great, and I was tempted to tramp over every acre of
it, saying to each, "You are mine"; but first I had a little talk with
Thompson.

"Everything has been greased for us this summer," said Thompson. "We got
a bumper crop of hay, and the oats and corn are fine! I allow you've got
fifty-five bushels of oats to the acre in those shocks, and the corn
looks like it stood for more than seventy. We sold nine more calves the
end of June, for $104. Mr. Tom must have a lot of money for you, for in
August we sold the finest bunch of shoates you ever saw,--312 of them.
They were not extra heavy, but they were fine as silk. Mr. Tom said they
netted $4.15 per hundred, and they averaged a little over 260 pounds. I
went down with them, and the buyers tumbled over each other to get them.
I was mighty proud of the bunch, and brought back a check for $3407."

"Good for you, Thompson! That's the best sale yet."

"Some of the heifers will be coming in the last of this month or the
first of next. Don't you want to get rid of those five scrub cows?"

"Better wait six weeks, and then you may sell them. Do you know where
you can place them?"

"Jackson was looking at them a few days ago, and said he would give $35
apiece for them; but they are worth more."

"Not for us, Thompson, and not for him, either, if he saw things just
right. They're good for scrubs; but they don't pay well enough for us,
and if he wants them he can have them at that price about the middle of
October."

The credit account for the second quarter of 1898 stood:--

23 calves . . . . .  $270.00
Eggs    . . . . . .   637.00
Butter  . . . . . .  1314.00
   Total. . . . . .  $2221.00



CHAPTER LXIV

COMFORT ME WITH APPLES


September added a new item to our list of articles sold; small, indeed,
but the beginning of the fourth and last product of our factory
farm,--fruit from our newly planted orchards. The three hundred plum
trees in the chicken runs gave a moderate supply for the colony, and the
dwarf-pear trees yielded a small crop; but these were hardly included in
our scheme. I expected to be able, by and by, to sell $200 or $300 worth
of plums; but the chief income from fruit would come from the fifty
acres of young apple orchards.

I hope to live to see the time when these young orchards will bring me
at least $5 a year for each tree; and if I round out my expectancy (as
the life-insurance people figure it), I may see them do much better. In
the interim the day of small things must not be despised. In our climate
the Yellow Transparent and the Duchess do not ripen until early
September, and I was therefore at home in time to gather and market the
little crop from my six hundred trees. The apples were carefully picked,
for they do not bear handling well, and the perfect ones were placed in
half-bushel boxes and sent to my city grocer. Not one defective apple
was packed, for I was determined that the Four Oaks stencil should be as
favorably known for fruit as for other products.

The grocer allowed me fifty cents a box. "The market is glutted with
apples, but not your kind," said he. "Can you send more?" I could not
send more, for my young trees had done their best in producing
ninety-six boxes of perfect fruit. Boxes and transportation came to ten
cents for each box, and I received $38 for my first shipment of fruit.

I cannot remember any small sum of money that ever pleased me
more,--except the $28 which I earned by seven months of labor in my
fourteenth year; for it was "first fruits" of the last of our
interlacing industries.

Thirty-eight dollars divided among my trees would give one cent to each;
but four years later these orchards gave net returns of ninety cents for
each tree, and in four years from now they will bring more than twice
that amount. At twelve years of age they will bring an annual income of
$3 each, and this income will steadily increase for ten or fifteen
years. At the time of writing, February, 1903, they are good for $1 a
year, which is five per cent of $20.

Would I take $20 apiece for these trees? Not much, though that would
mean $70,000. I do not know where I could place $70,000 so that it
would pay five per cent this year, six per cent next year, and twenty
per cent eight or ten years from now. Of course, $70,000 would be an
exorbitant price to pay for an orchard like mine; but it must be
remembered that I am old and cannot wait for trees to grow.

If a man will buy land at $50 or $60 an acre, plant it to apple trees
(not less than sixty-five to the acre), and bring these trees to an age
when they will produce fruit to the value of $1.50 each, they will not
have cost more than $1.50 per tree for the land, the trees, and the
labor.

I am too old to begin over again, and I wish to see a handsome income
from my experiment before my eyes are dim; but why on earth young men do
not take to this kind of investment is more than I can see. It is as
safe as government bonds, and infinitely safer than most mercantile
ventures. It is a dignified employment, free from the ordinary risks of
business; and it is not likely to be overdone. All one needs is energy,
a little money, and a good bit of well-directed intelligence. This
combination is common enough to double our rural population, relieve the
congestion in trades and underpaid employments, and add immensely to the
wealth of the country. If we can only get the people headed for the
land, it will do much toward solving the vexing labor problems, and will
draw the teeth of the communists and the anarchists; for no one is so
willing to divide as he who cannot lose by division. To the man who has
a plot of ground which he calls his own, division doesn't appeal with
any but negative force. Neither should it, until all available lands are
occupied. Then he must move up and make room for another man by his
side.

The sales for the quarter ending September 30 were as follows:--

96 half-bushel boxes of apples          $38.00
9 calves                                104.00
Eggs                                    543.00
Butter                                 1293.00
Hogs                                   3407.00
                                      --------
        Total                         $5385.00

This was the best total for any three months up to date, and it made me
feel that I was getting pretty nearly out of the woods, so far as
increasing my investment went.

Including my new hog-house and ten thousand bushels of purchased grain,
the investment, thought I, must represent quite a little more than
$100,000, and I hoped not to go much beyond that sum, for Polly looked
serious when I talked of six figures, though she was reconciled to any
amount which could be stated in five.

My buildings were all finished, and were good for many years; and if
they burned, the insurance would practically replace them. My granary
was full enough of oats and corn to provide for deficits of years to
come; and my flocks and herds were now at their maximum, since Sam had
turned more than eight hundred pullets into the laying pens. I began to
feel that the factory would soon begin to run full time and to make
material returns for its equipment. It would, of course, be several
years before the fruit would make much showing, but I am a patient man,
and could wait.



CHAPTER LXV

THE END OF THE THIRD YEAR


"Polly," said I, on the evening of December 31, "let's settle the
accounts for the year, and see how much we must credit to 'experience'
to make the figures balance."

"Aren't you going to credit anything to health, and good times
generally? If not, you don't play fair."

"We'll keep those things in reserve, to spring on the enemy at a
critical moment; perhaps they won't be needed."

"I fancy you will have to bring all your reserves into action this time,
Mr. Headman, for you promised to make a good showing at the end of the
third year."

"Well, so I will; at least, according to my own estimate; but others may
not see it as I do."

"Don't let others see it at all, then. The experiment is yours, isn't
it?"

"Yes, for us; but it's more than a personal matter. I want to prove that
a factory farm is sound in theory and safe in practice, and that it will
fit the needs of a whole lot of farmers."

"I hardly think that 'a whole lot of farmers,' or of any other kind of
people, will put $100,000 into a farm on any terms. Don't you think
you've been a little extravagant?"

"Only on the home forty, Polly. I will expound this matter to you some
time until you fall asleep, but not to-day. We have other business on
hand. I want to give you this warning to begin with: you are not to jump
to a conclusion or on to my figures until you have fairly considered two
items which enter into this year's expense account. I've built an extra
hog-house and have bought ten thousand bushels of grain, at a total
expense of about $6000. Neither of these items was really needed this
year; but as they are our insurance against disease and famine, I
secured them early and at low prices. They won't appear in the expense
account again,--at least, not for many years,--and they give me a sense
of security that is mighty comforting."

"But what if Anderson sets fire to your piggery, or lightning strikes
your granary,--how about the expense account then?"

"What do you suppose fire insurance policies are for? To paper the wall?
No, madam, they are to pay for new buildings if the old ones burn up. I
charge the farm over $200 a year for this security, and it's a binding
contract."

"Well, I'll try and forget the $6000 if you'll get to the figures at
once."

"All right. First, let me go over the statement for the last quarter of
the year. The sales were: apples, from 150 old trees at $3 per tree,
$450; 10 calves, $115; 360 hens and 500 cockerels, $430; 5 cows (the
common ones, to Jackson) at $35 each, $175; eggs, $827; butter, $1311;
and 281 hogs, rushed to market in December when only about eight months
old and sold for $3.70 per hundred to help swell this account, $2649;
making a total for the fourth quarter of $5957.

"The items of expense for the year were:--

"Interest on investment   $5,132.00
 New hog-house             4,220.00
 10,000 bu. of grain       2,450.00
 Food for colony           5,322.00
 Food for stock            1,640.00
 Seeds and fertilizers     2,155.00
 Insurance and taxes         730.00
 Shoeing and repairs         349.00
 Replenishments              450.00

"Total                   $22,760.00

"The credit account reads: first quarter, $2030; second quarter, $2221;
third quarter, $5387; fourth quarter, $5957; total, $15,595.

"If we take out the $6670 for the extra piggery and the grain, the
expense account and the income will almost balance, even leaving out the
$4000 which we agreed to pay for food and shelter. I think that's a fair
showing for the three years, don't you?"

"Possibly it is; but what a lot of money you pay for wages. It's the
largest item."

"Yes, and it always will be. I don't claim that a factory farm can be
run like a grazing or a grain farm. One of its objects is to furnish
well-paid employment to a lot of people. We've had nine men and two lads
all the year, and three extra men for seven months, three women on the
farm and five in the house,--twenty-two people to whom we've paid wages
this year. Doesn't that count for anything? How many did we keep in the
city?"

"Four,--three women and a man."

"Then we give employment to eighteen more people at equally good wages
and in quite as wholesome surroundings. Do you realize, Polly, that the
maids in the house get $1300 out of the $5300,--one quarter of the
whole? Possibly there is a suspicion of extravagance on the home forty."

"Not a bit of it! You know that you proved to me that it cost us $5200 a
year for board and shelter in the city, and you only credit the farm
with $4000. That other $1200 would more than pay the extra wages. I
really don't think it costs as much to live here as it did on
B----Street, and any one can see the difference."

"You are right. If we call our plant an even $100,000, which at five per
cent would mean $5000 a year,--where can you get house, lawns, woods,
gardens, horses, dogs, servants, liberty, birds, and sun-dials on a wide
and liberal scale for $5000 a year, except on a farm like this? You
can't buy furs, diamonds, and yachts with such money anyhow or
anywhere, so personal expenditures must be left out of all our
calculations. No, the wage account will always be the large one, and I
am glad it is so, for it is one finger of the helping hand."

"You haven't finished with the figures yet. You don't know what to add
to our _permanent_ investment."

"That's quickly done. _Nineteen thousand five hundred and ninety-five
dollars_ from twenty-two thousand seven hundred and sixty dollars leaves
three thousand one hundred and sixty-five dollars to charge to our
investment. I resent the word 'permanent,' which you underscored just
now, for each year we're going to have a surplus to subtract from this
interest-bearing debt."

"Precious little surplus you'll have for the next few years, with Jack
and Jane getting married, and--"

"But, Polly, you can't charge weddings to the farm, any more than we can
yachts and diamonds."

"I don't see why. A wedding is a very important part of one's life, and
I think the farm ought to be _made_ to pay for it."

"I quite agree with you; but we must add $3165 to the old farm debt, and
take up our increased burden with such courage as we may. In round
figures it is $106,000. Does that frighten you, Polly?"

"A little, perhaps; but I guess we can manage it. _You_ would have been
frightened three years ago if some one had told you that you would put
$106,000 into a farm of less than five hundred acres."

"You're right. Spending money on a farm is like other forms of
vice,--hated, then tolerated, then embraced. But seriously, a man would
get a bargain if he secured this property to-day for what it has cost
us. I wouldn't take a bonus of $50,000 and give it up."

"You'll hardly find a purchaser at that price, and I'm glad you can't,
for I want to live here and nowhere else."



CHAPTER LXVI

LOOKING BACKWARD


With the close of the third year ends the detailed history of the
factory farm. All I wish to do further is to give a brief synopsis of
the debit and credit accounts for each of the succeeding four years.

First I will say a word about the people who helped me to start the
factory. Thompson and his wife are still with me, and they are well on
toward the wage limit. Johnson has the gardens and Lars the stables, and
Otto is chief swineherd. French and his wife act as though they were
fixtures on the place, as indeed I hope they are. They have saved a lot
of money, and they are the sort who are inclined to let well enough
alone. Judson is still at Four Oaks, doing as good service as ever; but
I fancy that he is minded to strike out for himself before long. He has
been fortunate in money matters since he gave up the horse and buggy; he
informed me six months ago that he was worth more than $5000.

"I shouldn't have had five thousand cents if I'd stuck to that darned
old buggy," said he, "and I guess I'll have to thank you for throwing
me down that day."

Zeb has married Lena, and a little cottage is to be built for them this
winter, just east of the farm-house; and Lena's place is to be filled by
her cousin, who has come from the old country.

Anderson and Sam both left in 1898,--poor, faithful Anderson because his
heart gave out, and Sam because his beacon called him.

Lars's boys, now sixteen and eighteen, have full charge of the poultry
plant, and are quite up to Sam in his best days. Of course I have had
all kinds of troubles with all sorts of men; but we have such a strong
force of "reliables" that the atmosphere is not suited to the idler or
the hobo, and we are, therefore, never seriously annoyed. Of one thing I
am certain: no man stays long at our farm-house without apprehending the
uses of napkin and bath-tub, and these are strong missionary forces.

Through careful tilth and the systematic return of all waste to the
land, the acres at Four Oaks have grown more fertile each year. The soil
was good seven years ago, and we have added fifty per cent to its crop
capacity. The amount of waste to return to the land on a farm like this
is enormous, and if it be handled with care, there will be no occasion
to spend much money for commercial fertilizers. I now buy fertilizers
only for the mid-summer dressing on my timothy and alfalfa fields. The
apple trees are very heavily mulched, even beyond the spread of their
branches, with waste fresh from the vats, and once a year a light
dressing of muriate of potash is applied. The trees have grown as fast
as could be desired, and all of them are now in bearing. The apples from
these young trees sold for enough last year to net ninety cents for each
tree, which is more than the trees have ever cost me.

In 1898 these orchards yielded $38; in 1899, $165; in 1900, $530; in
1901, $1117. Seven years from the date of planting these trees, which
were then three years old, I had received in money $4720, or $1200 more
than I paid for the fifty acres of land on which they grew. If one would
ask for better returns, all he has to do is to wait; for there is a sort
of geometrical progression inherent in the income from all
well-cared-for orchards, which continues in force for about fifteen
years. There is, however, no rule of progress unless the orchards are
well cared for, and I would not lead any one to the mistake of planting
an orchard and then doing nothing but wait. Cultivate, feed, prune,
spray, dig bores, fight mice, rabbits, aphides, and the thousand other
enemies to trees and fruit, and do these things all the time and then
keep on doing them, and you will win out. Omit all or any of them, and
the chances are that you will fail of big returns.

But orcharding is not unique in this. Every form of business demands
prompt, timely, and intelligent attention to make it yield its best. The
orchards have been my chief care for seven years; the spraying,
mulching, and cultivation have been done by the men, but I think I have
spent one whole year, during the past seven, among my trees. Do I charge
my orchards for this time? No; for I have gotten as much good from the
trees as they have from me, and honors are easy. A meditative man in his
sixth lustrum can be very happy with pruning-hook and shears among his
young trees. If he cannot, I am sincerely sorry for him.

I have not increased my plant during the past four years. My stock
consume a little more than I can raise; but there are certain things
which a farm will not produce, and there are other things which one had
best buy, thus letting others work their own specialties.

If I had more land, would I increase my stock? No, unless I had enough
land to warrant another plant. My feeding-grounds are filled to their
capacity from a sanitary point of view, and it would be foolish to take
risks for moderate returns. If I had as much more land, I would
establish another factory; but this would double my business cares
without adding one item to my happiness. As it is, the farm gives me
enough to keep me keenly interested, and not enough to tire or annoy me.
So far as profits go, it is entirely satisfactory. It feeds and
shelters my family and twenty others in the colony, and also the
stranger within the gates, and it does this year after year without
friction, like a well-oiled machine.

Not only this. Each year for the past four, it has given a substantial
surplus to be subtracted from the original investment. If I live to be
sixty-eight years of age, the farm will be my creditor for a
considerable sum. I have bought no corn or oats since January, 1898. The
seventeen thousand bushels which I then had in my granary have slowly
grown less, though there has never been a day when we could not have
measured up seven thousand or eight thousand bushels. I shall probably
buy again when the market price pleases me, for I have a horror of
running short; but I shall not sell a bushel, though prices jump to the
sky.

I have seen the time when my corn and oats would have brought four times
as much as I paid for them, but they were not for sale. They are the raw
material, to be made up in my factory, and they are worth as much to me
at twenty cents a bushel as at eighty cents. What would one think of the
manager of a silk-thread factory who sold his raw silk, just because it
had advanced in price? Silk thread would advance in proportion, and how
does the manager know that he can replace his silk when needed, even at
the advanced price?

When corn went to eighty cents a bushel, hogs sold for $8.25 a hundred,
and my twenty-cent corn made pork just as fast as eighty-cent corn would
have done, and a great deal cheaper.

Once I sold some timothy hay, but it was to "discount the season," just
as I bought grain.

On July 18, 1901, a tremendous rain and wind storm beat down about forty
acres of oats beyond recovery. The next day my mowing machines, working
against the grain, commenced cutting it for hay. Before it was half cut,
I sold to a livery-stable keeper in Exeter fifty tons of bright timothy
for $600. The storm brought me no loss, for the horses did quite as well
on the oat hay as they ever had done on timothy, and $600 more than paid
for the loss of the grain.

During the first three years of my experiment hogs were very
low,--lower, indeed, than at any other period for forty years. It was
not until 1899 that prices began to improve. During that year my sales
averaged $4.50 a hundred. In 1900 the average was $5.25, in 1901 it was
$6.10, and in 1902 it was just $7. It will be readily appreciated that
there is more profit in pork at seven cents a pound than at three and a
half cents; but how much more is beyond me, for it cost no more to get
my swine to market last year than it did in 1896. I charge each hog $1
for bran and shorts; this is all the ready money I pay out for him. If
he weighs three hundred pounds (a few do), he is worth $10.50 at $3.50 a
hundred, or $21 at $7 a hundred; and it is a great deal pleasanter to
say $1 from $21, leaves $20, than to say $1 from $10.50 leaves $9.50.

Of course, $1 a head is but a small part of what the hog has cost when
ready for market, but it is all I charge him with directly, for his
other expenses are carried on the farm accounts. The marked increase in
income during the past four years is wholly due to the advance in the
price of pork and the increased product of the orchards. The expense
account has not varied much.

The fruit crop is charged with extra labor, packages, and
transportation, before it is entered, and the account shows only net
returns. I have had to buy new machinery, but this has been rather
evenly distributed, and doesn't show prominently in any year.

In 1900 I lost my forage barn. It was struck by lightning on June 13,
and burned to the ground. Fortunately, there was no wind, and the rain
came in such torrents as to keep the other buildings safe. I had to
scour the country over for hay to last a month, and the expense of this,
together with some addition to the insurance money, cost the farm $1000
before the new structure was completed. I give below the income and the
outgo for the last four years:--

          INCOME     EXPENSES   TO THE GOOD
1899    $17,780.00  $15,420.00   $2,360.00
1900     19,460.00   16,480.00    2,980.00
1901     21,424.00   15,520.00    5,904.00
1902     23,365.00   15,673.00    7,692.00
                                -----------
Making a total to the good of   $18,936.00

These figures cover only the money received and expended. They take no
account of the $4000 per annum which we agreed to pay the farm for
keeping us, so long as we made it pay interest to us. Four times $4000
are $16,000 which, added to $18,936, makes almost $35,000 to charge off
from the $106,000 of original investment.

Polly was wrong when she spoke of it as a _permanent_ investment. Four
years more of seven-dollar pork and thrifty apple growth will make this
balance of $71,000 look very small. The interest is growing rapidly
less, and it will be but a short time before the whole amount will be
taken off the expense account. When this is done, the yearly balance
will be increased by the addition of $5000, and we may be able to make
the farm pay for weddings, as Polly suggested.



CHAPTER LXVII

LOOKING FORWARD


I am not so opinionated as to think that mine is the only method of
farming. On the contrary, I know that it is only one of several good
methods; but that it is a good one, I insist. For a well-to-do,
middle-aged man who was obliged to give up his profession, it offered
change, recreation, employment, and profit. My ability to earn money by
my profession ceased in 1895, and I must needs live at ease on my
income, or adopt some congenial and remunerative employment, if such
could be found. The vision of a factory farm had flitted through my
brain so often that I was glad of the opportunity to test my theories by
putting them into practice. Fortunately I had money, and to spare; for I
had but a vague idea of what money would be needed to carry my
experiment to the point of self-support. I set aside $60,000 as ample,
but I spent nearly twice that amount without blinking. It is quite
likely that I could have secured as good and as prompt returns with
two-thirds of this expenditure. I plead guilty to thirty-three per cent
lack of economy; the extenuating circumstances were, a wish to let the
members of my family do much as they pleased and have good things and
good people around them, and a somewhat luxurious temperament of my own.

Polly and I were too wise (not to say too old) to adopt farming as a
means of grace through privations. We wanted the good there was in it,
and nothing else; but as a secondary consideration I wished to prove
that it can be made to pay well, even though one-third of the money
expended goes for comforts and kickshaws.

It is not necessary to spend so much on a five-hundred-acre farm, and a
factory farm need not contain so many acres. Any number of acres from
forty to five hundred, and any number of dollars from $5000 to $100,000,
will do, so long as one holds fast to the rules: good clean fences for
security against trespass by beasts, or weeds; high tilth, and heavy
cropping; no waste or fallow land; conscientious return to the land of
refuse, and a cover crop turned under every second year; the best stock
that money can buy; feed for product, not simply to keep the animals
alive; force product in every way not detrimental to the product itself;
maintain a strict quarantine around your animals, and then depend upon
pure food, water, air, sunlight, and good shelter to keep them healthy;
sell as soon as the product is finished, even though the market doesn't
please you; sell only perfect product under your own brand; buy when the
market pleases you and thus "discount the seasons"; remember that
interdependent industries are the essence of factory farming; employ the
best men you can find, and keep them interested in your affairs; have a
definite object and make everything bend toward that object; plant apple
trees galore and make them your chief care, as in time they will prove
your chief dependence. These are some of the principles of factory
farming, and one doesn't have to be old, or rich, to put them into
practice.

I would exchange my age, money, and acres for youth and forty acres, and
think that I had the best of the bargain; and I would start the factory
by planting ten acres of orchard, buying two sows, two cows, and two
setting hens. Youth, strength, and hustle are a great sight better than
money, and the wise youth can have a finer farm than mine before he
passes the half-century mark, even though he have but a bare forty to
begin with.

I do not take it for granted that every man has even a bare forty; but
millions of men who have it not, can have it by a little persistent
self-denial; and when an able-bodied man has forty acres of ground under
his feet, it is up to him whether he will be a comfortable, independent,
self-respecting man or not.

A great deal of farm land is distant from markets and otherwise limited
in its range of production, but nearly every forty which lies east of
the hundredth meridian is competent to furnish a living for a family of
workers, if the workers be intelligent as well as industrious. Farm
lands are each year being brought closer to markets by steam and
electric roads; telephone and telegraphic wires give immediate service;
and the daily distribution of mails brings the producer into close touch
with the consumer. The day of isolation and seclusion has passed, and
the farmer is a personal factor in the market. He is learning the
advantages of coöperation, both in producing and in disposing of his
wares; he has paid off his mortgage and has money in the bank; he is a
power in politics, and by far the most dependable element in the state.
Like the wrestler of old, who gained new strength whenever his foot
touched the ground, our country gains fresh vigor from every man who
takes to the soil.

In preaching a hejira to the country, I do not forget the interests of
the children. Let no one dread country life for the young until they
come to the full pith and stature of maturity; for their chances of
doing things worth doing in the world are four to one against those of
children who are city-bred. Four-fifths of the men and women who do
great things are country-bred. This is out of all proportion to the
birth-rate as between country and city, and one is at a loss to account
for the disproportion, unless it is to be credited to environment. Is it
due to pure air and sunshine, making redder blood and more vigorous
development, to broader horizons and freedom from abnormal conventions?
Or does a close relation to primary things give a newness to mind and
body which is granted only to those who apply in person?

Whatever the reason, it certainly pays to be country-bred. The cities
draw to themselves the cream of these youngsters, which is only natural;
but the cities do not breed them, except as exotics.

If the unborn would heed my advice, I would say, By all means be born in
the country,--in Ohio if possible. But, if fortune does not prove as
kind to you as I could wish, accept this other advice: Choose the,
country for your foster-mother; go to her for consolation and
rejuvenation, take her bounty gratefully, rest on her fair bosom, and be
content with the fat of the land.



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THE SPRAYING OF PLANTS. By E.G. LODEMAN, late of Cornell University. 399
pp. 92 illustrations. $1.00.

MILK AND ITS PRODUCTS. By H.H. WING, of Cornell University. Third
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