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Title: Making Home Profitable
Author: Saint-Maur, Kate V.
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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MAKING HOME PROFITABLE

[Illustration: A BORDER OF HARDY PERENNIALS]



  MAKING
  HOME PROFITABLE

  BY

  KATE V. SAINT-MAUR

  AUTHOR OF “THE EARTH’S BOUNTY,” ETC.

  ILLUSTRATED

  New York
  STURGIS & WALTON
  COMPANY
  1912

  Copyright 1908, 1909, 1910, 1911
  By THE CROWELL PUBLISHING CO.

  Copyright 1912
  By STURGIS & WALTON CO.

  Set up and electrotyped. Published April, 1912



CONTENTS


                                                                  PAGE

  A PROFITABLE HOME                                                  3

  POULTRY                                                           13

  THE SITTING HEN AND THE INCUBATOR                                 29

  RAISING EARLY BROILERS                                            39

  THE POULTRY YARD IN MID-SEASON                                    47

  JULY IN THE POULTRY YARD                                          53

  A FLOCK OF TURKEYS                                                63

  DUCKS AND GEESE                                                   71

  PIGEONS AND SQUABS                                                79

  POULTRY AILMENTS                                                  87

  THE VEGETABLE GARDEN                                              95

  THE HOTBED                                                       105

  HOW TO GROW ASPARAGUS                                            111

  HOW TO GROW MUSHROOMS                                            121

  SIX GOOD VEGETABLES TO GROW                                      129

  HOW TO PLANT AND CULTIVATE STRAWBERRIES                          135

  HOW TO GROW SMALL FRUITS                                         143

  HOW TO RAISE PERENNIAL PLANTS                                    151

  JUNE ROSES                                                       157

  LAVENDER AND HERBS                                               165

  GROWING WATERCRESS                                               173

  MY EXPERIENCE WITH BEES                                          179

  STORING FRUIT AND VEGETABLES                                     187

  FORCING RHUBARB AND ASPARAGUS                                    193

  RAISING PIGS                                                     199

  CARING FOR HOUSE PETS                                            207

  RAISING CANARIES FOR MARKET                                      217

  THE BUSINESS SIDE                                                223



ILLUSTRATIONS


  A Border of Hardy Perennials                          _Frontispiece_

                                                           FACING PAGE

  The Poultry Yard                                                  48

  A Flock of Turkeys                                                64

  Ducks and Geese                                                   72

  A Corner of the Vegetable Garden                                  96

  Mushrooms                                                        122

  June Roses                                                       156

  A Cellar Store-Room                                              186



MAKING HOME PROFITABLE



MAKING HOME PROFITABLE



A PROFITABLE HOME


It is just sixteen years since misfortune brought about our
emancipation. A disastrous business venture made it necessary to
curtail expenses. Rent being an especially heavy item, the hunt for a
cheaper habitation commenced. Toiling up and down innumerable stuffy
staircases in tow of slatternly janitors revealed the fact that cheap
flats were either over-crowded barracks redolent of dirty soapsuds
and stale cooking, or overdecorated cubbyholes where children were
tabooed. Evening after evening for two weeks I returned home weary and
discouraged.

Then chance, in the shape of a poultry show, came to my relief.
Instead of a cheap flat and semi-dark rooms, why not a house and
garden, where we could have chickens, eggs and vegetables of our own?
Friends scoffed; and even my husband, who had always joined me in
planning the ideal home of our old age, as a place far from the noise
and rush of the city, where we could indulge our love of flowers and
animals, demurred at first, though he eventually became imbued with my
enthusiasm, and told me to go ahead if I felt equal to shouldering the
responsibilities which city duties would obviously prevent his sharing.

He stipulated also that transportation to and from his business in the
city, and all other expenses, should come within the newly necessary
curtailment of expenses, which limited rent to twenty-five dollars a
month and the housekeeping allowance to twelve dollars a week; that
none of our very limited capital should be risked, excepting one
hundred dollars to cover expense of moving, etc., and that even this
sum should be considered as a loan. To satisfy the dear man’s cautious,
masculine ideas of fairness, I took twenty-four hours to consider the
conditions, and then, with solemn, businesslike gravity, accepted.

A painstaking advertisement in a Sunday paper, stating plainly that we
wanted a small farm near the city and a railway station, the rent not
to exceed fifteen dollars a month, brought dozens of letters offering
all sorts of places at all sorts of distances and prices, but only six
real answers. With the writers of these six letters I corresponded;
studied innumerable railway guides; took several fruitless journeys;
hesitated about two or three places, then just stumbled upon the right
place.

It is like choosing a new hat or garment. You like that one, but
this one is more becoming. You suddenly see something else quite
different--hesitancy is over; the unconscious ideal is found.

The house was long and low and white, standing at the end of the road,
facing a somewhat neglected, old-fashioned flower garden, which verged
into five acres of orchard bounded by a river. The man who was driving
me didn’t know to whom the place belonged. I got out, looked in at the
windows, made out that there was a wide hall through the centre and two
big old-fashioned fireplaces and a lot of odd cupboards.

Outside there was a wood-shed, summer kitchen, small smoke-house, barn,
cow shed, corn-crib and chicken house. My original destination was
forgotten. I was driven back to the station; found out who the owner
was, and where he lived; drove over there, and ascertained that the
house contained four large rooms and one small one, kitchen, pantry and
two cellars downstairs, and five rooms and an attic upstairs.

There are one hundred and eighty acres of land or more, but the
landlord would divide it to suit good tenants, which he evidently
thought we would be, for subsequently we arranged to take the house,
buildings, orchard, twelve acres of farm land and four acres of
woodland on a three years’ lease, at a rental of fifteen dollars a
month, with the privilege of taking the remainder of the land at any
time during our tenancy for an extra five dollars a month, and an
option of purchase.

Really, it seemed too good to be true, for it was within the prescribed
distance from the city and depot, the price of commutation being
only six dollars a month. The river, the old-fashioned garden with
its two great catalpa trees shading the house, and the beauty of the
surrounding scenery, made it almost a realization of our ideal home.
Thankful joy filled our hearts even before we had experienced the
glorious invigoration of an industrious outdoor life on the farm, where
each day brings some new interest.

All our goods and chattels, including two cats and a canary, were
packed in two vans, which took them the entire twenty-eight miles for
thirty dollars. A kitchen stove cost thirty-five dollars; three wash
tubs, four lamps and a few necessary tools absorbed another twenty-five
dollars; and the last ten of the hundred dollars was spent in straw
matting, which we divided between two bedrooms.

Of course, I had to start at the very bottom of the ladder, buying only
with the money that I could save from week to week from my housekeeping
allowance. A few hens, a few ducks, gradually through the poultry
family, then an incubator and brooder, to the dignity of a horse and
cow; after whose acquisition, the home became self-supporting, the
third year showing a surplus profit.

Of course, there were difficulties and troubles to be overcome,
but they were all the direct result of my own ignorance. A friend
well posted in country-home making, from whom I could have acquired
vicarious experience, would have prevented most of them. Hence my
desire to pass on to practical lessons, learned during the last sixteen
years, for the benefit of other women.

Our old-fashioned white house and shady garden might not appeal
to every one, but no matter what individual taste may demand in
architecture and environment, there are certain points which must be
observed to insure the health and happiness which we all desire. The
house must be on high ground, with good subdrainage. How to be sure of
the latter point puzzled me, until an old real-estate man, in answer to
my praise of a place we were passing, said:

“Handsome? Yes, but it is a death trap. Dig a hole six feet deep
anywhere around the house, and in twelve hours there will be water at
the bottom of it.”

Needless to say, this place was not on his list, but the hint was a
good one and has been remembered. Wet meadows and spring ponds may give
no anxiety, but stagnant water is dangerous, for it breeds mosquitoes
and malaria. Fortunately, it is generally easily abolished; an
able-bodied man with a shovel can usually dig a gutter to some near-by
fall in the natural grade of the land that will drain it. Mosquitoes
were one of our troubles for two years; then three hours’ work banished
their breeding-ground.

As it is a permanent home, and not a summer camp, which is being
selected, shelter from cold winds is important. The woodland on our
place protected barns, house and orchard. If there is no natural
wind-break, and the place is satisfactory enough otherwise to make
you contemplate buying it in future, it will be wise to plant out
quick-growing trees, which usually can be bought for little or nothing
in the country, and transplanted when quite a good size. Inexpensive
country houses do not have furnaces, and like us, you may not be able
to afford one for a year or two.

We found that two large stoves, with the pipes arranged to pass through
the ceiling and into radiators in the rooms above, and thence into the
chimney, would heat four rooms. The pipe of the kitchen range can be
utilized in the same way. Stoves with cracks and poor fire bricks waste
fuel and warmth, so don’t try to economise on stoves.

We have always used an open hearth in the living-room, because it
looks so cheerily comfortable, and a door at the opposite end of the
room opens into the dining-room, allowing the air from there to come
in, and so preventing the cold backs which are the usual drawback of a
picturesque open fire.

One of the joys of depending on stoves is being able to regulate the
heat in each room to meet all conditions. Our apartment in town was of
the better class, yet just as surely as an extra cold snap arrived,
so surely did the heating apparatus get out of order. Another horror
was the “kling-kling” of the pipes in the dark, uncanny hours of the
morning, when every well-regulated human being ought to be allowed to
sleep in peace.

Having plenty of wood, we used what are called “air-tight chunk
stoves” instead of coal, excepting in the kitchen. And truly we have
never experienced any trouble in keeping the entire house _hot_ in
the bitterest weather. But we took precautions, such as keeping the
putty around the window panes in good order. We used sandbags on the
ledges, mats at the doors, and red building paper (which has no odor)
or several thicknesses of newspaper under the floor covering. Then we
opened most of the windows for a few minutes every morning, and let in
fresh air.

People rave about the pleasures of the country in summer, but I think
city folks more thoroughly realise the joys of a country home in
winter. We found something delightfully restful about the crackling log
fire on the open hearth, around which the whole family could gather.
There is a “hominess” about it that can’t be found by the side of a
steam radiator. And could any specialist prescribe a better panacea for
a business man’s overwrought nerves? There, I am letting my enthusiasm
for country pleasure interfere with the practical help I set out to
give. And even now the joys of skating, sleighing and tobogganing have
not been cited.

Making the home comfortable in hot weather is a very simple matter.
A house has four sides--one for each point of the compass--so open
windows and doors, and catch whatever breeze there is. Wire screens are
cheap; besides, care in not allowing garbage and water to stand around
the premises will mitigate flies and mosquitoes.

If fate or your fancy has settled you in a new place minus old trees to
shade the lawn and porch, wire netting and wild cucumber vines, which
grow very rapidly, will furnish a substitute. For keeping provisions
I found a well-ventilated cellar better than the best refrigerator. We
take out the windows and replace them with two thicknesses of flannel,
which are thoroughly saturated with water. At noon time on a hot day
evaporation lowers the temperature several degrees, yet the current of
fresh air is not obstructed, as it would be with closed windows.

Well or spring water is usually refreshingly cool, so an ice house is
really not imperative, though I recommend building a small one if the
farm provides good ice, for it is an inexpensive building to construct,
rough boards, sawdust and the ordinary handy man’s labor being the only
requirements. We did not have one for several years, but then we had a
spring-house with a stone floor and shelves, and a wide gutter running
all around, through which the water from the spring was conducted,
keeping the place almost icy.

Modern improvements are never to be found in inexpensive country
houses, so we found that a bathroom or some means of taking an all-over
scrub would have to be constructed immediately. We bought a full-sized
tin bath tub with a wooden bottom for about seven dollars, and placed
it in the little room off the kitchen. A piece of rubber hose was bound
tightly to the escape pipe of the bath tub, and carried through the
wall out into a box drain, thence to a barrel ten feet from the house,
which had no bottom, and was sunk into the ground. From there, of
course, the water seeped into the subsoil and disappeared.

We thought it was very fine indeed at first, but later, when our ideas
and finances broadened, we replaced it with a porcelain enameled tub
and wash bowl, with properly soldered waste pipes into a tile-drain
sink three feet deep, to prevent freezing.

A pump over the kitchen sink had been the only water supply, but as
that was drawn from a splendid spring several feet above the level of
the house, we determined, when investing in a new bathroom outfit,
to stretch the purse strings a little further, and put in hot and
cold water. A waterback was attached to the kitchen stove, and a
sixty-three-gallon boiler attached. It cost twenty-two dollars and
seventy-five cents. The bath and basin cost thirty-eight dollars. Fifty
feet of one-and-one-half-inch pipe, seven dollars and fifty cents. One
hundred feet of half-inch pipe, six dollars. Waste pipe, two dollars.
Labor, twenty-two dollars.

When a spring is not conveniently situated, an automatic ram and a
cistern will have to be used, and I am told that they would cost about
seventy dollars more. Even with the new arrangement of the bathroom,
we retain the earth closet, which had been bought some time before, at
a cost of twenty-five dollars. It stands with its back to the outer
wall, through which a trap-door was cut, to permit the removal and
replacing of pans and earth. This is undoubtedly the most inexpensive
and sanitary contrivance with which a country house can be furnished.

The next comfort was a telephone, which cost only eighteen dollars a
year, including local calls, long-distance calls, of course, being
extra charges. That, with the rural delivery and daily paper, brings
us stay-at-homes in touch with the great doings of the world and the
little interests of our friends.

We deserted the city in March, but experience has taught me that the
fall is the best time of the year in which to migrate. There are not so
many people looking for country places; the days are bright and cool,
the roads in good condition, and there is much that can be done in
the garden and orchard to facilitate next spring’s work. By starting
poultry in the fall, one can have broilers ready to catch the early
spring prices. Moreover, it is the early chick that will make a good
layer the following winter.

       *       *       *       *       *

In the following chapter we will carry the housekeeping into the
poultry yard, for that is the best starting point for a self-supporting
home.



POULTRY


As poultry was the stepping stone which enabled me to reach the haven
of a self-supporting home, I naturally consider it the best foundation
on which a city woman can build her expectations of rural prosperity.
I suppose--and I certainly hope--that every woman won’t have to begin
with just two or three birds, as I did; but those who may have to,
should find my first six months’ experience comforting.

Twenty-one mongrel hens were bought in three detachments, costing
fifty to seventy-five cents each. They were nearly all old ladies
with strongly developed maternal instincts, who delighted in sitting
on eggs and brooding chickens, so we managed to rear one hundred and
forty-eight chickens. We had from three to four eggs a day for the
table, because we desired to keep only White Wyandotte hens in the
future, and eggs for hatching were bought from a near-by farm, and cost
altogether six dollars, feed for six months cost four dollars, making
a total outlay of twenty dollars and fifty cents. Ninety chickens were
sold as broilers, realising twenty-two dollars, so the actual cash
profit was only two dollars.

But there was an increase in stock to fifty-eight pullets, all worth
at least one dollar and fifty cents by the end of the sixth month.
By November 22d they were all laying, the average number of eggs
being twenty-five a day, when strictly new-laid eggs were bringing
from thirty-five to fifty cents a dozen, a record which I think truly
justifies me in recommending Biddy as the pioneer factor in economical
home making. Even well-bred, industrious hens must have good conditions
and care to be profitable.

There are innumerable breeds and varieties of breeds, the most popular
at present being Plymouth Rocks, Barred, Buff, and White Wyandottes,
Silver-Laced, White, Buff, Golden, Partridge, and Black; Rhode Island
Reds, which have a plumage somewhat similar to the old-fashioned game
bird, and vary only in having both rose and single combs; Minorcas,
Black and White; Andalusians, about the shade of a Maltese cat, single
combs; Leghorns, Black, Brown, Buff, Duck-Winged, Silver, and White.

Plymouth Rocks and Rhode Island Reds are very good birds and probably
the latter would be my selection, if anything could persuade me to
desert White Wyandottes. The chicks of the three foregoing are all
strong and easily reared, but the Wyandottes make plump broilers at a
slightly earlier age, maturing perhaps a week or two earlier than the
others, which are equally good roasters. I do not know that there is
any material difference in their egg-producing capacities.

Leghorns, Minorcas and Andalusians are much smaller birds and are
considered to be the egg machines of the hen family; but observation
has convinced me that they fall far behind the three heavier breeds
quoted during severely cold weather, when eggs are most valuable. Hence
I always recommend Wyandottes, Rhode Island Reds or Plymouth Rocks for
general utility in the vicinity of New York or further north, and the
Leghorns, Minorcas and Andalusians for the Southern states, especially
when eggs are the only consideration, and the birds can have free
range. One of the great drawbacks to the latter birds is their ability
to fly or climb over fences of almost any height, while the ’Dottes,
Rocks and Reds are easily controlled in yards that are not over four
feet in height.

Whichever individual fancy or environment decide you in keeping, be
advised by one who has bought her experience: Don’t attempt more than
one breed at a time, and shun a mixed flock of nondescripts, for it
would tax the perspicacity of a Solomon to feed correctly a tribe of
mongrels.

Of course, by pure-bred birds I don’t necessarily mean expensive prize
winners. That would be foolish extravagance. But all large poultry
plants have what are termed “market stock” for sale in the fall--the
progeny of aristocrats, but lacking some necessary point for show-room
honours. Such birds can be bought for about a dollar and a quarter
each, and will answer every practical purpose.

Male birds need not be bought until about three weeks before the
eggs are wanted for incubation. Then, if your choice should have been
Wyandottes, Plymouth Rocks or Rhode Island Reds, each flock of seven
hens should be headed by a cockerel. Leghorns, Minorcas and Andalusians
can run fifteen hens to a flock. The male bird should be as good as you
can afford, for by such means you can gradually improve your stock,
until it reaches perfection. It is safer to buy the cockerels from
breeders far distant from the original home of the hens, to avoid any
danger of relationship.

Whenever new birds are bought, segregate them for a few days in some
small house and yard, to assure yourself that they are healthy and fit
associates for your birds. Catch the birds, one by one, each night,
while in quarantine. Hold by the feet, the head down, and saturate the
feathers with some good insect powder from an ordinary flour dredger.

The poultry house should be whitewashed about every six weeks in hot
weather, and as late and early in the fall and spring as the weather
will permit. Scatter dry earth or sand on the platform; clean and
renew every day. Once a week paint the corners of nests, roosts and
any other fixtures or roughly spliced joints in the building with
kerosene oil and crude carbolic acid, mixed in the proportion of one
pint of oil to half an ounce of carbolic. Leaves or whatever scratching
material may be used on the floor should be raked out once a week in
hot weather. All cleanings should be put into a heap under shelter, or
into barrels, for poultry droppings are invaluable fertilizer for the
vegetable garden.

Dry, cold weather doesn’t hurt the hens at all, but after winter rains
or heavy snow they should be confined to the house, and unless the
weather is exceptionally inclement, all the windows thrown open between
9 A.M. and 2:30 P.M. Very stormy days we keep them open only while the
hens are busy scratching for the noon supply of corn.

It is the industrious, busy hen that produces the most eggs, so the
first consideration is to keep the flock busy. We promote exercise by
having the small yards at the back of the houses repeatedly dug up
during the spring and summer. In the autumn the dry, falling leaves are
collected, and used on the floors of the houses during bad weather.
Fresh, cold water is kept constantly before them in stone vessels in
summer, and in a padded-box arrangement in winter.

Boxes of clean, dry soil are placed in sunny spots in the house, to
encourage the birds to take the dust baths in which they delight. Hens,
having no teeth with which to chew their food, are dependent on grit to
perform the office of mastication after the food has passed into the
bird’s gizzard, where a sort of grinding process takes place, which
reduces hard corn to a digestible compound. Being near a stone crusher,
we buy the fine gravel by the load. Those not so fortunately situated
will find a specially prepared mixture at any poultry-supply store,
or the small flock can be supplied by smashing broken crockery and
glass into pieces about the size of hemp seed. Oyster shell is a very
poor substitute for grit, its value being the lime it supplies for the
formation of shell.

Fowls are better off kept in yards; in fact, they must be so restrained
if the highest egg records are to be reached. In way back times, it
was considered a great detriment to yard fowls, but for some years
past professional poultry-keepers have yarded their fowls, because
they found it was the only way to reach the top notch. Even now the
general farmers still adhere to the free range idea, and I am convinced
that it is not purely because they think it necessary, but it saves
feed and other bother. It has been estimated that a flock of common
dunghill hens, such as are seen in the average farm, lay in a year
less than a hundred eggs each. The figures are eighty to ninety.
Farmers who have become breeders, and who thus give the hen decidedly
more consideration, and still adhere to the free range system, have
increased this yield to one hundred and fifty and better. Breeders who
have followed the strictly up-to-date methods, and have yarded their
layers, have obtained an average of one hundred and seventy-five eggs,
and some have even reached the two hundred mark.

Please note that I say fowls or hens, and I do not mean this to include
growing chicks. The line must be distinctly drawn between the two. The
range cannot be too extended for growing stock. What we strive for in
growing chicks is frame, on which later we intend to put flesh. This
frame can only be built by food, and plenty of it, converted into
bone and muscle by exercise. After the chick has made the frame, we
can safely yard her and put on the flesh, and thus convert her into a
money-earning machine.

The advantages gained by yarding stock are manifold. First of all,
by confining stock to a certain space, we are sure they eat the food
provided and in the quantity we mean them to have. Feeding layers to
produce eggs is becoming every year a more delicate operation. Formula
after formula is tried by different breeders, as an experiment, with
the hope of increasing the egg yield. If we can force each hen to lay
ten a year more, it means a considerable increase of the total of the
flock, and a better return in dollars and cents to the breeder. Yarding
stock is a means toward this end. The food fed is converted, as we
mean it to be, into eggs, and not into muscle. It is decidedly more
troublesome to care for stock in this way, and necessitates additional
labour and expense, but we are looking for the increase all the time,
and are thus continually hoping to be compensated for the extra trouble.

Fowls in yards must be supplied with everything they require, which
means, all they would naturally seek if running at large. This
includes, besides the grain we feed by formula, green food, meat,
a scratching place and dusting spot, and grit and water. Of all
these I consider green food the most necessary, and the one thing to
be impressed upon the mind, because it is the one thing too often
forgotten. Green food of any variety is acceptable. The ideal yarding
of fowls is what is known as double yarding--a house in the middle
and a yard on each side. These yards can be sown with rye or oats,
and alternated so that the fowls will have a constant green run as
long as the rye or oats will grow, which is until frost. Failing the
double yard system, green food may be supplied by lawn clippings, whole
cabbage, clover hay or sprouted oats, fed in a variety of ways. Turning
up the ground of the yards with a cultivator or by shallow ploughing,
will bring the worms and bugs within reach, or sheep heads cut open and
fed raw can be thrown in, and this is an ideal meat food. Ground beef
scraps may be mixed in mash--and last, and probably the best, cut green
bone.

Yarded fowls need exercise. It must not be understood that because they
are confined they do not get exercise, or as much as if let run at
large. The yards should be at least one hundred and fifty feet long,
if they are the width of the average coop, which is ten to twelve
feet. Some breeds are decidedly more active by nature than others; for
instance, the Leghorns as compared to the Cochins or Brahmas. This
does not affect the health of the fowls particularly. A Leghorn is no
healthier because of her activity than a Cochin is. It is simply the
difference in their natures, but because of this excess of activity of
one breed over another, the one must have more room than the other. The
Leghorn stands the confinement of a coop ten by twelve feet in winter,
provided she can be kept actively hunting for her food; but the same
bird would mope and become out of condition if confined too long in an
exhibition coop in a show room. On the other hand, a Cochin, being of
a lazier nature, forages slowly, and wanders quietly over her yard,
takes things easy in the winter coop, and stands the confinement of the
exhibition coop excellently.

The foraging nature of any breed can be killed by excessive feeding.
Even birds with free range, if overfed at special meal hours, will
take but limited exercise, exactly as those treated the same way and
yarded. Exercise is induced by short feeding. In other words, no laying
strain should be fed all they can eat except at night. Hunger induces
exercise, whether a fowl be let run or yarded. Therefore, fowls fed
short and induced to hunt for more, will lay eggs, while those overfed,
in the morning especially, will sit around moping in the sun, and
convert the food into flesh instead of eggs.

Another advantage of yarded fowls is the certainty of finding all the
eggs laid every day, and then being able to guarantee them as strictly
fresh. This is a point of great importance, and constitutes the
difference between eggs produced by an up-to-date breeder with yarded
fowls, and those sold by the “honest” farmer who collects them wherever
found, and cannot swear that they were laid to-day, not two weeks ago.

The wise poultry keeper will not delay getting things in order for the
breeding season. New blood is necessary to keep up the vigour of the
flock. Buy the best male bird you can afford. The rooster is more than
half the flock. A good bird will grade up young stock next spring.
Remember even if you have pretty good birds of your own rearing, there
is danger in inbreeding for more than one season.

Select only the largest, brightest hens for the breeding pens.
Reject any which have shown signs of illness at any time of their
lives. The eggs are the main point; only the best layers should be
selected. From seven to twelve birds are enough for one flock. If you
haven’t the coops, or a long house divided into compartments with
accompanying yards, and can’t divide your birds into small flocks,
adopt the alternating plan. Keep several male birds in a house and yard
separated from the hens, and let only one run with the hens at a time,
alternating them every day or every week, according to the number of
hens. For example, if I were compelled to keep fifty hens in one flock,
I would keep seven male birds, and let each one in turn run one day
with the flock, rather than allow three or four birds to remain with
the flock all the time.

Now is the time to overhaul things. There is no opportunity when spring
comes, for then there is always a rush, and you will bring trouble
on yourself by using coops which haven’t been properly cleaned, or
which have no fastenings, or have broken hinges or leaks in the roof.
The boys want something to amuse them during the winter evenings;
get them interested in showing off their mechanical skill by making
feed-hoppers and drinking-fountains. Self-feeding hoppers save a great
deal of food, especially round brood coops. They prevent the grain
being spilled or trampled into the ground or spoiled by thunder showers.

The brand of tea which we use in the house comes in square pound tins,
and these we convert into self-feeders by cutting out two inches of
the front an inch from the bottom, and fitting a sloping false bottom
inside. Any handy boy can look at the picture of a self-feeder in
a catalogue, and make one that will be just as serviceable. Pound
baking powder cans can have a hole the size of a pea cut about an inch
from the top, and when filled with water and turned upside down in
a two-inch tin pan make capital little drinking-fountains for brood
coops, and cost only five cents for the dish, so there is no excuse for
not having plenty of them, and they save chicks getting drowned or the
water getting defiled, which is usually the case when open dishes are
used. Having all the little things ready and in order counts for a lot
in the spring, when everyone has more work than he can comfortably do.

At least two-thirds of the letters I receive are about “mysterious”
cases, nearly all of which are due to the presence of vermin in the
houses. Most of the women who write seem to be horrified when they find
their hens infested by such pests, but my experience has been that it
is the nicely-kept, presumably clean, house and flock which is apt to
be the worst. Why, is a puzzle, unless it is that women are apt to
keep their fowls’ home so tidily clean that one never thinks of hidden
troubles, and for that reason the house and flock are never drastically
attacked, as they should be, with eradicators and preventives. And,
naturally, the hidden pests multiply undisturbed, and infest the whole
place before their presence is suspected.

Few people know that there are any number and variety of pests which
are difficult to discover because of other secretive habits. For
instance, there is the depluming scab mite, which is a very minute,
vicious pest, that often causes hens to be accused of feather-pulling,
when in reality the poor things are only trying to rid themselves of
intruders who cause them positive torture. When a bird is noticed to
have bare places on neck or back or body it is well to catch it and
pull out one of its feathers near the bare spot. Ten to one you will
find a scaly collection near a quill. Rub it off on to a sheet of
paper, and examine it under a magnifying glass, and you will discover
that every grain that looked like dandruff is a living mite. Another
tiny atom, which buries itself under the skin of fowls’ legs, causes
itself to be known as “scaly legs.” Many of the mysterious deaths can
be traced to another variety of the same family which attacks the
air-passages of the bird’s throat, and occasionally reaches the lungs.
The affected bird gets drowsy, mopes about for a few days, and at last
dies from suffocation, and people wonder what has been the trouble.
Then there are three varieties of fleas, so dark in colour that they
look almost black, which live in the soil, or in cracks and crevices
of the poultry houses, and sally forth when hungry to feed on the poor
defenceless hen. One species of these crawls, instead of hopping like
the ordinary flea, so people frequently make the mistake of thinking
that it is a plant insect which will not molest poultry. It is all
these unsuspected visitors which attack poultry at night, rob them of
their vitality, and the poultryman of much of his profits.

Long ago, when I first started my poultry plant, I found a recipe for
liquid louse exterminator and a worm powder published in some magazine
recommended by Dr. P. T. L. Woods, the great poultry expert. The
liquid is easily made, and very cheap. Dissolve crude naphtha flakes
in kerosene oil. Mothaline and naphtha camphor are two preparations
put up in packages, which can be bought at any drug store, and would
do as well as the flakes, if you have any difficulty in getting them.
A Boston firm puts up a preparation with aromatic naphthalens and
camphor, in packages which cost twenty-five cents, and is very good.
One package dissolved in two gallons of kerosene makes a good mixture
to spray house, nests and roosts. For the birds themselves, paint the
inside of a box with the liquid, and keep a bird in it for from fifteen
to twenty minutes. I had a box made with a compartment one foot square,
so that we could treat six birds at one time. Near the top of each
compartment there is a hole large enough for the bird to put his head
through, and outside we put a trough which is slightly raised from
the ground, so that the birds can just reach the contents. Fill it
with small grain, and they keep busy most of the time, which insures
their not being smothered, and their necks passing through the hole
prevents the fume of the wash escaping too rapidly. Of course, someone
must remain and watch the birds all the time; otherwise there is the
danger of the bird pulling its head in and being suffocated. To be sure
that the bird is perfectly clean, fumigation should be repeated three
times, with an interval of three days after each. If houses are kept
clean and all new birds are thoroughly fumigated before they are turned
into the flock, it will not be necessary to attack the whole flock more
than once or twice a year. Nests for setting hens are always swabbed
out with the mixture, and brood coops get a dose once a week. As soon
as any hen shows signs of getting broody, she is dredged with powder,
which is well rubbed down into the “fluff” of the feathers; then on the
tenth and nineteenth days she is again well powdered, and from the time
the chicks are a week old she receives a dose of powder once a week as
long as she broods them. The recipe for the insect powder is as follows:

To one peck of freshly slaked lime add half an ounce of carbolic
acid. Mix very thoroughly, and add same quantity, in bulk, of tobacco
dust. Another powder recommended by Dr. Woods in the same article,
and which I have used very frequently, is made by mixing equal parts
of finely-sifted coal ashes and tobacco dust, then moisten the whole
with the liquid louse exterminator. Allow it to dry and it is ready for
use. When purchasing carbolic acid, ask for ninety per cent. strength,
otherwise they are very likely to give you a much weaker preparation,
fit only for medical use.



THE SITTING HEN AND THE INCUBATOR


Looking back over the memories of my farm initiation, it seems as if I
had not fully realised the possibilities of my new undertaking until
the first incubator was inaugurated. As I have already told you, I
did all the first year’s hatch under hens, and still set every hen
that evinces any desire to assume the cares of motherhood, because it
seems Nature’s plan to keep the egg machine in good working order.
If a broody hen is not allowed to sit, it takes several days of
incarceration to break up her desire, then several days more after she
is freed before she commences to lay, and invariably the sitting fever
will attack her again within a few weeks. Now, incubation takes only
three weeks; brooding of chicks, another four or six weeks, and Mrs.
Biddy has had a complete rest, followed by vigorous exercise while
scratching for her babies. So when she is returned to the yard she is
in perfect condition to produce eggs. Let Biddy sit whenever she wants
to, but don’t wait her pleasure in the early spring, for you might have
no young chickens to sell when they bring good prices.


THE SELECTION OF THE INCUBATOR

There are a great many incubators on the market, some heated by hot
air, others by hot water. If you select any one of the standard makes
advertised you will get a good, practical hatcher. Printed instructions
for setting up and running are sent out with every machine, but they
don’t emphasise all the important points quite strongly enough for
amateurs. Lots of people can’t drive a screw home accurately, and fail
to realise that if the head is slightly to the right or left it throws
the fixture which is being attached to the machine out of plumb, and
a hair’s breadth makes a difference when such delicate appliances as
thermostatic rods (the power which controls the heat), are concerned.
A blunder supplies much knowledge. I should never have realised the
necessity for absolute exactness if one of the screws used in attaching
the lamp support to our second incubator had not gone slightly awry. It
caused the chimney almost to touch one side of the socket into which it
fits. That, in turn, drew the flame to one side, and caused it to smoke
at night when turned up for extra heat. It was a very little blunder,
apparently, but it almost spoiled the incubator, and quite spoiled the
hatch.

To be sure that the incubator fixtures are plumb, use a spirit level,
the only safe guide. After starting the machine, practise running it
for a few days before putting in the eggs. When the heat reaches one
hundred and two and one-half degrees, with the escape dial hanging the
width of a match from the opening, put in the trays, which, being cold,
will lower the heat, and should close the dial until the trays become
warm, and the thermometer in the machine again registers one hundred
and two and one-half, when the dial should once more be dangling the
match width above the opening. Should the closing and opening not take
place as the heat varies, the machine is not properly adjusted, and you
must practise until it will bear the test before putting in the eggs.

The thermometers are supposed to have been tested before they are
shipped, but it is well to buy an extra one and compare them; or get
your doctor, who is sure to have an accurate thermometer, to do it for
you. The egg tester comes with the incubator. It is a tin, funnel-like
chimney that fits over the lamp, and has a projecting opening, bordered
with black, before which to hold the eggs. The first test should be
made on the seventh day; the second on the fifteenth day. Hold the egg,
large end uppermost, in front of the opening. If it looks perfectly
clear it is infertile and can be used to feed young chicks. If it
shows a dark-red spot with spidery legs it is fertile, and must be
returned to the incubator. Dead germs are rarely discernible at the
first testing, except to the expert eye. By the fifteenth, the veriest
amateur will be able to detect them.

Successful incubation depends principally on being able to maintain
the amount of heat and moisture necessary at the different stages of
development. A thermometer is furnished with most incubators, but as
yet hygrometers are not, so it is advisable to buy one. For as they
only cost $1.50 each, it would be pennywise and pound-foolish to do
without one. Having these two little instruments to tell exactly the
amount of heat and moisture present in the machine, simplifies the
work wonderfully.

Personally, I like to have the thermometer register 102 degrees, and
the hygrometer 75, when I first put the eggs in the incubator. The
second week, the heat is increased to 102½, and the moisture lowered to
70 degrees. The third week, heat from 102½ to 103; moisture not over 45
until the nineteenth day, when the moisture is again increased to 55 or
60 degrees.

The reason for such fluctuation in the moisture may need some
explanation. During the first stages of incubation it is necessary to
prevent the escape of the water which is part of the egg, as it is
needed to keep the albumen in the right condition for the development
of the germ. After the tenth day, when the embryo is formed, the water
should be gradually allowed to evaporate, so that the amount of air
inside the shell increases, as it is needed to aid the circulation of
the blood and permit the growth of the chick. Increasing the moisture
again on the nineteenth day is simply done to soften the inside skin of
the egg and make it easy for the chick to break through.

When extra moisture is to be supplied, place a pan of wet sand or a
damp sponge in the bottom of the incubator. If the machine is standing
in a very damp cellar, the difficulty is often to keep down the
moisture rather than to increase it.

In this case, keep the trays out of the machine for a greater length
of time when you turn the eggs each day, and open the ventilators.
Probably the safest and simplest way to learn how to gauge this
important point of moisture, is to set a hen at the same time that you
start the incubator, and then compare the development of the air-cell
in the egg every few days. If the development is too slow, open the
ventilators at the side of the incubator wider, and air the eggs a
little longer each day when you have the trays out to turn the eggs.
Reverse affairs if the development is too quick. It is better to run
the machine a degree or two above the given temperature than below it,
especially during the last few days.

After the morning of the twentieth day don’t open the incubator until
the hatch is over, or until late on the twenty-second day, and don’t
get nervous if the temperature runs to one hundred and four or even to
one hundred and five; it is caused by the animal heat of the chicks,
and will do them no harm. Turning down the lamp slightly will of course
reduce the heat; but be very careful not to let it run below one
hundred and three during the last twenty-four hours. Low temperature
prolongs the hatch, weakens the chickens and makes them susceptible to
all sorts of ailments.

Individual outdoor brooders I think are the best, for in very cold
weather they can stand in a light outhouse. I used to monopolise the
summer kitchen from February to April, and then have them placed out
in the orchard. Placing an outdoor brooder under cover is really only
for the convenience of the attendant, for they are storm proof. If you
commence with an incubator that holds one hundred and twenty to one
hundred and sixty eggs you will require two brooders, and if in a
cold or Northern locality, some small house which can be warmed during
very cold weather, if you propose commencing to incubate in January.
A brooder supposed to hold one hundred chickens will accommodate that
number comfortably for about nine days, after which not more than
fifty should be kept in it. Hence the necessity for two brooders.
When the chicks are six weeks old in cold weather, and four weeks
old in moderate weather, they can be removed to the small house (the
temperature of which should be kept at sixty degrees during the night).
Remember, incubation takes only twenty-one days, so you must allow at
least three weeks to elapse before starting the incubator a second time.

Give the brooder a good coat of whitewash inside before using it. Cover
the drum which furnishes the heat under the hover with two or three
thicknesses of flannel, to make it soft for the little bodies to cuddle
up against. Cover the floor of the hover compartment with a piece of
old carpet or felt, and the outside compartment with sweepings from
the haymow. Have the heat running steadily at ninety-five degrees for
several hours before the chicks are to be put into it, and keep it at
that heat the first seven or eight days. Then gradually let it fall to
seventy-five degrees. Of course, I mean the heat under the hover. The
rest of the brooder will be--and should be--several degrees lower.


THE CARE OF THE CHICKS IN THE BROODER

Keep fresh water in vessels into which the chicks can get only their
bills in the outer compartment. Never neglect seeing that they are all
safely cuddled up to the heat at dusk.

During the bright, sunny hours in the middle of the day let the chicks
have plenty of fresh air in the playroom; at feeding time, when they
are all busy, give the hover compartment a thorough airing.

When Biddy is doing the brooding, remember she is pretty sure to need
dusting with some good insect powder. The nest box she sat in should
have been cleaned, and a handful of camphor balls scattered under the
hay of the nest. Moreover, each hen should be dusted before setting,
twice during the twenty-one days, three days after the hatch is out,
and each week so long as she broods the chicks.

Fresh air, warmth and good food prevent many troubles almost impossible
to cure if once contracted; so look to the little things.

Thirty hours must be allowed for the proper digestion and assimilation
of the yolk, which is absorbed into the abdomen immediately before the
chick breaks through the shell. When Biddy has done the hatching do not
move her to the brood coop for twenty-four hours, unless she is flighty
and keeps getting off the nest, in which case it is better to keep the
chicks in a covered box by the kitchen stove until some more motherly
hen can be persuaded to adopt them. Always try to set two or three
hens at the same time. Good hens that are well fed and have not been
bothered with vermin seldom give any trouble about the last twenty-four
hours.


HOW TO DIVERSIFY THE DAILY RATION

Now about the all-important question of feeding: For the first two or
three days get ten pounds of rape and millet seed, pin-head oatmeal and
cracked corn, charcoal, and fine, sharp grit. Mix all together. If you
cannot get pin-head oatmeal, buy hulled oats and break them up fine.
The grain must also be cracked quite fine; in fact, it is safer to put
the mixture through a sieve which will allow nothing larger than millet
to go through. Then there is no danger of chicks being choked. Feed the
mixture by scattering among the sweepings, to encourage the chicks to
scratch and take exercise.

Morning and evening make a mash by chopping a hard-boiled egg, shell
and all, green onion tops or sprouts. Mix with stale bread crumbs, and
feed on a flat pie plate or strip of wood. After the chicks are two
weeks old the oats and corn need not be quite so fine--more the size of
hemp seed, which can be added to the mixture; so can cracked wheat or
barley, and the mash can be made of ground corn and oats, with onions
and scalded liver, chopped, three times a week (about a small cupful to
a quart of mash).

What I mean by scalded liver is liver dropped into a kettle of boiling
water and let boil up once. Leave to cool in the water. Quite raw it
is too strong for little chicks. For a change I mix the grain with
scalding milk two or three times a week. Never make more at a time than
will be fed within the next few hours, as it sours.

Pot cheese is a favourite dish with all poultry, and very wholesome. If
there is any tendency to bowel trouble, give them rice water in place
of the drinking water.

Keep brooders and brood coops clean and dry. The grass around the coops
should be kept cut loose, so that the chicks can run about easily.
See that every coop is closed at night, and do not let the chicks out
while the grass is dewy. Don’t give the hens too many chicks to brood
in winter, for if she cannot keep them close to her they will die of
chill.



RAISING EARLY BROILERS


A distinct branch of the poultry business, and one that is extremely
profitable for those who can run it successfully, is raising young
chicks in the winter for early broilers. To commence on a large scale
requires as large capital, but there are hundreds of men and women who
have accommodations on their premises that would enable them to start
in a small way, and by investing the profits from the first year they
could obtain a really good equipment for the business.

Of course, the real starting-point should be a good flock of healthy
hens, all of one breed, preferably Wyandottes or Rocks, for really
the hen who lays the egg has as much to do with the success in
broiler-making as the care one may bestow on the business.

Next in importance is a well-constructed new incubator. Don’t be
tempted to buy a second-hand machine, which has usually been allowed to
stand in a damp cellar or in some outside shed while not in use, for
it will in all probability warp or go to pieces when put in commission
again.

Brooders come third on the list, but are quite as important as the
two foregoing, for there is no use hatching a chick unless it can be
reared, and the heat and ventilation of the artificial mother is more
than half the battle.

The up-to-date broiler plant consists of an incubator-cellar,
a nursery, or brooder-house, as it is usually called, and a
broiler-house. Both the latter are divided into small pens, about two
feet wide and five feet long. In the nursery-house, the top ends of the
pens are inclosed like boxes to the depth of about a foot and a half,
and have hot-water pipes running through them to furnish heat for the
chicks to brood under. A flannel curtain cut into strips falls from the
top of the inclosed part to divide it from the rest of the pen, which
runs down to the outer wall of the house, where a large window lets
in light and sun. The pens should have board floors slightly elevated
above the main floor, to avoid dampness, and the divisions are made
with a foot board about nine inches high, and one inch netting two feet
high above that. The brooder-house is divided in the same way, but the
hot-water pipes only run around the walls of the house, as the birds
don’t need the immediate heat to brood under, after they leave the
nursery, when they are five or six weeks old.

But, until you can afford the proper equipment, one or two incubators
can be run in the cellar of the house or an unused room where there is
no other heat. Individual brooders can be used in place of the nursery
and brooder-house, if you have any light outbuilding to stand them in.
In fact, I like the individual brooders better for the nursery period
than the pipe-house system, because it is only necessary to heat as
many as are needed, and with the pipe system the entire house has to be
heated, even if you are only going to use one section.

Most of the different makes of brooders on the market are made with
two compartments: A chamber with a round hover, which is heated with a
lamp, and an outer compartment for exercise and feeding. The average
price is nine dollars, and the machines are supposed to hold one
hundred chickens, but seventy-five are quite enough; and even that
number should be decreased to fifty the second week, and twenty-five
the fourth week--that is, if the chicks are to be confined entirely
to the brooder. But if it stands in a warm room, where a small outer
inclosure can be made on the floor of the house for a playroom, fifty
chicks can be carried through to the squab-broiler age in one brooder.

Chicks hatched specially for the broiler trade have to be steadily
pushed along; plump, juicy meat being the main object. The first
requisite is warmth. Have the compartment in which the hover is
situated heated up to ninety-eight degrees before the chicks are put in
and keep it so for the first three days and nights. Keep the door in
the outer compartment shut for the same length of time. On the fourth
day it can be opened and the chicks allowed to run into it, but the
room in which the brooder stands should be warm, and the little ones
should be watched toward bedtime, for they are apt to remain in the
outer compartment and become chilled.

Being chilled even for a short time is fatal to young chicks, for if it
does not kill outright, it causes bowel trouble and gives them a bad
setback which will surely delay the day of marketing, if nothing worse.
After they are three weeks old, the door in the outer compartment can
be opened, so that they can run out on to the floor of the room. Let
them have plenty of scratching material. If the weather is fine and
mild, it will do them good to let them have an outside run for an hour
or two in the middle of the day, but don’t be in a hurry to harden them
before they are five weeks old, for it is a risky experiment.

Wyandotte chickens when hatched will weigh two ounces. If all goes well
they should gain two ounces during the first ten days; four ounces for
the third week; another two ounces in the fourth week, and at the end
of the eighth week they should weigh two pounds.

The entire life of a chicken intended for a broiler is so artificial
that few if any of the rules for raising ordinary chicks can be applied
to them. The great aim is to develop them as quickly as possible, for,
to get the best price, a broiler must grow quickly and be plump.

Like all newly-hatched birds, they must have nothing to eat for the
first thirty-six hours. After that commercial chick-feed (which is a
mixture of all sorts of small seeds and cracked grains) should be
their sole diet for ten days.

When there are only small quantities of chicks to feed, and cash is
of more value than time, it will be cheaper to mix the feed at home.
Take one quart each of finely-cracked corn, bran and hulled oats; mix
with the same quantity of golden millet, rape, Kafir-corn and very
sharp, fine gravel, crushed charcoal and finely-chopped clover-hay.
Mix thoroughly, then pass through a fine sieve, to insure there being
no large pieces of the corn or oats for the babies to choke themselves
with. For the three days they are confined to the hover department,
put a small pan filled with the mixture in each corner and, instead of
water, fill a small drinking-fountain with milk which has been scalded
and allowed to cool. Leave it with them for ten or fifteen minutes, at
morning, noon and again at about 3:00 P. M. It must not be allowed to
remain all the time, because the heat from the hover will turn it sour.

After they are allowed access to the outer compartment, mixed grain
should be scattered on the cut hay (or whatever is used to cover the
floor) so that the chicks will have to scratch which compels them to
take enough exercise for healthy growth. The plan is to feed little and
often. The milk can be allowed to stand in the outer compartment, but
the fountain must be thoroughly cleansed and scalded every day.

After the tenth day, the door of the outer compartment can be opened
and the chicks given further liberty, if there is a stove in the
building to warm the atmosphere; but if there is not, don’t let them
out of the brooder until they are four weeks old. In either case
their diet must be slightly changed after the tenth day. Steam some
of the chopped clover-hay--about a quart--and add one pint of coarse
corn-meal, one pint of ground oats and half a small cupful of chopped
liver which has been boiled for five minutes (raw liver is too strong
for such young birds, but it should not be boiled more than the five
minutes). Feed once a day at noon. Put the mash into two or three
dishes, so they can all get a chance to eat at once. Remove any that
is left at the end of ten minutes. If it is not possible to get fresh
liver, use one teaspoonful of beef-meal or any of the commercial meat
preparations which are ground fine. Continue to scatter the dry grains
three times a day.

When they are four weeks old, give mash twice a day about 9:00 A. M.
and 2:00 P. M., increasing the allowance of meat slightly; and if you
have plenty of skim-milk, make cottage cheese and give it to them as an
extra once or twice a week. From the fourth week keep a pan containing
grit and charcoal always before them. After they are six weeks old
increase the quantity of corn-meal in the mash, and correspondingly
decrease the ground oats, until all corn-meal and no oats are being
used. Also, stop steaming the clover and mix it dry with the other
ingredients; then moisten the mash in scalded milk in which suet has
been boiled (one pound of chopped suet to four quarts of milk). Boil
for fifteen minutes. Feed it three times a day--9:00 A. M., 12:00 M.
and 3:00 P. M. The last two weeks before killing, omit all the dry
grain; feed nothing but mash, made as before, only as soft as possible
without being sloppy. Feed four times a day all they will eat in ten
minutes, but on no account leave food before them longer than that,
or they will become satiated. Birds pushed along should be in fine
condition for market when from ten to twelve weeks old.

Our broilers are never given water to drink, but always scalded milk.
Scalded milk invariably checks any tendency toward bowel trouble and is
also a strong factor in making the flesh tender and juicy.



THE POULTRY-YARD IN MID-SEASON


Baby chicks are so pretty, and appeal so strongly to the sentimental
feeling most people have for infant things, that they are invariably
well cared for until they are deposed by new arrivals, or reach the
half-fledged, long-legged period of gawky ugliness. Then they are
almost surely neglected, especially by the amateur, who does not
realise that the intermediate stages are of paramount importance. It is
a waste of time and money to hatch chicks and feed hens heavily in the
winter, if they are allowed to reach a standstill period during growth.

When chicks are eight weeks old, they should be separated from their
mothers, and the families divided; the young pullets being relegated
to colony coops, in an orchard or partly shaded meadow, where they
will have extensive free range; the cockerels being placed in the
semi-confinement of yards, as their ultimate fate is the frying-pan,
which necessitates plump bodies, while free range would only develop
frame and muscle.

Our colony houses are six feet long, three feet wide, thirty-six
inches high in front, and twenty-four inches at the back. They are
made of light scantling; the ends, back and roof being covered with
roofing-paper, and the front, to within eight inches of the ground,
with unbleached muslin, which insures perfect ventilation and prevents
rain beating in upon the birds when they are on the roosts, which are
fixed a foot from the bottom and nine inches from the back of the coop.
Two holes are made, nine inches apart, in the middle of each end of the
coop, and a heavy rope knotted through them, to form handles.

The coops having no flooring, and the whole construction being light,
they are easily moved to fresh ground each week, and so kept clean with
little trouble, an important item when there is a large quantity being
used. Having a large orchard, we placed the coops in rows thirty feet
apart, as two sides of the orchard adjoin woodland, through which a
never-failing spring-stream runs, so the birds have a splendid range.

Twenty birds are placed in each coop. The first week a portable
yard, five feet long, is placed in front of each coop so that the
young chicks cannot wander off and get lost, as they surely would
in strange quarters. During that time a self-feeding hopper and a
drinking-fountain are placed inside of the coop. When the yard is
removed, the individual vessels are dispensed with, large drinking-tubs
and feed-hoppers being stationed midway between every four coops, to
reduce time and labour in caring for the birds.

[Illustration: THE POULTRY YARD]

The large hoppers are nothing more than boxes, five feet long, two feet
wide and six inches deep, over which is placed an A-shaped cover, made
of slats, one inch apart, to prevent the birds getting into the box
and scratching the grain onto the ground, where it will be wasted. For
water, five-gallon kegs are used, with an automatic escape, which keeps
a small pan continually full. Both feed and water are placed under a
rough shelter, to protect them from sun and rain. Using such large
receptacles, it is only necessary to fill them every other day.

Feed consists of a dry mash, composed of ten pounds of wheat bran,
ten pounds of ground oats, one pound of white middlings, one pound of
old-process oil-meal and ten pounds of beef scraps, all well mixed. In
addition to that, they receive at night a feed of wheat and cracked
corn--two parts of the former to one of the latter. About half a pint
is scattered in front of each coop, at about four P. M.

Grit is supplied in large quantities. Being near a stone-crusher,
we buy the screenings by the cart-load and dump it in heaps on the
outskirts of the orchard, where it does not show, but is quite
accessible to the chicks.

On these rations, without any variation, the pullets are kept until
September, when they are transferred to their winter quarters--houses
twelve feet wide, ten feet high in front, sloping to eight feet at
the back. Each house is divided by wire netting into twelve-foot
compartments, in each of which forty birds are kept.

Winter feeding commences as soon as the birds are settled in their
houses, and consists of the same mash as when on range, except that
ten pounds of corn-meal is added, and, instead of the ten pounds of
commercial beef scraps, sixteen pounds of freshly cracked green bone is
used, and, in place of being before them all the time, it is fed once a
day, just what they will eat up clean in fifteen minutes.

Until three years ago, we used to moisten the mash and feed at eight
o’clock in the morning. Now we feed it dry, at 2 P. M.; at night,
wheat, cracked and whole corn, scattered over cut straw, which covers
the floor of the house. The proportions are three pounds of whole
corn, one pound of wheat and two pounds of cracked corn. The birds are
always eager for the whole corn, and, as they run about to pick it up,
the cracked corn and wheat get shaken down into the litter, so they
rarely get any but the whole corn at night, which fills up their crops
and keeps them warm until morning, when the fine grain induces them
to scratch--vigorous exercise, which sets their blood circulating and
keeps them busy until 8 A. M., when the drinking-fountains are filled
up with hot water.

For green food we use Swiss chard, cabbage and rape until frost
destroys the supply, after which we resort to clover hay, chopped
and steamed. It is fed at about 11 A. M., a large panful to each
compartment, and at the same time a pint of wheat and cracked oats is
scattered on the floor. Sharp grit and oyster-shells are always before
them, and in very cold weather the drinking-fountains are filled up
again with hot water at eleven and three o’clock.

If you have no orchard, or other partly shady place for coops, it
will be necessary to erect some sort of shelters for the birds to rest
under during the heat of the day. Any sort of material or shape will
do, so long as protection from the sun is afforded. If free range is
quite impossible (as it often is for suburban poultry-keepers), the
birds must be given as large yards as possible and supplied with lots
of scratching material, over which small grain must be scattered two
or three times a day. Fresh green bone will be better than the beef
scraps. Vegetable food is most imperative under such circumstances. Sow
a large patch of Swiss chard; it is a true cut-and-come-again crop.
Oats and rape are also useful crops for poultry-keepers who can give
their birds free range through the summer.

A word of warning: If you are reduced to cutting grass, or use
lawn-clippings, be careful to have them cut into short lengths of not
more than an inch, otherwise the birds may become crop-bound.

The cockerels which go into the market-pen are fattened and sold as
quickly as possible, except the few we keep for stock, and these are
given large yards and fed in the same manner as pullets on range.

For fattening birds, use ground corn and oats in equal parts, add half
a part of charcoal and moisten with skim-milk. Give plenty of green
food and sharp grit. Feed little and often. All expedition must be used
in the matter of marketing, for every day’s delay after they reach the
desired weight is a dead loss.

Constant culling and marketing is one of the great secrets of success.
Culling must be observed just as rigidly when selecting winter stock.
Discard any faulty birds. There are always some in every flock, even
if the parent birds have been blue-ribbon specimens: Crooked tails
or feet, ear-lobes which are red instead of white, or white instead
of red, according to the variety you may be keeping. Wyandottes,
Orpingtons, Plymouth Rocks, Brahmas or Cochins should all have
bright-red ear-lobes. Leghorns, Minorcas and Andalusians should be pure
white. It is a bright, energetic-looking pullet which makes the best
layer, and it is not profitable to keep any but the best layers, so put
them into small pens and fatten. The young roosters bring good prices
in the fall, and their absence from the farm reduces feed-bills and
prevents crowding in the house, which is always disastrous.

Do not delay, after September first, in getting the pullets into their
winter quarters, for it is most important that they become accustomed
to their new surroundings and reconciled to the change from free range
to semi-inactivity. It often takes five or six weeks for them to become
accustomed to the new conditions, and, unless they have time to adjust
themselves, they won’t start laying until cold weather sets in, which
means that the egg-crop is likely to be unprofitably delayed.



JULY IN THE POULTRY-YARD


It is strange that few people except the real poultry-farmers realise
that July is one of the most important months in the year. The desire
to have eggs in zero weather invariably compels good attention to the
hens during the winter. Baby chicks arouse interest in the spring, but
as the weather gets warmer, eggs are plentiful, and the pretty, fluffy
babies developed into long, lanky creatures, who seem nothing but a
nuisance specially ordained to destroy the garden, so the poor things
are shut up in small quarters and woefully neglected. During the fall
and winter I am repeatedly asked how to make pullets and hens lay, but
I can rarely suggest a remedy, because nine times out of ten it is the
result of blunders made during the preceding summer.

I don’t believe in sacrificing the garden to the chickens, but I do
think they should be properly controlled. A roll of two-inch-mesh
wire netting five feet high costs only about four dollars. At the
price of eggs nowadays a few dozen will pay for it. Posts can be cut
in the wood-lot on most farms, so a yard for a good-sized flock can
easily be made for less than five dollars. The best plan is to run a
division fence down the centre, so the birds can be confined in one
half alternately, for by such means a supply of green food can be kept
growing until frost. The ground should be ploughed, and seeded to rye
or oats, before the wire is put up. If poultry is to be profitable,
the old and young stock must be kept apart, because it is impossible
to feed correctly when they are all together. Young birds need plenty
of nutritious food to push them along quickly, and laying hens must
be put on special rations to bring about early molting, which is the
foundation of a good winter supply of eggs.

About July 5th commence to cut down the feed gradually, until at the
end of two weeks forty hens are having only a pint of oats and a pint
of wheat mixed, night and morning. Scatter it amongst cut straw or
some litter, so they will have to scratch for every grain. The first
of August commence to increase the rations, and keep it up for a week,
so that by the fifteenth they are getting two quarts of mash in the
morning, a quart of meat scraps and a pint of cracked corn at noon and
wheat and oats or barley at night. Give them just about all they will
eat up clean in fifteen minutes. The morning mash should be composed of
two parts ground feed (corn and oats), one part white middlings and one
part oil-meal, mixed with scalding milk or water. The semi-starvation
followed by the heavy feed forces the moulting season and allows plenty
of time to feather out and get into condition before October, when
their rations should be made up of the essentials for egg-production,
which are clover hay, bran, wheat, corn and animal food.

You see, it takes about three months for hens to get rid of their old
feathers and put on a new coat, and if the process is not forced in
some way, they will not commence before August, which would make it
October before they finished. Of course that would be time enough if
it happened to be a warm, late fall, but if cold winter weather sets
in, as it often does in November, hens would not lay before spring, as
moulting leaves them in a more or less debilitated condition.

Lots of people make the mistake of selling off hens as soon as they
cease laying at this season, which means that they are usually parting
with the birds that would make the real winter layers. Hens that lay
through the summer, and do not cease until the fall, will be idle and
unprofitable in the winter. It is the general disregard of the moulting
period which causes so many failures in the winter supply of eggs. The
rule should be to sell off all the hens that have been laying steadily
through the summer and commenced to shed feathers in September. Growing
feathers is a trying ordeal, and the consequence is that when the hen
begins to moult she ceases to lay, for she cannot produce eggs and
feathers at the same time.

Feathers are composed largely of nitrogen and mineral matter. That is
why the food at moulting time has to be so very nutritious. To feed
nothing but corn at such a time is simply waste, as the hen cannot
produce new feathers from such a diet. If she is on free range she
would have a better chance of gathering the necessary material,
but even then, if the feathering process is delayed too long, the
hen becomes exhausted, and is susceptible to cold and all sorts of
diseases. This is the real reason why roup and swelled head are so
prevalent in the fall.

Young birds hatched out in April or thereabouts usually commence to lay
in November, because they have not been subject to the drain upon the
constitution caused by moulting. But chickens that have been hatched in
February or early March are very liable to moult late in the fall, just
when they should be commencing to lay. For this reason it is as well to
market all the first-hatched chickens, and hold over those hatched late
in March or through April, to increase the laying flock.

Cull all young stock down closely. Don’t keep a lot of young cockerels
to eat up the profits during the winter. Even pullets which are at all
backward should be marketed, for they won’t develop after cold weather
sets in, and it does not pay to keep them through for summer layers.
Most of the failures made in the poultry business are due to people not
having the courage to clean out non-productive birds. Just calculate
how many quarts of feed ten growing birds will eat in seven months, and
I think you will be convinced that it is unfair to expect the flock to
support them and still show a profit. The trouble is that people don’t
realise that young stock stand still as soon as cold weather starts,
remaining almost stationary until spring. Another evil of keeping
undeveloped stock is that they occupy house-room and crowd the older
birds.

Now is the time to wage war on vermin, while the bright days last; turn
the hens out and have a good housecleaning. Use plenty of hot limewash
to which kerosene and crude carbolic acid have been added. If you have
two houses, crowd all the birds into one for a few days, and when the
empty house has been thoroughly cleaned, commence to catch the birds
at night, and powder thoroughly. Use Dalmatian or the home made powder
in an ordinary tin flour-dredger, and after shaking a good supply into
the feathers, use your hands to rub it well into the fluffy parts near
the skin. It is well to repeat the dose about three days after. In thus
doing house and birds at the same time, you may be reasonably sure of
having exterminated the pests for a few months, at least. Remember to
rake up all the falling leaves, to be used for scratching material. A
bagful scattered on the floor of the chicken-house once or twice a week
will increase the egg-yield and keep the birds healthy during enforced
confinement.

Before I forget it, let me remind you not to feed new corn to the
fowls. Every year, about this season, I get quantities of letters
telling of good, fat hens, the picture of health, which have been
found dead. Acute indigestion, brought on by eating unseasoned corn,
is the cause. So be careful. If your last year’s supply has run out,
it is better to buy a few bags than lose hens on whom you depend for
winter eggs. Store all the cabbage or other green vegetables you can
before it is too late. Look the house over and stop up all cracks and
crevices. A draft from a small hole may give one bird a cold which may
develop into roup and infect the whole flock, though an open-front
house with only muslin screens may be healthy.

About open-front houses, I don’t believe in them for laying stock. If
I were going to carry a lot of young birds or hens which will not lay
until April, I might adopt the open-front house as a matter of economy,
but not otherwise. I can’t see what is gained by them--that is, in
cold latitudes. In the South they are probably all right. We all know
that the great percentage of food supplied during cold weather goes
to keep up bodily warmth, and that if we expect eggs in zero weather
we must supply the hens with sufficient provisions to nourish the
body, generate heat and allow a surplus to be converted into eggs.
By providing tight, warm sleeping-quarters, we save some of the food
which would be used for warmth in a cold house. Plenty of fresh air I
do believe in, but everything likes to be warm during the still, dark
hours.

I have often seen the argument used that wild birds, which have no
houses at all, are always healthy. But how often do we hear about
numbers of birds being found dead after a severe storm. What is more,
wild birds only lay during the spring of the year. When man upsets
Nature’s laws to supply human wants, he should stop quoting Nature’s
ways. Our present-day hen, which lays, or is expected to lay, one
hundred and eighty to two hundred eggs a year, is a very different
creature from the wild hen, and she must be provided with better food,
housing and care.

As of course you know, different food materials contain different
qualities. Some give us the fat necessary for warmth; others,
nitrogenous qualities, which form flesh; still others, minerals, such
as lime, soda, etc., etc., needed for bone and muscle. All kinds of
animals, birds, and even human beings, require some quantity of these
ingredients, otherwise one part of the body or nervous system will be
starved, while another will be overfed. With the hen it is of great
importance that she have all these different ingredients well blended
in her food, as she requires them not only to sustain her in health,
but also for the formation of eggs.

We will start with the foods that give the greatest quantity of lime,
because it is needed for shell, and some fractional part in the white
and yolk, most essential, for it is turned during incubation into
bone, the very foundation of the chicken. Clover hay, linseed-meal
and wheat bran contain about six pounds of lime in every hundred, and
turnip-tops, carrots and all grasses have a goodly percentage. Flesh
comes from nitrogenous or albumenal foods, first of which are beef,
linseed-meal, middlings, bran, clover hay, wheat and skimmed milk.
Fat and heat we get from carbonaceous provenders, among which corn
and buckwheat lead, closely followed by oats, wheat, rye, clover hay,
linseed-meal and unskimmed milk.

Mineral matter--lime, soda, potash, magnesia and sulphur--is
principally formed by the action of digestion reducing the matter
containing these ingredients to ash. The usual troubles assailing
poultry on most farms come from the feeding of only one of these
elements. Poor Biddy has all flesh and no warmth, or all fat and no
flesh.

Kill a bird that has been fed on corn only, and it will be heavy with
layers of internal fat, but showing a very poor depth of breast-meat.
Balancing rations, trying to equalise flesh, fat (warmth) and mineral,
is not a very hard proposition when the values of even a few grains and
plants are realised.

Having read so far, you will now realise that clover hay, linseed-meal,
bran, wheat, oats, beef scraps and unskimmed milk contain practically
all the equivalents of summer foods; the addition, therefore, of corn,
buckwheat or rye in cold weather is safe and simple if given only as
warmth-makers. Never allow the proportion to exceed what is needed for
that purpose, or fat will be made and stored, neutralising all your
care. In other words, the hen fed on corn only, in order to accumulate
the ten parts of flesh and twenty parts of fat needed for the egg, will
be compelled to acquire fifty parts more fat than she requires.

Green bone and water now alone remain for consideration. The former is
beyond doubt the best of egg foods, qualifying as it does in nearly
all the needed elements. Many farmers scoff at the idea of having to
pay for a mill to cut up bone for chickens, yet the same men will not
grudge a hay-cutter for the horse and cow. Green bone means fresh bone
from the butcher, which can be bought for about two cents a pound. The
mill to grind it ranges from eight to fifteen dollars.

Green bone contains the natural meat, juices, blood, gristle, oil
and mineral matter in soluble condition, which renders it easy of
digestion, especially for birds--almost all the components for eggs
(white, yolk and shell), in the most concentrated form possible. So,
if eggs are to become profitable, the bone-mill must be kept going.
When it is impossible to obtain the green or fresh bone, the ground
bone sold especially for poultry can be used, though it is not half so
satisfactory, because the drying process it has to submit to before
grinding leaves little but the phosphate of lime and earthy matter,
which clover and bran furnish in better form. At least half the egg
is composed of water, surely a sufficient reason for impressing the
importance of a generous supply accessible at all times, in clean
dishes, of a proper temperature, cool in summer and the chill off in
winter.



A FLOCK OF TURKEYS


There are six varieties of turkeys: Bronze, White Holland, Bourbon
Reds, black, buff, slate and Narragansett. But the three first are the
ones most worth raising specially for market, as they are large birds
and the most popular varieties. So it is easy to get good stock, to
start with, which is of paramount importance.

A trio of any one of the three varieties will cost from fifteen to
twenty dollars, and if only twenty birds are reared the first year for
market, they will bring at least sixty dollars. That is placing the
average weight at twelve pounds and price twenty-five cents a pound.
This is, however, absurd, when you consider that young toms weigh
twenty pounds and pullets fifteen, feed could not possibly cost more
than ten dollars, which would leave thirty dollars’ profit the first
year.

A successful turkey-raiser told me he had kept his birds in yards for
twelve years, so I felt safe in adopting the plan. I suppose I ought
to have said inclosures, for they covered about half an acre each.
The land was shaly, with a rocky background, but there were plenty of
clumps of scrub brush and ferns, from the rocks to the top of the two
acres they used. The ground sloped to the south; a spot of no earthly
good for any other purpose, but perfectly ideal for turkeys.

However, as our farm had no such place, I utilised a strip of poor
brush land which had good natural drainage and made three inclosures,
each one hundred feet wide and three hundred feet long. An open-front
shed twelve feet long and ten feet wide was built in each. They were
just rough shelters built out of slabs and the only fittings were
perches made out of sassafras poles, none of them less than nine inches
in circumference. This is one of the important items in fixing a place
for turkeys. Being heavy, large-footed birds, they are uncomfortable
and positively suffer if condemned to balance themselves on slight
perches such as chickens use.

It took four loads of slabs to make the three sheds, and they cost
seventy-five cents a load at the sawmill. Wire netting cost forty-eight
dollars, perches and posts were cut in our own woods, and the home help
did the work.

I got ten female birds from the Massachusetts farm for fifty dollars
and two toms from Long Island for twenty dollars. We sent for the birds
early in December so that they should have time to get thoroughly
at home in their new quarters before the laying season. Before they
arrived, the front of the sheds was covered with wire netting, so that
we could keep them shut up at first, but after two or three weeks it
was removed and they were allowed the range of the yards. The wire
around the inclosure was only four feet high and one wing of each bird
was cut to prevent them flying over it.

[Illustration: A FLOCK OF TURKEYS]

Early in March a half-barrel was secreted among the brush, in both
the occupied yards, so that the hens would be accustomed to their
appearance and, we hoped, consider safe hiding-places for their
eggs. The plan answered splendidly. About the middle of the month we
commenced to keep a lookout for eggs in the half-barrel and for stolen
nests. When an egg was found, it was purloined, and a china one put in
its place; ditto when the second egg was taken, but after that, no more
china eggs were dropped, for two always seemed to satisfy Mrs. Turkey.

Unlike common hens, turkeys are not attracted to a nest by an egg. In
fact, they retain so much of the wild bird that they will not adopt
a nest that has been used by any other bird, so never distribute
nest-eggs as decoys, but only as substitutes for those abstracted.

The matter of feeding the old birds is of great importance and is the
rock most farmers founder on. Too often the birds are left to forage
for themselves or, at the best, are given uncertain quantities of
corn, which means that they are miserably thin and dilapidated or
outrageously fat. In either case they lack the components which the egg
for hatching should possess. Result, weak youngsters which are doomed
to die, no matter how much care is lavished on them.

I once heard an old poultryman say that the care of the chick must
commence when its mother is hatched. This may seem ambiguous to the
amateur, but it is literally a fact and one which my Massachusetts
friend had made me understand was most potent when applied to turkeys.
So our turkeys are fed with special reference to supplying the
ingredients to be converted into bone and vigour in the birds to be.
Breakfast: Chopped clover-hay, steamed overnight, two quarts; corn and
oats ground together, one quart; beef-scraps, half a pint. At noon, one
quart of oats, Kafir-corn or barley scattered broadcast in the yards.
At night, whole corn when the weather is very cold, but as it moderates
in the spring the amount is decreased and wheat is used in its place.

These are their regular rations from December to April, when the
beef-scraps and corn are entirely omitted. Water and grit is before
them all the time. We buy screenings from the stone-crusher and, as it
is cheap, dump a lot into each yard twice a year.

I generally steal the first ten eggs from each nest and set them under
the hens. However many a turkey lays after that, she is allowed to keep
and hatch them. It takes them twenty-nine days to hatch, and large,
motherly old hens should be chosen from the chicken-house to do the
incubating. It is not safe to put more than five such eggs under an
ordinary hen.

When the hatch is over, put the hen into a brood-coop and, in front of
it, put a box about nine inches deep and large enough to form a yard
for the babies to exercise in. It is, of course, necessary to remove
part or the whole of the end of the box which joins the front of the
coop, so that the little ones can run in and out. Cover the bottom
of the box with coarse sand and put a small drinking-fountain in one
corner. Thus the babies will have a safe place to play in the first
few days of infancy, when they must be kept dry. After that the box
can be removed and the coop moved a few feet every day for the sake of
cleanliness.

When Mrs. Turkey’s brood hatches, we treat them in the same way, only
the brood-coop is specially made and is much larger than the ordinary
hen-coop. The first feed the babies have is stale home-made bread
soaked in scalded milk, which is squeezed out of it before it is fed.
Like little chicks, they must have nothing for twenty-four hours, then
little and often must be the rule.

Never leave food in front of little turkeys, for they are very apt
to overeat. After two weeks they need only be fed four times a day;
after the fourth week three times a day. After the first two days add
a little hard-boiled egg which has been chopped fine, without removing
the shell, and a few days later, pin-head oatmeal and ground charcoal;
about a teaspoonful of the latter to a cupful of bread and oatmeal.

By the end of two weeks gradually reduce the bread and increase the
oatmeal, which should be cooked about half an hour and allowed to dry
out, so it is easily crumbled when cool.

After the fourth week, ordinary ground oats, just moistened with
scalding milk, may be used. Half-boiled liver, chopped fine, is the
best animal food to give. When that is not practicable, use the best
brand of commercial ground beef, one teaspoonful to a quart of meal,
because it is very strong and liable to produce diarrhea, a disease
which attacks young turkeys almost sooner than any other young bird.
Watch carefully and at the first evidence of any looseness of the
bowels give boiled rice to eat and rice-water or cold tea to drink.

Watch newly-hatched babies for a few days at feed-time, for there
is often one or more that needs to be taught how to eat. This is
especially so when they are with common hens. But a little patience
in crumbling close in front of them and coaxing them to pick it up
will overcome the difficulty. After they are eight weeks old we take
them from the hens and put them into the third yard, which is kept
exclusively for young stock.

At night they are driven into the shed, the front of which is always
kept covered with wire netting, so that they can be closed in until
they get accustomed to roosting. Of course, the perches in this shed
are put nearer the ground and are much smaller than those intended for
grown birds. About October 1st they are allowed the free range of the
farm and are fed on corn at night and given all the milk they will
drink, to get them into good killing condition before Thanksgiving,
when they are all sold off, except perhaps a few extra good ones, which
we may keep for stock. The old birds are also allowed free range from
October until February, but they are fed in the yards at night and are
shut in so that they don’t form any bad wandering habits.

In buying stock, be generous and get the very best, from some
well-known turkey-raiser. Ordinary farm stock is so apt to be inbred
that, although the birds may look all right, it is not safe to buy them
for breeding purposes, as a want of stamina will surely show in the
youngsters.

For the same reason it is best to get the hen-birds from one place and
the toms from another. If you are going to keep Bourbon Reds or bronze,
it is advisable to buy half-wild toms. These are the result of crossing
wild gobblers with domestic hens, which is done by large breeders to
infuse new blood and keep up the vigour of their stock. Personally, I
like the White Holland turkey best, as they are domesticated and bear
confinement well.

If you are only going to keep a few birds, say a trio or five hens and
a gobbler, large yards are not necessary, but a shed over which netting
can be put, should always be set apart for their use, so that they can
be fed and shut up at night. Never, under any circumstances, keep any
of the pullets you raise, unless you change your gobbler. Don’t let two
gobblers run with the flock at the same time. If you want to increase
your number of birds, you must either put up inclosures or alternate
the gobblers every two days.



DUCKS AND GEESE


Ducks are so profitable that I cannot understand why so few keep them,
unless it is the mistaken idea that they must have a stream or pond in
which to swim. It is true that the old-fashioned puddle duck did seem
a miserable creature out of water, but the improved strains are almost
as much land birds as chickens are. My stock started with two ducks
and a drake which had cost me seven dollars. The first season I raised
fifty-eight, sold forty-six, and kept twelve to stock. They were ready
for market when eleven weeks old, and the lowest price was eighteen
cents a pound.

Ducks must have dry, comfortable quarters, but a splendid house for
twenty ducks can be made on any farm for a dollar, or even less. One
man who keeps large flocks makes duck houses with hurdles of green
boughs for walls and roof, the outside padded with leaves, straw, corn
stalks or cedar boughs. Each house is six feet by four feet and two and
one half feet high, and accommodates seven ducks and a drake.

Dry-goods boxes, costing ten cents at any village store, can be made
comfortable for a small flock. The main point is to keep them dry,
which depends almost more on the care given to the covering of the
floor than the wall of the house. Good, dry bedding, changed at least
twice a week, will keep them warm and happy through the coldest weather.

Ducks’ eggs bring good prices during February and March. You can easily
get them to laying by then, as it depends principally on feeding.
Ducks, like geese or cattle, must have a good percentage of bulk
material and green stuff, as well as concentrated grain feed. Clover
hay, or even mixed hay, chopped and steamed, about half a pailful with
a pint of coarsely ground corn-meal and the same of bran mixed through
it, is about right. If hay is short, chop corn stalks small, and steam.
Chopped vegetables of all kinds are good, but pumpkins, potatoes and
beets are fattening; so, unless the weather is very cold, omit the corn
when they are fed, using more bran or screenings in its place.

In the summer have the children gather plantain, dock, groundsel or any
other non-poisonous weeds. Have sugar barrels ready, and pack in the
weeds while fresh. Get a heavy, solid board rounded off to fit inside
the barrel, put on top of the green stuff, and weight down with heavy
stones. Pad up tight with paper, sawdust, straw or any loose material,
and replace the head of the barrel. When snow covers the ground, such
food will increase the eggs from both ducks and chickens.

Oak leaves, acorns and pig hickories do not take long to gather in the
fall, and will tone up the appetites of pigs, chickens and ducks late
in January, when they are getting tired of grain feed.

[Illustration]

[Illustration: DUCKS AND GEESE]

Imperial Pekin, Rouen and Indian Runners have been the best market
breeds of ducks for some years past, and are still splendid fellows,
both for eggs and table, and their new rivals, the Buff Orpington
ducks, quite equal them as utility birds.

Ducks make such bad mothers that it is better to hatch their eggs under
hens or in incubators. The first few eggs a duck lays each season are
seldom fertile. Eleven are a full sitting, and it requires twenty-eight
days for their hatching. Examine the nest every two or three days after
setting the hen, for bad eggs. A weak germ that dies causes the egg to
decompose, and the odour once smelled can never be forgotten.

Examine the nest when the hen comes off to feed, and take away the
eggs that are dark and mottled. If you fancy an egg looks wrong, pick
it up and smell it; that and its sticky touch assure you, for the egg
is porous. If you have been using an incubator to hatch chicks you can
test with a proper tester, and this must be done all the time from the
fourth to the fifteenth day.

When the hatch is over at the end of the twenty-eighth day, have ready
a box about a foot deep and three feet long, the top out and one end
taken off. Place the open end against the coop door, so making a little
run, with a board floor covered with an inch of dry sand or earth. Baby
ducks need even more protection from damp than chicks; therefore, if
the weather is bad, keep the coop and run under cover, and if fine,
the shade of a tree is necessary, for the little fellows can’t stand
the full sun. After a week the hen can be removed, but keep them within
bounds on short grass, not letting them out until the dew is gone.

For twenty-four hours feed nothing. First week: Half a pint of rolled
oats, some cracker or stale bread crumbs, two hard-boiled eggs chopped
fine, half a cupful of coarse sand just moistened with milk. Feed four
times a day just what they will eat in ten minutes.

Second and third weeks: Half a pound of ground oats, the same of wheat
bran, one-fourth of a pint of corn-meal, the same of coarse sand, two
tablespoonfuls of beef meal, a pint of finely cut green clover, rye or
cabbage moistened with scalded milk. They must be fed four times a day.

Fourth to sixth week: Boil a quart of hulled oats for an hour, add a
pint of corn-meal, wheat bran, half a pint of fine grit, the same of
beef scraps and a quart of clover or any kind of green food. Feed four
times a day.

Sixth to tenth week: One quart of corn-meal, a pint of wheat bran, a
pint of boiled oats, a pint of beef scraps, half a pint of grit, a
tablespoonful of charcoal and a pint of clover. Feed three times a day.

They should be ready to kill the eleventh week.

Do not let the ducks, young or old, get frightened if you can possibly
help it. They are nervous things. No matter what you feed, if they are
frightened or made to run daily, they will not fatten. If you go about
them gently they are the easiest things to drive any distance, for
where one goes, all follow; hurry them and they will scatter, and it is
good-bye to them for hours.

The feed for those to be kept for stock is the same up to three weeks
old, but from that on one quart of ground feed, one quart of bran,
half a pint of grit and half a pint of beef scraps. Mix moist with
milk, water, sour milk or buttermilk, and feed night and morning. If
on a free range this is all they want. If not, you must add clover or
vegetables, and feed three times a day. Remember always to have fresh,
clean water before them.

When ducks are ten or eleven weeks old they should be in condition for
market. Early green ducks should weigh not more than four and one-half
pounds, while later ducks cannot be too heavy. As a rule early ducks
mature very unevenly, making it necessary to sort them over often.

Ducks are fit to dress for only a short time. They “go back,” as it is
termed, for they shed and grow a new lot of feathers, which takes all
the fat and all your profit. Hence the importance of turning them into
money as soon as possible.

In dressing it is most desirable to dry pick. Although some still
scald, dry-picked stock sells better than scalded, especially when the
market is dull, for it can be frozen, while scalded stock cannot. For
dry picking have a box for the feathers. It may be of any size you wish
on the ground, and should be of such depth that the top edge is one
or two inches lower than your knee when in a sitting position. To use
for cooling the ducks, saw a coal-oil barrel in two; use one-half for
cooling, the other half for clear water to put them in after washing.

To kill, catch the feet in the left hand, and the neck near the breast
with the right hand, then with a swinging motion (the same as in using
an axe), strike the back of the head against a post with sufficient
force to start the blood from the ears. Now with a quick motion place
the body under your left arm, catching the back of the head and the top
of the bill in the left hand. Using a knife with a five-inch blade,
make a cut crosswise at the base of the brain, then turn the edge to
the roof of the mouth, and slash outward, being careful not to split
the bill. Let the blood run for two seconds.

Sit down. Place your knees against the neck just tight enough to keep
it in place. If too much pressure is put on, it will stop the flow of
blood and give the flesh a red appearance. Hold the feet and wings in
the left hand. Commence picking at the vent, then the breast and neck.
The feathers are left on half the neck, and on the wings from the first
joint out. Pick clean as you go, for once the duck gets cold, it will
be hard to pick. Experts use a shoemaker’s knife ground thin, and strop
it the same as a razor, to shave the pin and small feathers off.

After picking, put them into ice water or cold spring water until the
animal heat is gone; then wash the feet, and wash all clots of blood
from the mouth and throat; then put into another vessel of water, which
takes all the stains off and gives a nice clean appearance. After they
are clean you can put them into a barrel or box with crushed ice, and
if left for twelve to twenty-four hours in this condition they can be
shipped a long distance with but little ice. To make dressed ducks show
up good it is necessary to take them out of clean water at the finish.
The second vessel should have clean water put in as soon as it gets
cloudy.

When packing for shipment, use flour or sugar barrels. Pack with back
down, putting the head under the wing. Pack close, and leave a space on
top for ice. Raise the top hoop, place burlap on top, drive the hoop on
again, with the burlap under, and nail firmly. Before using, the barrel
should be thoroughly washed. Bore two three-fourths-inch holes in the
bottom, to drain.

A goose will lay from ten to twenty eggs and then want to sit; but if
you coop her in sight of her companions, four or five days will suffice
to break her up. If she lays a third clutch of eggs, let her keep them
and sit.

When the weather is mild, set five eggs under a hen; or, if she is
very large, seven might be risked. It takes from twenty-eight to
thirty days for goose eggs to hatch. As the skin is very tough, it is
well to sprinkle a little water around the nest, and even on the eggs
themselves, during the last two weeks, especially if the weather is
dry and hens are doing the incubating.

The youngsters need nothing for the first thirty-six hours. Then feed
scalded corn-meal--the coarsest kind--and wheat bran, chopped green
clover or young green oats cut fine, tops of green onions, lettuce
leaves or any tender young greens.

If the weather is fine, put the coop containing Biddy and her family
out on the grass, making a small yard in front for the first few days,
to prevent their wandering too far away. Move the coop and yard to a
new place as they eat the grass. Like young ducks, their drinking water
must be in a vessel that permits them to put the whole beak into the
water, or they are apt to get the air passages clogged up with soft
food, causing the gosling to smother; but on no account must they be
permitted to get their bodies into the water, as they chill and cramp
so easily.

It is much better to buy two- or three-year-old birds from a reliable
dealer for stock than obtain eggs for setting and wait for them to
develop. After the breeding season is over, geese and goslings need
little grain if on grass land. Late in the fall geese do well if turned
into the corn stubble or the orchard, where they will clean up all the
windfalls--which does much to stamp out grubs and insects.



PIGEONS AND SQUABS


When pigeons are kept for squab-raising it is one of the most
profitable ventures in which suburbanites or real country folks can
embark. The young are ready for market when four weeks old; the average
wholesale price is three dollars a dozen. Private customers will pay
forty cents a pair all through the winter months, and a good pair of
mature birds will raise two squabs every four weeks for nine months in
the year, which means that each old pair of birds should provide one
and one-half dozen squabs, which will market for four dollars and fifty
cents. The cost of keep is supposed to be fifty cents a year, but ever
allowing one dollar a year, there should be three dollars and fifty
cents clear profit.

These estimates are made on good homer pigeons, well housed and cared
for, not common nondescript birds, leading a half-wild existence, with
only old-fashioned shelter behind a row of holes high up in the barn,
where the nests are exposed to every storm; besides which, the young
of mongrel pigeons only weigh five or six ounces when four weeks old,
and are so scrawny and unappetising that they are difficult to market
at any price, whilst homers at the same age weigh from twelve to twenty
ounces, and are white-skinned and plump. The mature homers will cost
about two dollars a pair from any of the recognised lofts, but it is
no use buying elsewhere, for unless birds are mated pairs, you may
have another season wasted. Pigeons are faithful creatures and remain
in pairs for years, and if an accident happens to one of them will
frequently refuse to mate a second time the same season. Young birds
which are only paired at the time of sale are likely to object to the
mates chosen for them, and proceed to exercise personal choice when
liberated amid a flock of strange birds. So be wise and buy only from
reliable experienced breeders.

The most convenient house for squab-raising is built like a
chicken-coop, about twelve feet wide, eight feet high in front, sloping
to six feet at the back, and any length, according to the number of
birds kept. Have plenty of windows in front of the house, and openings
six inches square, three feet apart, all along the back of the house
about a foot from the roof. Run a nine-inch board the entire length
of the house as a platform for the birds to alight on as they go in
and out, and it is just as well to have a similar board just under the
holes on the inside of the house. Put up three or four perches near the
front windows, so that the birds can fly from side to side of the house
on wet days for exercise.

The number of birds which can be kept in each house can be easiest
estimated by the nests. Each pair of brooders must be provided with
nest-boxes divided into two compartments twelve inches square. They
can be arranged in tiers all along the side, back and front walls, and
from floor to ceiling. Put the first tier about eighteen inches above
the floor, as the birds don’t seem to like the lower nests. Fasten
small perches about a foot long to the partition on each box, for the
convenience of the birds as they fly back and forth, and when feeding
their young.

Before the house is occupied, it should be thoroughly whitewashed, the
floor covered with sand or ground plaster, and earthenware dishes known
as “nappies,” which cost one dollar a dozen, must be put in, one into
each compartment. Suspend a bundle of cut hay in one corner of the
house, as some birds like to make their own nests, though others seem
to think that a handful of tobacco-stems, which it is well to place in
each nappy as a check to vermin, is quite nest enough.

Drinking-fountains and feeding-boxes into which the birds can only get
their beaks are imperative for pigeons, for they are most particular
and will not take defiled food or drink unless positively starved into
it. Yet if they have open feed and water boxes, they will scatter the
contents all over the floor. There is a galvanised-iron feeding-box
costing one dollar on the market which has seven openings, so that many
birds can feed at the same time. Water-fountains of the same material
are virtually indestructible, and cost only fifty cents.

The yard and fly must of course be entirely closed for pigeons, and
should be four feet higher than the front of the house, so that the
birds can use the roof for a sun-parlour. We use four-by-four joists,
cut into twelve-foot lengths, for the front of the house, as they can
be nailed to the house and need not be sunk into the ground, as those
at the side and far end must be. The joists for the sides and end are
cut into thirteen-and-one-half-foot lengths, which allows a foot and
a half to go into the ground. These measurements allow the use of
four-foot netting without any waste. For a house twelve feet long, I
think the yard should be at least fifty feet. Erect several perches
at the far end of the yard, a platform about two feet wide and four
feet long on legs three feet high in the centre of the yard for the
bath-tubs to stand on. Pigeons must have a bath, for cleanliness is a
necessity; a pan about two feet square and four inches deep is the best
size, and they can be bought in galvanised iron for one dollar each.

Red-wheat, Kafir-corn, cracked corn, Canadian field-peas, German
millet and hemp-seed are all appropriate for pigeons. They should be
alternated, or one or two mixed together. Of course, sometimes one
grain is cheaper than another, or easier to get in certain districts,
but don’t use any one grain exclusively. Pigeons must have variety.

We follow the rations recommended by W. E. Rice, a very experienced
pigeon-raiser. Morning: Equal parts of cracked corn, Kafir-corn and
wheat. Evening: Cracked corn and Canadian peas. These regular meals are
put into the feed-boxes in quantity sufficient to insure the birds
having a constant supply. Treats which we feed at odd times, such as
millet, hemp and rice, are thrown on the ground, for, as they are only
fed in comparatively small quantities, they are eaten up at once, and
so there is no danger of their being soiled. Remember always to buy
red, not white, wheat, for the latter is very apt to cause diarrhea.

Once a week we give them a meal of stale bread which has been
steeped in skim-milk and squeezed almost dry again, for we have lots
of skim-milk, and the bread we get from a baker in the town for
twenty-five cents a barrel. Freight costs another twenty-five cents,
but even at fifty cents a barrel we find it an economical feed when
there are a lot of squabs to be fattened for the market.

The parent birds take all the trouble and responsibility of feeding and
raising the young right up to the time they are ready for market. The
hen-bird lays two eggs, with one day intervening, which take eighteen
days to incubate. After the eggs are hatched, both birds devote their
entire energies to feeding the youngsters for about two weeks, for
both have the power to secrete the predigested substance often called
pigeon’s milk, on which nestlings are exclusively fed for the first few
days. At the end of two weeks the hen has usually laid two more eggs in
the second nest, so that by the time the squabs in the first nest are
ready for market, the second eggs are ready to hatch. It is this double
family which necessitates two nests for each pair of birds.

Cleanliness is even more imperative in the pigeon-house than in the
hen-house. Never neglect to scald out the earthenware nest, and
whitewash the compartment it stands in, every time squabs are removed
for market, for it is only by such rigid system that the place can
be kept in a sanitary condition. Pigeons must have shell, salt
and charcoal to be healthy, so there should be a self-feeder with
three compartments in each house. When ordering, specify that the
oyster-shell is for pigeons, as it is to be broken up smaller than for
the hens. The rock salt and charcoal should be ground to about the
size of rice. During the heavy breeding season we crush most of the
grain, and always peas, for when the parent birds are rushed for time
between their two nests they are very liable to pick up whole grain and
feed to the young birds before they are able to digest it. Until we
discovered this carelessness, we often had a dead squab in the nest.
The feed-boxes can be kept filled up, as pigeons never overeat, and
must have access to food at all times when they have young ones to feed.

If you start with a few pairs of birds, the best way to increase the
number is to sell the squabs, and use the money to buy mature birds,
for it takes pigeons six months to reach maturity, and it is necessary
to have two extra houses in which to keep the growing birds, as they
should not be allowed to remain in the regular brood-pen. If, however,
you have specially-mated birds and desire to raise their progeny, you
must watch the nests, and as soon as the young ones get out on the
floor (the old ones generally push them out when the eggs in the second
nest hatch), they can fend for themselves, and should be removed to a
nursery-house, where all feed must be cracked to the size of rice for
several weeks. When one desires to build up size and good points, it is
necessary to have two nursery-houses, and so be in a position to select
the best birds from different parentage to mate.

To illustrate: The nestlings from one side of the house should go
into Nursery No. 1, nestlings from the other side into Nursery No. 2.
Our nurseries are only seven by ten feet, so we never have more than
twenty birds in each, and they can be taken within a few days of each
other, in this way making very little difference in age when it comes
to mating-time. When the younger ones in the nurseries are between six
and seven months old, we take a bird from each and put them into a
mating-cage, which is really a coop, four feet long, two and one-half
feet deep and two feet high, which is fastened up in a corner of the
feed-house. The coop is divided into two compartments by a wire-netting
door. A bird is put into each compartment. If they are male and female,
they will commence within a week or two to coo and talk to each other
through the wire, at which time the compartment is fastened up to
the top of the cage, and they are allowed to have the run of the
coop for three or four days, after which they are put into a regular
breeding-house, where they will soon take possession of the nest. If,
however, the birds chosen simply ignore each other after they are
put into the mating-cage, one of them is removed to another cage, and
two more birds are taken from the nursery-house and put into the two
compartments. In this way we go through the nests until we have them
all paired.



POULTRY AILMENTS


Only in rare instances does poultry require doctoring, yet it is well
to be prepared with sufficient knowledge to recognise the symptoms of
approaching trouble. A few small coops should be kept in some dry,
sheltered outhouse, to be used as quarantine quarters. Empty dry-goods
boxes turned on their sides, with half the front boarded across and
a door of wire netting to close the other half, make good coops for
individual patients. They should be covered all around, sides and top
and bottom, with roofing-paper, to insure freedom from draft. The
boxes may be any size, but I like them about eighteen inches wide and
high, and about two and a half feet long. To avoid dampness, and for
convenience in attending to the birds, it is well to elevate them on
legs or stand them on a shelf or bench. Before using, or whenever they
are vacated, they should be disinfected and the inside thoroughly
painted with whitewash. The enamelled cups without handles can be
attached to the side of the coop by wire loops.

The most dreaded visitor on a poultry-farm is roup, for it not
only affects the bird during the period of immediate illness, but
it leaves behind it all sorts of constitutional weaknesses to the
bird’s progeny. Every poultry-keeper should cultivate the habit of
scrutinising his or her flock at feed-times. A suspicious-looking bird
should be caught and removed to quarantine quarters immediately. The
symptoms of cold, influenza, canker, diphtheria and roup are in the
earlier stages almost identical--watery eyes, sneezing, discharge from
the nostrils or the nostrils being stuffed up (the nostrils are the
two small holes at the base of the bill). When the bird is noticed to
have any one of these symptoms, open the bill and look down the throat.
Should there be no signs of trouble, you may be sure that there is
nothing but an ordinary cold to fight, which a few days in hospital
will cure.

Give light and easily digested food, such as stale bread soaked in
scalded milk and squeezed almost dry or corn-meal which has been well
steamed. Put ten drops of spirits of camphor on a lump of sugar, then
dissolve the sugar in a half-pint of water and use in the drinking-cup.
If, however, examination reveals yellow spots on the mouth or in the
throat, or a thick slimy discharge from the eyes and nostrils, it is a
serious case of catarrh or roupy cold, which may, if neglected, develop
into malignant roup. Throughout the entire range of cold and roupy
diseases there is no special odour until malignant roup is positively
developed. Then there is a most offensive and unmistakable odour.

Treat all diseases which overstep a common cold as roup, and you will
err on the side of safety. In the last and most malignant stages of
roup, the face and eyes or head are very likely to be severely swollen,
and if things have progressed to such a condition, before the bird
has been removed from the flock, it is well to take the precaution of
disinfecting the drinking and feeding dishes and generally clean up the
poultry-house, and add a disinfectant to the drinking-water for a few
days. Permanganate of potassium is what I generally use, because it is
cheap and most effective as a germ-killer. Dissolve one teaspoonful
in a quart of warm water, and you will have such a strong solution
that for all ordinary uses can be diluted again at the rate of one
teaspoonful to five of water.

Treatment for roup: First wash off any discharge which may have
accumulated around the eyes and bill with warm water and permanganate;
then fill an atomiser with diluted permanganate solution and thoroughly
spray the throat and nostrils. Repeat night and morning, as long as
there seems any necessity. Keep the light diet as recommended for
common cold.

Indigestion and intermediate stages up to acute gastritis and liver
complaint, all spring from the same causes, and will succumb to the
same remedies, so we will consider them connectedly. They are caused
by indiscreet or excessive feeding; mash which has been allowed to
become sour; an excess of bread, potatoes or fat in table-scraps
fed to the birds; lack of corn, vegetables or sharp grit; condition
powders, egg-foods, and such condiments, if given frequently, will
affect the digestive organs and bring on indigestion. At first the
sufferer looks mopey and stupid; the comb is pale. At this stage a
few days in hospital and a dose of magnesia and reformation in diet
will work a cure. Put about a third of a teaspoonful of sulphate of
magnesia in a cup of drinking-water. Feed a mash composed of three
parts finely-cut clover-hay, which has been thoroughly steamed, and one
part each of coarsely-ground corn and oats. If you haven’t clover-hay,
use wheat-bran instead; chopped apple, lettuce or any greens should
be the mid-day meal. Put a small pan of sharp grit into the coop.
Advance symptoms are watery, yellowish droppings and thirst, and the
comb becoming fiery red, which may gradually darken to crimson as the
bird’s condition becomes worse. Administer a teaspoonful of castor-oil;
feed sparingly on mash, which at this stage should consist of boiled
rice, scalded bread and milk or cottage-cheese. If the dysentery is
very severe, fill up a drinking-vessel with the water in which the
rice was boiled. After eight hours of such diet, add twenty-five drops
of tincture of nux vomica to half a pint of rice-water. Continue with
light, nourishing food for about a week.

In the fall fowls are frequently given free range, before the corn
and other crops are harvested, and with the result that they gorge
themselves with new corn, which is very liable to heat and swell.
In the summer people are very likely to cut grass and throw it in
to yarded hens, who will eat it greedily, but it invariably causes
trouble, being in long lengths. Lawn-clippings, which are not over
an inch in length, are quite safe and, of course, supply the required
green food which they specially crave in hot weather. When the bird is
seen to have an unusually large crop and shows signs of distress, catch
it and hold by the feet, head downward, then gently work the crop so as
to push a little of the contents into the throat and out through the
beak. Even if only a few grains can be ejected in this way, it will
help the strained condition of the crop and ease the bird’s sufferings.
Administer a dose of castor or sweet oil.

Occasionally an obstinate case can’t be helped by simple means, and
then surgery has to be resorted to. Tie the feet together and the wings
close to the body with a broad strip of muslin, place the bird on its
side on the table, calling in assistance to hold it still, and with a
sharp pocket-knife make a small slit, first in the outer skin, pulling
one side slightly outward, then making an insertion in the crop itself.
Carefully remove the contents. You need not be at all nervous about the
operation, which is quite painless. After the crop is emptied, take
a moderately fine needle threaded with a fine sewing-silk. Take two
or three stitches in the crop and cut off the thread, pull the edges
of the outer skin together and fasten with two or three stitches. Of
course, under no circumstances must the crop and the outer skin be
fastened together in stitching. Keep the bird on very meagre rations
for a week or ten days.

The most common ailment of infant chickenhood is bowel trouble, and
one should be on the watch for the the first signs, all through the
hatching season, as a few hours means much to frail baby life. A
chill, dampness, improper food or dirty drinking-water are the usual
causes. Should any laxity be noticed in the droppings, remove the
drinking-water and substitute either milk which has been scalded and
allowed to cool or rice-water, according to the symptoms. Feed boiled
rice at least once a day. If the chicks are in a brooder, set the
temperature a little higher than under ordinary circumstances. If they
are with a hen, keep her confined to the brood-coop, to insure the
chicks being able to nestle to her.

Gapes is the second scourge of chick-life. Gapes is not truly a
disease, but the effect of a parasite worm, which is supposed only to
materialise on ground in which poultry-droppings have been deposited
for several seasons. A gapeworm is only about five sixteenths of an
inch in length and no thicker than a fine thread. Once introduced into
the bird’s throat it fastens there and sucks the blood of its victim,
and, of course, a little chick has not the strength to eject it, no
matter how much it may cough or gape. They multiply very quickly. Some
of the remedies are as follows: Dip the end of a small wing feather
in turpentine, push it down the bird’s throat, turn two or three
times quickly and pull out. The worm may come with it. Another is to
mix salt and water or steep tobacco in water for ten minutes; pour a
tablespoonful down the bird’s throat, keeping the head up, and the two
holes at the base of the bill covered with your thumb and forefinger
whilst you count five. Release and suddenly turn the bird upside down,
holding by the feet. It will gasp, splutter and usually eject the worm.
To exterminate the pests, have the ground, on which the birds have
been cooped and yarded, sprinkled with quicklime (keeping the birds
safely cooped, so that they cannot get into or eat the lime). Let it
lie overnight and then plough under. If such treatment is impossible,
remove all the young stock to some other part of the farm. Mature birds
have the strength to eject the worms.



THE VEGETABLE GARDEN


It is advisable to plan the garden on paper and make out seed lists
early in the spring, to save time later. Every family will, of
course, have specially preferred vegetables to take precedence over
others, so individual taste alone can determine the allotted space
for each variety. Our selection and plan was made with due regard for
table pickles and preserves, all of which were bountifully supplied.
Therefore, if your discrimination on such subjects is too undeveloped
as yet to be trusted, accept our experience this year, and then you
will know how to reconstruct it for your personal needs. When planning
out on paper, the second crop should be considered as well as the
spring sowings.

One of the advantages of sending for seeds early is that you are sure
to get the varieties selected, whereas later in the season “the best”
is frequently sold out.

When choosing a site, remember that a slight slope to the south
or southeast is desirable. Size must depend very much on whether
you intend having a separate berry patch or not. A hundred feet by
seventy-five feet will supply an average small family with vegetables
for the table, excepting winter potatoes, which should be a field crop.

Protection from the northeast storms should be provided. Cedar or
privet is the ideal hedge for such purposes, but it takes money and
time; so, while it is developing, resort to the serviceable hurdle
fence made of brush.

If the weather is fine, the last two weeks of March should see the
patch of ground intended for the vegetable garden ploughed and harrowed.

Have well-rotted stable manure scattered over the surface before
ploughing, which should be deep at first. After two or three days’
airing, plough again, running the furrows crosswise; then harrow
and roll and harrow again, until every clod is broken up. Thorough
preparation of the soil should never be shirked, for it is more than
half the battle. Let me caution you not to have the ploughing done
if the ground be wet. Much of the disappointment which city people
experience arises from the natural desire of the amateur to get to
work. Earth ploughed, dug or hoed when wet or soggy will bake and
crust all summer. The right consistency can be ascertained by picking
up a handful and squeezing it. If it remains a solid lump it is too
wet, but when it presses together easily, and as readily falls apart
when released, it is in just the right condition to work, will turn
a clean furrow and will readily crumble under the harrow. Sod ground
is desirable for potatoes, so if there is a strip of grass land which
needs renewal, have it well ploughed, harrowed, and marked off in rows
eighteen inches apart, for the winter crop.

[Illustration: A CORNER OF THE VEGETABLE GARDEN]

Almost every old farmer has a theory about the way and size to cut
potatoes for planting. After listening to and trying several methods,
we have come to the conclusion that cutting large tubers in four,
and small ones through the centre lengthwise, is much better than
dissecting carefully to separate every eye, and then using two pieces
when planting, especially as the innumerable experiments made at the
agricultural stations have revealed the fact that eyes gather nutriment
for sustenance and growth from the potato itself, until the sprouts
develop stems that form joints, at which point rootlets start, proving
beyond doubt that, unless the piece of potato planted is large enough
adequately to feed the eye or eyes it may contain, the root growth,
which is required to furnish the subsequent tubers with food, must be
weakened. We plant one quarter potato to every foot in the row, and
cover from four to five inches deep, selecting ground which has been
heavily manured the year before, and scattering wood ashes on the
surface after the seeds have been covered.

Failing this source, commercial fertiliser specially prepared for
potatoes must be bought. Thorough cultivation is necessary to insure a
good crop. Soon--say seven or eight days after planting--run the harrow
over the field, to kill the embryo weeds and level the surface. As soon
as the plants show, cultivate again, but of course only between the
rows, and with an ordinary cultivator. Repeat at frequent intervals.

It is estimated that it takes fifteen bushels of potatoes after they
have been cut into quarters, to plant an acre, which should return
one hundred and thirty bushels of salable potatoes, by which is meant
large and medium sized potatoes, small ones not entering into the
calculation. There will be in all probability about thirty bushels of
these dwarfs, which are excellent fattening food for poultry and pigs
when cooked and mashed up.

The space intended for carrots requires extremely good cultivation, for
the soil must be thoroughly pulverised. Tie the seeds in a piece of
cheese cloth, steep in water for twelve hours, then hang up in a warm
room to drip and dry sufficiently to prevent their sticking together
when being planted. Another aid we furnish these delicate seedlings is
to drop a radish seed every six inches, because they germinate quickly
and throw a strong seed leaf, which breaks the crust over the row and
allows the fragile carrot sprout free access.

Allow two feet from the last row of potatoes, stretch the line, and
with a pointed stick draw a shallow drill in which to scatter the
carrot seed. Covering must not be more than a fourth of an inch; press
down firmly. Between each two rows of carrots allow one foot. Steep and
use only half the seed at first, planting the remainder twenty days
later. With good ground and cultivation you should have carrots late in
June.

A thirty-inch space must divide the carrots from the beets. Prepare the
ground as before, but make the drill a full inch deep, dropping the
seed half an inch apart, the rows two feet apart. These should be ready
for use the first week in June. Keep half the seed for late planting.

Early turnips can start another two feet along. Drill half an inch
deep, the rows one foot apart.

“First of All” peas are semi-dwarf, but yield much better if given some
support. We plant every two rows seven inches apart, in a drill one
inch deep, and when the peas are two inches high we stick brush between
the rows, so making a hedge of vine when developed. Twin rows should be
two feet apart.

For onion sets, make drills an inch and a half deep, placing the sets
upright and from four to six inches apart. Firm the earth all around,
and the fourth of an inch over them. These will furnish early onions
for cooking. For onion seed the soil cannot be too carefully prepared,
for, like carrots, they are long in germinating and extremely fragile.
A few radish seeds can again be used as pioneers. Instead of commercial
fertiliser, the poultry droppings are used for onions, being reduced
to a powder by grinding in an old chopping machine. Sprinkle freely,
within one inch of the centre of the row, and from three to four inches
each side of it. Unless rain falls within a few days, water very
thoroughly with a sprinkler. Hen droppings seem especially desirable
for all bulbs and tubers.

Lettuce seed requires well-enriched soil; drill one-fourth of an inch
deep, the rows one foot apart.

From the time seeds are put into the ground, cultivation must be
continual, raking between rows being frequent enough to destroy embryo
weeds. Ten minutes’ light work with a rake before weeds develop will
save hours of hard labour with a hoe. Cultivation is required, not only
to destroy weeds, but to supply air, and encourage all the moisture
from the subsoil to travel upward, so nourishing the plant roots as
they develop, and preventing the soil from baking. Not cultivating the
ground around plants is as injurious to their health as shutting a
child in an unventilated room.

Lettuce, cabbage and cauliflower plants should now be planted out.
Prepare the rows as for seed, and with the pointed stick used for
marking the rows, make holes directly under the line--nine inches
apart for lettuce, one foot for cabbage and cauliflower. Put a little
water into the hole, pack the earth around the root and stem, water
copiously, then draw dry earth up over the wet surface, to prevent the
moisture from evaporating or a crust forming. To promote root growth,
cut off half the length of the outer leaves with a pair of sharp
scissors. If possible, provide some protection until the plants are
established.

Tomatoes, peppers and eggplants should be bedded out about the
twentieth of May. Tomatoes and eggplants stand two and one-half feet
apart, each one in ground very heavily enriched to a depth of three
feet and a circumference of two feet. Pursue the same method of
planting as for cabbage, except that instead of cutting the leaves
across, nip out the two heart leaves of each plant. Checking top growth
makes the plant branch and form a stocky bush instead of a spindly top
growth that will break under the weight of fruit when it forms.

If the “home” is to be an ideal haven of rest it must be pretty.
Economy may prohibit buying plants for the flower garden, but the
exercise of a little fore-thought will enable you to have a lovely
display of flowers all through the summer at a nominal cost. Procure
some shallow boxes from your grocer. They should not be more than three
inches deep, and about eighteen inches long and one foot wide. If it is
not possible to get what you want, saw a six or seven inch box in half,
using the lid as a bottom for the second box.

Have the mould thoroughly pulverised before sowing, and prepare an
extra quantity to use for covering the seeds. This I do by half filling
a rather fine colander and shaking it over the box until there is an
even layer over the seeds. The average small flower seed should not
have more than the fourth of an inch over it. A board that will fit
inside the box should be pressed down hard, to insure the seeds being
firmly embedded in the mould. Otherwise the air gets around them and
dries up and kills the first frail germs of life. After planting and
patting down, sprinkle lightly, and stand the boxes in a south or
southwest window in a living room where the temperature averages sixty
degrees. The boxes must be watched for what is called “damping off.”
It can easily be detected by the sickly appearance of the seedlings,
followed by a shrivelling or burning of the stem close to the earth.
The moment the danger signal is noticed, prick out into fresh boxes
of corresponding size or a trifle deeper. The seedlings need not be
planted more than half an inch apart. Prepare the mould in the boxes
the same as you did for the seeds, pat down, and with a toothpick
make the holes in which the baby plants are to be put, firming the
earth around them gently with the forefinger of each hand. Should no
suggestion of debility appear among the seedlings, still prick out into
fresh boxes when the second leaves unfold.

  “Bovee” potatoes, for early garden crop       1 peck,  $0.75
  Carrots, “Oxheart”                           1 ounce,    .10
  Cauliflower, “Early Snowball”               1 packet,    .25
  Celery                                      1 packet,    .10
  Beets                                       2 ounces,    .20
  Brussels sprouts                            1 packet,    .10
  Cabbage, “Jersey Wakefield”                 1 packet,    .15
  Cabbage, “Autumn King”                      1 packet,    .15
  Kale, “Dwarf Green”                          1 ounce,    .10
  Lettuce, “Boston Market”                     1 ounce,    .15
  Peas, “First of All”                          1 pint,    .15
  Peas, “Petit Paris”                         ½ pint,    .10
  Peas, “Champion of England”                  1 quart,    .30
  Turnips, “Early Flat Dutch”                 1 packet,    .05
  Turnips, “Purple Top Aberdeen”              1 packet,    .05
  Turnips, “Rutabaga”                         1 packet,    .10
  White onion sets                             1 quart,    .25
  Red onion sets                               1 quart,    .25
  Onion seed, “Prizetaker”                     1 ounce,    .20
  Cucumber, “White Spine”                     1 packet,    .10
  Eggplant, “New York Spineless”              1 packet,    .10
  Tomato, “Crimson Cushion”                   1 packet,    .10
  Pepper, “Ruby King”                         1 packet,    .10
  Muskmelon, “Delmonico”                      1 packet,    .10
  Squash, “Long Island” (summer)              1 packet,    .10
  Squash, “Gregory” (winter)                  1 packet,    .10
  Green bush bean, “The Longfellow”           1 packet,    .10
  Pole lima bean, “Leviathan”                 1 packet,    .10
  Okra, “Long Green”                          1 packet,    .05
  Radish, “Scarlet Turnip”                     1 ounce,    .10
  Corn, “Country Gentleman”                   1 packet,    .15
  Herbs--parsley, sage, summer savory, thyme, marjoram,
    aniseed, wormwood, saffron, tansy    1 packet each,    .40
                                                         -----
        Total cost                                       $4.95



THE HOTBED


The outer shells of hotbed and cold-frame are identical, and can be
made by any handy man. As all sashes are made in one size--namely, six
by three--the boxes must correspond; to insure water running off and
all the power of the sun being utilised, they must slope lengthways,
the top end of a box being three or four inches higher than the bottom.
The ordinary box or bed frame is made six feet long, three feet wide
and fifteen inches high at the top end, sloping to twelve at the foot,
and stands on the surface of the ground, but the plan we have adopted
after several years’ experience is to dig a pit three feet deep, six
feet two inches long and three feet two inches wide, and build the box
twenty inches high at the top end, sloping to seventeen inches at the
foot, and of course six feet long and three feet wide, which allows it
to stand inside the dugout and five inches below the surface of the
surrounding ground, so effectually preventing any cold air creeping in
around the bottom. We use sound boards two inches thick for sides and
ends and two-by-two studding for corner stays.

Very well-made boxes and sashes, which fit exactly, are sold by
several of the greenhouse builders for about eight dollars. They are
shipped knock-down to save express charges, but they are ready to bolt
together. They come in the ordinary six-by-three size, for single beds,
or in groups of from three to five, with light partitions for the
sashes to rest upon. The five-section bed costs about twelve dollars,
but will need five sashes, amounting to fifteen dollars, and the
partitions, which I think are about one dollar a piece.

For convenience in bad weather, it is well to have the beds near the
house, and, when possible, sheltered from the north and facing the
south. Fresh horse manure constitutes the heating power in a hotbed. We
use solid droppings and dry leaves, about half and half. It is ripened
in the manure-shed by being made into a heap about three feet high and
three feet wide, thoroughly sprinkled with liquid manure. It is allowed
to stand some weeks after mixing, then twice forked over, two weeks
intervening. All the droppings should be well broken up and mixed with
the leaves, and the entire mass repiled between each forking.

After the ripening process has been accomplished, it must be packed
into the bottom of the hotbed to the depth of two and a half feet. It
should be smoothly laid and well tramped into place. Put in the sash,
and within a few days the heat will rise to a hundred degrees or over.
Lift the sash slightly at one end, and wait until the temperature falls
to about eighty-five degrees, then place about six inches of rich,
fibrous soil over the top. We manufacture our potting-mould several
months before it is required, by taking the old heating material from
spent beds and mixing it with an equal amount of soil from sod land
and about one-third the quantity of clean, sharp sand. After thorough
mixing, it is piled in a large heap and left exposed to the weather
until required, or until late in the fall, when it is put into a shed
and kept dry to prevent freezing, as potting-mould and covering for
fresh hotbeds is often needed in the early spring. Just before using,
it is passed through a sieve to remove all lumps.

The first year, when there is no old bed to empty, good top-dressing or
potting-mould can be made by cutting deep sods, shaking the earth from
the roots and mixing it with an equal amount of old, well-rotted cow
manure and about one quarter the amount of clean sand. It is imperative
to prepare all such things in the fall. The outside of a hotbed should
be banked up with rough stable manure and the sash covered at night
with mats and shutters in extreme cold weather. Old carpet or bags
made of burlap and filled with cut hay will cost nothing except time
and answer quite well. We use pads, for which all sorts of old clothes
are utilised. Then unbleached sheets large enough to cover the sash,
side and ends, and reach well onto the ground, are used. The sheets are
given two coats of oil, and so are impervious to rain or snow, and we
think better than wooden shutters.

Suppose you want to make your first venture with winter salads, the
first gathering for Thanksgiving, and from then on until spring. Start
one bed the first week in October, sow three rows of lettuce seed five
inches apart, sowing three different varieties, Tennis-Ball, Boston
Market and Big Boston; two rows of curly cress (peppergrass) the same
distance apart, and five days later, two rows of white mustard. Eight
or ten days later, prepare a second bed, so that the heat may have
risen and decreased to about seventy-five by the time lettuce is large
enough to transplant--about three weeks from the sowing of the seed.
Set out the seedlings eight inches apart each way in the new bed, and
sow radish seed between the rows.

If you have enough frames, plant the three different varieties of
lettuce in different beds. They will mature in the rotation named.
Between the rows of the Boston Market and the Big Boston, onion
seeds may be sown. When selecting lettuce to transplant, choose the
strong seedlings and from different parts of the rows, so that when
the surplus plants are thinned out, the rest will be left to grow
undisturbed.

The mustard and cress will be ready to cut in from seven to ten days
after the mustard is sown. Cut the cress with a pair of scissors a
little above the soil and it will spring again and again. Mustard
must be sowed after each gathering, but as it only takes half the
time to develop, it will be ready when the second crop of cress is.
Mustard should be allowed to grow more than an inch and a half above
the ground. One important thing to remember in running a succession
of hotbed crops, is that the heating power of manure only lasts about
seven weeks. Beans, beets and Swiss chard, and such hardy things,
which require two months or more to mature, do not suffer through
the decrease of heat, in fact, will do just as well, or better, in a
spent hotbed or cold-frame, which is just a hotbed without any heating
material. But if very cold weather sets in, bank up heavily around the
sides and ends with fresh manure, to keep the cold from penetrating the
bed-box, and using extra heavy mats over the sash at night.

Eggplant, tomatoes and peppers should be started the last week in
February, and celery, cabbage, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts about
the first of March. One bed should be devoted to onion seed (sown at
the end of February), and seedlings can be pricked out into another bed
or cold-frame when about two inches high, and will be strong bulbs to
plant out in the garden in April. Cucumbers, muskmelons and squash can
all be started on sods in a hotbed, early in April, and will be sturdy
plants by May 20th.



HOW TO GROW ASPARAGUS


Why every garden has not an asparagus-bed is an unfathomable mystery to
me. It is universally liked; even epicures consider it a delicacy. It
is ready for table use in very early spring, when everyone craves fresh
vegetables, and it is as easy to grow as any other vegetable after it
is once established.

Probably the last word explains the mystery. It takes three years to
establish, or, rather, to bring it to the profitable stage. A light
crop can be gathered the second season, so the home table profits
almost as quickly as in the case of artichokes or strawberries.
Whatever the cause, the fact remains that an asparagus-bed is rarely
found on a farm. Yet the pecuniary advantages to be reaped from
asparagus-growing are sufficient to satisfy the most ambitious gardener.

Three years after our first bed from seed was started we sold three
hundred and fifty-four bunches at an average of forty cents a bunch.
Early in the season we got fifty cents, toward the end of the season
some were sold for thirty-five cents. Since then the annual returns
have never dropped below two hundred and eighty-six dollars. Manuring
and cultivating cost approximately twelve dollars a year. The bed
occupied about a quarter of an acre of ground. Having a number of egg
customers, we sell direct and so get the full price, but even wholesale
prices range from fifteen to twelve cents.

There are two ways of starting beds, sowing seed or setting out plants.
One-year-old plants will cost from sixty cents to a dollar a hundred.
Planted in April and well cared for, they will provide several dishes
for the home table the following spring and nearly a full crop the
second spring. Seed sowed at the same time will take a year longer,
but after that will give a larger yield than the transplanted plants
and, as asparagus-beds are productive for fifteen or twenty years,
the one-year loss in the beginning is an economy. But it is well to
set out a few plants, simply because in the country one cannot get
Southern vegetables, which come into the city early in the spring, and,
therefore, should try to have a home supply as quickly as possible.

In selecting ground for an asparagus-bed, it must be remembered
that it is a permanent crop, and cannot be transplanted after it is
established. It will grow on any ordinary garden soil which is well
drained, but, when possible, heavy subsoil with light sand or loam
above it should be selected, as it will invariably produce an earlier
crop each year than heavy ground. The soil should slope to the south or
southwest, and a shelter from the northeast is also desirable. For our
large market bed we used land that had been under cultivation for two
years. The preceding crops had been corn, oats and potatoes, so it had
been thoroughly worked.

After the potatoes were harvested in the fall, the field was ploughed,
and barn-yard manure scattered broadcast over it. Early the following
spring the ground was again ploughed, to turn in the manure, and
harrowed each way to thoroughly break up and pulverise the soil. Should
you be compelled to use ground that has not been worked previously, and
is of a heavy, damp character, it would be well to plough as early as
possible in summer, if necessary, using a subsoil plough, to break the
ground to a depth of fifteen or sixteen inches.

Harrow to smooth the surface, and repeat the harrowing about every
three weeks until October, when it should be ploughed again to the
depth of six or seven inches, manured and left until spring. After
the spring harrowing the rows must be marked out five feet apart and
running from north to south. Use the plough back and forth in the same
furrow to make a wide trench, which should be six or seven inches deep
and about a foot wide. If much of the soil falls back into the trench,
remove it with a spade or broad hoe, then plant seed about three inches
apart. Keep the rows free from weeds all through the season and the
ground loose around the plants.

It is desirable to utilise the space between the rows, as it insures
the ground being well cultivated. Each space will accommodate two rows
of carrots, onions or lettuce, or one row of cabbage. In the fall,
when the tops of the asparagus begin to die, they must be cut off and
burned.

The following spring the ground between the rows should be manured and
ploughed, or spaded if the place is an inclosed garden and a plough
cannot be used. Strong roots may throw very good-sized sprouts, but
don’t be tempted to gather them, for their removal will stimulate the
plant to throw up more stalks than its age warrants, and the result
will be either death or a weakly, unprofitable existence for several
seasons. Not more than one row of carrots or onions should be grown
between the rows the second season, and, unless space is of great
value, it is as well not to use it at all.

Cultivation must be kept up all through the growing season, to destroy
weeds and keep the ground in condition. Many amateurs have an idea
that hoeing or cultivating of any sort is solely to destroy weeds,
which is a great mistake. Stirring the surface soil breaks the crust,
and the powdered earth forms a mulch which keeps the lower soil moist,
a condition which liberates the mineral qualities which constitute
plant-food.

The second spring after sowing seed a light crop of stalks may be
gathered, say two or three from each hill, but not more. Then allow the
stalks to grow and feather out until they assume their full fern-like
form. In June apply a moderate quantity of barn-yard manure between
the rows if the ground is not being used. If it is occupied by a crop,
use commercial fertiliser composed of equal parts of nitrate of soda,
sulphate of potash and wood-ashes. Scatter each side of whatever
vegetable occupies the space between the rows and work the fertiliser
well into the soil.

In August, when the crop is harvested, apply a moderately heavy
dressing of well-rotted barn-yard manure. Late in October cut down
stalks and burn, as the year before; then plough or spade between the
rows. The third spring will bring the bed to a profitable state, though
it will not reach its full yearly capacity for another year. Use the
one-horse cultivator or hoe between the rows as early as the ground can
be worked. Draw the earth slightly from the roots at first, to permit
the sun to warm the ground around the roots and awaken the plant to
life.

A week or so later, if white asparagus is desired, the soil must be
again drawn up over the plants and each row hilled up so as to bleach
the sprouts. The operation will need repeating about once a week all
through the cutting season, which should not last more than three weeks
on so young a bed, though in future years it may be kept up six or even
eight weeks.

After the cutting season throw down the ridges made by the hilling-up
and apply either barn-yard manure or commercial fertiliser, repeating
the application about July 1st. If green asparagus is desired, the only
difference in treatment consists in omitting the hilling-up.

After the third year care of the bed consists of manuring and
cultivating. We have found it best to use barn-yard manure and
commercial fertiliser alternately. Sowing the seed in trenches or deep
furrows is done to insure the crowns being three or four inches below
the surface when they have developed considerable growth, which would
not be the case if they were sown on the level ground to commence with.
Like its cousin, the lily of the valley, asparagus sends out roots and
stalks from a heart or crown, which must be underground where it is
moist and dark.

Asparagus may be canned like any other vegetable for winter use; pack,
cut ends down, in glass jars, fill jars with cold water, put the lids
on loosely, stand in hot water, boil three hours, fill the jars to the
brim with boiling water and screw lids down tight.

If you consider that raising from seed is beyond your patience,
buy plants from a reliable grower. Most nurserymen’s catalogues
quote one and two year plants, but the experienced are unanimous in
preferring strong one-year-old plants, affirming that they stand being
transplanted better than the older ones. The ground must be prepared
as for seed. When the plants arrive, put them into water for twelve or
twenty-four hours to soften. Set the plants two feet apart in trenches,
being careful to have the crowns right side up. If you hold up a plant
in your hand you will notice that the thick fleshy roots all proceed
from the heart, or crown, as it is called, and droop downward, and
that on the other side of the crown there are what look like small
rootlets. These are really the dry stalks from the preceding season and
buds of the coming season, and are often mistaken for roots and placed
downward in the trenches instead of upward, which of course they should
be.

The proper way to plant is to make a small mound at the bottom of the
trench--about two handfuls of soil--and spread out the roots, and place
the crown on the mound of earth in such a way that the roots envelope
it. Press them firmly into place, and cover until the crown is about
two inches below the soil. If it happens to be a dry season, water
regularly until growth is well established.

Asparagus must be cut very carefully, otherwise the embryo shoot may
be destroyed or the crown itself killed. When only small quantities
are being removed each day, the best plan is to pass the thumb and
forefinger down the spur an inch or two into the ground, then bend
outward, and it will snap below the surface of the earth without
injuring the plant in any way. When large beds are being cut for
market, a knife will have to be used, as it does the work so much more
quickly. Asparagus-knives are of special shape. There are several
on the market, and they will be found advertised in all seedmen’s
catalogues. The average price is fifty cents.

Rust, a fungus disease, has become very prevalent during the last few
years, attacking both young and old beds. As the name implies, it looks
like rust on the stalks and spoils the appearance for market, besides
injuring the plant and materially affecting the crop.

It has been suggested by many who have studied the subject that rust
originates on decaying stalks. For that reason it is advisable to burn
the dead stalks as soon as they are cut away in the fall, instead of
allowing them to decay on a compost-heap, as one does with other garden
trimmings. Spraying with Bordeaux mixture after the cutting season each
year has been recommended as a preventive. Once established, there
seems no remedy. We have a neighbour whose beds were seriously affected
seven or eight years ago. He tried a number of ordinary washes and
powders, but they seemed useless. Six years ago he started new beds and
adopted our plan of alternating commercial fertiliser with barn-yard
manure as we had never had any sign of rust, and he attributed it to
the ashes in the mixture we used, thinking that they purified the
ground.

Another enemy is the asparagus-beetle--an attractive-looking insect,
jet black, with red, yellow and blue markings. It remains hidden in
brush or rubbish through the winter and comes out in the first warm
days of spring to lay its eggs, always choosing the young, tender
sprouts for their resting-place. In a few days the young grubs hatch
and feed on the asparagus, boring small holes, entirely ruining the
appearance of the stalks, and occasionally descend to the crown of
the plant itself. It only takes the grubs a month to pass through the
several stages which bring them to maturity, so that if only one or
two beetles survive the winter, there may be an army by the time the
beds are bearing fully. Allowing poultry to run on the beds in the fall
and winter is about the safest and easiest way of scotching the pests,
though dusting with air-slaked lime in the early spring is recommended,
and some authorities suggest the cutting of the beds as soon as shoots
develop in the early spring, hoping in that way to destroy the eggs.
This is rather an expensive remedy, as it means burning up the early
market crop, which brings the best prices.



HOW TO GROW MUSHROOMS


Anyone who has a good cellar where an even temperature can be
maintained can grow mushrooms for home use, but if they are to be
raised in large quantities for market, an appropriate building must be
given over to their exclusive use. We have been successful for several
seasons in growing mushrooms in an amateurish way, but it was not until
a large root-cellar was left vacant that we thought of the feasibility
of adding them to our market products.

The farm we were lucky enough to acquire was one of the old-fashioned,
practical places, with a full equipment of buildings. Under the
cow-barn there was a stone basement, used for the winter storing of
root crops. After our dairy herd developed, it seemed wise to use
ensilage instead of roots during the winter. So we built a silo, and
this left the store-house vacant. It was eighty feet long and fifteen
feet wide, so, after we conceived the mushroom idea, we partitioned off
thirty feet to retain as a storing-place for household vegetables and
fitted up the other fifty feet with mushroom-beds.

We put in a brooder-house stove and pipe system, which cost one hundred
and twenty dollars. The lumber for the beds cost an additional thirty
dollars, extra manure twenty-two dollars and spawn fifty dollars--two
hundred and twenty-two dollars in all. Four months later we had
received four hundred and forty-five dollars. Since then the returns
have fluctuated between four and five hundred dollars, and we estimate
that it costs one hundred and twenty-five dollars per season to produce
the crop. So I think that mushrooms can be considered profitable when
run in connection with poultry or general farming, especially as they
come in at a season of the year when there is very little else to
be attended to, and, what is more, the only heavy work is preparing
manure and compost for the beds, and that any ordinary farm man can
accomplish. The rest is all so light and easy that a young girl or a
delicate woman can attend to it without fatigue.

It is not necessary to have an expensive stone or brick building. We
have a neighbour who uses part of an old cow-stable, and a man in the
suburbs of New York, who grows a quantity each season, has simply
a dugout with rough board walls, two feet above the ground, and an
A-shaped roof--all covered with tar-paper, a place that could not
have cost more than seventy-five dollars at the very most. A shed or
outbuilding of any kind will answer if it is weather-proof and can be
kept at a temperature of fifty-five or sixty in zero weather without
much expense.

[Illustration: MUSHROOMS]

Don’t be tempted to start on any elaborate scale in the house-cellar,
for the odour from the beds whilst the manure is heating prior to
planting-time will permeate the entire house and cling to carpets and
draperies in a most horrible way. Of course, this does not obtain
when only a few are to be raised for the home table, because shallow
boxes can be used and need not be carried into the cellar until the
objectionable period is past.

When a special house is used, the beds may be made on the floor, a
great depth of manure used and artificial heat dispensed with. But it
is not a good or economical plan, for the necessary amount of stable
manure would cost as much as fuel, necessitate close watching and the
result would not be as satisfactory, so we will only consider the
approved method of benches and artificial heat, which is generally
adopted by the modern market grower.

The benches in our house run on each side, leaving walks three feet
wide through the centre of the house, two feet along the side walls.
Having the three walks enables us to gather from each side of the beds,
which is almost a necessity when the beds are four feet wide. With a
narrower house and beds, a centre path would be sufficient, but it
should not be less than three feet wide for convenience when filling
and emptying beds.

The benches are made of two-by-two studding and rough hemlock boards,
the studding being used for the upright supports which go from floor
to ceiling, every five feet of the entire length and on each side of
the house. Supports are run diagonally between each four uprights on
each side of the house, to make a foundation for the floor of the beds,
as well as to strengthen the entire structure. The hemlock boards are
used for the sides and bottoms of the beds, which are two feet above
the ground. Beds should be sixteen inches deep, but we used one row of
boards nine inches wide and another row six inches wide, as the boards
happened to be cut in those sizes.

The second tier of beds, which were added a year later, were a foot and
a half above the top of the first tier and only twelve inches deep, but
have proved quite as satisfactory in every way, and as the shallow beds
take less manure, I think it is safe to advise beginners to adopt the
latter depth for beds in a house where artificial heat is used.

The bottoms and sides of the beds should be fixed so that they can be
easily removed, as it facilitates the work of emptying beds, which has
to be done every spring. Any heating apparatus which can be easily
arranged and depended upon can, of course, be used, but I think the
stove and pipes which are specially made for poultry plants are the
most convenient, as their construction is so simple that any handy man
can fix them without the aid of a plumber--a great consideration on the
farm.

Narrow cellar windows were inserted in the sides of the house, to
furnish light and air in the spring and fall, when the heavy work was
being done, and also while gathering each day during the season. It is
so much pleasanter to work by daylight, and it does not injure the
crop in any way, if shutters are used to keep out the cold.

The main factor in mushroom-growing is beds. First, the material
of which they are composed; secondly, the way they are made. Fresh
manure, with a fair percentage of short bedding (straw or leaves
preferably), must be collected each day when the stables are cleaned.
We use two parts horse and one part cow manure, sometimes substituting
sheep-droppings for horse. The daily collection must be stored in a
shed and made into a pile about three feet high and two and a half feet
wide.

As soon as sufficient manure is collected to fill the beds, the curing
process should be commenced. This consists of packing manure closely
together, and if at all dry, slightly moistening it with water or
drainage from the stables to start fermentation. Within a few hours the
heat will commence to create steam and it must be forked over and made
into a fresh pile.

To check the heat, which would, if left to run its course, quickly
burn out the value of the manure and render it worthless, forking and
repiling will probably have to be repeated three or four times, with
from two to three days intervening, according to the strength of the
manure and the temperature. It usually takes from two to three weeks
to cure manure properly. When it shows a temperature of one hundred
degrees Fahrenheit after being undisturbed for thirty-six hours, it may
be considered all right.

We half fill beds with the rough material, then mix soil from
sod ground with the remainder to fill up the top of the beds. The
proportion is about one-third soil to two-thirds prepared manure. When
filling the beds, the manure, and also the mixture of soil and manure,
should be strewed in thin layers, say about two inches at a time, and
stamped down thoroughly before the next layer is added. When the beds
are filled, cover the surface with straw or mats to prevent the beds
becoming dry.

The manure will heat considerably after being packed in the beds, so
thermometers should be inserted every few feet, as planting must not
be done until the temperature falls to ninety degrees Fahrenheit, at
which stage the straw or mat can be removed and the spawn inserted.
The propagation of mushrooms is entirely different from that of any
other vegetable, neither seed, bulb, nor cutting holding any place in
the process. From the gill-like lining of a full-grown mushroom fall
innumerable spores, so minute that if caught on a sheet of paper they
would look like dust. If the spores fall upon earth that is in just the
right condition, mould-like filaments develop, spread and become what
we call spawn.

Spawn culture is a complicated process, which concerns the grower of
mushrooms not at all, as he buys spawn as he would any other seed,
except that it is sold in compressed brick-like cakes, which weigh
about a pound apiece, or in rough shreds; the latter variety being
known as flake or French spawn.

Bricks, known as English spawn, seem to give the best results in this
country and are what we have always used. They should be broken into
pieces about the size of a walnut, planted in rows a foot apart, the
pieces being six inches apart in the rows. The spawn should be inserted
about three inches. The best plan is to lift a small part of the manure
with a hand fork, press down the spawn, replace the manure and press
firmly in place. The close packing is one of the principal points of
success, so it is well to go over the entire bed with the back of a
wooden shovel or a small mallet.

After planting replace the straw or mats if the temperature of the
house is at all dry. Eight days later remove the mats and cover the
beds with a layer two inches thick of good garden soil.

Until the mushrooms begin to appear the temperature of the house may be
sixty-five to sixty-eight degrees Fahrenheit, but from the moment they
commence to appear keep it as nearly fifty-five as possible. Moisture
must be carefully watched. If the beds appear at all dry, even after
the soil has been placed over them, cover with mats for a few days or
even sprinkle the beds very lightly, but they must not be made at all
wet. Perhaps the safest plain for the inexperienced is to sprinkle the
walks, as then there can be no danger of an overdose.

It takes about five weeks for spawn to spread through the beds and
about another two weeks before the crop makes its appearance. Well-made
beds, in a house kept at fifty-five degrees, will yield for ten or
twelve weeks, but during the last two or three weeks the quantity will
decrease rapidly.

Gathering must be done every day, and in the height of the yield it is
wise to go through the beds twice a day to avoid the loss which occurs
within a few hours from overripening. When the mushroom first breaks
through the ground, it is apparently a solid, white ball, balanced on
a miniature column. A few hours, and the under part of the ball breaks
from the stock and the mushroom gradually spreads like an umbrella
being opened and shows a line of pale pink, or flesh-coloured, gills,
which become darker every hour until almost black, at which stage the
mushroom becomes thin and rapidly decays.

If mushrooms are gathered just after the veil (as the skin which
attaches the edge of the cap to the stock is technically termed)
breaks, they can be held over for twenty-four hours without
deteriorating, if kept in a cool place away from the air. If, by
chance, some open ones escape the picker’s notice, remove them as soon
as seen.



SIX GOOD VEGETABLES TO GROW


It is strange that many of the most useful vegetables are neglected
in the majority of home gardens. Okra, Swiss chard, leeks, Brussels
sprouts and Scotch kale are really little known, yet they are all
appetizing health additions to the table, and require no special
conditions or culture.

Okra, or gumbo, as it is invariably called in the South, figures very
largely in Creole cooking, but here in the East is only just appearing
in the markets. The demand is sure to grow rapidly, because it is one
of those insidious articles which seem indispensable when once used.
Soups, stews, gravies and innumerable made dishes are all improved by a
little okra, and it is the basis of many special dishes. My household
is fond of gumbo soup, so for that alone okra had to have a place in
the garden, and now we use it in a dozen different ways. Cut into
slices and spread alternately with rice and tomatoes in a casserole,
with butter, in which curry-powder and salt has been mixed, dotted all
over the top and baked for three hours, it is a deliciously savoury
luncheon dish.

But it is the growing, not the cooking, of this neglected vegetable
that I have to do with just now. The ground for okra should be
thoroughly enriched and well cultivated. Make a furrow about an inch
deep, and if only a home supply is wanted, about thirty feet long. Sow
the seeds two inches apart in rows and cover. Thin to eighteen inches
apart when the seedlings are about two inches high. If more than one
row is to be grown, make them two and a half feet apart.

Okra is a semi-tropical plant, so is better not sown until the second
week in May. Once started, it grows very rapidly, yields and continues
a supply of pods throughout the season. The flowers are large and
rather pretty, but only last a few hours; after they fall it takes
about twelve hours for a pod to develop sufficiently for gathering. To
be in perfect condition for cooking they should not be much more than
an inch long. Any surplus quantity can be dried or canned for winter
use. Sliced, they are a splendid addition to mixed pickles.

Swiss chard is such a true cut-and-come-again that for home or market
it is invaluable, and a poultry-keeper can find no better or cheaper
green food for fowls that are yarded. The leaves and stalks are the
edible part, and can be boiled like spinach or the stalks alone used.
They are white and run the full length of the leaf. Cut them out and
tie loosely; cook and serve just as you would asparagus. The new
variety called “Lucullus” is, I think, the best. Make the ground very
rich; sow in rows three feet apart, about the end of April or the first
week in May. Thin the plants when they are about two inches high to
stand eighteen inches apart. When used as spinach cut the leaves when
they are ten inches high, but when the stalks are to simulate asparagus
gathering should be delayed until they are about fourteen inches high.
Then cut off the green part of the leaf, which can still be used as
greens. No matter how the leaves are to be used or at what height the
crop is cut, be very careful never to injure the heart of the plant,
for if you do successive crops will be spoiled.

Brussels sprouts have been gaining favour in the market during the last
few years and should certainly be in every garden, for they possess
all the healthful qualities of cabbage, and the flavour is much more
delicate.

When small, the plants look exactly like cabbage, but instead of firm,
solid heads, the stalks run up to twelve or fourteen inches in height,
and baby cabbages spring out all around the stalk for the entire
length. One plant often yields thirty-five or forty of these diminutive
cabbages.

One great advantage of Brussels sprouts is that the seed need not be
sown until June and the plants are not ready for transplanting until
July, so can succeed early peas in the same ground. Like all members
of the cabbage family, Brussels sprouts are gluttons and positively
must have heavy and rich ground. Sow seed in shallow drills; transplant
when seedlings are about three inches high, two feet apart in rows
three feet apart. For early spring harvest, sow seeds in hotbed during
February or March. Mature plants are quite hardy, but must be dug up
before severe frost. The best way to keep the home supply is to hang
the whole plant up by the roots in a frost-proof cellar.

Leeks and winter onions are members of the onion family which are
usually overlooked, and it is a great pity, because they are both
most desirable. Leeks should be sown on very fine, rich soil. A heavy
dressing of poultry manure, applied the fall before planting, is an
ideal fertiliser. Scatter the seed thick in rows two feet apart and
thin out the plants so that they stand nine inches apart. Cultivate the
ground constantly and hill up as the plants grow. This is a part of
the work which must not be neglected, as it encourages the growth and
bleaches the stalks. A slight frost won’t hurt them, but they must be
heavily banked up and covered with litter if they are to stay out in
the ground until spring.

The winter supply of these vegetables should be dug in December and
stored in the house for convenience. Pack them, standing up as they
grow, in boxes; scatter earth between them, and keep them in a dark
cellar. For soups they are much superior to ordinary onions. Boiled and
served with white sauce, they are a most enjoyable vegetable.

Winter bunch onions, as they are termed, are really the earliest of all
spring onions. Sow the seed in shallow drills, a foot apart, in May
or June. Cultivate until fall, then cover with litter. Early in the
following spring rake off and cultivate lightly between the rows, and
you will have delicious green onions for table or market when other
people are thinking about sowing the seed.

Kale should be considered indispensable in every garden, for it comes
into season late in the fall, when frost has demolished all other
greens. Even in the vicinity of New York it can be relied upon to
furnish early spring greens almost before the snow is off the ground.
In fact, I have gathered it from under deep snow in midwinter and found
it in good condition. Seeds should be sown about the middle of June,
and the seedlings transplanted into rows two feet and a half apart.
The leaves are curly and of a dark green, and should not be used until
there has been some frost, for until frozen they are as tough as they
are tender after Jack Frost has visited them.

As soon as the weather becomes colder, bank straw or leaves on each
side of the rows up to the top of the kale and then put cedar branches
or brush of some sort along each side to keep the covering in place.

Kohlrabi is another valuable vegetable, which comes in when other
things have faded. It really belongs to the cabbage family, but it
is more like the turnip. The edible part is the bulb which develops
above ground. When cooked it looks and tastes like a most delicately
flavoured turnip. As they must be cooked while young and tender, it is
best to make several sowings; one in the hotbed in February, and two
others in the open ground; the first in May, the second in August.
They can stand quite a heavy frost and so are usable until December or
January, according to the season.

Sow in rows placed about two feet apart, and after the young plants
have attained sufficient strength to withstand attacks from beetles and
such insects, thin them to two feet apart.

Perhaps it is as well to add a few hints about the general cultivation
of these vegetables--hints which will be useful for all gardening.
Cultivation must be constant and thorough, especially when the soil is
light and sandy. Of course, no good gardener will permit weeds to get
a foothold in his territory, but the constant use of the rake is much
more important, for it keeps up the supply of moisture in the soil
around the roots of the plants, and so insures their being well fed and
making rapid growth.

This is a point which always seems to puzzle inexperienced gardeners,
so it needs explanation. Stirring the surface soil with a fine rake as
soon as it is partly dry after a rain, furnishes a mulch of dust which
prevents the moisture in the lower earth escaping, because it checks
the capillary process by which moisture travels to the surface and is
carried into the air. The soil may be rich in the mineral and animal
components which constitute plant-food, but unless moisture is present
in sufficient quantities these are not available as sustenance for
plants.



HOW TO PLANT AND CULTIVATE STRAWBERRIES


Just why growing one’s own strawberries should create a sense
of superiority is difficult to say, but it does. City friends,
who accept really difficult agricultural accomplishments with
matter-of-fact indifference, tender a sort of wondering respect to
the strawberry-grower, and what is more extraordinary, the grower
invariably accepts the laudation with the condescending pride of a
victor. At least, I must own to some such feeling, even though I
know how absurd it is, for the small wild berry is indigenous to
this country and was adopted by the thrifty colonial housewives as a
garden-plant long before the horticulturists dreamed of taking it under
their scientific management.

The cultivated strawberries are somewhat like exotics, having been
created in Europe from the native wild berry and a somewhat similar
wild plant brought from Chili in 1750. Varieties resulting from that
cross were subsequently brought to this country and furnished the stock
from which has gradually been developed the large, luscious fruit of
to-day. But it still likes American soil and so will thrive in a wider
range of latitude than any other cultivated plant.

There are several strawberry farms in our vicinity and, according to
the owners, they bear most profitable crops. One grower tells me that
he averages six thousand quarts to the acre, and gets an average price
of eight cents a quart. Another neighbour says he calculates to clear
three hundred dollars an acre from his berries. Personally, I can’t
quote figures, because we have never gone in for market berries. Being
very fond of them, and wanting the very best we could possibly grow,
we have always confined our efforts to garden culture, just for home
consumption, and the reward has been such epicurean feasts that we have
been satisfied.

Like asparagus, strawberry beds should be established as soon as the
family has settled in a country home, because it takes a year to get a
full crop. There are a great many varieties to choose from, but I think
it is best to restrict selection to the old established kinds. The
Marshall for first early, the Glen Mary for mid-season and the Gandy
for late gathering. And truly I don’t believe there can be a better
selection for the home garden in the vicinity of New York.

But, as some varieties do better than others in a certain locality,
it is advisable to consult old residents in the neighbourhood and the
nurserymen from whom plants are ordered.

Light sandy soil, sloping slightly to the south, will produce the
earliest berries, but we are convinced from experience that slightly
heavier soil and a more northerly exposure produces a better fruit in
mid-season. Our beds all slope to the south, but the late varieties
are so situated that they are slightly shaded by a row of young pear
trees, which protects them from the direct rays of the sun. The soil
is--or rather was--of ordinary quality, neither very sandy nor very
heavy, so for several seasons we scattered fine coal ashes between the
rows of the early plants, which materially lightened the soil, and for
several years we have had berries from five to ten days earlier than
our neighbours.

New beds may be started in the fall or spring, whichever is the most
convenient. If the plants are set out in the early fall, they will bear
the following season, but if planting is delayed until spring, it will
be a full year before any fruit can be expected. So I recommend August
planting of all plants to the beginner, and spring planting when there
are established beds to take other plants from.

To explain: Strawberries are propagated from the runners, which, under
natural conditions, shoot out from the parent plants and, taking root,
develop individual crowns. But the up-to-date nurseryman has of late
years taken to sinking small pots filled with rich earth in the beds,
then by lifting the ends of the runners on to the pots the roots of the
young plants develop within the pot instead of on the ground and can
later in the season be removed without any check to growth, which, of
course, greatly facilitates the growth of the crown after it is set out
in its permanent position.

Pot plants, as they are called, are slightly more expensive than layer
plants, but they are well worth it when time is an object.

Before the plants arrive the ground should be thoroughly prepared
by digging and raking until it is in a fine fibrous condition. Mark
off rows four feet apart. When the plants are received, unpack and
water copiously, and leave in a shady place for twenty-four hours
before setting out, at which time make a hole with a trowel a little
larger than the pot in which the plant has been growing, fill it about
half-full of water, and if the plants have been delivered in the pots,
remove carefully by loosening the soil, which is done by pushing a
small stick through the drain-hole and turning the pot upside down.
Then slip out the ball of earth, and put it into the hole which you
made with the trowel. Fill in with the loose earth and the process of
planting will be complete.

Plants should be set two feet apart in the rows. If they are strong
and healthy specimens, growth will start almost immediately, so you
must go carefully through the rows in about two weeks’ time, when the
plants will have commenced to throw out runners. We never allow more
than four for each plant, and those are trained to root as nearly as
possible before and behind and on each side of the parent plant, which
makes a solid row about twenty-seven inches wide at the end of the
growing season. The best way of insuring runners rooting is to press
them close to the soil, holding them in place either with a small stone
or a handful of earth.

After growth stops in the fall, the space between the rows should
receive a dressing of commercial fertiliser and be well spaded over.
About December 1st a mulch of straw or leaves should be spread over
the plants to protect them from the frost. Early the following spring
the same work is repeated, and about May 1st the mulch is removed from
immediately around the plants, but left on the ground to keep the
berries from coming in contact with the earth, and also to keep the
soil moist about the roots. The beds must be kept free from weeds at
all times.

After the crop has been gathered, a few runners are allowed to
develop and are rooted in pots, as explained above, to be used in
establishing new growth later in August, as we always put out six new
rows each season and demolish six old ones, as young plants yield more
and better fruit than old ones. For market the culture cannot be so
careful, because the size of the beds will necessitate the use of horse
cultivation. What is more, pot plants cost too much.

The successful market grower, to whom I have referred previously,
practises the following method: The ground from which early potatoes
have been harvested is sown with oats and rye, and when that crop is
removed the following summer the ground is ploughed, harrowed and
marked off in rows four feet apart, and the plants are taken from the
field set out the year before.

When the field is planted in June, a man goes through the rows about
August and covers the tips of the runners with a little soil, to hold
them down to the ground. This work is usually done by a man’s foot and
a hoe; then, after growth stops in the fall or before it starts the
following spring, the young plants formed from the runners are severed
from the parent plant and taken up. This is accomplished by running
a one-horse plough along the outside of the rows to cut the runners
and throw out the plants, so making it easy for a man to go along and
pick up the strongest plants, which are carried to a trench in some
convenient location and left until the following June.

The trenches are made about six inches deep and the plants are set
about one inch apart, and the trench refilled. Again a man’s foot
and the hoe do the work. The idea is that severing plants while in a
dormant condition and storing them closely in a trench prevents their
feeling the shock of removal from the parent stem and retards growth
until time to bed. Of course, when they are removed to permanent rows,
they are planted one foot apart and fields are kept free from weeds by
the use of a one-horse cultivator between the rows.

Even in field culture the runners have to be attended to as soon as
they commence to form. Allowing several to develop from each plant will
make the row a comparatively solid mass of from fifteen to eighteen
inches wide at the end of the season. A field set out in June or
early July will give a full crop the following year and be nearly as
productive the second year if early cultivated and fertilised, but
after that should be ploughed up and the ground used for potatoes,
cabbage or some other crops before it is again used for strawberries.

The ground on which strawberries are to be grown should have been well
enriched with barn-yard manure for previous crops, but commercial
fertiliser should be used while berries hold possession of the
ground, for barn-yard manure is apt to contain the spores of fungus
diseases which attack strawberries. Any sign of these diseases should
be instantly checked by spraying with Bordeaux mixture. One thing
more. When purchasing plants, remember that there are what are called
perfect and imperfect plants. The latter are just as good for all
practical purposes if planted side by side with perfect plants, but not
otherwise.



HOW TO GROW SMALL FRUITS


If gathered when ripe, and served at once, berries--in fact, all the
small fruits--are undoubtedly luxuries. So the country home should
always devote some space to them, no matter how small the garden may
be; and when the home is a farm, expected to become self-supporting,
the berry orchard should be established immediately after taking
possession, for the outlay is little, returns quick, and necessary
knowledge is very easily acquired. Therefore, small fruits are a
permanent branch of husbandry to be recommended to the amateur of small
means, who needs a marketable commodity to keep the pot boiling.

Like most old farms, our place had a few neglected currant bushes, a
patch of half-wild black and red raspberries, and a strawberry bed in a
most demoralised condition. But even these poor degenerates convinced
us of the economy of growing small fruits for our own use, and the
profit to be derived by supplying other people’s tables. Besides
the luxury of having freshly-gathered fruit, there are preserves,
jellies and cordials for winter use. At the end of the first year we
thoroughly pruned and cultivated the old brambles, and planted half
an acre with brambles and black and red currants. Afterward the space
was enlarged, until we had a good-sized berry orchard, which has
always shown a profit even in the worst seasons. Brambles will grow
in almost any ground, but if well fed and given a congenial home they
yield much better. The fruit is larger, better coloured and finer
flavoured. So, when possible, select ground that is somewhat sandy in
character, with a heavy subsoil. Ground that has been under cultivation
for two or three seasons is best, because it will have been well
worked, and so will be comparatively free from weeds. Commence with a
small patch, say half an acre, divided equally between black and red
raspberries, blackberries and black and red currants. Strawberries
cannot be included in a general small-fruit orchard, because the beds
are profitable for only three years, and it is better to take them into
regular crop rotation, using ground that has previously been occupied
by potatoes or corn. As space is somewhat limited, we will devote this
chapter to brambles and currants.

There are new plants for favour each year in nursery catalogues, but
we will cover only a few of the old stand-bys, such as the following
list: Raspberries (red), Columbian and Cuthbert; (black) Gregg and
Cumberland; blackberries, Wilson and Taylor; currants, Red Cherry and
Fay’s Prolific; gooseberries, Industry and Pearl. The best plan is to
purchase a few dozen plants of each variety from some good nursery for
parent stock, and when they are once well set, do your own propagating
from them. Raspberries should be set three feet apart, in rows five
feet apart. Have the ground well dressed with stable manure, and mark
off in rows. It is best to use a plough for the marking, as you then
have a furrow about the right depth in which to plant. If the plants
have travelled far, stand them in a shallow pan or half barrel, and
cover the roots with water for ten or twelve hours before planting.
Brambles that are kept well trimmed need no staking out, but when
planting young stock it is well to have some stakes cut about four
feet long and pointed at one end. Drive one every three feet along the
rows, and then set the plant close up to it. Spread out the roots in
the natural form, and firm the earth well around them, then tie the
canes loosely to the stake, to prevent the wind from blowing them from
side to side. Unless stakes are used at this time, brambles or small
bushes sway from side to side in every light breeze, and the roots are
loosened, thus preventing them from gaining any hold on the ground.
Cultivation should be as thorough and constant as for corn until
August, as it is required to keep down weeds and permit growth. After
August, cultivation should stop, to check the growth and allow the
summer wood time to ripen before frost.

To those who are new to gardening, the above may need some explanation.
Cultivation--by which is meant stirring the surface soil with the
cultivator or garden rake--prevents the moisture from escaping from
the ground. Moisture releases and brings into consumable form the
different properties of the soil which constitute plant-food. A
bountiful supply of nourishment naturally promotes growth. Stop
cultivation, and food decreases, growth stops, and the tender twigs at
the extremity of branches have time to harden sufficiently to resist
frost that would kill new growth.

Planting and general care are virtually the same with blackberries.
Raspberries are of a weedy or spreading nature, and throw up new shoots
from root beds, which must be kept down between rows, or the patch will
become a tangled wilderness within a few years. Even during the first
summer after setting out it is advisable to top-prune as fresh growth
is made. Don’t allow the canes to grow to a length of more than twenty
inches. The pinching off of the ends forces them to throw out side
branches and more canes from the main root, a very desirable thing, as
fruit is borne only on the extremity of branches grown the preceding
year. After the first year all the old canes which have borne fruit
must be cut out. In winter, when sap has returned to the roots, is the
best time for this work; but as the amateur may find some difficulty in
distinguishing the old canes from the new ones, it is safer to do the
demolishing soon after the fruit has been gathered, when there can be
no mistake. Each fall throw well-rotted stable manure around the roots
of each plant, and fork it into the ground as early in the spring as
the weather permits. At the same time run the plough between the rows,
to destroy the undesirable root shoots. Blackberries do not form root
beds that send up new shoots, so the ploughing need not be practised
between the rows; otherwise, clearing and pruning are virtually the
same as for raspberries.

When more plants are required of the raspberry family, allow some of
the root shoots to develop during the summer, and early the following
spring take them up with a sharp spade, which will sever the connection
between the new and the old plant without injury to either. As
blackberries do not throw up new plants in the same way, they must be
created from seeds or layers. Allow one or two canes of old plants to
grow long enough to fall over and reach the ground, and in August peg
the tops to the ground with a forked stick, and draw up a little mould
around each. They will soon throw out roots and top growth, and early
the following spring can be cut from the parent branch about eight
inches above the rooted end. Dig up a new plant, and set in rows the
same as raspberries. All the brambles are very vigorous growers and
remarkably free from disease, but it is advisable to keep a lookout for
the anthracnose, which is a greyish-looking spot with a purple centre.
They are most likely to make their appearance in summer on young canes,
and if not checked, multiply and eventually kill the plants. Cut out
any affected canes immediately after discovery, and burn. Spray the
adjacent plants with Bordeaux mixture two or three times, allowing
twelve or fifteen days between the applications. If old plants are
affected, they don’t need any consideration--take shoots from them.
Orange-rust is the yellowish-looking spot on the under side of the
leaves. The only remedy is to dig up, and cremate, but I truly think,
instead of talking about cause and cure of occasional diseases, it is
better to set out new plants every five or six years, for fresh-grown
youthful vigour invariably militates disease more than any amount of
doctoring.

Currants, both black and red, should be in every small-fruit orchard;
or if there is no special orchard, a few bushes should be planted in
the vegetable garden. Bushes should stand five feet apart, in a partly
shady position if possible, and in rich, moist soil. Currant bushes
bear for many years if properly cared for, and in their case pruning
need not be an annual occurrence, as the same branches will bear for
several years; it is advisable, however, to cut out a few of the older
branches every two or three years, and encourage new growth. Early in
the spring spray well, and again after the fruit has formed, and yet
again late in the summer, for borers. This is the worst and commonest
enemy the currant has. It originates from a dark-blue moth with yellow
bands across the body, which lays its eggs on the buds of the outer
branches. The eggs hatch into small white caterpillars with dark heads.
After destroying the appearance of the bush they bore to the centre
of the stems, and remain there until the following year. Much disease
and many insect pests will be averted if all dead leaves are raked up
from under the bushes in the late fall, and burned. Mulch around the
bushes in the early winter with stable manure, and fork into the ground
the following spring. Stock can be increased either by dividing large
bushes, which is really the quickest way, or by taking cuttings. If the
latter method is followed--and when there are only young bushes on the
premises, it will have to be--take about eight inches off the end of
well-developed branches of the same season’s growth. Plant them so that
all but the top leaf-bud is under ground. They need not be set more
than three inches apart, and must be transplanted the following year.
August is the best season to take the cuttings, as it gives them time
to form roots before frost. In November protect them slightly with a
mulch of straw or leaves. They should remain in the nursery bed for a
year before being transplanted again to their permanent position.

Gooseberries are usually picked green and used for pies, but when the
large-fruiting varieties are grown they are delicious raw when ripe.
The soil should be rich, heavy loam well drained. Little pruning is
needed for the first two or three years beyond the clipping back of the
shoots to develop fruit spurs along the cane, but of course weak or
broken branches must be removed.

Propagation is done by suckers and mound layers, though the American
varieties grow easily from cuttings. To procure strong mound layers,
cut the old bushes back in the late fall or early spring to encourage
new shoots to spring up from the roots, and when they are from one to
two feet high press them outward from the parent plant, covering the
base of the shoot up to about four inches above the root with earth,
packing it well down. Then in the fall or following spring sever the
shoot from the parent plant and transplant to the permanent home. Let
them stand about four feet apart each way.



HOW TO RAISE PERENNIAL PLANTS


The revival of the old-time hardy garden has become such a craze
among fashionable folk that the country woman who desires to add to
her income will find growing perennial plants for sale a profitable
occupation, provided, remember, that there is a well-to-do community
near at hand where she may find a ready market.

Like all occupations which have to do with Nature, it is folly to
attempt it unless you have an innate love of the work, for it requires
the comprehensive sympathy of a real affinity, as well as technical
knowledge, to rear either plants or animals successfully.

The great advantage in raising bedding plants is the small space and
capital required. A hundred square feet, and two or three dollars
for seeds, will enable anyone to make a beginning, which can easily
be worked up into a large business. The correct month for starting
perennials from seed is June, but as that necessitates waiting about
nine months for any returns, I am sure the beginner will agree with me
in thinking it is best to start some in the house or hotbed, for then
the varieties which flower the first season can be sold in May or June,
and those which don’t flower until the second season will be large,
strong plants in October, when many people set out hardy plants.

The sashes for hotbeds, glazed and painted ready for use, cost only
three dollars and fifty cents each, and the walls of the beds can
be made out of any old boards, so they do not add very much to the
expense of starting, but if you do not care to undertake anything so
professional as this at first, it is quite possible to manage with
shallow boxes, if you have a south or southeast window in a room which
averages from sixty to sixty-five degrees.

The first consideration is getting good potting mould for the seed-beds
or boxes. It must be light and fibrous, a condition best arrived at by
shaving off the under side of grass sods, and mixing with about twice
the amount of ordinary garden soil and a little fine sand. But as you
are not likely to have a store of sods, and the frozen condition of
the ground will make it difficult to get them, you must substitute
well-rotted cow manure. Have ordinary garden soil carried into some
place warm enough to dissipate all frost, then mix thoroughly with the
pulverised manure and sand. Pass through a fine sieve, and it will be
ready for use.

Even when the hotbed is used, it is better to have small boxes for the
different varieties of seeds, and stand them in the hotbed, instead of
sowing the seed directly in the bed itself, for some varieties take
longer than others to germinate, and it is a difficult problem to
ventilate and water a bed containing a miscellaneous assortment, but
when the seeds are in boxes, they can be removed from the bed during
the warm part of the day, and the difficulty is militated. Boxes should
be about two and a half inches deep, and have a few cracks or holes
in the bottom for drainage. Cover the bottom with a layer of coal
ashes, then fill to within a quarter of an inch of the top with the
potting-mould. Smooth it off evenly, water and stand in a warm place.

Within a few days there will be a crop of weed seedlings. Demolish
them, rewater and allow a few days to elapse on the chance of a second
crop appearing, after which it will be safe to do the planting. It is
a good scheme to use a flour or powdered-sugar shaker for very small
seeds, instead of trying to sow them by hand. When seeds are large
enough to handle individually, like hollyhocks, push them into the soil
with the point of a pencil or a wooden-skewer, half an inch apart in
rows one inch apart.

After the seeds have been placed, scatter mould over them. The amount
has to be determined by the size of the seeds. The general rule is,
twice their own depth; but with the very minute varieties it is better
to put no covering at all.

No matter what the depth of covering, the soil must be pressed firmly
down with a smooth piece of board, cut to fit inside the box. A
desk-blotter or roller is very convenient, and does the work very
evenly. Do not be afraid to press down firmly. The seeds must be
closely imbedded in the soil, otherwise the air will dry up the first
frail sprouts and kill them. After the rolling and pressing, sprinkle
with water, then cover with a piece of glass or paper, and stand in the
hotbed or window.

Covering the boxes with glass or paper is done to retard evaporation.
Seeds must never be allowed to dry out during the time of germination;
watering is so likely to disturb the soil around them that it is to be
avoided if possible, but if it has to be done, use a very fine rose on
the sprinkler, warm water and be very careful.

After the seedlings appear, remove the covering, and when the second
leaves have developed, transplant into fresh boxes if you are depending
on window culture. If you have a hotbed, they can be set in rows from
one to two inches apart, according to the size of the plants.

During the bright warm days the sash of the hotbed should be raised or
entirely removed, but be very watchful of the weather. Spring is such a
treacherous time of year that the warm mornings may develop into frosty
afternoons. Always replace the sash over the hotbed by three o’clock
in the afternoon, and cover with mats before dusk. As soon as the
ground is in condition for the outside nursery beds, dig and thoroughly
cultivate, for the plants which are to be held over for fall sales must
be bedded out as soon as all fear of frost is past, and seeds sown for
the next year’s stock.

The seed-beds in the open ground must be well prepared and made
very fine and fibrous. Sow the seeds in rows and transplant as with
the house seedlings. Beds must all be kept free from weeds and under
good cultivation during the growing season. When severe weather comes
in the fall, cover lightly with leaves or soil, and the plants will
winter safely and be ready for spring sales the following year. The
house-raised seedlings which are to be sold for this year’s bedding can
go into garden beds, but it is really better to put them into small
individual pots, which should be partly submerged in soil or sand.
Customers will usually pay a few cents extra for pot-plants.

There is such an endless variety of perennial plants that it is
impossible to grow them all; in fact, it would be very foolish to
try to do so. Select the best-known and most popular kinds, and have
some of different sizes, so that you can make up selections for beds.
Hollyhocks, foxgloves, golden glow, monk’s-hood all range from three
and a half to five feet in height. After them come phlox, larkspur,
false dragon’s-head, Canterbury bells and bergamot. A step lower are
bleeding-heart, columbine, leopard’s-bane, asters, sweet-williams and
wallflowers. Still lower are Iceland poppies, Japanese primroses,
wake-robin and pansies.

The first year it would add to your profit to grow a few of the
annual varieties in the hotbed collection: Hollyhocks, sweet sultans,
sweet tobacco, asters, wallflowers, mignonette and salvia. Among the
perennials which will flower the first season if seed is sown in boxes
or hotbeds, are monk’s-hood (which is one of the most charming of the
tall blue flowers and comes also in white, and blue-white mixed);
larkspur; Chinese bellflower (large bell-shaped flowers of steel blue,
white and violet); heliotrope and marshmallows (pink, rose colour,
white with crimson spots, and golden yellow with maroon centres)--these
are amongst the most valuable of the first-year bloomers, for they
flower all through the summer. Three of the most fragrant annuals are
sweet tobacco, sweet sultan and mignonette.

Sweet-williams are such old favourites, and are so multicoloured that
I have always been thankful that they flowered the first season.
Meadow-sweet--or goat’s-beard, as it is often called--is white and
fragrant. Blanket-flower grows about two feet high, and has most
gorgeous flowers, dark velvety brown marked with blotches of crimson.
Of course, all the varieties suggested for early house-culture should
also be sown in the open ground in June to produce a plentiful supply
of strong plants for the following year.

[Illustration: JUNE ROSES]



JUNE ROSES


The first luxury we allowed ourselves on the farm was a collection of
roses. We had put aside a sum of money for some necessary repairs,
and when they were completed there were six dollars left, which we
agreed to spend on the garden. One dollar went for perennial seeds,
another for wistaria root. The remaining four were devoted to roses.
We sent for an advertised collection of hardy roses, consisting of
six two-year-old plants for one dollar and twenty cents, two Crimson
Ramblers at fifty cents each and two Dorothy Perkins at fifty cents
apiece, a collection for winter forcing, which were only little
seedlings, and cost forty cents. Lastly, a two-year-old moss rose
was added, which also cost forty cents. Since that time, several
two-year-olds of specially desired varieties have been bought, but the
purchases made with that four dollars really constituted the stock from
which we have populated our own and many other gardens.

The first year the Dorothy Perkins covered about twelve square feet
of sidewall, and all but the winter collection and one of the others
flowered the first season. One hundred slips were taken, and eighty-two
lived. Twenty were sold the following season at ten cents each. The
second year one hundred were sold at five cents each to a local store,
and three dozen at ten cents to odd customers. The winter collection
was not allowed to flower until the second winter; then they were put
into the violet-house, where they did quite well, but as we had neither
time nor desire to undertake any more hothouse work, we never made any
attempt to increase the stock or make any sales. However, rose-growing
for the winter market is carried on quite extensively in our vicinity,
so I have had ample proof of the profit to be derived from the work
when undertaken as a business. But truly, I think growing garden plants
is almost as profitable, and most certainly it is a much easier and
healthier branch of the work. Moreover, it does not require capital,
nor the knowledge required for hothouse culture.

The best soil for roses is that which is rich in vegetable matter, such
as sod, roots and fallen leaves which have been exposed to the action
of the elements long enough to disintegrate and melt into the soil. It
is the condition found in the ground cover of woods and forests, and it
can be simulated at home by means of a compost heap. Old sods, leaves
and all waste vegetable matter are piled up with alternate layers of
garden soil, allowed to remain for several months, then thoroughly
forked and repiled. When it is wanted for use, pass through a coarse
sieve, and mix with one-half its own bulk of cow manure.

If your garden soil is not very good, dig large holes two feet square
and deep. Then fill up with the home-made compost, or soil from the
woods, and old cow manure. When the young plants come from the nursery,
unpack and stand the roots in water. If the ground should not be
ready, or any other cause compels delay in planting, add rich soil
to the water in which the plants are standing, until it is about the
consistency of mud, and keep in that condition until the plants can be
set in their permanent positions out of doors.

Make a hole in the middle of the filled-in space large enough to permit
of the roots being spread out to their full capacity. Never squeeze
plants into a small hole, which necessitates the doubling under of
roots. This applies to all plants as well as roses. After the roots
have been spread out evenly in the hole, scatter soil over them to the
depth of two inches; then water copiously, and after the water has been
absorbed by the soil, fill up with dry earth and firm down thoroughly.

Watering in the middle of the filling-in operation washes the soil
into all the crevices around the rootlets, and insures a supply of
moisture around the plants. Putting in the dry earth above it prevents
evaporation, so that the roots have valuable food while they are
recovering their hold on Mother Earth.

Another point to remember in setting out roots is that an eastern or
northern exposure is to be preferred to a southern exposure, as the
morning sun is better for them than the strong noon-day glare. Keep
the ground as clean and well-cultivated as around tender annuals.

Now we come to the question of food for this gluttonous beauty. Get a
strong barrel and stand it on blocks to raise it to about the height
of a pail above the ground, then tack the mouth of an ordinary burlap
bag securely around the top of the barrel, so that the bottom of the
bag falls to within one inch of the bottom of the barrel. Insert a
common tap just above the lowest hoop, then empty two pailfuls of fresh
cow-droppings into the bag, and pour water over it until the barrel is
full. Let it stand two or three days before using. Dose: Three quarts
of the liquid for each plant every two weeks, from the time they show
life in the spring until September.

Hybrid teas are the variety best adapted to garden culture. They
embrace some of our most beautiful roses, are perfectly hardy and
flower throughout the summer. To this class belong all the Killarney
and Lyon family; La France, Viscountess Folkestone, Mrs. Aaron Ward,
Harry Kirk and about one hundred others. In order to insure free
flowering none must be allowed to fade on the bush. Keep a close watch,
and cut the moment the petals show any sign of withering. Allow long
stalks, as it is the most natural way of pruning these plants and
insures a supply lasting until frost.

Crimson Ramblers I have discarded entirely, for their blossoming period
is short, and their foliage is not attractive. Dorothy Perkins and
Hiawatha both grow rapidly and are better in every respect.

Two years ago, I bought one plant of the new German climber, Thousand
Beauties, which is rightly named, for it is a mass of blossom, and it
is like having twenty plants in one, as it bears flowers of all shades,
from white to deep crimson. It was a constant wonder and delight the
whole of last summer and made quite as much growth as any of the other
climbers, so I really think it is worth a place in any collection.

In the fall, all bushes are given a conservative pruning, by which
I mean that only some of the old wood is removed--not all--and that
the rampant young growth is cut back to about half its length. After
the ground is frozen, a heavy covering of cow manure is put around
the plants at a distance of two or three feet, according to the size
of the bush, and at Christmas-time, before the really severe weather
comes, fallen leaves are spread over that, and a few cedar branches, to
prevent their being blown away. In the spring, as soon as the ground
can be worked, the manure and leaves are worked into the soil, and any
branches which have been winter-killed are cut off.

Our collection has been enlarged entirely through cuttings. I cut
off about six inches from the end of branches, close to a bud. These
cuttings are allowed to stand in water for two or three days, then
planted in shallow boxes filled with moist, rich soil, and kept in
a light, warm cellar, where the temperature averages about fifty
degrees. The following year they are planted out into nursery beds
until August, when they are set out in their permanent homes. Last
summer I transplanted ten straight from the cellar into a garden bed,
and by July they were two and a half feet high, and bore from four to
seven blossoms each from August to September 15th, when we had a hard,
frosty night, which checked all development.

If cuttings are intended for winter forcing, proceed as before until
the second spring, then transplant into pots, which should be plunged
to the rim in the ground.

About once a week turn the pots around, to prevent any roots which may
force their way through the bottom of the pot from getting a hold on
the ground. At the same time nip off any flower buds which may appear.
Feed well, to promote growth, and about July have the benches in the
hothouse filled up with rich soil, to which has been added a goodly
percentage of silver sand. Remove the plants from the pots, and set out
about fifteen inches apart. Of course, the fire must not be started in
the heating apparatus, and all windows and doors must be kept open, so
that the plants have plenty of air, and during the hot, close days,
they should be lightly sprayed three or four times a day. After the
first of September there is danger of frost, so it is best to close
the windows at night, but the principal desire is to keep the plants
cool to permit their growth until the fires are lighted and forcing
really begins, which should be about October. When the fires are first
lighted, keep the temperature down to about fifty-five degrees,
increase slowly to sixty-five, then to seventy.

Watering is a great problem, and nothing but practice can really teach
you the exact proportions. The only general instruction is: The plant
must never be allowed to dry out, nor must it ever be too wet. A spray
for green fly and other insects should be used in the evening, once or
twice a week, from the time the plants are taken from the garden into
the house.



LAVENDER AND HERBS


There should be an herb bed in every garden, for their usefulness is
manifold. Ye dames of olden times knew and estimated their value,
but when housewifery was metamorphosed into domestic science, the
traditional law of our grandmothers sank into derision, and many
factors of homey comfort might forever have been buried in oblivion had
not some wise person started a craze for old furniture. That aroused a
general interest in the old-time housewifery, and resulted in a revival
of half-forgotten arts, the hardy garden and herb bed being among them.

I spent most of my schoolday holidays at my grandmother’s place in
Yorkshire, England, where many of the customs of Queen Anne’s time
remain unchanged. So to me lavender and herbs seemed indispensable
in a self-respecting household, and as soon as I owned a garden they
were installed. Perhaps you never experienced the delight of sleeping
between sheets redolent of sweet herbs, so don’t know what you are
missing. At grandmother’s, sheer muslin bags were filled with lavender,
thyme and rosemary, and kept in every cupboard, bureau drawer and
chest. Large jars filled with rose-leaves and mignonette, all the herbs
and many spices were stowed in the sitting-rooms and halls, and the
lids were removed for about half an hour after sweeping and dusting
were completed, so a faint, indescribable perfume permeated the whole
house, and was most delightful. Punk sticks and pastils have such a
positive odour that after a time one becomes very tired of them, but
herbal odours, being delicate and indescribable, merely suggest the
freshness of meadow lands in June, and invigorate the senses instead of
wearying.

The herb then is invaluable for all sorts of complexion and hair
washes. Even Helen of Troy’s beauty was attributed to their use. As
disinfectants--well, the plague was supposed to be banished from Athens
by the air being purified with aromatic herbs, and during the great
plague in England in Elizabeth’s time, little balls of perfume paste
encased in silver, gold or ivory, open-worked lockets or pomades were
worn suspended round the neck or carried in the pockets, and during an
outbreak of smallpox, grandmamma brought forth several such inherited
treasures and filled them with a compound made of beeswax, herbs and
spices, and we all wore them in the old way. What influence they
exercised over the dreaded disease I do not pretend to gauge, but we
all escaped. Separate or mingled fate and superstition has made me use
such compounds whenever travelling or knowingly exposed to infection.
Even medical men don’t deny the benefit of sweet odours, or their value
as disinfectants, so why should not we enjoy the undoubted pleasure
when it only means a few packages of seeds and a little trouble.

Lavender is hardy when it is once firmly established, but it is not
the easiest perennial to start in this country. At first I bought
nursery stock, but out of two dozen plants which I got from four
different sources during two years, only one lived, and that was
always a semi-invalid, so I resorted to the slower method of sowing
seed. In March, a shallow box was filled with potting mould thoroughly
soaked with water, then covered with about one-fourth of an inch of
soil, patted down firmly, the box covered with glass, and placed in
a west window. As soon as seedlings appeared the glass was removed,
but they were shaded from the direct sun and slightly sprinkled every
morning. When two inches high they were transplanted to a deeper box
and set two inches apart. About two months later they were transplanted
to a partly-shaded seed-bed in the garden, and the last two leaves
were nipped off each plant to insure a bushy growth. Cultivation was
constant all through the summer until August, when they were again
transplanted--this time into a bed which was to be their permanent
home--a border partly shaded by shrubs. It happened to be a very dry
summer, so they were sprinkled every evening. When cool weather set in,
leaves were scattered between the plants, and the quantity increased as
the weather became more severe. In the spring the mulch was removed,
and a little bone meal raked into the ground around the plants. The
ground must be covered every winter, and it is well to have a dressing
of well-rotted cow manure dug into the bed during the early fall.

In June or July we always have huge quantities of flowers. We have
never marketed any of them, but they have formed the basis of many
Christmas and birthday presents. Ten pounds of lavender flowers, and
one pound each of musk, thyme, rosemary and mint leaves, all dried, and
mixed with one ounce of ground cloves, was grandmamma’s formula for
moth-bags which preserved our furs and woollens just as effectually as
camphor balls or tar mixtures.

Sage is needed for pork, duck and goose dressings, and is one of the
very best tonics for the hair: the broad leaf variety is the best to
grow. It will save time to buy the plants; they only cost ten cents
each, are very easy to establish, and quite hardy. Three plants will
be sufficient for a home supply. Set out three feet apart in a partly
shaded situation. There are two varieties of thyme; both should find
a place in the garden, the broad leaf English in the herb-bed for
flavoring stews and soups; the almond-scented in the flower garden,
for it is a pretty variegated plant which remains green all through
the year, and is used only for sachets and potpourri. Both varieties
are perennials, but if sown early in the spring will mature the first
season. The seed should be sown in rows nine inches apart, on rich soil
which has been worked into a fine, loose condition, with a fine garden
rake, and later smoothed off with a board or the back of a spade. Mark
the rows by pressing the edge of a board on to the ground. Don’t make
a furrow, as the seed is very small. Next, sprinkle thoroughly, using
a fine rose on the water-can. Keep the can moving back and forth until
the ground is thoroughly saturated to the depth of an inch. Wait for an
hour, then scatter the seed thinly on the marked lines, and cover about
the sixteenth of an inch with dry, fine soil. It is a good plan to fill
the flour-dredger with soil, and shake it over the rows, for then you
are sure of its being evenly distributed. After the seed is covered,
put a board over the row, and press gently, to insure the seeds being
firmed into the ground.

Thyme, marjoram--in fact, all small seeds--do better if they are
partly shaded. I make long, narrow frames of slats, and cover them
with unbleached muslin, then drive a few sticks into each side of the
row, and lay the frames over them. For safety against wind-storms, it
is well to put a few nails through the frames into the sticks. About
eleven o’clock it is advisable to sprinkle the muslin over the frames
with water, as the evaporation prevents the seedlings becoming too dry.
If time won’t permit making the frames, spread two or three thicknesses
over the rows, using stones to hold them in place, or mulch with lawn
clippings. I like the former the best, because they are easy to remove,
and are not so untidy as a grass mulch, which dries and blows about.

When the seedlings are well established--which is when they have got
their second pair of leaves and are an inch high--the mulch will have
to be removed, but if the frames are used, they can remain for another
week.

Rosemary is another perennial, and the plants can easily be got from
any nursery, but if you want to raise some seed, proceed exactly as for
thyme. After you have one well-grown plant, it is better to propagate
by cutting than to raise from seed. They require rich soil, and a
sunny position, and need some light protection during the winter. The
whole plant is aromatic, but the flowers are the strongest. It is
the essential oil which is distilled from them that is the principal
ingredient of eau de cologne. A cupful each of lavender, thyme,
rosemary and mint, steeped in two quarts of hot water for two hours,
strained and added to a warm bath, banishes fatigue in a miraculous
way, and in cases of long convalescence, a cupful of the mixture in the
sponge bath is most gratifying and refreshing to the invalid.

Summer savory is an annual. It must be sown in shallow drills nine
inches apart, in early summer. Sweet marjoram is a perennial, and
should receive the same culture as lavender. Both are used for
flavouring, stuffings and soups. Bane, saffron and wormwood belong to
the poultry department principally. The first are annuals, the last
perennial. Borage is an annual which gives just the piquant fillip to
salads and summer drinks which epicures delight in, and bees simply
adore it. Plant in dry, sandy soil. Dill and tarragon must not be
left out of the herb collection, for they improve the pickles, and
are necessary for many sauces. They are both annuals of easy culture,
and will grow in any garden. Sow in rows ten inches apart, and thin
when plants get second leaves. To make tarragon vinegar, gather a pint
of the young sprigs, wash, and pour two quarts of malt vinegar over
them. Let it stand two or three weeks, strain, and if not quite strong
enough, add fresh sprigs. Strain after two weeks, and bottle for use.

Spearmint requires moist soil. We grow it in large quantities, as we
have a good market for it at five cents a bunch during the spring
and summer. It is positively no trouble after it is introduced into
congenial soil, for it spreads rapidly, and needs no cultivation beyond
the cutting what is necessary for market.

Don’t make the mistake of transplanting the common wild mint, for
usually the flavour is more like peppermint than spearmint, which is
the variety demanded for sauces. We bought three plants originally,
which cost fifteen cents each, and now it covers about fifty feet of
one side of the back garden, where the ground is moist and shaded by
some old quince trees.



GROWING WATERCRESS


Watercress is in constant demand the year round in the markets of all
large cities, so it is a salable crop which should especially appeal
to the commuter class of farmers, as it must be freshly gathered to be
at its best, and naturally cannot be shipped long distances to market,
which is perhaps the principal reason for its being such a profitable
crop. In France and England, watercress farms are quite numerous,
especially in the vicinity of Paris and London; but in this country
it is only just beginning to be cultivated to any great extent, the
principal market supply being furnished by Italians who take short
journeys into the country and gather it from the ponds and streams
where it grows wild. Under such circumstances it is not surprising that
the leaves of poisonous water plants are often found in bunches offered
for sale in the public markets. We have supplied our egg customers
and one hotel with cress for four years, and never received less than
five cents a bunch--usually ten cents--and from November to March from
twelve to fifteen cents for a good-sized bunch.

Like a good many of the side lines which have brought grist to our
mill, it developed from an apparent accident. There was a large wild
bed in the stream which ran through the lower meadows, from which we
gathered cress during the spring and summer. Chancing down a wagon-road
one day in January, we were astonished to see lots of fresh green
sprigs growing under the meagre shelter of a low log bridge which
crossed the brook. We accepted the hint, and determined to protect
enough of the brook the following year to supply us with fresh salad
through the winter. Some time in October, brush was piled up for a
distance of about six feet on each side of the stream. In November,
when the nights commenced to be really cold, we made some frames out of
thin cedar poles, interlaced them with strong cedar branches, and then
placed them over the stream, with the ends resting on the brush, which
elevated them about nine inches above the cress. Though primitive, the
arrangement proved beyond doubt that forcing watercress was practicable.

During that winter we often put a little cress around the poultry which
was being shipped to private customers, and so many requests came for
a regular supply that we concluded it would pay to increase the beds.
But as the stream was some distance from the house, and accessible to
the cows when they were in the lower pasture, we resolved to utilize
the escape from the spring-house, which was never failing. It had up
to that time been carried off by a tile-drain under the side lawn.
Operations were commenced by digging a ditch three feet wide, one foot
deep. At first it was only made fifty feet long; subsequently it was
increased to one hundred feet. As the ground was heavy clay, we carted
clean sand from a bank at the other end of the farm, and covered the
bottom of the ditch to the depth of three inches to form a seed-bed,
and also to militate the usual creepy-crawly brook creatures.

At every five feet of the ditch, sluices were inserted--just box-like
arrangements, made out of rough boards, one of which could be raised
and lowered at will, so that the amount of water in each five-foot
section would be under control. When the ditch and sluices were
completed, a trap divided through the middle was put in front of the
escape from the spring-house to divide the flow of water, and one
length of the tile at each end of the trap carried it to the opposite
sides of the ditch to insure even distribution.

It is a special stone building, twelve feet square, used for milk and
butter. The floor is about three feet below the ground, and a gutter,
fourteen inches wide and twelve inches deep, runs all round the four
sides, and is kept continually full of cold running water from a spring
situated about three feet to the right of the house. The water is
divided by a stone as it enters the house, and goes to the right or
left in the gutter until it reaches the escape at the opposite side
of the house. The floor and gutter are made of stone, so the place is
beautifully clean and very like an old-country dairy.

After the beds had been thoroughly saturated with water, all but the
merest dribble was shut off. Roots from the meadow brook were taken up,
washed carefully in fresh water to remove the before-mentioned creepy
creatures, and then set out in the sand at the bottom of the ditch.
Field stones were placed on the roots of each plant to prevent their
being dislodged by the action of the water before they had had time to
establish an anchorage. After two weeks the whole supply of water was
allowed to run into the ditch, and it covered the bottom to a depth of
five inches.

Fully one-half the plants died and had to be replanted, but the
following year the entire ditch was a solid mass of cress. The leaves
were much larger, and the flavour much better, than the cress had ever
been in its wild state. Of course, if the best price was to be obtained
in the winter, our desire was to force the crop at that season. We
built sides fifteen inches deep to the ditch, using rough slabs, which
only cost us fifty cents a load from the sawmill in the woods. Then we
used the ordinary cold-frame sash over the top.

After the beds are once established, their cultivation consists in
cutting, and nothing else; and, as the cutting is necessary for
the market supply, it is really truer to call it harvesting than
cultivating; though neglecting to cut the beds regularly as soon as
they are four inches high will ruin a bed very rapidly, as the plants
grow thick-stemmed and sprawly.

We find that old beds as a rule are not as profitable as young ones,
so we make a practice of renewing three or four sections every year.
The method is to withhold water in July until the plants die, then pull
them up, after which the bottom of the ditch is dug over to let in the
air and sweeten the ground. After a lapse of two or three days, it
is raked down level again, and a few loads of fresh sand spread over
the bottom, saturated with water as before, though, instead of old
roots, we now use slips three inches long, taken from the ends of old
branching plants. They root very quickly, and make better plants than
the old roots.

Twice we have started an entirely new stock from the seed, and think
the result quite worthy of the extra trouble. The seed is very light
and small, so it is best to start it in shallow pans filled with sand,
which must, of course, be kept saturated with water, but not submerged.

May or June is the best season for this planting, for then plants
are large enough to transplant into beds in July, and will be well
established before the forcing season.

For a small home supply through the winter, half-barrels or wash-tubs
may be used. Half fill them with sandy soil and stand in a light, warm
cellar. Set slips four inches apart in August, and keep perpetually
moist. If you have no means of getting slips, buy seed from any good
seedsman. Start in shallow pans in June.

I saw an item in a paper, not long ago, which estimated that an acre
of watercress, at its present market prices, would bring from four to
five hundred dollars a year.

Watercress should be carefully prepared for market. Gather and bunch
at once, to prevent unnecessary handling. Cut the stalks evenly after
the bunches are tied up, and pack in light crates lined with hay or
moss. Place bunches closely together in rows, with hay or moss between
layers. Ship on late trains if they have to go by express, to avoid
exposure to the heat of the sun during transit. When small quantities
are going to private customers, pack in strawberry or grape boxes, as
there is less likelihood of the cress heating and spoiling when packed
in this way.



MY EXPERIENCE WITH BEES


The old-fashioned hive was so inconvenient and wasteful that many
people who date their knowledge of bee-keeping from the old homestead
will find it difficult to believe that apiculture has developed into a
practical, money-making industry during the last twenty years, until
now the average amount of honey put on the market each year is upward
of a hundred million pounds, representing a money value of from eight
to ten million dollars.

In a favourable locality one hive, with its average colony of
thirty-five thousand workers and a queen, will turn out from thirty to
forty pounds, besides the fifteen or twenty necessary to feed the hive
through the winter.

The vicious temper of the old-time black bee has much to do with the
neglect of this profitable industry. The Italian bees are, however, so
much better as honey-gatherers that they are almost universally kept
now, and are so gentle in disposition that even a nervous person can
easily learn to manipulate them without fear of stings.

The principal honey-producing plants in our Eastern states are fruit
bloom of all kinds, locust, white clover, crimson clover, basswood,
sumac, goldenrod, buckwheat, sunflowers, grapes and asters. Of these,
clover, basswood and buckwheat provide the bulk of our honey crop
in most localities, although large yields are often obtained from
others. Fruit bloom, though yielding much honey, comes so early in
the season that it is mostly consumed by the bees in brood-rearing.
Clover commences the last of May, lasts several weeks, and yields a
light-coloured honey of fine flavour. Basswood blooms the first part of
July, lasts about ten days, and produces a very white honey. Buckwheat
blooms in August and the first part of September. It gives a dark-red
honey with a strong flavour.

My apiary started with three hives, bought for two dollars at a farm
auction. I knew nothing about bees or hives at the time; the owner was
not there to be questioned, so it was a truly risky proceeding, not
to be recommended. But if chance makes it possible to pick up one or
two good hives of the box, movable-frame style, and bees of any sort
for a few dollars, take them and improve the stock by introducing good
Italian queens, which can be bought for two dollars and fifty cents
each from any bee-supply house. They can be shipped through the mail in
small cages.

When an Italian queen is introduced into a hive of common bees in
May or June there will be no sign of the original occupants in the
fall. For the working bees are such indefatigable toilers that during
blossom-time they usually wear themselves out in about six weeks, and
most certainly never survive more than twelve. The drones are driven
from the hive to die whenever any of the different blossom crops
which supply honey are on the decline. Queens live for years, but as
perpetuators of their race are only to be relied upon for three years.

If your immediate neighbourhood cannot furnish stock to start with, the
best plan is to send for frames of nuclei and a queen. One frame would
cost three dollars, and hardly contains sufficient bees to build up a
strong colony, therefore it is better to send for three frames, which
will make a splendid start, and only cost an additional one dollar and
fifty cents. If purchased in June or July they will have multiplied
so considerably by the time buckwheat is in blossom that you will be
able to build up a second colony. Of course, a hive filled with a full
complement of bees can be bought, but would cost at least ten dollars.
Express charges would be very expensive, as bees come under the head of
live creatures, and double rates must be paid. The frames of nuclei are
packed in light cases which cost less than half.

A hive must be ready to receive the little travellers on their arrival,
and here again it is advisable to consider express charges. One hive
ready for use will cost two dollars and sixty cents, and almost as much
expressage as five hives “in the flat,” as dealers call it, and the
five hives can be had for nine dollars and twenty-five cents. Nails
of the correct size and full instructions are sent with the hive, so
even a feminine amateur will find it quite easy to put them together.
I use two-story, dovetailed hives, which consist of a cover, bottom,
brood-chamber and two supers. Bees are best kept in a quiet corner of
the garden, or under the trees in the orchard, where they are protected
from the noon-day sun and east winds. When we had only two or three
hives they stood on a shelf in an open-fronted shelter, which was made
from a large packing-case bought from the general store for twenty
cents. In the winter we packed straw or leaves around the hives, and
set up boards in front, which leaned against the top of the case,
and sloped out a few inches at the ground. This was to keep out the
snow and rain and yet allow plenty of ventilation. Now that hives are
scattered through the orchard, we simply slip each into a case a little
larger than itself, and set up a board in front. Further south no
protection will be required, but in the North it would be advisable to
carry the hives into a dry, well-ventilated cellar for the winter. The
only drawback to the latter plan is that the bees may become restless
quite early in the spring, so the condition of hives should be watched.

A small hand-mirror held at the opening of the hive, and a light held
in the other hand so that it will shine into the hive, will enable you
to see what is going on inside. If the bees appear restless, it is a
sure sign that they need more air. Opening the cellar windows after
dark on a moderate night will usually supply all the ventilation that
is necessary, until the middle or end of March, when it is best to let
the bees have a cleansing flight if they still appear restless. It is
not very much trouble, when only a few hives are kept, to carry them
out on a warm day and place them where they stood last fall. It should
be done early in the morning and as carefully as possible, so as not
to disturb the inmates, who will gradually arouse as the sun gains
strength, and take flight. This will relieve the intestines of the
waste matter which has caused their restlessness. After the sun has
gone down in the evening, carry the hives back into the cellar, and the
bees will be quiet until spring is sufficiently advanced to warrant
putting them out for the season, which is usually when soft maples and
willows commence to furnish pollen.

As soon as the days are warm in spring we go through the hives and give
them a general clean-up. If a hive appears to be short of honey, a comb
from a hive that is well supplied is removed and given to it, and as
some bees are sure to have died during the winter, some colonies will
be stronger than others, so things must be evened up. When a hive has
more than five frames filled with brood, one or two are taken out and
placed in hives having less than five frames filled with brood. A great
advantage of the modern frame-hive is this being able to take out and
put in brood, and later add supers and empty sections as the original
ones are filled with honey.

A bee’s life is apparently a most accurately prearranged existence,
filled with allotted duties, which are intuitively understood and
unerringly performed. There is only one queen allowed in each colony,
and she lays all the eggs, the workers being imperfectly-developed
females. Drones are the masculine members of the population, lazy
fellows, whom the workers have to feed, hence the reason for their
being expelled from the hive whenever food is scarce.

The queen is truly a royal personage, who only leaves the hive to take
what is called the nuptial flight, when she meets some drone in midair,
and returns to become the sole mother of the hive. She is always
guarded by a small retinue of attendants, who feed and care for her as
she wanders from cell to cell, depositing an egg in each with untiring
zeal. The egg develops into a tiny grub-like worm, which is fed for
seven days by young workers; then the cell is capped over by another
set of workers, the grub being left undisturbed for eleven or twelve
days, by which time it has developed into a full-fledged bee, which
gnaws its way out of the cell, and at once takes up the duties of life.
For six or seven days its time is devoted to feeding the newly-hatched
eggs, then, for about the same length of time, building combs and
cleaning the hives, after which it is evidently considered strong
enough to leave the hive and commence the arduous task of gathering
honey. The queen is exempt from all work.

Within a week or two after a virgin queen has taken her nuptial flight,
the hive should be opened and the frames removed, one by one, and
examined until the queen is found. She can be distinguished from the
others by the length of her body and the way the other bees cluster
around her. Pick her up very gently by the back, being careful not to
squeeze her abdomen, and with a pair of sharp scissors clip both wings
on one side of her body. This insures a short flight at swarming-time.
When she again issues from the hive, usually the excited condition of
the bees will indicate when this is going to take place, and as the
queen cannot fly with her cut wings, you will have little trouble, for
she will be found on the ground near the hive, with a group of bees
around her, and the full swarm not far away. Approach very quietly, and
place a small wire trap over the queen. The traps are sold by all the
bee-supply firms, and cost twenty-five cents. Place the trap in the
opening of the hive you desire the swarm to occupy, cautiously approach
the full swarm, and with a soft broom sweep the bees into the hive if
the position they occupy makes it possible; if not, use a box or pan,
and carry them to the hive and empty them in front. They will soon
commence to occupy the new home. The slide of the queen trap can be
opened, and the bees inside will settle down to business.

After the first swarm, early in the season, it is advisable to take
every possible means to prevent after-swarms. Want of room is the main
cause for old bees leaving a hive, so a great deal may be accomplished
by careful manipulation of the frames. The lower part of the hive is
devoted to brood-rearing; the other part is composed of the frames
which hold the section-boxes. Section-boxes are the small square cases
in which comb-honey is marketed.

Among the modern inventions in apiculture is the comb foundation, or
starter, as it is sometimes called. In the old days bees had to supply
all the wax to build the combs. Now it is bought with the cells ready
started, and the bees have only to draw them out and finish off the
work, which of course saves the little workers much time, and enables
them to store more honey. What is termed medium foundation is used in
the brood-frames, and thin or extra thin in the section-boxes. Bees
will sometimes ignore extra space when added above the frames where
they have been working, so it is advisable to raise the top super, and
insert another one below it. This supplying empty sections materially
mitigates swarming, but does not always prevent it. It is the
after-swarms that it is so important to check, as they are of little
use, seldom being able to gather sufficient stores to keep them through
the winter. In September all hives should be examined, and if any have
less than twenty-five pounds of honey, artificial feeding must be
resorted to. Make a syrup of equal quantities of sugar and water; heat
slowly, stirring all the time, being very careful not to let it scorch,
for burnt syrup means destruction to the bees. Allow it to cool, and
then fill what is known as a Miller feeder, which costs thirty-five
cents, and fits into any of the movable-frame hives.

[Illustration: A CELLAR STORE ROOM]



STORING FRUIT AND VEGETABLES


At least one-half of the profit to be derived from living in the
country materialises in winter when fruit and vegetables can be struck
from the family living expenses, so the keeping and storing of the
garden and orchard products are of great importance to the housewife
who wants to make the home furnish current expenses. To keep well,
things must be gathered at the moment between full development and
complete ripeness, for, if development is not complete, fruit and
vegetables shrink and wither; if completely ripe, they decay rapidly.

The house cellar, attic, or a root-cellar or pit in the garden are all
available on a country place, and all suitable for different things.
The cellar is best for storing fruits and vegetables. Long ago we had
racks made of two-by-two scantling--some six feet long, others three
feet, and both two feet wide--to put under barrels and boxes to lift
them from the ground and allow a free current of air to circulate
underneath them as a protection against damp and mildew. To economise
space, we had boxes, ten feet long and ten inches deep, fixed in tiers
of three, with one foot of space between. The frames which supported
them were also made of two-by-two scantling, and reached from the
rafters of the ceiling to the ground.

The keeping of early fruits, like currants, strawberries, and
raspberries, depends principally upon the cook’s skill, for they have
to be canned and made into preserves and jellies. Get into the habit
of doing such work in small quantities--from a quart to six quarts, or
even a pint, as the day’s gathering may provide. The habit of waiting
for the height of the season, when a big gathering is possible, is
frequently the cause of home-canned goods spoiling, because some of the
fruit is almost sure to be overripe, and that means that fermentation
or mould will set in, in a short time, and ruin the entire boiling.

After wiping and labelling the jars, they must be kept in a cool, dark
place. We have a big cupboard at the back of the outside section of the
cellar, where all such goods are kept. Begin with asparagus, which is
best packed into jars filled with salt and water, and cooked in a steam
boiler for an hour and a half. Peas are shelled, and about two quarts
of the hulls and a sprig of mint are boiled in four quarts of water for
thirty minutes, then strained, the water brought to the boiling-point,
salted to taste, and the peas boiled slowly in it for thirty minutes.
Fill the jars to overflowing, and screw down the tops at once. Beans
must be strung and sliced and boiled in salted water, as for table,
or packed in two-inch layers, with a sprinkling of salt between, in a
stone crock. Put a plate or a stone on top of the beans to keep them
under the brine, and cover closely. When wanted for use, soak in fresh
cold water overnight and cook in the usual way.

Gathering and packing is of the greatest importance in keeping fruit.
The most favourable time is when the fruit has attained its full growth
and colour, which is several days before it is quite ripe. All fruit
should be handled with the greatest care; the slightest bruise or
scratch starts a condition which will develop rot. A high extension
ladder, a high step-ladder, and an agile boy are the requisites for
picking. When possible, choose a bright, cool day, have the boxes and
barrels ready, and press all help into service. Before allowing anyone
to pick apples, teach him how. Take the apple lightly, turn it slowly,
and press upward, so that the stem is severed from the branch, not from
fruit.

Whoever does the climbing should discard shoes, for they are apt to
injure the bark of the tree, which always causes later troubles.
A shallow bag, slung across the body sling-fashion, is the best
receptacle for the picker to use, because it leaves both hands free.
The work is greatly facilitated if two people can pick, two pack,
and a fifth take the fruit from the pickers to the packers. Have two
bag-slings for each person picking, so that the collector can take the
full one and hand up an empty one, which saves emptying the fruit into
a basket.

The packers and the barrels, or boxes, should stand side by side, with
a box of convenient height and size turned upside down to act as a
table on which to place the sling-bags when full. The best apples
are packed in small boxes, with paper between the layers. The second
quality are put into barrels. Put a layer of hay in the bottom of the
barrel, fill it with the fruit, and end with a layer of hay. The small
ones may be used for cider and for feeding stock.

Onions are ready to harvest when the tops fall down and dry. Choose a
dry day to dig them up. Leave the bulbs lying on the ground for several
days, then carry into a shed, where they can be spread out for two or
three days more, while the work of cutting off the roots and tops is
being completed. We have a room over the woodshed which we use for
onions, as they are apt to sprout in a cellar that is moist enough to
keep other root-crops in good condition. We had tiers of shelves, made
of slats, put up all round the walls, on which the onions are spread
out, and, as a precaution against frost, they are covered with bags or
dry autumn leaves as severe weather approaches. Bore holes about nine
inches apart in the sides of the barrels; fill with the onions, leaving
the head of the barrel off, and stand in any unused room.

Potatoes should be dug as soon as the tops die down. Choose a dry,
bright day and cart at once into a dark place to dry. Don’t leave them
in the light on the field, but spread out for a few days, then pack
them in the cellar in barrels which have a few holes bored in them, or
in bins which have a bottom made of slats.

Carrots, turnips and beets should be packed in boxes or on tiers of box
shelves. In either case, they should be well covered with sand or soil
to prevent the roots shrivelling. Put a few boards in a sunny place,
and stand the squash and pumpkins on them. They should stay there
about a week or ten days, and be covered at night with bags or an old
blanket, after which put them in some dry, cool place.

Cauliflowers are pulled up with as much soil as may be attached to the
roots, and hung head down from ceiling of the cellar; Brussels sprouts,
the same. Cabbage is pulled up in the same way and packed in rows of
two or three abreast on the cellar floor. These are for use in very
bad weather. The main quantity is stacked in a pit in the garden and
covered with earth, straw and brush.

Celery is partly protected by being earthed up for bleaching, so it can
be left in the garden until the first of October, or even the fifteenth
if mild, but it must be brought in before heavy frost. About nine
inches of soil is spread on the floor all along one side of the cellar.
The celery is dug and brought in with what earth adheres to the roots,
and then set in the soil just as if the plants were expected to grow,
only they are put very close together and about three abreast. When the
row is completed, boards are set upon end, the full length of the row,
and another set of heads is packed in the same way, each additional row
being divided by boards. This is done to prevent the celery heating,
and rot setting in, as would be the case if the entire mass was
allowed to touch. After the setting-up is all done, earth is scattered
heavily between the heads.

There is usually a large quantity of green tomatoes still on the vines
in the fall, and the full-sized ones can be packed in shallow boxes,
with paper between the layers, and kept in a cool, dark place. Later in
the season bring out a few at a time to ripen in the window of a warm
room.

Grapes must be carefully cut, the bunches examined and any faulty
grapes removed with a pair of scissors. Put slats across a box about
two inches from the top, tying the bunches of grapes to the slats
and letting them hang down into the box, leaving a space between the
bunches. Fill the box up with finely-cut tissue-paper and keep on the
shelf in the cellar.

The cellar for storing fruit must be well ventilated and free from
damp, though a cement cellar is apt to be too dry, which causes the
fruit to shrivel. In such a case, stand a tub or a couple of pails
of water in the cellar, and do not fail to change it once or twice
a month. A dry cellar with an earthen floor is usually about right,
though, if rapid thaws occur during the early spring, such a floor is
likely to become very damp; as a remedy, put one or two wide, shallow
boxes, filled with unslaked lime, into the cellar, which will absorb
the moisture.



FORCING RHUBARB AND ASPARAGUS


We had little more than settled on the farm when I read an article in
some farm paper about forcing rhubarb in a dark cellar. There was a
lot of rhubarb in the garden, and a lot of room in the cellar. Several
roots were dug up and packed in one corner of the section we kept for
vegetables, but as the article had not mentioned that any heat was
necessary, and that it was necessary to expel all light, the venture
was not a success, for there was a window in the wall near the chosen
corner, which allowed the light to shine right on the roots, and the
temperature was much too cold. There were dozens of spindly little
stalks, with large green leaves at their ends, but nothing worthy the
name of pie-plant.

However, before the following winter I had secured technical knowledge
and vicarious experience, to start on. The window was boarded up, and
two lanterns were kept burning near the roots. We had rhubarb charlotte
and rhubarb pies, and stewed rhubarb for breakfast, just as often as we
liked, from December until March, and what is more to the purpose, we
sold eighty-two dollars’ worth.

After we built the mushroom-cellar, a section was partitioned off
for rhubarb and asparagus, and both became profitable adjuncts to our
winter income. One great advantage about both of these crops for home
use is that there is no necessity to use manure or any great amount of
moisture, and for that reason there is no objectionable odour to sift
through into the living-rooms.

Naturally, when large quantities are to be raised for market, it
is better to have a special room for work, but even that does not
necessitate any serious outlay. A neighbour built a house twenty-eight
feet long on the dugout plan, on a side-hill at the back of his house;
just boarded up the front and ends with rough slabs, which cost him two
dollars and fifty cents. Three rolls of tar-paper, at one dollar and
ten cents each, were used to exclude light and draft. Stove-pipe cost
another two dollars. He had an old stove, but even if he had had to buy
one, it would only have meant another eight or ten dollars, and the
first crop brought him in one hundred and thirty dollars.

There is often some old building around a farm which can be utilised
for this work, but if there is no hillside or building available, it
is better to excavate to a depth of three feet, making the house about
nine feet wide and as long as you like. This will allow a two-foot path
through the middle, and a little more than three feet on each side,
in which to store the roots. Side-walls need be only a foot above the
ground, but it is best to have a peaked roof, the centre of which is
three and a half feet above ground, so that there will be plenty of
headroom in the centre of the house.

Place a door at one end, with an extension shed and storm door beyond
it, unless the house can be built adjoining some shed or outbuilding
into which the door may open. Cover the ends and roof with tar-paper,
and bank the sides up with earth. Then in the centre of the house make
a pit, about two feet below the floor and large enough for a stove to
stand in, and run the pipe from a double elbow to each end of the house.

The reason for making the pit for the stove to stand in is to get the
pipe as near the ground as possible. It is possible to do without the
stove if the floor of the house is covered with manure and a goodly
supply is packed around the sides of the house, but as that would be
more expensive and much more laborious, I advise you to adopt the
stove plan, especially as it involves none of the harrowing niceties
usually attached to running hothouse heating apparatus, there being no
water-pipes to freeze or injury to crops if the fire happens to run
down or even go out altogether. My neighbour, who built the house on
the side hill, tells me that he had no coal-stove at first, and used
the kerosene cooking-stove from his summer kitchen.

Having decided where and what quantity is to be raised next winter,
the preliminary work must be begun at once. If you have a lot of old
roots in the garden, dig up the greater number just as soon as it
is possible to put a spade in the ground, and cut the roots into
good-sized chunks, being careful to leave from two to four eyes (embryo
buds, which are unmistakable) in each clump.

If you have a strip of ground on which corn or potatoes were grown last
year, scatter barn-yard manure over it. If it is heavy loam, plough
deeply, but if light sandy soil, the furrows need not be more than six
inches deep, and in addition to the barn-yard fertiliser it will be
well to use a heavy dressing of wood ashes. We spread the barn-yard
manure about three inches deep all over the surface of the ground
before ploughing, then broadcast ashes, harrowing up and down, leave
for about two weeks, and then harrow from side to side.

When in good condition, the ground must be marked off into rows about
four feet apart. Run the plough twice in the same furrow, and the
trench will be deep enough to admit of a little more manure being
scattered, then covered lightly with soil before the plants are put in.
Set them three feet apart. Cultivate well through the summer to keep
clean and promote growth.

Cut out any flower-stalks which may appear, for one flower-stalk takes
more strength from the root than twenty fruit-stalks, so they should
never be allowed to mature, even in the ordinary garden-beds.

The clumps left undisturbed for the summer supply should have a good
dressing of manure worked into the ground around them now and again
after the gathering season is over, so that they will be in good
condition to go into the cellar in December.

When old clumps have been divided and set out in April, they will be
large and strong enough to use for forcing the following December,
but if young nursery plants have to be bought, it is better to defer
forcing until the second winter.

About November 15th we dig up the roots and leave them to be frozen;
then about December 1st, or even a little earlier if the nights have
been frosty, one-half the roots are piled up in a shed, and the other
half packed on the earth floor of the forcing-house. A little earth is
scattered between them, and then they are sprinkled with water in which
nitrate of soda has been dissolved, one ounce of the latter to one
gallon of water.

The stove is started, a wash-boiler of water put on, and then the work
simply consists of shaking down the stove, putting on half a scuttle of
coal and filling up the boiler night and morning.

In from three to four weeks the first gathering is made. Stalks should
be from twelve to fourteen inches high, and four usually go to a bunch.
The roots will yield good crops for from three to four weeks, but
gathering should cease when the crop shows any sign of declining.

When you decide that the roots shall stop bearing, let the fire go
out. Three or four days later the roots can be removed and piled in a
shed, and those that have been held dormant brought in and spread on
the cellar floor. Proceed as with the first lot, and at the end of
the season simply let out the fire again and wait until the weather
will permit outside planting. Then divide the roots into two or three
pieces, according to size, and plant in rows as before. They will be
ready for forcing again the second winter, so that, once started, the
supply is always on the increase.

Asparagus can also be forced in the same manner as rhubarb, the only
difference being that asparagus roots don’t divide well, so seed has
to be sown each year to keep up a stock for forcing. Plants cannot be
used until the third season, and they are not supposed to be worth
replanting for forcing.

Asparagus can also be forced by placing hotbed frames and sashes over
the plants, and banking up all around the frames with stable manure,
to generate heat. This method only slightly hastens the crop. There
is nothing quite as satisfactory or profitable as the dark house
or cellar, because growing roots from seed is comparatively little
trouble, and the supply once started, it is an easy matter to keep up a
succession of three-year-old roots. Time can be saved the first year by
buying one- or two-year-old plants from a nursery, planting them in the
garden, and the following year use for forcing.



RAISING PIGS


A country home large enough to maintain a cow should certainly keep a
pig, if things are to be run on a profitable basis, for the skim-milk,
buttermilk and waste vegetables cannot be satisfactorily disposed of,
unless there is a pig to consume them. Build the sty first. Ours is
built on the English plan, a sleeping-compartment six feet square, five
feet high in front, three feet at back. Outer compartment of same size,
with walls three feet high, floor slanting slightly to the front. There
is a trough in each corner of the open compartment. The floor of the
sleeping-room is six inches higher than the outer compartment, and the
whole building, except the roof, is made of concrete, so can be easily
and thoroughly cleansed.

If several sows are to be kept, each must have a sty, and there should
be one or two large ones for young stock. The piggery should be as far
from the house and water-supply as possible.

If funds have to be very carefully dispensed, start with a pair of
young ones, which usually can be bought in any farming district in
the spring for about six dollars a pair when six weeks old. They will
need a little extra care at first, a warm bed of common hay or dry
leaves over straw. It is advisable to watch them at feeding-time to
see that they eat. The first week boil a quart of wheat-bran, pounded
oatmeal (hulled oats very coarsely ground), coarse corn-meal and white
middlings, and twelve quarts of water for half an hour. Let stand until
cold, then add skim-milk sufficient to make it like rather thick gruel.
Give four quarts three times a day for two pigs. Gradually accustom
them to vegetables. Outside leaves of cabbage, lettuce and other
greens, potato-peelings and peapods can all be utilised. Boil until
tender, mix a little bran or round oats with them, and feed once a day.
After a week or ten days gradually reduce the gruel and substitute
regular feed, bearing in mind always that frame must be built before
fattening is attempted.

If there is plenty of cash in the exchequer, time can be saved by
purchasing a mature sow due to farrow in April. When making your
selection, choose a placid-looking animal with a reputation for being
a good mother. A vicious, bad-tempered pig is a menace on a home farm.
Moreover, the vicious sow is generally a bad mother. Probably no animal
is more easily affected by the treatment it receives when young than
a pig. Treated kindly, they become tractable, gentle creatures; if
abused, surly and dangerous. For this reason it is perhaps better for
the amateur to commence with a pair of little ones, or one old sow.
Suppose you have bought a sow after breeding; you may expect little
ones in sixteen weeks. Her litter may consist of any number from six
to fourteen. Let her have plenty of exercise until a few days before
she is due, then restrict her range to her own sty.

For safety, it is well to make a fender-like frame that will stand
about six inches above the floor and the same from the side-walls. Then
if Mrs. Mother is careless enough to roll over, any baby that happens
to be in danger of being crushed can escape under the fender. We used
some old oak fence-rails, cutting them to fit snugly across from wall
to wall, and bored large auger-holes seven inches from each end. Strong
bolts and nuts were put through the corners, and blocks of wood six
inches square are placed for it to rest on; being bolted together, they
are easily taken apart and in and out of the pens, as they are not
wanted after the little ones are a few days old.

Have the sleeping-compartment thoroughly cleaned out and bedded with
straw and the fender put in place four or five days before the litter
is expected, and don’t disturb it after that until they are four
or five days old. Put a small quantity of clean straw in the outer
compartment during the last week. About a month before farrowing-time
let bran and ground oats predominate in the sow’s rations, and add
a little linseed-meal. She should be kept in full vigour, but not
allowed to get fat, for which reason corn is best eliminated from her
food. After the litter has arrived give nothing heavier than a little
bran-gruel for twenty-four hours. Feed lightly for two or three days,
then increase, giving her about all she wants; at the end of ten days
commence to add corn-meal in limited quantities and green food of some
sort, unless the weather is such that the family can go out to pasture.
There should be a little opening in the outer compartment large enough
for the youngsters to creep through, and outside a fenced-in yard, in
which there is no trough. When the babies are two weeks old give them
a little grain. They will soon learn to help themselves, and so reduce
the trouble at weaning-time. We take the mother away when they are
six or seven weeks old and let her run with the herd until again near
farrowing-time. If a boar is kept, he should have his own sty and a
separate yard. His food should be good, but not too fattening. The best
age is between one and five years.

To keep pigs successfully on the home farm, you must disabuse your mind
of the idea that they are naturally dirty creatures, for they really
are not. Given clean quarters, a stream to bathe in, and wholesome
feed, they are as self-respecting as any animal on the farm. If there
is no brook nor spring-place near the pasture, a large patch of sod
should be removed, and the hollow filled with water. After a few weeks
let it dry up, and make a new bath.

See that no horrible half-mouldy swill-barrels are kept around. Table
scraps, excepting meat, vegetable peelings, small potatoes, apples,
in fact all unmarketable vegetables, are boiled in the food-cooker
with about the same amount of salt that we should use in cooking for
the table. When everything is soft, bran, crushed oats, shorts or
middlings are stirred in to make it into a thick porridge, the whole
being closely covered and allowed to stand until cold. Sometimes
cornstalks are chopped and boiled in the same way. When a feed-cooker
is used, preparing the food is very little trouble, and most certainly
it goes further than uncooked. Each animal has a pailful night and
morning. Skim-milk and buttermilk, when there is any to spare, and
a forkful of ensilage in the winter when there is no pasture. Water
stands before them all the time in one of the cement troughs, into
which twice a week a pailful of coal-ashes is put to aid digestion,
and once a week an ounce of sulphur and charcoal is added to the feed.
When pigs weigh about one hundred pounds, corn can commence to take the
place of their grain, for from then on fattening is the one end and
aim of management. The fleshy, small or medium pig, which weighs from
two hundred and fifty to three hundred pounds brings a better price
in the Eastern markets nowadays than the large greasy pig, so that
returns are realised more quickly, and it pays to force them with the
best of food. If by any chance a sow should farrow late in November,
it is more profitable to market the little ones as sucking pigs than
to try to keep them through the cold of January and February. Ham and
bacon is necessarily a staple in country households, and a real luxury
when home-cured. As soon as the meat is cool, it must be cured, for
should it become frozen, it is impossible to turn it into good ham and
bacon. Sugar and Wiltshire are the two preferred methods. There is
a small hand-machine on the market, specially made for injecting the
liquid for the Wiltshire method. The positive price I don’t know, but
I believe it is about ten dollars. However, I have used a white metal
syringe, which holds thirty-six ounces and answered very well for the
small quantity undertaken. The process given in an old English receipt
is as follows: Add to five gallons of water, twelve pounds of salt,
one pound of saltpetre, one ounce of salt prunella, two pounds of
brown sugar. Bring slowly to the boiling point, let simmer for fifteen
minutes, skim; when cool it is ready to use in the injecting machine or
syringe. Insert the syringe in the flesh, and inject the pickle. This
is to be done every few inches over the entire surface of the meat, to
insure the full piece being permeated with the liquid. Lay the meat on
the slab, powder with saltpetre, lay the rind side downwards and cover
the cut side with a thick coating of salt. The work should be done on
a stone slab, or hardwood bench with raised edges. Let the meat remain
fifteen days, and recover with fresh salt. After seven days more, wash
the meat with clean cloths, and hang up to dry for several days before
smoking. The dry sugar-cured method, is, I think, to be preferred in
this country, because it is more generally liked. Place the hams and
sides on a slab, and proceed as follows: Mix five pounds of salt with
three pounds of brown sugar and two ounces of saltpetre. Thoroughly rub
all parts of the meat, every third day for three weeks, after which,
wash and wipe and dry for smoking. Of course, you know that nothing
but hard wood must be used for the fire. Green hickory is the best.
Sausages should be composed of one-third bread--stale bread grated.
Never use new or moistened bread. Casings only cost five cents a pound,
so it is better to buy them already prepared. A good mixture is five
parts lean pork, one part fat, two parts veal or mutton. Pass through
the chopping machine, then to every eight pounds add one teaspoonful of
dried and finely powdered sage, thyme, and marjoram, two teaspoonfuls
each of mustard, pepper and salt. Add the bread-crumbs last, thoroughly
mix, and fill the casings. Make short, fat links.



CARING FOR HOUSE PETS


In all probability no creature on earth suffers so desperately from
human ignorance as the house pet. People who keep horses, cattle or
even poultry consider it necessary to know something about their wants
and requirements, but the poor pet animal is the recipient of much
affection and many cruelties, for it is cruel to ruin the health by
injudicious feeding, and vitality and happiness by want of exercise. A
wholesome, happy dog or cat is the best playfellow children can have;
an entertaining companion for any member of the human race, but an
ailing, unhealthy animal is a positive menace to the family.

The young dog just taken from its mother requires special care and
patient training, or it will not develop into an intelligent companion.
Even an older dog who comes from kennels of repute will require careful
guiding. Of course, I refer to the general house-dog; hunting-dogs are
usually broken to their special duties before being sold. But the house
or pet dog must understand a multitude of things, all of which vary
according to the idiosyncrasies of the family who adopt it, so it has
to readjust its habits to new owners and environment.

Have a kennel ready before the dog arrives. A dry-goods case covered
with roofing-paper will do if it has two heavy pieces of scantling
nailed across the bottom, to lift it three or four inches above the
ground, so that the air can circulate under it and prevent moisture
from the ground making the floor damp. Place it in a sheltered
position, out of winter winds or the glare of a summer sun. A good
straw bed every week in cold weather and a good scrubbing in warm
weather are sanitary precautions which should be observed. Have a
strong screw-eye at one side of the kennel and a chain with a swivel
snap at each end to prevent the chain getting twisted up to half its
length, and for convenience when handling a strange dog.

If the dog has been crated and expressed, remember that in all
probability the poor beast will be frightened, tired and cross. Talk to
it for a while, and manage, if possible, to get a collar on and a chain
attached before opening the crate. Then let Mr. Dog get out by himself,
at his own time. Walk him about for some time and let him inspect the
premises in the neighbourhood of the house. Naturally cleanly dogs
will need the exercise, so don’t curtail it. If there are any signs of
constipation, a dish of sour milk will usually correct the trouble. If,
however, the journey has the reverse effect, which is very likely to be
the case in summer, scald milk, pour over some stale bread which has
been toasted and feed when quite cool.

When the dog has finished his inspection of the premises, fasten him to
the kennel and be sure to provide a solid, heavy water-pan that cannot
easily be knocked over. Leave him to become accustomed to his new home
and to sleep off the nervous strain of the journey. Should he whine or
bark, don’t go near him. He is too excited and upset to be disciplined,
and sympathy and petting at this point would mean a prolonged fight
later.

Feed him yourself and take him for a run on chain in the evening, early
in the morning and at noon. Decide which will be the most convenient
hours and try not to change them. Two or three days are usually
sufficient to make the average dog accept a new master and claim the
kennel as his castle, so after that time he can be allowed freedom.

If the dog is young and is to sleep out of doors, he should be chained
at night, otherwise he will be apt to form the habit of wandering off
in the early morning hours or moonlight nights, but no dog, young or
old, should be kept perpetually chained. Young dogs, especially of the
terrier class, are benefited by being chained in a cool, shady spot
during the middle of the day, as they are apt to rush about and be
overcome by the heat, which often causes fits and terrifies the family
into believing that it is a case of hydrophobia.

If the new dog is under nine months of age, feed him three times a
day. Bread and milk, oatmeal, hominy, or any such food which has been
well boiled, allowed to cool and covered with milk, makes a suitable
breakfast. Lunch may be half a puppy-cake or a slice of brown bread.
The main meal should consist of boiled meat, onions and rice, mixed
with some cooked green vegetable.

After the ninth month two meals a day are sufficient. Be as careful
not to overfeed as not to underfeed. A dog should be ready for each
meal, but never ravenously hungry. Don’t give milk which has not been
scalded or potatoes in any form, if you wish to keep the puppy free
from worms. Sour milk once or twice a week is beneficial, but must not
be given oftener. Twice a week a bone with some meat on it is needed.
Some people think that raw meat is bad for dogs, but a limited quantity
of fresh lean meat is really necessary for growing dogs, and being on
the bone necessitates a lot of gnawing, which is good for the teeth and
encourages the flow of saliva which aids digestion.

If you should have a mother-dog with puppies, give her a large sleeping
place; dry and comfortably warm in winter, dry and cool in summer.
Puppies should be taught to drink as soon as possible after they are
six weeks old. Condensed milk saves the trouble of scalding cow’s milk.
Whichever is used should be given warm; never hot or cold. The puppies
will learn to eat more quickly if the mother is taken away for about an
hour before offering food. Gradually increase the length of her absence
until she spends only the nights with her babies, and weaning will be
accomplished without any trouble.

To prevent worms, the one great trouble which attacks all dogs, give
the mother a dose of worm medicine three or four weeks before the
babies are expected, and give the babies very small doses when they are
three weeks old, six weeks old and nine weeks old. After that time I
depend on sour milk, and an occasional dose of castor-oil.

House-breaking should be attended to as soon as the puppies commence
to run about. Never leave a puppy alone in a room, for one mistake
prompts others. Be watchful, and the moment a puppy begins to fidget or
to run about, put it outside or in a box containing sawdust. Patience
and perseverance are necessary at first, but in two or three weeks the
lesson will be perfectly learned, especially if the hours of taking the
dogs out are strictly adhered to.

Old dogs, whose education in this respect has been neglected, can be
taught tidy habits if fed at regular hours, the last meal not later
than three o’clock in the afternoon, the evening exercise being
postponed till about eight, after which they should be fastened to the
box or basket which acts as their bed by a chain not more than two feet
long. Release early in the morning and take out at once. They will soon
understand the discipline of enforced hours, for the close proximity of
their bed calls natural instinct to their assistance. The habit once
formed, it will prevail when allowed to sleep in any part of the house.

Bathing dogs of any kind or size I don’t believe in very much, for
it robs the skin of the natural oil which is required to feed the
hair and keep it in condition. Brushing, however, is quite necessary,
especially in the summer, when fleas may be about, and it is well to
begin early in the season to rub some good insect-powder into the hair,
then after about half an hour brush it out thoroughly.

Delicate small dogs with long hair can have a mixture of cocoanut and
sweet almond-oil rubbed into the hair once a week and brushed out again.

If any accident makes washing unavoidable, stand the dog in a small
tub half filled with warm water, rub white soap on a flesh-brush, and
brush from the center of the back with straight strokes to the end of
the hair on each side. Take the front paws in your left hand, letting
the dog stand on his hind legs, and brush from the neck down to clean
the under part of the body. The head should come last. Wash the ears
first, being careful not to let water run into them. Hold the nose up
and wash the top of the head and sides of the face, so that the water
runs backward and not into the eyes. Last of all wash the muzzle, being
very careful about soap. Rinse in two clear waters, then wrap the body
in a warm towel while you wipe the face and the inside of the ears.

When about half dry let him down for a shake, but be careful he does
not escape under a piece of furniture and roll, as he will probably try
to do. Brush until quite dry, rubbing a little oil onto the bristles,
at the end of the dressing.

Treat your dog at all ages with kindly consideration. Be patiently and
considerately firm, remembering that you must rule through affection
and respect. Don’t hector or worry all the time. Be your dog’s
playfellow as well as master, and he will soon become an intelligent
and faithful protector.

Cats can be kept in a city home with less trouble than dogs, because
they haven’t got to be taken out to exercise, a duty which can’t be
shirked with Mr. Dog. Cats are needed in suburban or country houses
at least as much as dogs. The master of the house can usually guard
against the rarely met burglar, but no human vigilance is adroit enough
to fight four-legged pantry thieves, and a farm must have a good-sized
tribe of felines to prevent loss in the barn, poultry house and
corn-crib.

Well-bred cats are just as good hunters as common ones, so it is wise
for the self-supporting home to keep aristocratic cats for the house,
as there is no occasion to do violence to your feelings when kittens
arrive, because they can always be sold at fairly good prices.

In the outbuilding we keep Maltese and very large blacks. We have
so many requests for the Maltese and blacks that even the plebeian
mothers are allowed to keep one or two kits of every litter, for
having children to provide for is a great spur to Mrs. Cat’s hunting
proclivities.

Considering the service cats perform for humanity by keeping in check
the numerous varieties of rodents which abound in cities no less than
in country places, they should be the most highly prized and cared-for
small animals we have instead of the most abused.

There seems to be a prevailing but erroneous idea that cats are neither
affectionate nor companionable. Treat a cat as you would an intelligent
dog and she will compare so favorably that Mr. Dog will have to be
extremely gifted to retain his superiority.

The outside cats should have plenty of fresh milk night and morning
when the cows are milked, not only as food, but to counteract the
injurious effect of the number of mice they eat. New milk is rich in
cream fats, and acts as an antidote to the poison contained in the gall
of the mice. Twice a week we give them a feed of raw meat, on the bone
if we can get enough bones, for even the rat-catchers must be well fed,
or they lack the vitality to hunt.

Having plenty of exercise, and being able to find grass and herbs for
themselves, barn-cats are usually normal, healthy creatures, and need
little dieting or doctoring from their owners, but they should always
have a good, warm place to sleep in.

The city house-cat leads such a semi-artificial life that she needs
more care. Milk which has stood several hours and been skimmed is not
an especially good food. It should be scalded and allowed to cool
before it is given to kittens.

People rarely think to provide water for cats, yet they really prefer
it to milk, and drink a surprising quantity when a dish of it is kept
in one regular place. Potatoes should be as rigidly tabooed in the
kittens’ diet as in the puppies’. Accustom a cat to eat cereal or bread
and milk in the morning.

Our house-cats always have a little strip of fat bacon when it has been
cut for breakfast, and I am sure that the fat and salt are useful worm
preventives. At noon they have liver or beef which has been stewed with
onions and any green vegetable which we may have; for supper a saucer
of milk.

It is very easy to teach a kitten to be cleanly if you exercise
vigilance at first and provide a shallow box or pan half filled with
ashes or sawdust. One thing which must be understood by the city
housekeeper whose pet has to depend entirely upon the box is that it
must be emptied regularly, at least once a day, and, if necessary,
twice. Neglect it and the animal’s instinct of cleanliness is offended,
and it will select some place for itself, thereby falling into untidy
habits.



RAISING CANARIES FOR MARKET


Canaries are dear, fascinating little creatures to keep, and no special
conditions for raising which cannot be successfully accomplished in a
limited space. The most fastidious woman cannot object to caring for a
few families. One male and two females will start a profitable flock.
The male bird should be selected for his voice, regardless of his color
or shape. The two other birds, on the contrary, should be selected
for those very qualifications. The male should be darker and deeper
in colour than the female. In fact, male birds, with green on their
wings and heads, mated with pale females, produce the best-coloured
young ones. Never allow two top-knot birds to pair, for, oddly enough,
the progeny will usually have bald or deformed heads. A breeding cage
with separate compartments costs at least $4, but a very good one can
be made at home out of empty dry goods or grocery boxes. Of course,
it must be a well-made, smooth one, otherwise it might hurt the
birds. Painting is not advisable, but it is well to rub off any rough
surfaces with coarse sandpaper. Remove the lid and one side of the
box. Leave the bottom, one side and ends intact. Turn the box so that
the remaining side becomes the bottom of the cage. Next get a piece
of sheet zinc, nick the corners, and turn them up all around, to form
a tray an inch deep. This is to fit inside the cage. Square-meshed,
galvanised cloth is the best for the front and top. Fasten it to the
back, ends and front with matting tacks, leaving a space at the bottom
in front for the tray to slip in under. Put a partition through the
middle of the cage, with a small door in it. A door is also necessary
in each compartment. The ordinary seed and water dishes can’t be
improved on by home contrivances, so add them to the purchased list.

Two half cocoanut shells, or small boxes, must be hung up on the end or
back of each compartment as foundations for the nest. Cover the bottom
of the tray with a thick layer of bird-gravel, and hang up materials
for nest-building in each compartment. Dried moss, bits of raw cotton,
or short fine hay, are all suitable. The material for a cage three feet
long, eighteen inches high and deep, will only cost a dollar, so the
homemade cage, in addition to being an economy, has the advantage of
size, which means a great deal in a breeding cage, as it allows the
birds so much more exercise.

Put a female in each compartment, so that they may become accustomed to
each other. In about a week, the door in the partition can be opened,
and both birds allowed the freedom of both compartments. During this
time, the male bird must be kept in his own cage, and in another room.
During these preliminary stages, which should run from three to four
weeks, the three birds must have, in addition to their regular food, a
small dish of mash every morning, made of hard-boiled egg chopped very
fine, stale bread-crumbs, and hulled oats ground (not oatmeal or rolled
oats), equal parts of each, just moistened with scalded milk, and, of
course, allowed to cool before being fed to the birds.

After the two females are on friendly terms, bring the male bird’s
cage into the room, and hang it before the breeding-cage, and out of
sight, if possible. Curiosity will be aroused, and the birds will
spend most of their time talking to each other, and endeavouring to
see each other. A week later, close the door in the partition, leaving
a female in each compartment. Put the two cages on a level; two or
three days later, open the door of one compartment, and the door of the
male bird’s cage, placing them close together. He will soon commence
going in and out of the breeding-cage, and in a day or so his cage
may be removed. After the hen-bird commences to sit, open the door in
the partition, and let the male into the second compartment. When the
second hen commences to sit, the door in the compartment can be left
permanently open, as there is little fear of the birds’ fighting, and
the male will divide his attention between the two families, helping to
feed and care for the nestlings.

Special care is necessary during the incubating period, for the eggs
of these little songsters are exceedingly fragile, and a loud noise
to which they are unaccustomed, even the slamming of a door, will
sometimes addle them. Too bright a light is also annoying, so a piece
of green baize pinned around the corner of the cage will give a sense
of seclusion which will keep the bird tranquil and happy. Allow nothing
to worry or trouble them while sitting.

Fourteen days after the first egg is laid, the young appear. The tiny
creatures are a great disappointment to those who see them for the
first time. Chicks and ducklings are lovely from the time they first
emerge from the shell; but a young canary is featherless, blind, and
has the longest neck imaginable. In a short time, however, it becomes
a golden ball of down, and its early unattractiveness is forgotten in
admiration.

Continue the mash food, but after the little ones are hatched, feed
night and morning. Add rape seed which has been boiled a few minutes,
and then rinsed through cold water. The nestlings’ eyes open about the
sixth day. After the thirteenth day they will begin feeding themselves
in the most independent manner. When the brood is a month old, remove
them to another cage. They will then begin to lose their first crop of
feathers, and must be carefully protected from draughts, lest they take
cold. At the end of this first moulting period, you can tell how the
young will develop, both for shape and song.

The mother bird will usually begin to build a second nest when the
babies in the first are about fourteen days old, sometimes keeping up
this double family from February till June; so that with good birds
you can count on having eight broods from the two females, with an
average of sixteen male birds. If the trainer--that is to say, the
bird who teaches the young ones to sing--is a good songster, the males
should bring two dollars apiece when sixteen weeks old.

The young females can, with a little patience, be trained and taught
tricks, which will make them worth as much or more than their brothers,
who have only voice to recommend them; but if the female’s education is
ignored, they are not worth more than fifty cents apiece, unless kept
to breeding age. Cages must be kept scrupulously clean, with plenty of
sand on the floor. Accustom the birds to having a bath dish put in for
a time every morning. Should the feet look soiled, or the nails be too
long, take the bird firmly, but gently, in your hand, and hold the feet
in warm soap and water, to remove all dirt and soften the nails, the
extreme points of which can be cut with a pair of sharp, fine scissors.
Take care not to go above or too near the end--the end of the nerve
that can be seen running through the upper part of the nail; for if you
do, it will be painful to the bird, as cutting into the quick of your
finger-nail would be. If you are a real bird-lover, and have time and
patience, you can accustom a flock to your presence until they will let
you go among them in a flying-room and handle them at your pleasure;
for they are naturally most affectionate, gentle little creatures, as
full of playfulness as a kitten. A solitary songster will feel neglect
and loneliness to a pitiable degree, but will respond to petting as
readily as a child. A canary from the general stock of a bird-store is
timid and reserved at first, but will soon establish friendly relations
between himself and his owner.



THE BUSINESS SIDE


To make the home profitable, there must be some system of bookkeeping
instituted, no matter how simple, also there must be some ingenuity
exercised about marketing. Take advantage of the long evenings to
start books and lay plans for the disposal of surplus products to the
best advantage. Unless you know what each animal costs to keep, and
what returns you are receiving from it, you can’t be sure what your
profits really are. I know how most amateurs hate to be bound down to
the actualities of a balance-sheet with its cold facts on what it costs
to produce this, that or the other thing. But experience has taught me
that it is the crucial point and must be ascertained. Your accounts
need not be elaborate but they must be clear and accurate. Establish
some simple system of bookkeeping and after you have once overcome
prejudice and made the plunge, it is really gratifying to know, for a
positive fact whether things are really paying or not.

The first step toward general order is keeping records of individual
animals or flocks, as the case may be, and also of the farm and garden
crops. Bestow a name or number upon each animal, and if you are going
in for husbandry in an extensive way, have a book for each variety. If
only two or three animals are to be kept, a general stock-book will do.
Each field and meadow should be named or numbered, and a book devoted
to work done on each.

Poultry also needs a special book; so do expenses.

My plan is to head a page in the cattle register with the animal’s name
or number; date of birth or purchase, with price; followed by when
bred, to whom, when due, actual date of event, sex of offspring and
name or number bestowed upon it. On the opposite page, if the animal is
a cow, the amount of milk she gives, a week after calving, and at one
measuring every month until we cease milking her. Milk is tested for
butter-fats once in every three months and the result recorded.

The record of pigs and sheep is not so elaborate, because, of course,
there is only breeding and arrival of offspring to be noted. For
poultry, the number of pens heads the page, followed by the number of
birds it contains, and the individual numbers, and on the opposite page
the number of eggs gathered each week.

The feed-book contains the amount of grain, etc., used for each variety
of stock.

The farm-book is kept in a like manner, the field number heading the
page; then, when ploughed; how and to what extent fertilised; with what
variety of seeds sown; number of times cultivated, when harvested and
the amount of the crop.

On the opposite page, in pencil, are suggestions for catch crops and
rotation for main planting for a period of five years. Small note-pads
with pencils attached are fastened up in every stall or pen of each
outbuilding, and events are jotted down as they occur, so that there
is no chance of forgetting or getting things mixed. Every Saturday the
sheets are torn from the pads and brought to the house, for the items
to be transferred to the different books. It does not take half an hour
each week to do the clerical work, and it saves innumerable mistakes
and accidents, besides furnishing proof of the relative value of each
animal and piece of land.

On one side of the expense book all money spent is entered; on the
other, all moneys received. A balance is struck every month and
transferred to a general ledger, which, in turn, is balanced once a
year.

Another thing that must be understood is that all profits must not be
considered as a bonus to be used for personal pleasure. Some part of
all moneys received should be set aside as working capital, otherwise
improvement and extension are simply impossible.

Marketing home products advantageously is of paramount importance, and
seems to be the point on which many beginners fail. Commission men
and wholesale markets should not be resorted to, because home-grown
products of all descriptions excel in quality and not in quantity;
therefore, appeal to high-class private custom, who desire the very
best, regardless of price.

I have never sold through any of the ordinary market channels, yet
have always had more orders than I could fill and received a little
more than the ordinary prices. Naturally the location of the home and
the quality of the wares must influence the returns to some extent,
but not half so much as the method of packing and shipping. Nicety in
these respects captures the favor of customers and they take pride in
exhibiting things to their friends--which is the very best sort of
advertising a home business can have.

When I had reached the point where I knew that I could depend on a
certain number of eggs regularly, I wrote to a doctor friend in the
city and told him that I could promise to deliver six dozen strictly
fresh-laid eggs twice a week for the whole year, at a uniform price
of forty-five cents a dozen; customers to pay the express charges,
which would be twenty-five cents on each six dozen. (Express companies
return empty packages free of charge.) Within a month he had found four
customers for me, who would take two dozen a week each, the box to be
delivered at his house, where the other three customers were to call
every Saturday and Wednesday.

All poultry-supply houses have wooden boxes for sale with divided
trays, made to hold three, six or twelve dozen eggs, for about two
dollars apiece. Before the year was out each of the three other
customers had interested one or two friends, with the result that three
six-dozen boxes were shipped three times a week, and the following
winter I had orders from the same people for butter and table poultry.

In this way my market grew, as did my stock, and I never had any
surplus to worry about. Of course, I realise that there was an element
of good luck in having a doctor for a friend, but when there is no good
Samaritan to start a clientele for you, energy will surely accomplish
it; for every housekeeper longs to get good, fresh-delivered table
delicacies which have not passed through a dozen hands.

I know one woman who got her first customer by writing personal notes
to women of social prominence in a near-by town, whose addresses she
got from a directory. From twenty letters she received two replies, but
they both became regular customers, and recommended friends.

Another instance of personal effort took the form of calls upon doctors
and clergymen. Still another woman interested the fashionable milliner
of her town to canvass orders among her customers, and paid for the
favour with eggs and butter.

A more impersonal way of gaining customers would be to arrange with one
or two well-located drug or stationery stores for the display of large
cards bearing notices of the things for sale and your address; but,
of course, there are dozens of ways to find customers. Advertising in
newspapers will do as a last resource, but strictly personal methods
are the best.

Now about packing. Eggs should never be more than two days old and
must be sorted into lots of uniform color and size. If the eggs should
become soiled in muddy weather, wipe them with a damp cloth as soon as
gathered, so that the shell does not become permanently stained.

For private customers, table birds should be especially fattened and
dry picked, which means that the feathers are removed as soon as the
bird has been killed, without its being dipped into scalding water. As
the scalding spoils the flavour, birds so dressed are only accepted by
third-class market.

After the feathers and pin-feathers have all been removed, the bird
should be drawn, washed in cold water, wiped quite dry, a piece of
charcoal or peeled onion put inside the body and then trussed, for they
look so much more attractive than when shipped in a sprawling condition.

Drawing and dressing for market is not the custom for general marketing
in this country, but it is universal in Europe, and private customers
always appreciate the improvement such rigid cleanliness necessarily
makes in flavour. Wrap each bird in a square of new cheese-cloth. Place
a few sprigs of parsley, thyme and summer savoury at one side, for the
convenience of the cook; then put on an outer wrapping of white paper
and tie with clean, fresh string. Things going from a home should look
dainty.

Don’t try sending butter by express unless you have orders enough to
make it worth while to buy one of the refrigerator hampers which are
now used for automobiles. A hamper which costs about four dollars will
hold five or six pounds of butter, so it is not a very great outlay
when you can get forty-five cents a pound for your butter. In making
up hampers of fruit and vegetables, use small grape-baskets to divide
the different varieties. Line them with green leaves. Pack everything
with dainty care and reject everything which is not in perfect
condition. Don’t let anything interfere with the arranged schedule for
shipping. Gain a reputation for uniform excellence and punctuality, and
success is sure.


THE END


[Transcriber’s Note:

Obvious printer errors corrected silently.

Inconsistent spelling and hyphenation are as in the original.]





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