There were about seventy-five people in the court room in the court House yesterday morning, when Mr. A. R. Eastman of Waterville, the representative of the New York State Agricultural society, called the Farmers' Institute to order. The court room was tastily decorated with potted plants from the greenhouses of I. D. C. Hopkins & Son. Upon a table inside the bar was a huge design of corn, ripened grain and fruits arranged by Mrs. A. D. Kingsbury of Cortland and Mrs. Anna G. Burnham of East Homer. The address of welcome was delivered without notes by Mr. N. F. Webb, the master of the local grange of the Patrons of Husbandry, and was as follows:
It was the desire on the part of the committee to have some farmers not Patrons of Husbandry appear among our local speakers, but after an earnest effort they were disappointed. It was also the wish that the address of welcome be given by some one not connected with the order, but this likewise resulted in failure. While this is distinctively a Farmers' institute, still all interested in agriculture are most cordially welcome, and one here enjoys the same rights and privileges as another, be he patron or otherwise.
Why have we assembled to-day? The progressive spirit of the times demands that we meet. Teachers hold their institutes for the purpose of mutual improvement. Men in other callings and professions hold their conventions for self-protection and mental culture. And as farmers realize the necessity of keeping pace with the rapid advancement in educational lines, it seems eminently fitting that we should congregate to-day to listen to practical thoughts and suggestions from men in our own locality and glean new and advanced ideas from those who are mingling daily with scientific men from Cornell and Geneva, and with the most enlightened and progressive agriculturists of this great state.
When a visit is made to a neighboring county it is always interesting to know something of its topography, productiveness and customs of its people. That these speakers may be the better prepared to render those thoughts that will be of practical use to us, it is deemed proper to speak briefly of Cortland county as adapted to agriculture and the system practiced by our farmers. Nature has done much for this county. There are many fertile valleys where large crops of vegetables, cereals, fruits and hay can be grown and many of the hillsides respond well to the cultivators' toil or are well adapted to grazing. Some of the farms, however, have been so neglected and robbed of their fertility that to-day they are almost as barren as the desert of Sahara.
Our water privileges are good, with rivers to run the mills, lesser streams as power for the farmer to utilize, and springs for cattle and dairy purposes. Timber in sections is abundant for fuel and, to some extent, for building purposes. Then the railroads so intersect in the county that the produce of farms finds a ready outlet to the cities. For these advantages there is cause to be thankful and the farmers of Cortland county ought to be fairly prosperous.
The methods adopted by the farmers of this county are as diversified as the soil they cultivate. Some are progressive, others are passive, many retrograding. The former are reading, thinking and studying their business, adopting labor saving implements, introducing improved stock and caring for them according to scientific and common sense methods, as certaining [sic] the requirements of their soil and supplying the necessary fertility, improved seeds and cultivation. Such furnish their homes with the best papers and books and are in sympathy and take a deep interest in these institutes. In such a home there is an air of contentment and prosperity that is very commendable. Life is bright on such a farm and the boys and girls love to linger among its scenes and when grown to manhood and womanhood carry on the good work or build similar homes for themselves.
In marked contrast to the last mentioned is the conservative class—men who make some money at farming, but do it at the sacrifice of personal comfort and educational and social privileges, slow to purchase new machines, suspicious of improvements and new methods, exercising only a passive interest in these and similar meetings, robbing the soil of its fertility by a system of selling everything without adequate returns. The Creator has been more just, considerate and merciful to these farmers than they are to their sons or successors. It requires but little to transform the reserved gases, metals and metalloids of our soil into cash, but it takes brains and thought to maintain these chemicals and at the same time increase our cash account. The sons and daughters of these farmers wearied with a life of drudgery, having no home attractions and no bright prospects for the future, leave the parental roof at an early age and seek the allurements of the city.
It is a source of regret to say that in the beautiful county there are some farmers who are dissatisfied and are not successful with their calling. On these very farms there is more waste in not providing a way to utilize the bi-products, in leaving tools exposed to the elements, in leaching of manure, in loss of time and system than in half a dozen well regulated establishments. If there is any class that needs instruction and inspiration, it is the owners and renters of these unproductive farms. But none are so blind as those who will not see.
Inured to hardship and privation, there arises a feeling of servitude and an impression that farming is belittling. Nothing is more untrue. Modern philosophy stamps a man for what he is, whether he is a mechanic, a professor, or a tiller of the soil, and the same characteristics count for as much in the one as in the other. That a farmer can't be anybody is all bosh. The same elements and business principles that make other men successful and famous will do the same for him. To-day to be a good farmer means something. He has ample opportunity to exercise all his mental faculties. He must understand the construction and manipulation of machinery, the selection, care and feeding of stock, the raising of crops for maximum yield at a minimum cost and a profitable marketing of the same. A knowledge of chemistry and botany is useful, and then there are insects and fungous growths for all vegetation and these must he studied and remedies applied.
The demands of society, the duties [of] citizenship, and the comforts of home must also be added to his course. Wm. M. Evarts once said when the people wanted him no longer to fill any public position and there seemed to be no further use for his great talents he could at least take up farming. Allow me to suggest that it takes something besides a statesman, college graduate, mere theorist or kid glove gentleman to make a successful farmer. Knowledge is essential, but it must be directed by experience and common sense.
Fellow farmers, be not discouraged by temporary reverses and led astray by the extravagant and impracticable ideas of the enthusiast. Let us be contented and devote our time and energy to the farm and not fritter away our lives in idleness, political aspiration or office seeking. Question the advice of agents, and branch out no faster than the cash and your ability to manipulate complicated machinery will permit. Those just starting in life cannot expect to enjoy as many comforts, own as many labor saving devices, or possess the fine carriages of those who have spent a life time in accumulating. A wise man has said, "At thy first entrance upon thy estate, keep a low sail, that thou mayst rise with honor; thou canst not decline without shame; he that begins where his father ends, will end where his father began."
For the present let us lay aside our prejudices and lend a fastening ear to the words that are to follow, so that when this institute shall have closed may each be able to say that it has been the most interesting and instructive in our history. Gentlemen, it affords me great pleasure to welcome you to our [village] and its hospitalities and especially to introduce you to this audience, knowing that the farmers of this vicinity appreciate your efforts in scientific and practical investigation.
This address was responded to in fitting words by Mr. A. R. Eastman, the conductor. Mr. Eastman then proceeded to make the address of the morning upon the subject "Some Observations on Farming." Among other things he said that the Americans have built up a wonderful country by exercise of the mind and by taking advantage of the fertility of the soil.
Formerly the hand was used in cutting forest and raising crops and building homes, but now the mind must take the lead. Consequently the farmer hereafter should be the man with brains. He spoke about the oat crop. Sometimes the crop lacks something. The straw may be short or the berry light and it is our duty to supply the necessary fertility to remedy the difficulty. He spoke of other products in the same manner using corn also as an illustration. His argument showed that it was first necessary to know the facts and then to know how to put those facts into practical use. He argued the question in regard to the amount of butter a cow produces in a year. Some cows produce from 10,000 to 15,000 pounds of milk per year while the average is only 3,000 pounds per year. This shows that something must be the matter. The cause lies either in poor cows, poor feed or lack of intelligent care. He touched briefly on the breeding of cattle and showed that the surroundings and climate have a tendency to shape the breed and develop the milking quality. After some statistics taken by Mr. Geo. T. Powell in Bovins, Delaware Co., he closed with some interesting discussions of agricultural farming in France.
In the afternoon a very excellent address was given by Mr. Frank L. Burnham of East Homer, upon "Butter Making and What Foods Affect its Quality." We shall hope to publish this entire upon a later date.
As Mr. W. H. Gilbert of Richland was absent the question box occupied the remainder of the afternoon and many points of large interest to farmers were brought out. The attendance during the afternoon and evening of yesterday and all day to-day has been very large, the courtroom being almost entirely filled. Owing to the press of other matter we are obliged to omit further details until to-morrow.
Chinese Farmers in America.
A colony of Chinese farmers has been started on Long Island, near Brooklyn. The main portion of their crops consists of mysterious and uncanny vegetable products that supply the populous Chinese settlement in New York city with whatever corresponds to the beans, pumpkins and cabbages of their native land. These mysterious vegetables are eagerly snapped up by Chinese laundrymen and opium joint and restaurant keepers. The pioneer Chinaman farmer made a fortune of $4,000 in three years and skipped with it to the Flowery Kingdom, leaving a small army of imitators to continue the business, which they are making exceedingly profitable.
They are no credit or addition to the country. They live in miserable board shanties in the midst of their vegetable gardens of an acre or two during the spring and summer. In the fall, after the crops are gathered, they leave the huts and go to New York to live in idleness and mad Chinese gaiety till spring opens.
They manage, however, to give several lessons to American truck farmers. One is that they get at least twice as much money off a given area of ground as the best of our gardeners can. They have a dexterous skill, foresight and genius for hard work that has never been seen even among the German gardeners. They can get in some cases four crops in a season off the not too generous Long Island soil. How they do it is a mystery. The Chinese capacity for downright hard work, great exertion and pegging away early and late is not equaled among the people of any other race.
[Wednesday, March 1, 1893.]
At the evening session on Monday Miss Nellie Byram and Mrs. Anna G. Burnham very acceptably furnished two selections. The address of the evening was by Prof. S. A. Beach of Geneva, who spoke upon "Diseases common to farm crops." Prof. Beach devoted the most of his time to what is commonly known as "smut" upon corn, oats and other grains. He spoke of its origin and growth and what could be done to prevent it.
On Tuesday many dairy utensils were on exhibition in the halls and their excellencies were pointed out by enterprising agents. At 10:15 the institute was called to order by the conductor, Mr. A. R. Eastman. This gentleman then explained the use of the Babcock Milk tester. Samples of milk were tested. Some buttermilk presented by Mr. G. H. Byde tested one-tenth of one per cent, and his skim milk the same. Mr. Woodward presented milk taken from five cows, two of them being strippers. These tested 6.3 per cent. Mr. Winters presented milk testing 3.2 per cent.
Mr. Henry Howes of Truxton then presented an admirable paper upon "The relation of immigration to American farmers," which we shall be able to publish a little later.
Prof. H. H. Wing of Cornell university then spoke at length and in a very instructive manner upon "The Dairy Cow." He said that after some statistics it has been shown that the average dairy cow does not pay for her keeping. We have two means of separating the good from the poor, viz. the Babcock tester and the scales. What we are looking forward to is to keeping a less number of cows which will produce a greater amount of butter. To accomplish this we should breed better stock by using thoroughbred animals and then provide better care for them. By using care in breeding we use the reserved force that has been stored up for us for centuries by breeders in England, the Island of Jersey and Holland.
No man should be satisfied with less than 5,000 pounds of milk per year, or 250 pounds of butter, and should aim to increase this. At Cornell the yield is little less than 8,000 pounds of milk per year and about 315 pounds of butter. The ration should be made large enough, and not so much attention paid to its relative proportions. Palatability is a very essential point. Clover hay is cheap to buy at $6 to $7 per ton, when bran is $18 to $30. For the analysis of feeding stuffs Prof. Wing recommended Bulletin No. 11 to be obtained through our congressman at Washington.
When the afternoon session was called to order at 2 P. M. there was a good audience in the court house. Prof. Bailey of Cornell university being obliged to leave on the 3 o'clock train, was called for at once and spoke on Pruning. He said that the essential need of pruning is to increase the fertility of the plant by getting rid of superfluous limbs so that the strength of the soil may go into the productive limbs. He gave five reasons for pruning: (1) To increase the size of the fruit, (2) to keep the tree within proper limits, (3) to facilitate cultivation, (4) to facilitate spraying, (5) to get a stronger tree. The time to prune is when the buds begin to swell. A very good time is the latter part of February or March. It is cheaper to prune every year.
Neither Mr. Tennant nor Mr. Stanley, who were on the program for the afternoon were present and the remaining time was largely devoted to the question box. The entire session was considered on the whole very helpful and the farmers who were present feel well paid for their attendance.