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Without detaining you by entering into any particular details in regard to swine, I assert, without fear of successful contradiction, that a careful selection of hogs will result in even a more astounding result. I would not to-day accept as a gift one of the long-nosed, long-legged sky-cutters which used to be raised and fattened for pork, for I am quite confident the grain which it would take to make the pork would more than buy it, while there would be a very fair profit in feeding it to one of the beautiful Chester Whites, Essex, or Suffolks, specimens of which you see on exhibition here to day.
Then, in the second place, having selected the best kind of animals to raise, you should feed well at all times. I do not advise you to attempt by extravagant feeding to force your animals to an unnatural growth, but simply keep them at all times and in all seasons in such condition that they may make that symmetrical growth which nature designs them to make.
You should discard entirely from your books that expression which we sometimes hear and which many farmers seem, by their practice at least, to regard as proper, of "spring poor."
It is the vainest folly in the world to allow an animal to get so poor as to check its growth. I have seen animals come to grass in the spring actually smaller than they went to the yard in the fall. I mean young animals, which ought to have made a respectable half-year's growth in the meantime.
I always feel, in such a case, that a large amount of keeping has been thrown away. It costs large amount of food to keep your animal alive, and a very little added to that amount will keep it growing. But there is no profit in keeping a young animal barely alive. Try it once, my brother farmer, and keep your young animals in full growth all through the winter, and I shall be very much mistaken if you don't continue the practice ever after. You will find profit in it,-you will find pleasure and comfort in it. For what can afford a farmer more pleasure than to pass through his yard among a sleek, growing, and contented stock?
You will find great advantage in housing your stock. Every animal raised on a farm, unless it be young horses, should be housed in the winter. If you have not tried it, you will be astonished to see how much less feed they require. I believe one-third, if not one-half the food which it will take to winter your animals, if exposed to the blasts of winter, may be saved by providing them with good shelters. And this is in accordance with philosophy.
The animal heat which must exist in every living animal is produced by the consumption of food, just as heat is produced in your houses by the consumption of wood in your fire.
Then the greater degree of external cold to which the animal is exposed, the greater must be the consumption of food to keep up the animal heat. Hence, if you keep an animal warm by placing it in a barn, or where it is protected from the extreme cold, you save all that extra feed which would be required to keep up the animal heat.
But there is another important advantage in housing animals. You will then have them so separated from each other and confined that each animal will get its allotted share of the feed without trampling over it and thus wasting a large share of it. There will be no underlings then to be hooked away and starved, for each will be compelled to stand quietly and eat what is put before it. It is but a few days ago that I saw a pair of colts that looked so exactly alike, except for difference in their size, that I supposed, when looking at them in the field, that they must be full brothers, with a year's difference in
their ages. The owner afterwards told me that there was but a few hours difference in their ages, and that in the fall they were so nearly alike in size and in every other respect that they could hardly be told apart, and the present difference in their size was all the result of wintering. He had been absent himself most of the winter, and when he got home he found that his son, a lad of fifteen or sixteen years of age, had been feeding these colts together, when they were loose in the field, and had been in the habit of putting their feed in a single pile, and one of them had obtained the complete mastery, and by fighting the other away had secured all the feed, and hence the difference in their size. Now, my friends, if that boy was my son I should at once send him to college and try to make a lawyer, or doctor, or preacher, or perhaps a politician of him, for I am sure he does not possess thought and observation enough to make a successful farmer.
If you are not able to build stables put posts in the ground, and with old or refuse lumber board it up seven feet high, cover it with poles and straw, build some sort of a manger to feed in, hang some doors with leather hinges, and I will guarantee you will save each winter more than three times its cost, even if you have only a pair of oxen or a cow to winter.
But stock raising is not the only branch of farming which needs to be prosecuted with care and attention; and the same general principle of thorough work in all your various labors will tell just as plainly on your products. as in the branch which I have been considering. Whatever you do, do it thoroughly and well,-in clearing your grounds, in erecting your buildings, in preparing your ground for the seed, in selecting and preparing your seed for sowing, or planting, in cultivating the growing grain, in fine, in whatever you are called upon to do. Whatever is worth doing at all is worth doing well. One acre of ground well tilled, and planted or sowed with good clean seed, will produce more than three acres run over at a hap-hazard rate and sowed with seed filled with foul, unprofitable, and noxious weed seed.
I think one of the most serious defects in our system of agriculture generally is an attempt to cultivate too much ground. Men seem to be more intent on the number of acres they shall plant or sow, than the number of bushels they shall produce. This is all wrong. If you can't cultivate the whole in the very best manner, leave part of it in pasture and meadow, where it will be improving in richness, and confine your labor to a smaller portion, and I believe in a series of years you will find yourselves producing more grain, and your grounds will be constantly improving, while by the other system they will be constantly deteriorating, until in the end they will become worthless.
But, after all, the great secret of success in agriculture, as in all other avocations of life, is thought. Therefore, I say to everyone who hears me to-day, think, think, think. You may possibly think wrong at first, but it is better to think wrong than not to think at all. For, by constant thinking you will correct the wrong and work out to the right. Study well your occupation. Search out the causes of success or failure, and mark them down as a guide for the future. Teach your children to think, to observe closely, and then act. Furnish them with every facility to form habits of thought and observation. Thought, deep, earnest study is, after all, the great moving and controlling agency of the age.
Improvement is the order of the day. the last fifty years in all the useful arts which had preceded them. And in no
More progress has been made within than in any three or four centuries business in life is the progress more
marked than in that in which you are engaged, viz.: agriculture and manufactures. You have but to look around you to-day and compare this exhibition in your minds with some of the earlier fairs to see at a glance how rapidly we are advancing. It is but a little over thirty years ago that I drove the team on the first threshing machine that ever came into the State. It was a large, cumbersome machine, which simply beat the wheat off the straw, leaving it to be separated with the hand-rake and fanning-mill. Indeed, the fanning-mill itself bears but a little earlier date than the threshing machine. The separator attached to the threshing machine is of a later date. The reaper and mower, horse rake and horse fork, still later. These are improvements which have done away with very much of the hardest labor of the farm, and they are all the result of close thinking and careful study. I have no doubt still greater improvements are to come, and we must ourselves study in order to be able to avail ourselves of the really valuable, and to discard those inventions which are pressed upon us but which are worthless. A farmer should be constantly experimenting on a small scale and noting the result, experimenting with his cultivating. One man will tell you that deep plowing is exactly the thing, while another is sure that it is all a mistake, and that shallow or surface working is the best. One man is sure that once plowing is preferable for wheat, for instance, while another would plow three or four times, and each refers to particular instances as the proof of his theory, which shows the truth of the old saying that "one sparrow does not bring summer." Experiment with the application of manures in all the various ways in which they can be used.. Experiment in the feeding of stock of all kinds. I have seen it stated two or three times in the papers lately, that certain late experiments prove that by cooking the food of hogs more than twice as much pork was produced by the same number of bushels of grain, on the same hogs, as was obtained in feeding in the usual way. The result in one case showed that the pork obtained by feeding the whole grain uncooked cost twenty-two cents per pound, while that obtained by grinding and cooking the grain before feeding it, cost only four cents.per pound,-in one case more than five times as much as in the other. Try it and find out for yourselves whether these things are so, and if they are, the saving which you will make in a single year will more than ten times compensate you for the expense and trouble of making the experiment.
But while I thus urge you to increased zeal and activity in your particular calling, I would by no means have you forget that you are members of a community, citizens of the State, and that you have deep interests in the prosperity of the community in which you live, in the good government of the State of which you are a citizen, and that these interests can only be secured by your personal attention.
First and foremost of all these interests, to which the public have a right to ask your personal attention, is that of education. Michigan is justly celebrated for its system of schools, which is said by those most competent to be one of the best in the whole United States. But, however excellent the system, its successful operation must depend upon the interest and careful attention which the individual members of the community devote to it. Without this atten-tion it languishes and dies,--with it, it flourishes and goes on expanding its usefulness and power. If I have succeeded in convincing you of the necessity of thought, of careful study in the prosecution of your business, it certainly cannot be necessary for me to make an argument on the advantage or necessity of fostering and sustaining the means by which your children are to acquire. habits of thought and study.
I regard the school-house as the very cradle of all the improvements which have already been made, and of the still greater ones which I believe are yet to follow. Cherish it then as the most valuable legacy you can possibly leave to those who are to come after you, as it certainly is the most valuable one we have received from those who have gone before.
I believe it also to be the duty of every farmer to be a politician; not, indeed, in the narrow sense of being always ready to shout the party shibboleth, and vote the party ticket, without regard to the principles upon which the party is based, or the character of the men who are to carry them out, but in that broader sense which leads the citizen to investigate the science of government, and to ascertain the effects of the various legislation of the State and the nation, upon the different classes into which the people are divided, and thus be enabled to guard against such enactments as would work disastrously to the class to which he belongs. I believe it is generally conceded that about seventy per cent of the voting population of this State are directly interested in the cultivation of the soil. And yet, with this vast population of the voting power of the State, how many representatives, whose interests were identical with yours, have been sent to your National Congress during the whole history of your State? Barely two. And now, to-day, with eleven representatives in your National Congress, how many are there to whom you,-you who comprise nearly three-quarters of the voting population of the State,-can point and say, "This man, being thoroughly identified with us, will fully understand and guard our interests." Not one single one. Other classes have been more wise, and have looked to it, that if anything hostile to them shall be brought forward, they shall have a man there on the spot to denounce it and guard them. The lumbermen of the State, comprising, I suppose, about one-twentieth of the population, have three Representatives. The commercial interests, the banking interests, the manufacturing interests, the mining interests, and finally the legal interests, are all guarded by properly chosen representatives, fully and completely identified with them. But when the great agricultural interests of the agricultural State of Michigan, which comprises nearly three-quarters of the entire population of the State, want to be heard in Congress, we have first to select from among these representatives of other, and, perhaps, hostile interests, one whom we may make our mouthpiece, and educate him to a knowledge of our wants. But, perhaps, some one will say that farmers have no particular interest in or need of legislation. If this be so, why comes up the appalling cry from the farmers of the States to the west of us, that the mighty power of transportation companies is absorbing all the profits of their labor and crushing the very breath of life out of them. They find that in their inattention they have, through their legislatures, created monsters which are now sucking out the very life-blood of their creators. Again, what do you farmers of Michigan say to the treaty now pending before the Senate of the United States, falsely called "Reciprocity ?" Have you no interest in the question of opening the parts of your country to the wheat, the barley, the horses, cattle, sheep, and wool of your Canadian neighbors, without asking them to touch, even with the end of their fingers, the heavy burden of taxation which so heavily oppresses you, and which, but a few years ago, they so manifestly rejoiced to see imposed upon you? Here is a question that seems to me will reach the pocket of every farmer of the State, and with one voice the whole farming community ought to send to our Senators their protest against its adoption. If our Canadian neighbors, or any others, want the privilege of
our markets, let them pay for that privilege somewhat in proportion to the taxation which we have to pay for the maintenance and support of the government which protects those markets.
Allow me, in conclusion, to say one word in regard to the vital interest which agriculture has in the establishment and maintenance of manufactures. Daniel Webster once said, in an address before the State Agricultural Society of New York, that "the true destiny of the Northwest was to become a great manufacturing as well as a great agricultural people." It seems to me that there is far-seeing statesmanship in the remark, and that right in this direction is the solution of the transportation problem which so agitates our neighbors to the west of us. The production of the great Northwest has been constantly outgrowing and outstripping the possibilities and facilities of transportation to market. Why? Because we have heretofore transported the bulky raw material, nearly fifty per cent of which is refuse or wastage, to a distant point to be made up into the form in which it is adapted to the use of man. And not only so, but we have largely to send also the food, the wheat or flour, and the meat upon which the workmen who make it up subsist while doing so, and then when made up we transport the manufactured article back, perhaps to be used or worn on the very farm on which these various articles, or some of them, were raised. But in the meantime these charges for transportation both ways have doubled or perhaps quadrupled the cost of the article. Take, for instance, the article of cloth. We raise, or ought to raise in Michigan, an abundance of wool to clothe our whole population. We now send it mostly to manufacturers in Massachusetts who, after they get it, wash out nearly fifty per cent of it, so that we have to pay the transportation on nearly two pounds to get one. Now they don't raise, down there, one-quarter enough provisions to feed their people. So we send off wheat and any other provisions which will bear the transportation, to feed the workmen while making this wool into cloth, and when this is done our merchants bring this cloth back to us to wear out, but with all these expenses added to its value. Now, I claim this making up could be done just as well right here, where all these things were raised, and thus all these added expenses saved to the consumer. And if an individual farmer were to do this thing, load these materials, the wool, the wheat, and the meat into his wagon and drive off five hundred miles to mix them up together and then drive home again with the product, you would all cry out "What folly!" But this is exactly what takes place, though not under the eye nor in the hands of one man, when you send off your wool, wheat, and meat to a distant State to be made into cloth which you yourselves are to wear. But this system, this bringing the manufacture into the immediate vicinity of the produce would enable the producer to turn his attention to the production of many articles which he cannot now produce because they cannot be sent to a distant market, and thus the land would be actually rested from the constant cropping in exhausting articles, which are fast impoverishing it, and thus in every way, it seems to me, that the agriculture of the country will be benefited by the establishment of manufactures among us. Let us then join hands with all the industrial toilers of the land and work out that "true destiny" of which Mr. Webster spoke. It is sure to come. Already has the hum of the loom and the spindle commenced to be heard in our State, to the great advantage of the communities in which they are heard. Let us encourage this establishment and give them a hearty welcome, until every waterfall in our beautiful State shall be vocal with the songs of industry.