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To the Senate and House of Representatives :
The Board of Agriculture convened at the State House, in Augusta, January 15th, 1862, and was called to order by the Secretary.
Messrs. Cargill, Martin and Rogers were appointed a Committee on Credentials, who reported a quorum present.
Permanent organization was then effected by the unanimous election of
SAMUEL F. PERLEY, President.
S. L. GOODALE, Secrelary. The Rules of Order of last year were adopted for the present session.
Messrs. Wasson, Martin and Haines were appointed a Business Committee to report subjects for consideration of the Board.
Pending the report of this committee and the assignment of topics for this session, several papers were presented which had been prepared since the last session of the Board, on subjects then assigned for investigation and report. Mr. Perley offered the following report on
Farm ACCOUNTS. It is understood that the subject, as assigned, “Farm Accounts” does not refer in the least to the common business accoun's which every pruder:t man kerps with all those about him with whom he has business connections ; but that a special account is intended--an account to be kept between the farmer and bis own farm, or between the farmer and any particular branch of farining to which he may direct his efforts. With this understanding of tho subject, let us first consider
Why are Farm Accounts almost wholly neglected? The farmer is emphatically a man of deeds. With the early dawn his duily toils begin, and the last gleam of evening twilight witnesses its cluse. Through summer's heat and wioter's cold, through storm and calm, in season and out of season, steadily he pursues his never ending labors. lle gives more hours to active work than is given in almost any other occupation. The result of this continuous and often severe physical exertion is the plodding gait, the bowed forin, and premature old age, so often seen in the farmer. But this is not the worst result;
with the weary body comes the inactive, sluggish mind; for the mind is very much infuenced by the body which it inhabits. And when the farmer is called upon to make a mental effort, he shrinks from it. Physical labor is easier to him than mental. The hand, too, which daily guides the plow, or wields the shovel, scythe, and boe, becomes stiffened, and often tremulous, and the manual exercise of writing becomes difficult.
The first reason then, why farmers do not keep a written account of their operations is, that they are constantly weary, both wind and body, with hard work, and the exercise of writing, under buch circumstances, is an unwelcome task. A second reason is this, they do not fully appreciate the advantages to be derived from keeping a daily journal of all their lubors. This may be treated more properly under the following head :
Why should every farmer keep a “Farm Account ?" First, it should be done, because, without a general debit and credit account with his farm, he cannot know with any degree of certainty whether he is gaining or losing by his operations; whether he 18 adding to his estate, or becoming poor. This every prudent man, and honest citizen should know; else little by little, he may be coming to poverty, his family to want, and his creditors to a dishonestly bad debt.
Again, it should be done, be rause, if the farmer is, on the whole, making a gain, it is a satisfaction to know it; and this adds, specially to his own, and generally to the sum total of human happiness. A knowleuge of this fact too, encourages him in the prosecution of his business. For with greater zeal, and more ardent energy any man will pursue an avocation which can be proved & lucrative one.
Not only a general profit and loss account with the whole farm, but a par. ticular account should be kept with each crop, each field, and each animal. And for the reason, that without such particular account, the farmer cannot know what are paying crops, and what are produced only at a loss; he cannot tell what fields yield a profit, and what are cultivated only at an outset; what animals are a source of gain, and what a source of loss. Now it is the height of folly for any farmer to persist in growing any crop which leaves him deeper in debt at each successive trial; yet many farmers do this, sitoply because they do not know what the cost of the crop is. A carefully kept account would at once correct this error. Many an acre of land yields its owner little or no profit, year after year; or it may become worse than profitless, à bill of expense ; yet the fact is not discerned, only because tho debit and credit are not drawn out in opposing columns. Many an animal is raised, well fed, well housed, well cared for in every particular, and kept upon the farm old age, which at no time in its existence is worth its cost. A correct account of debit and credit with the various departments of almost any farm would reveal many a leak in the farmer's pocket, little dreamed of now. Not one farmer in an hundred can tell-except in the Yankee way of guessingwhat is the cost of raising a bushel of any of the various kinds of grain, or roots ; what the cost of a ton of hay; the cost of producing a pound of beef, 'butter, cheese, mutton or wool, and of course does not know where direct bis efforts in order to secure the greatest profit. To use a slang phrase, “he goes it blind,'' and at the year's end wonders why, with his weary hours of hard work, he finds so few coppers in his pocket; when the truth is, tho missing coppers are not the result of inefficient effort, but of effort unwisely directed.
One farmer, favorably located, can grow corn at a cost of forty, fisty, or sixty cents per bushel ; while his neighbor, occupying a soil of different character, cannot produce the same crop at a less cost than one dollar per bushel. The former can make money at raising corn, while the latter becomes poorer 'by at least ten cents each bushel raised. Neither of them know from actual calculation what their corn costs them; the first guesses it is a profitable crop, and guesscs rightly; the latter guesses he can raise corn as well as bis neigh
bor, and his guess leads him to a certain loss at each successive trial. In the matter of hay, profit and loss is just reversed in the cases supposed; the latter can produce bay at six dollars per ton, while the same crop costs the former, fourteen dollars. Yet neither of them know this wide difference, and each one jogs on in the same old ruts, losing by one crop what he gains upon the other ; grumbling, all the while, to himself and to those about him that "farming is a hard business.” Now were these two farmers to calculate the bost by keeping an account with their crops, each one would soon learn where bis true profit lies. So in many other branches of farm industry; what may be done with profit by one, is, by force of his surroundings, attended by loss to another; and the point can be correctly and definitely ascertained only by soine system of accounts; and each farmer must settle the matter for himself alone.
Of what a Farm Account should consist, has been pretty clearly indicated in what has already been written, but it will bear a recapitulation.
First, there sbould be a general account with the whole farm. Each item paid out should be charged to debit, and each item received should be placed to credit.
Second, there should be a separate, special account kept with each field, each crop, and each animal. There should also be a tool account, a fence account, a manure account, a compost account, an account of repairs upon buildings, and as many other accounts as there are points upon which knowledge is peeded, for it is the only sure way of ascertaining the profit and logs in any and every department.
How & Farm Account should be kept. Premiums have been off-red by seseral of the agricultural societies in the State for the best formula of book keeping, adapted to the farmer's use. These premiums have called out many efforts to supply the want; and some of the systems presented have much real merit in them. But an objection which lies against nearly all of them is this : they are too complicated to be generally adopted ; a term or two would be required under a tutor to render one, not an adept at book keeping, familiar with them. It is not proposed, in this paper, to present any specific system or manner, in which such accounts should be kept, but only to suggest and insist that each farmer should adopt such a system as he himself can understand, and which will give him the desired results. One who has sufficient leisure, and the requisite knowledge, can adopt all the formulæ and machinery of “double entry book keeping,” undoubtedly, for an extensive business, the best system. Another, having less time to devote to it, can make a simple journal of all the daily transactions upon the farm, and from this journal, at the close of the year, draw out all the items of expense or credit which pertain to any particular subject, thus ascertaining the profit or loss in every department.
Another, wbo may have still less time, or ability to write, may with a piece of chalk upon the barn door, or some place else, mark down from week to week, the running expense of one crop at least. This last, it is true, is a small beginning, but if carefully kept it will give a result just as valuable, so far as it goes, as one kept in a more scientific manner. No farmer can rightfully plead in excuse for his neglect in this particular, that he has no time to devote to such a purpose ; just as well, or rather, foolishly, might the merchant say he has no time to write his charges, post bis books and balance his aocounte; it is a necessary part of the furmer's occupation, and cannot be dispenged with. In any other pursuit than farming, bankruptcy would orertake the party thus negligent in less than a twelve-month, and the same would be the farner's fate were it not that our good mother, the earth, yields her increase so bountifully that even the most thoughtless and improvident can glean up a subsistence, after having committed unwarrantable negligence and Waste.
It is believed by the writer that in no one thing are the farmers of Maine,
more culpably deficient than in this one particular, of keeping “Farm Accounts ;' and as an expression of this Board to the farmers of our State, the following resolution is presented :
Resolved, That no person is entitled to the appellation of “a systematic and good farmer," who fails to keep such accounts as will enable bim to know, with a good degree of certainty, the cost of his productions, and secure to himself the greatest profits from his labors.
An animated discussion followed the reading of the report and resolve, some objections being offered to the adoption of the latter, and its object having been accomplished by thus directing attention to the subject, it was withdrawn and the report placed at the disposal of the secretary.
In pursuance of a resolve passed at the last session, Mr. Perley submitted to the Board the result of some experiments made by him during the past year :
First experime'il in making veal. Cow Peggy, 11 years old, weighing 900 lbs. after calving, dropped a bull calf Feb. 7oh. Calf was killed March 19th, at 40 days old. The cow, in seven days following the killing of the calf, gave 171 lbs. of milk, (equal to 78 wine qts.,) which yielded 6 lbs. of butter, 28 1-2 lbs., or 13 qts. milk to the lb. butter. Good table butter at that time was worth 20 cents per lb. ; deduct 4 cents for milking and making same, leaves 16 cents net. From the above, milk is worth, fur butter puiposes, 1 1.4 cents, and skimmed milk for pork making is estimated at 1:4th cent, making milk worth 1 1-2 cents per quart.
Calf at 40 days old. Dr. Worth when dropped, (estimated)
$0 50 Milk for 3 days, 18 qis', worth for swill 1.2 ct., Milk for 37 days, 370 qts., worth 1 1-2 cts, Labor tending calf, dressing, and marketing,
09 4 50
$6 87 Balance of proceeds above cost,
78 It should be borne in mind that the quantity of milk consumed by the calf in the above esperiment is estimated from the yield of the cow after the calf was killed ; that he did not take all the milk ihe cow gave, consequently not an average of its quality, the first drawn being poorest; that early veal is worth more per pound than late killed ; that this was better than an average of veal calses (in this vicinity ;) and that the worth of skimmed milk is it matter of estimation, and we shall not place undue reliance upon such an experiment.
Second experiment in making rcal. Cow Kate. 2 years old, weighing 605 lbs. aster calving: dropped a hull call April 25th. The calf was killed June 4th, at forty duys old. During the time of nursing the calf, the feed of the cow was changed from hay and meal, to graes. In nine days following the killing of the calf, the cow gave 135 lbs. milk, equal to 62 wine qts., from which milk was made, 6 1-2 lbs. butter ; 9 1-2 qis. or 21 lbs. milk to the pound of butter. This milk, though of better quality than that used in the first experiment, is worth only a cent and a half per quart, the price of buiter having fallen to summer rates.
Calf at 40 days old. Dr.
09 3 33 1 00
By 82 lbs. veal, 4 cts.,
$3 28 1 25
Balance of cost abovo proceeds,
Tuo Esperiments showing the adrantage and disadvantage of good and poor
preparation of the soil, in growing turnips. The ground in each experiment is, naturally, of like character, a good gravelly loam. The experiments were tried in one case upon sixty-seven quare rods, and in the other upon forty square rods of ground; but in order to set them more clearly in opposition, the cast is made for one acre of each.
The first experiment was made upon ground which had been in roots for three years preceding, and had been moderately dressed each of those years. It had been worked ten inches deep, and was well pulverized for the present crop. On May 21st it was twice powed, and sown with sugar beets. The seed failing to germinate, on the 13th of June it was twice cultivated, and sown with carrots. The carrots fuiling to come, it wils aguin sceded with the strap leaf turuip on the llıh of July. The account stands thus :
Crop, Dr. May 21. To plowing and cultivating,
$4 77 21. 555 lbs. Coe's sup. phos. 2 1-2 cts., one-half to this
, 21. 733 lbs. Peruvian guano, 3 1 2 cts., one-half to this crop, 21. labor applying dressing, one-half to this crop,
42 21. Tabor and seed, (sugar beet)
2 98 Jone 13. labor cultivating,
1 79 13. seed and labor sowing carrots,
2 98 July 14. seed and labor sowing strap leaf turnips,
1 91 24. 250 lis. Coe's sup, phos., 2 1-2 cts., one-half to this crop, Aug. 24.
labor thinning and weeding, Oct. 24, labor barvesting, 24. manure from former dressings, 1-4th,
9 55 24. interest and tax on value of land,
6 83 12 82
3 13 8 48 11 61
$76 81 The produce was 830 bushels per acre; cost per bushel, 9 5-10ths cent.
The second piece was newly inverted green sward, from an old worn out grass field. It was well turned, and the surface thoroughly cultivated and made fine. The account stands thus :
Crop, Dr. June 6. To plowing and cultivating, .
$13 (8 6. 030 103. guano, 3 1-2 cts., one-half to this crop,
Il 06 6. 630 lbs. Coe's sup. phos., 2 1-2 cts., one-half to this crop,
7 90 labor app'ying same, ono-balí to this crop,
13 10. seed and labor sowing ruta baga,
3 16 July 11, seed and labor sowing strap leaf turnips,
2 79 24. 630 lbs. Coe's sup. pb08., 2 1-2 cts., one-half to this crop,
7 90 24. labor applying saine, one-huif to this crop,
1 05 Aug, 24. Jabor thinning and weeding,
12 84 Oct. 25. labor barvesting,
17 85 25. interest and tax on land,
Total cost per acre,