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are by hay-making rendered more soluble by drenching rains or cold water. In this connection it may be worth while to ask, how these changes in hay-making affect its liability to injury from weathering and rain. Of course the
will be washed out, and so will the starch in proportion as it has been changed to gum. The action of moisture on starch has already been noticed. The chances are that hay will lose more by a drenching rain than by gaseous exhalations. By repeated rains, hay loses twenty per cent. of its nitrogen, and a total loss of thirty-six per cent. of its weight. Of its ash parts, it will give up to cold water about nine-tenths of its potash and soda, one-half to three-fourths of phosphorus, one-third to onefourth of its lime. Magnesia and silica are also washed out. The practical lesson from all this is, get rid of the moisture of grass as rapidly as is consistent with the aromatic fermentation, then as far as possible exclude air and wet."
The effect of fermentation in causing changes to take place in vegetable products is forcibly illustrated in the case of several dyestuffs, as indigo, litmus, woad, &c., none of which could be obtained from the several vegetables supplying them without the aid of fermentation. We know too that the tobacco of commerce does not consist simply of the dried leaves of the plant, but is an article in the manufacture of which a degree of fermentation could not be dispensed with.
The drying of grass in order to the best product of hay, should be gradual, and conducted with as little direct exposure to the sun's rays as may be. The proverb, which instructs us to make hay while the sun shines," has its weak as well as its strong side. The experience of ages has agreed with no controversy whatever, that all medicinal herbs are better dried in the shade, and if so with medicinal herbs, why not equally so with nutritive herbs. This it is true cannot be fully accomplished with the hay crop, but the method of curing in swath and cock is a near approach to it. This method has long been in use for clover, but while more imperatively necessary for this and for coarse rank herdsgrass, it may be adopted with very decided, if not with equal benefit to the great bulk of hay cured. The preferable mode in all cases, is believed to be to let the grass lie as it falls, if cut by the mower, or if a heavy crop and cut
with the scythe, spread somewhat, until thoroughly willed, then while yet warm, let it be raked and put in cocks of sufficient size to take on a sweat, at the same time not so large as to induce rapid or excessive fermentation in case the weather proves too wet to allow its being opened. If thus put in cocks, when only thoroughly wilted, (not dried,) and these of moderate size, and then let alone, there is little probability of serious injury from fermentation, while if rain falls, and it be let alone, it is probably less liable to injury from this course than if left in any other way. If, on the other hand, the weather proves dry, we may be sure that while the first sweating goes on, moisture is evolved from the inside of the cock as well as from the outside. A thickening of the juices takes place with a good degree of uniformity throughout the mass, and in most cases, if opened the next day, a comparatively short exposure will suffice to fit it for carting home. It seems scarcely necessary to say that hay in the process of curing should be sedulously guarded against rains and dews, and this the more so, as it approaches a state of fitness for the mow. If the soluble portion be washed out by rain, what remains is little better than indigestible woody fibre.
A point which seems less understood, and upon which, particularly in a season so remarkably favorable as the past, there is danger of erring, is the liability to dry hay too much. The degree of dryness needful to insure the best quality, is just so much as will save it from injurious fermentation when stored. If so dry that it does not settle to a good degree of compactness in the mow, we may be sure that it has passed the best stage. I have seen many mows this year
into which the hand and arm could be thrust, with perfect easo, its whole length, and doubtless much farther, were the arm longer. Critical observation will enable one to determine the proper stage of dryness with tolerable accuracy. If over-dried, there is a brittleness or tendency to crumble upon handling, which sufficiently indicates the fact.
To no other source has the New England farmer to look with greater confidence for aid in his calling, than to the mechanical ingenuity of his countrymen, which may produce implements or machinery capable of economizing or rendering more effective human labor. The agriculturist, formerly slow to perceive that any change was necessary in the modes of culture or in the tools used by his
fathers, now realizes that changes may be made which shall be greatly to his advantage. True, all changes are not improvements, and no one more than the farmer has need to be cautious in adopting every new thing which is offered as a labor-saving implement, or as a wonderful improvement of any kind, -too often has he been sadly humbugged and spent his money for what was neither bread nor would help him earn his bread; but if there were really no improvements, there would be no pretence of any, and we have but to glance at the transformations which have taken place within the memory of man in the implements at present in use, to see that great gain has been effected.
In no department of industry is the ingenuity of the mechanic more busy, than in that of agriculture. The reports of the Patent Office furnish the gratifying information " that the greatest number of patents applied for and issued of any one class, are connected with agriculture, and the fewest with that of war," and this in the proportion of ten to one. We may safely ascribe this in great measure to the increasing scarcity of .farm laborers and the higher price of labor, together with a growing appreciation in the minds of farmers of the need of employing any machine or implement which shall prove itself labor-saving and economical. It is an omen of good. When farmers' sons come to realize that science and art are ready to contribute to their necessities, and that by "gearing mind to matter,” they may earn a comfortable livelihood without becoming mere drudges, plodding forever a toilsome beaten track, but reserving time, not for luxurious idleness, but for mental improvement, and may thus assert for themselves and for their profession the position in the estimation of the world which the Almighty has decreed to them, they will be less prone than now, to leave the homestead and business of their boyhood for the glittering and deceitful prospects of city life.
Mechanical ingenuity has done as much and probably more, towards lightening the labors of the hay harvest, than towards any other department of agricultural labor. The horse-rake and mowing-machine, where they have been introduced, have wrought a revolution in hay-making. The former, from its simpler construction and more moderate cost, compared with the latter, has come to be very generally used and its advantages to be as uniformly admitted.
Judging from the replies to my circular of last spring, it would appear that the revolver is preferred by many farmers as doing good work easily, with all kinds of grass, upon smooth fields, while others whose fields are rough or encumbered with more or less
obstructions, find the independent or wheel-rake much more satisfactory. The estimates furnished me by practical farmers, as to the saving effected by the use of the horse-rake, varies so much, viz: from a third to three-fourths, as to suggest a great difference of value in the implements used.
The spring tooth horse-rake is, by some farmers, considered a desirable instrument upon new and rough grounds. It requires considerable strength to be applied by the holder, and is more liable than the above named to collect bits of loose turf, dust, &c., among the hay.
In what I may have to say about mowing-machines, it will be no part of my object to attempt to prove that any one is better than all others, or that any are perfect, or so good, or so cheap, as they probably will be a few years hence; but rather to state my conviction, and if possible, to enforce it as a fact, that the best machines of to-day, are so good and so cheap, that no farmer, who cuts fifty acres of grass upon
land in tolerable condition for a machine to work upon, can afford to forego its advantages, even if he be obliged for this alone to become the owner of one. Nor is this always necessary, for in every neighborhood some one can be found of more than usual mechanical ingenuity and fitness, to use a mower, who might be entrusted with one purchased with the joint funds of several, and cut the grass for each, to the mutual benefit of all. Mowingmachines are not so great a novelty as some suppose. Many years ago, attempts were made in England to construct machines for mowing and reaping by horse power; but these first attempts generally met with very indifferent success. About 1805, Samuel Adams of