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and sheep are very fond of it. When the peas are ground into meal, and mixed with skimmed milk, they form very good food for calves ; and they are also much used for feeding pigs.
The cultivation of the field pea is understood to be diminishing, since the introduction of the turnip and other green crops; and except near large towns, it has in a great measure given way to the bean.
To avoid loss of grain by shaking, you must cut the corn before it is dead ripe; and moreover, if allowed to stand until dead ripe, it assumes a dull dusky hue in sample, whilst on the other hand, grain not sufficiently ripened, shrivels in drying. In both states, it wants that brightness of colour, which is important in all grain ; and it does not yield the quantity of farina which it would do, if reaped at the proper period, when it is neither too green nor over-ripe.
When the grain is ripe, the straw assumes a golden colour, from the bottom of the stem nearly to the ear, and the ear begins to droop gently—the corn may then be cut. If the straw be a little green below the ear, it is of no consequence, provided the stem be yellow at the neck, and also at bottom, which shows that no more nourishment is needed from the earth.
All kinds of grain do not shrivel alike, when cut too early. Wheat shrivels the most. Barley suffers next to wheat; and oats least of all, being covered with a strong husk or shell, and possessing the quality of filling and hardening in the stook. Barley requires to be thoroughly ripe. Where it is reaped with any green on the grains, it assumes a bleached dull whitish colour, instead of the rich golden yellow colour which it ought to exhibit.
Much loss of grain is incurred every year, by permitting the crops to stand until they are over-ripe. The loss which then takes place in the reaping, binding, and stooking; in the leading from the field to the stack-yard, and again in removing the sheaves to the barn for thrashing, is altogether very serious in amount. This loss may in a great measure be avoided ; and we recommend the following practice, which has stood the test of experience, and been found generally to answer.
Reap before the corn is over or dead ripe-ledge for two, three, or four days, according to the weather-clear the corn and straw of weeds, clover, grass, &c., before binding-in binding, make the sheaves small-stook and hood them, when bound let them rest in the stooks eight, or ten, or twelve days, having regard to the state of the weather; and then cart them to the stack-yard. In making the ricks in the stack-yard, if the weather be rainy, or the corn at all damp, construct chimneys or openings for ventilation, to guard against injury by heating; and thatch the tops as soon as practicable.
Barley and oats require to remain some time in the field after they are cut, before they are ready for stacking, as they are generally more or less mixed with grass and clover; and unless these are thoroughly dry, there is danger of their heating in the stack, and injuring the grain. The clover must be completely withered before the corn is stacked, and especial attention should be paid to this by the farmer. Care should also be taken that the stacks are built in a proper manner, the sheaves sloping regularly downwards and outwards throughout. When a stack is thus well built, and carefully thatched, it will be impervious to the rain, and secure from high winds. · Oats and barley are very generally cut with the scythe, but wheat is for the most part reaped with the sickle. The corn is cut closer to the ground with the scythe than by the sickle, and it is less liable to be shed, if over-ripe; but the scythe cannot be used if the crop is laid or much tangled. A good mower, with an attendant, will cut, bind, and stook an acre and a half in a working day of ten hours, which is about twice as much as can be done with the sickle. The corn should be cut as close to the ground as possible, by which a larger quantity of straw, and consequently of manure, will be obtained.
Various implements have been recommended for expediting the work of reaping, but the Cradle and the Hainault scythes are unquestionably the best. These may always be used for barley and oats, on level and cleanly cultivated ground, where the corn stands upright; otherwise the sickle and common reaping-hook will be found most advantageous.
THRASHING AND WINNOWING.
Oats and barley are for the most part thrashed with the flail, the straw being required for the cattle, which are supplied with it from time to time by the thrasher as he proceeds with his work : but for wheat, the thrashing-mill should always be used, it being cheaper, and, in all respects, better than the flail.
The thrashing-mill may be worked by horses, or by steam or water power. When driven by steam or water, one or two winnowing machines, according to the power employed, are usually attached to the mill, which effects a great saving of time and cost in preparing the grain. A powerful machine will thrash and winnow from two to three hundred bushels a day; and reckoning every expense, the cost of preparing the grain for market by this means will be found not to exceed a penny per bushel : whereas by thrashing with the flail, it would be double that amount, besides the waste of grain, which would add considerably to the cost.
The thing to be attended to in using the thrashing machine, is to give it a regular motion, and to have it equally fed with the corn. One man is employed to feed the mill with corn; a man or two boys to carry the sheaves, and a boy or a woman to untie and hand them to the feeder. One or more persons must likewise be employed to rake up the thrashed straw, and carry it to the straw-yard.
Portable thrashing machines are frequently let out to hire, and sometimes two or more neighbouring farmers join in keeping a machine for their common use, a practice well worthy of being adopted, wherever the farms are so small as not to make a separate machine for each necessary.
Winnowing-machines, or fanners, are required upon every farm, whether large or small, and they may either be used separately, or in conjunction with the thrashingmill, according to circumstances. Some persons prefer the hand fanners, which are thought to work steadier than when driven by machinery, and to clean the grain more thoroughly; but either will do.
By the process of winnowing, chaff, bits of straw, seeds of weeds, and other refuse, are separated from the grain, which is then tailed, and finally dressed with riddles and sieves in the clean corn-room, the tailed corn being separated and kept for common use, and for the cattle and poultry. It is of great importance to the farmer that his corn should be thoroughly cleaned and dressed, its value in the market depending in no slight degree upon the manner in which this is done; and the grain ought not to be thrashed until it is required for market, for it will shrivel and lose in weight by keeping.
The following rules for conducting this very important operation, have been practised for a considerable period, and generally found successful; on which account they are here recommended for adoption.
Cut the grass when it has come to its full growth, and before it has ripened its seed. If cut when in a growing state, the unripe juices of the plant are apt to bring on violent heat and fermentation, and thus deprive the crop of much of its substance and nourishment.
Never shake the hay out of the swathe on the day it is cut, but on the second day shake all that was cut on the previous day, giving it two turnings. By shaking it out the day on which it is cut, the hay is reduced much by the heat of the sun; but by leaving it in the swathe, it' soaks its own sap,' and will be reduced very little afterwards. Never leave the hay on the ground the night it is shaken out, but gather it up into small grass cocks that evening. By so doing, the dew goes off the ground much earlier the next morning, and one shaking out of the grass cocks on comparatively dry ground, will be of more service than three turnings, if it is left spread the night before.
After shaking out the grass cocks, turn the hay twice that day, and gather it into windrows in the evening, and then make it into cocks containing about a cwt. each. Let the hay remain in cock the next day, in order to soak the sap,' as above-noticed; for by exposing the grass too often to the sun, it becomes much reduced in bulk and nourishment.
The next step is to gather these cocks into plats, about eight cocks in each, and if the day is likely to be fine, shake them all out, taking care not to spread them too wide; as by this means the hay would be too much exposed to the sun, and be injured in colour. Carefully turn the hay thus spread out, at least twice that day ; and in the evening put each plat into one cock, so that they may be safe from rain, should there be any, but do not allow them to be tramped.
In this state let the cocks remain, without further disturbance; and on the day after pull them all round, observing to leave them as small in the bottoms as possible, in order to admit a free circulation of air under and about them—then rake them carefully, to secure them against storms; and continue this system until the whole of your hay is made up.
The above operations are supposed to be carried on under favourable weather; but when the weather is bad or broken, turn all the small cocks often, and double them continually, without shaking any out, until you have them fit to go into the large cocks; and then, if the day is likely to hold fine, shake them out thoroughly, and make them up the same evening.
When the hay is thus all made up, give it no time in the cock, but draw it in immediately, beginning with that first made; and if there be any newly-laid meadow, mix this hay carefully with that of the old meadow, and shake a small portion of salt on each course.