Scotland - Crops On A Scotch Farm
( Originally Published Early 1900's )
We drove back to Lawton, Mr. Henderson's farm. Every farm of any note in Scotland and England has its name, well known and recognized. Law-ton lies close to the mountains, only one or two farms lying between; a great sheep pasture on one of the mountains is rented by Mr. Henderson. His is a productive farm and carefully managed. His land is a loam, mellow and easily tilled but some-what lacking in lime. Once in every rotation, there-fore, lie applies fresh-burned ground lime, about half a ton to the acre. His system of rotation is more or less like this : grass for three years, some-times mowed, sometimes pastured, but usually mown once and afterwards pastured each year; this is plowed and planted to oats or, if very rich, to potatoes. The grass would have been in maybe for three years, and on it would have been fed a great deal of cake and corn. Cake is either linseed or cottonseed cake, broken on the farm. Thus there is a lot of fertility stored, by the decaying grass roots and the droppings of the cattle and sheep. After the oats come turnips, and these also may be heavily manured, and when they are fed off cake will no doubt be fed along with them. Thus the land gets a second big boost.
Barley follows the turnips, and clover seed is sown with the barley, though it may stand but one year. Potatoes follow the barley, perhaps, and after the potatoes comes the liming; then wheat, with which are laid down the grasses and clovers for a long "lay." I saw in the fields a lot of orchard grass. On the farm there is also some Kentucky bluegrass, which does not seem to monopolize things as it does in the limestone regions of our own country. This is approximately the grass mixture used on Lawton Farm: there were purchased for sowing twenty-seven acres, 288 pounds of perennial rye grass; 300 pounds of Italian rye grass; 27 pounds of meadow foxtail; 135 pounds of orchard grass; 108 pounds of meadow fescue; 27 pounds of evergreen grass; 108 pounds of timothy; 27 pounds of alsike; 81 pounds of red clover; 54 pounds of white; 21 pounds of yellow clover. Total cost, $152.50.
It is interesting to note that Scottish farmers are liming their fields regularly ; whereas in England liming is nearly a lost art. I saw in Kent enormous pits whence had been taken chalk in ancient days, but whence apparently none had been taken for many years. I asked the reason for the cessation of so sound an agricultural practice, and was told that now labor costs more than it once did, and that in consequence to haul chalk miles was ex-pensive; that they now substitute artificial manures for the chalk and dung of earlier days. I suspect that the fathers in their enthusiasm used more chalk than they needed to use, and the sons drew for some years on the unexhausted supply; now they really need lime and have forgotten the art of applying it.
Lawton Farm is so fertile and productive that I was curious to know its value. In Kent I had found farms selling for from $50 to $100 per acre, more or less, and of a quality better than could be had for nearly the same money in America; so I was eager to know how the prices compared in Scotland. This, a very fertile farm almost perfect in its improvement, with very good buildings, Mr. Henderson thought would bring on the market, $150 per acre. In the United States it would readily bring $200 per acre. There is something wrong somewhere with land values. The average yield of wheat per acre in Scotland is 35 bushels and the land furnishes grazing for animals nearly the year around. Labor is abundant and very good, and mutton brings about double what it brings us. To my way of thinking, the Scottish farmer, on a good farm, has the better end of it.
One afternoon at Lawton three women cycled up and after resting a while went with Miss Henderson to the splendidly kept tennis court for a game of tennis. I was asked to join, but pled age and infirmity, so I watched them play and chased errant balls. That game of tennis was instructive to me, telling me what right living and a Scottish climate would do for lassies. It was marvelous the way they chased the balls, and the vigor with which they played, for hours. Then after supper they played again in the long evening twilight as long as light lasted. At tennis any one of those lassies would have tired me out two or three times over. When the game was concluded, or postponed, they cheerily cycled home, nine miles. I tell this not to shame our American girls, but just to show what a cool northern climate, with oats, cream and right living, will enable one to do.