Germany - A Farmyard In Saxony
( Originally Published Early 1900's )
A farmyard (in Saxony) consists of a court of 250 feet in diameter; the yard is faced on each side by great buildings, the residence at the top, the stables at the sides. The stables are stone-built and tiled ; the courts are carefully paved with stone. The enormous tiled roofs have little windows like great eyes. In the dark, cool old sheds, sheep lie and cows stand at noontime, in clean straw. The women of the fields come down the road as the noontime bell rings; I note their calm, strong, confident march. They are unashamed and unafraid; their bodies are so perfect in physique as to be a reproach even to many American men. A farm lass washes her feet in the watering trough. Women help vigorously to load carts with manure ; a man superintends and aids a little. For their labor they receive twenty-five to forty cents a day, with food. Men are far better paid, they get as much as $75 by the year, with food, and for harvest time or for shorter spells as much as sixty-four cents per day. Many of the laborers are Poles; labor is scarce in Germany. It costs a great deal more than it did twenty years ago and does not work so well. I have heard that song sung in all lands since my early childhood. Merino sheep of the Saxony Electoral type were rather inferior sometimes in size and conformation, but they had fleeces of fine Merino wool. The meadows were burned crisp. They did not have the fine, fat sheep I saw in France. The sheep were the re-mains of what once was on every farm and is now so rarely seen in Saxony : the old Merinos. They were retained because of the blueness of their blood and because there still exists some demand for the sheep for stud purposes in Australia, Africa or South America and in other parts of Germany.
I saw a splendid farm of 450 acres. Here is the census of this farm, near Pirna, which is not far from Dresden. 450 acres; 650 to 700 sheep; 130 cattle, of all ages; ten men the year around; twenty-six men from March till December; six to ten women. The man pays a cash rental of $3,750 for the land. His taxes and labor cost him about $8,385. He uses a four-year rotation of clover, wheat, oats or barley and clover, with potatoes occasionally thrown in. He uses all the manures he can and much commercial fertilizer and grows fifty bushels of wheat to the acre. He could make money —if "my labor did not cost too much."
Germany is a fine land, with clean, bright cities, lovely parks, kindly people, many children, most of them carrying knapsacks on their backs and in the knapsacks were schoolbooks, bread and sausages. Germany has an air of youth and of growth that one does not see in France or in England. I like Germany. Ever after this when I see the sign on an article "made in Germany," it will have for me a new meaning. I will remember the thousands of little manufacturing villages out in the fields, the absence of slums, the sky-piercing slender smoke-stacks that never smoke much, yet that make things hum just the same. I guess it is a good thing that so much of our genius and inspiration came, like our idea of wagon-building, from Germany.