The small number of convicts at public work, and the labour necessary for preparing the ground to receive wheat, did not admit of more than one hundred acres of wheat, and eighteen of maize being sown last year for the crown; the produce of which had been abundant; but the quantity was much reduced by the weeds that grew with it, and from an attack by lightning when in blossom.
Cultivation was confined to maize, wheat, potatoes, and other garden-vegetables. The heat of the climate, occasional droughts, and blighting winds, rendered wheat an uncertain crop; nor could it be averaged at more than eighteen bushels an acre, though some had yielded twenty-five.
Owing to the quick and constant growth of rank weeds few individuals could sow more wheat than was necessary to mix with their maize, which hitherto had rarely exceeded five acres each family. Some few indeed among the settlers, who were remarkably industrious, or who had greater advantages than others, had generally from five to eleven acres in wheat; but the number of these was very small.
The harvests of maize were constant, certain, and plentiful; and two crops were generally procured in twelve months. The produce of one crop might be averaged at forty-five bushels per acre, and many had yielded from seventy to eighty.
By the statement before given it appears, that there were five thousand two hundred and forty-seven acres occupied; of which only one thousand five hundred and twenty-eight were cleared of timber: that there also remained five thousand seven hundred and fifty-three neither occupied nor cleared, making in the whole nine thousand four hundred and seventy-two acres not cleared of timber. If six thousand of the nine thousand four hundred and seventy-two acres not cleared could be put under cultivation in addition to the one thousand five hundred and twenty-eight already cleared of timber, its produce at one crop only, and allowing no more than thirty bushels of maize to the acre, would be two hundred and twenty-five thousand eight hundred and forty bushels of grain; and even this might be doubled, if, as before said, there were labourers to procure a second crop.
The remaining three thousand four hundred and seventy-two acres might be reserved for fuel, building-timber, and other purposes.
From these data some calculation may be made of the number of people that the island might be made to maintain.
The following is a statement of the stock belonging to government and individuals on the 18th October 1796:
To whom belonging
Male—–Female—–Male and Female
Government 3 3
Individuals — —
Horses ------ Government — — Individuals 1 2
Asses ----- Government 2 4 Individuals 0 0
Sheep ----- Government 22