I heard an amusing story about barley in Lincolnshire, some years before the repeal of the malt tax, which, I think, is worth recording. A farmer, after a very hot summer and dry harvest, had a good piece of barley which he offered by sample in Lincoln market. He could not make his price, the buyers complaining that it was too hard and flinty. He went home in disgust, but, after much pondering, thought he could see his way to meet the difficulty. He had the sacks of barley “shut” on his barn floor, in a heap, and several buckets of water poured over it. The heap was turned daily for a time, until the grain had absorbed all the water, and there was no sign of external moisture. The appearance of the barley was completely changed: the hard flinty look had vanished, and the grain presented a new plumpness and mellowness. He took a fresh sample to Lincoln next market day, and made 2s. or 3s. a quarter more than he had asked for it in its original condition.
The following lines, which have never been published except in a local newspaper, though written many years ago, apply quite well in these days of the hoped-for revival of agriculture. I am not at liberty to disclose the writer’s identity beyond his initials, E.W.
said Farmer Oldstyle, taking Newstyle by the arm;
“I be cum to look aboit me, wilt ’ee show me o’er thy farm?”
Young Newstyle took his wideawake, and lighted a cigar,
And said, “Won’t I astonish you, old-fashioned as you are!
“No doubt you
have an aneroid? ere starting you shall see
How truly mine prognosticates what weather there will be.”
“I ain’t got no such gimcracks; but I knows there’ll be a flush
When I sees th’oud ram tak shelter wi’ his tail agen a bush.”
“Allow me first
to show you the analysis I keep,
And the compounds to explain of this experimental heap,
Where hydrogen and nitrogen and oxygen abound,
To hasten germination and to fertilize the ground.”
“A putty sight
o’ learning you have piled up of a ruck;
The only name it went by in my feyther’s time was muck.
I knows not how the tool you call a nallysis may work,
I turns it when it’s rotten pretty handy wi’ a fork.”
“A famous pen
of Cotswolds, pass your hand along the back,
Fleeces fit for stuffing the Lord Chancellor’s woolsack!
For premiums e’en ‘Inquisitor’ would own these wethers are fit,
If you want to purchase good uns you must go to Mr. Garsit.
“Two bulls first
rate, of different breeds, the judges all
Both are so super-excellent, they know not which is best.
Fair could he see this Ayrshire, would with jealousy be riled;
That hairy one’s a Welshman, and was bred by Mr. Wild."