“About seven acres, I reckon, by hook and by crook; enough to amuse you and furnish a lot of wild-flower seed to be floated over the rest of the farm.”
“You may plant what seeds you like on the rest of the farm, but I must have wild flowers. Do you know how long it is since I have had them? Not since I was a girl!”
“That is not very long, Polly. You don’t look much more than a girl to-day. You shall have asters and goldenrod and black-eyed Susans to your heart’s content if you will always be as young.”
“I believe Time will turn backward for both of us out here, Mr. Headman. But I’m as hungry as a wolf. Do you think we can get a glass of milk of the ’farm lady’?”
We tried, succeeded, and then started for home. Neither of us had much to say on the return trip, for our minds were full of unsolved problems. That evening Polly showed me this plat of the home forty.
THE HIRED MAN
Modern farming is greatly handicapped by the difficulty of getting good help. I need not go into the causes which have operated to bring about this condition; it exists, and it has to be met. I cannot hope to solve the problem for others, but I can tell how I solved it for myself. I determined that the men who worked for me should find in me a considerate friend who would look after their interests in a reasonable and neighborly fashion. They should be well housed and well fed, and should have clean beds, clean table linen and an attractively set table, papers, magazines, and books, and a comfortable room in which to read them. There should be reasonable work hours and hours for recreation, and abundant bathing facilities; and everything at Four Oaks should proclaim the dignity of labor.
From the men I expected cleanliness, sobriety, uniform kindness to all animals, cheerful obedience, industry, and a disposition to save their wages. These demands seemed to me reasonable, and I made up my mind to adhere to them if I had to try a hundred men.
The best way to get good farm hands who would be happy and contented, I thought, was to go to the city and find men who had shot their bolts and failed of the mark; men who had come up from the farm hoping for easier or more ambitious lives, but who had failed to find what they sought and had experienced the unrest of a hand-to-mouth struggle for a living in a large city; men who were pining for the country, perhaps without knowing it, and who saw no way to get back to it. I advertised my wants in a morning paper, and asked my son, who was on vacation, to interview the applicants. From noon until six o’clock my ante-room was invaded by a motley procession—delicate boys of fifteen who wanted to go to the country, old men who thought they could do farm work, clerks and janitors out of employment, typical tramps and hoboes who diffused very naughty smells, and a few—a very few—who seemed to know what they could do and what they really wanted.