THE SKIM-MILK TRUST
The third quarter of the year made a better showing than any previous one, due chiefly to the sale of hogs in August. The hens did well up to September, when they began to make new clothes for themselves and could not be bothered with egg-making. There were a few more than seven hundred in the laying pens, and nearly as many more rapidly approaching the useful age. The chief advantage in early chickens is that they will take their places at the nests in October or November while the older ones are dressmaking. This is important to one who looks for a steady income from his hens,—October and November being the hardest months to provide for. A few scattered eggs in the pullet runs showed that the late February and early March chickens were beginning to have a realizing sense of their obligations to the world and to the Headman, and that they were getting into line to accept them. More cotton-seed meal was added to the morning mash for the old hens, and the corn meal was reduced a little and the oatmeal increased, as was also the red pepper; but do what you will or feed what you like, the hen will insist upon a vacation at this season of the year. You may shorten it, perhaps, but you cannot prevent it. The only way to keep the egg-basket full is to have a lot of youngsters coming on who will take up the laying for October and November.
We milked thirty-seven cows during July, August, and September, and got more than a thousand pounds of milk a day. The butter sold amounted to a trifle more than $375 a month. I think this an excellent showing, considering the fact that the colony at Four Oaks never numbered less than twenty-four during that time, and often many more.
I ought to say that the calves had the first claim to the skim-milk; but as we never kept many for more than a few weeks, this claim was easily satisfied. It was like the bonds of a corporation,—the first claim, but a comparatively small one. The hens came next; they held preferred stock, and always received a five-pound, semi-daily dividend to each pen of forty. The growing pigs came last; they held the common stock, which was often watered by the swill and dish-water from both houses and the buttermilk and butter-washing from the dairy. I hold that the feeding value of skim-milk is not less than forty cents a hundred pounds, as we use it at Four Oaks. This seems a high price when it can often be bought for fifteen cents a hundred at the factories; but I claim that it is worth more than twice as much when fed in perfect freshness,—certainly $4 a day would not buy the skim-milk from my dairy, for it is worth more than that to me to feed. This by-product is essential to the smooth running of my factory. Without it the chickens and pigs would not grow as fast, and it is the best food for laying hens,—nothing else will give a better egg-yield. The longer my experiment continues, the stronger is my faith that the combination of cow, hog, and hen, with fruit as a filler, are ideal for the factory farm. With such a plant well-started and well-managed, and with favorable surroundings, I do not see how a man can prevent money from flowing to him in fair abundance. The record of the fourth quarter is as follows:—