No rain fell in October, and my brook became such a little brook that I dared to correct its ways. We spent a week with teams, ploughs, and scrapers, cutting the fringe and frills away from it, and reducing it to severe simplicity. It is strange, but true, that this reversion to simplicity robbed it of its shy ways and rustic beauty, and left it boldly staring with open eyes and gaping with wide-stretched mouth at the men who turned from it. We put in about two thousand feet of tile drainage on both sides of what Polly called “that ditch,” and this completed the improvements on the low lands. The land, indeed, was not too low to bear good crops, but it was lightened by under drainage and yielded more each after year.
The tiles cost me five cents per foot, or $100 for the whole. The work was done by my own men.
THE HEADMAN GENERALIZES
Jackson’s prophecy came true. The old lady died, and before the ground was fairly settled around her the improvident son accepted a cash offer of $75 per acre for his homestead, and the farm was added to mine. This was in November. I at once spent $640 for 2-1/2 miles of fencing to enclose it in one field, charging the farm account with $12,640 for the land and fence.
This transaction was a bargain, from my point of view; and it was a good sale, from the standpoint of the other man, for he put $12,000 away at five per cent interest, and felt that he need never do a stroke of work again. A lazy man is easily satisfied.
In December I sold 283 hogs. It was a choice lot, as much alike as peas in a pod, and gave an average weight of 276 pounds; but the market was exceedingly low. I received the highest quotation for the month, $3.60 per hundred, and the lot netted $2702.
It seems hard luck to be obliged to sell fine swine at such a price, and a good many farmers would hold their stock in the hope of a rise; but I do not think this prudent. When a pig is 250 days old, if he has been pushed, he has reached his greatest profit-growth; and he should be sold, even though the market be low. If one could be certain that within a reasonable time, say thirty days, there would be a marked advance, it might do to hold; but no one can be sure of this, and it doesn’t usually pay to wait. Market the product when at its best, is the rule at Four Oaks. The young hog is undoubtedly at his best from eight to nine months old. He has made a maximum growth on minimum feed, and from that time on he will eat more and give smaller proportionate returns. There is danger, too, that he will grow stale; for he has been subjected to a forcing system which contemplated a definite time limit and which cannot extend much beyond that limit without risks. Force your swine not longer than nine months and sell for what you can get, and you will make more money in the long run than by trying to catch a high market.