I am not so opinionated as to think that mine is the only method of farming. On the contrary, I know that it is only one of several good methods; but that it is a good one, I insist. For a well-to-do, middle-aged man who was obliged to give up his profession, it offered change, recreation, employment, and profit. My ability to earn money by my profession ceased in 1895, and I must needs live at ease on my income, or adopt some congenial and remunerative employment, if such could be found. The vision of a factory farm had flitted through my brain so often that I was glad of the opportunity to test my theories by putting them into practice. Fortunately I had money, and to spare; for I had but a vague idea of what money would be needed to carry my experiment to the point of self-support. I set aside $60,000 as ample, but I spent nearly twice that amount without blinking. It is quite likely that I could have secured as good and as prompt returns with two-thirds of this expenditure. I plead guilty to thirty-three per cent lack of economy; the extenuating circumstances were, a wish to let the members of my family do much as they pleased and have good things and good people around them, and a somewhat luxurious temperament of my own.
Polly and I were too wise (not to say too old) to adopt farming as a means of grace through privations. We wanted the good there was in it, and nothing else; but as a secondary consideration I wished to prove that it can be made to pay well, even though one-third of the money expended goes for comforts and kickshaws.
It is not necessary to spend so much on a five-hundred-acre farm, and a factory farm need not contain so many acres. Any number of acres from forty to five hundred, and any number of dollars from $5000 to $100,000, will do, so long as one holds fast to the rules: good clean fences for security against trespass by beasts, or weeds; high tilth, and heavy cropping; no waste or fallow land; conscientious return to the land of refuse, and a cover crop turned under every second year; the best stock that money can buy; feed for product, not simply to keep the animals alive; force product in every way not detrimental to the product itself; maintain a strict quarantine around your animals, and then depend upon pure food, water, air, sunlight, and good shelter to keep them healthy; sell as soon as the product is finished, even though the market doesn’t please you; sell only perfect product under your own brand; buy when the market pleases you and thus “discount the seasons”; remember that interdependent industries are the essence of factory farming; employ the best men you can find, and keep them interested in your affairs; have a definite object and make everything bend toward that object; plant apple trees galore and make them your chief care, as in time they will prove your chief dependence. These are some of the principles of factory farming, and one doesn’t have to be old, or rich, to put them into practice.