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This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 282 pages of information about The Fat of the Land.

I left the farm-house at 7, and reached home by 8.45.  Polly was not quite pleased with my late hours; she said it did not worry her not to know where I was, but it was annoying.

“Can’t you have a telephone put into the farm-house?  It would be convenient in a lot of ways.”

“Why, of course; I don’t see why it can’t be done at once.  I’ll make application this very night.”

It was six weeks before we really got a wire to the farm, but after that we wondered how we ever got along without it.

CHAPTER XX

A RATION FOR PRODUCT

Nelson was to commence work on the cow-house at once; at least, the mason was.  I left the job as a whole to Nelson, and he made some sort of contract with the mason.  The agreement was that I should pay $4260 for the barn complete.  The machinery we put into it was very simple,—­a water heater and two cauldrons for cooking food.  All three cost about $60.

Thompson had selected six cows, from those bought with the place, as worth wintering.  They were now giving from six to eight quarts each, and were due to come in in April and May.  An eight-quart-a-day cow was not much to my liking, but Thompson said that with good care they would do better in the spring.  “Four of those cows ought to make fine milkers,” he said; “they are built for it,—­long bodies, big bags, milk veins that stand out like crooked welts, light shoulders, slender necks, and lean heads.  They are young, too; and if you’ll dehorn them, I believe they’ll make your thoroughbreds hump themselves to keep up with them at the milk pail.  You see, these cows never had more than half a chance to show what they could do.  They have never been ‘fed for milk.’  Farmers don’t do that much.  They think that if a cow doesn’t bawl for food or drink she has enough.  I suppose she has enough to keep her from starving, and perhaps enough to hold her in fair condition, but not enough to do this and fill the milk pail, too.  I read somewhere about a ration for ‘maintenance’ and one for ‘product,’ and there was a deal of difference.  Most farmers don’t pay much attention to these things, and I guess that’s one reason why they don’t get on faster.”

“You’ve got the whole matter down fine in that ‘ration for product,’ Thompson, and that’s what we want on this farm.  A ration that will simply keep a cow or a hen in good health leaves no margin for profit.  Cows and hens are machines, and we must treat them as such.  Crowd in the raw material, and you may look for large results in finished product.  The question ought always to be, How much can a cow eat and drink? not, How little can she get on with?  Grain and forage are to be turned into milk, and the more of these foods our cows eat, the better we like it.  If these machines work imperfectly, we must get rid of them at once and at any price.  It will not pay to keep a cow that persistently falls below a high

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