As I said once before, there have been no serious crop failures at Four Oaks,—indeed, we can show better than an average yield each year; but this extra corn in my cribs has given me confidence in following my plan of very liberal feeding. With this grain on hand I was able to cut twenty acres of oats in Nos. 10 and 11 for forage. This was done when the grain was in the milk, and I secured about sixty tons of excellent hay, much loved by horses. We got from No. 9 a little less than twelve tons of clover,—alfalfa furnished forty tons; and there was nearly twenty tons of old hay left over from that originally purchased. With all this forage, good of its kind, there was, however, no timothy or red top, which is by all odds the best hay for horses. I determined to remedy this lack before another year. As soon as the oats were off lots 10 and 11, they were ploughed and crossed with the disk harrow. From then until September 1, these fields were harrowed each week in half lap, so that by the time we were ready to seed them they were in excellent condition and free from weeds. About September 1 they were sown to timothy and red top, fifteen pounds each to the acre, top-dressed with five hundred pounds of fertilizer, harrowed once more, rolled, and left until spring, when another dose of fertilizer was used.
I wished to establish twenty acres of timothy and as much alfalfa, to furnish the hay supply for the farm. With one hundred tons of alfalfa and sixty of timothy, which I could reasonably expect, I could get on splendidly.
From the first I have practised feeding my hay crop for immediate returns. The land receives five hundred pounds of fertilizer per acre when it is sown, a like amount again in the spring, and, as soon as a crop is cut, three hundred pounds an acre more. This usually gives a second crop of timothy about September 1, if the season is at all favorable. The alfalfa is cut at least three times, and for each cutting it receives three hundred pounds of plant food per acre. In the course of a year I spend from $10 to $12 an acre for my grass land. In return I get from each acre of timothy, in two cuttings, about three and a half tons; worth, at an average selling price, $12 a ton. The alfalfa yields nearly five tons per acre, and has a feeding value of $10 a ton. I have sold timothy hay a few times, but I feel half ashamed to say so, for it is against my view of justice to the land. I find oat hay cheaper to raise than timothy, and, as it is quite as well liked by the horses, I have been tempted to turn a part of my timothy crop into money directly from the field.
FROM CITY TO COUNTRY
In early July I went through my young orchard, which had been cut back so ruthlessly the previous autumn, and carefully planned a head for each tree. Quite a bunch of sprouts had started from near the top of each stub, and were growing luxuriantly. Out of each bunch I selected three or four to form the head; the rest were rubbed off or cut out with a sharp knife or pruning shears. It surprised me to see what a growth some of these sprouts had made; sixteen or eighteen inches was not uncommon. Big roots and big bodies were pushing great quantities of sap toward the tops.