The cows did well. In the thirty-three weeks from May 12 to December 31, I sold a little more than 6600 pounds of butter, which netted me $2127.
We had 122 young hogs to sell in December. They had been crowded as fast as possible to make good weight, and they went to market at an average of 290 pounds a head. The price was low, but I got the top of the market,—$3.55 a hundred, which amounted to $1170 after paying charges. I had reserved twenty-five of the most likely young sows to stay on the farm, and had transferred eight to the village butcher, who was to return them in the shape of two barrels of salt pork, thirty-two smoked hams and shoulders, and a lot of bacon.
The old sows farrowed again in September and early October, and we went into the winter with 162 young pigs. I get these details out of the way now in order to turn to the family and the social side of life at Four Oaks.
The house did not progress as fast as Nelson had promised, and it was likely to be well toward Christmas before we could occupy it. As the days shortened, Polly and I found them crowded with interests. Life at Four Oaks was to mean such a radical change that we could not help speculating about its influence upon us and upon the children. Would it be satisfactory to us and to them? Or should we find after a year or two of experiment that we had been mistaken in believing that we could live happier lives in the country than in town? A year and a half of outdoor life and freedom from professional responsibilities had wrought a great change in me. I could now eat and sleep like a hired man, and it seemed preposterous to claim that I was going to the country for my health. My medical adviser, however, insisted that I had not gotten far enough away from the cause of my breakdown, and that it would be unwise for me to take up work again for at least another year. In my own mind there was a fixed opinion that I should never take it up again. I loved it dearly; but I had given long, hard service to it, and felt that I had earned the right to freedom from its exacting demands. I have never lost interest in this, the noblest of professions, but I had done my share, and was now willing to watch the work of others. In my mind there was no doubt about the desirability of the change. I have always loved the thought of country life, and now that my thoughts were taking material shape, I was keen to push on. Polly looked toward the untrammelled life we hoped to lead with as great pleasure as I.
But how about the children? Would it appeal to them with the same force as to us? The children have thus far been kept in the background. I wanted to start my factory farm and to get through with most of its dull details before introducing them to the reader, lest I should be diverted from the business to the domestic, or social, proposition.