Farmers of Forty Centuries; Or, Permanent Agriculture in China, Korea, and Japan eBook

Franklin Hiram King
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 275 pages of information about Farmers of Forty Centuries; Or, Permanent Agriculture in China, Korea, and Japan.

Each terrace sloped slightly down the hill at a small angle and had a low ridge along the front.  Around its entire border a narrow drain or furrow was arranged to collect surface water and direct it to drainage channels or into a catch basin where it might be put back on the garden or be used in preparing liquid fertilizer.  At one corner of many of these small terraced gardens were cement lined pits, used both as catch basins for water and as receptacles for liquid manure or as places in which to prepare compost.  Far up the steep paths, too, along either side, we saw many piles of stable manure awaiting application, all of which had been brought up the slopes in backets on bamboo poles, carried on the shoulders of men and women.

II

GRAVE LANDS OF CHINA

The launch had returned the passengers to the steamer at 11:30; the captain was on the bridge; prompt to the minute at the call “Hoist away” the signal went below and the Yamaguchi’s whistle filled the harbor and over-flowed the hills.  The cable wound in, and at twelve, noon, we were leaving Nagasaki, now a city of 153,000 and the western doorway of a nation of fifty-one millions of people but of little importance before the sixteenth century when it became the chief mart of Portuguese trade.  We were to pass the Koreans on our right and enter the portals of a third nation of four hundred millions.  We had left a country which had added eighty-five millions to its population in one hundred years and which still has twenty acres for each man, woman and child, to pass through one which has but one and a half acres per capita, and were going to another whose allotment of acres, good and bad, is less than 2.4.  We had gone from practices by which three generations had exhausted strong virgin fields, and were coming to others still fertile after thirty centuries of cropping.  On January 30th we crossed the head waters of the Mississippi-Missouri, four thousand miles from its mouth, and on March 1st were in the mouth of the Yangtse river whose waters are gathered from a basin in which dwell two hundred millions of people.

The Yamaguchi reached Woosung in the night and anchored to await morning and tide before ascending the Hwangpoo, believed by some geographers to be the middle of three earlier delta arms of the Yangtse kiang, the southern entering the sea at Hangchow 120 miles further south, the third being the present stream.  As we wound through this great delta plain toward Shanghai, the city of foreign concessions to all nationalities, the first striking feature was the “graves of the fathers”, of “the ancestors”.  At first the numerous grass-covered hillocks dotting the plain seemed to be stacks of grain or straw; then came the query whether they might not be huge compost heaps awaiting distribution in the fields, but as the river brought us nearer to them we seemed to be moving through a land of ancient mound builders and Fig. 24 shows, in its upper section, their appearance as seen in the distance.

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Farmers of Forty Centuries; Or, Permanent Agriculture in China, Korea, and Japan from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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