Chapter16

CHAPTER XVI.

MONEY IN THE SOIL.

Relation between Soils and Skulls—The Secrets of Successful Farming—Why go to Alaska when there are Gold Mines at the Home—Jute, a Keyword to Fortune—A Million Dollars in this Suggestion—What Ignorance Costs the American Farmer—A Rival of King Cotton—Doubling One’s Money in Fowls—How to get a Big Apple Crop every Year—$6,000 a Year to go to South America—Or, If you want to Go West, Uncle Sam will give you a Slice of Land—Onions the “Open Sesame” to Fortune—Breaking Records with Potatoes—Yankees and Hickory Nuts—How “Plunger” Walton made a Fortune in Two Years—The Great Elmendorf Stock-Farm.

We often hear it said that there is no money in farming. On the other hand, there are few occupations in which there is so much money, if the work is carried on in the right way. The trouble is that people often think it takes little intellect to be a farmer. The truth is just the reverse. To get returns out of the soil there must be brains in the skull. We know a farmer on Long Island with less than sixty acres of land who has acquired a fortune in fifteen years of close application to the problems of the farm. He has found the secret of knowing how to make Nature give down her milk. Every foot of land is under cultivation, and although he employs often as many as two score of men, he gives every part of the work his personal inspection. Further than this, his three secrets of success, he tells us, are, What, When and Where—What to plant, When to plant, and Where to market.

Do you know it is a fact that $500,000,000 more was received from the sale of crops this year than last? What do you think of that, you Klondikers who suffer hardships in the Alaskan mountains for the sake of a little gold which, after all, you will probably never get? If the gold output of the newly discovered regions of the far North reaches this year $10,000,000—a most liberal estimate, and probably two or three times the actual yield—remember that the soil right here at home, with one-half the labor and none of the risk of life, has yielded fifty times that amount. And this is not the actual yield, but only the surplus over and above what the fields gave the year before. Five hundred millions of gold more than last year dug out of the soil—think of it! In the following examples we only give the byways of farming—that is, what can be done, by the cultivation of a single product, and not what may be accomplished in the regular way. Of course, much more can be made by the raising of several staples, and by a systematic rotation of crops.

  1. Substitute for Silk.—Send to the Department of Agriculture for jute seed. Jute will take dye as a sponge takes water, and it has a gloss which makes it capable of being used in combination with silk so as to defy detection. Remember that when a thing can be made to look like some other thing at one-twentieth the cost, it opens the way for mines of wealth. A word to the wise is sufficient. Jute needs a warm climate, and you must go to the Southern States.
  2. Washington Pippins.—They are known as Newtown Pippins, but let us give you a secret. The soil of the State of Washington is so adapted to this apple that you can raise from one-fourth to one-half greater crops than in any other State. Apple raisers, remember this.
  3. Dorsets and Downs.—Fancy breeds of sheep! Two hundred million dollars worth of wool from these breeds were imported last year. That was what we paid for a name, and for our ignorance in not knowing that we can raise just as good sheep here. Reader, if you want a share of this $200,000,000, study a good book about sheep farming, purchase a few of these two famous breeds, and put the wool on the market as the genuine Dorset; for so it is. The place counts for not one atom—only the breed.
  4. American Cheese.—Here again we are foolishly playing into the hands of foreigners, paying $1,500,000 every year for that which can be produced equally as good and cheap at home. Everybody should know that there is no better spot on the globe for the kind of pasture that makes delicious cheese than Delaware County in the State of New York. We pay these millions to foreigners because we do not produce enough at home; but here, within two or three hours freightage of the metropolis of the Western World, we have the best cheese-producing country on earth.
  5. Business Apples.—We call them Business Apples because they will mean a good business for you if you are wise enough to undertake their culture. Go to Missouri and try the Ben Davis variety. The soil of that State is the best for that kind of apple. A man there set out two hundred trees, and last year sold $450 worth of Ben Davis apples. At the same rate, one thousand trees, covering about five acres, should bring you $2,500.
  6. Fortunes in Poppies.—Here is another new idea. France has caught upon it; why may not the farmer of this country? Five hundred thousand pounds of opium are sold every year in our drug stores, but it has been thought that the drug could only be raised in the East. This is a mistake. The French farmers sold 5,000,000 francs worth last year. It yields a net profit of $25 an acre and requires little culture. It may yet become a rival of King Cotton in our Southern States, but those who are wide-awake enough to be the first in the field will reap the lion’s share of this new bidder for our enterprise.
  7. The Capon Farm.—One hundred per cent. capons! This is the actual experience of a raiser. He operated on forty, sent them to market and realized $39.24. He estimates the cost of keeping at less than fifty cents each. There are few investments in which the gross proceeds are double the cost. In addition, the raising of capons may be carried on with the ordinary poultry farm.
  8. Barrels of Baldwins.—The home of this market favorite is Northern New York and Northern New England. It is a hardy tree. Apple trees commonly bear only every second year, and often cease to bear altogether. The secret of success is to stir the soil and add a little fertilizer. Good Baldwins, commanding from $2.50 to $3.50 per barrel, may be raised every year with the certainty of clockwork, if the owner only exercises proper diligence and care.
  9. Rare Rodents.—Money in rats and mice! In killing them? No, in raising them. At the pet-stock department and appendage of the poultry show in New York recently, rats and mice, white or finely marked, brought all the way from $1 to $12, according to the fineness of the colors. It will be a revelation to most farmers that there is money in creatures which they have hitherto regarded as pests to be put out of the way.
  10. Mortgage-Lifter Oats.—So-called because a man developed a particular variety, and with the sales, advertised as fancy seed and bringing more than double the ordinary kind, lifted a crushing mortgage from his farm. You can develop a variety as well as he. Give it a taking name, and advertise freely.
  11. Record-Breaking Dates.—A date plantation of five hundred or six hundred acres, and capable of holding thirty thousand trees, can be bought for $500. The fifth year after planting the trees should bear sixty thousand pounds of dates, worth at least $6,000. Pretty good return for $500! Dates are raised chiefly in South America.
  12. Dollar Wheat.—Western farmers have contended that if they could command $1 a bushel for wheat they could get rich. This year their hopes have been realized. If it is, as many believe, the beginning of better times for the wheat-raiser, and the cereal can be kept at that price, you have but to follow the advice of Horace Greeley, and “Go West” to become a rich man. The government will give you the land, and industry and economy will do the rest.
  13. Leaf Tobacco.—Where tobacco can be raised, farmers have abandoned nearly every other crop. It needs a rich, warm soil, and some experience in order to insure success; but if you “once learn the trade,” you will, hardly try to raise anything else. North of Virginia, it must be raised it the “bottom-lands” of the rivers. Price, $8 to $10 per one hundred pounds.
  14. Tree Nursery.—The expense of a tree nursery is almost nothing beyond the first investment. Small trees before transplanting may be set one foot apart, and hence an acre will hold about forty-four thousand. At nine cents apiece—the average price—this means $3,960. Deduct for labor and expressage. The success of the tree merchant depends almost solely on his finding a market.
  15. Round Number Onions.—The round number of one thousand bushels to the acre has been done, and can be done under favorable circumstances. In a certain district in Fairfield County, Conn., nearly all the men are well-to-do farmers. Ask them the secret of their success and the one reply will be “onions.” Here, surely, even in rocky Connecticut, farming pays. They get from seventy-five cents to $1.25 per bushel. The crop is not always a safe one, dependent upon weather conditions; but, taken one year with another, the farmers do well, and steadily add to their bank account.
  16. Potato Profits.—Let us see what can be done with potatoes. In a prize contest recently the average per acre was 465 bushels. The highest was 975 bushels. The price per bushel was from sixty to sixty-six cents. The next profit was on the average $260 per acre and in case of the highest was about $500. Of course this is vastly above what is accomplished by the ordinary farmer, but it shows what can be done with good soil, liberal dressing, prolific variety, and thorough tillage.
  17. Golden Geese.—Here is one man’s experience: “I bought a gander and three geese. From the geese I received yearly forty eggs each in two litters, or a total of 120. I find that from this number of eggs I can safely count on seventy-five per cent of matured chicks, or ninety goslings. The weight when fatted is 855 pounds, and at twenty cents a pound I receive $171. Cost of keeping is $46. Profits, $125. Of course, the sum varies one year from another, but this is my average for five years.” At the same rate the goslings from 100 geese would pay a net profit of $4,125, but if they paid only one-quarter that sum it would still be a profitable investment.
  18. California Prunes.—This great state has now 85,000 acres planted with prunes, and produced last year 65,000,000 pounds. The crop has grown from nothing to this enormous amount in the last few years. People do not rush into an enterprise in this way unless they are pretty sure it is a good thing. The “good thing” in this case is that prunes costing one and one half cents per pound to raise sell for six and seven cents, and the prune raisers are all getting rich.
  19. A Bee Farm.—Here is another California bonanza. Says a man in the southern part of the State: “Last year I marketed ten tons of extracted honey, and three tons of comb honey, all from 154 colonies. I received on an average ten cents per pound, or a total of $3,600. The space employed was 1,386 feet, or somewhat less than an acre.”
  20. The Apple Acre.—A man in New England said that after forty years experience, raising all kinds of crops, he found that his apple orchard averaged $55 per acre, which was better than any crop on his other 200 acres of land.
  21. The Sugar Beet.—Purchase a farm within a few miles of a sugar beet factory. With proper cultivation you can grow nine tons to the acre, and the factory price should be $4.50 per ton. The thriftiness of the beet makes little trouble with weeds, and hence the expense of raising is not one-fourth that of onions.
  22. Gilt-Edged Breeds.—The sum of $5,100 was recently paid for a Poland-China boar. A litter of pigs of this breed brought $3,500. These sums seem almost incredible, but when people have both the mania and the money they will pay any amount to gratify their taste. There are persons who take as much pride in pigs as others do in horses. The best way to succeed with new, breeds is to cultivate a strain for yourself. It requires time, patience and experience, and some outlay in risk, but in the end it pays, especially if one has the gift of knowing how to trumpet his stock.
  23. December Layers.—With a trifling expense you can have eggs at Christmas as well as at Easter. The price is often more than double at the former season. Connect with hot water-pipes and keep your hens warm. A cold hen never lays an egg. A poultry expert says if a flock is well cared for the whole year round, it should pay annually for each hen $1 net. At the same rate a flock of four hundred would bring a net income of $400.
  24. Florida Celery.—In Florida the first growers made from $500 to $1,500 per acre. Competition has reduced the price, but at present rates men with six acres are getting a comfortable support, and those who have the means to cultivate a large farm of this popular vegetable are rapidly growing rich.
  25. Oneida Hops.—It takes a good many hops to weigh a pound, but growers in Oneida County, New York, have raised 1,400 pounds per acre, receiving therefor $112. Probably this is somewhat better than the average, but profits in even low-price years are better in that section of the country than for any other crop. Hops are a safe and easy crop.
  26. Boston Beans.—They are not raised in Boston—only baked there. They are a hardy crop, and will grow on any properly cultivated soil. One year with another they bring $2.50 per bushel. Beans are the surest of all crops, and if the price were only as certain, you could figure out your income in advance almost as accurately as if employed on a salary.
  27. Christmas Trees.—Buy for a few hundred dollars an abandoned farm too poor for culture, and pack it with small evergreens. Christmas trees command from fifty cents to $5, and you can grow a thousand of them on a single acre. There are fortunes in what is called worthless land if you know how to improve it.
  28. The Guaranteed Egg.—A great business can be done with a guaranteed egg. Success depends upon the absolute perfection of your egg. Have a stamp made, and stamp every egg with the name of your farm, and offer to replace any one found faulty. Also stamp the date on which they are taken from the nest. In this way you will absolutely protect your product from the frauds of dealers, your eggs will attain a wide reputation, will have an unlimited demand, and you will grow rich. There is a mine of gold in this suggestion.
  29. Double Vegetable Culture.—Here is an idea of a New Jersey farmer. He has conceived the notion of grafting tomatoes on potatoes vines, or an air crop on a root crop, and thus raising vegetables at both ends. There is nothing impracticable in the notion, and it is doubtless entirely feasible, if only he is liberal enough with his fertilizers. This is an idea for growers who have only a limited space, and where land is high.
  30. English Shires.—Colts from Lord Rothschild’s stud farm last year averaged $875. It costs little more to keep a good horse than a poor one. There are great possibilities in the raising of fine-blooded horses. The colt that won the great Futurity race this year could have been easily bought for $700 before the race. Now $20,000 will not purchase him. “Plunger” Walton made $350,000 in two years on the turf. At the Elmendorf stud farm near Lexington, Ky., a short time ago thirty-three yearling colts were sold at prices ranging from $150 to $5,100, the average price being $1,460.87 per head; at the same time twenty yearling fillies brought an average of $676.50 per head, the forty-three yearling colts and fillies being the product of one breeding farm and selling in one day for $47,130 or an average of $1,095.80 per head.
  31. Fortunes in Nut Shells.—Land too poor for meadow or even for pasture may be utilized for nut-growing. The trees require little attention, but will produce bushels of nuts if the soil is properly stirred and fertilized every year. One man, in Connecticut raises each year 100 bushels of hickory nuts from ten trees, and sells them at $2 a bushel. The rocky, waste lands of New England can grow millions of these trees. Chestnuts can be grown cheaper than wheat. The standard price is $4 to $8 per bushel, but large chestnuts, early in the season, that is, in September and October, bring from $10 to $15 per bushel. Judge Salt, of Burlington, N. J., says he has a chestnut tree in the middle of a wheat field that pays more than the wheat. The average is about $19 per tree, and twenty trees have ample room in an acre. This makes $300 per acre with but little cost for cultivation. Here is something of importance about the pecan. The chief pomologist at Washington, D. C., says: “The cultivation of nuts will soon be one of the greatest and most profitable industries in the United States, and there is no use in denying the fact that the Texas soft shell pecan is the favorite nut of the world.” The average yield of these nuts in North Carolina is $300 to $500 per acre. Some pecan trees in New Jersey are producing annually five to six bushels of delicious, thin-shelled nuts.

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