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CURRENT AGRICULTURAL I TOPICS.…

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CURRENT AGRICULTURAL I TOPICS. 1 (BY AGBICOLA OF THE "FIELD.") The first week in the month always brings our fading agriculturists together in London to attend the council meetings of the Royal or the Shorthorn Society, or the meetings of the Farmers' Club or Central Chamber of Agriculture. So far as the Agricultural-Political situation is concerned, the gatherings of the last two bodies named have at the present period no uncommon importance- JUst on the eve of the assembly of Parliament for a session expected to be fruitful in legislation affect- ing the interests of the farming community, their deliberations naturally excite vpry profound at- tention. The subjects fixed for consideration at both the Farmers' Ciub meeting on Monday after- noon and that of the Central Chamber of Agricul- ture on Tuesday morning were the same :—"The Legislative Recommendations in the Report of the Agricultural Commissioners." Everybody expects that the Government is quite prepared to bring in Measures on the lines indicated in that report, and that we shall have a tolerably large instalment of them this year. We have already been promised a Minister of Agriculture, and, according to the speeches which have been delivered by statesmen in office, the principle of compensation for unex- hausted improvements will be made compulsory in all cases. The Rivers Conservancy Bill will no doubt form one of the Government measures to be Produced, but whether with or without the objectionable feature against which upland farmers have so energetically protested remains fo be proved. And there is also the establishment of County Boards, which is quite a foregone con- clusion, and if delayed longer will only be that the County Franchise Question may be settled first. But it will prove unfortunate if the Act to estab- lish County Boards elected by the ratepayers should not pass during the ensuing session, as it appears local taxation cannot be sensibly lightened Until this be done. In other words, there are good grounds for believing that after their establishment the carriage tax, and. maybe, the game licences, will be handed over from the Imperial Exchequer to relieve the severe strain now experienced by farmers owing to the enormous increase in rates during recent years. Agricultural depression last year was scotched, not killed. So far as the clay laud farmers are concerned, their situation just now may be re- garded as worse than ever owing to the almost continuous wet weather experienced since the early partof October having deprived them of the custo- mary wheat plant. In those cases where wheat was in some way muddled in it will have to be ploughed Up again to a prodigious extent, this being the state of things not only in Essex, Suffolk, Hants, Beds, and in many parts of the Midlands, but likewise in Lincolnshire. The wheat plant on the wolds and the chalk hills is looking well, but there is so very lil tle in vale districts generally 3s well as on stiff arable farms that the acreage tor next harvest promises to fall short indeed. The only thing possible to redeem the situation and also the fortunes of the unfortunate occupiers of farms is an unusually fine, dry spring, Vv'hich will allow favourable seedings of spring "wheat, barley, and oats to be made on the un- popped lands. The red nursery wheat if put in uuring the present month, or early part of the n('Xt, generally answers well if the land be at all Well up in condition, and for still later sowings there is the Russian bearded or April wheat, which On warm lands has often been put in after barley sowing in the first week in May, and yet has come "Pe as soon as the autumn sown wheat. A good Scnera), even in the hour of defeat, studies care- "wy the whole of his resources and the best posi- '10118 to fall back upon and cover his retreat. Thus, Although the opening weeks of the new year ■id dried the surface of the soil somewhat, January closed and February opened with a series of furious gales, with heavy downpours to saturate the fields once more, thus destroying hopes of very early spring seedings. Farmers who have sown httle wheat and have to plough up again a good deal of that little must still eagerly watch for opportunities and endeavour to embrace them opportunities and endeavour to embrace them when they do come. What will be the character of the lambing season which has already commenced in forward districts ? Some very evil anticipations are being formed respecting it, and if the correspondents of the agricultural journals prove right in their con- jectures, other evils are likely enough to follow in the train of the past wet season besides the loss of the autumn wheat crop. Probably the fortunes of breeding flockmasters will prove somewhat Varied as thev have been already in those cases where lambulg has taken place. While we have Air. Pope, a. Dorset farmer, occupying a clay soil lamenting that his young ewes yean still-born lambs, many of them dying In or after the trying ordeal, Mr. Robert Russell, who has his flock more on terra firma, on the chalk in the fertile county of Kent, has just informed me that his lambs fall ex- ceedingly Htrong and robust, that he has had more than his usual good fortune as to twins, his rear- a.?eof lamb? being some 20 per cent, in excess of ewes, and that since the 6th of January, when his nrst Iamb came, he has not up to the present lost a single ewe. But probably there are other Pauses referable for Mr. Russell's good fortune besides the dry lairs which his sheep invariably have. The wants of his large family are fore- stalled and studied to an extent I have seldom if overseen elsewhere, and his old shepherd is just as Anxious to engage in any measure calculated to promote the health and welfare of the flock as the faster. To say nothing of abundance of dry food ^Uring winter, and considerable variety in the dietary always, there is not an animal on Mr. ■Russell's farm but has free access to water and at all times, and he regards it as sheer cruelty to withhold either from any head of live stock, be it horse, cow, sheep, pig, or any other kind. There Is probably still another capital cause for the j ooct health of Mr. Russell's flock, and his success lamb breeding which ought to be referred to. cultivates the cabbage tribe of farm vegetables to a far greater extent than either turnips or ^angel wurzel. Mr. Robert Leeds, the well-known ^•orfok agriculturist, once told him that he had cabbage" on the brain," and considering that he j}as thousand-headed kale for his sheep from October till April, when there is sprouting broccoli, followed by autumn planted kale and summer ca-bbages, then more kale planted early in spring, Jjdth autumn cabbages during September and yctober, he certainly carries out the role of grow- cabbages all the year round. It is well-known that the various members of the cabbage family are remarkably healthful as well as highly nutritIOus in their properties, either for man or beast. Ensilage is still to the fore, and the deeply in- vesting and instructive paper read by Professor fhorold Rogers, M.P., at the Society of Arts, on Wednesday, the 31st ult., on Ensilago in Artierica," will be calculated to sustain the interest So very generally felt in the success of the silo sYstem throughout Great Britain and Ireland. The reader of the paper described this modern method preserving grass and summer green crops for Winter use as likely enough to extend so rapidly and Pensively in the United States that a fresh corn- Petition of American produce with that of English jarnas is to be apprehended, unless British j'armers themselves take up the system. This, I believe, they are on the point of doing to a far Sweater extent than is commonly supposed, but the first expend of the construction of silos is the principal obstacle. Mr. E. B. Gibson, of Saffron- Walden, who produced admirable ensilage from rye last summer, took part in the discussion, and Raid the cost of constructing his five silos, which are capable of containing the produce of twenty jj'Cres, was £ 150. This was truly pointed out by *r. Phillips, of Newport, and Mr. Druce, secretary of the Farmers' Club, as too great an outlay for latmers to meet, but, as Mr. Darby observed, Mr. Gibson's silos will hold 150 tons of green pro- duce, and the interest on capital expended would in reality amount to only per ton, the proper conclusion to be arrived at appears to be that if landlords would build silos and charge their tenants 5 per cent, on the outlay as addi- tional rent, this improved system of conserving for live stock might very generally be carried Out,

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