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AGRICULTURE. Agricultural Prospects. The prospects for the coming season are hardly so "pomising as we eould wish. With an earnest desire to look upon the bright side of things, and anxious to avoid the constitutional croak for which farmers are rightly or wrongly proverbial, we are forced to admit that things might be better. First and foremost on our list stands out that dreaded word rinderpest," a erm, by the way, with which we have now become so familiar that, unless ourselves afflicted, we almost forget that our neighbours ara in many cases still suffering, and that the disease is raging despite all the regulations and restrictions which the authorities have in their wisdom devised. It by no means follows that legislation has been useless; far from it. We believe that but for the energetic measures—alas! too tardily p-arsued-t,ho disease, instead of being localised as at present, would have spread over the whole surface of the country. The instances of fresh centres of in- fection are much less numerous than formerly. This is cheering evidence of the value of the regulations as to cattle traffic and the isolation of infected places; and, although the cases are still formidable enough, we may believe that they consist for the greater part of animals that from some cause or other escaped the former outbreak. Everything goes to prove that, when once the dis- ease has been fairly established in a district, it be- comes exceedingly difficult to eradicate it, and that a long period must elapse before the locality can be pro- Bounced safe for the reception or passage through it of healthy stock. How long experience alone can de- ciile; at present it would be unwise to dogmatise. But this we can Bay from our own experience, that in- stances have occurred when, after many weeks im. munity and without any apparent cause, the disease reappears and attacks the few animals that escape the first outbreak. In one particular in- stance the farmsteads on one side of a parish suffered severely in the winter; the other side, which escaped them, is now attacked, and the disease does not appear to have lost its malignant character, as is the favourite theory with some. The tenacity with which rinder- pest clings to a district is remarkable, and it is but too probable that, unless some great change for the better shortly occurs, every head of h-orned stock in these localities will be carried off. As far as our observa- tion allows us to judge, inspectors are not sufficiently prompt in "slaughtering the beasts; though convinced of the character of the disease, they wait to see if nature can straggle through, and thereby assist in p jrpetuating the evil. How long will the germs retain vitality, and what are the best and simplest means of disinfection ? These are subjects of the gravest importance. Our own view is that it will not be safe to introduce cattle till at least another winter has passed, and in the meantime how are the crops to be consumed and the land properly manured P Sheep and pigs may be de- veloped, but where are we to get the stock ? Every- where extraordinary prices are being made, which preclude all reasonable hopes of a return from grazing. Moreover, the animals do not exist that can supply the gap caused in many districts by this fell disease. How are the tenants to meet their landlords, not perhaps so much now as in the future ? It is indeed a gloomy prospect. After a time sheep will increase, but years must first elapse, and in the meantime what is to be done ? Pigs increase more rapidly, but the market can be too easily glutted, and this result we confidently anticipate towards another spring. The light arable soils depend mainly upon a good dressing of muck, and, failing this, muse retrograde. If we turn from stock and regard the condition of our crops, we find that wheat as a rule looks well, especially on light, well-drained land. It has been a good season for this crop so far. On the poor, stiff clays, however, the prospeets are unfavourable. The extremely wet winter, the absence of frost, and the cold spring have been prejudicial, and the plant looks weak and spindly. Warm weather, which may now be looked for, will cause an improvement; but we fear the yield on such soils cannot be good. The spring crops, though somewhat late sown, have gone in much better than at one time seemed possible, and where the land was not trodden by sheep in the wet, the braid has been even, and the crop promises well. The long continuance of east and north wind, with sharp frost at night, has destroyed all chance of a good hay crop. Uplands must be light, and, should dry weather continue, miserably deficient. This will be the third dry spring in succession. We find the red clover in blossom already, though the grass is not in any place more than six inches high. It is too early to speculate upon roots; all depends upon the presence or absence of rainfall during the next two months. The land has lately worked well, and (the soil is generally healthy; all that we now want is gentle rain. Some districts in the south have been favoured, but northwards it remains still dry, with cold nights; a change, however, may be looked for, as the wind has at last left the north-east, where it has hung so pertinaciously, and chops about west by south. The fall of lambs is generally well reported of, and where food has been sufficient the weather has not been unfavourable, but we fear the hill farmers must have suffered from a deficiency of keep. The root crops were generally light, mangolds in many places a failure, and in such cases nothing but the seeds and vetches remain. Woe to the farmers who were driven to feed off the former during the earlier part of the month when the frosts were so severe. •In such cases we are surprised that the simple precau- tion of removing the sheep at night, and not allowing them to return until the frost is off, is not more com- monly adopted. The best plan of all would be to fold over the seeds, as then we can prevent waste, and should rain follow the feeding off, there is always a chance of a crop to mow. The wool is not likely to be a heavy clip, for the reasons stated. Prices may be expected to tend up- wards, should the present unfavourable state of the money market subside. We have heard of long wool being sold at d. a pound, but jaist now buyers are cautious, and it will be advisable to hold for the chances of an easier money market. Labour is generally scarce, and higher rates are in many cases asked and given. The Bystem of union and combination, which has been productive of suoh complications and evils in the case of manufactures and trades, appears likely to affect agriculture also.



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