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j AGRICULTURAL NOTES.

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AGRICULTURAL NOTES. Within three weeks of midsummer, as we now are, the agricultural outlook is less encouraging than at any previous period of the year. In many directions, indeed, it is no exaggeration to say that the prospects are decidedly disheartening. The indications of a possible termination to see the drought which appears to manifest themselves at about the end of the third week of May came to nothing, and in the closing week of the month not only was the drought intensified, but for the greater part of it harsh winds continued to prevail. The result on the farm has not been merely a cessation of plant growth, but in inaLV cases a visible retrogression. The increasing scarcity of water is causing much anxiety, and it has become a public not less than a private dnty upon every one who possesses the power, to conserve as closely as possible all sources of water supply. The hottest three months of the year are immediately in front of us, and until such time as repletion of the under. ground reservoirs shall take place, all available supplies of water need to be carefully husbanded. In many districts ponds that have not been dry since the drought of 1893 have now lost all their water, and, as instances of local aberration, cases are here and there reported where ponds have lately run dry for the firot time within memory. The carting of water to stock, particularly to sheep is a heavy one, and it lis now increasing daily. Country roads are in a rotten condition, the continuous drought having caused the surfaces to break up into a kind of shingle. On arable lands tield work is as close up as it is possible to bring it, and many farmers have continued drilling upon dusty seed beds in the hope that an entire change in the weather may speedily clothe the sur- face with a vigorous green braird. Mangel and swede sowing, however, is practically at an end, and whatever else may be done in the direction of root cultivation must mainly be confined to turnips, which are capable of being profitably sown over a much longer period. The mangel clamps that are now being opened are revealing their contents in the primest condition, and is is doubtful if mangel ever came more successfully through the winter. With pastures prematurely giving out, these roots, to those who are fortunate enough to possess them, are now af the highest value, especially where sheep or milch kine are carried. This season, indeed, the mangel wurzel is proving itself literally, as its name implies, the root of scarcity." The direst effects of the drought have yet, however, to make themselves felt. With vetches, trifolium, rye, winter barley, rape, sainfoin, and other forage crops that have come so grandly through the winter, fioekmasters have not so far been put to any great straits. But the problem that is beginning to trouble them—and it grows more pressing every day-is what they shall provide as food for their stock six weeks or two months hence. Whilst the green forage at present available is steadily disap- pearing in the face of current needs, little or no progress is being made in the growth of crops which should normally be available for late summer feed. Such of the spring-sown seed crops as have struggled into braird are pining beneath the priva- tions of drought on the one hand and insect pests on the other, whilst the extent of land sown to seeds that show no sign of germination becomes greater week by week—in some gardens, even, potatoes planted a month or more have as yet shown no sign. The contrast between the appear- ance of the wheat crop and of the other cereals onlv becomes more marked as the drought continues, and the later-sown barley and oats are in some districts well-nigh despaired of. In many English counties haymaking was in progress last week, and ears of wheat will be seen this week. Hay has been easily made and quickly carried, for the crop is of the most meagre bulk. Is the weather of last week turned out, this snatching of such hay as could be got was the right thing to do, for heavy rains, if they come, would stimulate a good aftermath. Old sayings are still honoured in farmhouses, but that a dripping June sets all things in tune" was never meant to apply to such a season as the present. No amount of drip," even if we should get it, jan restore the lost hay harvest or make good to the late-sown corn crops the start which they never got, or cover the belated mangel fields with a uniform braird. The cruciferous root crops and green crops gener- ally might benefit, and meadows and pastures would respond to a generous drenching, but it is hardly possible that any kind of change in the weather, however favourable, could keep 1896 out of the category of bad years." This is a sorry statement to have to make so early as the beginning of Juue, but a prolonged spring drought, especially when following upon an accumulated deficiency in rainfall, leaves behind it marks which are inefface- able. The best thing farmers can do is to begin at ouoe to practice I t-t uioat rigid economy in con- nexion with everj thing tiiat can possibiy be requisitioned as food for stock, to begin to repeat now, on the early side of midsummer, those methods and operations which they were forced to adopt when, at the close of the terrible drought of 13^3, they found themselves face to lace with a winter for which they had been able to make scarcely any provision. The following extract from a letter from an agriculturist of very long experience, who has recently been travelling about the country, will be read with interest In my journeyintrH I found very little to cheer me. Wheat will no doubt be the crop of the year. Early sown barley and oats may pull through fairly well if rain should come in earnest, not merely a few dustlaying showers. Mangei, except in isolated cases, promises a patchy crop, and a large breadth will come to nothing. Land is too hard and dry to go on for turnips, &c. Grass is going, and 1 cannot see where the hay is to come from. A large farmer in Shropshire drove me through a brook close to his home and farmstead which he said had dried up on May 20 for the first time since he had been living there—19 years and as he ties up 80 or 90 beasts he was dismayed at the prospect of the water supply. A week before, in Romney Marsh, another large farmer complained to me of the scarcity of grass and water. I do not think the world is by I any means yet awake to the state of ruin that has befallen agriculture. Unless some change be made in the direction of protection it does not need the foresight of a prophet to say that the foreigner will entirely supersede the British producer. So I shall give up." And, accordingly, be has arranged to quit his farm in a little more than a year's time, on the expiration of his lease. A BREEDING QUESTION. Experience has proved that close in-breeding is certain to result in deterioration of stock. There have been many raisers of superior animals who have to their cost, discovered the, mistake of acting in this manner, and the jrdicioug man is always on the look out to find animals of ebitable character to introduce into his stock, herd, or flock, in order to improve it-to add some quality which his own do not possess in the required degree. SHEEP, AND WOOL GARMENTS. The past lambing season has been a good one, and it is generally expected that the addition to the ovine stock of the country will be greater than it was last year. Many people attribute thi fact to the mildness of the winter, but it is very curious that flockmasters as a rule do not agree in that conclusion. Over and over again we have been told they prefer a moderately cold winter, and that as a rule the lambs do better than they do when the season is mild. This opens up two questions. We hear in sharp winters, of fatality to ewes a d lambs, and in mild winters and springs like the past we are not told of so many. These statements may be exactly true, but there is a greater fatality in the cold than in the warmer weather; but the question which comes uppermost is Is the mild- ness of the weather the sole cauSe ? It may be advanced that in a great measure the fatalities in cold winters and springs arise from more or less neglect on the part of shepherds. They are un- willing to turn out so frequently as tb(?y ought to assist the ewes at the moment they want help, and thus both ewes and lambs are lost. In the better and milder weather the shepherds are more regularly amongst their flocks, and thus able to be with the ewes when their services are most needful. Then comes another question How can this be avoided ? It might be surmounted by the farmer acting as his own shepherd, and looking after his flock himself, being prepared to withstand all weather and inconveniences. It might be sur- mounted also if it were possible to obtain shepherds who are prepared to sacrifice their own comfort and convenience-and certainly many of them will do it-for the benefit of their employer and the credit of the flock. All men are not alike in this way, and farmers perhaps are not always quite so considerate to their shepherds as they might be. If the latter were provided with a suitable travelling house, where he could have a fire, make himself some tea, lie down, and be otherwise comfortable during the night, there would, we have no doubt, be far fewer cases of casualties at lambing time than there are now. The obviOU8 advantage of the shepherd being amongst his sheep at all times during tho night does not need argument, and fioekmasters who have hitherto no £ „iven this little consideration to their shepherds might well take a new departure in this direction for their own interest. Whilst referring to sheep it may be mentioned that over 700,000,000 of wool were imported into this country in I894 and of this about 346,000,0001b. were re-exp0rted leaving a balance of nearly 360,000,0001b. for consumption in this country. A suggestion has been made that our leaders of fashon in this country should be urged to wear dresses of woollen materials, and adopt trimmings of sheep skins with Wand short wools, instead of furs, next winter. The ijeais put forward with a view to help the British farmer. If a good demand was set up for this class of goods, it might make a little difference in the price of wool, and if it should result in the increass of our flocks, to an extent that would materially affect the enormous imports, it would be a decided advan- tage. It is true that the bulk of the imported wool comes from British possessions, but with the supply from these quarters there are still over 86 000,0001b. which reach us from foreign countries. Home industries have been fostered by the fashion of wearing certain articles of manufacture by leading personages in the land, and we should be glad if anything more could be done in the way of promoting home industry in the production and making-up of wooi as suggested above. AGRICULTURAL RETURNS FOR WALES. The agricultural returns for 1895 which have just been issued, show, as regards' Wales, that while there has been a decrease in the total' acre- age of corn crops, green crops, and permanent pasture, and in the number of sheep, there has been a substantial increase in the number of horses, cattle, and pigs, and in the acreage of qmall fruit, clover, sainfoin, and grasses under rotation. The total area of Wales (land and water) is returned at 4,774,000 acres. Of this area 182,000 acres are under woods and plantations, 1,099,000 mountain and heath land used for grazing, 1,979,000 per- manent pasture, and 860,000 arable land. Taking first the acreage of corn crops we fin a decrease of 21,248 acres, the total for 1895 being 402,240, against 423,488 in 1894. The acreage of wheat has gone down from 56,470 to 44,036, of oats from 250,866 to 242,198, of rye from 1,785 to 1,288, and of beans from 1,529 to 1,433. Tne acreage of barley, however, has gone up from 111,572 to 111,886, and that of peas from 1,266 to 1,399. The decline of corn growing is common to the four divisions of the kingdom. Wheat-growing, for instance, is reported to have decreased in every i county in England and Wales except Carnarvon, where there is a trivial increase of 13 acres. Green crops, again, im-lnding potatoes, turnips, Ac., sliow a uecoeajMi of 2,099 acres, the total being 118,069 acres, against 120,668 in 1894. The acreage of closer, sianfuin, and grasses under rotaiou rose from 321,043 to 329,047, au increase of 7,999 acres. The acreage of pormaaent- pasture fell from 1,532,804 to 1,973.457, while that of small fruit rose from 1.076 to 1,175. The number of horses rose from 147,506 to 153,158. an increase of 5,652 the number of cattie from 695,000 to 703,824. an increase of 8.824 and the number of pigs 227,6b8 to 260,091, an increase of 32,423. The number of sheep, however, fell from 3.078,641 to 3,CC0,841, a serious decrease of 77,800. We give below the detailed statistics for 1895 for each of the Welsh counties in which the County Time., cir- culates, the figures for 1894 being added in parentheses for the purpose of comparison :— CARDIGAN.—Total acreage under all kinds or crops, 269,746 (270,029). Corn crops-whoat 5,140 (6.272), ba-lev 16,371 (16.362), oats 30,79C (32,229), rye 155 (259), beans 42 (7), peas 4S2 (388), total 52,981 (55,518). Green crops- potatoes 5,895 (6,142), turnips and swedes 5,311 (5,221), mangolds 1,155 (1,107), cabb;.ge, &c. 238 (276), other green crops 39 (48). total 12,812 (13,015). Clover, gra jRos, ar.d sainfoin under rotation 42.238 (43,370). Permanent pasture 160,85S (157,328). Small fruit 34 (21). Bare fallow or uncropped arable land 823 (777). Ilorses —agricultural 8,129 (7,771), unbroken 6,345 (5,820), breedingjmares 1,579 (1,466), total 16,053 (15,057). Cattle—cows and heifers in milk or in calf 25,565 (25.313), other cattle, two years and abcve 6.978 (9,516), one year and under two 15,118 (14,443), under one year 17,675 (15,436), total 65,336 (64,708;. Sheep—breeding ewes 96,218 (94.129), other sheep, one year and above 63,247 (65,703), under one year 65,068 (79,423), total 231,533 (236,260). Pi.s- breeding sows 3,418 (3,116), other pigs 20,890 (18,602), total 24,308 (21,718). MERIOXKTH.—Total acreage under all kinds of crops 154,065 (154,034). Corn crops-wheat 638 (786), barley 4,375 (4,427), oats, 9,857 (10,510), rye 58 (65), beans 8 (8), peas 1 (6), total 14,937 (15,802). Green crops—potatoes 1,952 (2,010), turnips and swedes 1,604 (1,591), mangold 156 (172), cabbage, &c. 11 (41), vetches 12 (IS), other green crops 33 (37), total 3,768 (3,869). Clover sainfuin, and grasses under rotation 13,897 (14,285). Permanent pasture 121,341 (119,993). Small fruit 27 (16). Bare fallow or uncropped arable land 95 (69). Horses—agricultural 2,941 (2,906), unbroken 1,895 (1,776), breeding mares 430 (444), total 5,266 (5,126). Cattle—cows and heifers in milk or in calf 13,998 (13,957), other cattle, two years and above 5,486 (6,164), one year and under two 8,702 (8,584), under one year 9,816 (9,134), total 38,002 (37,839). Sheep—breeding ewes 134,286 (134,492), other sheep, one year and above 153,809 (164,282), under one year 88,758 (116,137), total 376,843 (414,911). Pigs- breeding sows 1,428 (1,439), other pigs 8,133 (7,609), total 9,561 (9,048). MONTGOMERY.—Total acreage under all kinds of crops 270,783 (277,375). Corn crops-wheat 9,245 (11,548), barley 9,484 (9,466), oats 23,709 (24,276), rye 95 (66), beans 153 (80), peas 414 (368), total 43,100 (45,804). Green crops— potatoes 2,097 (2,169), turnips and swedes 8,026 (8,188), mangold 247 (280), cabbage &c. 14 (22), vetches 143 (192), other green crops 24 (26), total 10,551 (10,877). Clover, sainfoin, and grasses under rotation 29,706 (28,531). Permanent pasture 185,787 (190,692). Small fruit 131 (100). Bare fallow or uncropped arable land 1,507 (1,370). Horses—agricultural 7,314 (7,314), unbroken 6,935 (6,642), breeding mares 1,544 (1,451), total 15,793 (15,407). Cattle —cows and heifers in milk or in calf 22,562 (22,397), other cattle, two years and above 12,902 (14,737), one year and under two 16,742 (16,498), under one year 17,744 (16,651), total 69,950 (70,283). Sheep—-breeding ewes 136,586 (138,658), uther sheep, one year and above 112,612 (117,536), onder one year 118,658 (125,845), total 367,856 (382,039). Pigs-breeding sows 4,262 (3,986), other pigs 22,879 (18,128), total 27,141 (22,114).

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