KANSAS COLLECTION BOOKS
Excerpts from MARVELS OF THE NEW WEST by William M. Thayer.


From MARVELS OF AGRICULTURE.




A Sulkey Plough.

Mr. Carnegie* strikingly puts the facts in the case as follows: "The farms of America comprise 837,628 square miles, an area nearly equal to one-fourth of Europe, and larger than the four greatest European countries put together (Russia excepted), namely, France, Germany, Austria and Hungary, and Spain. The capital invested in agriculture would suffice to buy up the whole of Italy, with its rich olive-groves and vineyards, its old historic cities, cathedrals and palaces, its kings and aristocracy, its pope and cardinals, and every other feudal appurtenance. Or, if the American farmers were to sell out, they could buy the entire peninsula of Spain, with all its traditions of mediaeval grandeur, and the flat lands which the Hollanders at vast cost have wrested from the sea, and the quaint old towns they have built there. If he chose to put by his savings for three years, the Yankee farmer could purchase the fee-simple of pretty Switzerland as a summer resort, and not touch his capital at all; for each year's earnings exceed $550,000,000. The cereal crop of 1880 was more than 2,500,000,000 bushels. If placed in one mass, this would make a pile of 3,500,000,000 cubic feet. Built into a solid mass as high as the dome of St. Paul's (365 feet), and as wide as the cathedral across the transepts (285 feet), it would extend, a solid mass of grain, down Fleet Street and the length of the Strand and Picadilly, thence on through Knightsbridge, Hammersmith, and South Kensington, to a distance of over six miles. Or it would make a pyramid three times as great as that of Cheops. If loaded on carts, it would require all the horses in Europe and 1,000,000 more (33,500,000) to remove it, though each horse drew a load of two tons. Were the entire crop of cereals loaded on a continuous train of cars, the train would reach one and a half times around the globe, Its value is half as great as all the gold mined in California in the thirty-five years since gold was found there. The corn and cotton-fields of America form kingdoms in themselves, surpassing in size some of those of Europe."


* Triumphant Democracy, p.199.
          Distribution of Land Areas. (Deduced from the Census of 1880.)

|---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|
| STATES AND TERRI- |              LAND IN FARMS.            | LAND NOT IN |    TOTAL   |
|   TORIES OF THE   |----------------------------------------|    FARMS.   | LAND AREA. |
|    NEW WEST.      |  IMPROVED.  | UNIMPROVED. |   TOTAL.   |             |            |
|---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|
| Kansas . . . . .  | 107,039,566 |  10,677,902 | 21,417,468 |  30,870,532 | 52,288,000 |
| Nebraska . . . .  |   5,504,702 |   4,440,124 |  9,944,826 |  38,813,574 | 48,758,400 |
| Oregon . . . . .  |   2,198,345 |   2,016,067 |  4,214,712 |  56,303,688 | 60,518,400 |
| Washington . . .  |     484,346 |     925,075 |  1,409,421 |  41,393,779 | 42,803,200 |
| Colorado . . . .  |     616,169 |     549,204 |  1,165,373 |  65,167,427 | 66,332,800 |
| Utah . . . . . .  |     416,105 |     239,419 |    655,524 |  51,946,076 | 52,601,600 |
| Wyoming  . . . .  |      83,122 |      41,311 |    124,433 |  62,323,567 | 62,448,000 |
| Montana  . . . .  |     262,611 |     143,072 |    405,683 |  92,592,717 | 92,998,400 |
| Idaho  . . . . .  |     197,407 |     130,391 |    327,798 |  53,617,802 | 53,945,600 |
| Nevada . . . . .  |     344,423 |     184,439 |    530,862 |  69,702,738 | 70,233,600 |
| Arizona  . . . .  |      56,071 |      79,502 |    135,573 |  72,133,227 | 72,268,800 |
| Dakota . . . . .  |   1,150,413 |   2,650,243 |  3,800,656 |  90,727,344 | 94,528,000 |
| New Mexico . . .  |     237,392 |     393,739 |    631,131 |  77,743,269 | 78,374,400 |
| California . . .  |  10,669,698 |   5,924,044 | 16,593,742 |  83,233,458 | 99,827,200 |
| Totals . . . . .  |  32,960,670 |  28,396,532 | 61,357,202 | 886,569,198 |947,926,400 |
|---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|
Ploughing on a Bonanza Farm.

     The illustration informs the reader at once how a farm of twenty or thirty thousand acres is ploughed. It is divided into sections, with superintendent and army of employees for each section, who go to work with military precision and order. The cut opposite represents two sections of workers, one of them in the distance, each moving forward like a column of cavalry, turning over a hundred acres of soil in an incredibly brief period of time. The superintendent is accompanied by aids, furnished with all the necessary tools and materials for making repairs speedily, so as to reduce delays to the least possible minimum. Under this arrangement the earth is easily conquered by this mighty army of ploughers, who move forward to the music of rattling machines and the tramp of horses. It is an inspiring spectacle, --the almost boundless prairie farm and the cohorts of hopeful tillers marching over it in triumph.

Steam Gang Plough.

     Steam also reinforces the battalions of workers on many bonanza farms, largely multiplying, the amount of labor performed.

Harrowing on a Bonanza Farm.     The process of harrowing an extensive wheat-field is like that of ploughing, the plough being exchanged for the harrow. The superintendent, on horseback, leads the harrowing cavalcade, as the general does his army, and between the tramp of steeds and tear of harrows, the soil is pretty thoroughly pulverized. Workmen say there is peculiar fascination in this method of subduing Western land on a large scale. Men forget the burden of toil in the excitement of the hour.

     "Many hands make light work" is an old proverb; but it is full as true that many hands make merry work. Drudgery becomes no part of the labor. It is not really "hard work," nor "wearing work." There is so much sociability as well as novelty in the methods that no one is disposed to complain of "hard" work. Nor do they tire of the business as Eastern farmers, working early and late to support their families, often tire. They behold the reward of labor in the rich, loamy furrows, and are satisfied. It is three and four months before harvest, yet they see the thousands of acres of waving grain, the grandest spectacle upon which their eyes ever feasted. Says one who speaks from personal observation:--

     "After all, the most magnificent sight presented to the traveller is the almost boundless expanse of tall, waving wheat in North Dakota. Look out for eight, ten, or twenty miles, as far as the average human sight can pierce the distance, and view the luxuriant, stalwart grain swaying in the breeze and glittering in the golden sunlight like the coruscations of a soaring imagination, and if anything is lacking to complete the sublimity of the picture, compute the pile of golden eagles, or greenbacks, the alchemy of harvest will transmute into the pockets of the lucky owners of these Western bonanzas."

     The author of "California, the Cornucopia of the World," has communicated so much information upon seeding wheat in that State, in a brief article, that we copy it entire. The difference between the seasons in California and some other portions of the New West is set forth by the writer:--

     "We have heretofore alluded to the fact that the seasons in California are so favorable to putting in grain that one man can put in much more there than in countries where the seasons are less favorable. By good management every farmer has a good portion of his land intended for wheat summer-fallowed. This he sows before the rain begins, say in September. The seed comes up with the first rain, and makes a large growth in the warm, pleasant, fall weather, which is as fine growing weather as any April or May weather.

Seeding on a Bonanza Farm.     "Then, when enough rain has fallen to moisten the soil sufficiently to plough stubble corn or new land, the teams are set to work putting in these kinds of lands to wheat. This is called winter-ploughed wheat. The ground being smooth, and soil entirely free of stone and deep and mellow, gang plows are used. Some use two and some three gangs, and where the fields are large and the soil in good condition and level, as high as eleven ploughs to the gang are used. Four horses are used on a two-gang plough, and six on a three-gang, and so increasing the number of horses to the number of ploughs in the gang, using twelve horses on eleven-gang ploughs.

     "The ploughs in the gangs, when so many are used, are generally smaller ploughs, say cutting a furrow eight and ten inches. Connected with the plough or gang of ploughs is a seed sower that sows the seed in front of the plough, and a harrow behind and attached to the plough, so that as the machine moves along the whole operation of ploughing, seeding, and harrowing is performed and completed. No matter how many ploughs in the gang or how many horses, one man attends to and manages the whole thing. It is always calculated that the number of acres thus ploughed and sown in a day should be equal to the number of horses employed. Thus, with six horses six acres are sown, with eight horses eight acres, and with twelve horses twelve acres are put in in a day. Thus it will be seen that one man with twelve horses can, in one month of twenty six working days, put in 312 acres. We have heretofore stated that our seed time for wheat is from September to April, eight months. At 312 acres to the month, one man can thus put in 2,496 acres. Now, in this connection it must be remembered that all this labor, this important and money-making labor, is performed in the rainy season of California. It must also be remembered that the rainy season in California, as we have already explained, is not a season of continuous rains, as many have supposed. Sometimes it rains most of the time for two or three days, but more generally the farmer can work in the field the whole season through and not lose more than four or five days in the whole time."


Continue on to Harvesting and Farm Machines . . .


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