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After having thus presented to the eyes of our readers various calculations of the average yield of an Illinoisian farm, we cannot conclude this present chapter without having submitted to him also a very interesting parallel between the profitableness of rural economy in Illinois on the one hand, and that of busbandry in other Western States, on the other. This parallel is thus drawn up in a little interesting pamphlet just published by A. Campbell, Esq., of La Salle, entitled “ A Glance at Illinois.”
“Now if the following plan were adopted, it would probably be as profitable a division as could be made for farming purposes, and would suit the means and views of a majority of farmers, as well as any other which could be made : -Say with a farm of 160 acres, you appropriate 40 acres to buildings, orchards, and pasture grounds; upon which also may be raised the vegetables for the family, and a portion of the provender for the stock; 20 acres for mowing; 30 acres for wheat, and 70 acres for corn.
“We will assume that the wheat and corn crops are the only ones of which the farmer will have any surplus. This may of course be varied to suit the views and circumstances of the cultivator, but will not materially affect the general result. With fair farming, 20 bushels of wheat to the acre is not too large an estimate, nor are 50 bushels of corn by any means a large average yield upon our rich prairie lands. Therefore, assuming the above to be a fair estimate of the yield, we have
30 acres of wheat, at 20 bushels per acre = = 600 bushels. 70 acres of corn, at 50 bushels per acre = 3500 bushels.
“ Now if you retain 200 bushels of wheat, for seed and family use, and 900 bushels of corn, for working stock, and fattening animals for family use, both of which allowances are, undoubtedly, sufficiently large-you will have left for market, 400 bushels of wheat, and 2600 bushels of corn,-in all 3000 bushels of grain.
• And as this is a strictly agricultural country, it must depend upon an eastern or foreign market for the sale of its surplus produce. And with the present and prospective railroad facilities, communicating with Lake Michigan, we are safe in assuming that, as a general thing, all surplus north of the 10th parallel of latitude, not only in this State, but from the country west, must inevitably, by the laws of trade, find its outlet to the eastern market by what is termed the Northern or Lake route.
Although there is a considerable consumption of meat and grain upon the sugar and cotton plantations of the south, and in the West Indies, the country south of the line we have named, is at all times fully adequate to the supply, except in case of a short crop.
“A bushel of grain is worth upon the farm as much less as the cost of carrying it to market. And the cost of transporting wheat or corn by railroad, is about eight cents per bushel per hundred miles, and for meats about fifteen cents per hundred pounds, per hundred miles. The average cost per bushel for transporting wheat or corn from Chicago to Buffalo, by way of the lakes, will not exceed seven cents, during the season of navigation; while from Cleveland to Buffalo, it is about four cents per bushel.
“Now as the comparative advantage of different points in the west, for farming purposes, is the object we wish to arrive at, suppose, in making &
comparison, we take for one locality, the vicinity of Columbus, Ohio;-_another, 80 miles west or southwest of Chicago, in Illinois, on the line of any of the numerous railroads diverging westerly or southwesterly from that point. For a third, Iowa City, the capital of Iowa, which is 242 miles west of Chicago; and Fort Des Moines, in Iowa, for a fourth; this is 367 miles west of Chicago, by way of the Rock Island Railroad, which is now completed to Iowa City, and in process of construction to Fort Des Moines.
“ From Columbus, Ohio, to Cleveland, 125 miles, at eight cents per hundred miles, by railroad, the cost would be ten cents; from thence to Buffalo by the way of Lake Erie, four cents; from thence to New York, twelve cents; total, twenty-six cents. From the points 80 miles west or south-west of Chicago, by railroad, it would be seven cents to Chicago; from thence to Buffalo, seven cents; from thence to New York, twelve cents; total, twenty-six cents. From Iowa City to Chicago, 242 miles, the cost would be nineteen cents per bushel ; thence to Buffalo, seven cents; thence to New York, twelve cents, would give a total of thirty-eight cents, from Iowa City to New York. From Fort Des Moines to Chicago, 367 miles, the cost would be twenty-nine cents; from thence to Buffalo, seven cents; thence to New York twelve cents; total cost, from Fort Des Moines to New York, forty-eight cents. And in like ratio for any distance greater or less.
“ The value of the crop upon a farm of 160 acres, at Columbus, Ohio, and upon one of the same size 80 miles from Chicago, are equal; whilst there is a difference in favor of the latter over the one at Iowa City, of 360 dollars; and over the one at Fort Des Moines, in Iowa, of 660 dollars. Three hundred and sixty dollars will pay an interest of six per cent upon a valuation of $6000; and $600 is the interest at the same rate upon $10,000. This shows that a farm of 160 acres within 80 miles of Chicago, is worth $6000 more than one of the same size in the vicinity of Iowa City; which is equal to $37 50 per acre, and $1100 more than one at Fort Des Moines; which is equal to $68 75 per acre, when appropriated to raising grain.”
SOIL. In regard to agriculture, the soil of Illinois is divided into three classes. On the prairies it is a vegetable mould of different depth, on a substratum from 3 to 4 feet thick, of rich mulatto loam or clay, being in most cases entirely free from stones, and requiring only a single tilling in order to produce all the various species of corn and fruits peculiar to these latitudes. The wild grass growing on the prairies furnishes a very nutritious article of food, which will at once account for the universal renown of the beef of Illinois.
The bottom lands skirted by the rivers are of extraordinary fertility, but exposed to frequent inundations, and covered with tall forest trees. Here the vegetable mould attains a depth of from three to twelve feet; its inexhaustibility is easily accounted for by the consideration that the rivers impregnated with the humus of the prairies through which they flow, deposit it in the bottom lands, whenever a rise of the water causes the latter to be inundated.
The soil of the openings covered with scattered trees of the forest, and these mostly oak, though not as good as that of the prairies, will yet yield as fine a crop without any manure, as can be obtained in the Eastern States with the aid of manure.
But it should be added that the character of the soil differs in the different sections of the State. The substratum is clay, (this is invariably the case in Central Illinois), which precludes the idea that the fertility of the soil ever could be lost. By injudicious tillage the lands may, after years, tire, but can never be worn out.
Upon the large water-courses, and in the extreme north and south, the soil is sandy, and the substratum sand and gravel, with some clay. In Central Illinois the soil is without sand; on the undulating, or rolling prairies, the soil is of a mulatto, or yellow cast; on the level lands it is black;
but no difference can be discovered in the fertility of these two-thirds of soil, both producing equally well all kinds of grain and grasses. The depth of the black soil is from twenty to thirty inches; the yellow from fifteen to twenty-four inches. It is the prevailing opinion that the level or table-lands stand a drought better than the rolling. The soil in Central Illinois partakes largely of limestone, without the appearance of the stone itself, therefore rendering it the more valuable, and easy of cultivation, and causing it to stand a long and continued drought, with less injury to growing crops than those portions of the country where rock is interspersed through the cultivated lands.
BREAKING THE SOIL.
It is difficult to place a man in any situation where he feels more like an honest conqueror than he does when turning over the verdant turf of the prairies. His plough must have a keen edge, and cut from twenty-two to thirty-six inches wide. A thin sod of two or three inches thick is cut smooth and turned completely upside down. The bottom of the furrow and top of the reversed sod are as smooth as if sliced with a keen knife. Every green thing is turned out of sight, and nothing is visible but the fresh soil. When the prairie is broken, and the sod has time to decompose, the land is thoroughly subdued, and in a good condition for any crop-not a stump or a stone in the way, over a whole quarter section; free from weeds, rich, fresb,
and mellow; it is the fault of the farmer if it is not kept so.
Some farmers are accustomed to cross-plough the land, about two months after it has been broken, but others, say cross-ploughing is not necessary; however, it will do no harm to the land if cross-ploughed, but increase its fertility.
The cost of breaking prairie is from two to three dollars per acre; and it is principally done by men who keep teams for the purpose, and do their work by the job. A three-horse team will break two acres per day, and a heavy ox-team with a 36 inch plough, will break three acres per day.
The breaking of prairie is done in the different sections of the country at different times; say from the 1st of May till the 20th of July, monthly from the 10th of May till the 20th of June.
After the farmer has broken his land, his next care must be to enclose it with a fence in order to secure his crops against the cattle. You may
find in Illinois all sorts of fences, from the clumsy zig-zag fence, to the hardly visible, cheap, and wood-saving wire fence; that fence, however, which is the most conformable to the purpose, the cheapest, and at the same time the most embellishing, is the living, to wit: the Maclura hedge, which, with every new year, may be seen planted and growing more and more.
Referring to the special chapter, wherein the culture of the Maclura hedge is more particularly described, we shall here call the attention of our readers to the fact, that every farmer commencing his business here, should at once proceed to plant this hedge, which affords most ample security against all kinds of animals, provided his means permit him to do so. Although it is true, that such a hedge will first afford security four years after its being finished, so that during that time another fence must be erected outside of the Maclura hedge, the money expended on it is not lost, but amply compensated for, since the live hedge affording perfect protection at the end of this time, the other fence may either be sold, or its wood used for some other purpose.
The two best kinds of wood fences are the zig-zag, and the board fence. He who is about erecting the first, and owns no wooded tract of land, should purchase a couple of acres, and have the rails split
under his immediate supervision. The hewing and splitting is usually paid for at the rate of one dollar for every bundred, the wood costing about as much, so that the expenses of fencing must be computed not higher than three dollars for every hundred rails. To diminish the cost, it would be advisable for friends to purchase contiguous lots, so that for the tracts owned by them, only one external fence would be required at first. Twenty acres will require 4704; forty acres, 6720; one hundred and sixty acres, 13,440; and a full section, or six hundred and forty acres, 28,880 cross-beams.
In building board fences, iron posts and pine boards are made use of, and constructed in such a manner that two posts and three boards constitute a panel. The cost would be for boards and hauling $1 15 per rod; the boards for 320 rods of fencing, the amount for 40 acres, would cost $368. About 700 posts, at eleven cents each, would cost $77; for putting up the fence the cost would be—for digging post holes and setting posts, $28; for nails, $19; for Dailing, $14; making the whole cost of fencing 40 acres, $506. For enclosing 640 acres in one field, the cost is four times as much, viz., $2,024.
DIVISION OF FARMS, ROTATION OF CROPS, AND MANURING. The division of a farm after the various species of corn and other products, of course depends on the northern or southern exposure of the farm. We may, however, regard it as a division conformable to the purpose, if one-balf of the entire tract of land destined for the cul. ture of grains and vegetables is planted with Indian corn, while threefourths of the residue are sown equally with wheat and oats. The culture of barley, rye, and potatoes, depends upon the character of the respective farms, and their comparative distance from the markets.
Heretofore but little has been said concerning the rotation of crops in Illinois; the exuberant soil yields whatever is required from it, and most farmers deeming it unnecessary to pay any regard to the land, are under the impression of best guarding their interests by exclusively cultivating that which commands the highest price at the time. While one cultivates Indian corn and wheat for a succession of ten or fifteen years, or more, another will plant Indian corn for a few years, next oats, and then wheat in the stubble of the oats, repeating this for several times, after which he plants again Indian corn, A third