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partially or wholly lose its fertility. No doubt much time will be required to exhaust the soil of Illinois so far, that even very deep ploughing should be found insufficient to insure good harvests; yet, unless the farmers can be persuaded, that the preservation of the fertility of the soil requires those productive powers, which it has expended in bringing forth a crop, to be restored to it, that time must speedily arrive. And further, but few farmers perceive that by wasting the straw of their wheat, they inflict as great an injury upon themselves, as they would by destroying the very wheat, since the production of wheat depends upon the production of straw; a feeble halm will but rarely bear a stout ear; and if you insist upon being wasteful, you might as well feed the cattle with the wheat, as with the straw upon
which it grew. A good field of wheat yields about 2000 pounds of straw per acre, which entire weight, save only the carbonate which it contains, is withdrawn from the soil, thus diminishing its productiveness for the following harvest, by just the same amount; therefore we are right in saying that if the straw is cut close to the ground, by the reaper, as is usually the case, this would be no less a prodigality than to feed the cattle on the wheat altogether. So much of the straw taken from the acre as would be restored to it, would increase the faculty of producing new straw on the part of the soil; on the straw the wheat thrives well, and luxuriant halms bear stout ears.
The soil of the prairies has been stated above to consist generally of clay, which much impedes the further descent of the water trickling down to it from the surface—thus protecting and securing the natural fertility of the soil, and preventing the escape of the powers derived by the soil from being manured; on the other hand, it must be admitted, that this property of the soil is the reason why many level sections of the prairies are frequently wet, and thus unfit for advantageous and immediate cultivation of corn. Such humidity on the part of the soil will in most cases admit of being obviated by deep ploughing and manuring; often deep ploughing will be found sufficient to obviate the difficulty; where, however, deep ploughing or manuring should not prove adequate to accomplishing this object, a few ditches properly dug will not fail to dry the land.
LABOR, WAGES, AND FARM IMPLEMENTS.
What Illinois requires is a further increase of her laboring population, the farmers in every section of the State loudly complaining of the want of hands, adding that much more land might be tilled, if a sufficient number of hands could be found for the purpose. We subjoin a review of the wages, which, during 1855, were paid in the various sections of the State :
The higher rates are, of course, only paid during the harvest, but these, in many counties, exceed the above amounts; the remuneration in winter is less than that in summer. Much new land having been broken during 1855, many farmers express their fears that wages will be still higher in 1856.
The many difficulties which a single farmer has to surmount, in the pursuit of his business, render it difficult to determine how much work a man with two horses is able to perform; from thirty to forty acres, it is usually reckoned, can be easily tilled by a single man, provided he procures himself some hand to assist him during harvest time. Two men with four horses can easily till one hundred acres, and three men with five horses one hundred and sixty acres. We know of a man who, together with a boy of some twelve years, and now and then with an assistant (wbo, however, did not cause him more than fifteen dollars annual expense), and five horses, tilled a farm of forty acres of Indian corn, ten acres of wheat, ten acres of oats, six acres of flax, ten acres of prairie, besides breaking some twenty acres of new prairie, and sowing it with sod corn.
Two acres are estimated a good day's work for a single team of horses, and one and a half for oxen; on many places, however, more is done. Many farmers prefer horses to oxen, horses always having this advantage, that they go faster; and many farmers also contend that they turn up the land better than oxen. A man walks about twenty-five miles while ploughing a day.
What facilitates the labor of a farmer in the west, and especially in Illinois, is the use of mechanical power, as the same is employed in the Eastern States—excellent agricultural machines being, in fact, turned out in the west. Most of the ploughs are made of steel plates, and are polished on wheels, so as to shine like mirrors, furrowing the soil to a great depth. There are ploughs whích furrow the ground for the breadth of forty inches. That such large, smooth, and sharp ploughs, will do their work much faster than others, is self-evident. Very good ploughs are turned out by the manufactory of J. Drew, Moline, Rock Island County.
Wheat and other grain is usually sown with the rotation-sowing machine, by the use of which seed and time are saved, and a successful crop ensured. The machines most frequently used were invented by Piersons and Garling.
The grains are in most cases gathered by harvesting machines, the most excellent of which are those of McCormick and Henry, to which were awarded the highest premiums at the “ World's Fair."
For the cutting of hay on the prairies, reapers are used, and especially those of Scoville, Danforth and McCormick.
Lastly, the threshing is done by threshing machines, either at once, on the fields, or in the barns.
While speaking of agricultural implements, we shall here particularly mention two machines, which, though not yet introduced into Illinois, seem so well adapted and calculated for that State, that it cannot be long ere they are introduced : we refer to the steam plough, and the wind-mills.
With the first, whose inventor, Mr. Obed Hassey, also probably coustructed the first reaping machine, experiments were not long ago made at the exhibition of the Maryland Agricultural Society, that proved completely satisfactory. The machine steamed alone to the field, distant two and a half miles, where the experiment was to be made; there four great turf ploughs being attached to it, it entered upon its task, furrowing the earth fourteen inches deep. The ploughing was exceedingly well done, many of the farmers present expressing their opinions to the effect, that the machine was particularly adapted for breaking the soil of the prairie. We trust it will not be long ere we shall see the steam plough furrowing the fertile soil of the Illinoisian prairies, and thus annually and more rapidly than ever before, subjugating to culture many thousands of new acres.
Of wind-mills there are but few, as yet, in Illinois, though the large prairies are admirably adapted for the use of the wind, as mechanical power. Perceiving this, several gentlemen of Rochester, N. Y., have formed themselves into a company, to erect, during 1856, fifty windmills on the western prairies; and in Peoria a company has been organized for a like purpose. The mill to be constructed by the last will contain two different milling apparatus, the grinding stones used in which are four feet in diameter; the whole, including the building and the right of using the patent, to cost $4000. A mill thus constructed in Rochester, will grind thirty bushels of grain per hour, and it being estimated, that these mills can be in active operation for full ten months in a year, they ought to be preferred on this account, if on no other, to water-mills, since but few of the latter might be found in constant operation for such a length of time.
Five bushels of prime wheat will make one barrel of superfine flour, leaving a handsome pay to the miller.
Another project for the purpose of rendering available the power of wind, has been started by Mr. M. D. Codding, of Lockport, Will Co., who has, three miles from that place, established a machine-factory, and, for the above purpose, has constructed a machine which, simple, substantial, and low-priced, can be used for a number of purposes; for instance - for sawing wood, whetting stones, pumping water, etc. Mr. Codding turns out these machines of any power desired, from that of one man to twenty horse power. A machine of one horse
inclusive of gearing, can be had for $25 to $30; the expense of larger machines of this kind not exceeding a just proportion to this.
There are a great number of varieties of corn in cultivation, and these varieties have become considerably intermingled. The principal varieties, which may be distinguished by the number of rows or grains, on the cob, and the color, shape or size of the kernels, may be classified and described as follows:
1. Yellow Corn, Golden Sioux, or Northern Flint Corn; having a large cob, with twelve rows of moderate sized grains, very oily, and is regarded as one of the best varieties for fattening animals, or for human food. By skilful tillage, 130 bushels have been raised to the acre, weighing 9,216 lbs. in the ear, when dry: 75 lbs. of ears gave a bushel when shelled.
2. King Philip, or the Eight-Rowed Yellow Corn. Its ears, which contain only eight rows, are longer than those of the Golden Sioux, and it will yield about the same quality of oil. It is a hardy plant, which belongs to a high latitude; grows to about nine feet in height; stalks small, ears from ten to fourteen inches in length.
3. Canada Corn, or Eighteen-Rowed Yellow. This corn, which is smaller, earlier, and more solid than any of the preceding, contains more oil than any other variety, except the Rice Corn, and the Pop Corn. It is exceedingly valuable for fattening poultry, swine, &c., and is grown by many in gardens, for early boiling.
4. Dutton Corn. The cob sometimes grows to the length of fourteen or fifteen inches, but the grain is so compact upon it that two bushels of small ears have yielded five pecks of shelled corn, weighing 62 lbs. to the bushel. With proper management, an acre of ground will yield one hundred to one hundred and twenty bushels to the
As it is very oily, gives a good yield, and ripens early, it has always been a favorite variety for culture in the north.
5. Southern Big Yellow Corn. The cob of this corn is thick and long, the grain much wider than it is deep, and the rows unite with each other. The grain contains less oil and more starch than the Northern Flint kinds; yet its outward texture is somewhat flinty, solid and firm. It comes to maturity rather later, affords an abundant yield, and is much used for fattening animals.
6. Southern Small Yellow Corn. The ears of this variety are more