Farming for Pleasure and Profit

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    THIS small book has the defects as well as the merits which might have been expected in the work of an amateur farmer. His own practice seems usually sound and sometimes ingenious, but his explanations and advice cannot always be safely trusted. When he tells us what he has himself done, we listen with attention; when he offers us page after page full of antiquated veterinary nostrums, we cannot feel edified. We did not know till now that foot-and-mouth disease was epidemic; the cause and cure of apthæ (sic) is not quite adequately given on p. 205; and we should certainly hesitate before adopting the following treatment (p. 191) for a cow suffering from moor-ill:—“Some insert a seton in the dewlap and take away ten pounds of blood in very severe cases. A recipe has been given to administer, in very obstinate ones, six drachms of aloes, twelve ounces of sulphur, and sixteen drops of croton oil, the first day, in addition to a bloodletting of ten ounces,” and so on with further directions of the heroic order. When Mr. Roland tells us of all the breeds of cows, of the cheese-factory system, and of a dozen other matters, of which, so far as we can learn, he has had no actual experience, we feel that his space and our time might hare been more profitably occupied. That a good deal of information, and not a little amusement into the bargain, may be got out of Mr. Roland's book, is not to be denied, however. Whether “a great number of persons who would gladly supplement their incomes, if they could see their way clear to do it, by entering into rural occupations which are congenial to their tastes,” would be able to follow the lead of Mr. Roland in his farming practice may be gravely doubted. It is not every amateur pig-feeder who will be so lucky as to find “a good pork-butcher, doing a superior trade, and ready to give nearly thirty per cent, more than could be obtained by selling young porkers haphazard.” Nor will the amateur pea-grower always be able to adopt the following excellent and economical plan of disposing of his produce. Mr. Roland stows his green peas ready shelled in two fiat wicker baskets under the first-class railway carriage in which he daily travels to town. He finds that the landlord of the hotel where he dines in the city will give him one shilling a quart for these peas, fetching them from the cloak-room of the station where they have been deposited. This ingenious method of marketing hardly admits, however, of general adoption; and, moreover, the railway authorities might have something to say about this plan of evading payment of carriage. Mr. Roland's previous attempts to dispose of cabbages and turnips (pp. 16 and 17) were less satisfactory in their pecuniary results, though more accordant with ordinary experience. Let the reader of these eight chapters on “Farming for Pleasure and Profit” omit everything except wEat is given on the personal authority of the author, and he will gain a number of useful hints showing how to economise the vegetable food raised on a small farm, and to make amateur agriculture in some ways less financially disastrous than is usually the case. But we shall not find a complete system of practice here; nor do we discover any hints, however remote, of the chemical composition and physiological functions of food; and we look, too, in vain for any recognition of recent advances in our scientific knowledge as to methods of manuring and cropping.

    Farming for Pleasure and Profit.

    By Arthur Roland. Edited by W. H. Ablett. (London; Chapman and Hall, 1879.)

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    Farming for Pleasure and Profit . Nature 20, 360–361 (1879) doi:10.1038/020360a0

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