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2. PARTICULAR DIRECTIONS FOR CULTIVATING A FARM NEAR
The directions alluded to in the preceding article, for the management of the farms in the neighbourhood of Mount Vernon, were given in December, 1799, a few days before Washington's death, and intended for the-year 1800. We shall select here the part relating to one farm only (called the River Farm), which may serve as a sample of the whole. Crops for the River Farm, and Operations thereon, for the
Year 1800. Field No. 1, - Is now partly in wheat; part is to be sown with oats ; another part may be sown with pease, broad cast; part is in meadow, and will remain so; the most broken, washed, and indifferent part is to remain uncultivated, but to be harrowed and smoothed in the spring, and the worst portions, (if practicable) to be covered with litter, straw, weeds, or any kind of vegetable rubbish, to prevent them from running into gullies.
No. 2. — One fourth is to be in corn, and to be sown with wheat; another fourth in buckwheat and pease, half of it in the one, and half in the other, sown in April, to be ploughed in as a green dressing, and by actual experiment to ascertain which is best. The whole of this fourth is to be sown with wheat also; another fourth part is to be naked fallow for wheat ; and the other and last quarter to be appropriated for pumpkins, cymlins, turnips, Yateman pease (in hills), and such other things of this kind as may be required; and to be sown likewise with rye, after they are taken off, for seed.
No. 3, — Is now in wheat, to be harvested in the year 1800 ; the stubble of which, immediately after harvest, is to be ploughed in and sown thin with rye; and such parts thereof as are low, or produce a luxuriant growth of grain, are to have grassseeds sprinkled over them. The whole for sheep to run on in the day (but housed at night) during the winter and spring months. If it should be found expedient, part thereof in the spring might be reserved for the purpose of seed.
Will be in corn, and is to be sown in the autumn of that year with wheat, to be harvested in 1801; and to be treated in all respects as has been directed for No. 3, the
preceding year. It is to be manured as much as the means will permit, with such aids as can be procured during the present winter and ensuing spring.
Nos. 5, 6, 7, & 8, – Are to remain as they are, but nothing suffered to run upon them; as ground will be allotted for the sole purpose of pasturage, and invariably used as such.
No. 1, - Counting from the Spring Branch is to be planted in potatoes.
No. 2, - That part thereof which is now in turnips is to be sown with oats and clover; the other part, being now in clover, is to remain so until it comes into potatoes, by rotation.
No. 3, — Is also in clover at present, and is to remain so, as just mentioned, for No. 2.
No. 4,– Is partly in clover and partly in timothy, and so to be, until its turn for potatoes.
The rotation for these lots invariably is to be, 1. Potatoes, highly manured; 2. Oats, and clover sown therewith ; 3. Clover ; 4. Clover.
Then to begin again with potatoes, and proceed as before. The present clover lots must be plastered.
All green sward, rough ground, or that which is heavily covered with weeds, bottle brush grass, and such things as being turned in will ferment, putrefy, and meliorate the soil, should in autumn be ploughed in, and at such times in winter as can be done while the ground is dry, and in condition for it.
Pasture Grounds. The large lot adjoining the Negro houses and orchard, is to have oats sown on the potatoe and pumpkin ground; with which, and on the rye also in that lot, and on the melon part, orchard-grass seeds are to be sown; and thereafter to be kept as a standing calf pasture, and for ewes (which may require extra care) at yeaning, or after they have yeaned.
The other large lot, northeast of the Barn lane, is to be appropriated always as a pasture for the milch cows; and probably working oxen during the summer season.
The woodland, and the old field commonly called Johnston's, are designed for common pasture, and to be so applied always. To which, if it should be found inadequate to the stock of the farm, field No. 8, and the woodland therein, may be added.
Meadows. Those already established and in train must continue, and the next to be added to them is the arms of the creek, which runs up to the spring-house, and forks, both prongs of which must be grubbed up, and wrought upon at every convenient moment when the weather will permit, down to the line of the ditch, which encloses the lots for clover, &c.
And as the fields come into cultivation, or as labor can be spared from other work, and circumstances will permit, the heads of all the inlets in them must be reclaimed, and laid to grass, whether they be large or small, forasmuch as nothing will run on, or can trespass upon, or injure the grass ; no fencing being required.
Mud for Compost. The season is now too far advanced, and too cold to be engaged in a work, that will expose the hands to wet; but it is of such essential importance, that it should be set about seriously and with spirit next year, for the summer's sun and the winter's frost to prepare it for the corn and other crops of 1801, that all the hands of the farm, not indispensably engaged in the crops, should, so soon as corn-planting is completed in the spring, be uninterruptedly employed in raising mud from the Pocosons, and from the bed of the creek, into the scow; and the carts, so soon as the manure for the corn and potatoes in 1800 is carried out, are to be incessantly drawing it to the compost heaps in the fields, which are to be manured by it. What number of hands can be set apart for this all-important work, remains to be considered and decided upon.
Penning Cattle and folding Sheep On the fields intended for wheat, from the first of May, when the former should be turned out to pasture, until the first of November, when they ought to be housed, must be practised invariably; and to do it with regularity and propriety, the pen for the former, and the fold for the latter, should be proportioned to the number of each kind of Stock; and both these to as much ground as they will manure sufficiently in the space of a week for wheat, beyond which they are not to remain in a place, except on the poorest spots; and even these had better be aided by litter or something else, than to depart from an established rule, of removing the pens on a certain day in every week. For in this, as in everything else, system is essential to carry on business well, and with ease.
Feeding The work-horses and mules are always to be in their stalls, and all littered and cleaned, when they are out of harness; and they are to be plenteously fed with cut straw, and as much chopped grain, meal, or bran, with a little salt mixed therewith,
as will keep them always in good condition for work; seeing, also, that they are watered as regularly as they are fed; this is their winter feed. For spring, summer, and autumn, it is expected, that soiling them on green food, first with rye, then with lucern, and next with clover, with very little grain, will enable them to perform their work.
The oxen, and other horned cattle, are to be housed from the first of November until the first of May; and to be fed as well as the means on the farm will admit. The first (oxen) must always be kept in good condition ; housed in the stalls designed for them; and the cows (so many of them as can find places) on the opposite side. The rest, with the other cattle, must be in the newly erected sheds; and the whole carefully watered every day; the ice, in frozen weather, being broken, so as to admit them to clean water.
With respect to the sheep, they must receive the best protection that can be given them this winter; against the next, I hope they will be better provided for.
And with regard to the hogs, the plan must be, to raise a given number of good ones, instead of an indiscriminate number of indifferent ones, half of which die or are stolen before the period arrives for putting them up as porkers. To accomplish this, a sufficient number of the best sows should be appropriated to the purpose ; and so many pigs raised from them as will insure the quantity of pork, which the farm ought to furnish.
Whether it will be most advisable to restrain these hogs from running at large or not, can be decided with more precision after the result of those now in close pens is better known.
The exact quantity of corn used by those, which are now in pens, should be ascertained and regularly reported, in order to learn the result.
Stables and Farm Pens. These ought to be kept well littered, and the stalls clean ;, as well for the comfort of the creatures that are contained in them, as for the purpose of manure; but as straw cannot be afforded for this purpose, leaves and such spoiled straw or weeds as will not do for food, must serve for the stables; and the first, that is, leaves and corn-stalks, is all that can be applied to the pens. To do this work effectually, let the cornstalks be cut down by a few careful people with sharp hoes, so low as never to be in the way of scythes at harvest; and whenever the wheat will admit carts to run on it without injury, let them be brought off and stacked near the farm pens. In like
manner let the people, with their blankets, go every evening, or as often as occasion may require, to the nearest wood, and fill them with leaves for the purposes above mentioned ; bottoming the beds with corn-stalks, and covering them thick with leaves. A measure of this sort will be, if strictly attended to, and punctually performed, of great utility in every point of view. It will save food, make the cattle lie warm and comfortable, and produce much manure. The hogs also in pens must be well bedded in leaves.
Fencing. As stock of no kind, according to this plan, will be suffered to run on the arable fields or clover lots (except sheep in the day on the rye fields, as has been mentioned before), partition fences between the fields, until they can be raised of quicks, may be dispensed with. But it is of great importance, that all the exterior or outer fences should be substantially good ; and those also which divide the common, or woodland pasture, from the fields and clover lots, are to be very respectable.
To accomplish this desirable object in as short a time as possible, and with the smallest expense of timber, the post and rail fence which runs from the Negro quarters, or rather from the corner of the lot enclosing them, up to the division between fields Nos. 7 and 8, may be placed on the bank (which must be raised higher) running to the creek. In like manner, the fence from the gate, which opens into No. 2, quite down to the river, along the Cedar Hedge Row, as also those rails which are between Nos. 1 and 2, and between Nos. 2 and 3, may all be taken away, and applied to the outer fences, and the fences of the lanes from the barn into the woodland pasture, and from the former (the barn) into No.5; for the fences of all these lanes must be good, as the stock must have a free and uninterrupted passage along them, at all times, from the barn-yard to the woodland pasture.
All the fencing from the last mentioned place between me and Mr. Mason), until it joins Mr. Lear's farm, and thence with the line between him and me, until it comes to the river, will require to be substantially good ; at its termination on the river, dependence must be placed in a water fence; for if made of common rails, they would be carried off by boatmen for fire-wood. The fences separating fields Nos. 1 and 8 from the woodland pasture must also be made good, to prevent depredations on the fields by my own stock.