1902 Encyclopedia > Agriculture > Capital Required for Working a Farm. Education of Farmers.

(Part 98)


Capital Required for Working a Farm. Education of Farmers.

Capital Required for Working a Farm

The amount of capital that is required in order that the business of farming may be conducted advantageous, is largely determined by the nature of the soil, &c., of each farm, the system of management appropriate to it, the price of stock and of labor, and the terms at which its which are payable. In the case of land of fair quality, on which the alternate husbandry is pursued, and when the rents are regarded as an amount of capital which will enable a tenant to prosecute his business with advantage and comfort, In letting a farm, a landlord not only does a just and prudent thing for himself, but acts as a true friend to his proposed tenant, when he insists upon being shown that the latter is possessed of available funds to an amount adequate to its probable requirements.

The importance of the topics to which we have thus referred is happily expressed by Mr. Pusey, when, after enumerating various agricultural desiderata, he says, "In some degree non of us carry out all that is in our power; but want of capital and want of confidence in the tenure of farms are, I suppose, the two principal causes of this omission."

Education of Farmers

But the mere possession of capital does not qualify a man for being a farmer, nor is there any virtue inherent in a lease to insure his success, To there must be added probity, knowledge of his business, and diligence in prosecuting it. These qualifications are the fruits of good education (in the fullest sense of that term), and are no more to be looked for without it than food crops without good husbandry. Common school instruction will, of course, from the groundwork of a farmer’s education; but to this should be added, if possible, a classical curriculum. It has been the fashion to ask. "Of what use are Greek and Latin to a farmer?" Now, apart from the benefit which it is to him, in common with other men, to know the structure of language and to read with intelligence the literature of his profession, which more and more abounds in scientific terminology, we believe than no better discipline for the youthful mind has yet been devised than the classical course which is in use in our best public school. Of this discipline we deserve that every future farmer should have the advantage. But the great difficulty at present lies in finding appropriate occupation for such youths between their fifteenth and twentieth years. In many cases the sons of farmers are during that period put to farm labor. If they are kept steadily at it, and are made proficient in every kind of work performed on a farm, it is a good professional training as far as it goes. The more common one--- at least as regards the sons of the larger class of farmers – which consists of loitering about without any stated occupation, attending fairs and markets, and probably the race-course and hunting-field, is about the most absurd and pernicious than can well be imagined, Such youths are truly to be pitied, for they are neither inured to bodily labor nor afforded the benefits of a liberal education., It need not surprise any one that such hapless lads often prove incompetent for the struggled of life, and have to yield their placed to more vigorous men who have enjoyed the benefits of "bearing the yoke in their youth." Unless young men are kept at labor, either of mind or of body, until continuous exertion during stated hours, confinement to one place, and prompt obedience to their superiors have ceased to be irksome, there is little hope of their either prospering in business of distinguishing themselves in their profession. Owing to the altered habits of society, there is now less referring to being subjected to that arduous training to bodily labor which was once the universal practice; and hence the necessity for an appropriate course of study to take its place. Many Scottish farmers endeavor to supply this want by placing their sons for several years in the chambers of an attorney, estate-agent, or land surveyor, partly in order that they may acquire a knowledge of accounts, but especially for the sake of the wholesome discipline which is implied in continuous application and subjection to superiors., It is also common for such youths to be sent to Edinburgh for a winter or two to attend the class of agriculture in the University, and perhaps also that of chemistry, and the Veterinary College classes. This is well enough in its way; but there is wanting in it an adequate guarantee that there is real agricultural college at Cirencester appears to come more fully up to our notion of what is needed for the professional training of farmers than any other institution which we yet possess. We shall rejoice to see such opportunities of instruction as if affords multiplied in Great Britain. After enjoying the benefits of such a course of training as we have now indicated, young men would be in circumstances to derive real advantage from a residence with some experienced practical farmer, or from a tour through the best-cultivated districts of the country. We are well aware that what we have now recommended will appear sufficiently absurd to the still numerous class of persons who believe than any one has wit enough to be a farmer. But those who are competent to judge in the case can well afford to smile at such ignorance. They know that agriculture is at once an art, a science , and a business; that the researches of naturalist, chemist , geologists, and mechanician are daily contributing to the eluciadation of its principles principle and the guidance of its practice; and that while its pursuits afford scope for the acutest minds, they are relished by the most cultivated. As a business it shares to the full in the effects of that vehement competition which is experienced in every other branch of industry, and has besides many risks peculiar to itself. The easy routine of the olden time is gone for ever; and without a good measure of tact, energy, and industry, no man can now obtain a livelihood by farming. It is desirable that all this should be known, as nothing has been more common than for parents who have sons too dull to be scholars or too indolent for trade, to put them to farming; or for persons who have earned a competency in some other calling to covet the (supposed) easy life of a farmer, and find it to their sorrow a harassing and ill-requited one.

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