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Nothing can so effectually obviate the evil, as an established system, made known to all who are actors in it, that all may be enabled thereby to do their parts to advantage. This gives ease to the principal conductor of the business, and is more satisfactory to the persons who immediately overlook it, less harassing to the laborers, as well as more beneficial to the employer.
Under this view of the subject, the principal service, which you can render me, is to explain to the overseers (who will be furnished with duplicates) the plan, in all its parts, which is hereafter detailed ; to hear their ideas with respect to the order in which the different sorts of work therein pointed out shall succeed each other, for the purpose of carrying it on to the best advantage; to correct any erroneous projects they may be disposed to adopt; and then to see that they adhere strictly to whatever may be resolved on, and that they are always (except when otherwise permitted) on their farms, and with their people. The work, under such circumstances, will go on smoothly; and, that the stock may be well fed, littered, and taken care of according to the directions, it will be necessary to inspect the conduct of the overseers in this particular, and those also whose immediate business it is to attend upon them, with a watchful eye; otherwise, and generally in severe weather, when attention and care are most needed, they will be most neglected.
Economy in all things is as commendable in the manager, as it is beneficial and desirable to the employer; and, on a farm, it shows itself in nothing more evidently, or more essentially, than in not suffering the provender to be wasted, but, on the contrary, in taking care, that every atom of it be used to the best advantage ; and, likewise, in not permitting the ploughs, harness, and other implements of husbandry, and the gears belonging to them, to be unnecessarily exposed, trodden under foot, run over by carts, and abused in other 'respects. More good is derived from attending to the minutiæ of a farm, than strikes people at first view; and examining the farm-yards, fences, and looking into the fields to see that nothing is there but what is allowed to be there, is oftentimes the means of producing more good, or at least of avoiding more evil, than can be accomplished by riding from one working party, or one overseer, to another. I have mentioned these things not only because they have occurred to me, but because, although apparently trifles, they prove far otherwise in the result.
To request that my people may be at their work as soon as it is light, work till it is dark, and be diligent while they are at it, can hardly be necessary, because the propriety of it must strike every manager, who attends to my interest, or regards his own character, and who, on reflecting, must be convinced that lost labor is never to be regained. The presumption is, that every laborer does as much in twenty-four hours, as his strength, without endangering his health or constitution, will allow. But there is much more in what is called head work, that is, in the manner of conducting business, than is generally imagined. For take two managers, and give to each the same number of laborers, and let the laborers be equal in all respects. Let both these managers rise equally early, go equally late to rest, be equally active, sober, and industrious, and yet, in the course of the year, one of them, without pushing the hands under him more than the other, shall have performed infinitely more work. To what is this owing ? Why, simply to contrivance, resulting from that forethought and arrangement, which will guard against the misapplication of labor, and doing it unseasonably. In ploughing, for instance, though the field first intended for it, or in which the ploughs may actually have been at work, should, from its situation, be rendered unfit (by rain or other cause) to be worked, and other spots, even though the call for them may not be so urgent, can be ploughed, this business ought to go on, because the general operation is promoted by it. So with respect to other things, and particularly carting, where nothing is more common, than, when loads are to go to a place, and others to be brought from it, though not equally necessary at the same moment, to make two trips, when one would serve. These things are only mentioned to show, that the manager, who takes a comprehensive view of his business, will throw no
For these reasons it is, that I have endeavoured to give a general view of my plans, as to the business of the
that the concerns of the several plantations may go on without application daily for orders, unless it be in particular cases, or where these directions are not clearly understood.
2. PARTICULAR DIRECTIONS FOR CULTIVATING A FARM NEAR
MOUNT VERNON. 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.
No. 4,-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, and 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
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 proba bly 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 there