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The wool production of the whole world is estimated by Mr. H. C. Cary at 1,800,000,000 lbs., of which twenty-five per cent., as we see by statistics below, is grown in Australasia, Cape of Good Hope and River Plate :
From the foregoing table, it will be seen that there has been a marked increase in the production of wool in these countries in five years, particularly in Australasia. In our own country, there has not been any gain in the States east of the Mississippi during this period, but in California and Texas and in the Territories, there has been a rapid increase in the production of wool. In California, the increase being nearly, if not quite, one hundred per cent.; the product being over 43,000,000 lbs. in 1875. The number of sheep in Colorado, according to census, was (1870) 120,000. It is now estimated at over a million, and in the other Territories the increase is four-fold.
We had expected to have given a statement of the growth of our woolen manufactories in connection with this article, but want of space forbids. We will merely remark that, notwithstanding the fact that forty to fifty per cent. of our woolen machinery is idle, yet the consumption is so great that we are obliged to import nearly seventy-five million of pounds of foreign wool in addition to our own production to supply our wants.
As it may not be uninteresting to our readers to know the price at which wool has ruled in this country, we append the following quotations from “The Practical Shepherd :
“From 1801 to 1807, wool bore low prices in this country; in 1807 and 1808, it rose to about $2 per Ib. and so continued throughout the war of 1812, some choice lots fetching $2.50 per th. When our infant manufacturers were overthrown, at the close of the war, in 1815, it again sank to a low price and so remained until the tariff of 1824 was enacted."
Value of fine wool in market from 1824 to 1855:
From the Annual Wool Circular of Messrs. Mauger & Avery, wool commission merchants, 149 Duane street, New York, we extract quotations of prices to date : 1856. 1857.
1859. 1860. 1861. 1862. January..
60 1864. 1865. 1866. 1867. 1868. 1869. 1870. January.
57 1871. 1872. 1873. 1874. 1875. 1876. January. ..... 60
48 July........ ..... 75
33 The average price of domestic fleece wool in the United States, from 1827 to 1861, was for fine, 50.3c.; for medium, 42.8c.; and for coarse, 35.5c.; average price for four years, from 1861 to 1866 (during the war), for fleeces, 63 to 83c.; for culled, 56 to 61c.; average price for ten years, from 1866 to 1875, inclusive, for fleeces, 44.4c. to 66.6c.; for culled, 34.2c. to 55.7c.
In conclusion, we would give the views of a person familiar with the wool trade whose candid opinion we have asked and which we think will be of service to our growers :
“ If you wish to be successful in growing wool, procure the best sheep, give them proper feed and shelter and the care and the attention they deserve. It does not matter much what the breed may be, if they can stand the climate. Long, combing wooled sheep produce the most valuable fleeces, particularly crosses between Cotswold, Liecester and Merino, but they must be carefully tended or else they become poor. Just at that portion of the wool attached to the skin a contraction of the fiber takes place, the staple is weakened at that point and the value of the fleece lessens from ten to fifty per cent. The Merino, more or less pure, is found in every neighborhood and is, perhaps, the predominant class in this country. In market it is graded according to blood in the following classifications: Full blood or XX; three-quarter blood or X; half blood or No. 1; quarter blood or No. 2. The value of the different quarters depends largely upon Fashion, who, by her demand for different styles of goods, calls for various grades of wools, sometimes for very fine, again for lower grades, and frequently for long, lustrous wools. This is a fact that farmers should take into consideration and not slaughter their flock of a certain breed, because for one year, or perhaps two or three years, the price of that class of wool has been low. In a short time the demand for that grade will be renewed and full prices be obtained.
“Farmers should be careful in putting up their fleeces. It is not material, as far as value of wool is concerned, whether it is washed or unwashed, provided the sheep are tagged in the spring, as the difference in price is compensated for by the increased weight of the unwashed wool. It is a mistake to suppose that fleeces can be put up poorly washed or stuffed with unwashed and for a series of years to advantage. We know that unscrupulous buyers, in their desire to buy all the wool they can within their limited price, will frequently pay as much for faulty as for choice wools, but if the growers only hold out for the difference in favor of their honestly handled wool, they will get it. Unfortunately they are too apt to follow the practice of their less honorable neighbor, and the whole section becomes, in a few years, noted for the shrinkage of the fleeces, buyers refuse to purchase these, except at low prices, which are unremunerative to growers, who then slaughter their sheep and thus put an end to a branch of farming which might prove a source of revenue yearly.
“Now, as to time of selling. It has been truly said “that the time to sell is when everybody wants to buy,” and of nothing is this axiom more true than of wool. In the summer, after a price has been established and all the dealers and manufacturers' agents are seeking for wool, eagerly competing to get the amount they require, then is the time to sell.
“If you will look back over the quotations for fifty-two years, comparing prices in July of one year with the price in January following, you will see that in twenty-two years the price advanced during the period between July and January. In twenty-two years it declined, and eight years there was no change in the quotations during that period, which proves that, as a rule, it is better to sell soon after shearing than to hold for higher prices until the next year.
“Now, as to best manner of selling wool. The custom, at present, is either for the manufacturer to send out an agent to buy, or, as is more generally the case, the local speculator buys up what he can in his neighborhood and ships it to the East to be sold on commission, paying five to six per cent. for selling. There is no question but what considerable profit is made by middle men, which might be divided between grower and manufacturer, if the standard of the flocks and care in washing and putting up wools were better. In Australia, at the Cape of Good Hope, and, in fact, all countries, the large clips are known by the owner's name; they have a well-known standard and are bought and sold year after year upon mere description, frequently without being seen. Yet, in this “progressive,” “enlightened” country, there is so little ambition (or is it lack of honor) among our wool growers* that they will not put their names to their fleeces, because, in too many instances, they would very much prefer not to acknowledge them. When, if, by care, they had really produced a superior article, the fleeces might have gone into consumers' hands with their producer's name attached. Their merits would have been recognized, the grower sought out and contracts made year after year for the purchase at full market value.
* With the exception of a few clips in California and Texas and some, perhaps, in the Territories, the wool of the Mormon community is shipped in bales, every one of which has the brand Z. C. M. I.-Zion Coöperative Mercantile Institution.
Some attempts have been made by farmers to bring themselves in direct communication with consumers by shipping their wool to agents in the East. John Brown, who was afterward executed for inciting the insurrection at Harper's Ferry, endeavored to act in such a capacity at Springfield, Mass., many years ago, but, for some reason or other, it did not succeed. Recently, soine of the Granger organizations in different States have shipped the wool of its members to market, but the irregularity of the clips has made it difficult to give entire satisfaction to all,
BEES AND HONEY.
Bees are native to many lands. The Italian bee has been imported and crossed with our stock, but no perceptible improvement has resulted.
We are enabled to present the following items gathered from various and reliable sources :
California promises to become the greatest honey-producing country. Reports of the superiority of its product are almost discouraging to bee culture elsewhere in this country.
The Japanese, in their own land, are, perhaps, equally successful with culturists of bees in Italy.
In the Japan exhibits at the Centennial, there was a picture representing some Japs engaged in straining honey into vases. The hives were pictured in oblong boxes fastened to the sides of dwellings.
Great Britain exhibited straw hives with an aperture in the apex, over which was turned a glass dish for the reception of surplus honey.
Bees have their natural enemies in moths and bee-eating birds, called the King Bird, which is not the King Fisher. It is smaller, more resembling the Phoebe or Pewee.
The Langstroth hive, whose patent has expired, is reported the best from many authorities. Its advantage over others is a shallow construction. High or upright hives invite the moths. None are free from their intrusion. Construct shallow frames, not over eight inches deep or sixteen inches long. Set them horizontally in the low hive. From these bees will dislodge and remove worms as fast as hatched. In the upright mode of setting frames, the distance is too great, compelling the bees to cross the comb, thus allowing the worm to lodge and start its web, which the bee is not strong enough to remove. Surplus boxes on top of the honey board, five by six inches, with glass on the front end, are indispensable. Don't remove these till well-finished by the wax-caps made by the unerring little artisans. Early morning is the best time to remove filled boxes. Place in a dark room and the lingering bees will all leave in a few hours if you set the door slightly ajar. Then paste a cloth over the entrarice to exclude flies and ants.
Some bee-culturists denounce bee-houses. Dark, ventilated cellars or a corner of an out-house, suitably prepared by partitions and air-circulation, have been very successfully used. Mice must, of course, be excluded.
With any arrangement, be sure to watch for moths.
The principal hive used in California is the Langstroth. There is one called the Harbison hive, wherein the frames, instead of being suspended, are held up at an exact distance from each other, one of the uprights being prolonged, resting in a mortise on the bottom board. The top and back sides are movable. The surplus honey is all above the frames. The Langstroth hive, so generally in use, is expensive and bulky and should be discarded or modified by having a movable bottom board, cover, upper and lower story one and the same thing. Then there is the objection before mentioned, too, the moth plague.
For wintering colonies or swarms, a report from the Michigan College Apiary, for 1876, offers some good suggestions. The colonies were all removed from the cellar once in January, once in March, temporarily, for purifying flight. They were not removed to the summer stands till the middle of April. All but one, composed of old bees, came through the winter in good condition. Those kept breeding into October consumed all the pollen. This lack was supplied by feeding during the last of April. Soon as the bees could fly in suitable weather, they would not touch the meal. Syrup was sparingly fed till fruit trees were in bloom. During the summer they were not allowed to swarm, but were divided. Three colonies were lost by their going off, which would have been prevented had the queen's wings been previously clipped. All have since been slightly cut.
Passwood, locust, crab-apple trees and shad-bush are surrounding the grounds of this apiary. Evergreens are also set out for wind-break and shades for bees. Grapevines, yellow trefoil clover, mignonette, black mustard, borage, buckwheat, sunflowers, are all honey-favoring plants and good to cultivate around the hives of bees.
Does it pay to keep hens? is a question no farmer ought ever to ask. If it does not pay for marketable purposes, it is certainly valuable to every family to have eggs and fowls for a healthful variation of diet. Pecuniary profits from raising fowls are very uncertain. Without some degree of care in giving food and providing for cleanliness, no profit can be secured. Domestic birds are often infested with lice, which prevents their prosperity or kills them.
Sulphur, scattered freely about their perches, is a good preventive; or whitewash, made of caustic lime, spread over the building used for their shelter. All hens are destructive to grain fields. It is not always profitable to let them roam over farm or garden when crops are in progress of ripening.