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BOOK OF THE FARM
HENRY STEPHENS, F.R.S.E.
CORRESPONDING MEMBER OF THE SOCIÉTÉ ROYALE ET CENTRALE D'AGRICULTURE OF
FRANCE, AND OF THE ROYAL AGRICULTURAL SOCIETY OF GALICIA
Wherefore, come on, O young husbandman!
SEVENTH THOUSAND-SECOND EDITION
IN TWO VOLUMES
WILLIAM BLACKWOOD AND SONS
EDINBURGH AND LONDON
The call for another Edition of the Book of the Farm, so soon after the issue of the former one, and the gratifying reception of the work by agriculturists of the highest repute, both at home and abroad, justify me in believing that the object for which it was undertaken has been attained, and that the plan upon which it is arranged has met with general approval.
My chief object, in preparing the work, was to construct such a handbook as should be of service in instructing young men who might desire to become farmers, in practical husbandry. Not that I ever supposed the mere perusal of a book could make any young man a practical farmer ; but my own experience as an agricultural pupil, for some years, having convinced me that it is most difficult to acquire a knowledge of husbandry even on a farm, unless through an expenditure of time which few young men can afford to spare, I became assured that, with a work at hand containing clear explanations of the details of each farm-operation, and of its relation to that which preceded and followed it in the revolution of the agricultural year, a young man, residing on a farm in the capacity of pupil to an intelligent farmer, would much sooner and much better become acquainted with rural affairs than he possibly could do without the advantages of such reference. The farmer, who unquestionably is the proper agricultural instructor, cannot always be on the spot to answer inquiries, nor can a pupil always put his questions distinctly, or be aware of the proper time to put them, so as to elicit the information wanted. But the pupil can, in the intervals when direct information is impossible, peruse his hand-book, wherein he will find not only every detail of the particular operation proceeding in the field fully explained, but its relative position correctly indicated in
reference to the operations preceding and following it. To explain still more explicitly the nature of field-operations, I have first arranged each in the agricultural season in which it should be begun, and then continued it through those in which it should be carried on, down to that in which it ought to be brought to a conclusion ; and I have, moreover, carefully preserved its relation to those operations which precede and follow it through all the seasons.
I am satisfied that no better mode exists of teaching farming successfully, to pupils in agriculture, from books. Systematic works on agriculture, as hitherto written, are couched in too general terms to be practically useful, and the narrative is rarely so arranged as to give an adequate idea of the method which is really adopted in the fields. A work in the cyclopædiac form, besides this objection, presents a greater, by placing the operation in the midst of subjects which, as a matter of necessity, bear no relation whatsoever to its peculiar antecedents or progress.
The aim and plan of the former edition of the Book of the Farm, which the public approval has sanctioned in the most unequivocal manner, it is not my intention to disturb in the present edition. Still, with the view of conveying more instruction to the agricultural pupil, considerable alterations have been made in the arrangement of the subjects; and these have been so emended, enlarged, and in some instances curtailed—a large proportion having been also rewritten, to suit the altered influences under which husbandry, as an art, is now placedas, I am persuaded, to make the work more useful to the agriculturist and the student.
The subjects treated of I have arranged under three prominent divisions, with the view of bringing them successively under the notice of the agricultural student. The First Division directs him to avail himself of the experience of some farmer who practises the species of husbandry he desires to acquire; it makes him acquainted with the various sorts of farming practised in this country; and it indicates the peculiar form of the ground, and the locality, which determine the adoption of each of those sorts of farming. He is then warned of the difficulties which he will have to encounter at the outset of his agricultural career, and apprised of the means by which he may overcome these, if he chooses to adopt them. The necessity of a good general education to agriculturists is dwelt on with peculiar earnestness, because every farm-operation clearly indicates its dependence for its right performance on some branch of physical science.