Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 35.djvu/345

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FARM-LIFE IN CHINA.

by treadles in irrigating the fields, four dollars; a water-buffalo, twenty dollars; hoes, sickles, baskets, and sundries, nine dollars.

When land is leased, the owner pays the taxes, and the lessee furnishes all that is required in tillage. Payment to the landlord is always made in unhusked rice, and when the land is worked on shares this amounts to about one half the crop. The usual bargain for the use of land is a ton and a quarter of unhusked rice, worth about thirty dollars, for each acre. If the year be remarkably bad, the lessee may insist upon the landlord's taking one half the crop, though that be manifestly much less than the amount agreed upon as payment. If the year be good and the land excellent, the lessee may pay one third of his crop to the landlord, may have expended another third upon fertilizers, and may have the other third as net profit for his labor. As one man is unable to till more than one acre alone, the average yearly earnings of men who work land on shares is less than thirty dollars. One acre of good land produces on the average 3,648 pounds of clean rice.

A farmer may be hired by the year for from eight to fourteen dollars, with food, clothing, head-shaving, and tobacco. Those who work by the day receive from eight to ten cents, with a noonday meal. At the planting and harvesting of rice, wages are from ten to twenty cents a day, with five meals; or thirty cents a day without food. Few land-owners hire hands, except for a few days during the planting and harvesting of rice. Those who have more land than they and their sons can till, lease it to their neighbors.

Much land is held on leases given by ancient proprietors to clansmen whose descendants now till it, paying from seven to fourteen dollars' worth of rice annually for its use.

Food averages little more than a dollar a month for each member of a farmer's family. One who buys, cooks, and eats his meals alone, spends from one and a half to two dollars a month upon the raw material and fuel. Two pounds of rice, costing three and a half cents, with relishes of salt fish, pickled cabbage, cheap vegetables and fruits, costing a cent and a half, is the ordinary allowance to each laborer for each day. Abernethy's advice to a luxurious patient, "Live on sixpence a day and earn it," is followed by nearly every Chinaman. One or two dependent relatives frequently share with him the sixpence.

Five dollars, wisely spent, each year, will keep up a comfortable and even elegant outfit of clothing for a man or a woman. The clothing is usually woven in hand-looms in the farmer's house, from the fiber of the grass-cloth plant (Boehmeria nivea), or from imported cotton yarn. The average amount of clothing possessed by a farmer may be reckoned at four dollars in value.

A room may be comfortably furnished by an outlay of five