Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 42.djvu/394

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the United States is relied upon, as it is to-day, for its over-proportion of the food of this planet of ours. Almost three fifths of the grains, fully half of the meat supply—not to mention the cotton yield—of the civilized world, are expected to be forthcoming from this direction, and yet the New England farmer proposes to "abandon" his share in this great field—a field wherein the farmer, as a farmer, has practically no competition to meet at all! A great deal is being said about the surrender of the farmer class to the appetite for other pursuits. But really it is not, or ought not to be, as bad as that. If other things are equal, as they should be, and if all the adjustments are true, as they should be, there should always be a farmer class and always farms. And while the New England farmer suffers from the American failing of making farms too large, equally with his far Western brother, yet his offset is that, unlike the Western farmer, he does not suffer from immoderate or too numerous middlemen (handlers or brokers), but has, or can have, his market at his door.

The horses in Massachusetts have never yet raised the alarm of famine—not even in the days of the Embargo, or in the cruel times of 1812-'16, when the noble old Bay State was forced by her patriotism not only to send soldiers into a war of which she did not approve, but to see her own peculiar industries ruined, and the only ones ruined, while the war for which she was supplying bone and sinew stimulated every rival industry in her sister States: a pelican situation, which, bad as it was, did not dishearten her or make her falter in her duty. But even then the Massachusetts farmer, who paid a dollar for his hoe, sixty cents a yard for his calico, and thirteen cents for a nutmeg (not a wooden one from a sister State), did not "abandon" his farm. The horses then or since have not been heard from. Why, then, should the State in its paternal capacity step in, announce that her farmers had abandoned her farms, and offer them for sale to strangers? And, so far as the stranger is concerned, he might well ask why he should be expected to buy that which is advertised as useless. One can not exactly break up a farm, as one breaks up a ship, and sell it for junk. At what point, one might ask, does the interest of the stranger directly accrue? Again, there are so many ways of utilizing one's farm. It can be a stock farm, a grazing farm, a dairy, a fruit, a market garden, a poultry, a seeding, a nursery farm. Salt hay is cut from marshes. Cranberries grow in bogs; and if one could not raise cranberries, how about frogs? There is always a demand for the esculent hind legs of those interesting amphibians in some seaboard city; and, indeed, our political economy will not listen to any such thing as a failure in demand or supply of luxuries, however bizarre, any more than of necessities in their due proportions. It is related that even in the