Page:The Rambler in Mexico.djvu/97

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HACIENDA SAN ANTONIO.

A deep archway on the left-hand side of the road introduces you to the courtyard. In common with all the haciendas we had seen on the table land, the mass of buildings here are imposing from their great size and solidity of structure. Besides the dwelling house of the proprietors, built like the town houses in a quadrangle round an interior open court, they comprise a church, dwellings for the dependants, stables, and other offices on a large scale, and a granary, which, for massive architecture and dimensions, might serve for a state prison. This granary is calculated to hold twelve thousand cargas of maize, each carga weighing one hundred and eighty English pounds.

The principal products of the estate are maize and pulque. Of the former the annual produce alone is estimated at eight thousand cargas. The whole domain is under excellent cultivation and management, and both from the excellent system of irrigation and drainage pursued, and its vicinity to the capital, is accounted one of the most lucrative in the whole valley.

The mode of culture of the maguey,[1] from which, as I have before mentioned, the pulque is derived, may demand a little further elucidation.

In appearance the great agave is a stately aloe of a dark green hue with leaves of great size and thickness. I have not unfrequently seen it rise higher than my head when seated on horseback.

Its culture is a very productive one. The prime cost and the whole expense of labour demanded by the plant from first to last, may be estimated at three dollars and a half, and the ultimate produce at ten. In the sale of land, the well grown maguey plants are computed at the average value of five dollars. They are set in regular rows, about three yards apart, and come to perfection in from eight to ten years; when, if left to themselves, they would flower.

This is the interesting moment for the cultivator. He watches the plant, till by well-known signs he sees that

  1. Agave Americana.