Chapter XII

Successful Farming

Jack Canfield Success PrinciplesAccording to The Bible, man's first calling was agriculture, or, perhaps, horticulture might be a better word. Adam was placed in the Garden of Eden to till and care for it. Even after he was driven from that blissful place and forced to live by the sweat of his brow, he had to return to the earth from which his body was made to sustain the life breathed into it by God. Young men of to-day, regrettably, regard farming life with more and more disfavor. It IS a fact that the greatest fortunes have not been accumulated in farming, but this book will not have accomplished its goal if it has failed to pint out that lives can be veryy successful without the accumulation of great wealth.

Before proceeding further, let us state a truth which will be convincing to every reader who knows anything at all about the careers of successful men. It is not a little remarkable that the most successful preachers, lawyers, doctors, merchants, and mechanics have had their earliest training on the farm.

As we have before said, the successful life is the one that is happiest and most useful in itself, and which produces happiness and usefulness in others. And as the majority of workers in most civilized lands are directly connected with agriculture, and as all sustenance for our daily lives, and all wealth, save the limited amount that comes from the sea, is directly traceable to the land, it follows that agriculture is the most important of all callings--and I would say the most honorable, were it not that every calling is honorable that requires for its success energy, industry, intelligence, and honesty.

The United States, above all countries in the world at this time, indeed, above all countries of which history furnishes any record, has been more dependent for its growth and success on agriculture than on any other vocation. While our manufacturing enterprises rank us next to England among the world's manufacturing producers, yet more than nine-tenths of our export trade with foreign countries is in agricultural products, such as: wheat, corn, cotton, tobacco, and beef and pork, which, under the present system of farming, are as much agricultural productions as the grain on which the ox and the hog are fattened.

In agriculture, or farming, is included the bulk of the balance of labor not covered by the building and mechanical trades, and the employments growing out of and connected with them.

Good farming is dependent on good machinery, including tools, and on good buildings. Doubtless, in its infancy, neither was used, even the hoe and hut being unknown. Among the first records of producing from the soil, to be found in any detail, is the raising of corn in Chaldea and Egypt. Sowing seed in the valley of the Nile, and turning on the swine to tread it into the soil, was one of the methods in use, and every process of planting and harvesting was of the simplest. As population grew more dense, and other climates and soils were occupied, better processes were developed, and more varied were the productions. Animal power and rude tools were gradually brought into use, and about 1000 years before Christ "a plow with a beam, share and handles" is mentioned. Then agriculture is spoken of as being in a flourishing condition, and artificial drainage was resorted to.

Grecian farming in the days of its prosperity attained, in some districts, a creditable advancement, and the implements in use were, in principle, similar to many of modern construction. Horses, cattle, swine, sheep, and poultry were bred and continually improved by importations from other countries. Manuring of the fields was practiced; ground was often plowed three times before seeding; and sub-soiling and other mixings of soils were in some cases employed. A great variety of fruit was successfully cultivated, and good farming was a source of pride to the people. The Romans considered it, as Washington did, the most honorable and useful occupation. Each Roman citizen was allotted a piece of land of from five to fifty acres by the government, and in after times, when annexations were made, up to five hundred acres were allotted. The land was generally closely and carefully cultivated, and the most distinguished citizens considered it their greatest compliment to be called good farmers. The Roman Senate had twenty-eight books, written by a Carthaginian farmer, translated for the use of the people. The general sentiment among the more intelligent was to hold small farms and till them well; to protect their fields from winds and storms, and to defer building or incurring avoidable expense until fully able.

Thirteen centuries were required to improve upon the plowing of two-thirds of an acre, which in Roman parlance was a "jugarum", necessitating the labor of two days. The eighteenth century made great improvements in the modes of farming, especially in the matter of tools, machinery, and farm literature; while this century has made marked progress in the raising and harvesting of crops, buildings for farm purposes, and a remarkable improvement in horses, cattle, and other farm stock. Salt was found to be a fertilizer, and vegetation proven to be more beneficial on land in summer than leaving it bare and unoccupied, as had formerly been the theory. Manures were found to be of increased value when mixed, and guanos were introduced.

The Germans and French began improvement in farming before the English, and have well sustained it.

Since the primitive years of the Untied States, her agriculture has attained unparalleled growth, and remains her chief pride and revenue. Those were the years that tried the farmers' souls. They had everything to learn; forests to clear off; seeds and conveniences to secure; roads to open; new grounds to cultivate; buildings to erect, and hostile Indians to watch and fight.

South Carolina was the first State to organize an agricultural society, which was accomplished in 1784. Now nearly all the counties of every State have similar organizations, besides those of the States themselves. That they are materially and socially beneficial is unquestioned, barring the effect of horse-racing and its betting accompaniment.

Among the more valuable auxiliaries of the farmer are the agricultural journals of the country, for which hundreds of thousands of dollars are annually expended. With few exceptions they fill the measure of their publication, and the information they furnish, if properly and judiciously used, can have none but a healthy effect. While nine out of every ten farmers doubtless do not do all, nor as well as they know, the benefit and incitement of knowing more can but be beneficial. It is as a bill of fare at an eating-house--while the consumption of every article named therein would be death, the large selection at hand renders possible a wholesome meal.

Mr. Joshua Hill in his work entitled "Thought and Thrift"--which, by the way, would be more valuable if less partisan--has this to say in connection with the business and courage required in agriculture:

"Neglect of aid that may be had in procuring the best results of labor, and inattention in applying it, are faults possessed by many. Every man is by nature possessed of abilities of some sort; and if he has found the right way to use them, he alone is to blame if he does not properly apply them with a view to their highest and best results. There is no use for a rule if there be no measures to take; thee is no use for a reason if men do not heed it. Human experiences are full of wise counsel for those who desire to learn and do so; but for those who close their eyes and wait for results without effort, the records containing them would just as well never have been written. There is an absolutely fixed law of nature that denies to man anything that he does not receive from some kind of labor, except to such as live by favor and robbery, and not by work. There are many examples of those who are said to 'live by their wits,' but the problem as to how it is done may never be solved. Nor does it need to be solved, as no man should justly expect to enjoy anything which has not been procured by his own labor.

Those who most appreciated the comforts of life are those who create them for themselves.

In knowing how what we have is obtained, lies its chief value to us. Men naturally take pride in the possession of a treasure in proportion to the trouble involved in securing it. Whoever would thrive in his farming must bend his whole will and purpose to it. Nothing which can be done to-day should be put off till to-morrow. To-morrow may never come, and should it come, may not changed conditions and difficulties render set tasks impossible? Under some circumstances men trust to fortune, without serious errors, in postponing the execution of appointed tasks. The maxim that 'procrastination is the thief of time' points a moral implied in itself, and is unquestionably true in a majority of instances. Men of business are often careful in some matters, to the neglect of others more important. Different men have different methods of business, which, considering differences of constitution and manner of application, is only natural; not dangerous, but rather beneficial. No two men go to work in the same way, notwithstanding they may have both learned of the same teacher, or been instructed upon the same principle. The greater trouble lies in improper application and inattention to details. Trifles make up the sum of life, as cents make dollars. An overanxious man, he who makes great haste to be rich, seldom prospers long in any undertaking. Possibilities, not probabilities, should be the guide. A sanguine disposition may or may not be useful in business. Disappointment often follows sanguine hopes. A good business man calculates closely; does not allow anticipation to run away with his judgment, nor imagine that any good result can follow a false move.

"For these reasons, the farmer needs to think and to reason more; to attend more strictly to business rules and methods, and to exercise a greater courage and persistency in applying them. 'Work while it is day,' says the Scriptures, 'for the night cometh when no man can work.' Command the present moment that shakes gold from its wings. That the future may bring bread for his family, the farmer sows seed in confidence, and awaits the harvest in hope. But if he fails to do what is necessary to a proper yield from his crop, he has made a failure of the talents committed to him. Men must acknowledge the responsibility that rest upon them, and meet it with that true courage which directs them aright. The lack of knowledge does not imply lack of ability to think and to reason. All men, unless of idiotic, impaired, or diseased minds, are possessed of the faculty of reason, and should use it for the purpose for which it was given-- to supply needed helps to our temporal existence. From thought comes ability, and from ability system, courage, attention, application, the most valuable aids to every man of business.

"But in farming as in every other calling the first great requisite is self-reliance. The man who depends upon his neighbors, as Aesop illustrates in one of his fables, never has his work done. But when he says that he will do it himself on a certain day, then it is prudent for the bird that has been nesting in his grainfield to change her habitation."

A Review of "How to Get On in Life"

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Successful Farming
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