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The Chores




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Excerpts from the book:
Five Acres
By M. G. Kains
Published 1935

Farming must be a family affair just as much as it has ever been,

but the modern way is not to make a drudge of any person, adult or

minor. The work of the farm demands system and departments. Each

person who is required to perform any of the labor should have it

so shaped that it will stimulate energy, sense of responsibility

and love for the calling.


In Wealth from the Soil,

In a poignant sense city existence is non-productive; it deals with

what has been produced elsewhere. Moreover it is dependent upon "income"

to supply "outgo" and in the great majority of cases has nothing to show

--not even character--for all the time and effort spent. Country life

reverses this order; it not only produces "outgo" to supply "income"

but when well ordered it provides "surplus." Nay, further. it develops

character in the man and each member of the family. Nothing so well

illustrates this fact as "who's Who in America," a survey of which will

show that the majority of men and women listed in its pages were reared

in rural surroundings. Here they learned not only how to work and to

concentrate but inculcated that perhaps hardest and ultimate lesson of

all education, obedience, succinctly stated in Ecclesiastes:

"Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might."

"That man has a liberal education who has been so trained in youth

that his body is the ready servant of his will and does with ease and

pleasure all the work that, as a mechanism, it is capable of; whose

intellect is a clear, cold logic engine, with all its parts of equal

strength and in smooth working order, ready, like the steam engine, to

turn to any kind of work, and spin the gossamers as well as forge the

anchors of the mind; whose mind is stored with the great and fundamental

truths of nature and of the laws of her operations; one who, no stunted

ascetic, is full of life and fire, but whose passions are trained to come

to heel by a vigorous will, the servant of a tender conscience; who has

learned to love all beauty, whether of nature or of art, to hate all

vileness and to respect others as himself."

Where, I ask, can a boy or a girl acquire and develop such qualifications

so well as on a farm, well managed by loving parents who are enthusiastic

business and domestic heads of the enterprise and who explain and insist

upon obedience to the laws of nature as well as those of the land and

who live in harmony with their neighbors?

Another common cause of failure is tumefaction of the cranium, popularly known

as "big head!" Though this malady is not limited to people who take up farming

it is perhaps most conspicuous and most frequently characteristic of city

people who start in this new line, especially the poultry branch. With fine

nonchalance they disregard fundamental principles, turn a deaf ear to the voice

of experience, adopt crops unsuited to the local conditions or without regard

to the market demands, and so on. Usually not until the disease has run its

course is there hope for such cases, but after the most virulent ones have been

well dosed with ridicule or have paid a heavy fool tax the victims may not only

recover and become immune but may in time admit that farmers, like Old Man Noah,

"know a thing or two!"

Among various other ways which help lead to failure are unfavorable soil;

undrained land; rocks and stones; wrong crops; improperly prepared and

tilled land; too large area devoted to lawns and ornamental planting;

excessive time devoted to pets, especially such as occupy areas that should pay

profits; inadequate manuring or fertilizing; failure to fight insects and

plant diseases and many others.

In farming, as in every other enterprise, success depends primarily upon

the man who undertakes it. Not everybody who starts will succeed. On the

other hand the man who has the following personal qualifications, no matter

what his previous calling or location may have been, stands a good chance

of succeeding. Natural liking for the business is the most important asset

because it will assure willingness and patience to work and be painstaking,

to be open-minded and to be as alert to detect irregularities as to adopt

and apply new knowledge.

Farming is a business characterized by abundance of small but essential

details which demand close observation and application to prevent loss.

In few businesses are cleanliness, orderliness and timeliness of so much

importance, for without them weeds, pests and diseases thrive and profits

fail to appear. Above all the farmer must be enthusiastic, a condition

that will become permanent and characteristic as soon as the business

shows a profit.


If a man would enter upon country life in earnest and test thoroughly its

aptitudes and royalties, he must not toy with it at a town distance; he

must brush the dews away with his own feet. He must bring the front of

his head to the business, and not the back of it.

Donald G. Mitchell,

In My Farm of Edgewood.

If any one thing is more essential than any other in every branch of farming

it is that the owner personally direct all operations. He cannot be an

absentee farmer and he cannot entrust his interests entirely to hirelings.

However, unless he is experienced he is incompetent to direct any part of

the necessary or advisable work; so an even more fundamental essential

is that he not only learn to do every kind of work himself but become a

keen observer and logical thinker.

To apply these statements to you: The important points about making yourself proficient and thinking

while performing each operation are that you

will thus first teach yourself the how, why and when; second, by thinking

as you work, you can discover quick ways, short cuts and time-savers;

and third, you will thus make yourself competent to teach your helpers

how to do the work in the ways you have proved to be good, if not best.

This will mean both that you will be entitled to their respect as a

director and that you will get the work done efficiently and economically.

In farming, more than any other business, you much teach yourself, for

every day during even the longest lifetime will bring its problems and

lessons. Reading and listening to lectures, radio talks, etc., though

important and often helpful, are poor substitutes for observation and

translation of the observations into terms of understanding, decision and

action when this last shall be necessary or advisable.

One of the most profitable habits you can form is systemically, every

day, to go over at least part of your premises in a leisurely, scrutinizingly

thoughtful way, and the whole of it at least once each week through-

out the year to reap the harvest of a quiet eye and fill the granary of

your mind with knowledge of the habits of helpful and harmful animals,

birds and insects; to observe and understand the characteristics of

plant growth from the sprouting of the seed through all the stages of

the stem, leaf, flower, fruit and seed development; to note and interpret

the behavior of plants, poultry and animals under varying

conditions of heat and cold, sunshine and shade, drouth and wetness, fair

weather and foul, rich and poor feeding. Here is not only the best

farm school in which to learn the duties you owe your dependants (plants

and animals) and yourself for your own best interests, but in which to

enjoy the most delightful compensations of farm life; for it gives the

thinking observer mastery over his business, brings him en rapport with

his environment and in tune with The Infinite.

If you are a city man all this at first will be a foreign language to you;

you will have to teach yourself Nature's alphabet before you can read her

messages. In this respect you will be at a disadvantage when compared

with the countryman. One of the greatest handicaps will probably be

assumed superiority to "farm hands" and even farmers; for what you may

consider "a good education"too often is really of small use in a country

setting. What if farm hands, taken as a whole, do not intellectually

compare with city clerks, salesmen and bookkeepers and do not perhaps as

quickly understand theories! They have the advantage that they know

from daily experience at least something about soils, plants, animals,

implements, tools and how to treat each. For this reason they are far

more valuable to themselves and their farming employers than are raw

recruits from the city.