Our Farm of Four Acres and the Money we Made by it
This etext was produced by Jared Fuller.
OUR FARM OF FOUR ACRES AND THE MONEY WE MADE BY IT.
_From the Twelfth London Edition._
WITH AN INTRODUCTION BY
PETER B. MEAD,
EDITOR OF THE HORTICULTURIST.
Preface to the Twelfth London Edition.
This little volume has been received with so much favor, both by the
public and the press, that I cannot refrain from expressing my
gratitude for the kind treatment I have experienced. From many of the
criticisms which have appeared respecting "Our Farm of Four Acres," I
have received not only complimentary remarks, but likewise some useful
hints on the subjects of which I have written. With the praise comes
some little censure; and I am charged by more than one friendly critic
with stupidity for not ordering the legs of our first cow to be
strapped, which would, they consider, have prevented both milk and
milker from being knocked over. Now this was done, but the animal had
a way of knocking the man and pail down with her side; every means was
tried, but nothing succeeded till her calf was parted with. We have
been asked whether we had to keep gates, hedges, &c., in repair, or
whether it was done at the expense of the landlord. As far as regarded
the gates and buildings, that gentleman was bound by agreement to keep
them in order, and as for hedges we have none. A stream runs round the
meadows, and forms the boundary of our small domain. Since our little
work was written we have had nearly eighteen months' further
experience, and have as much reason now as then to be satisfied with
the profits we receive from our four acres. I must add a few words
concerning our butter-making. Some doubts have been expressed relative
to our power of churning for four hours at a time. Now it certainly
was not pleasant, but it was not the hard work that some people
imagine: fatiguing certainly; but then H. and myself took it, as
children say, "turn and turn about." We did not entrust the churn to
Tom, because he was liable to be called away to perform some of his
many duties. Had we not had the toil, we should not have acquired the
knowledge which now enables us to complete our work in three-quarters
of an hour. We have been pitied for being always employed, and told
that we can never know the luxury of leisure. We answer this remark
with the words of "Poor Richard," that "leisure is the time for doing
TO THE AMERICAN EDITION.
This little volume will possess rare interest for all who own a
"four-acre farm," or, indeed, a farm of any number of acres. Its chief
value to the American reader does not consist in its details of
practice, but in the enunciation and demonstration of certain
principles of domestic economy of universal application. The practice
of terra-culture must be varied to meet the different conditions of
soil and climate under which it is pursued; but sound general
principles hold good everywhere, and only need the exercise of
ordinary judgment and common sense for their application to our own
wants. This is now better understood than heretofore, and hence we are
better prepared to profit by draughts from the fount of universal
knowledge. We would not be understood as intimating, however, that
only the general principles set forth in this little book are of value
to us; the details of making butter and bread, feeding stock, etc.,
are just as useful to us as to the English reader. The two chapters on
making butter and bread are admirable in their way, and alone are
worth the price of the book. So, too, of domestics and their
management; we have to go through pretty much the same vexations,
probably a little intensified, as there is among us a more rampant
spirit of independence on the part of servants; but many of these
vexations may be avoided, we have no doubt, by following the
suggestion of our author, of procuring "country help" for the country.
Domestics accustomed to city life not only lack the requisite
knowledge, but are unwilling to learn, and will not readily adapt
themselves to the circumstances in which they are placed; in fact, the
majority of them "know too much," and are altogether too impatient of
control. A woman, however, must be mistress in her own house; this is
indispensable to economy and comfort; and the plan adopted by our
author will often secure this when all others fail.
We have not deemed it advisable to add anything in the way of notes;
we have made a few alterations in the text to adapt it better to the
wants of the American reader, and for the same reason we have altered
the English currency to our own. In other respects the work remains
intact. In some works of this kind notes would have been
indispensable, but in the present case we have thought we could safely
trust to the judgment of the reader to appropriate and adapt the
general principles set forth, leaving the application of details to
the shrewdness and strong common sense characteristic of the American
mind. The object of the work is rather to demonstrate a general
principle than to furnish all the minutiae of practice, though enough
of these are given to serve the purpose of illustration. The American
reader will not fail, of course, to make due allowance for the
difference of rent, prices, etc., between this country and England,
and the matter of adaptation then becomes a very simple affair.
In conclusion we present the work as a model in style. It is written
with a degree of simplicity which makes it readily understood, and is
a fine specimen of good old Anglo-Saxon. Portions of it are fully as
interesting as a romance. It is written by a lady, which fact gives it
an additional interest and value as a contribution to the economy of
country life, in which it may be admitted that women are our masters.
The incidents connected that women are our masters. The incidents
connected with hiring "our farm of four acres" are related in a
life-like manner, and will be appreciated by our own May-day hunting
country-women, who, we trust, will also appreciate the many important
facts set forth in this little volume, which we heartily commend to
them and to all others, with the wish that it may be as useful and
popular as it has been at home.
I.--WHERE SHALL WE LIVE?
II.--OUR FIRST DIFFICULTY.
III.--OUR SECOND COW.
IV--HOW TO MAKE BUTTER.
V.--WHAT WE MADE BY OUR COWS.
X.--HOW WE CURED OUR HAMS.
XIII--THE MONEY WE MADE.
XIV.--THE NEXT SIX MONTHS.
OUR FARM OF FOUR ACRES.
WHERE SHALL WE LIVE?
"Where shall we live?" That was a question asked by the sister of the
writer, when it became necessary to leave London, and break up a once
happy home, rendered desolate sudden bereavement.
"Ah! Where, indeed?" was the answer. "Where can we hope to find a
house which will be suitable for ourselves, six children, and a small
"Oh," answered H., "there can be no difficulty about that. Send for
the 'Times' and we shall find dozens of places that will do for us."
So that mighty organ of information was procured, and its columns
"But," said I, "what sort of place do we really mean to take?"
"That," replied H., "is soon settled. We must have a good-sized
dining-room, small drawing-room, and a breakfast-room, which may be
converted into a school-room. It must have a nursery and five good
bed-chambers, a chaise-house, and stable for the pony and carriage, a
large garden, and three or four acres of land, for we must keep a cow.
It must not be more than eight miles from 'town,' or two from a
station; it must be in a good neighborhood, and it must--"
"Stop! Stop!" cried I; "how much do you intend to give a-year for all
"How much?" Why, I should say we ought not to give more than $250."
"We ought not," said I, gravely, "but I greatly fear we shall for that
amount have to put up with a far inferior home to the one you
contemplate. But come, let us answer a few of these advertisements;
some of them depict the very place you wish for."
So after selecting those which, when they had described in bright
colors the houses to be let, added, "Terms very moderate," we
"presented compliments" to Messrs. A., B., C., D., and in due time
received cards to view the "desirable country residences" we had
written about. But our hopes of becoming the fortunate occupants of
any one of those charming abodes were soon dashed to the ground; for
with the cards came the terms; and we found that a "very moderate
rental" meant from $600 to $750 per annum. We looked at each other
rather ruefully; and the ungenerous remark of "I told you so" rose to
my lips. However, I did not give it utterance, but substituted the
words, "Never mind, let us send for another 'Times,' and only answer
those advertisements which state plainly the rent required." This time
we enlarged our ideas on the subjects of rent and distance, and
resolved that if that beautiful place _near_ Esher would suit us, we
would not mind giving $300 a-year for it.
In a few days arrived answers to our last inquiries. We fixed on the
one which appeared the most eligible, but were a little dismayed to
find that "near Esher" meant six miles from the station.
"Never mind," said H., resolutely, "the pony can take us to it in fine
weather, and in winter we must not want to go to London."
We started the next morning by rail, and found the "Cottage" almost as
pretty as it had appeared on paper. But, alas! it been let the day
previous to our arrival, and we had to return to town minus five
dollars for our expenses.
The next day, nothing daunted,--indeed, rather encouraged by finding
the house we had seen really equal to our expectations,--we set off to
view another "villa," which, from the particulars we had received from
the agent, appeared quite as attractive. This time we found the place
tenantless; and, as far as we were concerned, it would certainly
remain so. It had been represented as a "highly-desirable country
residence, and quite ready for the reception of a family of
respectability." It was dignified with the appellation of "Middlesex
Hall," and we were rather surprised when we found that this
high-sounding name signified a mean-looking place close to the road;
and when the door was opened for our admission, that we stepped at
once from the small front court into the drawing-room, from which a
door opened into a stone kitchen. The rest of the accommodation
corresponded with this primitive mode of entrance; the whole place was
in what is commonly called a "tumble-down" condition: there was
certainly plenty of garden, and two large meadows, but, like the rest
of the place, they were sadly out of order. When we said it was not at
all the house we had expected to find from reading the advertisement,
we asked what sort of house we expected to get for $300 with five
acres of land. Now that was a question we could not have answered had
we not seen the pretty cottage with nearly as much ground at Esher;
however, we did not give the owner the benefit of our experience, but
merely said that the house would not suit us, and drove back four
miles to the station, rather out of spirits with the result of our
For more than a fortnight did we daily set forth on this voyage of
discovery. One day we started with a card to view "a delightful
Cottage Ornee, situated four miles from Weybridge;" this time the rent
was still higher than any we had previously seen. When we arrived at
the village in which the house was represented to be, we asked for
"Heathfield House," and were told that no one knew of any residence
bearing that name; we were a little perplexed, and consulted the card
of admittance to see whether we had brought the wrong one--but no;
there it was, "Heathfield House," four miles from Weybridge,
surrounded by its own grounds of four acres, tastefully laid out in
lawn, flower and kitchen-gardens, &c, &c. Rent only $350. We began to
imagine that we were the victims of some hoax, and were just on the
point of telling the driver to return to the station, when a
dirty-looking man came to the carriage, and said, "Are you looking for
"Yes," said we.
"Well, I'll show it to you."
"Is it far?" we asked; as no sign of a decent habitation was to be
seen near us.
"No; just over the way," was the answer.
We looked in the direction he indicated, and saw a "brick carcase:
standing on a bare, heath piece of ground, without enclosure of any
"That!" cried we; "it is impossible that can be the place we came to
"Have you got a card from Mr.--?" was the query addressed to us.
"Yes," was the reply.
"Very well; then if you will get out I'll show it to you."
As we had come so far we thought we might as well finish the
adventure, and accordingly followed our guide over the piece of rough
muddy ground which led to the brick walls before us. We found them on
a neared inspection quite as empty as they appeared from the road;
neither doors nor windows were placed in them, and the staircases were
not properly fixed. It was with much trouble we succeeded in reaching
the floor where the bed-chambers were to be, and found that not even
the boards were laid down. We told our conductor, that the place would
not suit us, as we were compelled to remove from our present residence
in three weeks.
"Well, if that's all that hinders your taking it, I'll engage to get
it all ready in that time."
"What! get the staircases fixed, the doors and windows put in, the
walls papered and painted?"
"Yes," was answered, in a confident tone, which expressed indignation
at the doubt we had implied.
We then ventured to say, that, "Allowing he could get the house ready
by the time we required to move, we saw no sign of the coach-house and
stable, lawn or flower-garden, kitchen or meadow."
"As for the coach-house and stable," said the showman, "I can get your
horses put up in the village."
We hastened to disclaim the _horses_, and humbly confessed that our
stud consisted of one pony only.
"The less reason to be in a hurry for the stable, for you can put one
pony anywhere; and as for the lawn and gardens, they will be laid out
when the house is let; and the heath will be levelled and sown for a
meadow, and anything else done for a good tenant that is in reason."
We were likewise assured that wonders had been done already, for that
four months ago the ground was covered with furze. We got rid of our
talkative friend with the promise that we would "think of it;" and
indeed, we _did_ think, that Mr.--, who was a very respectable
house-agent, ought to ascertain what sort of places were place in his
hands before he sent people on such profitless journeys. The expense
attending this one amounted to nearly eight dollars.
Another week as passed in a similar manner, in going distances varying
from ten to twenty-five miles daily in pursuit of houses which we were
induced to think must suit us, but when seen proved as deceptive a
those I have mentioned. We gained nothing by our travels but the loss
of time, money, and hope. At last the idea entered our heads of going
to some of the house-agents, and looking over their books.
Our first essay was at the office of Mr. A. B., in Bond street. "Have
you any houses to let at such a distance from town, with such a
quantity of land, such a number of rooms?" &c.
"Oh, yes madam," said the smiling clerk, and immediately opened a
large ledger; "what rent do you propose giving?"
"From $250 to $350 yearly," answered we, and felt how respectable we
must appear in the opinion of the smart gentleman whom we addressed;
how great then was our surprise when he closed his large volume with a
crash, and with a look of supreme contempt said, "_We_ have nothing of
that kind in _our_ books." To use one of Fanny Kemble's expressions,
"we felt mean," and left the office of this aristocratical house-agent
half ashamed of our humble fortunes.
I fear I should tire the patience of the reader, did I detail all our
"adventures in search of a house," but we must entreat indulgence for
our last journey. We once more started on the South-Western line, to
see a house which, from the assurances we had received from the owner,
resident in London, must a last be _the_ house, and for which the rent
asked was $350; but once more were we doomed to disappointment by
finding that the "handsome dining and drawing-rooms" were two small
parlors, with doors opening into each other; and that "five excellent
bed-chambers" were three small rooms and two wretched attics.
From the station to this place was four miles; and, as weary and
hopeless we were returning to it, it occurred to H. to ask the driver
if he knew of any houses to let in the vicinity. He considered, then
said he only knew of one, which had been vacant some time, and that
parties who had been to see it would not take it because it was
situated in a bad neighborhood.
At the commencement of our search that would have been quite
sufficient to have deterred us from looking at it, but we could not
now afford to be fastidious. Our own house was let, and move from it
we must in less than a fortnight; so we desired the driver to take us
into this bad neighborhood, and were rewarded for the additional
distance we travelled by finding an old-fashioned, but very convenient
house, with plenty of good-sized rooms in excellent repair, a very
pretty flower-garden, with greenhouse, good kitchen-garden of on acre,
an orchard of the same extent well stocked with fine fruit-trees,
three acres of good meadow-land, an excellent coach-house and
stabling, with houses for cows, pigs, and poultry, all in good order.
The "bad neighborhood" was not so very bad. The cottages just outside
the gates were small, new buildings; and once inside, you saw nothing
but your own grounds. It possessed the advantage of being less than
two miles from a station, and not more than twelve from London.
"This will do," we both exclaimed, "if the rent is not too high."
We had been asked $600 for much inferior places; so that it was with
great anxiety we directed our civil driver to take us to the party who
had the disposal of the house. When there, we met with the welcome
intelligence, that house, gardens, orchard, meadows, and buildings,
were all included in a rental of $370 per annum. We concluded the
bargain there and then, and on that day fortnight took possession of
"Our Farm of Four Acres."
Before we close this chapter, we will address a few words to such of
our readers as may entertain the idea that houses in the country may
be had "for next to nothing." We had repeatedly heard this asserted,
and when we resolved to give $300 a year, we thought that we should
have no difficulty in meeting with a respectable habitation for that
sum, large enough for our family and with the quantity of land we
required, as well as within a moderate distance of London. We have
already told the reader how fallacious we found this hope to be.
Houses within forty or fifty miles of London, in what are called "good
situations," are nearly, if not quite as high rented, as those in the
suburbs, and land worth quite as much. If at any time a "cheap place"
is to be met with, be quite sure that there is some drawback to
compensate for the low price.
In our pilgrimages to empty houses, we frequently found some which
were low-rented, that is from $200 $250 per annum; but either they
were much smaller than we required, or dreadfully out of repair, or
else they were built "Cockney fashion," semi-detached, or, as was
frequently the case, situated in a locality which for some reason or
other was highly objectionable. We always found rents lower in
proportion to the distance from a station.
We one day went to Beaconsfield to view a house, and had a fly from
Slough, a drive of several miles. The house was in the middle of the
town, large and convenient, with good garden and paddock; the whole
was offered us for $200 yearly; and we should have taken it, had it
not been in such a dismantled condition that the agent in whose hands
it was placed informed us that though he had orders to put it in
complete repair, he would not promise it would be fit for occupation
under several months. The office of this gentleman was next door to
Mr. A. B.'s, in Bond street; and we are bound to state, that though we
said that we did not wish to give more than $300, we were treated with
respect; and several offered us under these terms, though attended
with circumstances which prevented our availing ourselves of them.
The house we at last found was not, as regarded situation, what we
liked; not because of the cottages close to the entrance, but for the
reason that there was no "view," but from the top windows; as far as
the lower part of the house was concerned, we might as well have been
in the Clapham Road. It is true we looked into gardens, front and
back, but that was all; and we had to go through two or three streets
of the little town in which we were located whenever we left the house
for a walk. Still we were, on the whole, well pleased with our new
home, and in the next chapter will tell the reader how we commenced a
life so different to that we had been accustomed to lead.
OUR FIRST DIFFICULTY.
Once fairly settled in our new habitation, and all the important
affairs attending the necessary alterations of carpets, curtains,
etc., being nearly finished, we began to wonder what we were to do
with "Our Farm of Four Acres." That we must keep a cow was
acknowledged by both; and the first step to be taken was to buy one.
The small town in which our house was situated boasted of a market
weekly, and there we resolved to make the important purchase.
Accordingly, we sent our man-of-all-work to inspect those offered for
sale. Shortly he returned, accompanied by a small black cow, with a
calf a week old. We purchase these animals for $50; and it was very
amusing to see all the half-dozen children running into the
stable-yards, with their little cups to enjoy the first-fruits of
their country life. But what proved far more of a treat than the new
milk was the trouble of procuring it, for the cow proved a very
spiteful one, and knocked the unfortunate milker, with his pail,
"heels-over-head." AS he was not in the least hurt, the juveniles were
allowed to laugh as long as they pleased; but H. and myself looked
rather grave at the idea having the milk knocked down as soon as there
was about a quart in the pail. We were, therefore, greatly reassured
when told that "Madam Sukey" would be quiet and tractable as soon as
her calf was taken away. "Then why not take it at one?" said I; but
was informed that we must not deprive her of it for a week. However, I
am bound to confess that our first week's farming turned out badly,
for the cow would not be milked, quietly, and every morning we were
informed that two men were obliged to be called in to hold her while
she was milked. At the end of the week we sold the calf for five
dollars, and after a month the cow became on quite friendly terms with
her milker, and has proved ever since very profitable to our small
We did not contemplate making butter with one cow, as we thought so
large a household would consume all the milk. Very soon, however,
"nurse" complained that "the milk was 'too rich' for the children; it
was not in the least like London milk; it must either be watered or
skimmed for the little ones: but she would rather have it skimmed."
That was done, and for a whole fortnight H. and myself used nothing
but cream in our tea and coffee. At first this was a great luxury, and
we said continually to each other, how delightful it was to have such
a dainty in profusion. Soon, like the children, we began to discover
it was "too good for us," and found that we liked plenty of new milk
much better for general use; besides, consume as much as we would, we
had still more than was wanted: so we invested fifteen dollars in a
churn and other requisites, and thought with great satisfaction of the
saving we should effect in our expenses by making our own butter. But
now arose a difficulty which had not previously occurred to us: Who
was to make it? Our domestic servants both declared that they could
not do so; and the elder one, who had been many years in the family,
was born and bred in London, and detested the country and everything
connected with it, gave her opinion in the most decided manner, that
there was quite enough "muck" in the house already, without making
more work with butter-making, which she said confidently, would only
be fit for the pig when it was made. Here was a pretty state of
things! What were we to do? must we give up all hope of eating our own
butter, and regard the money as lost which we had just expended for
the churn, etc.? After a few minutes' bewilderment, the idea occurred
to both of us at the same moment: "Cannot we make the butter, and be
independent of these household rebels?"
"But," said I, dolefully, "we don't in the least know how to set about
"What of that?" replied H.: "where was the use of expending so much
money in books relative to a country life as you did before we left
town, if they are not to enlighten our ignorance on country matters?
But one thing is certain, we cannot make butter till we have learnt
_how_; so let us endeavor to obtain the requisite knowledge to do so
We accordingly devoted the remainder of the day to consulting the
various books on domestic and rural economy we had collected together
previous to leaving London. Greatly puzzled we were by them. On
referring to the subject ob butter-making, one authority said, "you
must never was the butter, but only knock it on a board, in order to
get the buttermilk from it." Another only told us to "well cleanse the
buttermilk from it," without giving us an idea how the process was to
be accomplished; while the far-famed Mrs. Rundle, in an article headed
"Dairy," tells the dairy-maid to "keep a book in which to enter the
amount of butter she makes," and gives butt little idea how the said
butter is to be procured. Another authority said, "after the butter is
come, cut it in pieces to take out cow-hairs;" this appeared to us the
oddest direction of all, for surely it was possible to remove them
from the cream before it was put into the churn. We were very much
dissatisfied with the amount of practical knowledge we gleaned from
our books; they seemed to us written for the benefit of those who
already were well acquainted with the management of a dairy, and
consequently of very little service to those who wished to acquire the
rudiments of the art of butter-making.
The next morning we proceeded to make a trial, and the first thing we
did was to strain the cream through a loose fine cloth into the churn,
then taking the handle we began to turn it vigorously;* [Ninety times
in a minute is the proper speed with which the handle should be
turned.] the weather was hot, and after churning for more than an
hour, there seemed as little prospect of butter as when we commenced.
We stared at each other in blank amazement. Must we give it up? No;
that was not to be thought of. H. suddenly remembered, that somewhere
she had heard that in warm weather you should put the churn in cold
water. As ours was a box one, we did not see how we could manage this;
but the bright idea entered her head, that if we could not put the
water outside the churn we might _in_: so we pumped a quart of
spring-water into it and churned away with fresh hopes: nor were we
disappointed; in about a quarter of an hour we heard quite a different
sound as we turned the handle, which assured us that the cream had
undergone a change, and taking off the lid--(how many times had we
taken it off before!)--we saw what at that moment appeared the most
welcome sight in the world--some lumps of rich yellow butter. It was
but a small quantity, but there it was: the difficulty was overcome so
far. But now there arose the question of what we were to do with it in
order to clean if from the butter milk, for all our authorities
insisted on the necessity of this being done, though they did not
agree in the mode of doing it. One said, that "if it was washed, it
would not keep good, because water soon became putrid, and so would
the butter." We were told by another book, "that if it was _not_
washed it would be of two colors, and dreadfully rank." We thought
that it would be easier not to wash it, and it was bad enough to
justify the term "muck," which was applied to it by the kitchen
oracles, who rejoiced exceedingly in our discomfiture. We left the
dairy half inclined to abjure butter-making for the future. In a day
or two we began to reflect, that as we had a "Farm of Four Acres," we
must mange to do something with it, and what so profitable to a large
family as making butter? So, when we had collected sufficient cream,
we tried again, and this time with great success. We commenced as
before, by straining the cream, and then taking the handle of the
churn we turned it more equally than we had done before; in half an
our we heard the welcome sound which proclaimed that the "butter was
come." This time we washed it well; it was placed in a pan under the
pump, and the water suffered to run on it till not the least milkiness
appeared in it; we then removed it to a board that had been soaking
for some time in cold water, salted it to our taste, and afterwards,
with two flat boards, such as butter-men use in London shops, made it
up into rolls. It was as good as it could be, and we were delighted to
think that we had conquered all the difficulties attending its
manufacture: but we had yet to discover the truth of the proverb, that
"one swallow does not make a summer."
OUR SECOND COW.
We soon found that we could not expect to supply our family with
butter from one cow, and we thought that, as we had to perform the
duties of dairy-women, we might as well have the full benefit of our
labor. We, therefore, purchased another cow; but before doing so, were
advised not this time to have Welsh one, but to give more money and
have a larger animal. This we did, and bought a very handsome
strawberry-colored one, for which, with the calf, we gave $75; and
here it will be as well to say that we think it was $25 thrown away,
for in respect did she prove more valuable than the black one, for
which we had given but $50. For a small dairy, we think the black
Welsh cow answers as well, or better, than any other. The price is
very small, and, judging from our own, they are very profitable. They
are also much hardier than those of a larger breed, and may be kept
out all winter, excepting when snow is on the ground.
After our new cow had been in our possession just a week, we received
one morning the unwelcome intelligence that the "new cow" was very
bad. We went into the meadow, and saw the poor creature looking
certainly as we had been told, "very bad." We asked our factotum what
was the matter with her. To this he replied, that he did not know, but
that he had sent for a man who was "very clever in cows."
In a short time this clever man arrived, bringing with him a friend,
likewise learned in cattle. He went to see the patient, and returned
to us looking very profound.
"A bad job!" said he, with a shake of the head worthy of Sheridan's
Lord Burleigh. "A sad job, indeed! and you only bought her last
market-day. Well, it can't be helped."
"But what ails her?" said I.
"What ails her! why, she's got the lung disease."
"But what it is that? said I.
"What's that! why, it's what kills lots of cows; takes 'em off in two
or three days. You must sell her for what she'll fetch. Perhaps you
may get $10 for her. I'll get rid of her for you."
"But," said H., "if she has the 'lung disease' you talk of, you tell
us she must die."
"Yes; she'll die, sure enough."
"Well, then, who will buy a cow that is sure to be dead to-morrow or
"Oh, that's no concern of yours! _You_ get rid of her, that's all."
To this dictum we rather demurred, and resolved to send for a
cow-doctor, and see if she could be cured; if not, to take care she
was not converted after her death into "country sausages," for the
benefit of London consumers of those dainties. Our friendly counsellor
was very indignant at our perversity in not getting rid of a cow with
"the lung disease," and stumped out of the yard in a fit of virtuous
indignation. With proper treatment the cow soon got well.
We still had occasional trouble with our butter-making; sometimes it
would come in half an hour, sometimes we were hard at work with the
churn for two or three hours, and then the butter was invariably bad.
We tried to procure information on the subject, and asked several
farmer's wives in the neighborhood "how long butter ought to be in
coming." We always received the same answer:--
"Why, you see, ma'am, that depends."
"Well," we asked, "what does it depend on?"
"Oh, on lots of things."
"Well, tell us some of the things on which it depends."
"Why, you see it's longer coming in hot weather, and it's longer
coming in cold weather; and it depends on how long the cow has calved,
and how you churn, and on lots beside."
We found we must endeavor to discover for ourselves the reason why we
were half an hour in getting it one day, and the next, perhaps, two or
As the weather became colder we found it more troublesome, and one
frosty day we churned four hours without success. We put in cold
water, we put in hot we put in salt, we talked of adding vinegar, but
did not; we churned as fast as we could turn the handle, and then as
slowly as possible, but still no butter. At the end of more than four
hours our labors were rewarded. The butter came; strong, rank stuff it
We determined before the next churning day to try and find out the
reason of all this trouble. We once more took to our books, but were
none the wiser, for none of them told us anything about the particular
thing we searched for. After many experiments we tried the effect of
bringing the cream into the kitchen over night, and see if warmth
would make any difference. It was guess-work for two or three
churnings, but the discovery was made at last, that we were always
sure of our butter in half an hour, provided the cream was, when put
into the churn, at a temperature of from 50' to 60'.* [We kept a small
thermometer for the purpose of plunging into the cream-pot. If it was
lower than 55' we waited till it reached that degree: if the weather
was very warm, and it rose higher than we have specified, we did not
attempt to churn till by some means we had lowered it to the proper
temperature.] No matter how long the cow had calved, how hot or how
cold the weather, if we put the cream into the churn at that degree of
heat the butter was sure to come, in as near as possible the time we
This, in the winter, was effected by bringing the cream-pot into the
kitchen over night, and if the weather was very cold, placing it on a
chair a moderate distance from the fire for about a quarter of an hour
in the morning: boiling water was likewise put into the churn for half
an hour before it was used.
Now, no doubt, a regular dairymaid would "turn up her nose" at all
these details; but I do not write for those who know their business,
but for the benefit of those ladies who, as is now so much the custom,
reside a few miles from the city or town in which the business or
profession their husbands may be situated. In many cases they take
with them town-bred servants to a country residence; and then, like
ourselves, find they know nothing whatever of the duties required of
them. To those who have several acres of pasture land, of course this
little book is all "bosh." They employ servants who know their work
and perform it properly; but most "suburbans" require the cook to
undertake the duties of the dairy, and unless they are regular country
servants they neither do their work well nor willingly. If any lady
who has one or two cows will instruct her servant to follow our
directions, she will always be sure of good butter, with very little
trouble. All that is required is a churn, milk-pans (at the rate of
three to each cow), a milk-pail, a board (or, better still, a piece of
marble), to make the butter up on, a couple of butter-boards, such as
are used in the shops to roll it into form, and a crock for the cream.
In the next chapter we will give, as concisely as we can, the whole
process that we ourselves used in our dairy.
HOW TO MAKE BUTTER.
Let the cream be at the temperature of 55' to 60'; if the weather is
cold, put boiling water into the churn for half an hour before you
want to use it: when that is poured off, strain in the cream through a
butter-cloth. When the butter is coming, which is easily ascertained
by the sound, take off the lid, and with one of the flat boards scrape
down the sides of the churn; and do the same to the lid: this prevents
waste. When the butter is come, the buttermilk is to be poured off and
spring-water put in the churn, and turned for two or three minutes:
this is to be then poured away, and fresh added, and again the handle
turned for a minute or two. Should there be the least appearance of
milkiness when this is poured from the churn, more is to be put. This
we found was a much better mode of extracting all the buttermilk than
placing it in a pan under the pump, as we did when we commenced our
labors. The butter is then to be placed on the board or marble, and
salted to taste; then, with a cream-cloth, wrung out of spring-water,
press all the moisture from it. When it appears quite dry and firm,
make it up into rolls with the flat boards. The whole process should
be completed in three-quarters of an hour.
We always used a large tub which was made for the purpose, and every
article we were going to use was soaked in it for half an hour in
boiling water; then that removed, and cold spring-water substituted;
and the things we required remained in it till they were wanted. This
prevents the butter form adhering to the boards, cloth, &c., which
would render the task of "making it up" both difficult and
In hot weather, instead of bringing the cream-crock into the kitchen
it must be kept as cool as possible; for as it is essential in the
winter to raise the temperature of the cream to the degree I have
stated, so in the summer it must be lowered to it. Should your dairy
not be cool enough for the purpose, it is best effected by keeping the
cream-pot in water as cold as you can procure it, and by making the
butter early in the morning, and placing cold water in the churn some
time before it is used. By following these directions you will have
good butter throughout the year.
The cows should be milked as near the diary as possible, as it
prevents the cream from rising well if the milk is carried any
distance.* [In very cold weather the milk-pans must be placed by the
fire some time before the milk is strained into them, or the cream
will not rise.] It should be at once strained into the milk-pans, and
not disturbed for forty-eight hours in winter, and twenty-four in
summer. In hot weather it is highly important that the cream should be
perfectly strained from the milk, or it will make it very rank. Half a
dozen moderate-sized lumps of sugar to every two quarts of cream tend
to keep it sweet. In summer always churn twice a week. Some persons
imagine that cream cannot be "too sweet," but that is a mistake; it
must have a certain degree of acidity, or it will not produce butter,
and if put into the churn without it, must be beaten with the paddles
till it acquires it. The cream should, in the summer, be shifted each
morning into a clean crock, that has first been well scalded and then
soaked in cold water; and the same rule applies to all the utensils
used in a dairy. The best things to scrub the churn and all wooden
articles with, are wood ashes and plenty of soap.
In some parts of the country, the butter made by the farmers' wives
for sale is not washed at all; they say, "It washes all the taste
away." They remove it from the churn, and then taking it in their
hands, dash it repeatedly on the board; that is what they call
"smiting" it. The butter so made is always strong, and of two colors,
as a portion of the buttermilk remains in it: if any of it were put
into a cup, and that placed in hot water, for the purpose clarifying,
there would, when it was melted, be found a large deposit of
buttermilk at the bottom of the cup. We have tried the butter made our
way, and there was scarcely any residuum.
Besides, this "smiting" is a most disgusting process to witness. In
warm weather the butter adheres to the hands of the "smiter," who
puffs and blows over it as if it were very hard work. Indeed, I once
heard a strong-looking girl; daughter of a small farmer in Kent, say
she was never well, for "smiting" the butter was such dreadful hard
work it gave her a pain in her side. After this "smiting" is over, it
is put on a butter-print, and pressed with the hands till it is
considered to have received the impression. It is then, through a
small hole in the handle, blown off the print with the _mouth_.
I don't think I shall ever again eat butter which appears at table
with the figures of cows, flowers, &c., stamped on it. I should always
think of the process it has gone through for the sake of looking
pretty. Nearly all the fresh butter which is sold in London is made up
in large rolls, and, like that we make ourselves, need not be touched
by the fingers of the maker.
WHAT WE MADE BY OUR COWS.
Every week we kept an account of the milk and butter we consumed, and
entered it in our housekeeping-book at the price we should have paid
for it, supposing we had purchased the articles. We did not put down
London prices, but country ones: thus, we charged ourselves with milk
at 6 cents the quart, and butter 27 cents the pound; at the end of six
months we made up our accounts, and found we should have paid for milk
from the 14th to the 24th of January, $44, and $66 for butter. The
food for the cows during this period cost us but $4 50, which we paid
for oil-cake, of which, when the weather became cold, they had two
pounds each daily. We do not reckon the value of the hay they consumed
during winter, because we included the land in our rent. We mowed
three acres, which produced rather more than six loads of hay.* [We
always had good crops, as the land had been always well kept. It was
not "upland" hay, but our man said it had good "heart" in it for the
cows.] Getting in the crop and thatching it cost, as nearly as
possible, $15, and this quantity was quite sufficient to supply the
two cows--with the calf of the Strawberry, which we reared--and the
An acre of grass is usually considered sufficient to support a cow
during the year. If that had to be rented apart from the house, the
average price would be about $25. Supposing we place that value on our
land, the accounts for six months would stand thus:
Land at $25 the acre, for half a year, . . . . . . . . . $25 00
Oil-cake, . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4 50
Half the expense of getting the hay, . . . . . . . . . . 7 50
Value of milk and butter, . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . $116 50
Leaving a balance in our favor, at the end of six months of $79 50.
At the commencement of the winter, a cow-keeper in the neighborhood
told our man that we should give our cows a little mangel-wurzel. We
inquired, Why? and were told that we should "keep our cows better
together;" so we paid a guinea for a ton of that vegetable. The first
time we made butter after they had been fed with it, we found it had a
very strong, bitter taste. Still, we did not condemn the
mangel-wurzel, but tried it another week. The butter was again bad, so
we abandoned the roots, and resolved to give the animals nothing but
When they were quite deprived of green food the milk began to
decrease; and as we had heard that oil-cake was given to cattle, we
thought we would try some. We did so, and with complete success; we
had plenty of milk, and the butter was as good as in the middle of
summer, and nearly as fine a color. We did not make so much as when
the cows had plenty of grass,--besides, it was now several months
since the black cow had calved,--but we had sufficient for the
consumption of the family. The children, it is true, did not have so
many tarts as when the fruit and butter were more plentiful.
We hope that we have made all our statements clearly, and that the
reader will have no difficulty in following us through this narrative
Of one thing we are quite sure, that it is false economy to feed cows
during the winter on anything but what we have mentioned. Grains from
the brewer and distiller are extensively used by cow-keepers in large
towns, but they cannot be procured in the country; and we have been
told that cows fed with grains, though they may yield plenty of milk,
will not make much butter.
One winter, when hay was scarce, we found that they did very well with
carrots occasionally, and that they did not impart any unpleasant
taste to the butter. They are likewise found of potatoes unboiled; but
these things are only required when you keep more stock than your land
can support,--a fault very common to inexperienced farmers on a small
We had every reason to be satisfied with the profit we had derived
from our dairy, and next proceeded to examine the accounts we had kept
of our pigs for six months.
We commenced by purchasing, on the 14th of July, one for which we paid
$7 50. For the first month it had nothing but the wash from the house,
the skim-milk from the dairy, and greens from the garden. When we
began to dig the potatoes, we found we could not hope to save the
whole crop from the disease; we had, therefore, a quantity boiled and
put in the pig-tub, and upon these it was fed another month. At the
end of that time we began to give it a little meal and a few peas. It
was killed three months after we had purchased it, and the cost for
meal and peas was just $250. Thus, altogether, we paid for it $10, and
when killed it weighed thirteen stone (182 pounds). This we reckoned
worth $1 371/2 the stone, which made the value of the meat $17 871/2; we
had, therefore, a clear profit of $7 871/2. Of course, it would have
been very different had we bought all the food for it; but the
skim-milk, and vegetables from the garden would have been wasted, had
we been without a pig to consume them: as it was, the profit arose
from our "farm of four acres."
These particulars are given for the reason that the writer has
frequently heard her friends in the country say, "Oh, I never keep
either pigs or poultry: the pork and the fowls always cost twice the
price they can be purchased for." This we could never understand, when
the despisers of home-cured hams and home-fed poultry used to assert
it. Supposing there was no actual profit, still it seemed strange that
those who had the option of eating pork fed on milk and vegetables,
and fowls which were running about the meadows a few hours before they
were killed, should prefer those which are kept in close confinement
and crammed with candle-graves and other abominations, till they are
considered what dealers call "ripe" enough to kill; and as for pork,
much of that which is sold in towns is fed on the offal from the
butchers' shops, and other filth. It is well known that pigs will eat
anything in the shape of animal food; and for myself, I would much
rather, like the Jew and the Turk, abjure it altogether, than partake
of meat fed as pork too commonly is. How few people can eat this meat
with impunity! but they might do so if the animal had been properly
It is a great mistake to make pork so fat as it usually is: it is not
only great waste, but deters many persons from partaking of it.
Servants will not eat it, and those who purchase it, as well as those
who kill their own pigs, may be certain that the surplus fat finds its
way into the "wash-tub," for the benefit of a future generation of
Our next venture proved equally fortunate. We bought three small
pigs, for which we gave $3 each; and as we wished to have pickled pork
and small hams, they were killed off as we required them. The first
cost $2 for barley-meal and peas, and weighed six stone, which, at $1
371/2 a stone, was worth $8 25. As the cost of the pig and the food came
to just $5, we had a profit of $3 25; but we considered we had no
right to complain: the meat was delicious, and partaken of by the
children as freely as if it had been mutton.
We kept the other pigs somewhat longer, and they cost us no more for
food; for, as I have already stated, they were entirely kept with the
produce of our "four-acre farm," till about three weeks before they
were killed. About a bushel and a half of barley meal and a peck of
peas was all that was purchased for them.
The best way to ensure the healthy condition of the animals is to let
them have the range of a small meadow; they should likewise be
occasionally well scrubbed with soap and water. If they are thus
treated, how much more wholesome must the meat be than when the poor
creatures are shut up in dirty styes, and suffered to eat any garbage
which is thrown to them! We always had all their food boiled. At first
there was a great deal of opposition to the "muck" being introduced
into the scullery; but in a little time that was overcome, and a
"batch" of potatoes used to be boiled in the copper about once a
month. When the skim-milk was removed from the dairy, it was taken to
the "trough," and some of it mixed with a portion of the boiled
potatoes, and with this food they were fed three times daily.
We have been told by a practical farmer on a larger scale, that when
potatoes are not to be procured, a pig of thirty-five stone may be
fattened in ten days on something less than two hundred weight of
carrots. We intend to try if this is the case, and have half an acre
of our orchard (which is arable) sown with carrot-seed, and feed our
"stock" in the winter with the produce. With the surplus milk of two
cows we find we can always keep three pigs with very little expense.
Of course, if we did not plant plenty of potatoes, we must purchase
more meal for them; but as we have an acre of kitchen-garden, we can
very well spare half of it to grow roots for the cows and pigs. We do
not reckon labor in our expenses, as we must have had a gardener, even
if we had not so much spare ground, for our flower-garden and
greenhouse require daily work.
We hope we have convinced those who may think of having a "little
place" a few miles from town, that it may be made a source of profit
as well as of amusement, and that any trouble which may be experienced
by the lady superintending her own dairy and farm will be repaid by
having her table well supplied with good butter, plenty of fresh eggs,
(of the poultry-yard we shall speak presently,) well-cured hams,
bacon, delicate and fresh pork, well-fed ducks, and chickens. All
those country dainties are easily to be procured on a "farm of four
Nor must another item be omitted--health; for if you wish to be
fortunate in your farming, you must look after things yourself, and
that will necessitate constant exercise in the open air. We think that
we have given full particulars for the management of the cow and pig.
In the next chapter we will relate our experience of the poultry-yard.
We commenced stocking our poultry-yard in July, by purchasing
twenty-eight chickens and twenty ducks, for which we paid $16 58 in
the market. Some of them were too young for the table at the time we
purchased them, but were all consumed at the end of four months, with
the exception of seven hens and a cock, which we saved for "stock."
Thus in the time I have mentioned we killed ten couple of ducks, and
the same of fowls. These we entered in our housekeeping expenses at $1
37 a couple, though they were larger and better than could have been
purchased in a London shop for $1 75.
We must now proceed to reckon what they cost for food, and then see if
any balance remained in our favor. They consumed during the time they
were getting in order for the table, three bushels of barley, at $1 25
the bushel, one bushel of meal at the same price, and one hundred
weight of what is called "chicken rice," at $3 00.
The cost of the barley and meal was, . . . . $5 00
Rice, . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3 00
Cost of poultry, . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16 58
Making the total price, $24 58
Ten couple of ducks, and the same number
of chickens, would amount to, $27 50
Thus, at the first sight, it would appear that we gained but $2 92 by
four months' trouble in attending to our fowl-yard; but we have now to
take from the purchase money the value of the eight we saved for
stock, and likewise to deduct from the barley and rice the quantity
consumed by them in the four months. Now these eight were large fowls
when bought, and well worth 50 cents each. We must allow for their
food at least a fourth part of that consumed. We have then to take off
$4 00 from the first cost of the poultry, and $2 00 from the value of
the food, which will add $6 00 to the $2 92, leaving on the whole
transaction a profit of $8 92.
We have still another small item to add. One of the hens we saved
began to lay in the middle of September, and by the time the four
months were expired had given us two dozen eggs, which at that time of
year, even in the country, were not to be procured under 371/2 cents the
dozen; so that we have to add 75 cents to $8 92, making a clear profit
in four months of $9 67.
It was a source of great amusement to ourselves, as well as to the
children, by whom it was always considered a treat to run in the
meadows, with barley in their little baskets, to the "coobiddies."
When we first had the poultry we kept them in the stable-yard; but we
soon found they did not thrive: they had been taken from a farm where
they had the free range of the fields, and drooped in confinement, and
from want of the grass and worms which they had been accustomed to
feed on. We had a house constructed for them in the meadow nearest the
house, and soon found that they throve much better, and did not
require so much food. We had no trouble with them, except in seeing
that the house was cleaned out daily. Through the fields flowed a
stream of clean water, consequently our ducks throve well. The bushel
of meal which figures in our accounts was for them; they used to have
a little mixed in hot water once a day. We soon left it off, for we
found the rice boiled in skim-milk was equally good for them, and much
Poultry of all kinds are very fond of "scraps;" the children were
always told to cut up pieces of potatoes, greens, or meat, which they
might leave on their plates at the nursery dinner; and when they were
removed to the kitchen, they were collected together and put into the
rice-bowl for the chickens. We always fed them three times daily: in
the morning with rice, in the middle of the day with "scraps," and in
the evening they had just as much barley thrown to them as they cared
to pick up eagerly.
We have heard some persons complain of the great expense attending a
poultry-yard, but this arises from the person who has the charge of
them throwing down just as much again grain as the fowls can consume.
We have ourselves often seen barley trodden into the ground, if
occasionally we left the task of feeding to the lad.
It must, of course, be impossible at all times for a lady to go into
the fields for the purpose of feeding her chickens; the only plan to
prevent waste is to have a meal-room in the house, and as much given
out daily as is considered necessary for the consumption of the
poultry. This is some little trouble, but will be well repaid by
having at all times cheap and wholesome fowls, etc.
We have hitherto only spoken of the profit which may be obtained from
a fowl-yard, when the stock is purchased. The farmer's wife, from whom
we bought _ours_, of course gained some money by their sale. When we
reared our own chickens from our own eggs, we received much more
emolument from our yard; but in this little volume it is my purpose to
show how a person should _commence_, who leaves London or any other
large town for a suburban residence.
It must always be borne in mind, that nothing will prosper if left
wholly to servants; the country proverb of "the master's eye fattens
the steed," is a very true one, and another is quite as good: "the
best manure you can put on the ground is the foot of the master." As a
proof of our assertion we will, in the next chapter, detail the
disasters we experienced when we left the charge of rabbits to the
superintendence of a servant.
Our young people were very anxious to add some rabbits to their
playthings, and as we always like to encourage a love of animals in
children, we consented that they should become the fortunate
share-holders in a doe and six young ones. These were bought early in
September, and, as long as the weather would allow, the children used
to take them food; by and by, however, one died, and then came the
complaint that Master Harry had killed it by giving it too much green
meat. The young gentleman was thereupon commanded not to meddle with
them for the future, but the rabbits did not derive any benefit from
his obedience; two or three times weekly we heard of deaths taking
place in the hutch, till at last the whole half-dozen, with their
mamma, reposed under the large walnut-tree.
One day the lad who had attended to them knocked at the drawing-room
door, and on entering with a large basket, drew from it a most
beautiful black-and-white doe, and held it up before our admiring
eyes; this was followed by the display of seven young ones, as pretty
as the mother.
"Please, ma'am," said Tom, "these are the kind of rabbits you ought to
have bought. My brother keeps rabbits, and these are some of his; I'll
warrant they won't die!"
Willing once more to gratify the children, as well as to solve the
enigma of whether it must be inevitable to lose by keeping these
animal, we became the possessors of these superior creatures, with the
understanding that no one was to have anything to do with them but
Tom, the said Tom saying, with perfect confidence, that "he would
'warrant' they should weigh five pounds each in six weeks."
Not being learned in rabbits, we trusted to his experience and
promises that we should always from that have a brace for the table
whenever we wished for them. What was our disappointment, then, when a
week after we heard of the death of one of them! This was soon
followed by another, and another, till the whole seven little
"bunnies" shared the grave under the walnut-tree, and in a day or two
the doe likewise departed: I concluded she died of grief for the loss
of her offspring.
In vain did we endeavor to discover the reason of this mortality; it
could not have been for want of food, for they consumed nearly as many
oats as the pony. At last Tom thought of the hutch, or "locker," as he
called it. "It must," said he, gravely, "have had _the_ disease." So
what that fatal complaint among rabbits is, remains a profound mystery
Now this hutch was made of new wood, in a carpenter's shop, at a cost
of nearly $10, and how it could have become infected with this fearful
complaint we could not comprehend. However, from that time we
abandoned rabbit-keeping, and resolved not, for the future, to keep
any live stock which we could not look after ourselves. We did not
attempt to do so in this case, because we were frightened at the
responsibility Tom threw on our shoulders, if we looked at them the
doe always eating her young ones was one of the evils to be dreaded by
I suppose profit is to be made by keeping them, or tame rabbits would
not be placed in the poulterers' shops by the side of ducks and
chickens, but we are quite at a loss to know how it is accomplished.
It did not much matter in a pecuniary point of view, as it was very
doubtful if the children's pets would ever have died for the benefit
of the dinner-table, and I only insert this chapter for the purpose of
proving what I stated, viz.; that if a lady wishes her stock of any
kind to prosper, she must look after it herself. When I say prosper, I
mean without the expense being double the value of the produce she
would receive from her "four-acre farm."
We did not enter these disasters in our housekeeping book, it went
under the title of children's expenses. For my own part, I am disposed
to think that it must always be expensive to keep live stock of any
kind for which all the food has to be purchased. Had we continued to
keep our fowls in the yard, I am convinced they would have brought us
little or no profit; but the grass, worms, and other things they found
for themselves in the field, half supplied them in food, as well as
keeping them healthy. We had not one death among our poultry from
disease in the six months of which I have been relating this
experience of our farming.
Our next venture proved more prosperous than the rabbits, and will be
related in the following chapter.
After we had been a few months in the country, a friend, who was a
great pigeon-fancier, wished to add some new varieties to his cote,
and offered to send us, as a present, seven or eight pairs of those he
wished to part with. We were greatly pleased with his offer, and at
once set the carpenter at work to prepare a house for them. As soon as
it was ready we received sixteen beautiful pigeons.
For the first fortnight the pigeon-holes were covered with net, that
the birds might be enabled to survey at a distance their new abode,
and become accustomed to the sight of the persons about the yard. When
the net was removed, they eagerly availed themselves of their freedom
to take flights round and round the house. One couple, of less
contented disposition than the others, never came back, nor did we
ever hear that they had returned to their old home. Our number was
not, however, lessened by their desertion, for we received, at nearly
the same time, from another friend, a pair of beautiful "pouters."
As we resolved to keep a debtor-and-creditor account of all the things
we kept, we found that our eighteen pigeons consumed in every seven
Two pecks of peas . . . . . . . . . . . $0 75
One peck of tares . . . . . . . . . . . 37
Ditto maize . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 33
In the first fourteen weeks we kept them, we received but two pairs of
young ones, which were most mercilessly slaughtered for a pie. The
price of these in the market would have been 37 cents per pair, so
that we were losers on our stock; but we must say that we did not
receive them till nearly the end of September, and we were agreeably
surprised at finding we had young ones fit the table at Christmas.
From that time we have been well recompensed for our peas, tares, and
maize, as each couple produces on an average a pair every six weeks;
thus the produce was worth $3 00, while the cost was something less
than $1 50. Even had there been no profit derived, we should still
have kept them, as we consider no place in the country complete
without these beautiful and graceful little creatures. It was a
subject of never-failing delight to the children, watching them as
they wheeled round and round the house of an evening, and it was
always considered a great privilege to be allowed to feed them.
At first the food was kept in the stable, and Tom was the feeder; but
we were soon obliged to alter this, as we never went into the yard
without treading on the corn. It was afterwards removed to the back
kitchen, round the door of which they used to assemble in a flock,
till one of the servants threw them out their allowance. They were
considered "pets," by all the household, and were so tame that they
would allow themselves to be taken in the hand and stroked.
As for the young ones, who were doomed to the _steak_, we never saw
them till they made their appearance in the pie. They were taken from
the nest as soon as they were fledged.
I mention this, because we were sometimes accused by our visitors (for
whose especial benefit the young ones were sometimes slain) of
cruelty, in eating the "pretty creatures;" but we never found that
they had any scruples in partaking of them at dinner. It was usually
as they were watching of a summer evening the flight of the parent
birds that we were taxed with our barbarity.
We were one day much amused by a clergyman of our acquaintance, who
kept a great number of these birds in a room, and who, in default of
children to pet, made pets of his pigeons. At dinner, a pigeon-pie
made part of the repast. This was placed opposite a visitor, who was
requested to carve the dainty. He did so, and sent a portion of it to
his host. The reverend gentleman looked at the plateful sent him
attentively, and then said with a sigh, "I will trouble you to
exchange this for part of the other bird. _This_ was a peculiar
favorite, and I always fed it myself. I put a mark on the breast after
it was picked, for I could not bear to eat the little darling!"
We always thought that this sentimental divine had better either not
have had the "little darling" put into the pie, or have swallowed his
feelings and his favorite at the same time.
This dish seems to occasion wit as well as sentiment, for we were once
asked by a facetious friend, "Why is a pigeon in a pie like
Shakspeare's Richard III?" We "gave it up," and were told, "Because it
was bound unto the steak (stake), and could not fly." This may perhaps
be a worn-out jest, but it was fresh to the writer, and so perhaps it
may be to some of her readers.
We will say a few words on the management of pigeons before we
conclude this chapter.
It is necessary that a pan of water should be place in their house
each day for them to wash in, and that a large lump of bay-salt should
likewise be kept there. It should be occasionally cleaned out, and
this is all the trouble attending keeping them. Feed them three times
a day; and never throw more down than they pick up at a meal.
As I have said nothing of the profit derived from chickens when they
are _reared_ by the owner, so I now say nothing of the saving in
keeping pigeons, when we came to sow a large patch of Indian corn, as
well as some tares. We did so successfully in the acre of ground
called the Orchard; and though we had abundance of fine fruit from it,
the trees were not planted so thickly as to prevent any kind of crop
from flourishing. But we repeat, this little book is a manual for the
use of the beginner; and to such we hope it may prove both useful and
HOW WE CURED OUR HAMS.
I have now recounted our experience in keeping cows, pigs, chickens,
ducks, rabbits, and pigeons; and with everything but the rabbits we
were amply satisfied with the return we received for our labor. We had
a constant supply of milk, butter, eggs, ducks, chickens, and pork,
not only fresh, but in the shape of good hams and bacon.
I do not know whether it is not presumptuous, in the face of Miss
Acton, Mrs. Rundle, and so many other authorities, not forgetting the
great Alexis Soyer, to give "our method of curing" the last-mentioned
dainties; but we think we may as well follow up the history of our
pigs, from the sty to the kitchen. I always found that the recipes
usually given for salting pork contained too much saltpetre, which not
only renders the meat hard, but causes it to be very indigestible. The
following is the manner in which they were cured by ourselves:
For each ham of twelve pounds weight:
Two pounds of common salt.
Two ounces of saltpetre.
1/4 pound of bay salt.
1/4 pound of coarse sugar.
The hams to be well rubbed with this mixture, which must be in the
finest powder. It is always the best plan to get your butcher to rub
the meat, as a female hand is hardly heavy enough to do it
effectually; they are then placed in a deep pan, and a wine-glass of
vinegar is added. They should be turned each day; and for the first
three or four should be well rubbed with brine. After that time it
will be sufficient, with a wooden or iron spoon, to well ladle it over
the meat. They should remain three weeks in the pickle. When removed
from it, they must be well wiped, put in brown-paper bags, and then
smoked the _wood_ smoke for three weeks.
We once had nearly a whole pig spoiled by its being taken to a
baker's, where it was _dried_, but not smoked. When it came back it
resembled very strong tallow.
In villages it is usual to send bacon and hams to be dried in the
chimneys of farm-houses where wood is burnt, in the old-fashioned
manner, on dogs; but if resident in or near a small town, there is
always a drying-house to be met with, where we believe sawdust is used
for fuel. We have had our own dried in this manner, and always found
We used the same pickle for twenty-four pounds' weight of bacon, with
the exception that we allow two pounds more of common salt, and when
it is turned the second time the same quantity of salt is rubbed into
Some persons make a pickle of water, salt, sugar, and saltpetre,
boiled together, and when cold put in the hams, etc., without any
rubbing. We have never tried that way for meats that are to be dried,
but can strongly recommend it for salt beef, pork, or mutton. The
following is the pickle always used in our kitchen:
Three gallons of _soft_ water.
One pound of coarse sugar.
Two ounces of saltpetre.
Three pounds of common salt.
Boil together, and let it be well skimmed; then, when cold, the meat
to be well wiped and put into it. It will be fit to cook in ten days,
but may be kept without injury for two months, when the pickle should
be reboiled and well skimmed. The meat should be covered with brine
and the pan have a cover.
We have put legs of mutton into this pickle, and can assure the reader
it is an excellent mode of cooking this joint; and as it is one which
frequently makes its appearance at table where the family is large, it
is sometimes a pleasant method of varying the dish. It is the best way
of any we know of, for curing tongues; it has the great advantage of
being always ready for use, and you are not fearful of the
carelessness of servants, who not unfrequently forget to look to the
We can recommend a dish not often seen at table, and that is a sirloin
of beef put into this pickle for about a fortnight. It is infinitely
superior either to the round or edgebone, and certainly not so
extravagant as the last-named joint.
A friend has told us that we should procure some juniper-berries to
put into our ham-pickle, but there were none to be purchased in our
neighborhood, and as we were quite ignorant of the flavor they might
impart, we did not trouble ourselves to get them. I am fond of old
proverbs, and as our hams and bacon were always good, we determined to
"let well alone."
Any lady who thinks of trying a country residence, should see that it
possess a small brick oven, for "home-made" bread ought always to be
considered indispensable in the country. We did not discover that our
new home was without one till after we entered it. We were laughed at
by our landlord when we mentioned our want of this convenience.
"Why!" cried he, "there is a baker's shop not five minutes walk from
"Never mind," said I, "how near the baker's shop may be; we mean to
have all our bread made at home. It will be, we are sure, better to do
so, both on the score of health and economy."
"But I really," said the gentleman, "cannot afford to build you an
oven; it would cost me $100 at the least."
At this, H., who had resided for a short time in a house where the
bread was made at home, laughed, and said, "Really, Mr. L., you need
not fear that we wish to put you to so much expense, and it is perhaps
but fair that we should meet you half-way in the matter; so if you
will find labor we will find materials: or reverse it, if you please."
Mr. L. remembered that he had in some outhouse a quantity of "fire
bricks," and it was arranged that we should pay for the labor of
constructing a three-peck oven. This occasioned on our part an outlay
of $10, and this small sum was the source of considerable saving to us
We were more fortunate with our bread than with our butter-making, for
Mary was a capital baker; our bread was always made from the best
flour. We all liked it much better than bakers' bread, and it was much
more nourishing. Indeed, when I was once in Kent during "hopping," and
saw that the women who resided in the neighborhood always gave up half
a day's work weekly for the purpose of going home to bake, I used to
wonder why they did not purchase their bread from a baker in the
village. I was informed by one of them to whom I put the question,
"Lord, ma'am, we could not work on bakers' bread, we should be
half-starved; it's got no _heart_ in it."
To a small family, perhaps, the saving might not be considered an
object, but any one who has for a few months been accustomed to eat
home-made bread, would be sorry to have recourse to the baker's; the
loaves purchased are usually spongy the first day, and dry and harsh
the second. It is not only that other ingredients than flour, yeast,
and water are mixed in the dough, but it is seldom sufficiently baked;
bread well made at home and baked in a brick oven for a proper time,
is as good at the end of a week as it is the second day.
I have heard several persons say, "I should like home-made bread if it
were baked every day, but I don't like eating stale bread four or five
days out of the seven." If they stayed with us a day or two, they
became convinced that bread which had been made three or four days did
not deserve the epithet of "stale."
I will now proceed to show the reader how much flour was consumed in
our household, consisting of thirteen persons.
We used to bake weekly twenty-eight pounds of flour, of the best
quality; this produced _forty-two_ pounds of bread. I will give in the
most explicit manner I can directions for making it, which I imagine
any servant will be able to comprehend:
Place in a large pan twenty-eight pounds of flour; make a hole with
the hand in the centre of it like a large basin, into which strain a
pint of yeast from the brewer's; this must be tasted, and if too
bitter a little flour sprinkled in it, and then strained directly;
then pour in two quarts of water, of the temperature of 100', that is,
what is called blood-heat, and stir the flour round from the bottom of
the hole you have formed with the hand, till that part of the flour is
quite thick and well mixed, though all the rest must remain unwetted;
then sprinkle a little flour over the moist part, and cover with a
cloth: this is called "sponge," and must be left half an hour to rise.
During this time the fire must be lighted in the oven with fagots, and
the heat well maintained till the bread is ready to enter it. At the
end of the half-hour add four quarts of water, of the same heat as the
previous two quarts, and well knead the whole mass into a smooth
dough. This is hard work, and requires strength to do it properly.
It must be again covered and left for one hour. In cold weather both
sponge and dough must be placed on the kitchen-hearth, or it will not
Before the last water is put in, two table-spoonfuls of salt must be
sprinkled over the flour.
Sometimes the flour will absorb another pint of water.
When the dough has risen, it must be made up into loaves as quickly as
possible; if much handled then, the bread will be heavy.
It will require an hour and an half to bake it, if made into
While the dough is rising the oven must be emptied of the fire, the
ashes swept from it, and then well wiped with a damp mop kept for the
purpose. To ascertain if it is sufficiently heated, throw a little
flour into it, and if it brown _directly_, it will do.
I think I have stated every particular necessary to enable a novice to
make a "batch" of good bread. I will sum up the articles requisite to
produce forty-two pounds of the best quality:
Flour, 28 pounds.
Water at 100', 12 or 13 pints.
Two table-spoonfuls of salt.
Yeast, 1 pint.
Bake one hour and a half.
The quantity made was ten and a half quarterns, or four-pound loaves;
and, as I have said, supplied our family of thirteen persons for the
week. For the same number, when we were residing in town, the baker
used to leave _thirteen_ quarterns weekly.
One day, in the country, when, from the accidental absence of the
bread-maker, we had to be supplied from the baker, we were surprised
to hear that at the nursery-breakfast the children (six) and nurse
consumed more than a two-pound loaf, and then were complaining of
being "so hungry" two hours after. I thought of the words of the
Kentish hopper, "that there was no heart in bakers' bread."
The servant who has the management of the oven should be instructed to
take care that the wood-ashes are not thrown into the dust-hole with
the ashes from the grates. They are always valuable in the country;
and, as I have mentioned, the wooden articles used in the dairy should
always be scrubbed with them. Should the water which is used in the
house be hard, and any washing done at home, they should be place in a
coarse cloth over a tub, and water poured over them several times to
make lye, which softens the water, and saves soap much more than soda,
and is likewise better for the linen.
The brick oven will often prove a source of great convenience,
independent of bread-making. It is just the size to bake hams or
roasting pigs, and will, when dinner-parties are given, frequently
prove much more useful to the cook than an extra fire.
The fagots are sold by the hundred, and the price is usually $6 25 for
As I wish to make this little work a complete manual to the "farm of
four acres," I must insert a few remarks on the management of the
kitchen-garden. Ours consisted of an acre; and, large as our family
was, we did not require more than half of it to supply us with
vegetables, independent of potatoes.
We strongly advise any one who may have more garden than they may want
for vegetables, to plant the surplus with potatoes. Even if the
"disease" does affect part of the crop, the gain will still be great,
providing you keep animals to consume them; for they must indeed be
bad if the pigs will not thrive on them when boiled. Poultry,
likewise, will eat them in preference to any other food.
We had something more than half an acre planted one year when the
disease was very prevalent; the crop suffered from it to a
considerable extent, but the yield was so large that we stored
sufficient to supply the family from September till the end of April,
and had enough of those but slightly affected to fatten four pigs,
beside having a large bowlful boiled daily for the poultry. The worst
parts were always cut out before they were boiled, and neither pigs
nor poultry were allowed to touch them raw.
It is much the best plan to consume all the potatoes you may grow,
rather than save any of them for seed. It will be but a slight
additional expense to have fresh kinds sent from quite a different
locality, and they will thrive better, and not be so liable to the
They should always be dug before the slightest appearance of frost,
and place on straw in a dry place, where they can be conveniently
looked over once a fortnight, when any that show symptoms of decay
should be removed and boiled at once for the pigs. By this method very
few will be wholly wasted; instead of eating potatoes you will eat
pork, that is, if you have plenty of skim-milk. I do not at all know
how pigs would like them without they were mixed up with that fluid.
We have tried, with great success, planting them in rows alternately
with other vegetables. When they are all together, the haulms in wet
seasons grow so rankly that they become matted together; and then, as
the air is excluded from the roots, it renders them liable to disease.
We have tried cutting the haulm off to within a few inches of the
ground; but this, the gardener said, proved detrimental to the roots.
We afterwards tried a row of potatoes, then cabbages, then carrots,
and then again came the potatoes. We once planted them between the
currant and gooseberry bushes, but it was as bad, or worse, than when
a quantity of them were by themselves; for when the trees made their
midsummer shoots the leaves quite shut out air and light from the
potatoes, and when dug they proved worse than any other portions of
We always found that the deeper the sets were placed in the ground the
sounder were the roots: We tried every experiment with them; and as
our gardener was both skilful and industrious, we were usually much
more fortunate with our produce than our neighbors.
Carrots rank to the "small farmer" next in value to the potatoes; not
only pigs and cows are fond of them, but likewise horses. The pony
always improved in condition when he was allowed to have a few daily.
Our arable acre was a model farm on a very small scale. We grow in it
maize for the poultry, tares for the pigeons, lucerne for the cows,
and talked of oats for the pony. This our gardener objected to, so the
surplus bit of ground was sown with parsnips, which turned out very
profitable, as both pigs and cows liked them.
We have told the reader that we reared the calf of the Strawberry cow,
and it cost us hardly anything to do so, for it was fed in the winter
with the roots we had to spare. The first winter it had to consume the
greater part of the ton of mangel-wurzel we had bought "to keep our
cows together." Some we had boiled with potatoes for the pigs, and
they liked it very well.
An acre of land may appear a laughably small piece of ground to
produce such a variety of articles, but if well attended to the yield
will astonish those who are ignorant of gardening. The one important
thing to be attended to is, to see that all seed-crops are well
thinned out as soon as they are an inch above the surface. In very few
kitchen-gardens is this attended to, and for want of this care a dozen
carrots, parsnips, or turnips, are allowed to stand where one would be
sufficient. The one would prove a fine root; the dozen are not worth
the trouble of pulling, as they can get neither air nor room to grow.
To be well done they should be thinned by hand, and that being a
tedious "job," gardeners seldom can be induced to perform the work
As our ground became productive we added another cow, and more pigs
and poultry, but I shall not now say with what success. This little
book in only intended for the novice in farming, and details only the
results of the first six months of our "farm of four acres."
Perhaps I should have called it _five_ acres, as nearly the whole of
the acre of kitchen-garden was devoted to the cultivation of food for
We had a very broad sunny border at the back of the flower-garden,
which grew nearly all the spring and summer vegetables we required:
such as seakale, early potatoes, peas cauliflowers, and salads.
We have not yet said anything of the money we saved by our
kitchen-garden, but we must add to the profits of our six months'
farming the average amount we should have paid to a green-grocer for
fruit and vegetables.
Twenty-five cents a day to supply thirteen persons with these
necessary articles is certainly not more than must have been expended.
Still, $90 per annum is a considerable item of household expenditure,
and scanty would have been the supply it would have furnished; as it
was we had a profusion of fruit of all kinds, from the humble
gooseberry and currant to the finest peaches, nectarines, and hothouse
grapes, as well as an abundant supply of walnuts and filberts.
Had we bought all the produce of our garden, the value would have more
than paid our gardener's wages.
Nor must I omit the luxury of having beautiful flowers from the
greenhouse throughout the winter; these superfluous items did not
figure in our accounts. We should have purchased but bare necessaries,
and therefore entered but twenty-five cents a day for "garden stuff"
in our housekeeping book.
Those only who have lived in the country can appreciate the luxury of
not only having fruit and vegetables in abundance, but of having them
fresh. Early potatoes fresh dug, peas fresh gathered, salad fresh cut,
and fruit plucked just before it makes its appearance at table, are
things which cannot be purchased by the wealthiest residents in a
Not far from our residence there were large grounds, which were
cultivated with fruit and vegetables for the London market. I have
frequently seen the wagons packed for Covent Garden. The freshest that
can be procured there would be considered "stale" in the neighborhood
in which they were grown. Any fruit or vegetables in that far-famed
market must have been gathered twenty-four hours before they could
find their way into the kitchen of the consumer; and it is not only
the time which has elapsed, but the manner in which they are packed,
which so much deteriorates their quality.
Have any of our readers ever seen the densely-loaded wagons which
enter that market? The vegetables are wedged as closely together as
they can be pressed, which very soon causes, in warm weather,
cabbages, greens, &c., to ferment and become unwholesome. I have often
seen them so loaded in the middle of the day before they reached
London. They are left in the hot sun till the time arrives, when the
horses are placed in them, and they begin their slow journey towards
town. This is seldom till late at night when the distance does not
exceed a dozen miles.
The finer kinds of fruit such as peaches, grapes, etc., do not injure
so much by being kept a few days before the are eaten; indeed, _ripe_
peaches and nectarines are seldom gathered for sale: they would spoil
too quickly to enable the fruiterer to realize much profit. They are
plucked when quite hard, and then placed in boxes till they gradually
_soften_; but the flavor of fruit thus treated is very inferior to
that of a peach or nectarine ripened by the sun. Seed-fruits, such as
strawberries, come very vapid in four or five hours after they have
been picked, if they were then quite ripe.
I know that the last few pages have nothing to do with "the money we
made" by our farm, but I wish to show the reader all the advantages
which a country residence possess over a town one. Some persons, who
cannot live without excitement, think that nothing can compensate for
the want of amusement and society.
I was once speaking of the pleasure I experienced from residing in the
country, and placed _health_ among its many advantages, when I was
answered, "It is better to die in London than live in the country!"
I think I have said enough to cause my lady readers to wish that the
time may not be far distant when they may, like ourselves,--for we did
all sorts of "odd jobs" in our garden,--cut their own asparagus, and
assist in gathering their own peas.
It is indeed impossible to over-estimate the value of a kitchen-garden
in a large family which numbers many children among its members.
THE MONEY WE MADE.
Some time ago we showed our first six months' accounts to a friend,
who was very sceptical as to the profit we always told him we made by
our farming. After he had looked over our figures, he said,--
"Well! And after all, what have you made by your butter-making,
pig-killing, and fowl-slaughtering?"
"What have we made?" said I, indignantly. "Why, don't you see that,
from July to January, we realized a profit of $9 50 from our cows, $11
12 from our pigs, $9 67 from our poultry-yard, and $45 at the least
from our kitchen-garden, which, altogether, amounts to no less a sum
than $145 29; and all this in our 'salad-days, when we were green in
judgment?' What shall we not make now that we have more stock, our
ground well cropped, and, better still, have gained so much
"Well," said our friend, "the more 'stock,' as you call it, you have,
the more money you will lose."
At this rejoinder, H. looked at the speaker as if she thought he had
"eaten of the insane root, which takes the reason prisoner."
"_Lose more money_!" when you can yourself see, by looking at this
book, that in our first six months we have cleared $145 29! And,
indeed, it was absurd of A. to put down so little, for she has allowed
$25 for the land; and if she take that off the rent, she ought to
enter it as profit from the "farm." Besides, think of only putting
down a shilling a day for fruit and vegetables! Very few puddings
would the children get at that rate, supposing we were in London."
"If we were in London," interrupted I, "you know that $90 yearly would
be as much as we could afford to expend for that item in our family. I
have made out all our farming accounts as fairly as I can. I am as
well aware as you can be that a shilling a day would not give us the
luxuries of the garden as we now have them; and though that plenty may
form one of the advantages of residing in the country, we have no
right to put down as a saving of money the value of articles we should
never have thought of purchasing."
"I must allow," said Mr. N., "that you appear to have been strictly
honest in your entries as regards the value of the produce you have
received, but you do not appear to have put down your losses. You keep
a one-sided ledger. You have the credit, but not the debit entry. You
say nothing of the money you have lost by pigeons and rabbit-keeping."
Now the utmost we had lost by our pigeons in the six months was $2 25,
and he knew perfectly well how profitable they had since been to us.
He used jokingly to say, that we fed our guest with them in every mode
of cookery so frequently, that they would alter the old grace of "for
rabbits hot," &c., and substitute the word "pigeon" in its place; so
we thought it was ungenerous to reproach the poor birds with the
scanty number they gave us the first few weeks they were in our
Silenced on that point, he returned to our unfortunate rabbit
speculation, and complained that we had kept no account of the money
we had lost by them.
Here H. stopped him saying,
"Pray, Mr. N., did you not purchase your children a pony, and did it
not catch cold and die in a month afterwards? I suppose Mrs. N. did
not enter that in her housekeeper's book as meat at so much a pound,
and why should we put down the cost of the rabbits in our farming
accounts? No; of course it was entered among the 'sundries.'"
"But you must allow," said Mr. N., "that if you had done as I advised
you, and taken a house in a street leading into one of the squares,
you would have lived more cheaply than here. Why, your gardener's
wages must more than swallow up any profit which you may _think_ you
make from your farm. You must acknowledge you would have saved that
"Granted," said I; "but we should most likely have paid quite as much
to a doctor. We never got through a year in town without a heavy bill
to one; and we must have had all the expense and trouble of taking the
children out of town during the hot weather, while the have had
excellent health ever since they have been here; and with the
exception, when some kind friend like yourself has asked one of them
on a visit, neither of them has left home since we came here. Of one
thing I am quite sure, that we are much happier than we should have
been in London; and that in every point of view, as regards
expenditure, we are gainers. I have not entered any profit arising
from baking at home, though the difference is just three four-pound
loaves weekly; and Mrs. N. will tell you what must be the saving by
our having our own laundry."
"Enough! enough!" said Mr. N., laughingly; "your evidence is
overwhelming. You almost force me to believe that I could live in the
country, feed my own pork, and drink my own milk, without paying half
a crown a pound for the one or a shilling a quart for the other, and
this was what I never before believed possible; and I am quite sure,
that if I were to put the assertion in a book, no one would believe
"Then," exclaimed I, "it shall be asserted in a book whenever I can
find time to transcribe all the particulars from my diary; and I hope
that I may be able to convince my readers--should I be fortunate
enough to obtain any--not only that they may keep cows, pigs, and
poultry without loss, but that they may derive health, recreation, and
profit from doing so. None know better than yourself how worn-out in
health and spirits we were when we came to this place; how oppressed
with cares and anxieties. Without occupation, we should most likely
have become habitual invalids, real or fancied; without some
inducement to be out of doors, we should seldom have exerted ourselves
to take the exercise necessary to restore us to health and strength.
But you will lose your train, if I keep you longer listening to the
benefits we have experienced by our residence in this place. Give the
fruit and flowers to Mrs. N. with our love; and tell her, that with
God's blessing we have improved in 'mind, body, and estate,' by
occupying ourselves with 'our farm of four acres.'"
THE NEXT SIX MONTHS.
It was not my intention when I commenced this little work to do more
than give our first six months' experience in farming our four acres
of land; but as perhaps the reader may think that time hardly
sufficient to form a correct opinion of the advantages to be derived
from a residence in the country, I think it as well to add some
particulars relating to the following six months.
In the spring came a new source of profit and amusement. We commenced
our labors in the poultry-yard in February, by setting a hen on
thirteen eggs, which, early in March, produced the same number of
chickens: these were all ready for the table in the middle of May. At
that time we could not have purchased them under $1 50 the couple.
The cost of thirty-eight chickens till ready to kill was $4 37. We
always knew exactly the expense attending the poultry, because we had
a separate book from the miller, in which every article was entered as
it came into the house; and as the chickens were kept distinct from
the other fowls, I could tell the exact sum they had cost us when they
made their appearance at table.
The first thing that was given them to eat was egg, boiled quite hard,
chopped very fine, and mixed with bread-crumbs. After that they had
groats. I find they consumed:
Three quarts of whole groats . . . . . $ 37
Two bushels of barley . . . . . . . . 2 25
One bushel of middlings . . . . . . . 1 12
Twenty-five lbs. of chicken-rice . . . 63
Making altogether . . . . $4 37
The reader must be told that those thirty-eight chickens had other
things to eat than those I have put down; they had nearly all the
scraps from the house, consisting of cold potatoes, bits of meat,
pudding, &c., and any pieces of bread which were left at table were
soaked in skim-milk; and the rice was also boiled in it. O course, in
a smaller family there would not have been so many "scraps" for them;
but, however strict you may be with children, you cannot prevent their
leaving remnants on their plates, all of which would have been wasted
had it not been for the chickens and pig-tub.
We were not so fortunate with the ducks. We did not keep any through
the winter, consequently we had to purchase the eggs, which were
placed under hens; for those eggs we paid four cents each, and out of
thirteen, which was the number given to each hen, we never reared more
than eight ducks.
Thus, in the first instance, they cost us six cents each; and they
were likewise more expensive to feed than the chickens. They were
never fit for the table till they had cost us sixty-three cents the
couple. One reason of this was, that as the chickens had all the waste
bids, they had nothing but what was bought for them; but then they
were such ducks as could not have been purchased at the poulterers'.
We never killed one unless it weighed four pounds; they used to be
brought in at night, and placed in the scale: if it was the weight I
have mentioned it was killed, if not it was respited till it did so.
At first we tried cooping them to fatten, but found it did not answer,
as they moped and refused to eat by themselves; so we abandoned that
plan, and were content to let them run in the meadows till fit to
kill, which was not till they were three months old. They were never
"fat," but very meaty, and fine flavored,--not in the least like those
which are bought, which, however fat they may appear before they are
cooked, come to table half the size they were when put down to the
I remember being rather puzzled once when resident in London. I
wanted a particularly fine couple of ducks for a "company dinner," and
went myself to the shop where I dealt to order them.
"Now, Mrs. Todd," said I, "the ducks I require are not fat ducks, but
meaty ones; the last I had from you had nothing on them when they came
to table, though they looked so plump when you sent them."
"Oh, yes, ma'am," was the rejoinder. "I know just what you want; but
they are very difficult to get: you want _running_ ducks."
I was obliged to ask what she meant by the term _running_, and was
then informed that the ducks for the London market were put up to
fatten, and as they were crammed with grease to hasten the process,
the fat all went into the dripping-pan. Now a _running_ duck was one
well fed, and allowed to roam or _run_ till it was killed. I am now
able from experience to say, that they are incomparably superior to
their fattened brethren.
The novice in poultry-rearing must be told that it is almost useless
to set a hen in very hot weather. As we had more eggs than were
required, we did so during part of June, July, and August, but had
very bad fortune with them; the hen seldom hatching more than three or
four, and those puny little creatures.
There is an old Kentish proverb which says,
"Between the sickle and the scythe,
Whatever's born will never thrive;"
and as it was just between the hay and corn-harvest that we tried to
rear our ducks and chickens, I am induced to believe that, like many
other old saws, it was founded on experience. They may be reared in
September, though they require great care, and must not be allowed to
run on the grass, which at that season is seldom dry.
A friend once told me she reared a brood of seventeen chickens, which
were hatched the last week in September; they were placed in an empty
greenhouse, and were consequently kept warm and dry. March is _the_
month for poultry; the hatches are better, and they grow much more
rapidly than at any other time.
I am quite sure that a poultry-yard may be made very profitable to any
one who will bestow a little trouble on it. Great care must be taken
with the young chickens at night; the hen should be securely cooped
with them: for want of this precaution we in one night lost eight,
when they were a few days old, being, as we supposed, carried off by
The best food for ducks when first hatched is bread and milk; in a few
days barley-meal, wetted with water into balls about as big as peas,
should be given to them. It is usual, as soon as both ducks and
chickens come out of the shell, to put a pepper-corn down their
throats. I don't know that it is really of service to them, but it is
a time-honored custom, and so perhaps it is as well to follow it.
As for our butter-making, it continued to prosper; we had some little
trouble with it in the spring, when the weather set in suddenly very
hot. It was certainly much more difficult to reduce the temperature of
the cream to 55' than it was to raise it to that degree.
I often thought with vain longing of the shop in the Strand, where we
used to purchase Wenham Lake Ice: how firm would the butter have come,
could we have had a few lumps to put in the churn half and hour before
we required to use it!
Farmers' wives tell us, that to get firm butter in very hot weather
they get up at three o'clock in the morning, in order that it may be
made before the sun becomes powerful. Now this is a thing that would
not have suited H. or myself at all, and therefore we never mustered
up courage to attempt it.
One day in March--and this is the last disaster I have to record
concerning our butter--we were particularly anxious to have it good,
as we expected visitors, to whom we had frequently boasted of our
skill as dairywomen: the day was very warm, and the cream appeared
much thicker than usual; we churned for more than an hour without its
appearing to undergo any change; we frequently removed the lid to see
if there was any sign of butter coming, but each time we were
disheartened when we discovered it looked just the same as when placed
in the churn. At last the handle went round as easily as if no cream
were in it, and presently it began to run over the top of the churn.
When we looked in a curious sight presented itself: the cream had
risen to the top, just as milk does when it boils! We were greatly
astonished. In nine months' butter-making we had seen nothing like it.
Tom, who milked the cows was supposed to know something of the art of
churning; he was, therefore, called into the dairy: as soon as he saw
the state of the matter he exclaimed, "Why, the cream's gone to
"The cream gone to sleep!" What in the world could that mean? Such a
propensity we had never discovered in cream before; we could gain no
solution of the mystery from Tom; all he said was, that we must go on
churning till it "waked up."
H. and myself had been hard at work for two hours, so willingly
yielded to his request that he might be allowed to rouse the cream
from its slumber. He, the cook, and housemaid, churned away by turns
till seven in the evening, but the sleep of the cream remained
unbroken, and as it was then considered a hopeless affair, the
slothful fluid was consigned to the pig-tub.
Now we have never felt quite sure of our butter since. Every time we
churn there is a lurking fear that the cream may choose to take a nap;
however, it is as yet the first and last time in our experience.
I can give no advice to my readers on the subject, because I am wholly
ignorant on the subject, though I have consulted every farmer's wife
in the neighborhood on the matter. They all say that cream will go to
sleep sometimes, though it usually wakes up after a few hours.* [I
have since been told by an old woman conversant with sleepy cream,
that a quart of milk nearly boiling hot will wake it up.] Perhaps,
after all, we were too impatient, and should not have given in after
_only_ nine hours' churning. With this solitary exception our
butter-making progressed as favorably as we could desire.
I do not quite know how to believe the stories I am told of wonderful
cows which my friends are fortunate enough to possess. One gentleman
has informed me that he has one which gives fifteen pounds of butter
weekly. Now we have had several, but never made more on the average
than eight pounds per week. I believe that a great deal depends on the
manner in which they are milked, and once in the hands of a beginner
in that art the cows decreased in milk so rapidly, that we did not get
more than a gallon daily from both animals; after they had been three
weeks under his management we changed the milker, but did not get
anything like the proper quantity again till after they had calved.
I believe the usual average is one pound of butter from every ten
quarts of milk. Ours used to give us thirteen or fourteen quarts each
daily, and yet we never made more than eight pounds. We used about two
quarts of new milk, so that if ten quarts will give a pound of butter,
we did not get so much as we ought. Still we were very well satisfied
with the produce we received.
There requires management with two cows, in order that one may always
be in full milk when the other calves. If you rear a calf for the
butcher, it will require the whole of the milk for six or seven weeks,
which is about the age they are killed for fine veal. We once--it was
in the winter--received $26 for one. With two cows this may usually be
done, and its is more profitable than making butter. Where only one is
kept, it is better to part with the calf when a few days old, and then
the price is $5.
If a lady wishes her dairy to be very nicely finished, she should have
all the articles she requires of glass, instead of wood and
earthenware. Everything for the diary of that material can be
purchased in Leicester Square, and certainly, if expense had been no
object to us, we should much have preferred a glass churn, pans, &c.
They have the great advantage of being kept beautifully clean with
very little labor; but they are so liable to be broken, that they
should never be used unless servants are very careful. A marble table
is, however, in every respect better than a board to make the butter
upon. It is expensive at first, but will, with ordinary care, last
several generations of butter-makers.
Whilst on the subject of the dairy, I must say a few words respecting
the great care required in washing the articles used in it. As soon as
the butter was taken from the churn I was in the habit of half filling
it with boiling water, into which I had put some lumps of soda, and
then turning the handle a few times, in order that it might be well
washed round. It was then left till it was convenient for "cook" to
cleanse all the utensils we had used.
From some cause or other I neglected for two or three weeks to do
this, and one day, when the freshmade butter was brought to table,
there were complaints that it was _cheesy_; it certainly had a
peculiar and very unpleasant taste, for which we could not account.
The next time it was made it had the same fault; and it then occurred
to me that it might be the churn. I accordingly returned to my old
mode of washing it, and never after was there a complaint of any
unpleasant flavor in the butter.
I mention this to show the amateur dairywoman how very essential is
cleanliness in every article she uses. A regular dairymaid would have
known this, but a town-servant thinks that if she washes a thing it is
sufficient: but more than mere washing is required; every article must
be _scrubbed_ with soap, wood-ashes, and soda, and then placed for
hours in the open air.
Now glass is much easier kept sweet and clean, and for that reason is
greatly to be preferred; but I am writing for those who may wish to
reap profit from their "farm of four acres," and I fear little would
be gained if nothing but glass were used in the dairy.
Our land turned out better the second summer than the first. We made
nearly two tons and a half of hay from each acre. We were enabled to
mow the whole three acres, as we had "common rights" in our
neighborhood, where the cows could pasture during the spring. Had we
been without this privilege we could have mown only two acres, and as
hay was $21 the load, the additional acre was worth $50 to us, with
the exception of $3 75 for making it. We were advised to have an
after-crop, but did not; it would have made the land very poor for the
next year, so that what we gained in hay we must have expended in
We were well satisfied with the profit we derived from our pigs during
this second six months. All the summer we kept four, at an expense of
fifty-eight cents weekly, which was expended for two bushels of fine
pollard (bran and meal).
We had such an abundance of vegetables from the garden and orchard,
that we must have wasted cartloads, if we had not kept pigs to consume
them. As soon as the hay was carried they were turned into the
meadows, and suffered to remain there till they were put up to fatten;
a process which pigs must go through, though ducks can dispense with
it. I have already stated the expense of fattening them, and we never
found it vary more than a shilling or two in a pig.
We always found for our family that a bacon pig of sixteen stone (244
pounds) was the best size, and for porkers about eight (112 pounds).
Our fruit was as plentiful as our vegetables,--indeed we might have
sold the surplus for many dollars; but we soon found that to do so was
to lose _caste_ in the neighborhood. One piece of extravagance we were
guilty of the first winter and spring we passed at A. The gardener had
a little fire in the grapery during the severe weather, because he had
placed some plants in it. We were told we could continue it till the
grapes ripened for a "mere nothing." Now "mere nothings" mount up to a
"considerable something." The coal and coke consumed before they were
ripe cost $20. It is true we had them in July instead of September,
but we should have liked them quite as well in that month.
It was a bad grape year, too,--at least with us. I don't think we cut
more than twenty pounds weight. Hothouse grapes are not dear at $1 the
pound; but we should have had them equally good by waiting two months
later, when they would have cost us nothing.
Had we purchased the produce we received from our garden during the
year, it would have been worth two guineas weekly. Our peaches,
apricots, and nectarines, were abundant, and very fine. We had two
splendid walnut-trees, and a mulberry-tree of immense size, which was
an object of special abhorrence to "nurse," as for more than two
months in the summer the children's frocks, pinners, &c., were dyed
with the juice of the fruit. They could hardly pass near it in the
season without some of the ripe berries falling on their heads, and it
was hardly possible to prevent them escaping from her to pick them up.
Mulberry-pudding made its appearance often on the nursery-table, and
jars of mulberry-jam were provided to secure the same dainty through
The luxury of a good garden can hardly be appreciated till you have
been in possession of one, more especially where there are many
children. The way we used to preserve currants, gooseberries, plums,
damsons, and, indeed, almost every description of fruit, was this: The
wide-mouth bottles which are sold for the purpose were filled with
fruit, six ounces of powdered loaf-sugar was shaken in among it; the
bottles were then tied down as closely as possible with bladder, and
placed up to the neck in a copper, or large saucepan, of cold water,
which was allowed to come slowly to the boil. They remained in it till
the water was quite cold, when they were taken from the water and
wiped quite dry. Before placing them in the store-room the bottle was
turned upside down, in order to see that they were perfectly
air-tight, for on this depends the fruit keeping good. The fruit will
sink down to about the middle of the bottle, and we once tried to fill
them up with some from another, but opening them admitted the air, and
the contents did not keep well. If properly done, they will be good at
the end of a year.
If any lady undertake the management of a four-acre farm, she must
expect it to occupy a great deal of her time; if she leaves it to
servants, however honest, she will lose by it. It is not that things
are stolen, but that they are wasted, unless the mistress herself
knows what quantities of barley, oats, etc., her poultry and pigs
consume; and unless she look daily into her dairy and see that the
mild is well skimmed, half the cream will be thrown into the wash-tub.
A six-months' longer experience of the country only confirmed my
sister and myself in the conviction that we had in every way made a
most desirable change when we quitted London for our small farm; but
if we had been too fine or too indolent to look after our dairy and
poultry-yard, I believe that our milk, butter, eggs, poultry, and
pork, would have cost us quite as much as we could have purchased them
for in town.
All the good things we were daily consuming in the country would have
come to us in London,
"Like angels' visits, few and far between."
I know that many of our old friends were really shocked when we told
them, laughingly, of our new pursuits, and that the butter they so
much praised, and the apricot-cheese they ate with so much gust, were
manufactured by our own hands. We were "poor-thinged" to our faces in
a very pitying manner, but we always laughed at these compassionate
people, and endeavored to convince them we spoke the truth in sober
earnest, when we assured them we found great amusement in our new
pursuits. They shook their heads and sighed in such a manner, that we
knew perfectly well that, as soon as we were out of ear-shot, they
would say, "Poor things! It is very sad, but they are quite right to
try and make the best of it." I believe some of them thought that it
was impossible we could have "souls above butter;" for a lady who
called one day, taking up one of Mudie's volumes from the table,
"It is possible you care to subscribe to Mudies's?"
"And why should we not care to do so?" replied H.
"Why," was the answer, "I do not see any connection between a love of
reading and a love of butter-making."
Now I do not think that either of us had any love of butter-making;
and if we could have afforded to give $100 a year to a dairymaid, no
doubt we should have left all to her management; but as it was we were
obliged to buy it--and very bad it was in our town--or make it
ourselves: nor do either my sister or myself regret our resolution to
At first we were quite proud of our skill, and told every one of our
success with great triumph. Now--for womanhood is weak--we are content
to hear our dairymaid praised for her beautiful butter by our
acquaintance, and Tom extolled for his care of the chickens. It is
only our friends, among whom I reckon my readers, who know that the
butter is made, and the chickens fed, by the mistresses of "the
I have been told by several friends that, in order to render this
little book complete, I should add a chapter detailing the expenses we
incurred by keeping a pony and carriage. Some persons imagine that
this is an article of luxury which may well be dispensed with; but,
though it may not be and absolute necessary, the expense attending one
is so slight, in comparison with the comfort and pleasure derived from
its possession, that I believe such of my readers as may contemplate
residing in the country will readily agree with me, when I have told
them the amount it will cost them to keep it,--that if it is a luxury,
it is one of the very cheapest in which they can indulge.
Without such a convenience a carriage must be hired every time any
member of the family has occasion to go to the railway station; and
besides that, it is useful for bringing home a variety of articles
which in the country are frequently purchased at places five or six
miles from home. Then it is a great pleasure to be able to meet your
friends at the station, whenever they are kind enough to leave London
for the purpose of passing a few days with you in the country.
My sister and myself contrived to extract profit as well as pleasure
from our little equipage. During the summer months we frequently drove
up to London; the short journey was very pleasant, and this mode of
making it possessed the great advantage of costing nothing but 63
cents for the pony, and 12 cents for turnpikes. Not that we had the
temerity to drive through London. We always left the pony two miles
before we reached town, with strict orders to the civil ostler to
whose care we confided him to great care of him, and be sure and give
him a "good feed." We then proceeded on our way in a cab, which cost
us no more than we should have paid for one from the station.
Where there is a gentleman in the family, a dogcart is the most
convenient vehicle which can be kept; but as that would not be
suitable for a lady, we contrived to make the back seat of the
carriage do duty for the well of the dog-cart, and it was astonishing
how many light packages we managed to "stow away" in it. I will not
dilate on the pleasant drives through quiet lanes, of the delight
afforded to the children when allowed to have a ride on "Bobby," nor
of the great facility it gave us of being out of doors in winter,
when, as was very frequently the case, the state of the roads was such
as to render walking an impossibility; still, I hope I have stated
sufficient to give my readers a good idea of the great pleasure they
will derive from keeping a pony; and I will now, with the bills of the
miller and farrier before me, proceed to show the sum for which it may
be kept. Our pony cost for food, from the 4th of January to the 24th
of December in the same year, $46.66. He consumed during that period
five quarters of oats, at $8 the quarter, and five bushels of beans,
which cost $6.66. The farrier's bill for the same time amounted to
$5.91. Perhaps it will be as well to copy this account, as it will
clearly show how often it is requisite to change the shoes of a horse.
Of course a great deal must depend on the quantity of work he does;
ours was certainly not spared, though we do not deserve the character
so usually given to ladies, of being unmerciful to horses: "running
them off their legs," "thinking they can never get enough out of the
poor beasts," "driving them as if they thought they could go for
ever," are accusations brought against the ladies of a family where
horses are kept.
The following is a copy of the bill for our pony's shoes for twelve
Feb. 24. Four removes $0.33
March 22. Four shoes .75
April 20. Four removes .33
May 5. Two shoes .37 1/2
June 9. Four shoes .75
July 8. Four shoes .75
Aug. 9 Four shoes .75
Sept. 1. Four shoes .75
Oct. 11. Two shoes .37 1/2
Oct. 25. Two shoes .37 1/2
Dec. 24. Two shoes .37 1/2
Add to this the miller's bill $46.66
and we have the whole expense of keeping a pony for one year. "Oh!
but," some one may exclaim, "you have put down nothing for straw and
hay, and horses require a great deal of both." Quite true; but then in
the country, if you do not keep a horse, you must buy manure for your
garden, and that will cost you quite as much as if you purchased
straw; and as for the hay, did it not come off the "four-acre farm?"
It is one of the great advantages of the country that nothing is lost,
and thus the straw which figures so largely in the bill of a London
corn-chandler, and which, when converted into manure, is the
perquisite of your groom, becomes in the country the means of
rendering your garden productive.
Before I resided in the country the pony cost me more than four times
the sum I have mentioned; the stable was apart from the house, and I
knew nothing for months of the bills run up on his account. I had once
a bill sent in for sugar! "Why, George, what can the pony want with
"Why, ma'am, you said some time ago that the pony looked thin, so
lately I have always mixed sugar with his corn; nothing fattens a
horse like sugar."
Now what could I complain of? This man had been recommended to me as
a "treasure," and one who would do his duty by the pony, which, I may
mention, was a very beautiful one, and a great pet; so if George
considered sugar good for him, what could I do but pay the bill, and
say, "Let him have sugar, by all means?" Not that "Bobby" was a bit the
fatter or better for having his corn sweetened. An intimate friend of
mine, who always kept three or four horses, laughed outright when I
told him that the pony had consumed such a quantity of sugar, and
expressed his opinion that very little of that article had ever been
in his manger. Under the same superintendence "Bobby" wore out four
times the number of shoes; and as at that time I had to purchase hay
and straw as well as corn, all on the same scale of magnitude, the
expense of keeping the little carriage really did cost more than the
convenience attending it was worth; and had not the pony been the gift
of a beloved friend, we should have parted with it when we quitted
London, as at that time we were ignorant how cheaply it could be
maintained in the country. There we had a servant who was content with
his wages, and did not seek to make them greater by combining with
tradesmen to defraud his employers. If any of my readers commence
keeping a pony in the country, they may rely that it need not cost
them a penny more than I have put down. Of course they must have the
hay from their own grounds, and neither reckon the cost of the straw
nor the labor of the man who attends to the pony. Ours did all the
"jobs" about the place--cleaned the knives and shoes, milked the cows,
fed the pigs and poultry, helped in the gardens, and, in short, made
himself "generally useful." Now, a servant who is able and willing to
do all this, besides properly attending to a pony and carriage, is
very difficult to be met with, but he is absolutely necessary for a
place in the country where economy has to be studied.
Something must be allowed yearly for the wear and tear of carriage,
harness, etc., but it need not be much. Any gentleman can easily
calculate the sum which may fairly be allowed for these items; I only
think it my part to show the expense attending a pony in the country;
and though those who have been in the habit of keeping horses in
London, either in a livery or private stable, may think it impossible
to maintain one for $52.57 yearly, let them leave town for a four-acre
farm, and they will find that I have spoken the truth on this point,
as well as on all the other subjects of which I have given my
experience in this little volume.
It is with considerable diffidence the writer ventures to give the
public this slight sketch of her experience in farming four acres of
When she finally resolved to fix her residence in the country, she was
wholly ignorant how she ought to manage, so that the small quantity of
land she rented might, if not a source of profit, be at least no loss.
She was told by a friend, who for a short time had tried "a little
place" at Chiselhurst, that it was very possible to lose a
considerable sum yearly by under taking to farm a very small quantity
of land. "Be quite sure," said the friendly adviser--"and remember, I
speak from experience--that whatever animals you may keep, the expense
attending them will be treble the value of the produce you receive.
Your cows will die, or, for want of being properly looked after, will
soon cease to give any milk; your pigs will cost you more for food
than will buy the pork four times over; your chickens and ducks will
stray away, or be stolen; your garden-produce will, if worth anything,
find its way to Covent Garden; and each quarter your bills from the
seedsman and miller will amount to as much as would supply you with
meat, bread, milk, butter, eggs, and poultry, in London."
Certainly this was rather a black state of things to look forward to;
but the conviction was formed, after mature reflection, that a
residence some miles from town was the one best suited to the writer's
family. She was compelled to acknowledge to those friends who advised
her to the contrary, her ignorance on most things appertaining to the
mode of life she proposed to commence, but trusted to that
often-talked-of commodity, common sense, to prevent her being ruined
by farming four acres of land.
She thought, if she could not herself discover how to manage, she
might acquire the requisite knowledge from some of the little books
she had purchased on subjects connected with "rural economy." They
proved, however, quite useless. They appeared to the writer to be
merely compilations from larger works; and, like the actors in the
barn, who played the tragedy of "Hamlet," and omitted the character of
the hero, so did these books leave out the very things which, from the
title-pages, the purchaser expected to find in them.
Some time after experience had shown how butter could be made
successfully, a lady, who had been for years resident in the country,
said, during a morning call, "My dairy-maid is gone away ill, and the
cook makes the butter; but it is so bad we cannot eat it: and besides
that nuisance, she has this morning given me notice to leave. She says
she did not 'engage' to 'mess' about in the dairy."
"Well," said the writer, "why not make the butter yourself, till you
can suit yourself with a new servant?"
"I have tried," said the visitor, "but cannot do it. My husband is
very particular about the butter being good, so I was determined to
see if I could not have some that he could eat; therefore I _pored_
over Mrs. Rundle, and other books, for a whole day, but could not find
how to begin. None of them told me how to _make_ the butter, though
several gave directions for potting it down when it was made. I made
the boy churn for more than three hours yesterday morning, but got no
butter after all. _It would not come!_ The weather was very cold, and
it occurred to the listener to ask the lady _where_ the boy churned,
and where the cream had been kept during the previous night.
"Why, in the dairy, to be sure," was the answer; "and my feet became
so chilled by standing there, that I can hardly put them to the ground
since. Cook could not succeed more than I did, and said, the last time
she made it, it was between four and five hours before the butter
came; and then, as I have told you, it was not eatable."
The writer explained to her friend that the reason why she could not
get the butter, as well as why cook's was so bad, was on account of
the low temperature of the cream when it was put into the churn. She
then gave her plain directions how to proceed for the future, and was
gratified by receiving a note from her friend, in a couple of days,
containing her thanks for the "very plain directions;" and adding, "I
could not have thought it was so little trouble to procure _good_
butter, and shall for the future be independent of a saucy dairymaid."
I believe that a really clever servant will never give any one
particulars respecting her work. She wraps them up in an impenetrable
mystery. Like the farmers' wives, who, to our queries, gave no other
answer than, "Why, that depends," they take care that no one shall be
any the wiser for the questions asked.
The reader may safely follow the directions given in these pages; not
one has been inserted that has not been tested by the writer. To those
who are already conversant with bread-making, churning, etc., they may
appear needlessly minute; but we hope the novice may, with very little
trouble, become mistress of the subjects to which they refer.
Even if a lady does keep a sufficient number of servants to perform
every domestic duty efficiently, still it may prove useful to be able
to give instructions to one who may, from some accidental
circumstance, be called on to undertake a work to which she has been
A friend of the writer's, a lady of large fortune, and mistress of a
very handsome establishment, said, when speaking of her dairy, "My
neighborhood has the character of making very bad butter; mine is
invariably good, and I always get a penny a pound more for it at the
'shop' than my neighbors. If I have occasion to change the dairymaid,
and the new one sends me up bad butter, I tell her of it. If it occurs
the second time, I make no more complaints; I go down the next
butter-day, and make it entirely myself, having her at my side the
whole time. I find I never have to complain again. She sees how it is
made, and she is compelled to own it is good. I believe that a servant
who is worth keeping will follow any directions, and take any amount
of trouble, rather than see 'missus' a second time enter the kitchen
or dairy to do her work."
Perhaps the allusion this lady made to the "shop" may puzzle the
London reader, but in country places, where more butter is made in a
gentleman's family than is required for the consumption of the
household, it is sent to--what is frequently--_the_ "shop" of the
place, and sold for a penny per pound less than the price for which it
is retailed by the shopkeeper. The value of the butter is set off
against tea, sugar, cheese, and various other articles required in the
family in which the butter is made.
When the writer purchased a third cow, it was in anticipation of
sending any surplus butter to "shop," and receiving groceries in
exchange, nor has she been disappointed.
Every month's additional experience strengthens her conviction of the
advantages to be derived from living in the country; and she takes
farewell of her readers, in the hope that she has succeeded in conving
them that a "farm of four acres" may be made a source of health,
profit, and amusement, though many of their "town" friends may
threaten them with ruin, should they be rash enough to disregard their
advice to take a house in a "nice quiet street," leading into one of
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