Modes proposed to the Landholders for averting the Evils incident to Seasons of Drought.
ALTHOUGH I have frequently endeavoured to draw the attention of breeders of cattle here to their own interests, and have strongly urged them to imitate the practice of the most enlightened agriculturists, by raising green crops of corn, mangel wurzel, turnips, potatoes, &c. for the purpose of preserving the lives of poor halfstarved beasts, at the time the grass lands are burned up, or when the rains set in—yet, in case some of them, who have never witnessed any other management than that which has ever prevailed here, should consider such things as mere effusions of imagination or fancy, I must therefore request their attention to the following extract from the New Farmer's Calendar.
The testimony of an experienced “farmer and breeder,” as well as an able writer upon these subjects, will shew that my sentiments are not singular ; and that the practice I recommend has long been adopted, with complete success, both on the Continent of Europe, and in the United Kingdoms. I should hope that such testimony, added to the facts and proofs I have adduced (“that crops of corn are infinitely heavier, and far more certain, than the produce of even the best grass lands”) will afford to every unprejudiced mind the most unerring conviction that the proposed new system would be extremely advantageous ; and that it is even more peculiarly suited to the circumstances of Saint Helena than perhaps of any other establishment of the British empire.
I therefore entertain a sanguine hope that the breeders of cattle may look to their own interests, and that they may at length listen to the voice of reason and experience, and immediately set about guarding themselves and families from inevitable ruin, to which they are every season exposed, merely through improvident management.
But, if neither facts nor arguments will awaken them to a sense of the evils incident to an entire dependence on pasture lands, let them then duly reflect on the dreadful effects they will undoubtedly feel, if no precautions are taken, whenever it shall please the Almighty disposer of all things to revisit Saint Helena with another calamitous season similar to those which have been sometimes experienced here : and particularly in the years 1791 and 1792. Alas! under our present circumstances, what would be the consequence of such a visitation : Our stock of cattle may be estimated at 20,000 pounds sterling.—Half this sum might be irrecoverably lost : and as the effect of a diminution in the breeding stock would long be felt by the proprietors, it is not too much to say that the loss, consequent to so great a calamity, to themselves and families, would not be less than the full value of the present stock of cattle.
In page 76 of the Goat papers, it is proved that in four months from the period of sowing oats, 36,320 pounds of green fodder were obtained at Long Wood from an acre. Suppose 50 pounds of this nutritious sustenance were allotted to each beast—one acre would feed two throughout the year—four for six months—or eight for three months.
Let the proprietors also consider the vast importance of having their stock of working oxen maintained at all times in full strength and vigour, and compare the work they would perform with that of animals so much exhausted that it is sometimes with difficulty they can crawl up the long ascents of this island. Let them compare also the weight and value of a well-fed beast for slaughter, with those miserable creatures that are sometimes sold to the shipping (perhaps to save a natural death;) and they cannot fail to be convinced of the superior advantages of the proposed, over the present system of feeding cattle.
August 15th, 1811.