A Letter on Farming – Bill Arp, 1881

A Letter on Farming – Bill Arp, 1881

If the rain is to fall upon the just and the unjust there is something wrong with us at my house, for it
don’t come May be we don’t pray enough, or there ie a Jonas in the ship, or something, I don’t know
what. I met a preacher yesterday and he and they had been mighty dry up in his neighborhood, and the
brethren were alarmed and diecouraged, and last Sunduy they asked him to pray for rain, and he did so
with faith and importunity, and while he was preaching the clouds gathered, and the thunder pealed, and
the rain come down, and he closed his sermon and thought it the best time in the world to send round the
hat, for the brethren were feeling good and thankful, and the hat come back with only three dollars in it,
and the rain quit all of a sudden before they had half enough, and he didn’t wonder at it for he thought
barely they would have raised fifty, and so after dinner they held a church court and turned out three of
the brethern for habitual looseness and three more for habitual tightness and several for lynching and cheating
and about the time they got through the rain begun again and they had a splendid season. Nevertheless
we will make a little corn at my house and a power of fodder if we can save it, and we are going to press
it and bale it as last us it is cured and store it away in the barn for hard times, which I reckon are shore to
come. The time is coming when every farmer must bale his forage in the field, and if he can’t buy a Deadrick
press he must join in with two or three others and get one, and then he can pack it away in a small campus
and can haul it to town and ship it anywhere where the price suits him. We’ve gotten through the board
business at last, and they are all piled up and weighted down, and I feel like me and the boys ought to
have a diploma or a medal or a degree of some sort like they give to these college bays when they make
em master of arts before they know an art at all.

I’m not much on epitaths. but then I would just as leave have mine to be Wm Arp, the board gitter
as to have a doub!e L. D. that wasent deserved. Mr. Lincoln was a rail splitter and Joe Brown plowed
a male oxen to their credit, and Mr. Grant broke hides in a tan yard, which was honorable to hint and I
have thought that if he had kept at it it would have been better for the ,country. and for him too, wouldent
it? If a man is ring to run a farm he must have experience in every branch of business and work with his
hands as well as his head. Labor is not only honest but it is healthy. The maul and wedge is a better medicine
than Simmons’s liver regulator. It’s the best ,appetizer, and the best digester and the best aperient in
the world, and, these patent medicines would soon perish out if they had to depend upon the laboring man
for patronage. Judge Hinderson asked me how many rails I could cut and split, in a day, and I told him
about 200 in fair timber And he said it wasent so much in strength or in the kind of timber, but in the slight
of hand, for he know’d a man who cut three rail cuts off of a big blackgum and stuck its wedge in the small
end of the upper cut and with one lick of the maul sent the wedge through all three of em and stuck it in the
stump. Well, that beat me, for I have split blackgums crossways bui I never could split em lengthways in my
life. But I hope the time is at hand when splitting rails will be one of the lost arts for timber is getting too scarce
in this pountry to pile it up in fences to rot down ‘gain. The United Stales is paying a premium to settlers in
the west for every acre planted out in timber while, our people are cutting it down and wasting it like it was
public nuisance The stuck law will force itself upon our peo!e before long for it is bound to come.

We can afford to fence in our own cattle, but can’t afford to fence out everybody elses. I had a good talk with Mr.
Smith, of Oglethorpe, the chairman of the commiittee on agriculture. He is a farmer, he is, and a man of sense
and judgerment. and he fold me they would recommend a law that would let us take a vote on it twice a year
if we Kant to, and nobody was to vote but free holders, and if a militia district wanted no fences they could
have it so in that district, and when once started it would keep spreading and would eventually embrace the
slate. Our people would have to plant less colton then, for they would have to raise grass for pasture and they
would find it so profitable they would raise it for market. I met Cobe the other day and he told me he was raising
Cotton again which he had sworn off from last year, but the poor fellow said he just couldn’t help it for he was
a poor man. and was always one year behind with his merchant, and his merchant told him if he doesn’t raise
cotton he coulden’t advance to him any more. That’s what’s the matter and so the poor farmer and the merchant
are getting deeper and deeper in the mire, and Cobe’s cotton wont pay out, and next yrar he will have to hire
out for a living. Well, this thing will cure itself after while I reckon. Now we want railroads to take the place of
dirt roads everywhere, for they can haul goods ard produce cheaper than we can, and we farmers won’t have
to keep so many mules to eat up what we make. One pair of good mules will do all the work on a grass farm
of a hundred acres and make the farmer more money than three pair raising cotton, and I can prove it. Give
Mr. Cole his charter, and anybody e!se a charter. In fact I would pass a general law on the subject like they
have in Tennessee, and let anybody build a railroad anywhere if they would pay for the right of way and
conlorm to our laws and the regulations of the commission. Our only salvation and protection from
monopoly is a healthy competition.

Governor Colquitt told me that Mr. Cole intended his engineer to make special note of the water courts along
the line and deflect his survey in their favor, for he wantid to see hundreds of factories located along our
descending streams for they would make business for his road and the time had come when northern capital
and English capital was going to pour into this sunny land for investment, and our water powers would be
sought for and paid for, and our timber would become valuable, and our young men would find profitable
employment, and if we showed a liberal investing spirit, the taxable propery of this state would he doubled
in five years, and so I hope our law-makers will consider the matter wisely and say, gentlemen “come
along with your money, we greet you.”

P.S. We country folks tender our sympathies to your city folks about your washing and hope you will be able
to go decently clean. We have had little troubles of our own in that line and have found out two ways to gel the
washing done, strike or no strike. Me and the boys had to change garments so often this hot weather and use so
many towels and things that our washer-women rebelled and dident come after the clothes. When I enterviewed
her she said she was fes word outa rubbtin and a scrubbin, that she had washed closs by de dozen’ and by de
hundred, but she had neber washed em by de thousand before and she wasent gwine to do it. So I turned her off
and hired her over again at a higher price, and everytinng goes on smoothly now. The other way is to do it yourself.

Last Updated on January 13, 2021 by Bill Arp

 186 total views

call to chat