C.F. Dowsett.

A start in life. A journey across America. Fruit farming in California online

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Furniture, etc .. .. .. .. 500
Cow .. .. .. .. 50
Trees, etc. .. .. .. .. 1,200
Seed, etc. .. .. .. .. 100
.. .. .. .. - - 9,700
Living one year, etc.; incidentals .. 300
.. .. .. .. - - -
dols. 10,000


dols. dols.
_First year_. - Land between the trees,
cultivated in potatoes, vegetables,
etc. .. .. .. .. 500
Poultry, eggs, etc. .. .. .. .. 150
- - 650

(Eggs and poultry pay for groceries. Many families are doing this now.)

dols. dols.

_Second year_. - The same as above .. 650

_Third year_. - The same as above .. 650
Yield from Fruit, 10 dols. per acre .. 400
- - 1,050

_Fourth year_. - The same from poultry, etc. 650
From Fruit trees, 50 dols. per acre .. 2,000
- - 2,650

_Fifth year_. - The orchard is now in good
bearing, and should pay from 100 to
250 dols. per acre; say the lowest .. 4,000

(No time to attend to any but Fruit trees unless a man is employed, so
only the return of Fruit trees is given).

_Sixth year_. - The orchard now pays, if properly
attended to, from 150 to 350 dols. per acre;
say the lowest .. 6,000

_Seventh year_. - The orchard pays, if properly
cared for, from 200 to 450 dols. per acre;
say the lowest .. 8,000

This clear after expenses have been deducted. The farmer can take care
of 20 acres himself, with occasional help. With 40 acres he requires one
man more, his son or hired help.

The first three years he will only make his living ordinarily so; after
that time he will make money. Poultry, and vegetables should, during
the first year pay for all expenses at least, and in many instances
leave a large surplus. All this depends upon the capacity of the
settler. With good land such as this 100 dollars or more could be made
from vegetables the first season by a capable and experienced man. At
least it has been done repeatedly.

If poultry is properly cared for, a family will make its living by
selling eggs and chickens until the trees come in bearing.

=How to start with a capital of 8,000 dols., i.e., say £1,600.=


Land, 40 acres, 6,000 dols., half cost.. .. 3,000
House and barn .. .. .. .. .. .. .. 1,500
Horses .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. 200
Cows and chickens .. .. .. .. .. .. .. 75
Waggon and tools .. .. .. .. .. .. .. 200
Sundries, tools, etc. .. .. .. .. .. .. 400
Trees, etc. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. 1,200
Well and pump .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. 100
Or windmill and tank .. .. .. .. .. .. 250
Interest on 3,000 dols. at 8 % for three years .. 780
Sundries for living, etc. .. .. .. .. .. 295
- - -
dols. 8,000

The fourth and fifth years there should be a gross
profit of at least 2,650 dols. a year, enough to pay for
the balance due on land.

How to start with, a capital of 5,000 dols.,
i.e., say £1,000.

Land, 20 acres, 3,000 dols., half cost .. .. 1,500
House and barn, etc. .. .. .. .. .. .. 1,000
Trees .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. 600
Horses .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. 200
Cow .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. 50
Household furniture .. .. .. .. .. .. 100
Waggon and tools .. .. .. .. .. .. .. 200
Well and pump .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. 100

(If tank and windmill required, from 250 dols.
upwards extra).

Seed, etc. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. 50
Sundry expenses and chickens .. .. .. .. 300
Interest for three years on balance of land
at 8% .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. 360
Capital on hand to pay for part of the land.. 840
- - -
dols. 5,300

What some people have started with, and
come out all right.

dols. dols.
Land, 3,000 dols., cash, balance credit 1000
House and barn 500
Horses 150
Cow 50
Poultry 25

Provisions, sundries, etc 100
Furniture and tools 150
Sundry expenses 100
Waggon and horses 150
dols. 2,225

But ordinarily, this is too little, as the planting of the land cannot
be proceeded with at once, and work must be procured among the
neighbours, etc.

The estimates, were furnished us by Professor Eisen, who remarked that,
probably, in giving estimates all persons would vary somewhat, but
these, and other estimates which he gave, are really more than
estimates, because they are the actual results of past experiences.


Received January 20th, 1891.

Professor Eisen writes: - "I am of opinion that these lands (British
Colony, Merced) are amongst the very best in the State for raisins;
still, as I explained to you, I do not advise any one to put his whole
interest in the raisin industry, as the market for this Fruit is
limited. For other dried fruit, especially for prunes (French plums),
apricots, peaches, and nectarines, the market is practically unlimited,
and as our population increases yearly 1,500,000 people, it will be seen
that our markets must extend as well, even after we have driven all
foreign Fruits out of our home markets. As regards the adaptability of
the land of British Colony for various Fruits, I can say that they are
especially adapted to the prune (French plums) and peaches for drying
and canning, olives for olive oil and pickling; also for oranges. You
can see how the orange thrives in the city of Merced and surroundings,
or in localities exactly like those of British Colony lands, and there
can be no doubt that oranges and lemons will prove very profitable in
British Colony. Olives will especially do well there. The British Colony
lands I consider as exceptionally rich and fertile, and there are few,
if any, equal to them in this State or anywhere else."


The prices in California of young Fruit trees for planting, for the
season 1890-91, are given as follows: -


Prunes (like French plums) 25 to 30 per 100

Plums and other prunes 15 "

Apricots 20 "

Peaches, from 15 to 17.50 "

Olives (layers) 20 "

Olives, grafted 40 to 60 "

Pears 18 "

Oranges, best kinds 70 to 100 "

Shade trees 50 "

Grape-vines (raisins) 12 "

Persimmons 15 "

Walnuts, from 15 to 35 "


The Fruit trees enumerated above would begin to bear the second year,
but only the fourth year would they bear any considerable amount; the
fifth and sixth years they would come into good bearing, and should then
yield a profit of, say, from 100 to 350 dollars per acre. At seven years
the orchard should be in full bearing, and never yield less than 150,
and, possibly, 450 dollars per acre. Instances have been known when
prunes, peaches, and pears have produced from 750 to 1,500 dollars per
acre clear profit.


The position of a settler, then, is that for the first three years he
cannot depend upon his crop of Fruit to maintain him, but must either
have sufficient capital to support him during that time, or else earn
his living in some other way. To be idle, and live on capital, would
not, of course, suit any man who meant to succeed, and therefore he
would fill up his time in cultivating garden and poultry produce, for
which there is always a demand, or in getting some occasional


At Merced railway station is a very large hotel, and the cost of board
and lodging for emigrants is only 25 dollars, _i.e.,_ say, £5 per month;
to usual visitors it is 60 dollars a month.


The _Pacific Rural Press_, referring to the raisin vineyards in the San
Joaquin Valley, California, states: -

"What is especially interesting to the home-seeker in connection with
this information, is the fact that everyone of these vineyardists is
prosperous. No other horticultural industry is so profitable as the
culture of the raisin grape, in no other is the work so pleasant, and no
other yields a return so quickly."

An acre of Muscat vines in full bearing will yield from two to three
tons of grapes on good heavy soil. At 5-1/2 cents a pound in the
sweat-box, this means from 225 to 325 dollars per acre, gross. Numerous
instances are known, however, where the yield of an acre of Muscats
amounted to as much as 450 dollars, this being the result of careful
cultivation and favourable circumstances. Some grapes are borne on the
vines when they are one-year old, while two-year old's have been known
to bear a crop. At three years the vines pay the expenses and interest
on the money invested, and at four years from planting they bring the
first large paying crop.

The _Merced Argus_ says of raisin culture: -

"One of the great charms of raisin culture is the extreme simplicity of
its operations. WHAT CAN BE MORE SIMPLE than to pick a bunch of Muscat
grapes from the vine, and lay it on the ground. In six days the bunch of
grapes, without being meanwhile touched, has assumed the appearance of a
bunch of raisins, and has flattened out as if it had been pressed. It is
then carefully turned over, so as to expose the underside to the direct
action of the sun. In eight days more it is a perfect bunch of raisins,
and no act of man can improve it even in appearance. All the operations
of fancy packing are so simple, that a child may learn them in a day. A
single acre of raisin vines in a Merced Colony lot means handfuls of
bright, golden double eagles to the bright-eyed children of the Merced
farmer in the near future.

_Harper's Magazine_ for January, 1891, contains an article on
California, which all persons interested in that State would do well to
read. I extract a few statements: -


"A piece of land at Riverside, below the flow of water, was worth 300
dollars an acre. Contiguous to it was another piece not irrigated, which
would not sell for 50 dollars an acre. By bringing water to it, it would
quickly sell for 300 dollars, thus adding 250 dollars to its value. As
the estimate at River side is that one inch of water will irrigate five
acres of Fruit land, five times 250 dollars would be 1,250 dollars per
inch, at which price water for irrigation has actually been sold at

"The standard of measurement of water in Southern California is the
miner's inch under four inches pressure, or the amount that will flow
through an inch-square opening under a pressure of four inches measured
from the surface of the water in the conduit to the centre of the
opening through which it flows. This is nine gallons a minute, or, as it
is figured, 1,728 cubic feet or 12,960 gallons in 24 hours, and 1/50 of
a cubic foot a second. This flow would cover 10 acres about 18 inches
deep in a year; that is, it would give the land the equivalent of 18
inches of rain, distributed exactly when and where it was needed, none
being wasted, and more serviceable than 50 inches of rainfall as it
generally comes. This, with the natural rainfall, is sufficient for
citrous Fruits and for corn and alfalfa, in soil not too sandy, and it
is too much for grapes and all deciduous fruits.

"But irrigation, in order to be successful, must be intelligently
applied. In unskilful hands it may work more damage than benefit. Mr.
Theodore S. Van Dyke, who may always be quoted with confidence, says
that the ground should never he flooded; that water must not touch the
plant or tree, or come near enough to make the soil bake around it; and
that it should be let in in small streams for two or three days, and not
in large streams for a few hours.


"The growth of the olive is to be, it seems to me, one of the leading
and most permanent industries of Southern California. It will give us,
what it is nearly impossible to buy now, pure olive oil, in place of the
cotton seed and lard mixture in general use. It is a most wholesome and
palatable article of food. Those whose chief experience of the olive is
the large, coarse, and not agreeable Spanish variety, used only as an
appetizer, know little of the value of the best varieties as food,
nutritious as meat, and always delicious. Good bread and a dish of
pickled olives make an excellent meal. A mature olive grove in good
bearing is a fortune. I feel sure that within 25 years this will be one
of the most profitable industries of California, and that the demand for
pure oil and edible fruit in the United States will drive out the
adulterated and inferior present commercial products."


There are now at Merced special openings for a nurseryman and a
dairyman; the latter would be by growing alfalfa (lucerne) and raising
poultry for at present the Merced people often have to get poultry and
eggs from San Francisco, 150 miles off.


A settler might make a really good return out of potatoes while his
Fruit trees are maturing, which is a food more in use in America than in
England. Potatoes are not only served at luncheon and dinner, but also
at breakfast everywhere, and, if every settler planted his land with
potatoes, there would be no fear of overstocking the market.

Mr. Eisen states that potatoes yield from 50 to 400 sacks to the acre,
and sell at prices varying from 90 cents to 2 dollars per sack. If only
50 sacks were grown to the acre, it would show a scarce year, when
prices would range higher, but the crop is never a failure in
California. Two crops can be grown in a year; the first crop is planted
at the end of February, if warm, or else in March, or indeed any time
till the middle of May, and dug three months after; the second crop is
planted in August or September, and dug three months after.

To put in the potatoes a settler would need the help of a labourer, to
whom he would have to give one dollar per day and his board, or, if the
labourer be a Chinaman, one dollar and a quarter per day without his
board. If the potatoes occupied ten acres, and they produced say 200
sacks to the acre, and fetched 1 dollar per sack, that would yield 2,000
dollars, or for the two crops 4,000 dollars, or, say, £800. This sounds
a large sum, but the land is exceedingly rich, as may be seen from the
samples I have brought back, and large results may be expected from it
if properly worked, for, of course, in any undertaking the result
depends upon the way it is worked.

The following paragraph is from an important paper or periodical of 20
pages, known as the _Pacific Rural Press_, of December 13th, 1890, and
although the crop it mentions was not grown in California, it shows at
least what can be done on good ground: -

"Nearly 1,000 bushels of potatoes, or, to be exact, 974 bushels and 48
pounds, have been grown on one acre of land in Johnson County, Wyoming,
the past season. This crop wins the first prize of several hundred
dollars offered by the _American Agriculturist_ for the largest yield of
potatoes on one exact acre. It was grown on virgin soil without manure
or fertilizer, but the land was rich in potash, and the copious
irrigation was of water also rich in saline material. There were 22,800
hills on one acre, and 1,560 pounds of sets, containing one, two, and
three eyes, were planted of the early Vermont and Manhattan varieties.
The profit on the crop on this first prize acre was 714 dollars,
exclusive of 500 dollars in prizes."

Thus, this one acre would have produced £142 worth of potatoes. I do not
mention it as an example of what a settler may or may not do at Merced,
but as the land at Merced which I am offering for sale is of the richest
quality, rich results may certainly be expected.


per lb.

Beef (to boil), 8 to 10 cents
Beef (steak), 10 cents
Beef (shoulder), 10 cents
Beef (choice), 12-1/2 cents
Beef (porterhouse and tenderloin), 15 cents
Veal, 10 to 15 cents
Mutton, 10 to 12-1/2 cents
Pork, 10 to 12-1/2 cents
Sausages, 12-1/ to 15 cents
Corned beef, 8 to 10 cents
Bacon, 12-1/2 cents
Hams, 15 cents
Tongues, 10 cents
Flour, 4-1/2 to 5 dollars for a barrel weighing 200 lbs.
Tea, 25 cents to 1 dollar
Coffee, 24 to 45 cents
Candles, 15 to 20 cents
Chocolate, 25 cents
Cod fish, 10 cents
Corn meal, 3 to 4 cents
Cocoa, 50 to 60 cents
Cracker biscuits, 8 to 10 cents
Graham flour, 3 to 5 cents
Macaroni, 15 cents
Oatmeal, 5 cents
Rolled oats, 6 cents
Rice, 5-1/2 to 8 cents
Salt, 1 to 2 cents
Soda, 4 cents
Starch, 10 cents
Sugar, 7 to 8 cents
Sugar (house), 6-1/2 to 7-1/2 cents
Butter, 25 to 40 cents
Eggs, 15 to 40 cents per dozen, according to season
Coal oil, 1.40 per 5-gallon can.

One of my clients recently visited England with his family, and says
that one can live cheaper at Merced than in England.

The cost of a twelve-roomed house is 3,000 to 4,000 dollars, according
to finish, _i.e.,_ from £600 to £800. Most of the houses are built of
wood, and such a house could be built in twenty to thirty days, if

Stabling for two horses, with room for buggy, wagon, harness, and hay,
would cost 250 dollars or £50.

A ten-roomed house would cost from 2,500 to 3,500 dollars, according to

An eight-roomed house would cost from 2,000 to 2,500 dollars.

A six roomed house would cost about 2,000 dollars.

A four-roomed house would cost about 1,200 dollars.

Live poultry cost about 6 dollars per dozen.

Cows, 25 to 50 dollars each. Horses, 75 to 150 dollars each. Sheep, 3 to
4 dollars each.

Cultivators cost from 7 to 15 dollars each. Ploughs and harrows about
the same price. A riding cultivator, 45 to 50 dollars. Pruning shears, 3

Day labour costs 1 dollar per day and board; but, in harvest time, 1-1/2
dollar per day and board.

Carpenters, 2-1/2 dollars per day, sometimes with and sometimes without

Fencing costs 500 dollars (_i.e_., £100) a mile. To fence a 20-acre lot
would cost 350 dollars (_i.e_., £70); but if the eight forming the
quarter section joined together, it would cost each about 130 dollars
(_i.e_., £26). The fence would be a 6-inch board at bottom, then 30
inches of wire netting to keep out rabbits, then another 6-inch board
and a barbed wire at top.

Firewood costs 6 to 7 dollars a cord of hard wood, or 5 to 6 dollars of
willow wood; a cord of wood is 4-ft. by 4-ft. by 8-ft.


All kinds of clothing are dear. A good suit would cost £7 to £8, or, if
ready made, £5. Settlers should therefore take with them plenty of
clothes, sufficient, say, to last for five years, including boots,
blankets, linen, etc.; also _bric-a-brac,_ and anything to add
cheerfulness and refinement to the home, but they should not take
furniture nor animals. Guns they might take, but not tools nor


Steamships run from Liverpool and Southampton at the following rates: -

1. - Cunard Company's Line. Liverpool to New York. During the summer
months -

1st class. 2nd class. 3rd class.

From £12 12s. to £26 5s. £7 £4.

During the winter months -

1st class. 2nd class. 3rd class.

£10 10s. to £25 £7 £4.

The third-class passengers are provided with a free ticket from London
to Liverpool.

2. - Inman Line. Liverpool to New York -

First class fares from £10 10s. to £25. Second class fares from £6 10s.
to £7 7s. Third class fares £4.

The third class includes a free ticket from London to Liverpool.

3. - The "White Star" Line. Liverpool to New York

1st class. 2nd class. 3rd class.
Summer season - £15 to £28 £7 to £9 £4.

Winter season - £10 10s. to £18 £6 10s. to £8 £4.

The third class passengers are provided with a free ticket from London
to Liverpool, and free tickets, if required, from New York to Boston or

4. - North German Lloyd Company. Southampton to New York -
First class, £14 to £23. Second class, £10.

5. - The American Line. Liverpool to New York -
Second class, £6. Third class, £3 16s.

Steamers leave Southampton, Liverpool, Glasgow, and Queenstown, thus
being convenient respectively for passengers from the north or south of
England, from Scotland, or from Ireland.

Steamers run from this country to New York, Philadelphia, Boston, or
Baltimore, but New York is the best port for Merced.


_Copy of Letter from the Southern Pacific Railroad Company._

"Our fares from New York to Merced, _viâ_ New Orleans, are: - 1st class,
unlimited, £19 19s. 0d.; limited, £18 4s. 7d.; 2nd class, £12 8s. 4d.;
3rd class, £12 2s. 9d., all rail; £11 1s. 11d. by steamer to New
Orleans, and thence rail, food, and sleeping berth on steamer included.
The charges for sleeping car berths are: - 1st class, 22 dollars; 2nd
class from New Orleans, 3 dollars. There are no 2nd class sleepers to
New Orleans, except on the fortnightly excursion trains from Cincinnati,
leaving that city January 7th and 21st, February 4th and 18th; March 4th
and 18th; April 8th and 22nd, etc. The charge from Cincinnati is 4
dollars 50 cents. Third class passengers can travel in 2nd class
sleepers upon payment of the usual charge. The fares from New Orleans to
principal Californian points, including Merced, are: - 1st class,
unlimited, £14. 1s. 3d.; 2nd class, £8. 17s. 1d.; 3rd class, none.
Sleeping cars - 1st class, 13 dollars; 2nd class, 3 dollars.

Tickets may be obtained through Messrs, DOWSETT and Co., 3, Lincoln's
Inn Fields, London, direct from Liverpool to California, or any other
State _en route_.


Having fitted up a portion of one of my offices with all the requisites
for carrying out quantitative analyses of surface soils, I requested
Professor Lobley, F.G.S., etc., to analyse the four samples of soils
which I brought with me from Merced.

A general analysis of four samples of soil from Merced, California, has
given the following results: -


Organic matter (Humus) 5.5
Soluble inorganic matter 11.75
Insoluble silica and silicates 82.75
- - - -


Organic matter (Humus) 4.25

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Online LibraryC.F. DowsettA start in life. A journey across America. Fruit farming in California → online text (page 5 of 6)