Cyril G. Hopkins.

The Story of the Soil; from the Basis of Absolute Science and Real Life, online

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been able to learn.

The practicability and economy of using the fineground natural
phosphate has been even more conclusively established, as you
already know, by the concordant results of half a dozen state
experiment stations. There are only two objections to the use of the
raw phosphate. One of these is the short-sighted plan or policy of
the average farmer, and the other is the combined influence of about
four-hundred fertilizer manufacturers who prefer to sell, quite
naturally, perhaps, two tons of acid phosphate for $30, or four tons
of so-called "complete" fertilizer for $70 to $90, rather than to
see the farmer buy direct from the phosphate mine one ton of
fine-ground raw rock phosphate in which he receives the same amount
of phosphorus, at a cost of $7 to $9.

Until we can provide a greater abundance of decaying organic matter
we may make some temporary use of kainit, in case the experiments
conducted by the state show that it is profitable to do so.

In a laboratory experiment, made at college it was shown that when
raw phosphate was shaken with water and then filtered, the filtrate
contained practically no dissolved phosphorus; but, if a dilute
solution of such salts as exist in kainit was used in place of pure
water, then the filtrate would contain very appreciable amounts of

In addition to this benefit, the kainit will furnish some readily
available potassium, magnesium, and sulfur; and, by purchasing
kainit in carload lots, the potassium will cost us less than it
would in the form of the more expensive potassium chlorid or
potassium sulfate purchased in ton lots. Of course we do not need
this in order to add to our total stock of potassium, but more
especially I think to assist in liberating phosphorus from the raw
phosphate which is naturally contained in the soil and which we
shall also apply to the soil, unless the Government permits the
fertilizer trusts to get such complete control of our great natural
phosphate deposits that they make it impossible for farmers to
secure the fine-ground rock at a reasonable cost, which ought not, I
would say, to be more than one hundred per cent. net profit above
the expense of mining, grinding, and transportation. We may feel
safe upon the matter of transportation rates, for the railroads are
operated by men of large enough vision to see that the positive and
permanent maintenance of the fertility of the soil is the key to
their own continued prosperity, and some of them are already
beginning to understand that the supply of phosphorus is the master
key to the whole industrial structure of America; for, with a
failing supply of phosphorus, neither agriculture nor any dependent
industry can permanently prosper in this great country.

If we retain the straw on the farm and sell only the grain, the
supply of potassium in the surface soil of Poorland Farm is
sufficient to meet the needs of a fifty bushel crop of wheat per
acre every year for nineteen hundred and twenty years, or longer
than the time that has passed since the Master walked among men on
the earth; whereas, the total phosphorus content of the same soil is
sufficient for only seventy such crops, or for as long as the full
life of one man. Keep in mind that Poorland Farm is near
Heart-of-Egypt, and that this is the common soil of our "Egyptian
Empire," which contains more cultivable land than all New England,
has the climate of Virginia, and a network of railroads scarcely
equalled in any other section of this country, and in addition it is
more than half surrounded by great navigable rivers.

On Poorland Farm there are seven forty-acre fields which are at
least as nearly level as they ought to be to permit good surface
drainage, and there is no need that a single hill of corn should be
omitted on any one of these seven fields; and I am confident that
with an adequate supply of raw phosphate rock and magnesian
limestone and a liberal use of legume crops this land can be made to
pay interest on $300 an acre.

Why not? At Rothamsted, England, they have averaged thirty-eight and
four-tenths bushels of wheat per acre during the last twenty years
in an experiment extending over sixty years, and they have done this
without a forkful of manure or a pound of purchased nitrogen. Why
not? The wheat alone from eighty acres of land, if it yielded forty
bushels per acre and sold at $1 a bushel, would pay nearly five per
cent. interest on $300 an acre for the entire two hundred and forty
acres used in my suggested rotation.

Aye, but there is one other very essential requirement: To wit, a
world of work.

Hoping to hear from you, and especially about your alfalfa, I am,

Very sincerely yours,




No one realized more than Percy Johnston that toleration of life
itself was possible to him only because of the world of work that he
found always at hand in connection with his abiding faith and
interest in the upbuilding of Poorland Farm. He had accepted
Adelaide's sweet smile and lack of apparent disapproval with
confidence that he might at least have an opportunity to try to win
her love. As he was permitted at the parting to look for more than
an instant into those alluring eyes, he felt so sure that they
expressed something more than friendship or gratitude for him. He
had felt the more confidence because he thought he knew that she
would not permit him to humiliate himself by asking and failing to
receive from her father permission to write to her, when she could
easily in her own womanly way have discouraged such a thought at
once. Had she not insisted upon driving slowly back to the turn in
the road, and did he not feel the absence of a previous reserve?

Oh, misleading imagination. The will is truly the father of thought
and faith. Percy knew as he parted from Adelaide that he had left
with her the love of heart and mind of one whose life had developed
in him the character which does nothing by halves. His love had
multiplied with the distance as he journeyed westward, with a great
new pleasure which life seemed to hold before him and with a
pardonable confidence in its achievement.

He had written Mr. West a week after his return in a way which would
not fail of understanding if his hopes were justified. The belated
reply which reached him after holidays was accepted as final. His
pride was humiliated and the sweetest dream of his life abruptly
ended. He felt the more helpless and the more deeply wounded because
of Mr. West's reference to his special service in the protection he
had once rendered to Adelaide. It continually reminded him that, as
the highest type of gentleman, he should do nothing that could be
construed as an endeavor to take advantage of the consideration to
which that act might seem to entitle him. Bound and buried in the
deepest dungeon, waiting only for the announcement from his of the
day of his execution. This was his mental attitude as the months
passed and he began to receive an occasional letter from Mr. West,
in each of which he looked for the news of Adelaide's marriage.

In Mrs. Johnston a feeling of hatred had developed for Adelaide. She
was certain that she had marred the happiness of her son. The
heartlessness of a flirt who could trifle with the affection of one
who had a right to assume in her an honor equal to his own deserved
only to be hated with even righteous hatred. She saw the scrawled
note which she knew Percy had not seen, but what did it signify? An
eccentric old lady's penchant for match making? Perhaps she was
even more guilty than the girl in attempting to lead Percy to see in
Adelaide more than he ought. She might even take an old flirt's
delight in the mere number of conquests made by her granddaughter.
Or was the scrawled note slipped into the envelope by a prank-
playing fourteen-year-old brother? In any case was it wise that
Percy should see the note? She could probably do nothing better than
to leave it with the letter. Even if the girl were worthy, Percy
could never hope to win one of her class, whose pride of ancestry is
their bread of life. It might not have been quite so, perhaps, if
Percy had only selected some more respected profession. Why should
not he have become a college professor?



WHEN Percy and his mother reached Poorland Farm in March they found
a small frame house needing only shingles, paint, and paper to make
it a fairly comfortable home, until they should be able to add such
conveniences as Percy knew could be installed in the country as well
as in the city. From the sale of corn and some other produce they
were able to add to the residue of $1,840, which represented the
difference between the cost of three hundred and twenty acres in
Egypt and the selling price of forty acres in the corn belt. An even
$3,000 was left in the savings bank at Winterbine.

"If we can live," said Percy, "just as the other 'Egyptians' must
live, and save our $3,000 for limestone and phosphate, I believe we
shall win out. Through the efforts of the Agricultural College and
the Governor of the State the convicts in the Southern Illinois
Penitentiary have been put to quarrying stone, and large crushers
and grinders have been installed, and the State Board of Prison
Industries is already beginning to ship ground limestone direct to
farmers at sixty cents a ton in bulk in box cars. The entire
Illinois Freight Association gave an audience to the Warden of the
Penitentiary and representatives from the Agricultural College and a
uniform freight rate has been granted of one-half cent per ton per
mile. This will enable us to secure ground limestone delivered at
Heart-of-Egypt for $1.22-1/2 per ton.

"Now, to apply five tons per acre on two hundred and forty acres
will require one thousand two hundred tons and that will cost us
$1,570 in cash, less perhaps the $70, which we save on roads and the
untreated check strips which I want to leave. To apply one ton of
phosphate per acre to the same six fields will cost about $1,600. Of
course, I shall not begin to apply phosphate until after I have
applied the limestone and get some clover or manure to mix with the
phosphate when I plow it under; and I hope with the help of the
limestone we shall get some clover and some increase in the other
crops. In any case the $3,000 and interest we will get for what we
can leave in the bank during the six or eight years it will take to
get the rotation and treatment under way will pay for the initial
cost of the first applications of both limestone and phosphate; and
we shall hope that by that time the farm will bring us something
more than a living."

The carload of effects shipped from Winterbine to Heart-of-Egypt
included two horses, a cow, a few breeding hogs, and some chickens;
also a supply of corn and oats sufficient for the summer's feed

After the expenses of shipping were paid, less than $350 were
deposited in the bank at the County Seat. Of this $250 were used for
the purchase of another team. Hay was bought from a neighbor and
some old hay that had been discarded by the balers, who had
purchased, baled, and sold the previous hay crop from Poorland Farm,
Percy gathered up and saved for bedding.

He plowed forty acres of the land that had not been cropped for five
years, and, after some serious delays on account of wet weather,
planted the field in corn, using the Champion White Pearl variety,
be cause the Experiment Station had found it to be one of the best
varieties for poor land.

"I wouldn't plant that corn if you would give me the seed," a
neighbor had said to him. "See how big the cob is; and the tip is
not well filled out, and there is too much space between the rows. I
tell you there's too much cob in it for me. I want to raise corn and
not corn cob."

"It certainly is not a good show ear," said Percy, "but what I want
most is bushels of shelled corn per acre. Perhaps these big kernels
will help to give the young plant a good start, and perhaps the
piece of cob extending from the tip will make room for more kernels
if the soil can be built up so as to furnish the plant food to make
them. The cob is large but it is covered with grains all the way
around; and, if those kernels of corn were putty, we could mash them
down a little and have less space between the rows, but it would
make no more corn on the ear. However, my chief reason for planting
the Champion White Pearl is that this variety has produced more
shelled corn per acre than any other in the University experiments
on the gray prairie soil of 'Egypt.'"

There were only sixteen acres of corn grown on the entire farm in
1903 and this yielded thirteen bushels per acre, as Percy learned
from the share of the crop received by the previous landowner.

In 1904 the Champion White Pearl yielded twenty bushels per acre, as
nearly as could be determined by weighing the corn from a few shocks
on a small truck scale Percy had brought from the north. He numbered
his six forty-acre fields from one to six. Forty No. 7 was occupied
by twelve acres of apple orchard, eight acres of pasture, and twenty
acres of old meadow. By getting eighty rods of fencing it was
possible to include twenty-eight acres in the pasture, although one
hundred and ninety-two rods of fencing had been required to surround
the eight-acre pasture. The remainder of the farm was in patches,
including about fifteen acres on one corner crossed by a little
valley and covered with trees, a tract which Percy and his mother
treasured above any of the forty-acre fields. While the week was
always filled with work, there were many hours of real pleasure
found in the wood's pasture on the Sunday afternoons.

Forty No. I was left to "lie out," and No. 2 raised only twelve
acres of cowpeas. No. 3 was plowed during the summer and seeded to
timothy in the early fall. No. 4 was in corn and Nos. 5 and 6 were
left in meadow, two patches of nine and sixteen acres previously in
cowpeas and corn having been seeded to timothy in order, as Percy
said, to "square out" the forty-acre fields. About fifty acres of
land were cut over for about sixteen tons of hay. The corn was all
put in shock, and the fodder as well as the grain used for feed, the
refuse from the fodder and poor hay serving as bedding. About three
tons of cowpea hay of excellent quality were secured from the twelve
acres, and fifty barrels of apples were put in storage.

Another cow and eight calves were bought, and during the winter,
some butter, two small bunches of the last spring's pigs, and the
apple crop were sold. A few eggs had been sold almost every week
since the previous March.

In 1905 No. 1 was rented for corn on shares and produced about six
hundred bushels of which Percy received one-third. No. 2 yielded
four hundred and eighty-four bushels of oats. No. 3 produced
fourteen tons of poor hay. No. 4 was "rested" and prepared for
wheat, ground limestone having been applied. No. 5 was fall-plowed
from old meadow and well prepared and planted to corn in good time;
but, after the second cultivation, heavy rains set in and continued
until the corn was seriously damaged on the flat areas of the field,
the more so as he had not fully understood the importance of keeping
furrows open with outlets at the head-lands through which the excess
surface water could pass off quickly under such weather conditions.
Patches of the field aggregating at least five acres were so poorly
surface drained that the corn was "drowned out," and fifteen acres
more were so wet as to greatly injure the crop. However, on the
better drained parts of the field where the corn was given further
cultivation the yield was good and about 1,000 bushels of sound corn
were gathered from the forty acres.

A mixture of timothy, redtop and weeds was cut for hay on No. 6, the
yield being better than half a ton per acre.

The apples were a fair crop, and the total sales from that crop
amounted to $750, but about half of this had been expended for
trimming and spraying the trees, a spraying outfit, barrels,
picking, packing, freight and cold storage. A good bunch of hogs
were sold.

Another year passed. Oats were grown on No. 1 and on part of No. 2,
yielding eleven bushels per acre.

No. 3 yielded one-third of a ton of hay per acre.

Wheat was grown on No. 4, and clover, the first the land had known
in many years, if ever, was seeded in the spring, - twenty acres of
red clover and twenty of alsike.

The fifty-four acres of wheat, including fourteen acres on No. 2,
yielded seven and one-half bushels per acre. Soy beans were planted
on No. 5, but wet weather seriously interferred and only part of the
field was cut for hay. Limestone was applied, but heavy continued
rains prevented the seeding of wheat.

No. 6 produced about twenty-seven bushels per acre of corn.

Two lots of hogs were sold for about $800, and some young steers
increased the receipts by nearly $100.

Mrs. Johnston continued to buy the groceries with eggs and butter;
but it was necessary to buy some hay, and the labor bill was heavy.

No. 5 joined the twenty-eight acre pasture and on two other sides it
joined neighbors' farms where line fences were up, and on the other
side lay No. 4.

Percy was trying to get ready to pasture the clover on No. 4, and a
mile of new fencing was required. The materials were bought and the
fence built, and when finished it also completed the fencing
required to enclose No. 5. The twenty-eight acre pasture was
inadequate for sixteen head of cattle and the young stock was kept
in a hired pasture. Unless he could produce more feed, Percy saw
that the farm would soon be overstocked, for some colts were growing
and eight cows were now giving milk.

His hope was in the clover, but as the fall came on the red clover
was found to have failed almost completely, and the alsike was
one-half a stand. As the red clover had been seeded on the unlimed
strip there was no way of knowing whether the limestone had even
benefited the alsike. The neighbors had "seen just as good clover
without putting on any of that stuff."

There were no apples, but the spraying had cost as much as ever, and
some team work had been hired.

Three years of the hardest work; limestone on two forties, but only
twenty acres of poor clover on one and no wheat seeded on the other.
The neighbors "knew the clover would winter kill." The bills for
pasturing amounted to as much as the butter had brought; for the
twenty-eight-acre pasture had been very poor. The feed for the cows
for winter consisted of corn fodder, straw and poor hay, and not
enough of that.

They had to do it - draw $150 from the Winterbine reserve, besides
what had been used for limestone. Part of it must go for clover
seed, for clover must be seeded before it could be grown. The small
barn must also be enlarged, but with the least possible expense.

It was February. Wet snow, water, and almost bottomless mud covered
the earth. With four horses on the wagon, Percy had worked nearly
all day bringing in two "jags" of poor hay from the stack in the
field. It was all the little mow would hold.

He had finished the chores late and came in with the milk.

"Put on some dry clothes and your new shoes," said his mother,
"while I strain the milk and take up the supper. There is a letter
on the table. I hardly see how the mail man gets along through these
roads. They must be worse than George Rogers Clark found on his trip
from Kaskaskia to Vincennes. They say his route passed across only a
few miles from the present site of Heart-of-Egypt. I suppose the
letter is from Mr. West."

Percy finished washing his hands, and opened the letter. Two cards
fell to the table as he drew the letter from the envelope.

He picked up one of the cards, and read it aloud to his mother:

_Mr. and Mrs. Strongworth Barstow

__At home after March I, 1907

1422 College Avenue

Raleigh, N. C._

_"With Grandma's Compliments,"_ was penciled across the top of the
card. Percy glanced at the other card and read the plain lines:

_Announce the marriage of their daughter_

Did his eyes blurr? He laid the one card over the other, scanned Mr.
West's letter hurriedly, replaced it with the cards in the envelope,
and laid the letter at his mother's plate.

Percy replaced his rubber boots with shoes, and his wet, heavy coat
with a dry one.

"You remember the letter I had from the College?" he asked, as he
took his seat at the table.

"Yes, I remember," she replied, "but the Institute was to begin

"I know," said Percy, "but Hoard and Terry both speak
to-morrow, - Terry in the morning and the Governor in the afternoon,
and they are the men the Professor especially wanted me to hear, if
I could. I think I'll 'phone to Bronson's and ask Roscoe to come
over and do the chores to-morrow noon. I can get back by nine
to-morrow night."

"But, Dear, how in the world can you get to Olney to hear Mr. Terry
speak to-morrow morning?"

"There is a train east about eight o'clock," he replied. "Of course
the roads are too awful to think of driving to the station,
especially since the mares ought not to be used much. I put four on
the wagon to-day and tried to be as careful as possible but it does
not seem right to use them. I can manage all right. I will get up a
little early in the morning and get things in shape so I can leave
here by daylight and I am sure I can make the B. & O. station by
eight o'clock easily. I will wear my rubber boots and carry my shoes
in a bundle. I can change at the depot and put my boots on again
when I get back there at seven at night. If it clears up, I will
have the moon to help coming home."

But, Percy, you do not mean to walk five miles and back through all
this mud and water?"

"I wish you would not worry, Mother. There is grass along the sides
most of the way, and I am used to the mud and water. I will spy out
the best track as I go in the morning and just follow my own trail
coming back."

"Then it is time we were asleep," replied the mother.



THE State Superintendent of Farmers' Institutes called the meeting
to order soon after Percy entered the Opera House at Olney about ten
o'clock the next morning.

"Divine blessing will be invoked by Doctor T. E. Sisson, pastor of
the First Methodist Church of Olney:"

"Oh, Thou, whose presence bright all space doth occupy and all
motion guide, all life impart, we come this morning in the capacity
of this Farmers' Institute to thank thee for Thy mercies and for Thy
blessings, and to invoke Thy presence and Thy continued favor. As
Thou with Thy presence hast surrounded all forms of creation and all
stages of being with the providences of welfare and development and
grace, so we pray, our Father, for guidance through the sessions of
this institute, for the providences of Thy love and Thy wisdom
divine as it reveals itself in the open field, in the orchard, in
the garden, bringing forth those things which replenish the earth
with food and fill the mouths of our hungry ones with bread.

"We thank Thee for this larger knowledge which has come to the minds
of men, because they have been learning to study Thy works and to
walk closer to Thee. Wilt Thou, Heavenly Father, continue to
enlighten this body of men and women that are represented in this
great field of the world's busy hive so that the starving millions
of the world, now in our cities rioting for bread, and in the vast
nations where they are crying for food, may be fed. We pray Thee,
reveal such improvement of knowledge to these who are willing to get
close to Thee to learn Thy secrets and know Thy wisdom, as that unto
all shall be given plenty, for replenishing our physical needs. And
help us to know, our Father, as we learn Thy will and seek to do Thy
will and live in the higher courts of knowledge and wider circles of
thought, so shall God reveal himself unto us.

"Our Father, we thank Thee for all the developments and great
sources of utility that come through the means of this institute in
the development of the resources of this country, this great State
and adjoining states through the length and breadth of this favored
nation. We pray, Heavenly Father, while studying all these
replenishments and seeking to defend them from the inroads of evil,
of the rust and the mildew and the worm, we pray also for the
beautiful homes, for the souls of the children given to our homes,
that we may study their mental and spiritual being in such a way as
shall keep all harm and evil and wrong from this life of ours, and

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Online LibraryCyril G. HopkinsThe Story of the Soil; from the Basis of Absolute Science and Real Life, → online text (page 18 of 23)