The farmer's dictionary : a vocabulary of the technical terms recently introduced into agriculture and horticulture from various sciences, and also a compendium of practical farming, the latter chiefly from the works of the Rev. W. L. Rham, Loudon, Low and Youatt, and the most eminent American autho online

. (page 1 of 135)
Online LibraryUnknownThe farmer's dictionary : a vocabulary of the technical terms recently introduced into agriculture and horticulture from various sciences, and also a compendium of practical farming, the latter chiefly from the works of the Rev. W. L. Rham, Loudon, Low and Youatt, and the most eminent American autho → online text (page 1 of 135)
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N E W-Y O R K:



Entered, according to Act of Congress, in the year 1846, by

Harper & Brothers,
In the Clerk's Office of the Southern District of New-York.



The Farmer's Dictionary was undertaken originally for
the purpose of supplying a want long felt by the editor, in
common with the agricultural community, of a short expla-
nation of the many technical terms introduced into the works
written on farming. Much opposition has arisen to the use
of technical words in these productions, and our journals are
full of complaints, from respectable men, against the innova-
tion. If, however, words having so precise a meaning, and,
in many instances, conveying so much information, be dis-
carded, what shall be substituted in their place ? It is obvi-
ously impossible for every writer who has occasion to use
the terms hybrid, hydrogen, or eremacausis, to explain in de-
tail what these mean ; and if the attempt were made, our
treatises would present the most tiresome examples of tau-
tology. Each farmer may satisfy himself with a set of arbi-
trary terms, which convey all the information he desires ; but
they will not answer if he wishes to impart that information
to others. There is, perhaps, no greater drawback to tbe
advancement of our art than the indefinite words used among
us — words which are often peculiar to a small district, and
which are used to designate a variety of objects in different
parts of the country. We find one writer using the word
" withers" for the shoulders of an animal, another for the

The friends of agricultural improvement, and especially
our journalists, should use all exertions to establish a suitable
nomenclature. The art has arrived at that stage that this is
the greatest object to be accomplished. It will open to the
practical man the extensive information of the scientific world,
and will enable the theorist to study his generalizations by
consulting the works of the true farmer. I have not, in at-
tempting to carry out my original design of preparing a
vocabulary, thought it advisable to insert every provincial
phrase, but have taken only those words in common use
among farmers, and which have become somewhat fixed by



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being frequently introduced into essays. I have thought it
useful, when words were occasionally met with a strange
signification, to omit them as an error in language ; nor has
it appeared conformable with my object to introduce the well-
known words of our language which have a place in the
common dictionaries. In this compilation I am necessarily
under infinite obligations to others, especially to Loudon,
Rham, Youatt, Stephens, Johnson, Deane, Young, Buel, Arm-
strong, Ellsworth, Colman, Low, Brande, Clater, &,c., &c.,
and our journalists. My task has not been, however, with-
out labour ; for I could find no vocabulary such as that I
desired to produce already in existence, to serve me as a
model ; and if any merit should be awarded me for this un-
dertaking, it may be claimed on the ground that the Farm-
er's Dictionary is the first book of its kind. This will also,
I trust, avert much of the criticism to which I know the work
is obnoxious. So much for my design, and the manner in
which it has been accomplished.

In addition to the vocabulary, my friends have suggested
the introduction of short and practical essays on the opera-
tions of farming; and these have been introduced the more
readily, from the facility with which they were procured from
the works of the Rev. W. L. Rham, one of the best practical
writers of Britain, and others, as Loudon and Low, of great
merit, and but little known in the United States. In this part
of the work, care has been taken to edit the essays so as to
make them of practical value in this country. To the jour-
nalists of the United States I am also deeply indebted for the
matter introduced, and for which I have uniformly given
them credit.

To most of the crops raised in the United States, an Ap-
pendix has been made of the composition of the ashes, and
remarks offered on the special manures. This has been
done in consideration of the existincr desire for information
on the topic, and the impression that the most suitable ma-
nures for plants are discoverable by a study of their ashes.
The best theories of the chemical school of agriculture are
also introduced. In this part of the work, I am indebted to
the labours of Chaptal, Davy, Braconnot, Saussure, Berthier,
Berzelius, Sprengel, Hermbstaed, Payen, Johnston, Boussin-
gault, Dumas, Thaer, Liebig, Mulder, Fowncs, Fresenius,
\Vill, Hertwig, Kane, Shephard, and other chemists.

D. P. Gardner.




ABATTOIR. A building for the
slaughtering of animals.

ABDOMEN. The region of the
body containing the stomach, intes-
tines, liver, spleen, &c. In insects it
is the third division of the trunk, in
spiders the second.

ABIES. Tlie Fir genus of trees.
See Pinus.

ABNORMAL. Irregular or unu-
sual: applied to deviations from the
ordinary development of parts of an-
imals or plants.

ABORTION. Miscarriage. In
veterinary surgery, miscarriage, slip-
ping, slinking, casting, or warping, all
meaning tlie expulsion of the young
at so early a period of pregnancy as
to render it impossible for it to live.
The immediate causes appear to be
the death of the fetus, or derange-
ment in the functions of the womb or
its dependencies, arising from some
external cause or causes operating
on the mother. Among these causes
may be reckoned too much or too
little food, producing fullness or ema-
ciation ; sudden fright or sympathy
with certain smells or sights, sucli as
the smell or sight of blood, of bones,
of horns, and particularly of tlie abor-
ted fetus of another animal. Acci-
dents, also, such as falls, bruises,
over-driving, or fatigue, and the like,
may frequently bring on abortion.

The signs of approaching abortion
are, great languor, uneasiness, and
restlessness, sometimes a discharge
of bloody matter, and the sudden fill-
ing of the udder, similar to the signs
of approaching delivery.

Abortion in the Mare. — Abortions
very frequently happen among mares.
This often arises in consequence of
over-exertion during the latter period
of pregnancy. Mares are liable, also,
very frequently, to various accidents
A 2


in their pastures, which may be the
cause of their slipping their foal, such
as kicks, tumbhng into holes and
ditches, over-exerting themselves to
get over fences, and the like. On
this account, when a mare is near
her time, she should be kept by her-
self, in some cotivenient place. But
tliere is another, and, we suspect, a
very general cause of these accidents
in mares ; we mean a stinting of them
in their food, either in quantity or
quality. It appears, indeed, that some
imagine that the mare, when she is
in foal, may be turned out almost any-
where ; but this opinion is ill-found-
ed ; for, although she does not require
to be kept so high in condition as
when she is at hard work, yet she is
not to be turned out into a pasture
where she may be in a manner starv-
ed : but how often do we see the
mare in foal on the worst piece of
ground in the whole farm, exposed,
during the rigorous winter season, to
endure the cold, as well as to put up
with scanty food 1 On the other hand,
when the mare is not worked at all,
and indulged with too high keep, she
is almost equally in danger of abor-
tion, her high condition having a ten-
dency to cause inflammation and oth-
er disorders ; and these, deranging the
reproductive organs, frequpntly pro-
duce miscarriage. It would seem,
then, that moderate exercise and diet
are best suited as means to avoid the
misfortune of the premature exclu-
sion of the foal.

Abortion in the Cow. — Abortion oc-
curs oftener in the cow than in all
other domestic animals put together.
Perhaps it is one of the greatest an-
noyances the proprietor of cows has
to encounter. The causes are fre-
quently involved in obscurity ; but it
may be mentioned that an extremely



hot and foul cow-house will now and

then produce ahortioii, and similar to
those in mares. Anythin;;f whatev-
er, indeed, that seriously affects the
health of the animal in general, or
the state of the reproductive organs
in particular, may do so. But abortion
occurs again and again when no such
causes as those enumerated can be
traced. The disease, if such it may
be called, as we thinlc it may, is even
said to he infectious. No sooner does
it show itself in one animal than it is
seen in another and another, till it
has spread over the most part of the
cow-house. Some say tliis is to be
attributed to the odour arising from
the things evacuated. Possibly it
may be so ; there can be no great
harm, however, in acting as if we
■were assured that the mischief has its
origin in the source so commonly sup-
posed, provided we do not shut our
eyes to any other which accident or
investigation may reveal. In the
mean time, the number of abortions
may be diminished by carefully avoid-
ing all those causes which are known
to be capable of producing it. Let the
cows be regularly fed ; let their food
be good, and in proper quantities ; let
them have water as often as they will
take it ; avoid sudden exposure to
cold or heat ; and, above all, let the
cow-house be well ventilated. Pro-
hibit all manner of rough usage on
the part of those who look after the
cows, whether they be pregnant or
not. If any of them accumulate flesh
too rapidly, gradually reduce their al-
lowance ; and, on the other hand, if
any become emaciated, discover the
cause and remedy it, always by slow
degrees. Sudden changes in the mat-
ter or mode of feeding should also be
avoided. The same sort of diet does
not agree equally well with all the
cows, and this, in general, is indica-
ted by undue relaxation or constipa-
tion of the bowels ; this should be
watched, and removed at once. At-
tention to these, and many other mi-
nor circumstances, will amply repay
the proprietor for the little additional
It is a remarkable feature in the his-

tory of this complaint, that those an-
imals that have once miscarried are
particularly liable to do so again at
the same period of their succeeding
pregnancy. Greater care is therefore
requisite to guard against those caus-
es which do, or are supposed to excite
it. The treatment of abortion, when
it does take place, differs not from
that adopted in cases of parturition,
only that the cow which miscarries
should be removed, with all that be-
longs to her, from among pregnant

If the signs of approaching abortion
be discovered early, the accident may
sometimes be prevented. If the cow
is in good condition, then immediately
lot it be bled to the extent of five or
six quarts, and the bowels opened
with half a pound of Epsom salts, two
ounces of Glauber's, or three or four
ounces of castor oil, administered in
a quart of gruel ; but if the cow is in
very poor condition, and the miscar-
riage is anticipated from her having
been exposed to cold, avoid bleeding,
and give her a warm gruel drink, with
an ounce of laudanum in it. If after
this abortion does take place, let her
be kept in a comfortable place by her-
self; and if the after-birth has not
passed off, let no injudicious and un-
necessary administration of violent
forcing medicines be given. Nature,
with a little assistance, is generally
equal to the perfect restoration of the

Abortion in the Sheep. — Ewes are
subject to abortion, in consequence
of the numerous accidents they are
liable to. A pack of hounds in pursuit
of a hare got among a flock of sheep
belonging to a farmer, and so hurried
and alarmed them, that thirty out of a
flock of two hundred ewes premature-
ly dropped their lambs. It is the same
in sheep as in the other cases of do-
mestic animals ; scarcity of food, and
exposure to severe cold, having a
great tendency to make the ewes pre-
maturely drop their lambs, or produce
them weakly and crippled at the full
time ; and although there may be a
little danger in giving too much food,
such as allowing them to feed all the



winter on turnips, the danger is tri-
fling compared with the starving sys-
tem.— (3/;7/fr.)

ABORTIVE. Deficient. A com-
mon term in botany, and signifying
the absence of stamens or pistils,
whereby fruit cannot be produced ;
but also used to designate the partial
or complete obliteration of any other
organ, as the leaf, petals, carpels, &c.

ABRAXAS. A genus of butterfly
(Lepidopterous) insects of the family
of geometers ; one of which, the A.
^rosiK/arifi/a, is the well-known goose-
berry moth, the caterpillar of which
destroys the leaves of currant and
gooseberry bushes.

ABS C E S S. A gathering or tu-
mour containing pus ; it is the result
of accidents or impaired health ; and
is only of moment when it affects
internal organs or is produced near
joints. Abscesses in joints, especial-
ly the hock joint of the liorse, oft-
en produce incurable lameness, and
those of internal organs destroy life
by enfeebling the system. Superfi-
cial abscesses are to be opened freely
at their lowest point when the pus is
well formed ; and poultices are to be
applied to encourage the discharge :
the wound must be kept clean, and
dressed daily. It is advisable to hind-
er the formation of the abscess by low
diet, and scarifying the part with a
lancet ; but this is only serviceable in
the first stages.

ABSORBENTS. In vetcr'niary
medicine, drugs that are given inter-
nally for the purpose of neutralizing
any acid which forms in the stomach
and bowels, in consequence of impair-
ed digestion. Prepared chalk is gen-
erally used for this purpose ; or car-
bonate of soda. Those medicines are
likewise termed absorbents which
are applied externally for absorbing
moisture. Starch, calamine, flour,
and the like, are employed in this way.
They are sometimes dusted between
folds of the skin when galled, and raw
from friction, blisters, or grease.
They are likewise useful in canker
of the horse's foot, foul in the foot of
cattle, foot-rot in sheep, and sores
between the toes of dogs ; and they

are beneficial in some forms of
mange, in staying bleeding, and as-
sisting the cure of a wounded joint.

Absorbents. In physiology, a
class of vessels whose office is to
convey the product of digestion and
the residue of nutrition into the cir-
culation, to be mixed with and repair
the waste of the blood. They are
divided into lacteals and lymphatics.
The former are all situated in the cav-
ity of the abdomen ; and by extreme-
ly minute mouths, opening on the in-
ner surface of the stomach and intes-
tines, they receive the nutritious por-
tion of the food, and carry it to a ves-
sel which runs along the left side of
the spine, and which, in its turn,
empties itself into the left jugular

The lymphatics are distributed over
every portion of the frame. The uses
of the lymphatics are to remove the
residue of nutrition ; and, when the
' supply of food is deficient, to remove
such portions of the body as can be
j spared and converted into blood. The
! lymphatics ultimately empty their
contents into the same vessel as the
lacteals, and they follow, in their dis-
tribution through the body, the same
course as the veins. In the horse
they are liable to a disease termed
farcy ; and in all animals they are
frequently inflamed in the neighbour-
hood of a sore.

such a state of improvement, or of so
good a quality as to absorb moisture
from the air.

ABSORPTION. The imbibition
of fluids. In plants this takes place
chiefly by the swelling terminations
of the rootlets (the spongioles). In
very damp weather, leaves and the
green stems also absorb moisture
from the air. Fluids and gases only
can be absorbed, no insoluble matters
entering plants. Absorption in ani-
mals is carried on by the lacteals and

ABSTERGENTS. Medicines used
for resolving tumours. They are usu-
ally stimulating.

ABUTMENT. The solid part of a
pier from which an arch springs.



ACACIA. Spinous leguminous
trees, with small flowers collected in
spikes or heads ; they arc usually of
small size. Two or three insig-
nificant species belong to tlie United
States. The locust is often improp-
erly called by this name.

ACARl. Tiie family of mites.

ACCIPITRES. The order of birds
containing the hawks, eagles, and
similar birds of prey.

ACCIvIMATE. To accustom or
inure animals or vegetables to a par-
ticular cUmate.

ACER. The generic name of the

ACERANS. A family of wingless
insects without antenna?.

ACEROSE. In botany, leaves
which are thin and sharp, such as
those of the pine-trees.

ACETABULUM. In anatomy,
acetabulum signifies the cavity of the
hip joint. In entomology, it is the
socket on the trunk in which the leg
is planted.


ACETATES. Salts containing
acetic acid, of which the acetate of
lead or sugar of lead is the most im-
portant in the arts.

ACETIC ACID. See Vinegar.

bony fruit, containing a single seed,
which does not adhere to the shell or
pericarp, nor open when ripe.

ACHLAMYDEOUS. Plants which
have neither calyx nor corolla, and
whose flowers are consequently des-
titute ofa covering, or naked.

ACICULAR. Sharp, like a needle.

ACIDS. For the most part, sharp,
sour bodies, which redden litmus, and
combine with metallic oxides or bases
to form salts. Many are, however,
destitute of sour taste. They are di-
vided into organic and inorganic : the
latter constitute the mineral acids.
The organic acids are divided into
vegetable and animal acids. The fol-
lowing are interesting in agriculture :
Mineral Acids.

The sulphuric. See Sulphur.
Muriatic. See Chlorine.
Silicic. See Sand.
Phosphoric. See Phoaphorut.

Vegetable Acids.

Nitric. See Xilrogen.
Acetic. See Vintgar.
Carbonic. See Carbon.
Tannic. See Tannin.
Gallic. See Tannin.
I'russic. See Hydrocyanic acid.
Humic. See Humus.

Oxalic acid in the free state is found
in the hairs of the Cicer arietinum, or
(ihick pea. It is very common in com-
bination with potash, in sorrels, docks,
rhubarbs, &c., and with lime in lich-
ens. It is a very soluble, crystalline,
colourless solid, of intense sourness,
and highly poisonous. The composi-
tion is C, O3 -f HO, the HO (water)
being replaced by bases. A solution
is used as a test for lime, which it
precipitates from its solutions as a
white, insoluble oxalate of lime.

Tartaric acid. Combined with pot-
ash, it abounds in the juice of the
grape, and is also found in tamarinds,
bilberries, &c. It is a white, crys-
talline bodv. of the composition Cg
H4 O; -f 2 HO, and is bibasic. The
racemic acid is isomeric. A solu-
tion precipitates potash in the form
of the white crystalline bitartrate
(cream of tartar).

Benzoic acid gives an aroma to
many balsams, sweet-scented grass,
&c. Its formula is Cu H5 O3 -{- HO,
and it is considered an hydrated oxyde
of benzoyl, or Bz. O -j- HO.

Citric acid. This is the sour prin-
ciple of lemons, cranberries, cherries,
gooseberries, &c. It is a very solu-
ble, crystalline solid, of the composi-
tion Ci: H.^ Oil 4- 3 HO ; but the crys-
tals contain 1 and 2 atoms of water
of crystallization besides.

Malic acid is the acid body of un-
ripe apples, pears, plums, &c. In the
insulated condition, it is a deliques-
cent crystalline substance of intense
sourness, composed of Cs H4 O3 -|-
2 HO.

Besides these, all oily bodies con-
tain one or more acids. See Oils.

The animal acids are enumerated
under that head. The acids in plants
are, for the most part, combined with
bases : potash and lime are the most
common ; but magnesia, soda, alu-
mina, and iron are also found. Oc-



casionally they are united with vege-
table alkalies.

As food, the acids are not of much
moment ; they do, however, serve to
sustain the heat of the body by fur-
nishing carbon for the respiratory

ACINACIFORM. Of a curved fig-
ure, like the cimeter.

ACINUS. The small and separate
carpels of a compound succulent fruit.
ACOMTINE. Tlie poisonous al-
kaloid of Monk's-hood.

ACORN. The fruit of the oak.
That of the live oak and other species
is sweet and agreeable : it is an ad-
mirable food for pigs, and in England
commands 37.V cents the bushel.

ACOTYLEDONS. Plants desti-
tute of seed-lobes, the cryptogamia
of Linnaeus, including fungi, mosses,
sea-weeds, ferns.

ACRE. A standard land meas-
ure. The imperial acre is subdivided

4 roods, each rood 40 perches.
160 perches, 16 feet and a half
4840 square yards, 9 feet each.
43,560 square feet, 144 inches

174,240 squares of six inches each,
36 inches each.
6,272,640 inches, or squares of one
inch each.
From this table the farmer can
readily discover how many plants can
be set in the acre, according as they
are one yard, one loot, &,c., apart
each way.

ACROGENS, The same as cryp-
togamia or acotyledons.

ACRID. Abiting, nauseous taste,
often producing blistering, belonging
to many poisonous plants.
ACROLEIN. See Glycerine.
ACROSPIRE. The young up-
ward shoot of germinating seeds.
ACRYDIUM. A genus of locusts.
ACTINOLITE. A variety of horn-

ACTINOMETER. An instrument
to measure the intensity of the sun's

ACULEATE. Furnished with

ACULEATES. The insects of the
bee and wasp kind, furnished with

ACUMINATE. Tapering to a

ADDUCTORS. Those muscles
which draw the parts to which they
are attached together : they are op-
posed to the abductors.

ADEPS. Lard.

ADIANTU.VI. A genus of elegant
ferns : the fructification is in short
marginal lines.

ADIPOSE. Fatty, as the adipose

ADNATE. Adhering, growing, or
attached to the surface.

ADVENTITIOUS. Occurring in
an unusual manner, as when a bud
arises from the root of a plant.

ADULARIA. A brilliant crystal-
line feldspar.

AERATING. Introducing air or

.f:STIVATION. The manner in
which the parts of the flower bud are
folded together.

The cryptogamia.

AETHER. See Ether.

AETIOLOGY. The study of the
causes of disease.

AFFINITY. In natural history,
the close resemblance of animals or
plants in their organization.

Affinity. In chemistry, the force
which combines dissimilar bodies to-
gether in precise proportions. See

AFTER-GRASS. The second crop
of grass from lands mowed the same

AFTER-MATH. The second mow-
ing of permanent meadows the same
year. It is free from flower stems,
and often much more nutritious than
the first crop ; but it is customary to
feed it off" by sheep or cattle instead
of cutting.

AGAMOUS. Cryptogamic plants.

AGARICUS. A genus of mush-
rooms distinguished by plaits or gills
under the cap, which are arranged
nearly parallel. Several are nutritious
and of a delicate flavour, as A. cam-
pestris (the common mushroom), chan-




tarellus, deliciosus, cinjiamomeus , pra-
tcnsis, violaccus. The poisonous
kinds have usually a narcotic or acrid

AGAVE. The Mexican aloe. The
juice yields pulque, and a good hemp
is made from the leaves.

AGE OF ANIMALS. For that of
the horse, see Horse.

Age of Neat Cattle. — The age of !
cmcs, oxen, and hulh is known hy the
teeth and horns. At the end of about
two years they shed their first fore-
teeth, which are replaced by others,
larger, but not so white ; and before

Online LibraryUnknownThe farmer's dictionary : a vocabulary of the technical terms recently introduced into agriculture and horticulture from various sciences, and also a compendium of practical farming, the latter chiefly from the works of the Rev. W. L. Rham, Loudon, Low and Youatt, and the most eminent American autho → online text (page 1 of 135)