Agriculture Improv’d: or, the Practice of Husbandry Display’d. 181-183 (1746)

William Ellis,
a Farmer, of Little Gaddesden, near Hemsted, in Hertfordshire,

Of a Pointing-dog, &c.

THE Copy of a Letter from a Gentleman to this Author, for buying him a Setting and Pointing Dog, &c.

SIR,                                          July 10th, 1744. Devon.

I WAS  favoured with yours last Week: In Answer to the same, I do assure you, I think myself obliged to you for remembring me; and, I hope, this Year, as Cyder will be plenty, to fend you a Cask. As for what you mention about the Secret for destroying the Fly on young Turneps, &c. that is too late to try now. These Vermin generally infest young Plants in the Spring: But another Season I will (God willing) try the fame, and comply, as you desired, with the Money, and every thing else.

As for the Peat-earth Ashes, we have great Plenty of them, and are our common Fuel near the Commons; a large Propriety of which belongs to me; so can get many Thousands of Loads when I please: We look upon those Ashes here, when burnt in our common Chimneys, to be good for little, as they retain but few Salts. Our common Manure here, is Sea-sand and Lime, mixed with Earth and Dung: Some burn the Turf off the Grounds; some do not: The latter I take to be best; as, to be sure, the Strength of the Ground is in the Superficies; and when that is destroyed, as it must by burning, the Remainder is but poor: However, People have great Crops this Way; which I attribute to their liberal dressing the Grounds. I should be glad to try the Peat-ashes, if you would direct me how to burn them: Our Blacksmiths here burn them to a Coal, to work in their Forges. The Method they take, is, to burn them in Heaps, as you do Charcoal, and covered over. I have got some Chinese Pigs from a Gentleman near me, who brought them from Abroad: We run into that Breed much. I should be glad of a good Ploughman much; and one that can shoot, or knows how to kill Game; for I have large Royalties of my own; and I have now left off Hunting. Twelve Pounds a Year, with Washing and Lodging, are great Wages. I suppose most of your People can drive a Chaise, or Chariot, if it should be required.

If you could get me a Woman that understands Breeding of all Kinds of Fowls, as Pheasants, &c. As for our Dairies, we scald our Milk; which your People know nothing of, and make but little Cheese; or the Skim-milk turns to better Account, to feed Pigs, or to bring up Calves in the House with, when they come to be two Months old; we mix with some Water-gruel; Hay they have in little Racks, and some Oats... In the Spring we turn them out: Few People have larger Cattle: Some we turn away with their Dams. I suppose your People all know how to suckle Lambs, and every Branch of a Farm. Sobriety and Honesty are two of the chief Ingredients to complete a good Servant; without which, I would by no means take any one: The more diligent, the better I can make his Place; which happens in my way, more than in your Country, as Perquisites will arise: A good-humour'd Man I love much, especially such can't avoid loving his Cattle. We plow here with Oxen chiefly, as it is cheapest; and afterwards sell them, as Young-ones come on, to the Grasiers, or feed them off ourselves. Our Soil is a light Hazel-earth, and produces good Corn and Pasture, but is a little rocky; so doubt whether your Drill-plough would do here; as some Rocks you see, and some you can't, being covered six Inches, or more. We have now extreme bad Weather for the late Hay; it has rained for above three Weeks time, and is now still falling. Whatever this Country affords, is at your Service; as is, SIR, Yours to command.