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confidered as a very important article in rural c HAP. œconomy, and fufficiently profitable to encourage the farmer to raise a confiderable quantity of Indian corn and buck-wheat for this purpose. A middling farmer will there fometimes have four hundred fowls in his yard. The feeding of poultry feems fcarce yet to be generally confidered as a matter of fo much importance in England. They are certainly, however, dearer in England than in France, as England receives confiderable fupplies from France. In the progrefs of improvement, the period at which every particular fort of animal food is dearest, muft naturally be that which immediately precedes the general practice of cultivating land for the fake of raifing it. For fome time before this practice becomes general, the scarcity must neceffarily raise the price. After it has become general, new methods of feeding are commonly fallen upon, which enable the farmer to raife upon the fame quantity of ground a much greater quantity of that particular fort of animal food. The plenty not only obliges him to sell cheaper, but in confequence of thefe improvements he can afford to fell cheaper; for if he could not afford it, the plenty would not be of long continuance. It has been probably in this manner that the introduction of clover, turnips, carrots, cabbages, &c. has contributed to fink the common price of butcher's-meat in the London market fomewhat below what it was about the beginning of the laft century.
The hog, that finds his food among ordure, and greedily devours many things rejected by every other useful animal, is, like poultry, originally kept as a fave-all. As long as the number of fuch animals, which can thus be reared at little or no expence, is fully fufficient to fupply the demand, this fort of butcher's-meat comes to market at a much lower price than any other. But when the demand rifes beyond what this quantity can supply, when it becomes neceffary to raise food on purpose for feeding and fattening hogs, in the fame manner as for feeding and fattening other cattle, the price neceffarily rifes, and becomes proportionably either higher or lower than that of other butcher's-meat, according as the nature of the country, and the state of its agriculture, happen to render the feeding of hogs more or less expensive than that of other cattle. In France, according to Mr. Buffon, the price of pork is nearly equal to that of beef. In moft parts of Great Britain it is at prefent fomewhat higher.
The great rife in the price both of hogs and poultry has in Great Britain been frequently imputed to the diminution of the number of cottagers and other small occupiers of land; an event which has in every part of Europe been the immediate forerunner of improvement and better cultivation, but which at the fame time may have contributed to raise the price of thofe articles, both fomewhat fooner and fomewhat fafter than it would otherwife have rifen.
As the poorest
pooreft family can often maintain a cat or a dog, CHA P. without any expence, fo the pooreft occupiers of land can commonly maintain a few poultry, or a fow and a few pigs, at very little. The little offals of their own table, their whey, skimmed milk and butter-milk, fupply thofe animals with a part of their food, and they find the reft in the neighbouring fields without doing any fenfible damage to any body. By diminishing the number of thofe fmall occupiers, therefore, the quantity of this fort of provifions which is thus produced at little or no expence, must certainly have been a good deal diminished, and their price muft confequently have been raised both fooner and fafter than it would otherwife have rifen. Sooner or later, however, in the progrefs of improvement, it must at any rate have rifen to the utmost height to which it is capable of rifing; or to the price which pays the labour and expence of cultivating the land which furnishes them with food as well as thefe are paid upon the greater part of other cultivated land.
The bufinefs of the dairy, like the feeding of hogs and poultry, is originally carried on as a fave-all. The cattle neceffarily kept upon the farm, produce more milk than either the rearing of their own young, or the confumption of the farmer's family requires; and they produce moft at one particular feafon. But of all the productions of land, milk is perhaps the moft perifhable. In the warm feafon, when it is most abundant, it will fcarce keep four-and-twenty hours. The farmer, by making it into fresh butter,
BOOK butter, ftores a finall part of it for a week: by making it into falt butter, for a year: and by making it into cheese, he ftores a much greater part of it for several years. Part of all these is referved for the ufe of his own family. The rest goes to market, in order to find the best price which is to be had, and which can fcarce be fo low as to difcourage him from fending thither whatever is over and above the use of his own family. If it is very low, indeed, he will be likely to manage his dairy in a very slovenly and dirty manner, and will scarce perhaps think it worth while to have a particular room or building on purpose for it, but will fuffer the bufinefs to be carried on amidst the fmoke, filth, and naftiness of his own kitchen; as was the cafe of almost all the farmers' dairies in Scotland thirty or forty years ago, and as is the cafe of many of them ftill. The fame caufes which gradually raife the price of butcher's-meat, the increase of the demand, and, in confequence of the improvement of the country, the diminution of the quantity which can be fed at little or no expence, raife, in the fame manner, that of the produce of the dairy, of which the price naturally connects with that of butcher's-meat, or with the expence of feeding cattle. The increase of price pays for more labour, care, and cleanlinefs. The dairy becomes more worthy of the farmer's attention, and the quality of its produce gradually improves. The price at last gets fo high that it becomes worth while to employ fome of the moft fertile and beft cultivated lands
lands in feeding cattle merely for the purpose of C HAP. the dairy; and when it has got to this height, it cannot well go higher. If it did, more land would foon be turned to this purpose. It seems to have got to this height through the greater part of England, where much good land is commonly employed in this manner. If you except the neighbourhood of a few confiderable towns, it seems not yet to have got to this height anywhere in Scotland, where common farmers feldom employ much good land in raifing food for cattle merely for the purpose of the dairy. The price of the produce, though it has rifen very confiderably within these few years, is probably ftill too low to admit of it. The inferiority of the quality, indeed, compared with that of the produce of English dairies, is fully equal to that of the price. But this inferiority of quality is, perhaps, rather the effect of this lowness of price than the cause of it. Though the quality was much better, the greater part of what is brought to market could not, I apprehend, in the present circumstances of the country, be difpofed of at a much better price; and the prefent price, it is probable, would not pay the expence of the land and labour neceffary for producing a much better quality. Through the greater part of England, notwithstanding the fuperiority of price, the dairy is not reckoned a more profitable employment of land than the raifing of corn, or the fattening of cattle, the two great objects of agriculture. Through the greater part of Scotland, therefore, it cannot yet be even fo profitable.