Ploughs and Politicks: Charles Read of New Jersey and His Notes on Agriculture, 1715-1774

By Carl Raymond Woodward | Go to book overview
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Three: The Husbandry of Animals

WERE we to rely solely on the author of American Husbandry, we would conclude that animal husbandry in pre-Revolutionary New Jersey was at a low ebb. He wrote that "in no province are all the four-footed animals worse treated."1Kalm's account2 of the care of horses and cattle twenty-five years earlier was scarcely more complimentary. As if corroborating these observations by foreign visitors, John Smith, of Burlington, in 1741 wrote: "Poor country people are almost continually Complaining for want of Hay, Corn, Meat, &ctra and abundance of their horses, Cattle, Hogs and Sheep die for want. One Man hath Lost 5 or 6 Cattle, above 20 sheep & near 40 hogs. Many are forced to give them Wheat to keep them alive. . . ."3

Charles Read's notes, however, present the other side of the picture. They disclose a substantial body of progressive farmers who handled their livestock intelligently and profitably, and who were wide-awake to improved methods.

Read's data on livestock are almost encyclopaedic; horse husbandry, swine husbandry, sheep husbandry, dairy husbandry, all receive detailed treatment. Facts noted from his own observation and from the experience of neighbors are matched against traditional practice, and compared with English works on husbandry. Special attention is given to the practical aspects of feeding, of breeding, and of management-- more so than to the types and breeds of farm animals. The processing and marketing of animal products, notably the manufacture of butter and of cheese, are discussed at length.

Straightforward advice is given on raising colts. Select mares of good breed with straight limbs, says Read; don't work a

____________________
1
American Husbandry, I, 139.
2
P. Kalm, op. cit., II, 45-49.
3
A. C. Myers, op. cit., p. 341.

-322-

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