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HENRY A. SHUTE
Author of "The Real Diary of a Real Boy"
WITH ILLUSTRATIONS BY
REGINALD B. BIRCH
BOSTON AND NEW YORK
HOUGHTON MIFFLIN COMPANY
The Riverside Press Cambridge
BY HENRY A. SHUTE AND HOUGHTON MIFFLIN COMPANY
Published November 1909
I dedicate this book to my good friend
who as a sort of literary farmer has cut down and destroyed a great many of my weeds, but not all, as this book shows.
HENRY A. SHUTE
It was a clean knockout
OF the propriety of submitting this book to the public I have had very serious doubts. The nature-books of recent years have certainly been a strong incentive to out-of-door life, to healthful and clean living as near to nature as possible.
And it seemed to me that any recital of actual experiences that might possibly deter a person seeking country life as a means of pecuniary profit, from taking the plunge, might perhaps be injudicious.
But the more I considered the matter the more I became convinced that the representations of the beautifully illustrated nature-magazines, the seductive stories in Sunday paper supplements, farm and garden pamphlets, seed catalogues, poultry periodicals, pigeon monthlies, and like literature, were a trifle overdrawn, and only too often had the effect of luring the unwary city dweller to forsake the undeniable luxuries and comforts of city life, for the hard, and often, at first, unremunerative labor on a farm.
For many city-bred people have become convinced that the path to riches, luxury, and comfort is by way of mushrooms cultivated in an old bureau or in a barn-cellar; that a solid bank account is the sure and proximate result of "raising squabs for profit"; that a safe-deposit box is a vital necessity after a year with one thousand hens.
But the cultivation of mushrooms by any persons other than experts is too often attended with loss of life in horrible agony on the part of those purchasers relying on the quality of the goods; squabs "go light," and pigeons do not always breed; and without experienced and constant care, a package of insect powder, a chattel mortgage, or the services of an auctioneer are of much more importance and a far greater necessity after a year with a thousand hens, than a safe- deposit box.
There is a "Jabberwock with eyes of flame" lying in wait for every product of the farm and garden, but in that I think lies one of the charms of farming. Crops that will thrive without cultivation are not very desirable. It is much better fun to catch pickerel and trout than eels or pout, although the baser fish are just as good to eat. A boy of ten will throw back with disgust a six-pound sucker he has caught, but will fancy himself a Croesus when, after unheard-of climbing and walking and wading and sweating and mosquito-biting, he returns with a small string of wary perch weighing four ounces each.
The same care and the same amount of work that will produce success in other lines of usefulness will, I believe, lead to success on a farm. More than this, I do not believe there can be a healthier life or a pleasanter than the life of a person interested in country life or nature on a farm, whether he farms as an amateur, with an income from a profession or a trade, or as a farmer from love of the life.
And I trust that this book may be useful in tempting many back to the soil, prepared for hard work, without which no success is worth the name.
HENRY A. SHUTE.
EXETER, N. H., October, 1909.