Hibbard, Benjamin Horace, 1870-1955 / The history of agriculture in Dane County, Wisconsin
Chapter VI: The one-crop period, pp. 121-142 PDF (5.1 MB)
126 BULLETIN OF THE UNIVERSITY OF WISCONSIN. the debtor's solvency came in question and the principal was de- manded as soon as maturity was reached. Another force which injured the farmer had been working away quietly-impoverishment of the soil. It was believed that the soil was good for an age without any attention to replenish- ment. How any intelligent set of men could be so blind to the fundamental truth of farming as to think it possible to subtract from a given sum without decreasing it, is beyond comprehen- sion; but it must be remembered that Wisconsin soil did appear almost infinitely richer than the granite farms of New England, and even those who came from New York or Ohio had not, for the most part, lived in those states long enough to see the first virgin richness of the soil destroyed. At all events, the vision of a soil which could hold its own under the system of constant rob- bery was pretty thoroughly dispelled by i8pI. No longer could the failure of wheat be charged to caprices of the weather, to poor seed, or to sowing in the wrong time of the moon; the fact of weedy, hard, unresponsive fields was in evidence. All at once there was great interest in scientific farming; the I-told-you-so prophets were ready to account for all the trouble; agricultural societies sprang into existence in nearly every county, and the poor farmer was berated and advised by editor, money-lender and his own fellow sufferers. Accounts of the conditions, and some of the causes for them are given by contemporaries: "As to the manner of cultivation it is rather slovenly. First they have attempted to cultivate too much land with very limited means; next, they have been deluded with the notion that wheat could be grown successfully for an indefinite period of time . that manuring, rotating crops, seeding down with timothy, clover, and other grasses . . . was altogether unnecessary. To surround a quarter section of land with a sod fence, break and sow it to wheat, harvest the same and stack it, plow the stubble once and sow it again with wheat, thresh the previous crop and haul it to the Lake, was considered good farming in Rock county and it continued from year to year; hundreds confidently expected to win by going it blind in this very unscientific manner. Three years out of eleven have produced good crops of winter wheat."" STrane. State Agr' Soc., I, 211; see also 152f, and Wiaconeft Farmer, I, 248 and III, 44.
Based on date of publication, this material is presumed to be in the public domain.| For information on re-use, see http://digital.library.wisc.edu/1711.dl/Copyright