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I wouldn't give a cent for a man that had not some interest in bis own business, and if he was to get up in this convention or any other convention and tell me that my business was a great deal better than his, I should think he was either a fool or greatly mistaken in his own business. One of the two must be certain. I know we all of us have an idea, especially if we are living as we ought to live, that our business is the very best one. But in case we tell the truth at all times about a successful business, nine-tenths of the men will set it down we lie. I have for the last ten years, I believe, withheld the fact that I have never sold a wether for fifteen years for less than ten dollars; and I wonder if some people don't think now that I am lying?
Colonel Judy - I don't think any such thing.
Mr. Porter — Some of my wethers were in my orchard, and I was looking among them. They were very nice, I thought. Two farmers were riding along, and one of them says to the other: “Bennett, what do you think of them ? " Why, I think the man that owns them has got more money than he has brains." Now I took these thirty-two wethers and I sold them for three hundred and twenty-two dollars. And I told Mr. Bennett one day when I was coming from Milwaukee that I had sold those wethers, the owner of which he thought had more money than brains, for three hundred and twenty-two dollars, and I had the money in my pocket. "Well," said he, “they cost you four hundred dollars to raise." Said he, “that is just what I mean. And I believe the man was honest, from the very fact that he has no better stock to-day than he had then; and he never will have as long as he lives, from the very fact that he believes he is just right.
Now, there is just where it is. He is selling his sheep for two dollars and two and a half, and insists he is right. If the man bad persuaded me that I had better sell wethers for two dollars and a half, I should think that I had greatly mistaken my calling, for I think I have struck oil. And I will stand by it, and when it fails me, I will let the people know.
Now, I can tell you I bave never been very successful in the dairy, from the fact that I never milked a cow in my life. There is just all there is about it.
A good smart German can fool me nine times in a day about such business. But in fatting steers and in fatting sheep and looking after stock generally, he can't fool me once a year. There. fore I have the advantage of him. He would have the advantage the other way. In one way, Mr. Smith, of Sheboygan Falls, has got the advantage. He knows when his cows are paying him, and he would be foolish to trade with me. If he were to take my Short-horns and my large sheep, and I was to take his cows and dairy business, we would both be beat.
I like a good steer, but the way it has been figured is all wrong. For years previous to the last four or five years, I would some times go into the market and buy up fifty steers, and I would get them very likely for twenty-two dollars apiece, and when I have come to sell them in the spring of the year they have brought me fifty-five dollars. I knew when they were just right; but I can only tell when butter is right when I put it on my bread.
Now that is exactly all there is about it. If we bave got a business that is paying us, let us stick to it.
I know a few years ago I was considered a pretty smart kind of a fellow, especially by my wife and my own family. Now when I talk about things some think I ain't so smart.
At our state fair two years ago, a gentleman, after I had been talking sheep to bim, who didn't agree with me exactly about the premium, said to me, “You are an old fool.” Then he came back again in a little while and said, “Mr. Porter, I have to apologize." Said I, “I don't know that it needs any apology.” “Well,” said he, “You are not an old foo!; your an old fogy.” [Laughter.] I said, “You're mending it mightily. I would just as leave be an old fool as as an old fogy; I scarcely know the difference." Now that was a friend of mine. I have known him nearly from a boy.
Col. Judy — What blood of sheep were yours ?
Hiram Smith - I want to take back a little I said. I figured these steers at about seventy-five dollars. The gentleman says he bought them at twenty-two.
Col. Judy — They were not the kind that we are raising. They were the Colorado and Kansas fellows.
Mr. Porter — These were miscellaneous steers that I was buying - dairy cow steers. [Laughter.]
Col. Judy – I don't think you ever got a dairyman's cow's steer up to fifty-five dollars.
Mr. Hazeman - I am a dairyman myself. When we are talking about dairy steers, dairymen don't raise any steers in Wisconsin. They cannot afford to. There are some isolated cases that far exceed the average; but the discussion was aimed at the average farmer; and the average dairyman in Wisconsin cannot afford to change his business for raising beef, under our present circumstances. If you want to take a single cow, or pick out a quantity of them, we can find plenty of instances where they come to more than your high priced beef will. Your president has a cow at Green Bay that he made three hundred and seventyone pounds of butter from in one season. In addition to that, he says he sold a calf at thirty dollars. This would pay for a pretty good steer, wouldn't it?
A gentleman says he lets the calf run with the cow the first year. When he weans his calf, he has used up seventy-five dollars worth of milk, if he has got a good cow.
If he hasn't got a good one that is another story.
Mr. Phillips — I have either got hold of the wrong end of this story, or a great many in the audience have. I fail to discover in Col. Judy's remarks where he advises any man to leave dairying, sheep growing, or any other branch of business, for his par. ticular business. The point he aimed at was, if you are going to keep dairy cows, keep the best instead of scrubs. If you are going to keep sheep, keep the best instead of scrubs. If you are going to raise beef for the market, get the very best cattle you can, and get the very biggest price.
HOW WE FARMED IN WISCONSIN FORTY YEARS
By Hon. SAT. CLARK, HORICON.
Perhaps I know less about farming than any man in this room ; but I received a programme from the secretary in which I see that
I was announced to tell the convention how we farmed it forty years ago.
I am sorry to see that one gentleman doubts what another says about his business. I don't think it is courteous. I am too courteous to doubt the word of any gentleman when he is talking about what he knows better than I do. I believe everything I have heard here. Ordinarily on political occasions I speak with a great deal of confidence, because I believe I know nore of what I am talking than the audience. Some have said, with a good deal of impudence as well as confidence, and I guess they are right about that. But when I am talking to people of farm. ing, all of whom I know know more about it than I do, I have lost all my impudence. I don't claim to be able to enlighten any. body on this floor, but perhaps that was not the intention.
I came to Wisconsin fifty-two years ago, and I have seen it grow up to be a great agricultural state. The farming when I came here was done by Indians. I got an idea from an old Indian which, while I didn't follow it at the time, I have since discovered was true, and scientific men have written that it is true. I discovered that they planted their potatoes in different soil every year, but that for hundreds of years they said they planted their corn in the same hill, and I know that they did it for a great many years, because I saw them, and before I could speak the language I wondered very much at it. Finally one day I said to an old Indian; “Why in the world don't you plant your corn sometimes in one place and sometimes in another ?" Said he: “Don't you know that the longer you plant corn in one hill the better the ground becomes ?” I said : I don't know that; I can't believe that." He says: "Corn derives more nourishment from the rain and air than from the soil, and if you don't cut the stalks the soil gets better and better every year.” Now I see some scientific men say that is so, and I believe, from my own experience, that the cultivation of corn on the same land year after year don't injure it unless you cut up the stalks.
A voice — It don't injure if you cut the stalks.
here. I was a kind of pet of Gen. Jackson's, and he appointed me sutler at Fort Winnebago. I didn't know anything about farming Unfortunately, I quarreled with the commanding officer, and as he wouldn't fight I bad to resign or be dismissed, and I had nothing to do but go on to my farm. I bought a section of land at Green Lake. I don't think there is a better sec. tion of land. It had every natural advantage. The farm was a good one, but I was the poorest farmer in the world. I determined to go there and make my living. I had my father and mother and five sisters to take care of, and I was obliged to take them on the farm. That was in 1841 or 1842. I wrote to some members of congress and got some patent office reports, and studied them some to see what I had to do when I first went, for I had not the most distant idea. I want to say here, that in give ing my experience, I am giving the experience of those men who surrounded me. When I first went there, there were but two farms there. I ascertained that it was necessary first to break up the ground. So when I went on my farm, I took eight yoke of oxen and two pairs of horses and a plow a wooden molding board, which was the best one I could get at that time; but during the winter I went and had a breaking plow made, and the next season I broke up thirty-two acres in the spring and put in crops, and during the summer I broke up a hundreu acres that I sowed to winter wheat.
Before I went there, I happened to be down at Louisville, Ky. I went down to see Mr. Clay, of Kentucky, who was living then ; and I told him I was going farming, and he made me a present of two pigs. If it had not been for those pigs, I could not have subsisted while I was on my farin.
I sent to Ohio by a man named Nelson, who was going down for some cattle, for two Short-horn heifers and a Devon bull calf. At that time almost every body worked oxen, and Devon cattle made the very best working oxen. Indeed I raised some steers myself, while I was on my farm, that never allowed a pair of horses to pass them on the road, and I could plow three acres a day with them without any trouble at all. But I had very hard work to get along. I was about as hard as iron. For labor, no