The State of Maine is a good place in which to experiment with prohibition, but it is not a good place to farm it in very largely.
In the first place, the season is generally a little reluctant. When I was up near Moosehead Lake, a short time ago, people were driving across that body of water on the ice with perfect impunity. That is one thing that interferes with the farming business in Maine. If a young man is sleigh-riding every night till midnight, he don’t feel like hoeing corn the following day. Any man who has ever had his feet frost-bitten while bugging potatoes, will agree with me that it takes away the charm of pastoral pursuits. It is this desire to amalgamate dog days and Santa Claus, that has injured Maine as an agricultural hot-bed.
Another reason that might be assigned for refraining from agricultural pursuits in Maine, is that the agitator of the soil finds when it is too late that soil itself, which is essential to the successful propagation of crops, has not been in use in Maine for years. While all over the State there is a magnificent stone foundation on which a farm might safely rest, the superstructure, or farm proper, has not been secured.
If I had known when I passed through Minnesota and Illinois what a soil famine there was in Maine, I would have brought some with me. The stone crop this year in Maine will be very great. If they do not crack open during the dry weather, there will be a great many. The stone bruise is also looking unusually well for this season of the year, and chilblains were in full bloom when I was there.
In the neighborhood of Pittsfield, the country seems to run largely to cold water and chattel mortgages. Some think that rum has always kept Maine back, but I claim that it has been wet feet. In another article I refer to the matter of rum in Maine more fully.
The agricultural resources of Pittsfield and vicinity are not great, the principal exports being spruce gum and Christmas trees. Here also the huckleberry hath her home. But the country seems to run largely to Christmas trees. They were not yet in bloom when I visited the State, so it was too early to gather popcorn balls and Christmas presents.
Here, near Pittsfield, is the birthplace of the only original wormless dried apple pie, with which we generally insult our gastric economy when we lunch along the railroad. These pies, when properly kiln-dried and rivetted, with German silver monogram on top, if fitted out with Yale time lock, make the best fire and burglar-proof wormless pies of commerce. They take the place of civil war, and as a promoter of intestine strife they have no equal.
The farms in Maine are fenced in with stone walls. I do not know way this is done, for I did not see anything on these farms that anyone would naturally yearn to carry away with him.
I saw some sheep in one of these enclosures. Their steel-pointed bills were lying on the wall near them, and they were resting their jaws in the crisp, frosty morning air. In another enclosure a farmer was planting clover seed with a hypodermic syringe, and covering it with a mustard plaster. He said that last year his clover was a complete failure because his mustard plasters were no good. He had tried to save money by using second-hand mustard plasters, and of course the clover seed, missing the warm stimulus, neglected to rally, and the crop was a failure.
Here may be noticed the canvas-back moose and a strong antipathy to good rum. I do not wonder that the people of Maine are hostile to rum–if they judge all rum by Maine rum. The moose is one of the most gamey of the finny tribe. He is caught in the fall of the year with a double-barrel shotgun and a pair of snow-shoes. He does not bite unless irritated, but little boys should not go near the female moose while she is on her nest. The masculine moose wears a harelip, and a hat rack on his head to which is attached a placard on which is printed:
PLEASE KEEP OFF THE GRASS.
This shows that the moose is a humorist.