I have just been through Iowa, Minnesota and Wisconsin, on a tour of inspection. I rode for over ten days in these States in a sleeping-car, examining crops, so that I could write an intelligent report.
Grain in Northern Wisconsin suffered severely in the latter part of the season from rust, chintz bug, Hessian fly and trichina. In the St. Croix valley wheat will not average a half crop. I do not know why farmers should insist upon leaving their grain out nights in July, when they know from the experience of former years that it will surely rust.
In Southern Wisconsin too much rain has almost destroyed many crops, and cattle have been unable to get enough to eat, unless they were fed, for several weeks. This is a sad outlook for the farmer at this season.
In the northern part of the State many fields of grain were not worth cutting, while others barely yielded the seed, and even that of a very inferior quality.
The ruta-baga is looking unusually well this fall, but we cannot subsist entirely upon the ruta-baga. It is juicy and rich if eaten in large quantities, but it is too bulky to be popular with the aristocracy.
Cabbages in most places are looking well, though in some quarters I notice an epidemic of worms. To successfully raise the cabbage, it will be necessary at all times to be well supplied with vermifuge that can be readily administered at any hour of the day or night.
The crook-neck squash in the Northwest is a great success this season. And what can be more beautiful, as it calmly lies in its bower of green vines in the crisp and golden haze of autumn, than the cute little crook-neck squash, with yellow, warty skin, all cuddled up together in the cool morning, like the discarded wife of an old Mormon elder–his first attempt in the matrimonial line, so to speak, ere he had gained wisdom by experience.
The full-dress, low-neck-and-short-sleeve summer squash will be worn as usual this fall, with trimmings of salt and pepper in front and revers of butter down the back.
N.B.–It will not be used much as an outside wrap, but will be worn mostly inside.
Hop-poles in some parts of Wisconsin are entirely killed. I suppose that continued dry weather in the early summer did it.
Hop-lice, however, are looking well. Many of our best hop-breeders thought that when the hop-pole began to wither and die, the hop-louse could not survive the intense dry heat; but hop-lice have never looked better in this State than they do this fall.
I can remember very well when Wisconsin had to send to Ohio for hop-lice. Now she could almost supply Ohio and still have enough to fill her own coffers.
I do not know that hop-lice are kept in coffers, and I may be wrong in speaking thus freely of these two subjects, never having seen either a hop-louse or a coffer, but I feel that the public must certainly and naturally expect me to say something on these subjects. Fruit in the Northwest this season is not a great success. Aside from the cranberry and choke-cherry, the fruit yield in the northern district is light. The early dwarf crab, with or without, worms, as desired–but mostly with–is unusually poor this fall. They make good cider. This cider when put into a brandy flask that has not been drained too dry, and allowed to stand until Christmas, puts a great deal of expression into a country dance. I have tried it once myself, so that I could write it up for your valuable paper.
People who were present at that dance, and who saw me frolic around there like a thing of life, say that it was well worth the price of admission. Stone fence always flies right to the weakest spot. So it goes right to my head and makes me eccentric.
The violin virtuoso who “fiddled,” “called off” and acted as justice of the peace that evening, said that I threw aside all reserve and entered with great zest into the dance, and seemed to enjoy it much better than those who danced in the same set with me. Since that, the very sight of a common crab apple makes my head reel. I learned afterward that this cider had frozen, so that the alleged cider which we drank that night was the clear, old-fashioned brandy, which of course would not freeze.
We should strive, however, to lead such lives that we will never be ashamed to look a cider barrel square in the bung.