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AGRICULTURAL IMPLEMENTS. 101
within thirty years on payment of the original sum. Secs. xc. to c. of the Code contain the laws relating to this subject, some of which bear a resemblance to those established among the Hebrews, and intended to secure a similar object of retaining the land in the same clan or tribe. - The Chinese are rather gardeners than farmers, not only in the small size of their grounds, but in their ignorance of those operations whereby soils naturally unfruitful are made fertile, those which produce few kinds of plants made to bring forth a greater variety, and their natural fertility sustained at the cheapest rate by a proper manuring and rotation of crops. They make up for the disadvantages of poor implements by hard work, repeatedly turning over the soil, and sustaining its productiveness by constant manuring. Their agricultural utensils are few and simple, and are probably now made similar to those used centuries ago. The broad hoe, a less efficient tool than our spade, is used more than any other; the edge of the large wooden blade is guarded with iron, and the weight adds impetus to the blow. Spades, shovels, and mattocks are employed in kitchen gardening, and the plough and harrow in rice cultivation. The plough is made of wood, except the iron edged share, which lies so flat that it cannot penetrate the soil more than five inches. The whole implement is so simple and rude that one would think the inventor of it was a laborer, who, tired of the toil of spading, called the ox to his aid, and tied his shovel to a rail;-fastening the animal at one end and guiding the other, he was so pleased with the relief, that he never thought of improving it much further than to sharpen the spade to a coulter, and bend the rail to a beam and handle. The harrow is a heavy stick armed with a single row of stout wooden teeth, and furnished with a framework to guide it; or a triangular machine, with rows of teeth, on which the driver rides. The buffalo is most used in rice cultivation, and the ox and ass in dry ploughing ; horses, mules, cows, and goats likewise render service to the farmer in various ways, and are often yoked in most ludicrous combinations. But the team which Nieuhoff describes of a man driving his wife and his ass yoked to the same plough is too bad for China often to present, though it has been so frequently quoted that one almost expects on landing to see half the women in the harness.
The early rain is so necessary to the preparation of rice fields that the work is delayed in case of drought, except where watercourses can be turned upon them. The grain is first soaked in water, and when it begins to swell, is sown very thickly in a small plat, in which liquid manure has been previously mixed. When about six inches high, the shoots are taken up and transplanted into the adjacent grounds, which, from being an unsightly marsh, are in a few days transformed to fields clothed with living green. Holding the seedlings in one hand, the laborer wades through the mud, sticking five or six of them into it at every step, which take root without further care; six men can transplant two acres a day, one or two of whom are engaged in supplying the others with shoots. The amount of grain required to sow a Chinese mau in this way is 37% catties, or 330 lbs.-about 2} bushels to an English acre. The produce is on an average tenfold. Land is usually rented at half the crop, the landlord paying the taxes, and the tenant stocking the farm; leases are for three, four, or seven years, but the terms vary according to the crop and goodness of the soil.
Wheat, barley, and millet are planted in holes or rows, not so much because the farmer thinks they produce a better crop than when sown broadcast, though that is often done, as to allow of interspacing them with other plants, which will ripen at a different season. Barrow describes a sort of drill-plough for sowing he saw in Kiangsu designed to economize time and seed. “It consisted of two parallel poles of wood shod at the lower extremity with iron to open the furrows; these poles were placed upon wheels; a small hopper was attached to each pole to drop . the seeds into the furrow, which were covered with earth by a transverse piece of wood fixed behind, that just swept the face of the ground.”
The extent to which terrace cultivation has been supposed to be carried in China is a good instance of the way in which erroneous impressions concerning that country obtain currency from accounts not exactly incorrect, perhaps, but made to convey wrong notions by the mode of their description. The hills are seldom terraced except for rice cultivation or to retain the soil which would otherwise be washed away; and this restricts their graduation generally speaking to the southern and eastern provinces. Most of the hills in Kwangtung and Fuhkien are unfit
MODES OF PLANTING AND EXTENT OF TERRACE CULTIVATION. 103
for the plough except near their bases, while, in the north, it is unnecessary to go to the expense of terracing for cultivating cotton, wheat or millet. Great labor has been expended in terracing, and many hill-sides otherwise useless are thus rendered productive; but this does not mean that every hill is cut into plats, nor that the entire face of the country is one vast garden. Terracing was probably carried much further in Palestine than it is in China. Rice requires abundance of water, and the ingenuity of the farmer is well exhibited in the various modes he employs to insure a supply. In some places, pools are made in level fields to receive the rain from which the water is lifted by well-sweeps. It is also expeditiously raised by men each side of the pond holding a pail between them by ropes, and with a swinging motion rapidly dipping the water out of the tank and pouring it into little furrows. A more favorite plan, however, is to avail of a natural brooklet flowing down a hill-side, and conduct it from one plat to another till it has irrigated the whole. It is where such water privileges offer that the terrace cultivation is oftenest seen, especially in the neighborhood of large cities, where the demand for provisions promises the cultivator a sure reward for his labor. The appearance of a hill-side thus graduated into small ledges is beautiful; each plat is divided by a bank serving the triple purpose of fence, path, and dyke, and near which the rills glide with refreshing lapse, turning whithersoever the master willeth. Wheels of various sorts are also contrived to assist in this labor, some worked by cattle, some by human toil, and others carried round by the stream whose waters they elevate. The last are very common on the banks of the Kan kiang, where high wheels of bamboo, firmly fixed on an axle in the bank, or on pillars driven into the bed, and furnished with buckets, pursue their stately round, and pour their earnings of 250 or 300 tons a day into troughs fixed at an elevation of 20 or 30 feet above the stream. The box-trough represented in Staunton with two men turning the axle with their feet as if in a treading-mill, and since copied so often, is a more clumsy contrivance, but is much used for slight elevations; the chain of paddles runs around two axles and in the trough as closely as possible, and raises the water ten or twelve feet in an equable current. Comparatively few carts or wagons are used with animals, human strength supplying the means of transportation; the implements of husbandry and the grain taken from the fields both being carried home on the back of the laborer. It is not an uncommon sight to see a ploughman, when he has done his work, turn his buffalo loose, and shoulder his plough, harrow, and hoe, with the harness, and carry them all home. Barrows are contrived with sails upon them in which peddlers arrange their wares, or farmers and cartmen transport their burdens.
The Chinese manure the plant rather than the ground, both in the seed and growing grain. The preparation of manure from night soil, by mixing it with earth and drying it into cakes, furnishes employment to thousands, and the transportation of their noisome loads through the narrow streets is an insufferable nuisance. Tanks are dug by the wayside, pails are placed in the
SOURCES AND PREPARATION OF MANURE. 105
streets, and retiring stalls opened among the dwellings, whose contents are carried away in boats and buckets; but it is a small compensation for this constant pollution of the sweet breath of heaven, to know that the avails are to be by and by brought to market. Besides this principal ingredient of manure vats, other substances are diligently collected, as hair from the barber's shop, exploded fire-crackers and sweepings from the streets, lime and plaster from kitchens and old buildings, soot, bones, fish and animal remains, the mud from the bottom of canals and tanks, and dung of every kind. In Chusan and the main opposite, two species of clover are grown through the winter upon ridges raised in the rice fields, and the plants pulled up in the spring and scattered over the fields, to be ploughed and harrowed into the wet soil with the stubble, their decomposition forming large quantities of ammonia to the seedlings. Vegetable rubbish is also collected and covered with turf, and then slowly burned; the residue is a rich black earth which is laid upon the seeds themselves when planted. The refuse left after expressing the oil from ground-nuts, beans, tallow, tea, and cabbage-seeds, &c., is mixed with earth and made into cakes, to be sold to the farmers. The ripe grain is cut with bill-hooks and sickles, or pulled up by the roots; scythes and cradles are unknown. Rice straw is made into brooms and brushes, and in order to preserve it, the rice is thrashed out against the side of a tub having a curtain on one side, or bound into sheaves and carried away to be stacked. The thrashing-floors about Canton are made of a mixture of sand and lime, well pounded upon an inclined surface inclosed by a curb ; a little cement added in the last coat makes it impervious to the rain; with proper care it lasts many years, and is used by all the villagers for thrashing rice, peas, mustard, turnips, and other seeds, either with unshod oxen or flails. The cultivation of plants and grain for food forms so large a proportion of those demanding the attention of the Chinese, that except hemp, indigo, cotton, silk, and tea, those raised for manufacture are quite unimportant. The great cotton district is the basin of the Yangtsz’kiang, and the two varieties, white and yellow, grow side by side. The manure used is the mud taken from the canals, and spread dry over the ploughed fields, in which the seeds are sown broadcast about the beginning of May, and trodden into the ground by the feet. These same fields vol. II. 6*