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Voices from Auckland, New Zealand.

The Settler's First Season

page 76

The Settler's First Season.

To the Editor of the New Zealander.

Sir,—I have noticed several well written letters addressed to new-comers, still I think there is a want of information as to a settler's operations the first season:—To all, but to a man of slender means especially, a very important matter. That want I will endeavour to supply, addressing myself to the man of £60 and 40 acres.

First as to choice of Land—carefully inspect the various Plans in the Land Office; do not be led away to make a selection without seeing the Land because others are selecting in the same locality. It is perhaps a case of success or non-success in life; if others err, do not you.—Provide a tracing of the survey and go upon the ground; most likely you will be rewarded with information enabling you to make a good selection. As a general rule wood land is most profitable for the small settler, unless too much broken kauri land excepted, which is generally bad; choose, if possible, dry lying land, with an Eastern or Northern aspect and free soil, ail of which are very important matters; volcanic soil above all, if to be obtained.

Be not afraid of distance. I remember the time when Tamaki settlers were considered almost out of the world. Let good land near to available water carriage or land carriage to Auckland be your aim.

I will now suppose your land selected. If a carpenter, or can handle tools, put together a frame of a cottage 24 by 12, studs and rafters 3 by 2; sashes and door you can buy ready made; and get at once on your land. You may be able to get a raupo house of same dimensions erected by Natives, but generally, speaking, the man who can handle tools will find the other the best plan. I would by all means recommend new arrivals, if possible, settling in communities; they can thus help and cheer each other on.

Purchase or lay by, first, for 12 months provisions at once, then two good English or half-bred sows in pig, and if in your power two heifers in calf; avoid cows even if in milk, few cows are sold unless for some defect; while with heifers, hand-fed, of which there are plenty, you will have little trouble, and most likely have kindly beasts.

You will now have expended—

One year's rations £15 0 0
2000 ft. timber, doors, sashes, & nails 17 0 0
Expenses of removal 5 0 0
2 Sows, each 40s. 4 0 0
2 Heifers, each £7 10s. 15 0 0
£56 0 0
page 77

Having housed yourself, let your first effort be to provide a good warm sty for your sows. They will get their own living, and what little refuse you have will, with a good bed, make them attached to home, and they will prove of more value to you the two first years than two cows.

Go over your section, select the best piece of land, then lay your section down on paper, plan it out as simply as possible, and lay your selected spot, five chains square, Two and a half acres for your first year's operations: do not attempt more, less cannot be advantageously fenced; let this include your garden for the present; fence it pig-proof. I would suggest a ditch three feet wide, two deep, with a brush fence upon the bank; this if well done will be secure against pigs or cattle two or three years. Sow furze seed inside your brush fence, and with a little care and trimming you will soon have a substantially fenced piece of land.

If your land is open and you can get it ploughed, do so in dry weather; if unable, or it is wood or heavy brush land, you must go to work with spade or hoe. Bear in mind your first crop is very precarious, and by all means, if to be got, do not attempt to sow or plant anything without a dressing of Peruvian guano, even if you spend your last pound for it. In a first season, on which so much depends, its value cannot be overrated.

If you have bush land, cut down and burn upon the land all you can; it is not so much the ashes, as the ground is benefited by the action of fire.

Do not plant anything until your land is in suitable order, lay it as dry as possible, and get your potatoes in in August or September. Some swede turnips to transplant in November; all the pumkins you can spare time to plant in September or October, in any vacant corner or along your fences, and vegetables generally at odd times. A small patch of each will supply your personal wants, but everything green will be of value for your stock, and any seeds you can raise will sell in Auckland or to new settlers. If you can obtain a little choice wheat, spread it on your table carefully, pick from it every grain unsuitable, to have pure seed of only one kind. Dibble this in six inches asunder each way, and if your land is good it will be quite thick enough, and five pints will set an acre. You will readily sell it for seed, if good and clean, for two or three years, for more than its value to you for flour.

Above all avoid attempting too much the first season, let whatever you do be done in the very best manner, so as to insure a crop; the mistake of many a new comer is to take too much in hand, and then fail from inexperience or some mishap. Do not lay out one shilling on labour in cultivation the first page 78year (unless in ploughing). If you have any spare means lay it out in stock. Do what you can with your own hands without outlay.

I will now suppose you settled on your land. A few months will supply you with abundance of vegetables, your sows will have pigged: when their time is nearly up, get them home and shut them up till they have farrowed, for if allowed at this time to go to the bush you will lose them altogether; boil them any wash and green stuff you have, and if you have a bag of sharps so much the better. You may in two days turn out sow and pigs, they will again provide for themselves, and the young pigs will keep fat, and if within reach of a market some of them may soon be sold off; but it is preferable to retain them until twelve months old, when on bush food they will weigh 100 lbs. nett, and be worth 25s. each. Each sow will with care produce nearly two litters in a year. You will thus perceive the great value of the pig to the new settler.


August 23, 1859.